Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recently, I was speaking with a career mum on the complexities of furthering her career and juggling family responsibilities.

We came up with a game plan on the work front on how to re-think her role and how to work more efficiently - with the focus being on quality not quantity.

Step 1:
Change the way you think about your role. Treat your role like your own business. You need to manage the workload, your stakeholders / customers, and your brand (in this case, how others perceive you and your role in the organisation).

Step 2:
Think about the following ideas to inject clarity into your role:

- Compare your job description to your current tasks. Write down everything you do over a 2 week period to help you identify typical tasks and how long it takes you.
- Do you need to re-define your role?
- Are you performing work that someone else should be doing?
- What are your business objectives for the next 6 months / 12 months? Do you have a business plan? What are the key deliverables?
- Compare your current tasks to your key deliverables. Are they aligned?
- Do you have access to learning and development opportunities? Incorporate this into your business plan.
- Tie your key deliverables in with your performance measurement criteria to ensure your have a productive and informative performance review.

The key is to make your objectives (e.g. 3-5 objectives) and associated deliverables (for each objective) manageable and meaningful. It is more important to under-promise and over-deliver.

Step 3:
Ideas to promote yourself:

- Define what you do in simple terms on paper. Always think that you are talking to someone outside of your business so it is imperative to keep it simple and meaningful.
- Investigate if you have an internal communications team. Do they produce a staff newsletter? What about the intranet? Start contributing to these communication forums.
- Start collaborating with your counterparts in your organisation. Instigate a monthly meeting (phone hook-up) and a face-to-face workshop every 6-12 months to share ideas and streamline processes and procedures.
- Manage up; manage yourself; manage down.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Top 5 tips on advancing your career as a parent

Progressing your career tends to naturally happen for most people in their mid to late thirties. For most women, this is around the time that we are having children so the challenge is far greater.

Take a deep breath. You can still achieve your career goals. it is about adopting a different mindset. You are raising the future of Australia (yes, think about it like that!). Think about where you are at right now in practical terms. The workforce is changing. 4 in 10 workers in Australia have caring duties so you are not alone. Use your resilience that comes from parenthood and get creative.

Here are my top 5 tips for advancing your career post children:

1. Be aware of your career aspirations. Have a 5 year plan.

2. Know that working flexibly does not mean working part time. Be creative when you write your business case proposal. Offer your manager a trial period.

3. Know your flexibility requirements. How does this fit with your current role? And know that your requirements will change throughout parenthood.

4. Do a health check on your career. Have you progressed, plateaued or regressed? Ask the hard questions to your manager/HR: Will working flexibly affect my career path? What opportunities are available to me moving forward? How will my performance be measured? Organise a meeting every 6-12 months with your manager on career progression. Make it happen – don’t wait for it.

5. Think outside the square. Experience and children create resilience and creativity in a person. Can you create a new niche role at your organisation? Can you return as a consultant?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A guide to the right to request flexibility

The National Employment Standards (NES) will come into effect in January 2010. It will provide 10 new minimum entitlements for all Australian workers. The NES are to replace the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (AFPCS) currently in force under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (WR Act). One of the National Employment Standards will provide working parents with children under school age the right to request a flexible work arrangement.

CareerMums has compiled an easy guide to understanding your rights and obligations on the right to request flexibility.

If your employer has not started preparing for these changes, provide them with the following link. It also includes how to create a flexible work policy and how to implement process and procedures to ensure they are compliant with the Standard on flexibility.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Working tips for the Christmas period

Christmas and new year is a great time to plan a return-to-work strategy or change your current work flexibility requirements. If you are returning to work, make sure you think about updating your resume (cover all of your non-paid work while on leave!), investigating short courses if your skills need fine turning, and communicating your return to work intentions to your family, friends and old work colleagues. Great leads often come from people you know.

If you are returning to a job, get in touch with your team and go out for lunch. Catch up on the office gossip. What has been happening while you have been away? Catch up with your manager. Have a chat about flexible work options if you haven't already. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The National Employment Standards, due to start in January 2010, give parents with children under 5, the right to request flexible work arrangements. Talk to your HR manager / manager about this new legislation and find out how they are dealing with it.

If you are currently working and you are going to need more flexible working hours to manage work and family, start preparing a business case for your manager. The business case should consider items such as working hours, work that will be performed at home versus the office, and how clients needs will be affected. Early next year, you should meet with your manager to discuss your needs. If it is a fair and reasonable request, you may have a good chance in getting what you want thanks to the National Employment Standards being introduced in Janauary 2010.

Importantly, the national skills shortage and Australia's aging population are starting to impact on employers so they are more willing to explore flexible work options to retain good employees.