Who Drives Employee Engagement in an Organisation?
The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) describes the achievement of employee engagement as organizations developing and nurturing engagement through a two-way relationship between the employer and employee. So, who is the biggest driver of employee engagement in this relationship?
Visible and empowering leadership creates an effective culture for employee engagement. Engaging leaders foster strong internal communications, share plans in an open and transparent manner, inspire employees to come together in a collective vision and instill an individual sense of ownership about the role each employee plays. They also empower staff to share their views and influence innovation by passing ideas upwards. Teams working with this type of leadership are likely to be more engaged as they have a clear understanding of what is expected and feel fully informed about the business direction and company goals.
Gallup reported that as much as 70% of the variance in the employee engagement of teams can be traced back to the influence of the manager. While strong leaders clearly communicate a vision and inspire people to work together to reach an end goal, great managers take the end goal and provide the coaching, support, and guidance needed for the whole team to work together in achieving it. Engaging managers are approachable and give their teams the support, scope, and coaching needed to do the best job possible. They also put considerable effort into making sure that successes and achievements are acknowledged.
Employees are more likely to feel engaged if they are working within a culture of camaraderie, where teams share a common goal and are committed to supporting each other to achieve it. Some of the most inspiring examples we see of engaging workplaces are where it’s obvious that everyone really looks out for one another. Fostering a culture of teamwork can be achieved by creating workplace environments where people have time to build relationships and collaborate with colleagues and where there is a conscious effort to bring people together through activities such as company social events or team fundraising.
- Individual employees
Engaged employees spread optimism and enthusiasm while disengaged employees can bring others down and cause entire teams to become less productive. Employers committed to monitoring engagement levels will be in the best position to prevent any negativity spreading in the first place. They will know if they need to investigate any reasons for dissatisfaction and make positive changes where needed. In a people-focussed culture, leaders and managers will also be willing to engage directly with disengaged employees to find out the root problem and provide any necessary support to bring them back to a state of engagement if possible.
- New recruits
Studies have shown that when employees are well-suited to their position, there is a positive impact on employee engagement levels. Finding high caliber employees who are the right cultural fit for an organization creates a solid foundation for their own employee engagement levels during their time in the business. New talent coming into an organization can also bring fresh perspectives and new ideas which can be a boost to the entire team.
- HR personnel
As well as recruiting the right people for the business, as already mentioned, those in HR roles can help ensure employees have the right skills, tools, and environment to do their jobs to their best. Being able to provide a robust and meaningful development plan with clear progression opportunities is a key enabler of employee engagement. People who are fully trained in all aspects of their role are more confident and motivated to go the extra mile.
So, while everyone within a business does play a part in employee engagement, the real driving force keeps coming back to leadership. The culture of an organization flows from the leaders and influences the everyday behavior of people. Leaders create and communicate the values of a business and build management teams who can guide and support teams to unite in a common goal. Engaged employees are likely to be those who have been empowered by leaders and senior managers to do their jobs well, working in organizations where leaders have inspired HR teams to develop positive workplace environments and rewarding career plans.
It’s truth bomb time. Our recruiters are spilling everything they wish you knew. Whether you’re a candidate, client, or friend, this is one juicy feature you don’t want to miss!
