It’s that time of year when many of us make – often shortlived – commitments to reduce our intake of carbs and other things that might not be good for us, or to do more exercise. But what about in the workplace? What can we cut out or do more of for our career health and to get more out of our jobs?
The Civil Service blog team offer some ideas - think of them as an alternative set of New Year’s resolutions - on what you can do to turn the January blues into sunshine hues!
- Be selfish
Be honest with yourself: did you get your 5-days-a-year training in 2014/15? If not, why not? Learning and development is a perennial issue that we often push to the side to focus on our day-to-day roles. But if you aren’t sometimes selfish about ensuring this happens, you are only punishing yourself. It can be difficult, but with proper planning we can all afford to take our L&D allowance. Have a think today about what you can do before the end-of-year review.
- Don’t hide from new ways of working
There are so many new things out there, it can be intimidating to start thinking about changing how you work. Just picking out and learning one new technique could really help you work in a simpler and more effective way. There are digital opportunities with Twitter, or project management tool Trello, or using Google Docs to collaborate, to name just a few. Or you may be considering a jobshare, working with an apprentice, or finding a mentor (see Resolution No. 5).
- Speak with clarity - don’t talk in acronyms
Acronyms and jargon are one of the banes of the Civil Service - and countless other organisations. We can all be guilty of slipping into work-speak. And we have all probably been in meetings where what was being discussed was completely lost on us, as the conversation was peppered with apparently randomly assembled groups of letters. Although they are meant to make things easier and quicker, acronyms and initialisations can cause confusion. Perhaps we can allow a few of the more commonly understood ones to pass (NATO, DEFRA, UK, EU?). But challenge yourself to go through a meeting/phone call without subjecting the person on the other side of the table, or the other end of the line, to death by a thousand acronyms.
- Love your neighbour
More and more of us are sharing buildings with other departments or organisations. Civil Service Local have networks connecting civil servants across the regions – but have you made the most of this yet? It can feel strange linking up with someone from another organisation, but there are many benefits to be had in understanding and learning from those working in a different field and how they do things. Go on, try it. You may be shocked to find that you are not so different, after all!
Many departments also run randomised ‘coffee’ trials, giving you the chance to chew the fat, network with and bounce ideas off colleagues you wouldn’t necessarily come into contact with otherwise. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship...
- Mentor someone, get yourself a mentor, or both!
Getting a mentor can be the perfect way to kick-start your development or to focus your thoughts on your future career direction. Failing that, why not consider becoming a mentor to someone yourself. You don’t have to be a senior leader to be a mentor. There are many new starters, apprentices or junior staff from under-represented groups who are looking for support or direction when joining the Civil Service
- Be honest with your leaders
The Leadership Statement was launched a year ago and was aimed at improving leadership in the Civil Service, but it was also about improving our ability to question those above us. We can all sometimes feel that something isn’t being done right, or that we are restricted by unnecessary or over-complicated processes, so take a stand! It isn’t easy to ‘speak truth unto power’, but in the long run it can help how an office functions for the better.
- Don’t ignore your objectives until the last possible minute
It doesn’t matter where you work, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t let out a little grumble when end-of-year reviews come around and we need to dust off our objectives. The solution? Turn your objectives into something that is actually useful for you. Give yourself a challenge, set some ambitious targets and go back to them once a month and see how you are measuring up against them. If they are just something you do to satisfy your managers, they will always be a pain and, what’s more, they won’t demonstrate what you’re really capable of, and could hold you back. So, do them for yourself and don’t dread the EOYR – sorry, end-of-year review (see Resolution No. 3).
As ever, we want your views. Have you made any career resolutions for 2016? Or are there any ingenious tips that you could share with colleagues seeking inspiration?