So, I meant to write a book list for each month, but I haven't had tons of time to read lately so unfortunately my book list hasn't been super extensive. Also, I've felt disappointed by a lot of the books I've been reading (as illustrated by my mini reviews below), so that definitely contributes to dragging out the reading of books.
That being said, here are the books I read in February and March:
- Oryx and Crake. I like this book, but every time I read it I also feel somehow dissatisfied. There's definitely something lacking in it, although I really like the concepts that Atwood explores.
- 50 Shades of Grey. This was my second or third attempt at reading this book, and every time it just boggles the mind as to why everyone loves it. The characters, storyline, and writing are all awful. And seriously, who gasps and says "oh my" every twenty seconds? This book is positively ridiculous. I give up on it.
- The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. This book just makes me feel kind of sorry for Anne Rice, because really, it's rather disturbing. Also my second or third reading of it, and another book that I give up on trying to "get."
And here are the books that I am partway through reading:
- Conscientious Objections. Postman remains one of my favourite authors and rhetoricians. I love this book. He's brilliant. Go find this book and read it.
- The Psychology Book. This is a neat book - it's basically a psychology-for-dummies type of book with lots of pretty pictures and interesting notations. I'm really enjoying it.
- The Fionavar Tapestry. Mediocre. That's all I can really say about this novel. If I have to keep flipping forward to the character index to keep track of all the overlapping storylines without getting much back in the way of reading a really awesome story, I'm not going to be overly impressed.
What have you read lately? Hopefully you've had better luck with choosing novels than I have in the past couple months! Share your recent awesome or not-so-awesome finds in the comments section below.
I love managing people. And it's not because I want to give other people all the jobs I don't want to do! It's because managing people can be such an amazing, rewarding, and teaching experience. I love working with people and figuring out how to fit their talents with activities that are just the right match for them. I like connecting with them on their work, helping them to improve in some areas and highlighting where their skills are strong.
I'm lucky in that I get to do a decent amount of management / delegation / supervision in my line of work - but it isn't super easy work. Managing, delegating, and supervising is an art, and you need to be strategic about it to build positive relationships and ensure the employees are getting a lot out of it, and the project is moving forward efficiently.
When I was recently checking references on a new employee, one of the questions I asked was "do you have any recommendations on how best to manage this person?" The reference responded with, "manage them well."
I think they made a great point here. You have to manage people well. If you don't manage them well, it doesn't matter how talented they are or intelligent they are or friendly they are. They likely won't do as well and you likely won't have that great of a relationship with them. Management is strategic in that it ensures that everyone benefits: you, the employee, and the project itself.
A few pointers when it comes to delegating, managing, and supervising others:
- Give them some background and context. Explain your position and role, and why you are their manager. This might be fairly obvious in some circumstances, such as if you own the business, but if you're at a nonprofit or similar, then it's good to give them some explanation for why you're going to be supervising them.
- Provide a work plan with timelines. Work plans are so much fun to put together (seriously. I'd love to put together work plans and timelines and reports all day long), but more than that, they're a valuable resource for the person you're supervising. They can refer to it to ensure they stay on track, follow deadlines, and have a general idea of what their responsibilities will be in the coming weeks or months.
- Meet regularly. This can be once a day for someone who has just started, once a week while they settle in, and once every couple weeks after they've become comfortable with the work. Take advantage of this time to check in and see if they have any questions, and also to give feedback on their work. Compliment them on work they do well, and recommend areas that they can improve in.
- Ask them what's doable. If you need to delegate something, check what their schedule is like and what their skills are in relation to the task at hand. Ensure that they understand what the task will entail. By taking a few extra minutes to walk it through with them in the beginning, you can save yourself and them time later on by reducing the chance that the task will be carried out incorrectly or poorly.
- Find out what they need. It's important to provide feedback on their skills and abilities, but it's also important you find out from them what you excel in and where you could strengthen your skills! Ask them if they need more or less guidance from you, if you're asking a reasonable amount, and if there's anything you can do to make them feel more comfortable or work more efficiently. By doing this, you can quickly find out if they want to meeting every two days rather than every two weeks, or you can find out that they might prefer specific tasks with deadlines rather than general tasks. This will be invaluable to ensuring efficient work and a healthy relationship!
What do you do to delegate, manage, and supervise effectively? Share in the comments section below!
I didn't do a Books I Read article for every month of this past year, but I really liked doing it in 2011, so I'm doing it again this year!
- Games of Thrones (books 3 and 4 - I read the first two in December). I feel like this series may be learning dangerous close in the same direction as the Wheel of Time series. Just getting a little bit too out of hand and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of moving forward. Why introduce new story lines if the character and that line of the plot are just going to die off?
- Digestive Wellness, 4th Edition. Loved this book! Easy to read and interesting information. Valuable for nutritional professionals and people with no nutrition background alike.
- Joining the Thin Club. This is a simple, light read. It's pretty enjoyable.
What books did you read in January? Share in the comments section below!
On the radio last week, a local politician was being interviewed regarding a controversy where she had apparently said something that was not true. The radio played a recording featuring her saying "a hotel will be built," which turned out to be false. While I was listening, she was interviewed and asked to comment on the situation, to which she said that the public had misunderstood her, and that the hotel was not in fact going to be built.
Whether a hotel is being built or not really doesn't matter in this context - what matters is that she neatly shifted the blame from herself to the public by using the word "misunderstand."
If you say one thing, and then realize that it was incorrect, the best thing to do is to admit that you were mistaken, apologize, and move on. People cannot misunderstand you if you say something outright and it turns out to be wrong. In that case, you misspoke.