“My work is never done… it follows me. Sometimes I dream that I am making phone calls. Or sometimes I dream that I am whatever job title I was recruiting on that day. Those are fun dreams… sometimes!” – Jessica Sems
“We truly want the best for the candidate AND the client. When we talk about compensation, we want the candidate to get the highest possible salary within the range that the client allows. It’s a tough balance because you have to make sure it is within the range that the client wants to pay and what the candidate is worth.” – Krista Portolesi
“I am human. After spending a month or more getting to know you and sharing your victories as you move through the interviewing process, having to make the phone call to you that you weren’t the final, successful candidate is hard. I hear your disappointment and my heart cries with yours – you just don’t know it. – Dana Belstler
“It’s not about throwing individuals at jobs, it’s about building relationships and yes, some friendships. Like finding someone who shares the love of smoking meat as one of their favorite pastimes. Gotta love those 3,2,1 smoked baby back ribs!” – Dallas Williams
“I wish that every one of our readers knew that what a recruiter does affects multiple lives on a daily basis – and good communication between all the players is imperative in order to affect those lives in a positive way. With the skill of communication, fear of not knowing plays a bigger role than the excitement of the new adventure.” – Mike Muglia
“My job is the art of contagion. I learn all I can about a community, the organization and it’s culture, and I try to ‘infect’ the candidate with the contagion for the mission, the people, and the love of the community. This ‘fit factor’ is what creates long term solutions for clients, who I now call friends.” – Tracey Smith
“How big of an impact cultural fit can make. How even if the candidate is perfect on paper, if the client can’t relate to that person, it can be a deal breaker. Also how clients are willing to train and develop “underqualified” candidates based on them being a great cultural fit.” – Alex Price
“I just read a great article about the new Apple headquarters building and how it came to be what it is. It started out as a shape like those fidget spinners that kids have now and as they were working through the details, they realized that shape didn’t work and it morphed over time to a few different shapes to eventually become the ring that it is today. From a recruiting standpoint, we are asked to find a square peg to fit in a square hole and we are looking through all the shapes trying to find the one that fits. I see it similar to the “Apple problem.” We start out needing to find the person that fits a certain shape and often times it morphs and grows into something completely different. As we’re recruiting and as the hiring manager is seeing resumes and talking to candidates, it makes them think of other things they haven’t considered before. This is why it is essential that we use an agile recruiting method to change aspects of our recruiting efforts throughout the process to make sure we capture the right talent. I wish both candidates and clients understood this is what we do. This is part of what makes me love what I do, that it can shift at a moment’s notice!” – Tracy Isakson
“I would have to say I wish people understood that not all recruiters are alike. Some of us work hard to make sure the candidate is not just a fit for a role on paper, but also a great fit within the organization.” – Kathryn Thayer
“When I get a hire, I am truly just as excited, if not more, than the candidate. It’s really rewarding to know that you helped someone land their dream job.” – Krista Portolesi
We loved this article so it was most definitely worth the Blog Share! Thanks JSG!
Why only 2% of applicants actually get interviews
The internet has made it very easy for people to search out and apply to many job opportunities. But sending out more applications doesn’t increase your chances of getting hired. Sending out betterapplications does. Employers have told us that sometimes as many as 75% of applicants for a given role aren’t actually qualified to do it.
Experts say that only an even smaller fraction than that are selected for an interview. “98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the “Top 2%” of candidates make it to the interview”, says Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts. “Fixing the employment market requires helping job seekers become “Top 2% Candidates” who can meet employer’s rigorous requirements and easily hit the “bulls-eye” of employer needs to ensure they don’t make bad hires” continued Meier.
Applying for jobs you’re unqualified for can hurt your chances at future positions with the company too. The online recruitment software company Bullhorn surveyed 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers and found that such irrelevant applications was the biggest turnoff for 30 percent of them. (And of that group, 43 percent said they would ‘blacklist’ those candidates from any other jobs as well – by suppressing their names from even coming up in future resume searches.)
With that in mind, here are three ways that you can elevate your job applications to the top of the list:
Only apply for jobs that you actually qualify for.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have every single bullet point listed in the job posting. There is such a thing as ‘credential creep’ where employers flood a job ad with a wish list of qualifications that any one candidate is unlikely to possess. Read the job posting carefully. Make sure that you understand the actual duties and challenges of the job, and if you can make a significant contribution in the role, then go ahead and apply.
Explain how you can stand out on the job. Employers want to hire someone who will make their lives easier. So your resume should demonstrate what your past successes can accomplish for them. Avoid listing just your work duties and tasks, but instead focus on your achievements. Make sure the employer knows the added value that you specifically brought to your role. Bear in mind that these should be described in such a way as to highlight their relevance to the challenges of the job you’re applying to.
Apply to the job that you’re applying to. That’s a grammatically-interesting sentence, but it’s nonetheless true. It goes back to what I mentioned earlier about people using a one generic resume to apply for numerous jobs. If the job title on your resume doesn’t match the job that you’re applying to, there’s little chance that you’ll make it into the top 2%. Similarly, even if you have the qualifications for the job, if your career objective doesn’t match with the role, you’re unlikely to be hired for it. It gives the impression that you would be a bad fit for the job, and that you wouldn’t stay very long in the position.
Find jobs that you can do and that you would actually like to do. (There’s no point in applying for jobs that you don’t actually want.) Research the company, the industry and the specific role. Write a resume and a cover letter that specifically show why you would like to work at that job for that company. Highlight how your past accomplishments demonstrate what you can achieve for them.
