The power of conversations

Twitter convo

(source: Twitter)

In the last month I have followed a four-day training on discovering my skills and getting job ideas that fit those. Some of the exercises were based on the Richard Bolles book What colour is your parachute, for example telling a story of personal success that made you happy. What was the problem? How did you tackle it? What was the result? And then looking at that story from the point of view of the skills that you used.

This exercise is already powerful when conducted on your own. Though it is far more powerful when two other persons that you have just met listen and write down all the skills that they hear in your story! It’s far more than just a mirror, as this way you obtain insights in skills you never thought off, let alone thought you have yourself. It also leads to analyses of seemingly opposing skills that you both have and like to use perhaps in different situations. For example being structured at work and spontaneous while travelling. Also, telling people you just met your personal story, provides you with a reflection and feedback on how much you have already done and achieved, both personally, educationally as well as professionally.

The power of conversations also applies to having open and authentic conversations in general. Some say ‘good conversations work as a magnet’. As through these conversations with others, you can reflect on what matters to you (what do you love talking about?). While at the same time attracting (exactly like a magnet) new insights, resources, network, methods etc. from the other, exactly related to those topics that matter to you.

Through these conversations you therefore really help each other. So if you worry about what you have to offer…? Exactly that! Your listening, feedback, insight, experience and knowledge will help the other person as much as it will help you.

For finding (purposeful) work this means better not stay at home and struggle with your (online) search. Instead, go out there, meet new people through visiting events, meetups, conferences etc. Or simply ask to meet for a coffee to share stories. If you have met the person before or can refer to common connection, that is of course great. If not, sending an open email on what you are doing at the moment and why you would be interested to meet, works in my experience 9 of 10 times, even if you don’t know each other. And the 10th time a no, is also totally fine.

Be open and authentic in your conversations. Really listen to each other, provide feedback and share your experience, knowledge and network. Then reflect on the conversations you find interesting. Is it a certain topic? The type of people you speak to? Feeling connected? Helping someone? And search more of those conversations. And continue to reflect what makes them so interesting. This will help you figure out what type of work you would like to do, while networking at the same time! And it helps you to realise you are not the only one on this search. It will therefore motivate and inspire you to continue and take new steps. And who knows… it may even help you find your ‘tribe’!

The Profit of Happiness

This Dutch made production on the profit of happiness (rendement van geluk) gives inspiring insights into companies operating in the purpose economy. These companies do not focus on maximising profit, but focus on maximising their impact and following their purpose.

For example, Greystone in New York, who don’t hire people to bake brownies, they bake brownies to hire people. Anyone can walk in and apply for a job, all they ask is contact details. No resume, background check or previous experience is required. Established in 1982, and grown into a multi million business, collaborating with other large purposeful organisations like Ben & Jerry’s. But mostly they have helped improve the community, by allowing people (who had difficulties before) to work and improve their own life and that of their family and friends.

See for more inspiring stories the video (large part in English, Dutch parts unfortunately not subtitled). So, what impact do you want to have? And where and with whom?

n-HAPPINESS-628x314

(source: Huffington Post)

A new cookie jar

 

cookie jar

(source: Pinterest)

This open discovery is starting to pay off.. I found a new cookie jar! Meaning an exciting topic which combines skills, knowledges and interests I already had, redefines and combines them in a way I hadn’t considered before, while also adding new (to-be-developed) knowledges and interests. It really feels like having access to a new cookie jar. And pretty confident that in this cookie jar is my new work! 🙂

 

 

New work is actually also the right description of my topic. In German they say so nicely ‘neue Arbeitswelt’, with which is meant the changes in the current workforce that are occurring. From flexible working hours, home office, job sharing, digital nomads to self-organisation, no hierarchies and employee decision making. As the current typical organisation set-up, developed in the industrial revolution, is no longer feasible for most organisations and the people that work for them. This is also visible in the trend of people looking for more meaning in their work, and no longer only working for money (hence this blog :)).

So it’s time for a new work revolution! Which is already happening in terms of holacracy organisational structures being introduced, reinventing organisations movement, agile way of working, design thinking methodology and more flexibilities for the employees.  But still at the very beginning, and I’m excited to be and become even more part of it!

How did I get there? I already had an interest for the overall topic (as you can also see in previous blog posts). So when visiting meetups related to this topic, I met someone who is implementing holacracy in her organisation. This I had to hear more about, as I had never met anyone with that responsibility. Very simple, I asked her if she was interested in meeting to talk more about this topic. She of course coincidently happened to work around the corner. Over lunch with her and another girl interested in this topic, not only did we have a lot of common interests and very good conversations, I also received so many inspiration in terms of books I had never heard off, other people and organisations working on this topic, meetups, facebook groups etc. Like I said; a new cookie jar! And in talking with some of her contacts, I got further reconfirmed that this is an area I want to work in.

What’s next? Further exploring this field in terms of meeting more people and organisations working in this field, discovering new ways of working and new methodologies. I have also started to draw my own ideal job description, which I continue to add things to in terms of working conditions, skills, impact (see what colour is your parachute). At some point I would like to try out some jobs in this area, perhaps via shadowing someone or helping out on a specific project. In order to get a real feel and of course also some experience.

So word of advice.. follow your interests (even if you don’t think about them now as work) and meet as many people as you can related to those interests. As in meeting people, new doors and worlds will open that you haven’t thought about yourself before!

Final note, if the above makes you think about any books, movies, articles, organisations or what else, then of course I am more than happy to receive those suggestions!

How to find fulfilling work

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-03 um 10.53.42

(source: YouTube)

How to find fulfilling work by the School of Life starts with a bit of background on why so many of us are currently searching for more purpose at work.

It gives six useful ideas to take on this journey:

  1. Accept that being confused about career choice is perfectly normal – as there are so many options!
  2. Know yourself – tests like MBTI can be useful here, or books with practical exercises
  3. Think a lot – take time to reflect
  4. Try something – e.g. through shadowing, volunteering, internships or job sharing
  5. Reflect on what makes people unhappy – as solving this creates a business opportunity
  6. Be confident – give it a go!

And while I am talking about the School of Life.. Its founder, Alain de Botton, is the author of many brilliant inspiring books, in which he combines interesting topics like The Architecture of Happiness, The Art of Travel and Status Anxiety. The beautifully designed book covers already make me happy 🙂

Rethinking Work

By travelling you discover there are a many different ways to do something from what you are used to from your own background or culture. Does the same not apply to working? That there are many different ways to work? Not only 9-5, in the same office, with the same people everyday, 40-60 hours a week, having the same routine of emails, meetings, plans etc.

Always making overtime? Being ‘busy’ is good? The more meetings the better? The book Rework (by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson) gives in a humoristic way an opposing view on some of the work myths. This fun and easy read (in just a few hours!) is full of successful examples from companies all over the world.

Rework-4-1024x790

(source: the graphic recorder)

A few quotes from the book:

  • ASAP is poison
  • Planning is guessing
  • Long lists don’t get done
  • Your better off with a kick-ass half, than a half-assed whole
  • Live it or leave it
  • Don’t be a hero
  • You don’t need more hours, you need better hours
  • Scratch your own itch
  • Pour yourself into your product

Although said to be written for (to-be) entrepreneurs, it invites to rethink a few of the concepts you may be using in your work and to try something different.

 

How to get (anonymous) 360 feedback

Want to know more about how your colleagues, friends and family perceive you and your work? This can be a scary and time consuming question to ask.. Luckily there are online tools available to help and also anonymise this process!

The free version of the Talent Checkup tool by checkster allows you to ask up to 50 people for their feedback. The invitees need to fill out a 5 minute survey, consisting of open, 5-scale and multiple choice questions. You fill out the same survey, checkster then compiles the results and creates a report. Checkster also asks whether people are open to be contacted after the survey as well, just in case you have some follow-up questions.

Review

(source: emerce)

The following areas are focused on in the report and survey:

  • Strengths, accomplishments and improvements
  • Scores on probability of re-hire and overall performance
  • Gap analysis on own vs others scores on attributes like team player, energy in work and stress handling
  • The beforementioned attributes are also scored on strongest vs weakest
  • Work related skills, industry knowledge and work behaviour
  • Job flow potential (can you get ‘in the flow’ while working)
  • 4 E’s of leadership; energy, energise, edge, execute

Most interesting for me were the strengths, accomplishments and improvements and the gap analysis sections. The strengths, accomplishments and improvements consisted of open questions, allowing your invitees to provide elaborate feedback. Some you may be aware off yourself, although it can be hard to admit.. And other feedback can be quite surprising! The same counts for the gap analysis, this really shows your blindspot in when you are too generous or too conservative about yourself. For example I thought I displayed quite some energy in performing all sorts of tasks, but according to my reviewers I can show more energy!

Finally some tips/notes from my own experience:

  • You may want to contact your invitees separately as well, announcing the checkster invite. As the invite can be perceived as spam, even though the message can be tailored by you.
  • As it is work related the questions can be more difficult to answer by your friends and family. They can of course relate their answers on the stories that you have told them or think about a shared project situation (e.g. organising a party together).
  • Invite as many people as you can. Also think about colleagues from previous jobs and create a mix of junior, peer and more senior colleagues, so you really get 360 feedback.

Job sharing

The way we work is changing. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at the same organisation for 25 years is not so common anymore. Part-time, home office, multiple small jobs, digital nomad. You name it and it’s possible.

job sharing

(source: arbeits abc)

On revival is a concept called job sharing, meaning two people fulfil one job. This can be 50/50, but variances are possible, depending both on the job and the available time of the employees. This also means a 150% job in which two persons work 60 hours in total.

 

Some of the benefits of job sharing:

  • Two know and can do more than one
  • Ensures better availability for colleagues and customers (there is always someone around)
  • Both can learn from each other, on experiences (senior vs junior) or on certain skills and knowledges
  • It allows for flexibility to do other ‘projects’ next to your job (ranging from parenting, studying or founding a start-up)

Like with any part-time option, it does mean a decrease in salary and other employee benefits. And in sharing a job, it is important to ensure proper and regular contact moments to align and/or hand-over the work.

I discovered job sharing during a meet-up were the German start-up Tandemploy was presenting their platform. Tandemploy is an online platform were both job sharers as well as companies can find each other.