However, if you say something ambiguous, and people assume that a hotel will be built because of it, then you can certainly make the claim that the public misunderstood you.
There is a clear difference here, and it is a very important one! By shifting our rhetoric slightly, we can shift reality (who hasn't heard a kid say "it fell out of my hands" rather than "I dropped it"?). Shifting the blame changes our understanding of the situation and thus changes our perception on what really happened.
What do you think of this? How does your perception on the situation change from the point of view of "I misspoke" vs. "you misunderstood"? Share in the comments section below!
At my job, one of the fun tasks I get to do is look over resumes, select people for interviews, and interview them. I really enjoy this - the hiring process is absolutely fascinating!
It's also taught me that many of us could use some helpful tips on resumes, cover letters, and interviews. So today I'm going to share with you some recommendations for giving good interview based on observations I've made on the other side of the table. These tips might just land you a job (or at least increase your chances):
- Don't say that you "don't really know what this organization is all about, and just looked at the website last night a bit." Even if that's the truth, it's probably going to throw up red flags for the person doing the interview. After all, how bad can you want the job if you haven't done your research on the organization?
- Look the interviewer in the eye and give them a firm handshake. I don't know about you, but I cringe when I get a loosey goosey handshake. And even if you're nervous, it's best to look the interviewer in the eye. Remember, they want to hire someone. They called you in for an interview because they liked your resume. They want you to succeed! Look them in the eye while you're speaking with them; it'll help you both feel more comfortable with being in a room with a total stranger.
- Questions such as "give us an example of a time when you had to deal with a major obstacle," and "what's your biggest weakness" aren't just random questions. They are strategic on the interviewer's part, and they should be strategic on yours too. Give (true and honest) demonstrations of your skills and positive attributes in response to these questions. They are fairly common questions that are bound to come up in just about any interview, so be sure to prepare and plan to have a couple different answers ready.
- Don't use profanity in an interview. Just don't.
- Consider the job description and your past experience when going into an interview. Play up your strong points! This is not a time to be modest or self-deprecating. Talk about how your experience and history will contribute to this organization and the position. The point of an interview is to see if you'd be a good fit for the organization and the position - so if you have a background that could help you out, be sure to highlight it.
- Don't just apply for a position because you're interested in the organization. It's important that you're also excited about the specific position you're applying for!
Remember that even though you might be amazingly qualified for the position and have a perfect personality match with the interviewer, you might still not get the job because someone else had just a smidgeon more qualifications than you, or any other reason. Don't be disheartened! The best interview I ever gave, I didn't end up getting the job. And the worst interview I ever gave, I ended up passing on to the next stage in the hiring process. So there are definitely times when what happens in the interview doesn't seem to reflect the end result, but as a general rule, the interview is a very important first impression and it can make all the difference. Follow the above suggestions and you'll give much better interview!
One of the best ways to ensure you stay well-organized and communicate efficiently is to make use of an agenda or day planner religiously. Use it to mark down your to-do lists, addresses and phone numbers for important contacts, meeting times and locations, project deadlines, and social events. You'll never be late or miss a deadline again!
Agendas and day planners can vary widely, and you need to choose the one that works best for you. Shop around a bit for yours; don't just grab the first one you see.
A few things to consider when choosing your agenda:
- Is it the right size to fit in your bag? Do you need to carry it around with you everywhere?
- Does it have enough space for each day?
- Do you like the "feel" of it?
- Is there a space for notes?
- Does it have times listed for each day?
- Can you make use of the calendar feature on your smart phone effectively enough for it to act as your day planner?
These are some of the main questions you should ask yourself. For myself, I find that I can get along fairly comfortably with all kinds of day planners, and have a different style every year. But my favourite has to be my newest one, which is very big (letter size) and lists times for each day. There's plenty of space to write important information, with additional space for notes along the side.
Do you use agendas / day planners? Do you find that they help you to communicate more effectively and reduce stress? What style do you prefer? Share in the comments section below!
Holiday cards are a valuable way to strengthen a relationship with a partner organization and to show your appreciation for a person who you've connected with a lot over the past year. But many people fail to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to further the relationship with another organization. Here are some of the things not to do:
- Get a generic card and just write "To ____, Happy holidays! From, ____." This is fine if it's a friend or family member. But if it's someone you're trying to build a relationship with and that you know personally, why not add a personal note? Thank them for something specific they did this past year. Tell them how much you appreciate their help on a project. Emphasize how much you're looking forward to continuing to work with them in the future. Compliment them on a characteristic you admire. It only takes a couple minutes, but it will stick with that person.
- Sign it using a printed label pasted to the card. Honestly, this is just lazy, and so impersonal. How much longer does it take to write your name than to print off a label and stick it on the card? Take the smidgeon of extra time to sign your name. It can make all the difference to the relationship.
- Misspell their name.This is a given. Please double and triple check how to spell their name ahead of time.
- Say "Merry Christmas" if you don't know what their beliefs are. "Happy holidays" is a very nice phrase that rolls off the tongue well, is casual and friendly, and gets around any religious tones. Stick with "Happy holidays" to avoid any offense.
- Get an over-the-top card. This goes for being too cutesy, serious, funny, religious, etc. etc. (depending on the organization you're with, of course). In general, sticking to a nice wintery scene can be one of the nicest-looking cards to get.
Stick with these tips to ensure that you write a great professional holiday card this season! What guidelines do you go by to write professional holiday cards?