A resume that is tailored and specific to a job will always stand out from the crowd of generic applications, and that’s how you can make it to the job interview.
A dog isn’t just for Christmas, it is for life…and in some cases the workplace too!
Introducing a furry friend to your office, not only add a bit of cuteness to your day, but believe it or not, it could also boost the productivity of your workforce!
Many of us could only dream of having a pet in the office to keep us company and lighten the mood when times get tough, but it’s not always feasible for a lot of workplaces. Obviously, things like allergies and terms of rent have to be considered; however, if there’s no real reason holding you back, why not give it some thought?
There are a number of benefits of having an office pet and it could be just what you need to boost team morale!
Though I get that having a St Bernard in the office could cause some chaos (albeit amazing!), what’s to rule out something smaller?
Here are some of the top reasons why enlisting a four-legged friend for the office could be the best decision you could make (any excuse for me to look at cute animals):
1) Reduce stress
How can you not feel at ease when looking into the cheerful eyes of a dog? It’s an instant mood booster and miraculously all the stress of work seems to dissipate as soon as a pet is around. They must have magic powers…or maybe they’re just too cute not to smile!
2) Brings the team together
An office dog can be an incredibly powerful bonding tool. In a lot of offices, people like to keep themselves to themselves; but how would this change if suddenly a pet was introduced to the workplace? My bet is that suddenly everyone would want to be where the dog is and well I never…they just so happen to be spending time with each other in the process! It will also become a shared interest among employees, creating a new point of conversation.
3) Encourages healthy living
If you have an office dog, it will require walking from time to time and your staff need exercise for the sake of their wellbeing just as much. By sharing the responsibility among the team, or creating a dog walking rota, it will encourage your employees to be active and get some fresh air. The reduced stress levels will also do everyone’s health a world of good!
4) Increased productivity
Taking short breaks away from your desk to spend time with the dog, or take it for a walk, could work wonders for your employees’ productivity. Research has found that giving yourself a bit of a breather allows you to give your mind a bit of a break and return to your work feeling refreshed and engaged.
5) Pets won’t have to be left alone
It doesn’t just benefit your employees of course; the dogs will thank you too! Dogs don’t like to be left on their own for too long and neither is it fair to do so. By allowing employees to bring their pet to the office it means that they don’t have to worry about leaving them at home all day long, or find someone to look after them. This may also encourage staff to work longer hours, as they won’t be rushing home to check on their animals.
6) They’re Hilarious!
Today we have our own little visitor, Lucy the Cockalier pup! Smiles all around in our office!
One Behavior Separates The Successful From The Average
A certain farmer had become old and ready to pass his farm down to one of his two sons. When he brought his sons together to speak about it, he told them: The farm will go to the younger son.
The older son was furious! “What are you talking about?!” he fumed.
The father sat patiently, thinking.
“Okay,” the father said, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”
The older son shortly returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale.”
The father graciously thanked the older son for his work. He then turned to the younger son and said, “I need you to do something for me. We need more stocks. Will you go to Cibi’s farm and see if he has any cows for sale?”
The younger son did as he was asked. A short while later, he returned and reported, “Father, Cibi has 6 cows for sale. Each cow will cost 2,000 rupees. If we are thinking about buying more than 6 cows, Cibi said he would be willing to reduce the price 100 rupees. Cibi also said they are getting special jersey cows next week if we aren’t in a hurry, it may be good to wait. However, if we need the cows urgently, Cibi said he could deliver the cows tomorrow.”
The father graciously thanked the younger son for his work. He then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your younger brother is getting the farm.”
Successful People Initiate
Most people only do what they are asked, doing only the minimum requirement. They need specific instructions on most things they do.
Conversely, those who become successful are anxiously engaged in a good cause. They don’t need to be managed in all things. They don’t just do the job, they do it right and complete. They also influence the direction for how certain ideas and projects go.
Most importantly, those who become successful initiate. They reach out to people, ask questions, make recommendations, offer to help, and pitch their ideas.
Being successful requires being proactive and not waiting for life to come to you. It means you’re on offense, not defense. You’re active, not passive.
In every organization, there are a select few employees who would be difficult to replace. For the most part, most people are like the older son in the story. Most people could be easily replaced. Most people are passive and reactive. They require specific instructions. They need to be governed and managed in all things.
Initiation always involves some degree of risk. You’re putting yourself out there and there is a chance you could fail.
