Working from Home: Output Matters

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home. Working habits that have developed for years suddenly were not applicable anymore.  You don’t commute to the office. You don’t sit next to your co-workers. Chats around the water-cooler is not an option. Your manager is not around to watch every move you make.

All you need is a computer and a good internet connection. If you want to work in your pyjamas or be nicely dressed is up to you. If you want to work from the kitchen table or have your own office space is up to you (depending on your negotiations with other members of your household of course unless you live on your own).

On the one hand this newly-found flexibility is very much appreciated. At the same time, many people are afraid that if they are not visible, they will be forgotten. They are obsessed to be by their computer all the time, answer emails immediately as they land into their inbox and set up unnecessary  TCs just to prove that they are working.

Managers are anxious too. They are uncertain how to manage their teams. Their challenge is not only to ensure that people are actually working and not spending their time watching Netflix but most importantly how to recreate the ‘virtual space’ for collaboration.

How can we ensure that this ‘new working norm’ is both productive and fulfilling in the long-run?

It will help to start focusing more on input instead of output. In other words, what matters is the value a person adds and not how busy he/she is. (By the way, this concept has been discussed for years in the corporate world but with mixed results.)

The big question is how to assess output.

We have been used to measure the hours that a person puts into a project (and frankly it is easier!) than the quality of the work he/she produced. Also, we usually work in teams. For example, one person might have a great idea that somebody else will built on. Both contributions are valuable although very different.

Companies will need to experiment with metrics they use to measure performance. A combination of both input/output measures will be a good start.

Also, those in senior positions  will have to lead the change. Since most of them though have spent their careers based on the model defined by the industrial revolution, they will have to overcome their own biases first. Time and trust will be key for the transition to take place.


The bottom line: A mindset shift is required in order to adjust to the new working norm. We need to focus more on output and less on input. Time and trust will be key.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

 

Posted in b4iapply, Career Advice, Coaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Focus on What You can Control

Many things that happen to us are simply outside our control, even when we put a lot of energy and hard work to influence the outcome.

How we react though to the new circumstances, it is within our control.

epictetus1-2x

Sounds ok you might say but what does it really mean?

Consider the scenario below:

You expect your employer to announce some redundancies soon. What do you do?

A) Adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach

B) Explore options for different career paths that are more suitable in the ‘new norm’

C) Do online courses and acquire news skills

D) See it as a sign for you to start the business that you always dreamt

E) Do volunteer work

F) Connect with friends and family and share with them that you are looking for a new challenge

G) _________________________    (Fill the blank with your own idea)

H) A combination of the above

There is no right or wrong answer. The point is that you have options. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is up to you to decide how you want to respond. Whatever you decide to do will open the door to a new path.  ‘A journey of thousand miles start with a single step’, as the Chinese proverb says.

The bottom line: Next time something big happens in your life, take time to explore your options. How you respond to any situation is within your control.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

 

Posted in b4iapply, Coaching, Self development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Do you have a Growth or a Fixed Mindset?

Do you believe that your  important abilities (e.g. intelligence, creativity, empathy, leadership skills, etc) are fixed traits and cannot be changed or that they can grow and improve? Are you focusing more on ‘how smart you are’ or on ‘how you can get better’?

There is a a lot of research undertaken about the impact of the different ways of thinking about the goals we pursue. When you think in terms of I am good at X or I cannot do Y, this behaviour represents more the fixed mindset. When you  believe that you can further develop an ability with effort and hard work, then this attitude reflects a growth mindset.

In other words, fixed mindset focuses on performance whereas, growth mindset focuses more on learning. 

The big difference in behaviour arises when performance is challenged. When the performance is not as good as expected, the people who are more concerned about validating their abilities (fixed mindset) become defensive, get easier demotivated    and may even give up. On the other hand, those with growth mindset take the feedback (irrespective how painful it is) as an opportunity to work  to further develop their skills. This inner motivation manifests because they believe that their abilities can change with practice and effort.

So next time you give feedback to somebody for a job well done, reflect whether you want to praise them for putting the effort, their determination, their persistence or for their ‘innate’ abilities (e.g. you are so ‘smart’, or a very ‘talented’).

There was an experiment done with children. Those who were labelled ‘smart’ were less resilient when they faced more difficult problems to solve because they thought that they not that smart anymore. The others who were praised for their effort, they thought that they were not there yet but they were engaged and keen to develop their abilities . For more information, check the TED talk by Carole Dweck.

Neuroscientists are hugely in favour of the growth mindset and they are in a position to provide numerous references to justify their stand.

I believe that both mindsets have their advantages. People with a fixed mindset are usually more  competitive and they are more keen to prove that they can perform better than others. This attitude is definitely needed in many highly competitive settings (e.g. in business or politics) especially with short term objectives.

