Fill your holiday season with success. Thrive, and grow your career forward.

Yes it’s that time of year again, the season to be jolly.  So why might you be starting to feel a creeping sense of anxiety and even a little bit of dread?

The truth is this time of year often finds most of us scrambling around trying to get everything done.  Buying presents, wrapping up our work and making travel arrangements.  By the time the holidays finally arrive, we’re usually so tired that in our rush to relax we forgo all the small habits that make it possible to flourish during the year.  Then before we know it the holidays are almost over and we’re starting to wonder just how we’ll get through the year ahead.

To be honest, it can be exhausting just thinking about it.

You see as our expectations rise and our routines are disrupted around this time of year, it’s easy to start spiraling down towards a place of overwhelm, tiredness and even a sense of helplessness.

So what are the small changes you can make to help you flourish during this holiday season?

Professor Martin Seligman – viewed by many as the founding father of positive psychology -  proposes that in order to flourish we need:

  • The presence of positive emotions,
  • The chance to be regularly engaged in what we’re doing,
  • The opportunity to connect with others,
  • A sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, and
  • The feeling that we’re accomplishing things that matter.

Being mindful of where you are on each pillar and the tested, practical ways you can make adjustments as required, is the secret to flourishing rather than floundering at this time of year.  Why?  Well studies have found that when you flourish, you’re able to feel good and function effectively.

To feel more consistently jolly during these holidays why not try:

  • Making time to feel good. Try to create moments of heartfelt positivity each day.  Get out into nature, maintain your exercise (even if you’re slowing it down from your usual pace), make time tomeditate (even five minutes of slow breathing before Christmas lunch can help), find reasons to laugh and listen to music you love.
  • Getting engaged each day. This is a great time of year toexercise your strengths – those things you’re good at and enjoy doing.  Spend at least 11 minutes each day over the holidays developing one of your strengths – like creativity, curiosity, kindness, hope or humor - to feel immersed in life and improve your sense of confidence, energy and wellbeing.
  • Letting yourself truly be connected with others. Be it family, friends or strangers this is a time of year when we yearn to feel respected, valued and appreciated.  To know that we matter and are worthy of love.  Take the time to practice kindness andexpress your gratitude towards others.  It’s the best gift you can give.
  • Tuning into what gives you meaning and living purposefully.Don’t just tick the days off your calendar, make each day count by having a clear “want-to” goal about what you hope this holiday season will be.   It might be: “Making time to slow down and connect with the people you love”; “Reaching out to others less fortunate then yourself”; “Restoring your energy and renewing your focus so you can flourish in the year ahead”.  You won’t get these days again, so how can you live this time purposefully?
  • Keep growing so you can prepare yourself for the year ahead. The holidays are a wonderful time to challenge the mindsets that might be holding you back.  As you think about the new-year and all you want to achieve, try to focus on the efforts you want to be making and not just the outcomes you want to reach.  This way you’ll have the grit to be able to show up, shine and succeed.

Buyers For Hire

 

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/74ea/c4upjoc1lbp0w8xfg.jpg?size_id=4

Thinking of making a fresh start? Be sure you’re ready to go!

the job market is rallying as companies shake off the lasting effects of the long, dark recession. And as the market turns, professionals are starting to look at their options. For current frame buyers and those who want to get into the profession, we turn to an optical human resources expert, imatters president/owner Charisse Toale, for advice on hunting for your next buyer position.

Q: WHAT ARE A FEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TRAITS YOU SEE DISPENSARIES SEEKING FOR THEIR OPTICIANS/BUYERS?

The ability to manage the patient or customer. Being aware, knowledgeable, and able to communicate with the end user—the patient. The flourishing opticals look for those who have gone above and beyond with extras: thank-you notes, trunk shows, community involvement.

Understanding the financials of purchasing, inventory management, and fashion influences your possibility of being hired. Know who you are interviewing with, visit the website, read the reviews of the company, know the hours of operation, and mirror the “look” of the company.

Buyers’ Outlook

The job market for dispensers is great. A good optician will be in demand, says imatters’ Charisse Toale. “I see the biggest change in dispensing is the luxury goods. It’s a small niche of opticians, and they can be very valuable.