Conversely, doing only what you’re told entails no risk and carries no responsibility. It’s playing safe.
Are you an initiator? You absolutely can be.
But if not, one thing is for certain: Life isn’t going to wait for you.
Get Set for Success: Five Tips for Unlocking the Potential of New Hires
Your new hire has signed their contract, watched the required onboarding videos, and maybe even gotten some cool company swag. Now it’s time for you to show them to their desk.
So what’s next? Do you just walk away and leave them there to figure things out? That’s not exactly what you’d call a plan, never mind a strategy. Just how do you set your new hires up for success?
Getting onboarding right is no small thing: According to research conducted by HR consulting firm The Wynhurst Group, “New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.”
We all want to retain great talent. Let’s take a look at five tips for unlocking your new hire’s potential during those critical early days, weeks and months at your company.
1. Before they start
Onboarding doesn’t begin on the first day, it begins before your new hire even applies.
Top candidates have their pick of job opportunities, and they will compare your company to others based on what they see and read online. So communicating your employer brand and culture clearly and effectively from the start is essential if you want to attract people who’ll be a good fit.
Nowadays there are lots of ways to educate “talent in the wild” about your company. You can tell your story on your site, through social media, video or even via in-person events.
But the picture really becomes complete when you use Company Pages. Here you can combine most of those channels with the power of employee reviews, giving interested candidates the full sense of what it’s like to work at your company. The more informed your candidates are about your company before that first day, the better equipped they are to hit the ground running.
2. The first day
Everyone knows what it’s like to be the “new person.” Feeling awkward, unsure or insecure on the first day of school or work is as natural as feeling cold on the South Pole. And studies have shown that anxiety in new situations, such as starting a new job, can come in part from not feeling confident about introducing ourselves.
Research has shown that social ties at work improve productivity and keep people engaged, so empower your hires to develop them from the start. Don’t just leave them at their desks and hope for the best. Help them nix anxiety and make those connections by introducing them to colleagues and teammates.
An introductory email is a good start, but it’s also the bare minimum. Encourage team members to stop by the new hire’s desk and be the first to say, “hello”. Establish an expectation on your team that everyone is welcoming, friendly and ready to help.
A team lunch on the first day isn’t a bad idea either. It’s a quick and fun way to break the ice and make new hires feel welcome (and you’ll enjoy it too).
3. The first week
Use the first week to set expectations and clear up any confusion a new hire may have about their role in the company.
Take the time to carefully define deadlines and deliverables—this will set a solid foundation for a good working relationship. People are much more easily motivated when they have clear goals to aim for.
Of course, some things can only be learned through time. Every firm has its own unique jargon not to mention all those mysterious, unwritten rules that are invisible to newcomers.
This is one reason why many Fortune 500 companies including Google, General Electric, and Time Warner Cable have implemented mentorship programs. Mentors can help answer questions surrounding the quirks of a company’s culture, while also providing constructive criticism and praise.
This is especially important if you hope to retain younger workers. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials who intend to to work at the same organization for more than five years are two times as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).
4. The first month
So now your hire has been in the job for a month—this is a good time for a general check in to see see how they are doing and answer any lingering questions. This is important whoever you’ve hired, but if you are dealing specifically with a millennial hire, you should also plan for regular feedback sessions.
Millennials don’t just thrive with a mentor. A study conducted by SuccessFactors and Oxford Economics in 2014 found that they want feedback from their managers at least once a month, and probably more often.
The same study found that millennials want feedback 50% more often than employees in other generations. And although feedback sounds formal, many just want frequent, informal updates on their progress—and 56% of them felt that they weren’t getting enough.
So if you’re a hands-off kind of manager you may want to reconsider that for younger hires, who are always looking for ways to become better and more efficient at their jobs. Regular check-ins and coaching can help them achieve this.
That’s not all: an Indeed analysis showed that 65% of employees look for a new position within the first three months of starting a job, so regular check-ins could be vital for retaining new hires.
5. The first 6 months
Employees can leave a company for many reasons, and one of the most common ones is to advance their career.
However, although millennials are often accused of job hopping, according to an Indeed survey most report staying in a position for an average of four years. Tenure for non-millennials is around seven years.
The truth is, while a job for life may be a thing of the past in most industries, if you give employees a chance to stick around and learn from you, and to grow in their careers, then they’ll take it.
