Careers FAQs

Getting a job
How do I find a job I love?

To find a job you love you first need to know a few things about yourself. This means ‘tuning in to who you are’ – your likes, dislikes, what motivates or de-energises.  You’ll need to think about the skills you have (or would like to develop) as well as your fundamental beliefs and values (for example, your need for job security, your desire to do work that is creative or cutting edge, your need to work in a team rather than alone).  Working out these key attributes will help you narrow down the types of jobs that you might like to do and the types of companies that might suit you. Not everybody works out what they love doing, before they’ve given a few jobs a go – so be prepared to try some things out and learn as you go. For help getting to know yourself better use our Notebook Mentor “getting to know me better” – follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/product/getting-to-know-me-better/

How can I get a job when unemployment is rising?

Job hunting is a tough and takes patience, humility and optimism. The best place to start with any job hunt is with your network. Who do you know who could help you find a job? What connections do you have that you could draw on? For example, how might friends and family help out?  Who do you know who seems well connected in the job market? Is there someone who inspires you or who you consider to be a mentor, who might offer you advice and recommend you to others? Building a network is a great way to get introduced to prospective hiring managers – or at the very least be remembered when a job vacancy comes open. In addition to building your network you can use social platforms to alert others to your availability and interests. LinkedIn is a great place to advertise yourself – make sure your page is up to date and attractive as it can be.  Building a strong relationship with a few good recruiters you seem to get on with is another way of being represented in the market. And then you can apply for directly advertised jobs – it’s not the easiest way of getting noticed, so be prepared for disappointment. Combine all of the above to have the best chance of success. For help with finding a new job follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/using-your-network-to-find-a-job/

How do I do well in an online interview?

Interviewing over technology is a little different to interviewing face to face, but it’s something that we must all deal with, in today’s modern world. Here are just a few key tips to help the process go smoothly:

  • Make sure you test your technology before the actual interview (is your bandwidth strong enough to cope with a voice and video call?)
  • De-clutter what’s in your camera’s line of sight.  Make ‘you’ the focus of attention
  • Turn up and sign in 10 minutes before your interview is due to start
  • Look presentable – make the interviewer feel special in the sense that you think they are worth scrubbing up for!
  • Be prepared to describe yourself using a short synopsis of who you are. This means describing your skills, experience and character 
  • Listen actively to the questions you are asked and answer them with punchy, powerful sentences.

For help with getting a job read our blog on how to make a good impression. Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/interviews-and-how-to-make-a-good-impression/

What reward should I expect in a new job?

Getting hired into a new role in the current climate is great news for anyone – congratulations! Perhaps this is your dream job, perhaps you feel you have compromised on your ideal role for the sake of being in paid employment? Whatever the case it’s worth understanding the value of your role in the current marketplace and the degree to which your experience, knowledge and capability might influence your ability to shape a reward package you are happy with.

As you search the job market, you’ll no doubt see advertised roles that include basic information about salary.  Looking across a number of these roles should give you an understanding of the value of the role in the current market. Be cautious however, because sometimes the recruitment market can inflate the value of a role (due to scarcity of talent, demand for skill etc.).  Organisations may find themselves unable to pay the market rate or have current internal employees doing similar roles, on lower salaries. Internal grading systems that ‘weight’ or ‘grade’ roles may also not exactly reflect the current job market. Making a judgement on how to balance these various equations is complicated.

Importantly, it’s worth remembering that you need to think about your reward as ‘total reward’. This means considering all aspects of reward, beyond base salary. This includes pension contribution from your employer (and you). It may include an annual bonus, commission pay or sales bonus, benefits like private medical insurance or childcare support, your holiday entitlement, notice period or other investment options (like employee share schemes or long-term incentive, if those are relevant). 

It’s also worth thinking about non-financial reward – this includes available training, learning and education, career progression options, culture and climate, physical space (such as offices or collaboration space) or other practices and policies that are beneficial to you, such as working from home, or health and wellbeing initiatives.

When you think about negotiating your reward package, remember to put a value on all parts of the equation.  Listen to what your employer has to say, put your views forward, and act with integrity and fairness in mind. If you don’t agree – you can always walk away or negotiate an agreed review of your reward (without the promise of change) in 6-or 9-months’ time.