“For frame buyers, the chances of influencing your inventory are higher, the opportunities to manage a business is greater, too. On a smaller scale, it’s becoming a bigger fish, mistakes are limited to a smaller amount of inventory. For the most part you can recover from a few failed attempts at buying.

“To be a retail buyer requires a degree, preferably a four-year, and knowledge of trends, production costs, and the courage to risk the profits of a company. There are no second chances in inventory management.”

Q: HOW CAN I MAKE A JUMP UP FROM STRICTLY DISPENSING TO GETTING INTO FRAME BUYING? ARE THERE PARTICULAR EXTRA SKILLS I SHOULD ACQUIRE?

Know your customers first, have a good sense of what sells in your location, look for trends in eyewear that may be in other competitors that you could add to your location. Sit in on the buying if at all possible, learn from your manager, and ask questions of the sales person—what trends do they see that would be best added to your practice? Take management courses, learn your costs per sale, seasonality of your market, and prepare.

Show that you are interested in your self-improvement as well as what you have learned from your previous organizations. Sales courses, Vision Expo courses, and continuing education—they are mirrors of your respect for yourself as well as for their customers.

Q: ARE THERE ANY NO-NO’S OR MUST-HAVES YOU CAN RECOMMEND?

No-no’s: Don’t speak negatively about your past employers, don’t fill out applications and add reason for leaving: bad environment, boss yelled at me; any thoughts of misappropriation are never good. Also, don’t lie or forget jobs that you have held. In today’s market, facts are being checked, and omissions are grounds for dismissal.

Must-haves: A quick synopsis of your career is great, try to tailor it to the practice/business that has your interest. Focus on your strengths in managing relationships as well as any mentoring you have provided or has been provided to you. What you have learned—and what you can bring to an employer—is essential.

Author: Charisse Toale

How to spot a liar

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/09ab/yxcvxwqprc9r6nyfg.jpg?size_id=d

How can you tell when a job applicant or employee is lying? Workplace body language expert and author of “The Truth About Lies in the Workplace,” Carol Kinsey Goman offers these tips for spotting liars at work.

1. Establish a “truth baseline”

Spotting deception begins with observing a person’s baseline behavior under relaxed or generally stress-free conditions so that you can detect meaningful deviations.

One of the strategies that experienced interviewers use is to ask a series of simple questions while observing how the person behaves when there is no reason to lie. Then, when the more difficult issues get addressed, the interviewer can stay alert for sudden changes in behavior that may indicate deception around key points.

2. Watch for stress signals

For the vast majority of the individuals you interview or work with, the act of lying triggers a heightened stress response. Blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rates all increase.

To relieve stress and anxiety, liars may use pacifying gestures (rubbing their hands together, bouncing their heels, fidgeting with jewelry, etc.) But our first response to stress (before we ready ourselves to fight or flee) is to freeze. So also pay attention if your usually animated colleague suddenly stops gesturing, has a forced or frozen smile, and locks her ankles.

3. Look at their eyes

The biggest myth around deception is that liars can’t look you in the eyes. In fact, some don’t (especially small children), but polished liars may actually give too much eye contact.

There are two eye signals that are more accurate signs of dishonesty: 1) Pupils dilate when someone is lying, and 2) Blink rates change – slowing down while someone constructs and tells the lie, and then speeding up (sometimes as much as eight times) afterward.

4. Count to four

Nonverbal cues to all kinds of unconscious giveaways tend to occur in clusters – a group of movements, postures and actions that collectively point to a particular state of mind.

This is crucially true of dishonesty, where one specific cluster of nonverbal signals has been proven statistically to accompany dishonesty. These are: hand touching, face touching, crossed arms, and leaning away. According to research conducted at Northeastern University by David DeSterno, if you see these “Telltale Four” being displayed together, watch out!

5. Notice if they aren’t really answering the question

Because of the mental effort it takes to tell a bald-faced lie (and because it triggers negative emotions), many deceivers prefer to avoid the truth with quasi-denials and selective wording. Notice how the responses below (which may be absolutely valid) never actually answer the questions.

Question: Have you ever used drugs?

Answer: I don’t take drugs.

Question: Did you steal a computer from the supply room?

Answer: Do I look like the kind of person who would steal a computer?

Question: Did you leave your last place of employment on good terms?

Answer: I left to pursue other opportunities.

Question: Did you pad your expense account?

Answer: How can you ask that? I’ve been a loyal employee for over 10 years!

6. Listen for vocal stress

The primary paralinguistic (how you say what you say) signal that often indicates lying is a change in someone’s baseline vocal pitch, which usually rises with stress levels as vocal chords constrict.

Under stress, people may also experience an increased need to drink water and to lick or moisten lips, as the autonomic nervous system downloads a rush of adrenaline, causing a dry mouth.

7. Stay alert for “undercover” emotions

Smiles are often used as a polite response and to cover up other emotions, but these faked smiles involve the mouth only. Unless someone is expressing genuine pleasure or happiness, it’s hard to produce a real smile – the kind that crinkles the corners of the eyes and lights up the entire face.

There is another way that real emotions emerge, regardless of the effort to suppress them. When someone conceals any strong emotion, chances are his face will expose that information in a split-second burst called a “micro expression.” Difficult to spot because of it happens so quickly, but that instantaneous flash of anger, dismay, joy, etc. is an indicator of someone’s genuine emotional state.

Please remember that none of these verbal or nonverbal cues are proof of lying. Truthful people can show signs of stress, have a naturally high blink rate, or give round-about answers. And both the liar and truth-teller may exhibit fear — one of being discovered, the other of not being believed. Nevertheless, these signals are strong indicators of heightened anxiety, possible deception, and of “hot spots” — areas that you should investigate further.

Author: Carol Kinsey

How to create success in your career

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/bbb5/z3eb39ddtt5xbfqfg.jpg?size_id=d

With two out of every three people reporting they’re actively disengaged in their jobs it’s clear many of us are functioning, but not flourishing at work.

You know that feeling where you don’t hate your job enough to leave, but you also don’t wake up eager each morning to get into work.  Instead you feel blanketed in a heavy mist of greyness that leaves you drained, dissatisfied and exhausted.

And it’s easy for this greyness to start seeping into every part of your life.

This is where I found myself several years ago.  While on the outside I appeared reasonably “successful” – big important job, loving family and friends, good health and more money than I could spend – each morning I was finding it harder and harder to get out of bed.  Despite all I had to be grateful for, the soulless shadow cast by a job bereft of personal meaning, challenge and engagement was sucking the energy, joy and light from my world.

Sadly, my story is not unique.

Eighty-three percent of men and eighty-five percent of women recently reported that when it comes to their wellbeing they are “just functioning”- or worse “languishing” – at work.

And while many employees report they would be more productive if they felt their bosses genuinely cared about them, in the end I discovered it was easier to take responsibility for my own feelings of engagement at work.

So what are the five tested, practical strategies I used to finally show-up, shine and succeed in my work, no matter what my job description said?

1. Find your purpose

Best-selling author and courage coach Margie Warrell suggests finding the intersection of your talents, your passions, your values, and your skills and expertise so that what you do every day is meaningful.  Think of it like this: I was passionate about bringing out the best in people, but after a career dedicated to marketing, I couldn’t afford to retrain in human resources without compromising my family’s financial wellbeing.

Luckily purpose is rarely about all or nothing.  Rather, Margie suggests it’s about looking at where there is overlap between what you’re good at, what you care about, where there’s value and a need in the marketplace that creates opportunities, and where you have some experience and skills.

I was able to find purpose in my existing role as the marketing director for a small team by focusing on how to use my passion for the field of positive psychology to bring out the best in my employees.  I wasn’t changing the world, but it quickly became evident that I could make a positive difference in the lives of my team.

2. Build your levels of grit

Associate Professor Angela Duckworth explains that “grit” is the passion and perseverance to stick with your long-term goals.  Let’s be honest, just because I had new hopes about the way I wanted to work, didn’t mean anyone else in my organization was rushing forward to help turn my purpose into reality.

One strategy Angela suggested I use to cultivate more grit at work was to ensure the goals I was setting were personally interesting and meaningful in the world.  When you’re able to connect passion with action it gives you a sense of purpose and energy that researchers are finding prevents burnout and promotes resiliency.

Responsible for repositioning my organization’s brand at the time, I started looking for ways to align our advertising and marketing with messages about creating positive change in people’s lives and the world around them.  As a result we delivered what appeared impossible at the outset, competitive differentiation for the first time ever and a job that I really enjoyed doing.