So now that your new hire has had time to settle in, encourage them to think big, and to explore long term career goals at your firm.
Once their goals are defined, make sure that you support them by informing them of any training or growth opportunities that arise and outlining actionable steps to help them get to where they aim to be.
By implementing these tips, you won’t just set up your new hire for short-term success—you’ll be unlocking potential which could positively impact your company for years to come. And who doesn’t want that?
Written by Carmen Bryant, Director of Employer Insights at Indeed.
10 Ways The Job Search Has Changed – By Joshua Waldman, Next Avenue Contributor
Job searching has changed dramatically over the past few years. If you want to succeed, you’ll have to take a much different approach than you did previously. Here are 10 things today’s job hunters need to know:
1. Google has replaced the resumé. Recruiters are now using Google and LinkedIn searches to find talent, instead of paying for job-board or talent databases. Many companies are even mandating that every new application go through a Google screening process.
So that means the first page of your Google results matter much more during a job search than they ever did before. I’ve written an article showing how to increase your rank in Googleand attract the attention of hiring managers.
2. A summary of your work history is enough. Because there are so many candidates competing for each job, HR people (or hiring managers, if they are tasked with recruitment) often scan resumés very briefly. The average time spent on a resumé is 30 seconds.
LinkedIn gives you a way to create a summary; use it.
3. Social proof is a must. Social proof — the testimonials, endorsements and recommendations of your abilities that appear on social networks — seriously reduce the perceived risk of you as a candidate.
The most costly mistake a hiring manager can make is to give a job to the wrong person. Some say that if a new hire leaves within three months, it costs the organization one and a half times that person’s annual salary. And with the economy as tight as it is, you can understand why hiring managers are so risk averse.
If you don’t have many endorsements and recommendations in your LinkedIn profile, get some before looking for a job.
4. Resumés and cover letters aren’t read on paper anymore. Most organizations are not receiving paper resumés — and when they get them via email or their application system, they don’t print them. So expect your resumé and cover letter to be read on a computer screen.
This means you have to format your resumé and other job-search documents in a way that makes screen-scanning easy. I’ve written an article that shows you how to format your resumé properly.
5. Relationships come first, resumés second. Resumés are not used as introductory documents much these days. In fact, “send me your resumé” is often an afterthought once an introduction is made.
And if an introduction is made electronically, then your online profile offers much more information than a resumé.
So shift your priorities from “I have to get my resumé done!” to “Where can I meet some more people today?”
6. Employers only care about what they want. In years past, a resumé or job application was focused on the job seeker’s needs. This is not true any more.
Now an application, resumé or cover letter must speak to what value the prospective employee can bring to the organization. So be sure to demonstrate how you can help the company and how soon it can expect to benefit.
7. Work gaps aren’t big problems. Large gaps in your resumé are not as important as they used to be.
Not only do employers today realize that millions of great and wonderful people got laid off, they also appreciate it when those candidates have showed initiative and tried to start their own thing, even if that took time and resulted in a period of unemployment.
8. Nouns are the new currency. Screening software and LinkedIn talent searches have introduced an unexpected element to the way a resumé should be written.
Because these tools rely on nouns or keywords to deliver search results to recruiters, the resumés with the right combination of nouns often win.
If you want to succeed in today’s job search, make a commitment to learn how to research keywords and use them appropriately.
9. Everyone has a personal brand – yes, everyone. Ten years ago, not many people knew what a personal brand was and having one wasn’t easy to explain. (Your personal brand is what sets you apart as a job candidate.) These days, even if you don’t know what your personal brand is, you still have one – as well as an online reputation revealing it.
And because recruiters and hiring managers are looking for red flags, inconsistencies in your image or messaging will prevent you from passing their screening.
So you have to decide, will you be in control of your image or will someone else? I think the Brand-Yourself.com video tutorial is the best tool out there to help you establish your brand.
10. Typing isn’t a skill anymore. Being able to type used to be a skill people would highlight on their resumé. No longer.
What really matters is how well you’ve prepared yourself for the job that’s available. To really shine, focus on customizing each resumé and cover letter to the position you’re trying to get.
It’s better to send off a few very targeted applications then it is to spray and pray.
A version of this article originally appeared on CareeerEnlightenment.com.
5 awkward interview moments – and how to bounce back from them
Job interviews are demanding at the best of times, and then your phone rings or you blurt out a swear word! But it’s not over when something like this happens – if you know what to do.
The truth is, awkward moments happen to everyone. The key is knowing how to acknowledge it and move on gracefully. We asked career coach Nicole Grainger-Marsh for her expert advice on how to deal with five cringe-worthy scenarios.
- Your mobile phone rings. This happens to the best of us. If your phone rings in the middle of your job interview, Grainger-Marsh recommends dealing with it quickly, to get the conversation back on track. “Saying ‘I’m so sorry, I thought I had switched it to silent before I came in here – it must have been a slip of the finger,’ will do the trick. It makes it clear that this isn’t your standard M.O. and that you don’t believe it’s appropriate to take calls in important meetings.”
- You forget a word. You’re in the middle of answering a question when you suddenly find yourself stumped. “Before you start panicking, remind yourself what you’re there for. Unless you’re interviewing for a job with Webster’s Dictionary, it’s okay to forget the odd word.” You’re only human, so just be honest. “Explain that you can’t put your finger on the exact word that you’re looking for, so instead describe to them what you’re trying to communicate. Nine times out of ten, the word will come to you as you talk.”
- You can’t think of an answer. You can do all the preparation in the world and still get thrown by a question. If this happens, it can be easy to go into panic mode, “which has the opposite effect of what you need; your logical brain shuts down.” Grainger-Marsh says what you need to do is “calm the panic with some deep breaths” and “acknowledge that you need some time to think.” For example: “‘That’s a really interesting question. I just need a moment to consider that.’”
- You accidentally swear. Sometimes you can be so jittery in an interview that you let slip a swear word. This is unlikely to go down well with any employer, so if you do this make sure you own up to it straight away. “Apologise, explain that it’s not your standard behaviour, and that because you’re so keen on this role you’re feeling more nervous than usual,” Grainger-Marsh advises. “It’s tough to explain this away as a positive, but communicating how much it means to you to win this job definitely helps.”
- You badmouth your previous employer. This is another example of when it’s best to move fast. “As soon as you realise you’ve badmouthed your former employer, you need to acknowledge it and put on a positive spin. For example: ‘I just realised that sounded very critical, which is not how I intended it. There were some great things about working for that company and I have taken away so much that will assist me in my next role.’”
How to bounce back from an awkward moment
- Remind yourself that the interviewer is only human. “They might have a fancy title, but they would have experienced their fair share of awkward moments, so they’re far more likely to show you empathy than show you the door.”
- “Set some smaller goals for the interview” – such as “to communicate succinctly, or to use body language to demonstrate your engagement” – so that you don’t psyche yourself out by only thinking about getting the job.
- Focus on “demonstrating your fit for the role”, rather than trying to prove to the interviewer that you’re super-human.
These strategies will help you get back into the right frame of mind if you find yourself in an awkward moment, to finish your interview on a positive note.
Article written by our partner, SEEK
10 Things I’ve Learned Since Quitting My Job – by Anna Lundberg, Coach, Speaker & Writer
In September 2013, I walked out of my office and into the unknown. I had resigned from my job, the first after my studies, with no concrete plans as to what I would be doing next.
It had started with a request to my boss to take a three-month sabbatical. Off I went to South America to travel from Quito, Ecuador, through to Buenos Aires, Argentina. During my travels, I devoured every personal development and career book I could find on Kindle, I chatted to people I met in hostels and listened to their very different stories about what they were doing and why, and I did a whole lot of soul searching. Then halfway through that trip, I called up HR and I officially gave my resignation.
Fast-forward to today, four years later, and I’ve been on one big rollercoaster journey! I had quit without any kind of clear plan, which has led to quite a few detours and sharp turns along the way – and, to be honest, things are still evolving.
But at no point have I ever regretted my decision.
Here are 10 reasons why…
1. Life on the other side is not as scary as you think
As I looked out at the world from the comfort of a steady job and a regular salary, the fear of leaving that security behind was almost paralysing. My whole life I had followed the expected path, suffering from what I now call the ‘good girl syndrome’, and breaking away from that path seemed incredibly rebellious and audacious at the time. Once I had made the decision to quit and I was committed to getting off that path, however, that fear all but disappeared. I felt empowered and excited by my ability to make things happen, and I armed myself with information by reading more books about freelancing and consulting, talking to people who had set up their own businesses, going to events where I met like-minded people and, eventually, working with my a number of coaches. I also realised that the security I had felt in my previous job was an illusion: people get fired, departments are restructured, companies fold. Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a job that makes you unhappy.