How can I develop new skills to be more employable in a post covid-19 world?

You are learning new skills every day without even realizing it. The fact that you have adapted to new ways of working during a global pandemic demonstrates heightened levels flexibility, patience and resilience. Remember to celebrate how you have coped with change, what you have done differently and how you are planning for a different future. These are all excellent personal qualities that are important to employers.

If the situation with Covid-19 has left you without a job, or in a job you don’t really like, then it’s worth taking action to see how you might extend your knowledge, skills and attributes to make you employable in different ways.  For example, perhaps you historically worked in a retail store. Chances are with this type of experience on your CV, you’ll be good at interacting with members of the public.  You might also be good at stock management, financial control, store design or using point of sale systems. 

These skills can be built on to create wider employment appeal. For example, if you are good with technology, you might like learn how to use payroll systems, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or collaboration technology.  If you have a head for numbers perhaps you might like to learn basic bookkeeping and accountancy.  Every job role in the market, has another role it sits close to.  Spend time working out those roles that need similar knowledge and skill to what you already have. In doing so you’ll see how you can shift your market appeal step by step.

To grow your competence and confidence in any topic it’s often sensible to take a strengths-based approach. This means determining what you are already good at, building on those key strengths (as suggested above). This way your motivation and energy are likely to remain positive for longer.

The Open University offer over 1000 free online courses, supporting all sorts of interests. It’s a great place to test your energy for training and learning, especially if you are thinking of doing so, while in a job. Go to https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

If you have more spare time you might consider these other development options:

  • Completing an educational course that has a recognised qualification
  • Volunteering for a charity, or local employer to gain different work experience
  • Asking someone with more experience to mentor or coach you
  • Researching, reading books and listening to Podcasts on topics of interest
  • Writing, vlogging or blogging your ideas to build your profile on social media
  • Starting your own small business

Try using our career journaling workbook

https://www.notebookmentor.com/product/getting-to-know-me-better/ to find out your key strengths, motivations, likes, dislikes, skills and traits. This will set you up well for deciding what to focus on.

Getting on at work

How do I get promoted at work?

Getting that all-important promotion at work, isn’t just about you. It’s about what the organisation needs at any particular moment in time.  To get promoted you need to have shown that you are at least worthy of a chance to prove yourself. This means your performance in your current role is likely to have been impressive.  Perhaps you have shown particularly strong management or leadership qualities that other people are recognising and talking about? Getting recognised for doing something well isn’t always about shouting it from the rooftops – sometimes a team’s success says as much about an individual, as does the individual trying to hog the limelight or claim a personal win.  Humility goes a long way to showcasing you are ready for something new and challenging.  Let people know that you are keen to progress, be humble but energised about your achievements and be patient.  Your time will come.  Before you apply for that all-important promotion go to our Resources page and complete a personal development plan – knowing your strengths and gaps is a good place to start a conversation about promotion. Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/project/personal-development-planning/

What does it mean to ‘personally develop’?

Personal development can mean many different things. It might mean learning a new skill or gaining a qualification. It could be about building on a strength that you already have, or it could be about closing a deficit or development gap. Sometimes personal development is just about learning and improving yourself because you want to! People who want to personally develop, generally get on with it, despite any limitations from their employer. That said, where employers offer personal development or training associated with a current or new job, it can be a great way to enhance your skills and experience. Sometimes personal development might be ‘on the job’ training – where you learn by doing or watching someone else. Whatever it’s form, personal development when embraced with enthusiasm and positivity, is generally enriching and rewarding. Learn more about how Notebook Mentor and mentoring can help you personally develop by reading our blog. Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/how-mentoring-can-benefit-personal-development/

How do I impress people at work?

Impressing others at work, perhaps should be secondary to doing your job well. Do your job well, deliver the results you are supposed to and work on building strong, trusting relationships with other people. Do these things and chances are you will impress! This doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to shine and be seen as someone with potential.  This requires you to consider the needs of your team, line manager and organisation. Shining ‘alone’ without connecting your efforts to what will help others be successful may not get you the recognition you desire. Think about what success looks like for the organisation and team and work to make others successful. In doing so you will undoubtedly stand out.