3. Create tiny habits to make lasting changes

BJ Fogg at Stanford University has found that by scaling back bigger behaviors into really small actions you can create dramatic shifts that last.  Initially trying to find the energy and time to make the changes in my work that would support my new-found purpose and build my grit, felt impossible to fit in to a schedule already overloaded.

So I decided to apply BJ’s formula for tiny habits by: scaling back change to one very small step; sequencing this step by adding to the end of a habit I already had – “After I (insert existing routine), I will (insert new routine)”; and then celebrating the completion of the step with a heartfelt “Awesome!” to create a jolt of positive emotion to help the habit stick.

Hungry to learn more about the science of positive psychology to use for my team and our brand positioning work, I created a tiny daily habit of exploring one new piece of research each morning when I first got to work.  I created the formula: “After I turn on my computer, I will ready one journal article”.  And while my heartfelt “awesome” was nice, I gained an extra jolt of positivity by sharing what I’d learnt with my boss or my team and exploring how we could apply the idea in our work.

4. Set clear boundaries

Best-selling author and resilience, wellbeing and productivity coach Valorie Burton recommends setting and keeping clear boundaries with your boss and colleagues if you want to remain productive and happy at work.   I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that not everyone at the office was excited about the more positive direction my leadership style and branding strategy was taking.  Change, for most of us, can be challenging.

In order to honor the purpose I’d now chosen, Valorie suggested asking: “What are the boundaries I need to protect my own peace, joy and serenity at work?”  Then noticing the areas where I felt the most frustrated, stressed or overwhelmed currently and being honest with myself about the conversations it was time to have.

For example, my boss felt my new management approach was much “too nice” and repeatedly instructed me to be tougher on my team.  Nervously, I finally sat down and explained to him that while I appreciated this was the way he liked to work, it didn’t feel authentic for me.  As I gave him examples of how my approach was still delivering the results we needed, it became clear that my new positive style of leadership was a boundary that would finally be respected.

5. Practice self-compassion

Self-confidence expert Louisa Jewell, suggests looking at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding.  Of course not everything I tried to improve the way I felt about my work was flawlessly executed.   Like a baby first learning to walk, at times I clumsily stumbled over my own good intentions.

Louisa believes it’s important not to judge yourself harshly, nor to try and protect your ego by defensively focusing on only your best qualities.  Instead, she suggests embracing the fact that to err is indeed human and to gain a realistic sense of your abilities and actions and then figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

By compassionately coaching myself – just like I would any other team member – I was able to see my near misses and mistakes as learning opportunities.  Finally freed of the fear that failure would be fatal, I was able to stop playing it safe and show up to do what mattered most in my career.

And in no time at all, the color started returning to my world.

As a result of finally finding ways to show-up, shine and succeed in my work I was able to embrace the raw, messy, magic that is work and shape it in ways that authentically and consistently brought out the best in myself and in others.  I went on to negotiate roles that better suited my interests, was given unexpected promotions and pay raises and was allowed to have every Friday free to play with my kids.

Published on September 23, 2014 by Michelle McQuaid in From Functioning to Flourishing

3 things to do before applying to a job

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/861d/0n95eic12w8rzzkfg.jpg?size_id=bI recently spoke with a senior executive of one of the largest staffing firms in the world. She said something that blew me away – “Less than 5% of her firm’s thousands of placements per year came from people responding to job postings.” Most were people who followed the company and were already in its database of screened and qualified candidates.

In the last six months, I’ve met with hundreds of recruiters from small to mid-size external staffing firms. All of them said only 10-15% of their hires came from people who responded to a job posting. The rest were either already known by them or proactively sought out via referrals of qualified passive people.

In the past year, my firm has trained over 500 recruiters who work directly for corporations. They indicate that about 15-20% of their hires come from job postings and mostly for lower level or staff positions. The rest are already in their database of followers or employee referrals.

For job-hunters, this suggests that no more than 20% of your efforts should be put towards responding to job postings. Most of it should be focused on getting referred to these open jobs. With this idea in mind, here are three things you can do, starting right now, to find a new job.

Use the job posting as a lead, then reverse the “hub and spoke” sourcing process.

