5 Steps to Help you Focus on Solutions and Not Problems

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It’s inevitable. At some point (well actually many points) in your life, you will come up against adversity. Whether it’s a person, a situation or a mistake made, you must decide when the time comes how you will handle the problem. Some people prefer to talk about it, FOREVER! Going in circles and repeating the same thing over and over again is not an effective way to get to the solution. The following are the 5 steps to help you learn a solution focused approach to both everyday and major problems. Using these steps, you can reach a positive outcome in under 30 minutes.

  1. Define

Give yourself a maximum of 5 minutes to really see and define the problem. Ask yourself the right kinds of questions. The important thing here is to not harp on who did what or who’s to blame. You need to observe the situation from an objective point of view. Bringing emotion in at this point is completely unacceptable and unproductive. Take a few deep breaths, and then begin the process of defining the problem as it stands. Some of the questions you might consider include:

Who are the key players?

How did the issue arise?

What’s been done about it so far?

What’s the current status of the situation?

  1. Best Outcome Analysis

Now that you understand exactly where you stand, you need to determine your preferred best-case scenario. For the next 5 minutes (or under) figure out the following; If everything lined up just right, what would that look like? Paint that picture clearly in your head. While it might appear that this step is coming a little too soon, this is what you want to be focusing on. Whether you alone are problem solving or you have an entire team, get everyone to envision your desired outcome. Paint a real and vivid picture.

  1. Create the Road Map

Now that you know where you want to go, the key will be to determine how to get there. You get 10 minutes to brainstorm. Any idea is welcome during this process. Anything that will help get you from A to Z should be shouted out or written down. Small steps are the key. Remember that at this point, you are no longer harping on what happened. You must shift your focus toward the Best Outcome Analysis and come up with the HOW. Inch by inch is the rule of thumb. Grandiose ideas can seem overwhelming. Breaking it down into small achievable steps allows you to feel positive and capable. Figure out which small steps lead you to your best outcome.

  1. Delegate the Solution

You’ve figured out the little steps needed to help you achieve your best outcome. Now it’s time to delegate and get cracking! Who needs to remain involved in the problem solving process? Who will best complete what steps to ensure that you achieve your desired outcome. Pride must be shoved aside during this 5 minute exercise. The key is to ensure that the right people are in place, completing the right tasks to get the problem resolved and get the action plan complete.

  1. Solution Analysis

Once your plan is put into action and your outcome determined, sit down for 5 minutes and analyze the following:

Did we achieve our best possible outcome?

What did we do right while resolving the issue?

What could we have done better?

MOST IMPORTANT: How do we avoid the same problem in the future?

It’s important to share your input with everyone involved in the problem and/or the solution. This exercise is not meant to bring the problem back up, rather, it’s meant to focus on the solution and avoidance for future repeat.

melblog

 

30 Ideas for Your Next Blog

Experiencing blogger’s block? Tapped out of inspiration? Check out the infographic I have created featuring 30 blog title ideas to get you on your way to writing again! These generic templates are easy to use…simply fill in the blanks with words that pertain to your usual blogging topics in order to create your next blog title!

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I hope that my infographic helps you with your writing process! Feel free to bookmark this post to use as reference whenever you’re struggling with blogging inspiration!

MeganSignature

Benefits of a Field Placement

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When I first entered into the Business Administration program at Cambrian College, I had originally only applied for the two year Diploma program. I had thought about doing the third year to gain the Advanced Diploma and additional experience, but doing another year of school was not something that I was particularly keen on. Halfway through my second year, I sat in on a presentation from the third year students to gain some insight on what they had learned during their third year. It wasn’t until that presentation took place that I realized that an 8-week field placement was part of the curriculum. I listened to what the presenters had to say, and it was all so positive. They stated that they had learned so much and that they would encourage anyone to continue on to the third year. One gentleman mentioned that he had completed the two year program some years prior and was forced to return for the third year because his employment wouldn’t allow him to move into a position of management without the additional education and experience. After some thought and discussion with my parents, I decided to continue on. All that I can say about my third year placement was that it was absolutely worth it. It was worth the extra year of schooling, it was worth the extra year of homework, and it was worth the extra year of not being able to work full-time.

Completing the work placement offered me plenty of benefits for progressing into my career here at Plan A. I would highly recommend taking the opportunity to complete a placement for many reasons, some of which I will explain.

Gain Valuable Experience

During my 8-week placement I learned more about the Human Resources field than I did sitting through three years of classroom lectures. The information that I had learned in class proved to be relevant and useful throughout my placement, but having the opportunity to put my education and knowledge into practice made all the difference. I was able to see where certain topics that I had learned about in class were relevant to the field. I would often sit through classes that made me think, “When am I ever going to use this?” and the placement opportunity helped me see the purpose.

Employers love seeing on resumes that applicants have experience in their field prior to hiring them as well. “Previous experience” translates to “free training” for employers. Experience gives anyone an advantage over those who don’t have any.

Develop Your Skills

I already mentioned the fact that you will gain experience in your chosen field, but placements also give you the opportunity to grow on and improve your current skills, such as interpersonal skills, working with a team, adaptability and much more. No one is perfect, but practice makes perfect. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn, grow and make mistakes in a supportive learning environment. The more you practice, expand and focus on improving your skills, the better and stronger an employee you will become!

Gain Insight into the Role

Having the opportunity to work alongside people who work in your chosen career gives you the chance to ask questions about the position: “What’s something that you learned early on in your career that you still remember and practice today? Do you have any advice for someone like me who’s just starting out?” Use mentorship to your advantage whenever you have the opportunity to.

My placement also confirmed that Human Resources is where I am meant to be. Throughout my studies I always worried that dealing with the public day after day would become too tiring and, although it is tiring and sometimes difficult, I learned that it is what I love to do. If you complete your placement and realize that that type of a position isn’t what you’re passionate about, you have time to change your mind. Employers notice that as well. If a student completes a placement in their field and begins actively looking for a job in that field, it shows that they truly enjoy what they do.

Establish Relationships with Possible Employers     

At first, the one and only reason that I chose to complete the third year in the Business Administration program was to gain experience in the field of Human Resources. The thought of gaining employment with Plan A hadn’t crossed my mind at first, but it came shortly after. Organizations often request to have placement students when they know that they will be expanding and looking for future employees. This opens a door for opportunity! If your placement was enjoyable and you could see yourself as an employee within the company, why not ask for the opportunity to speak with management about joining their team? They have had time to judge your work ethic and skill set and they were given the opportunity to train you at no cost. They will know their answer before even meeting with you.

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Wait a Second!

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Turns out that I am not very good at waiting. I have just recently stumbled upon this little quirk and I must fix it… fast! I’ve just realized that my urgency of the day or moment may not be someone else’s top priority… A good lesson learned, however, it is important to find a way to manage the impatient waiting and still be productive!

Whether you are waiting on an important call, a response to your email, a follow through on an assignment, or simply waiting in a line up… I’ve written about being mindful of the moment you are in, but let’s face it, waiting is just so inefficient! I have a strong sense of urgency in all aspects of life, making waiting a huge obstacle!

Here are some tips I’ve learned to help me get through those impatient moments and maintain focus on my goals.

  1. Change your attitude! Keep an open perspective and find the positive while you are waiting for your end result. If you are waiting on one last piece of your puzzle to complete the project, use your time wisely and review the work completed thus far.
  1. Good things come to those who wait. Keep in mind that great things don’t happen instantly, and great work takes thoroughness, and thoroughness takes time.
  1. Focus on the big picture. Try not to let every little glitch or fork in the road derail you from your goals. Remind yourself of what you are working towards and the purpose behind your task at hand and the time it may take to get there.
  1. Change your strategy. If you are not getting the results you want, look at your strategy and adjust accordingly. Sometimes a quick switch in the approach will deliver the results you have been waiting for.
  1. Offer your help! It is possible that you are waiting on completion of a project from someone who is overwhelmed with a large amount of work and other deadlines.

Practicing patience trains you to react to delays and difficulties with calmness. When life throws the unexpected your way or things aren’t going quite as planned, calmness keeps you from becoming derailed, allowing you to persevere when things get tough.

mandyblog

Organization for the Truly Unorganized Person!

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I have a dirty little secret… something that very few are aware of.  And I’ve decided that to get past this secret I first have to come to terms with it.  So why not do it in my blog posts?

My name is Sheri and I am a chronically disorganized person.  Yep, it’s true.  The struggle is real.  Keeping myself organized is very hard work for me.  My closets, my day timer, my schedule, my home, my office, my files,  my cupboards, my mail, my thoughts… you name it… if it’s in my life, it’s unorganized.

The mission that I have chosen to accept is to reorganize and redesign the way I get through my days, weeks and months.  I am going to use this blog to have some fun (or make fun of myself), to figure out simple ideas that work (and to encourage sharing) and to keep myself accountable to this personal and professional challenge.  As the old saying goes… every weakness is strength in training.

I first realized how disorganized I had become around Thanksgiving.  I was hosting dinner at my house and was getting down to dinner prep when I thought that I didn’t have any poultry seasoning or sage – both ingredients I needed for a cranberry stuffing I was making.  So I did what every disorganized person does when they don’t have something – and that’s not having a look in the cupboards.  It was making a grocery store run to pick some up.

Fast forward to after dinner clean up – I’m putting the new spices in the spice cupboard only to discover that I not only already had poultry seasoning and sage, but I had five of each in my cupboard.  I then did the dreaded…I pulled every single spice off of the shelves and what I learned was that I had doubles, triples or quadruples of EVERYTHING in there.  This is bad for many reasons:

  • I was wasting a lot of money on things I didn’t need.
  • Those spices were taking up a LOT of space on the shelves.
  • Many of those spices had lost their flavour because they weren’t being stored properly.
  • And how much poultry seasoning can one person use in a life time anyway?

I went to town on that cupboard.  I combined, I got rid of things, I contained things to keep them fresh and I put them in alphabetical order.  The result was an organized cupboard of spices that now inspires  me to throw open the doors and try a new recipe (or two) every weekend!

The moral of this story is to know what you have.  The best way to do that is to make sure everything has a home.  Some of the ways I do this now is by storing items in the room where they’re used and I make sure that they get put away when I am done.  I also like to store similar items together .  My herbs and spices now sit nicely in labeled baskets in my cupboards so the next time I need some curry, garlic power or saffron I know exactly where to look…and it’s not the grocery store!

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Write With Confidence

i-am-superYesterday while doing my daily read on new apps, I stumbled across an article by Lydia Dishman at Fast Company. She introduced me to a new plugin for Chrome that highlights weak writing. As I read the article, I quickly clicked on the link and installed the plugin. I then encouraged the staff in our office to do the same. The following explains why I’m such a fan and why I was quick to hop on board “Just Not Sorry”.

I had to write an email yesterday. I was asking someone for a favor. I had 2 options; I could either go on and on about why I needed the favor or I could opt to cut to the chase and ask, point blank. Have you ever been stuck in a conversation where you knew the person wanted something? There’s a vast difference between being vague and being bold. My goal is always to aim for the middle; confident and efficient.

The ability to communicate effectively and confidently has a dramatic effect on our careers. Yet many of us fall into the trap of using weak language that sabotages our efforts to present ourselves with authority and confidence.

I would just like to say that I may not know as much as some of the communication experts out there, but I feel that we undermine our credibility time and time again by using minimizing language.

This one sentence says it all! By using the words “just”, “I feel”, and stating that I may not have as much expertise as perhaps other do, I have reduced my credibility to almost zero! How many times have you heard people communicate this way? How many times have you yourself used this type of minimizing language?

I’m convinced that even if we take one small step and eliminate the word “just” from our communication, we would see a huge difference in the way we are perceived in the workplace. I am amazed how much I use this word unnecessarily and unconsciously.  “I’m just checking in to see…”.  “I just want you to know”. “I just called because..” . My new awareness of the impact of this one word has now forced me to carefully choose my words in order to reflect more confidence.

Courage is the foundation of successful communication – and successful communication is the foundation of great achievement. Is it difficult to strive for respect above being liked, or to avoid weak language so that people hear your message more clearly? Yes. Does fearless communication mean that you have to be aggressive at work? Absolutely not! Ideally, the kind of strength you will develop in your communication will allow you to be direct and assertive and will create an environment for others to feel this freedom as well. Be yourself, be authentic and communicate fearlessly.

melblog

 

6 Tools to Help You Become a Better Blogger

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Blogging is becoming an increasingly popular component of many companies’ marketing strategies. Blogs are a great platform to increase brand awareness, share your vision and values, position you as an expert, and generate leads. For some it may be a struggle to create blogs often; running out of blog topics, procrastination, lack of motivation and inspiration, etc. are usually the prime culprits. I’ll be honest and say that there are times that I wish my blog could write itself! I have often wondered if there was anything that existed to assist me with my blogging process. I decided to conduct some research and I found a few great tools to help you become a better blogger!

  1. Evernote: If you’re someone who enjoys writing on-the-go or likes to jot down random ideas, this is the program for you. Evernote essentially allows you to create virtual notebooks that can be synced and accessed across devices. I use Evernote on my iPhone primarily to store blog topic ideas/titles and then categorize them using Evernote’s tagging system. Evernote is much more advanced than the common note apps available on mobile devices as you can create sub notebooks, add photos, scan and categorize business cards, and more. Best of all, the basic version of the program is free!
  2. HubSpot Blog Topic Generator: I’ve only recently stumbled upon this tool, but it is excellent for when you’re having difficulty thinking of new blog topics. Simply visit the website, enter up to 3 keywords, and the algorithm generates a week’s worth of blog topics for you.
  3. Twitter Trending Topics: If you ever want to blog about a current #trending topic, then login to Twitter and view the “Trending” section on your homepage. If you want to write about a topic closer to home, simply press “change” to display Trending topics by a geographical area of your choosing.
  4. WordCounter.net: Everyone at the office uses this helpful little tool. You can either copy/paste your blog to get some stats about your post (number of words, reading level, reading time, etc.), or simply type your blog directly on the website. Personally, I would choose the former to ensure that you save your blog as you write. One of my favourite features on this website is the ability to set writing goals for yourself based on time or number of words. Sometimes it’s just easier to clear your mind and power write in small bursts without worrying about spelling or grammar. You’ll be notified on your screen once your goal has been met.
  5. Hemingway: Another great alternative to WordCounter.net is Hemingway Editor. This proofreading tool will highlight/colour-code any complex words or phrases, run-on sentences, and instances where you have used a passive voice or adverbs too many times. Hemingway won’t necessarily give you suggestions on how to edit all types of errors, but it is great practice to rework your text in order to improve upon your writing style.
  6. Keyword Planner: Once you’re done creating your blog, it’s important that people actually find and read it! To use this tool, simply visit the website, and enter a few keywords that relate to your blog. The results will indicate how popular these keywords are according to Google, and even provide you with suggestions of related keywords.

I hope these tools can help you overcome any challenges you may face when blogging. If you have any suggestions or tips that help you when writing, feel free to share them in a comment below!

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