How do I build strong relationships at work?

Building strong relationships at work is important for everyone – you, your colleagues, your employer and the clients and customers you serve. Without some sort of harmony at work, it’s difficult to get anything done.  Good relationships at work can:

  • Create a happy work environment where people feel relaxed and energised
  • Provide opportunities to learn, between people with diverse skills, traits and beliefs
  • Lead to collaboration, problem solving and thinking creatively
  • Support mental health and wellbeing
  • Allow for constructive difference of opinion to be debated appropriately, creating a richer perspective and better outcomes
  • Support feelings of togetherness and camaraderie
  • Create space for fun, social interaction and development of friendships

Of course, it’s not uncommon to for workplace relationships to become strained or broken. Our advice in these circumstances is to take action quickly, resolving issues before they worsen. Work through https://www.notebookmentor.com/product/not-getting-on-with-someone-at-work/ for hints and tips on how to resolve workplace conflict and relationship issues.

Building good relationships at work is primarily about knowing yourself and being willing to get to know others, putting yourself in their shoes, seeing the world through their eyes.  These are key components of emotional intelligence or EQ. 

To build EQ you need to:

  • Become more self-aware.  How do you see the world? What unconscious biases do you carry? We all carry bias, consciously or unconsciously. This happens as a result of our experience, those who have influenced us, our education and learning. Are there patterns in how you react in certain situations or with certain people?
  • Develop emotional regulation. This basically means keeping yourself in-check. What happens when certain buttons get pushed? How can you control outbursts or strong reactions?  How will you hold yourself accountable?
  • Develop empathy.  Being empathic means truly putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. True empathy asks you to treat others how they would wish to be treated. It requires you to ask ‘why’ someone might be acting in a certain way.
  • Be socially intelligent.  Social intelligence requires you to work on building strong relationships using negotiation and persuasion to find common ground.  It requires you to be prepared to ‘move’ your position alongside someone shifting theirs.

By working on these EQ traits, you will have a great opportunity to develop strong and enduring relationships at work.

What’s the value in mentoring?

Simply put mentoring can be described as someone helping you out. This someone is a person who has knowledge or experience of a subject of interest to you and is willing to share his or her know-how, such that you can learn from it and use it to develop or better manage your situation. Done well it is different from someone offering you more general advice or giving you their opinion – however well intentioned!

Mentoring takes many forms. It can be informal and brief – such as an expert giving you advice via a TED Talk, or more formal and longer-term – such as a leader in business supporting you in a transition to a new, more senior role.  It can also take the form of reverse mentoring – when a more junior individual with expert knowledge offers advice to a senior person unskilled in the same area. 

Mentoring can help you build a skill or support you through a period of uncertainty and change. It can give you the confidence to face a difficult challenge or lean into an unexpected opportunity.  It can help stimulate ideas about what actions to take or which path to choose.  By encouraging reflection and working on your capacity to solve problems, one possible outcome of mentoring is that it can help you arrive at high-quality decisions, faster.

The aim of mentoring is to help you become more capable and motivated to manage your situation or development on a continual basis. Effective mentoring builds ability and encourages the desire for independence and self-reliance, even if this takes time. A mentoring experience should help you emerge wiser, more confident and informed about how to tackle whatever it is you are facing. 

Managing people
What could you include in a home working policy?

COVID-19 encouraged change and adaptation in the way we work. Businesses had to think on their feet but through technology, home working became the norm throughout the pandemic. After restrictions lifted, many employees have wanted to maintain this way of working. Deloitte found that 42% of workers were hoping for the continuation of at least some form of hybrid working. As a result, companies have had to focus on embedding home working policies. There continue to be a plethora of things to consider when producing a home working policy, however, you may choose to focus on at least these:

  1. Providing employees with a computer, a stable broadband connection and a printer at home. This ensures work can be completed efficiently, avoiding basic connectivity issues.
  2. Providing training on how to work at home effectively. This allows employees to gain a better understanding of the dos and don’ts when it comes to working at home, further helping the adjustment.
  3. Finding ways to treat employees working remotely equally to those working in the office. Ensuring they still have access to training and development opportunities is vital.
  4. Considering health and safety. Thinking about self-examination of the working environment, ensuring it is ergonomically safe.
  5. Considering how managers will monitor employee work and progress. If an employee is no longer in the office with their boss, careful consideration needs to be taken to decide how this employee will be managed effectively.
  6. Protecting data should be considered. How will the company ensure that confidentiality and security?
  7. Dictating (or not) start and finish times. Will you be offering employees flexibility or a rigid work structure?
  8. Perhaps putting more plans in place to support mental health. Employees may feel isolated or lonely without day-to-day physical interaction with other colleagues. According to the CIPD health and wellbeing survey, in 2021, 31% of people felt stressed due to the challenges of home working.

It is important to remember to continue to monitor your policies. Identify when certain aspects may need updating.

How do you encourage an inclusive working environment?

It’s important to take time to assess how inclusive your firm’s working environment is and whether more steps need to be taken to promote diversity and inclusion. According to a 2020 Mckinsey survey, 84% of employees felt that they had experienced microaggressions on a daily basis. To encourage an inclusive work environment, take the following steps:


  1. Monitor the composition of your workforce. Are there a diverse range of ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, and disabilities amongst employees? If you believe that this could be further improved perhaps you may examine your recruitment process and implement blind recruitment – the act of removing name, age and sex from a CV. This will ensure hiring is less unconsciously biased.


  1. Offer your employees the opportunity to take part in training days where they can learn about diversity. Create an inclusive working environment by helping employees become aware of their unconscious biases, providing tips on how they can reduce them. Keeping training on a continuous loop is important.


  1. Ensure job descriptions are free from bias language. According to the 2020 Mckinsey survey, 39% of individuals often turn down a job due to the perceived lack of inclusion offered by a company. Consider use of inclusive language within recruitment to ensure that you are attracting a diverse pool of candidates.


  1. Ensure that departments continue to set objectives that promote diversity and inclusion whilst monitoring progress.


  1. Take any complaints of discrimination seriously, ensuring employees feel comfortable voicing concerns. Have a proper system in place for raised complaints to help build a culture of trust.


Remember it’s important to regularly review employment policies and procedures to ensure fairness, inclusion and diversity is maintained and improved.

What does ‘managing people’ really mean?

Managing people generally means that you have some sort of responsibility for others. This could include setting objectives with team members. It might mean supporting someone’s personal development. You might be responsible for hiring people, managing and reporting on performance or helping people progress their career. A manager is often expected to support others to be successful and deliver what is required across the employee lifecycle – from joining to leaving. Management is sometimes considered different to leadership because it is about getting on with the ‘day to day’. Either way, if you are managing people your job is to motivate, develop and get the best out of people, delivering the desired goals along the way.  To find out more about managing, look no further than our Notebook Mentor ‘Becoming a 1st-time manager’. Follow the link here: 


What do I need to prioritise as a new manager?

When you first start managing other people, no doubt you’ll still need to get on with ‘doing your day job’.  Managing people should in time, become a big part of your day job, but in the first instance it’s worth just getting to know the skills and capabilities of your team.  Find out a little bit about who people are, what they aspire to and how they want to develop.  When starting out as a manager you’ll need to work out if your team has everything it needs to be successful. This may take some time, so be prepared to spend quality time listening and learning from the past and present situation. Managers who manage budgets, lead projects, manage rewards and recognition and have to tackle organisation change may need to prioritise these activities too. For more help read: 


What skills do I need to be a good manager?

Good managers need a variety of skills – not least the willingness to invest quality time in supporting the growth and development of people.  Depending on the type of management job you have (such as whether you manage a budget or not), here are five critical management skills and qualities that any manager would benefit from: 

  • Good planning and project management skills
  • Good communication skills 
  • An analytical brain – one that can quickly understand concepts or numbers
  • Empathy or a willingness to see someone else’s viewpoint
  • Energy and drive to positively motivate a team

 Try using the VIA Strengths Inventory to find out what skills and qualities you possess as a manager. Go to: https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths

What are ‘values’ and why do they matter?