Unless you’re close to a perfect match on skills and experience and meet the academic requirements, don’t bother applying directly to the job. Instead, use the back door to get noticed. For example, on Indeed.com I noticed that Halliburton has a dozen mechanical engineering job openings in Houston, all related to project management efforts involving a variety of electro-mechanical engineering disciplines. There are very few people who meet the exact requirements for any individual job, but there are many people who have the generic skills to handle these positions. If I were advising Halliburton, I’d suggest they use a “hub and spoke” sourcing process to group all of these jobs on a microsite and then, as they find people, assign them to the specific jobs that are the most reasonable fits.

Candidates can reverse this hub and spoke process by going on LinkedIn and finding people who are leading these project management efforts. As part of this example, I found more than 20 people on LinkedIn who have senior project manager titles within the technical specialty of interest. If I were interested in these jobs I’d contact the people directly, but I wouldn’t send them my resume. I’d use a different approach to get referred. Some ideas follow.

Don’t send your resume, demonstrate your ability instead.

There is no rule stating you must send in a resume to get a job interview. Getting noticed first is the key. One way to get noticed is to solve a problem likely being faced by the company. There are often clues to this in the job posting and by doing a little company research. Over the past few years candidates have told me they have sent in samples of their work, prepared PowerPoint decks describing related work they’ve handled, created YouTube videos answering The Most Important Interview Question of All Time and conducted the type of analyses described in the job posting to demonstrate their subject matter expertise.

None of these were sent to HR or the recruiting team. All were sent to the hiring manager or someone who could refer the person to the hiring manager. For the Halliburton example, I’d send the material to all of the senior project managers and then follow up with a phone call. If you mention you’ve also sent the material to the senior VP the other directors will likely act upon it sooner.

Start networking by influencing people you know to introduce you to people you don’t know.

Networking is not about meeting as many people as you can in the hope that someone will know about a job opening. Networking is about meeting a few people who know you very well and can refer you to others they know very well. Here’s a complete post on the networking process and a short video.

Most job-seekers make excuses about why networking doesn’t work for them. Hogwash. It works for everyone.

It’s hard work though, and that’s why most people don’t want to do it. Regardless, find just a few people who know your abilities and ask them to introduce you to some of their most influential and well-connected contacts. As part of these discussions, have them review the project work described above and your resume or LinkedIn profile. Ask for suggestions and 2-3 more referrals. Then connect with these people and review the same materials and ask for 2-3 more referrals. This is how you build your network and how you’ll get your next job.

Getting referred is the best way to get a job. It’s also the best way to get connected to the recruiters handling the best jobs. More important, the bigger and deeper your network, the greater the likelihood that the jobs you’ll hear about will be better, too. Getting started is the hardest part of all this. These tips will help. However, once you get the job, don’t stop the networking process. This is how you’ll get your next job.

-Lou Adler

Stuck searching for the best career? A career journal may be the answer!

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/53b4/ics2g7fx255bmi4fg.jpg?size_id=6Right after high school I did a short stint in a culinary arts school. It was a strange little place that ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but it planted the seed of an idea that I would come to revisit over 15 years later. In our first semester each student was given a rigid blue plastic box – about the size of a 3-ring binder – filled with blank pages like a scrapbook. It was designed to be a professional development portfolio where we could store our resume, certificates of achievement, and anything else that would highlight our accomplishments during a job interview. In theory, it was a great concept to encourage us to develop a career mindset. But ultimately its high dork factor relegated my blue box to the thrift store donation bin.

Now that I’m in the position of helping people navigate their career exploration, I’ve tweaked the concept of a dedicated space for career materials into a career exploration journal. Not an awkward blue box, but a more personalized notebook or binder where career seekers can store and explore all things career oriented. In my last blog I wrote about the errors of the American career search, and how self-inquiry is not emphasized early enough or strong enough in our youth. In this follow up, I propose that developing a comprehensive career journal is a valuable personal development tool for all ages in the career stream.

Below are some of the general framework components of a career journal. I see it as a living project that carries throughout a person’s career span. While one might add folders for resumes and certificates of achievement, the primary goal is to conduct introspective writing and brainstorming on career-related themes. I suggest dividing a section of the notebook/binder to each of the following headings:

 

Core Values (Write about what really matters and what guides you. How can the work you do day in and day out align with your values?)

Skills/Strengths (Go ahead, toot your own horn, what are you good at?)

Interests/Hobbies (All of them. That’s right, jot down everything you can think of that grabs your attention.)

Needs and Wants (From a job, from a career span, from life in general. What is essential, what would be luxury, and what isn’t so much a priority?)

The ROPES: Roadblocks, Obligations, Pressures, and Excuses (What are the things that seem to get in your way?)

Mission, Meaning, and Focus (What propels you forward and why do you do what you do? What would feel rewarding to contribute to the world?)

Keywords and Job Titles (When you come across a job related keyword or job title that piques your interest, record it here for when you sit down to conduct your job search. These come in handy when you’re writing your resume, cover letter, and inputting search terms into job boards.)

Testimonials and References (When people praise your abilities, ask if you can “quote them on that” or use them as a future reference. You will need these and you don’t want to be scrambling to find them at the last minute. After all, it’s Murphy’s Law that the deadline for the job posting you most love expires in the morning.)

Reality and Research (Know what you’re getting into. Dreams and fantasies are wonderful, but how do they fit into the real world? How will you support yourself as you move toward your long term goals? What’s your plan?)

Rainmakers and Resources (Make a comprehensive list of everyone you know in your extended network: your friends, teachers, mentors, ex co-workers… anybody to whom you might someday reach out for advice or job leads.)

Resume and Cover Letter (Know where they are when you need them. Tweak them and update them– your professional voice and writing skill develops over a lifetime.)

Continuing Education (What skills do you eventually want added to your toolkit? Keep a list of the who, what, when, where, and how you can grow as a professional. Many careers require continuing education and this will keep you organized and on top of those requirements.)

 

Give each of these sections a tab in the journal and come back to them whenever inspiration strikes. Make an effort to sit undistracted with your journal and brainstorm what truly matters to you. And what does not.

We don’t know where our professional life will ultimately lead, but we can develop a sense for what we want it to contain. This is the kind of attention few of us are encouraged to give to our career exploration, yet I believe it would greatly decrease the amount of job dissatisfaction. The encouragement to explore what each of us wants and needs from a fulfilled life seems revolutionary in its possibility. Could it be part of the antidote to an unstimulated and overstressed workforce?

Brad Waters – PsychologyToday

i want to be an ophthalmic technician- where do I start?

Q:

Hello Charisse, my name is Randy. I was thrown your name by Loriene, one of the linkedin group admins.  She wanted me to contact you in regards to exploring a career in Ophthalmology as a COT.

I am retiring from active duty, Army, and I want to get back into the Optical field, but want more than what I have done as an Optician. I love what I have read so far about COTs and the level of training required.

My concerns are that my age might work against me, and where is the best place to go to receive training that is still around Tennessee.

Any help or mentorship would be greatly appreciated.

A:

Hello randy! Nice to read your message. Thank you for your service, my brother is in the army too. welcome to the family!

We would love to assist! There are a couple great practices in your area as well as suggesting jcahpo.org to learn about an ophthalmic technician career! You will need to consider either school to become a cot right off the bat or you can “learn on the job” and work your way up like i did. Its a great field. as to age… no worries, this is an almost age-less industry. if we can think we can work- no digging fox holes, or transferring patients from gurneys, it does require compassion and ability to think on the job as the eyes tell a story about the whole body. Welcome, and I thank you, the army and personal family for keeping us safe!

Charisse – imatters.

Eyecessorize Highlights Children’s Eyewear Trends, Tips for Back-to-School on ‘The Daily Buzz’

 

On Thursday, Aug. 29, Eyecessorize – The Vision Council’s fashion eyewear campaign – secured a TV placement on “The Daily Buzz,” a nationally syndicated morning show that reaches more than 1.3 million viewers every day. Lifestyle reporter Katlean de Monchy shared her must-have back-to-school items for children, including Converse and Lucky Brand glasses for girls and boys, from Eyewear and Accessories Division member REM Eyewear. She not only touched on the popular fall fashion trends in children’s eyewear, but also emphasized the importance of children receiving eye exams from an eye care provider at least once a year. To close, she directed viewers to thevisioncouncil.org for more children-related eyewear tips and guidelines.

 

 

misconceptions about probationary periods

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/cf20/gq731hd5m3s7y7sfg.jpg?size_id=6

Employers sometimes use “probationary periods” when hiring new employees or promoting employees into a new position. Employers use the probationary period as a time to assess whether the new hire or newly promoted employee is a good fit for the position. Typically, probationary periods range from 3 months to 6 months.