2. You have to stick to your guns
I thought I’d made The Big Decision once and for all and that was it, tada, I was forging my own path. But the truth is that I’ve had to keep questioning myself. The call of the corporate world in the first months and years after I left remained loud and alluring: recruiters called with tempting job titles and six-figure salaries, my parents worried about my pension, and corporate clients wanted me to stay on in a full-time capacity. Each time, I had to reaffirm my decision to leave that world behind and each time, I came out that bit stronger and more determined to continue to explore and create my own version of success. In the past, I had always looked to other people for reassurance and confirmation that I was making the right decision, but I know now that I’m the only one who can ever know what’s right for me. So once you’ve made that decision, run with it, trust your instincts, and don’t look back.
3. There are more options than you ever thought possible
In my previous job, I was surrounded by people with the same academic background and with the same ambitions of salary increases and promotions. We were all comfortable within that world and unsure of what lay beyond. As soon as I had left, though, I encountered people with diverse backgrounds, with much broader ambitions, and with altogether different priorities. Travelling in particular allows you to meet people with all kinds of plans, and lack of plans, and this is both reassuring and inspiring. It’s not about following someone else’s version of success, and that is something to watch out for as you meet people with exciting projects and ideas. The point is for you to discover what your version of success would look like. Open your eyes, and your heart, to the different ways of life that are out there and you may be surprised at the possibilities that are open to you.
4. You can easily live on less money than you think
With a monthly salary flowing into my bank account, I was buying clothes I didn’t need, taking taxis, and spending money with no thought of the future. Being ‘unemployed’, I became more prudent: I bought less lattes, I walked more, I cancelled Spotify Premium; and I didn’t feel at all sorry for myself. As it turns out, it’s quite painless to cut down on those little luxuries! In fact, I find that your spending adapts to your income, which means that you can reduce your spending when your income decreases without any significant impact on your wellbeing; and you can also increase your spending as your income increases, again without any real impact! So, yes, you’ll need to make what may feel like sacrifices in the short term but it won’t be as bad as you think and in the end it’s what will make your goals possible in the long term. Creating a buffer of savings will give you the added security and confidence to pursue your plans.
5. New opportunities will appear from nowhere
I left my job without knowing exactly what I was leaving for. I had thoughts of travel, starting a consultancy, taking a year off ‘to write’, taking another full-time job in an exotic location or in a not-for-profit organisation… Within the first year of leaving my job, I became involved as a mentor for two start-up incubators, I was asked to run workshops via a couple of well-established agencies, I did consulting work for several big-name brands, and I gave interviews and wrote guest posts for various blogs and websites. None of these things were even on my radar while I was in my old job. I also became aware of, and grateful for, an amazing network of people who were eager to make mutually beneficial connections and collaborations. So talk to friends and to strangers, go to events where you can meet people who can help you out, and above all remain open to unanticipated opportunities from unexpected directions.
6. It doesn’t have to be perfect from day one
I was always looking for the right job, in the right location, in the right industry – but the reality is that there is no right answer. I wanted to work at the United Nations but ‘ended up’ in consumer goods marketing, something that was far from what I was aiming for but that allowed me to develop valuable skills and knowledge while making lifelong friends among my colleagues. I hadn’t planned to move back to London but I found great opportunities there as I was first starting out. I then spent several years as a nomad, exploring ways to build my business while on the road. And today I’m working on taking my business to the next level, once again back in London and making a base for myself here. Many of the seeds that I started sowing more than a year ago, which at the time didn’t grow into anything concrete, are bearing fruit. I realised quickly that I can’t expect to be a world thought leader and best-selling author living in my dream home from day one; but with each client, each project, each article, I’m shaping the life that I want. As long as you’re progressing in the right direction, taking one step towards where you want to be, then consider it a good move.
7. Nothing lasts forever
It was a huge decision for me to leave my job. It was probably the biggest intentional and proactive change I’d ever made. I told myself, though, that the worst thing that could happen, in the event of not being able to create what I was trying to create, was that I would have to go back to a full-time job. I know people who have decided to go back to a permanent role after a period of running their own business, happy in the knowledge that it’s the right move for them. If my business isn’t doing as well in a few years’ time, if it’s no longer bringing me what I want and need, and if I decide I want to do something else, then I can always shut it down and move on to the next thing. If I don’t want to stay in London anymore, then I can always move. Nothing is set in stone, everything can be changed – if not immediately, then over time. So give it a try, and see how it goes.