Values are the things people or organisations place importance on. For example, an employer might value ‘treating customers with respect’ or ‘being innovative’.  As individuals you decide what in life it is, you value. Often your values are a reflection of how you want to be treated or the standards of behaviour you expect from yourself and others. For example, you may value ‘financial security’ because you have a family to care for. You may value ‘decision authority’ because you like to be in charge. Perhaps you value ‘teamwork and collaboration’ or ‘being kind’, ‘creativity’ or ‘working remotely’. Values can literally be anything that are important to you. When things don’t feel right at work or perhaps you feel unhappy, it’s often because your values are being impinged. Knowing what you value most highly is therefore useful as you can avoid situations that might make you feel bad, or at least know why you feel this way. Sometimes an organisations values can be in conflict with your personal values. For example, a company working solely in the pursuit of profit, who doesn’t value looking after the environment or local community, might not work with your values of ‘family’ and ‘sustainability’.  To find out what you value most, why not work through our values exercise? Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/project/your-core-values/

What is performance management?

If you consider performance management to be about judging people, then you can date it back tens of thousands of years – not simply to the industrial revolution.  In the workplace it was originally based on a blunt measure – output. Though not formally documented as a concept until after the First World War, the idea of marshalling people to achieve objectives or goals was common – just consider the strategies for managing an army.

Post-war appraisal systems became increasingly complex. Peter Drucker (1954) in ‘The Practice of Management’ introduced the concept of ‘Management by Objectives’, helping organisations achieve their goals by giving teams and individual’s objectives to aim for. These systems did their job well on the whole, although by the 1970’s several court cases were heard because the systems were subjective and opinion-based. At this time rating scales started to be introduced alongside measures of behaviour and ‘fit’.

From there, a proliferation of performance management processes developed, in addition to philosophies about how to do it well, how to align it to purpose and strategy, and how to weave development and other things into a conversation about outcomes.  Most companies got to a point where there was an understanding that performance management was all about:

  • Setting clear and agreed goals (S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely)
  • Having regularly conversations to ‘check-in’ on progress throughout the performance cycle
  • Focus on ‘what’ gets down, alongside ‘how’ it is done
  • Taking time to performance coach to both correct the path but also develop people
  • Consider all this in relation to an expected standard, by placing people somewhere on a continuum or rating scale
  • Aligning both recognition and reward to success
  • Provide multiple sources of feedback from different people (such as 360-degree feedback input from a line manager, peers and subordinates)

Then something happened…

In the 1990’s organizations started to wonder what the benefit of these time consuming and therefore quite costly appraisals processes were. Individuals expressed dissatisfaction with notion of being pigeonholed or worse retrofitted into a forced performance distribution curve.  By the 00’s people believed that they had proved that performance management didn’t work – that it drove disengagement, rather than the opposite.

Today’s reality is somewhat of a middle ground. Performance management still exists in many organisations.  In fact, in regulated industries it is often demanded. Some organisations have taken a softer approach, setting objectives, using coaching and peer review for feedback. For others team goals have become the norm. Some have eliminated any kind of formal system.

Whatever your personal view on performance management, as manager, there is every chance you will have to work with the system used by your employer.  Get prepared by reading https://www.notebookmentor.com/product/becoming-a-1st-time-manager/

