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What to Look For in Your First Boss

What to Look For in Your First Boss

Landing your first job is important. Landing a great first boss, however, is a whole other story. When it comes down to it, bosses are an important part of your career path. They shape your ideals, your insight, and have the potential to foster real passion for the industry.

But bosses can break you down, too. Research shows that three out of four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. In fact, a boss’s actions account for 67 percent of an employee’s productivity.

Feel the pressure yet?

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While you may believe you have your whole career to find a great boss, your first one is a crucial part of your professional future. In a sense, they can cultivate industry passion from the get-go, or make you second guess yourself. That’s why it’s so important to choose a boss who not only knows what they’re doing, but one who also has a vested interest in your performance.

So, what should you look for in a first boss in order to steer your career in the right direction?

Mentorship access

When you’re a beginner, you may believe you know it all. But even if you have tons of internships under your belt and lots of experience, you still have a lot to learn.

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Access to mentorship opportunities is an important factor in determining a great boss, which is probably why 47.3 percent of interns said they were interested in access to executives and mentorship opportunities. A mentor teaches you the ropes, provides you with some key insights, and lets you know what to do to have a great career. Plus, it’s always good to have someone on the inside, especially someone who has reached a high level of success.

Try this: Request mentorship from the get-go. Many business leaders will have no problem acting as a teacher, but they won’t know you need one unless you ask for it.

Professional development encouragement

The benefits of professional development are plenty. For example, you can increase your skills, knowledge, build your network, and even discover what you’re really good at. Your first boss, whether it’s in an internship or entry-level job, should make these professional development benefits a priority. After all, if you aren’t discovering how to perform to the fullest, you’ll stay stagnant.

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Professional development is both internal and external. On the internal side of things, your first boss should give you the tasks or opportunities that will help you to move up in the company. Externally, encouraging attendance at industry events, meetups, or virtual conferences can improve your knowledge base and keep you competitive in the industry.

Try this: If your first boss doesn’t prioritize professional development, ask them what you can do to stay fresh. You can also provide examples, such as a list of upcoming industry events, which shows you’re serious about moving your career forward.

Real-time feedback

If you aren’t performing well, you’d want to know as it happens, right? That’s why having a boss who provides real-time feedback is vital, especially if you’re a newbie. The sooner you know what you’re doing wrong, the quicker you can correct it.

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Try this: Sit down with your boss and ask if you can have a weekly or bi-weekly meeting that addresses your performance. You can use this time to review your results so far on your current task list, and discuss areas of improvement going forward. While the meeting doesn’t have to be extensive, it can save you a lot of time in the long run.

While undoubtedly your focus is on finding an open position with a company you love, your first boss is crucial to your growth and success. So make sure you look for one who has the qualities to ensure a great experience for you now and in the future.

What do you think? What are some other qualities to look for in your first boss?

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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