The following are frequently asked questions, along with some common misconceptions, about probationary periods.

Q: Are probationary periods a good idea?

A: Probationary periods can lead to confusion regarding whether the employment relationship is “at-will”. “At-will” means that either the employee or the employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any lawful reason. When employers use probationary periods, employees sometimes think that once they successfully complete a probationary period, they are no longer at risk for termination based upon their performance. This misunderstanding can lead to increased risk of wrongful termination lawsuits if the employer terminates the employee. Accordingly, with the exception of collective bargaining agreements or circumstances where the employer wishes to enter into a contract with a particular employee, probationary periods are generally not considered a best practice.

Additionally, the term “probationary period” may have a negative connotation for new employees. New hires may misinterpret “probationary” to mean that they are immediately placed on a disciplinary action plan at the start of their employment. This could negatively impact the employee’s perception of the company.

Q: How can I help employees understand my company’s probationary period policy?

A: If your company requires that new employees enter into a probationary period, make sure that your probationary period policies and procedures are carefully worded and applied consistently to all new hires. Your policies should make clear that upon successful completion of the probationary period, the status of the new hire’s employment will remain “at-will.” The policy should also make clear that “at-will” status is in effect even during the probationary period. Employers should consider consulting with legal counsel to ensure that their probationary period policies are drafted and implemented properly.

Note: Employers should also have a clear employment at-will disclaimer in their employee handbook to make the employment relationship clear.

Q: Which states recognize at-will employment?

A: In the United States, employment relationships are presumed to be at-will in all states except Montana. In Montana, employers can generally only terminate employees for good cause once they have completed the employer’s probationary period. If an employer does not establish a specific probationary period in Montana, the default probationary period is six months from the date of hire.

Q: Why would employers use probationary periods?

A: Probationary periods originated in union environments. It was a way for employers subject to a collective bargaining agreement to have a short period of time to evaluate employees where they would not be governed by the same termination requirements as during the regular employment period. Some non-union employers have since adopted the practice believing it is a way to assess a new hire’s skills and qualifications without the burden of following certain requirements that come with the employment relationship. Some employers also misconstrue the probationary period to mean that they would be free from wrongful termination lawsuits should the relationship not work out. This, however, is not true. New hires generally have the same protections as other employees and can be terminated at any time during the employment relationship. Having a special probationary period does not change that.

Q: What about an introductory period, training period, or orientation period? Are these different?

A: Some employers use an “introductory period,” “training period,” or “orientation period.” However, they all generally refer to the same type of initial period. And, if not handled correctly, they all run the risk of confusing employees regarding their employment status. Employers should carefully assess the benefit of having introductory periods, and if they wish to continue using them, consider working with legal counsel to develop and implement such policies.

Q: Without probationary periods, how can my company help make sure new hires are (and will continue to be) a good fit?

A: Employers should develop an effective hiring process to help find the best candidates for the position and avoid bad hires. During the interview process, employers should ask job-related and behavioral-based questions, and, where appropriate, should conduct post-offer job-related background and reference checks to help determine whether candidates have the potential to succeed in the open position.

Once hired, all employers should provide new employees with a comprehensive orientation process to familiarize them with the company (and vice versa). Supervisors should work closely with new hires, giving them the information, tools, and support they need to succeed. Supervisors should also establish clear goals, provide feedback and coaching regularly, and evaluate performance proactively and consistently.

Q: Without a probationary period, can my company require new hires to wait before they enroll in our health plan or are eligible for paid time off?

A: The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) prohibits group health plans from applying a waiting period that exceeds 90 days for individuals otherwise eligible to enroll. Under the ACA, health plans are permitted to use “orientation periods” without violating the 90-day waiting period rule if the following requirements are met:

  • The period is not more than one month.
  • The 90-day waiting period begins on the first day after the orientation period.

Generally, employers may also establish reasonable waiting periods for employees to become eligible for voluntary company provided benefits, such as paid time off. Note: Some states and local jurisdictions have established paid leave laws that will have their own eligibility requirements with which covered employers must comply.

Q: If employees are terminated during their introductory period, are they disqualified from unemployment benefits?