How do I get better at managing performance?
  • Managing someone’s performance isn’t just about getting them to achieve a certain goal, hit a number and deliver a specific task. Today, managing performance requires deeper consideration to support an individual to thrive in the job they do, because they are happy, healthy and motivated at work.
  • If you want to become a better manager of performance, here are a few simple tips to follow:
  • Give people a chance to input into goal setting (if they’ve been around awhile chances are, they’ll have some good ideas and will appreciate being asked.) You want people to feel that they have ‘skin in the game’ – owning and understanding why certain goals are being set.
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. objectives so that people know exactly what is expected of them.  Although it’s ok to set high-level, broad objectives (particularly for a team), if you need something specific delivered it’s better to jointly agree exactly what that is.  S.M.A.R.T objectives are: 
    • Specific – the outcome required is clearly stated
    • Measurable – there are clear measures of what is to be achieved
    • Achievable – it can be done by you alone or with others
    • Relevant – it is relevant to you, your colleagues, the company etc.
    • Timely – the objective is time-bound
  • Remember to balance recognizing what gets done, with how it is done. Demonstrating positive behaviours and values is often as important as hitting a target.
  • Think of objectives flexibly. Reviewing progress should be an ongoing discussion throughout the year not something that happens once or twice. Be prepared to amend as you go.
  • Adopt a coaching approaching. Talk to the people you manage ‘in the moment’. Don’t save up performance conversations. If you see someone struggling or you see inappropriate behaviour, discuss it straight away. Get your people ‘on-track’ by supporting and coaching them, being clear when things need to improve. And remember to appreciate them when they do a good job! 
  • Get to know your people. If you see someone struggling, ask yourself why? (is something else going on for them, perhaps outside work?).  What can you do as their manager to support them more broadly?
  • Encourage an open-door policy – you want people to feel comfortable enough to reach out to you if they are struggling, need help or think they can help others.  Be approachable, empathic and open. 
  • People are human, not auto-bots! They are generally sensitive to how feedback is delivered (not just what is delivered). Treat people with extra sensitivity and remember it’s always best to ‘look in the mirror’ when things aren’t going to plan. As their manager what could you be doing differently to help with their success?
  • Monitor shifts in the environment around you. Have organisational goals changed? Is the business short on revenue or profit this quarter – how might priorities have changed?
  • When deciding performance ratings (if this is part of the process you use) remember that it isn’t just about rewarding ‘effort’ – outcomes matter too. Be organizationally aware to set the right tone and temperature.

Finally, no doubt you will have much to do yourself to deliver your goals and objectives and contribute to the success of the department and/or company. Balance your diary – time for your team; time for doing work; time for communicating and time for you (to reflect and seek feedback from your line manager).

How is management and leadership different?

It is argued that ‘managing’ is about dealing with day-to-day routine, organisation, planning and control – focusing on what needs to get done in the short term, rather than worrying about longer term strategic goals. Managers it is said, organise processes and things. Managers do tasks, run team meetings, set objectives, manage budgets and have performance conversations (although not all managers will do these things).

Plenty of managers display leadership qualities because they manage people, care passionately about a topic or strive to achieve something important that needs to get done. 

The fact is leadership can happen at any stage in your life and isn’t defined by a job title or how many years of experience you have on the clock. It’s about your mindset, your ability to garner followership and your willingness to take a stand for what you believe in. Leadership is tough and demanding and requires you to put something of yourself ‘on-the-line’.  You have to be prepared to put yourself out there – speak up, and take charge, but also to sometimes sit back, listen and let others take the lead.  Leaders are often dealing with the ambiguous and difficult to define – it requires a different kind of emotional and intellectual sophistication. For more information on understanding what leadership is all about, why not view our recommended reading list: Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/project/leadership-reading-audio-book-recommendations/

What skills and traits do I need for leadership?

Many different skills and traits are important to leadership. Here are just a few we think are important:

Collegiate ambition – the desire to lead and make a difference but to do so by bringing others along with you.

Political intelligence – the ability to tune into what is going on in any given situation – to read a room, using your instinct to test and appreciate the atmosphere – for example, who has power and why? 

Analytic intelligence – being able to synthesise data and make the complex simple.  Those with high IQ aren’t just good with numbers, they are able to see links between complex information and work out what needs to be done as a result. 

Emotional intelligence or EQ – is according to Psychologist Daniel Goleman the “coming together of several leadership traits – coaching, pacesetting, being participative, affiliative, visionary and directive”.  The root of EQ is in knowing yourself (self-awareness) and having the ability to tune into others (other awareness). 

Drive and energy (although not overplayed). 

Courage – the trait of bravery, self-belief and risk-taking.  Courage will help you to problem solve and challenge appropriately.  

Restraint – an equally important leadership trait, and this requires leaders to be able to hold back and not just jump in or railroad others with their views.

Creativity – the willingness to fail, learn and be inventive. To build on what has gone before or to create original ideas from a blank sheet.

Humility – a much underrated character trait, humility is all about modesty and having an ‘in perspective’ view of one’s own importance. 

To find out more about your leadership style and qualities, complete our journaling workbook ‘What kind of leader am I?’ Follow the link here: https://www.notebookmentor.com/product/what-kind-of-leader-am-i/

What is leadership?
  • Leadership shows up in all sorts of places – in the playground, at home, in communities, within projects and at all levels in small, medium and large organisations. The linear timeline that governs your life does not dictate an age where it becomes possible for you to be leading – it can happen at any age. 
  • How is this possible?
  • It is possible because leading is about making a difference.
  • Leadership demands that you are in the game. It can be about undertaking things that you know the answer to – but more often than not it concerns facing into something ambiguous and hard to pin down. Leadership can create conflict, demand different thinking and even put you at risk of being shot down by those whose routines, thoughts and feelings, you disrupt. It can require you to orchestrate others, give away power or challenge long-held beliefs and values. To lead you must put yourself in the spotlight and under the microscope. For many, this can make leading a dangerous pursuit.
  • If you were hoping to find simple answers to what leadership is, you might be drawn to books and academic theory to illuminate your way. While it undoubtedly makes for interesting reading it may also leave you feeling a little bamboozled!  That’s because our belief in what constitutes leadership has changed practically every decade in the last eighty years.  From theories based on traits, to more behaviour-based approaches, leadership styles, task focus, situational leadership, distributed leadership and self-directed teams – there is no end to leadership theory. If you are interested do look into these theories further.
  • If leadership is indeed about making a difference, you can bring leadership to whatever it is you do – right now, today. You certainly don’t need to wait for the day when you have a so-called leadership title!

Problems and challenges at work

What is bullying and harassment?

Bullying in the workplace is more common than any of us would like to believe and, according to several recent global reports, is on the rise. It can take different forms and be obvious or subtle, face-to-face or over email/phone, in private or in front of others. Whatever its form, it can severely impact confidence and self-esteem. There’s no legal definition of bullying (unlike harassment), but it can be described as deliberate and negative behaviour targeted at an individual, repeatedly and typically over a prolonged period.

Here are some typical examples of bullying in the workplace:

  • Making offensive, intimidating or undermining comments
  • Being sarcastic towards you or your ideas
  • Humiliating you in front of colleagues
  • Constantly undervaluing your efforts or criticising
  • Denying you training or promotion opportunities
  • Blaming you unfairly for problems caused by others
  • Gossiping behind your back
  • Physically or verbally abusing you, such as calling you names or labelling you
  • Regularly treating you unfairly
  • Constantly setting you up to fail by withholding information or imposing unreasonable deadlines or workloads
  • Excluding you from common activities
  • Using overbearing supervision
  • Spreading malicious rumours to damage your reputation
How can I deal with bullying or harassment?

If you think you might be the subject of bullying, you should talk to someone in your Human Resources department or privately speak to someone senior in the organisation. If none of these options is available, we suggest you talk to an independent third party (a charity, mediator, counsellor or other agency offering support).

As with any difficult relationship, our advice is to deal with it as quickly as possible. Given the level of emotional toll that bullying can take, it’s preferable to rapidly signal to the person you are not getting on with that their behaviour isn’t acceptable to you.  We would advocate an informal approach in the first instance, although this will depend on the nature of the situation and how safe you feel to deal with it directly yourself.

Irrespective of whether you take an informal or formal approach, it’s advisable to document what’s happening (including dates/times, names of anyone else present, specific details of the incident including verbatim comments where possible). Not only does this enable you to describe the nature of what’s taking place if you take a formal route to resolution, it also helps you to clarify your thoughts before addressing the issue directly. Take time to review your record of the situation in preparation for the discussion.

We’re mindful that the prospect of confronting someone can be very intimidating. That said, speaking privately to someone about their behaviour allows you to exert more control over the conversation and ensures you are prepared and as calm as possible. You might feel that it would be helpful to have a trusted third-party present.

If you’ve tried the informal route several times and it hasn’t worked, then you might want to consider raising a formal grievance. Find out what your organisation’s policy is regarding bullying and use that as your guide to seek resolution. If no policy exists speak to someone more senior or a member of their peer group.

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