8. You are not alone
It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one with doubts, the only one not feeling fulfilled – but it’s just not true. In my ‘Fearless Fridays’ interview series on my blog, and in my real-world interactions in all sorts of different settings, I’ve been talking to countless other people who have left the corporate world behind to do something less conventional, whether it was to move into a different sector, to start their own business, or to do something more creative. They all faced their own fears and challenges, and some have even returned to the corporate world in one way or another, but not one of them regrets their move. Just pull up a chair in a hostel or even in your local pub and you’re bound to meet someone on his or her own journey of self-discovery. It’s up to you to find your own way, but there are millions out there who are with you in spirit.
9. You’ll never have all the answers
I’ve been on a steep learning curve ever since I quit. As a new business owner, I had to learn about limited companies, corporation tax, VAT, PAYE, NI… I was creating proposals, contracts and invoices, I was editing the CSS of my website, and I had to take responsibility for my own personal and professional development with no boss or company to provide me with any standard training or coaching. Possibly the biggest challenge, which persists still today, has been finding the best way to balance work and income on the one side with freedom and personal life on the other; I’m still experimenting, and very much still learning! Don’t wait for the point when you have the perfect plan and you’ve answered every possible question, as you’re never going to have 100% certainty. There will always be some risk – but maybe that’s okay?
10. Not all who wander are lost
Life doesn’t have to be about having a prestigious job title, meeting The One, getting a mortgage, and having two children, a dog and a Volvo. It can be hard to watch “everyone” around you settling down; but if you don’t want to follow that path now, or maybe ever, then there’s nothing wrong with continuing to explore different paths, meeting new people, living in different cities, travelling the world… Life doesn’t have an end point – well, death, but I don’t think you should be working towards that as a goal – so why not let it be an endless journey of discovery and continuous learning? I say, bon voyage! And if you happen to see me in that bar somewhere in the world, come and join me for a drink and we’ll share our stories over a pisco sour.
A blog share we could not resist! Dream big and find the career you deserve!
Article by Forbes Contributor, Lisa Quast
You attended the party of a long-time friend and ran into a lot of people from high school that you hadn’t seen in years. During chit-chat over appetizers and drinks, you could feel the friendly competition heating up.
While comparing career accomplishments, you were shocked to learn that the kid from school with the genius IQ, the one all the teachers thought would be spectacularly successful, had struggled with his career. How could this be, you wondered. This was the person everyone thought would invent something that would change the world.
It turns out that intelligence might not be the best indicator of future success. According to psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement isn’t talent. Instead, it’s a special blend of persistence and passion that she calls “grit.”
Duckworth has spent years studying people, trying to understand what it is that makes high achievers so successful. And what she found surprised even her. It wasn’t SAT scores. It wasn’t IQ scores. It wasn’t even a degree from a top-ranking business school that turned out to be the best predictor of success. “It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special,” Duckworth said. “In a word, they had grit.”
Being gritty, according to Duckworth, is the ability to persevere. It’s about being unusually resilient and hardworking, so much so that you’re willing to continue on in the face of difficulties, obstacles and even failures. It’s about being constantly driven to improve.
In addition to perseverance, being gritty is also about being passionate about something. For the highly successful, Duckworth found that the journey was just as important as the end result. “Even if some of the things they had to do were boring, or frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.”
What her research demonstrated is that it wasn’t natural talent that made the biggest difference in who was highly successful and who wasn’t – it was more about effort than IQ. Duckworth even came up with two equations she uses to explain this concept:
- Talent x effort = skill
- Skill x effort = achievement
“Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them,” Duckworth explained.
As you can see from the equations, effort counts twice. That’s why IQ and SAT scores aren’t a good indicator of someone’s future success. It’s because those scores are missing the most important part of the equation – the person’s effort level or what Duckworth calls their “grittiness” factor (their level of persistence and passion).
What does that mean for you? It means that it’s OK if you aren’t the smartest person in the room or the smartest person in the job. It means the effort you expend toward your goals (perseverance) and your dedication throughout your career journey (passion) are what matter more than how you scored on your SAT or an IQ test.
Why? Because grit will always trump talent. Or as Duckworth notes, “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.”
If’d you’d like to hear more from Lisa then give her a follow here, we sure have!