A: The fact that an individual was terminated during an introductory period would not disqualify the employee from unemployment benefits. The same rules regarding eligibility for unemployment still apply. However, length of employment may be a factor in determining how much the employer will be impacted by the employee’s unemployment claim.

signs that it’s time to move your career forward

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/9e56/8mzr4pcggrb6irsfg.jpg?size_id=6

We all get content at times, especially at a job that pays decently well and comes with a good group of co-workers. Maybe your job isn’t what you really want to do for the rest of your life, but you start convincing yourself, “This is fine—it’s not my dream job, but it’ll do for now.”

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling content or comfortable at your job.

But keep in mind that being “content” can easily lead to complacency—and that’s the danger zone. Complacency tends to generate excuses (“I’ll put up with this just for a few more months,” or “I just don’t have time to do a job search right now”) and leads us to settle (“This job will do for now,” or “Maybe I don’t need to be a VP [or fill in your blank dream job here]”). Worst of all, complacency will eventually lead to fear. And fear holds us back.

I have seen too many smart and talented friends and colleagues who have stayed in just-OK jobs. When they do decide to move on, they’ve been out of the job market for so long that they can’t even take that first step to update their resume—let alone apply for jobs. They’re gripped by fear of re-entering a different job market than the one they last recall. They have almost forgotten what it’s like to go on interviews. They feel inadequate compared to their peers and think the train has already passed them by. These feelings of fear can quickly get overwhelming, and the easy way out is often to postpone the job search, to ignore the matter at hand—and to spend more time in a less-than-dream-job.

So, if there’s one piece of advice I could give to anyone who wants to advance professionally, it’s this: Do not get complacent. In fact, make time to regularly check in with yourself about your career happiness and goals and consider whether it might be time to make that next move.

1) You can’t sleep at night due to the stress and thought of having to go into work the next day. The stress and lack of sleep really began to negatively affect my health.

2) You are not getting any feedback. If your direct manager doesn’t provide feedback on your performance—or the feedback is generic and thus difficult to take action on—it’s pretty tough to learn what it takes to move up within your organization or grow as a professional. The best managers are engaged with your career development and regularly offer advice and guidance—and if yours doesn’t, you owe it to yourself to look elsewhere.

3) The stress from the job makes you irritable and cranky around your family and friends. I was no fun to be around during this time. This job was so stressful that it started to negatively affect the relationships with my loved ones.

4) The job has zapped all the life out of you. You are tired all the time and lack the motivation you once had. This can happen when your company has no policy or no intention of ever implementing a work/life balance program for employees.

5) You are not learning. If your learning curve has flattened out or you’re really not feeling challenged, this may signal a need to move on. You may not be learning something new every day on the job, but you should be improving upon your core skills and picking up new ones. You often have to take this into your own hands, of course—asking to be involved in a new project, signing up for courses you’re interested in, or attending a relevant conference or seminar in your discipline, for example. But if these possibilities don’t exist at your current job, it’s a sign that the company is not serious about investing in your career development.

6) You don’t agree with the corporate culture or the direction the company is headed. In my case, the culture was a turn and burn environment. They had a high pressure environment, and we lived in constant fear of losing our jobs. There was no value placed in sales professionals, and the place was a revolving door.

7) Your ideas are not being heard, and your work is not valued. Many companies do a very poor job of recognizing their employees for their hard work and accomplishments. They don’t have any concept of the value in saying thank you.

8) You’re living the status quo. If you’ve been at the same company and position without any advancement or promotion for the past three years—and you want to continue moving your career forward—it’s time to look elsewhere. Even in a large organization where promotions are tough to come by, you should be able to make some sort of upward movement within this time frame.

9) You are the victim of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, or other types of illegal behavior. At the job I quit, I was bullied and verbally abused by my old boss. HR was no help and upper management turned a blind eye to it. DO NOT put up with this!

Given that many of us spend over 40 hours per week at our jobs, you owe it to yourself to regularly evaluate your career situation. Even if you’re perfectly happy at your current job, make it a habit to check in with yourself (or with a trusted buddy, if that’s helpful) at least twice a year. Not only is it a good opportunity to review your accomplishments (and get in the habit of regularly updating your resume!), but you’ll also force yourself to gauge the market conditions within your industry.

Best of all, going through this process will mean you’ll either find more satisfaction out of your current job—or you’ll discover new opportunities and move on to the next big thing.

 

-John White, Camilla Cho