However, when the results of their actions are not the desired ones, then they find it more difficult to build on the learnings in order to become more capable in the future. Also, they maybe more resistant in learning new skills. In the current fast changing environment, this might be a significant obstacle to realise their potential in the long run. This is the reason why the growth mindset has gained so much support.

Let’s go though back to the question of this post; do you have a fixed or a growth mindset?

What do you think?

Growth_FIxed_mindset

 

I tend to believe that we all have both mindsets embedded in our brain even if some of us may lean to one more than the other. For example, Elena may have a growth mindset in how she takes feedback into consideration in order to advance her career. On the other hand, she might be completely disinterested or feel afraid in mastering anything to do with technology or she may not put effort in improving her personal relationships.

Hence, the first step is to become aware of which mindset you use for a specific situation. Then,  depending on what you want to achieve, you may consider making some adjustments in order to use the qualities of the mindset you need. (These adjustments will probably be small at the beginning. But soon the many small incremental changes may have a significant positive impact.)

The bottom line:

It is definitely important for us to learn to identify whether the fixed or the growth mindset is in the driving seat in each situation and reflect whether this is the optimal one.

 

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

Posted in b4iapply, Career Advice, Coaching, Personal development, Self development | Tagged , , ,

Remember to Reboot Yourself

Remember the times when you relive an upsetting situation in your mind or when you describe it to a friend. The never ending “He/She said and I said” interactions. By replaying the dialogue, the emotions come back and you become angry and upset.

Although this event has already occurred, you still think what witty answers you could have given or how it would have felt if you had said the things you didn’t dare to say. The more you think about it, the more forceful your emotions become. Instead of trying to figure out what to do differently next time to address the situation more effectively, you fall into the trap in defending yourself to yourself.

The mental downward spiral continues and there is no easy way out. These are the situations where you need to reboot yourself. It is similar to what we do with computers; we just press re-start when there is a problem.

Also, think of a gesture like clenching your fist or blinking your eyes to give a signal to your mind that the rebooting is about to start. This a small but powerful mental trick that can help you to trigger the process and re-balance.

Reboot

When you are in a downward spiral, remember to reboot yourself

If you catch yourself still dwelling on the same topic, reboot again. The positive thing is that you are already aware of your unhelpful thoughts. The more you practice to neutralize them, the more effective you will become. (For the cynics around us: If your aim is to prove that this technique doesn’t work, you will most certainly succeed.)

The bottom line: Next time you realize that you have given free rein to your emotions and you need to get back control, think of rebooting yourself.

 

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

 

Posted in b4iapply, Coaching, Self development | Tagged , , ,

Is there a future for higher education?

There is so much discussion about how to ‘fix’ higher education. Most proposed solutions are based on individuals’ personal past experiences; hardly the best way to address a topic that will evolve in 5 -10 years in an unprecedented way.

At least now we accept that it is difficult to define the impact of artificial intelligence and technological advancements to the job market. Still though we remain romantic about the importance of higher education at any cost.

digital age

Those with a university degree have higher earnings than those who don’t have one, the data suggest. This statement was true in the past. However, in many countries, the price premiums of these degrees have increased considerably during the last years. Also, the demand for the jobs is higher than the supply. When these parameters are taken into consideration, the reality might be different.

Some advocate about the value of internships as an alternative to the almost only option that currently exists for young people (i.e. universities). The reaction to this proposal is visceral. It is easily labelled as an attempt to reduce social mobility.  People still believe that it is better to have a university degree, a large enough debt and a low paid job rather than… Internships might be an option for some in the short-term. It is not though the solution of the bigger problem of the future of higher education.

Higher education is discussed like it is the end of the journey, although it is only the beginning. Even those who have been in employment for some years, they need to consider how they will up-skill or re-train themselves in order to continue to be relevant and employable. Life-long learning will become a must.

The model of the higher education (at least in its current form) needs to be adjusted to the new reality.

I personally don’t expect politicians to take a meaningful stand on this because there is a lot at stake (primarily their re-election). .

I don’t expect the universities to take the lead either. They have so many vested interests in the current status quo.

At the same time, the big corporations (which already now clearly state that they cannot find skilled employees) are not necessarily trusted.

So, who is best suited to prepare the society for the new norm?

Or is it more convenient to adopt the lets-kick-the-can approach?

Or maybe the change will come from the grassroots…

The bottom line: Technological advancements and artificial intelligence will change the landscape of employment and higher education. It is unclear though how the society needs to get prepared for the new norm.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. This problem will not get away. At some point, we will have to face it. Your views might help shape the response.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply. She passionately believes in empowering people to  make informed decisions about their career and their finances. She is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. In her limited spare time, she wants to join forces with others to help everybody to be a better version of themselves.

Posted in b4iapply, b4iapply to uni, Career Advice, Higher Education | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment