All ‘Global/Social Change’ Posts

08 apr

Machines Replacing Humans

RobertCordrayStarting in 1962 in the automotive industry and every decade since, machines have taken over the jobs of humans. The manufacturing process has been computerized with robotic machines that can handle repetitive tasks much quicker and more efficiently than humans. Some of the jobs that have been taken over by machinery are:

Factory Jobs

Factory jobs employed about one-third of the workforce in the United States in the 1950s. The factories produced packaged foods, refrigerators, light bulbs and hundreds of other items that were used every day. Computerized machines have boosted production allowing the factories to function around the clock while still reducing production costs. The people who were the most affected were the workers at the end of the line and the sorters. These people worked along the conveyor system and packaged the finished product.

Auto Plant Workers

The jobs men and woman did along the assembly line in an auto plant have been taken on by robots. The robots can work around the clock and not bet bored or tired. They do the work of four humans, which increases productivity and reduces costs. In Japan, and later in Detroit, 600,000 workers do the job of 2.5 million workers producing 12 million cars per year.

Farms

Technology has replaced millions of farmworkers with machines that can sense where the seeds should be planted and when the crops are ready to be harvested. Technology has also affected the food that is grown with genetically engineered plants to make it possible to get larger and larger yields.

Dairy farms also require fewer laborers because of automated milking and cleaning machines. The robots milk the cows, push feed into their pens and clean the barns. The cows are brushed and make comfortable with special lighting. These machines work every day all day and night. One person can oversee the whole operation. This type of automation is not common, but it is available and working in dairies in Holland, Denmark and France. It will eventually put hundreds of dairy workers out of a job.

Telephone Operators

Automated communication systems have replaced humans in many areas including reception, customer service and help desks. It is becoming less and less likely that consumers need to speak to a human to get the service they need, and these jobs are becoming scarce. Cell phones also do the job of taking messages, transferring calls and maintaining databases. Operators and other administrative help is no longer required. Clerical workers who wrote up and typed bills became redundant while data entry operators were employed. When a system upgrades to a digital system, the data entry employees also become redundant.

Tollbooth Collectors

Automated tollbooth collection is much more convenient and better for traffic jams during peak times. No longer do people need to sit in a booth while each car stops to pay their toll. There are now stickers that are put on windshields that are read by an overhead monitor, and the toll is taken from the car owner’s credit card. When the last tool booth collector left the job on the San Francisco, California, Golden Gate Bridge, it made national news. About 30 jobs were terminated on this bridge alone when the city made the switch to all-electronic toll collection. The systems not only collect tolls, they also alert enforcers of cars that are not enrolled or try to avoid the toll.

Cashiers

Computerized, self-checkout cashiers have not yet taken over all retail stores, but in some of the large department stores, about half of the checkout stands are automated. This trend is expected to continue, reducing the number of human cashiers. Computerized checkout not only expedites check stand operations, it also encompasses inventory control, sales analysis, pricing, labor scheduling, promotions, advertising and customer relations. The system is able to do all these things because it scans and stores information that is code marked or tagged on the merchandise.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on April 8th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

03 apr

5 Things You Need to Do When Starting a New Job

Kerrigan2So—you’ve gotten through all the interviews and you’ve landed a new job! Congratulations!

Now, you show up on your first day. Here are 5 things to do once you arrive:

#1. Touch base with your new boss. Hopefully, by now, you’ve had a conversation or two with your new boss about what is required of you, and you have a meeting scheduled for your first day. This is important not only for the obvious reasons, but also for the fact that things change fairly rapidly today. It’s important to touch base on a regular basis because the landscape can shift quite quickly, and you’ll need to adapt.

#2. Introduce yourself. Make it a point to meet as many co-workers as possible. I have spoken at colleges, and students always ask me “What’s one of the first things I should do?” This is it.

Reach out your hand, make eye contact, and say “Hi, I’m [insert your name], it’s a pleasure to meet you.” It’s that simple. There’s no better way to get to know your new team, and for them to get to know you.

#3. Ask what people do, and how you’ll be working together. First—it demonstrates interest. Second, it helps you get your bearings–the people and processes around you. Most of all, it builds your confidence because you are doing one the most important things you will ever need to do throughout your career: Ask questions.

#4. Listen—actively! People love to talk about themselves and their expertise—let them. In fact, encourage them. Listening actively means you’re focused the other person, and are validating what they are saying by making sure you understand them. Using phrases such as, “Let me see if I have this straight in my mind,” helps the process.

Often we’re so busy thinking about the next thing we’re going to say that we miss important information. By actively listening, you not only show respect, you learn. And, you begin to build important working relationships and knowledge that improve your confidence and performance.

And finally…

#5. Be sure you understand the main purpose of your company. It’s odd how often businesses and employees miss this, and yet, it’s so important because it impacts everything you do. You need to know the promises your company makes in order to understand your part in keeping them. It connects you to something higher than just “a job,” and gives your new position meaning. It all falls into place when you understand the goal.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow strong and successful for over three decades. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on April 3rd, 2014 in Career, General, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

05 mar

6 Ways You Torment Yourself at Work and How to Stop

Kerrigan2Let’s face it: At one time or another, you have tormented yourself at work. Often, the ritual is daily. Without a doubt, it’s more frequent than most people know. You have to catch yourself to even know what’s making you feel bad or sad. We are so conditioned to look on the dark side, that negativity becomes our automatic default. In fact, I ‘ll bet that the main reason you’re reading this right now is the word “torment” in the title. Yes?

So—why do you do it? What is the main reason for all that torment?

Here it is: Fear of failure, of not being good enough, as though you have to prove yourself–-often.

Here are 6 ways you suffer and how to stop:

#1: You’re afraid to ask questions

Of all the performance and productivity killers I’ve seen in the workplace, confusion, by far, is numero uno. It can hold you back and delay progress, and often goes undetected because most people hate to admit when they’re confused. Ipso facto: They hate to ask questions.

Whole processes can screech to a halt when someone somewhere along the line is too afraid to ask: “How does this work?,” “What am I supposed to be doing?,” “Why is this needed?” You get the idea.

When you’re afraid to ask, you lack clarity, and torment yourself in many ways. Your job becomes a guessing game. You have no idea what you’re doing and you fear that, if you ask, you’ll look ridiculous. So, you put yourself and your team at risk.

Worst of all, your anxiety increases as you worry about things going wrong, and then it reaches an all-time high when they actually do.

Stop. Ask. The more confident you become, the stronger and less fearful you will be, and the better you will perform.

#2: You’re afraid of answering questions

This brings me to the flip side of that coin: fear of answering questions. Many executives are known for this. They think it’s the mark of strong leadership if they appear as though they have all the answers. So, instead of seeming weak, they avoid questions like the plague.

They become politicians, not leaders, sidestepping questions with vague and inane answers. Then, their insecurity and torment passes to their team, and everyone is confused and lost.

Is this what you really want?

Stop tormenting yourself and your team by trying so hard and making it up as you go along. Stop giving wrong or incomplete information. It is your job to problem solve, to get answers, and to know where to look. It’s not your job to know everything—nobody does.

If you don’t know, say so. And then ask.

#3: You second guess everything you do

When you can’t ask or answer questions, you have little confidence in yourself. Your anticipatory anxiety runs at an all-time high with “what if” thinking. “What if I do this, and that happens?” Initially, this can be great for planning, but you can’t get stuck there. You need to make a decision and move forward–to trust yourself and choose. Yes, sometimes you choose wrong, but that’s life.

First, know that most of the time, your anticipation is much worse than the actual situation. How many times have you worried yourself to the Nth degree and the outcome was far better than you imagined?

Anticipatory anxiety keeps you from taking chances that would improve your life.

Step through that wall of anticipatory anxiety! Get on the other side. Give yourself permission to feel anxious. Then, get in the present moment and ask yourself: what’s the next positive step I need to take to move myself forward? And do it!

Think of “what iffing” it this way, “What if I succeed?”–You won’t know until you try.

#4: You second guess what everyone else does

If you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to trust others. This brings about huge control issues. People often think control freaks are strong—wrong. It’s a sign of weakness, of insecurity. So, stop it. Once again, you’re not only tormenting yourself, you’re tormenting your team. Stop hovering over them and not letting them do their thing.

We all bring something special to the table. No one is good in all areas of work—that’s why there are teams—to collaborate. Collaboration is the alloy that makes companies strong. It’s fine to ask and answer questions to monitor progress, but you must trust your team to do what they do best. That’s how you all grow and succeed.

#5: You have an excessive need for approval

If you feel victimized, manipulated or guilty often, then you are tormenting yourself by always needing approval from others. Anxiety runs high when you feel this way because you’re just too afraid of stepping on toes. You show people where your buttons are, with a big sign that says “Push!”

The most important approval you need is the approval you give yourself. I wrote about this in 10 Steps to Get Over the Impostor Syndrome. As a people pleaser, it’s easier to be compassionate to others, but not to yourself.

If you heard a close friend talk badly about him/herself, you would defend that person and say it’s not true. You would comfort the friend with kind and supportive words. You need to be able to do this for yourself. Speak to yourself as though you were speaking as if speaking to your own best friend. Be compassionate to yourself. Use those same convincing words and be supportive — to you.

#6: You suffer from the “terrible too’s”: too young, too old, too inexperienced, too forgetful, too tall, too short—you name it!

Often, when faced with change, we torment ourselves with the “terrible too’s.” We use self-criticism as an excuse to procrastinate and resist change. What we’re really saying is that we’re too afraid to leap because we’re too afraid to fail.

Your thoughts make up your reality. So, change the messaging in your mind. Get more positive in the way you think–especially about yourself.

Get confident: Ask and answer questions. Trust yourself and your team. Give yourself the support you need. Get out from under the “terrible too’s” and your excuses. One thing is for sure: It’s never too late to stop tormenting yourself and start enjoying your life!

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace confidence and performance who has been helping businesses and professionals grow stronger and more successful for over three decades. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 5th, 2014 in Career, Global/Social Change, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

05 nov

7 Signs You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome

Kerrigan2“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?” —Meryl Streep

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” —Maya Angelou

“I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”—Will Smith

If you’ve ever felt like this, then welcome to the club — the Impostor Syndrome Club. Obviously, you’re in good company.

The impostor syndrome is known to afflict not only the rich and famous but many successful executives as well. Primarily career-based and achievement-driven, it is a phenomenon where people are unable to own their accomplishments or value, despite evidence to the contrary.

The sufferer has a nagging fear of being found out as a fake and a phony, as if they’ve fooled everyone into believing that they are competent. Any and all success feels completely undeserved and dismissed as luck, timing, or something other than talent, intelligence, hard work, and perseverance. Many professionals have a respect that they feel is not earned, and a title that they feel they don’t live up to.

Some experts say it’s cultural; some say it’s psychological. This expert (and sufferer) says, “Who cares?” It’s painful and chronic. It’s the most awful, sinking feeling that is the height — and depth — of insecurity.

Although everyone feels doubt and anxiety at times, this syndrome causes a constant cycle of shame and embarrassment, and manifests in self-defeating thoughts that amount to one thing: “I am not worthy.”

And yes, the biggest deceiver in all of this really is us: Not in how we believe we lie to others, but in how we lie to ourselves. You see, impostors tend to mistake feelings for facts. But, feelings, unlike facts, lie—and they lie often.

Understanding this an important step in letting go. By recognizing the lies we tell ourselves and challenging them, we gain perspective, clarity, and confidence.

So–How do we lie to ourselves?

1. You tend to focus on the one thing that’s wrong rather than what’s right.

When I was hired to lead operations for a technology startup, I was brought onboard for my leadership and operations skills: my ability to structure and unify a team, point them in the right direction, and execute strategy. Yet, my focus was my abysmal lack of technology skill. I was beating myself up constantly over this one point. The fact that I had a long, successful career was lost on me. I was too busy feeling defective.

We are drawn to and focus on the negative instead of the positive. Anxiety and fear just seem to feel more natural to us, and often, become habit. Whatever we focus on only intensifies, so try focusing on the good.

2. You think it’s too easy — that anyone could do it.

I have a friend who is terrific at technology. He can write code, design websites, repair computers, and do a million other techie things. I think he’s amazing. He thinks a monkey could do it. When you know what you’re doing, it seems effortless. And it is — to you. What you may think is nothing is really something to someone else.

We don’t understand that certain things come more naturally for us, and not for others, and so we devalue our gifts. Never assume that your own unique talents are easily duplicated.

3. You think it has to be difficult to be worthwhile.

Some of us are taught this at an early age by struggling for love and attention from one or both of our parents. They withhold love until we prove ourselves worthy. Since their love and approval means everything to us, we think that we have to fight for everything worthwhile in life. In fact, sometimes, we over complicate things just to compensate for anything that should be easy. It’s exhausting, and time to stop.

Forgive your parents. They were doing their best and relying on what they were taught. Because the lies we tell ourselves are often inherited, forgive yourself, too.

4. You believe that what you’re doing is never enough.

In trying to satisfy that inner need for recognition, we set unrealistic expectations. We also compare ourselves to others and think that we have to struggle to measure up. This paradigm means that we can only feel worthy when we are achieving, as that’s what it takes to get positive attention.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Keep A-Players Productive,” Steven Berglas discusses the “extraordinarily punishing superegos” of over achievers such as Winston Churchill, who “voluntarily push themselves to extremes.” Churchill was enormously self-critical, reviewing everything in his head that he failed at, a ritual he learned at a young age from his abusive father.

Often, our self-critical, punishing voice is not our own, but one we’ve heard, loved and trusted more than our own selves.

We forget that no one is all achieving, in all possible ways, all the time.

5. You need the secondary gains, because you get something out of staying this way.

Often, we stay in the impostor state for a reason — even if we’re unaware of it. Sometimes, it pushes us to do our best work. In fact, I would hazard to guess that it’s the motivation that drives Maya Angelou each time she sits down to write a book. We become our own competition, always playing against ourselves.

I tended to prepare myself for failure, so it wouldn’t hurt as much if it actually happened. After the traumatic experience of getting laid off from a job I had and loved for years, I would protect myself with this psychological safety net.

6. You’re not in the moment because you’re too busy feeling and not doing.

When we allow our thoughts to wander, we can often over-think, over-analyze and feel lost. It is then that we see only the emotional and not the practical, and our overly-conscious selves can throw us off — and possibly out — of our game. We’re so focused on the fear that we lose the moment, and that’s where we really need to be.

Sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman helped baseball legends address fear by being and doing more in the present and talking and thinking less about the past or future. His mantra was “see the ball, hit the ball.”

If we allow ourselves to be too self-conscious, we’re too busy feeling instead of doing. We get ahead of ourselves with too much anticipatory anxiety and miss the moment. For impostor syndrome, doing is the best antidote. When we’re in the doing, we have no time to criticize ourselves.

7. You don’t have perspective, and need to take a step back.

Perspective matters. It’s like a Monet painting—up close, it seems like a bunch of wild brush strokes that don’t seem to make sense, but from a distance, their true beauty and value are revealed to us. So it can be with our own lives and careers.

We often de-value the positive impact we have on others. If it was someone else’s life, we could see it objectively. It took me a long time to see the value I brought to many companies and clients. I finally realized that if I saw someone else who had my career, I would think, “Wow, that’s terrific!” And now, I do.

Here’s the thing about impostor syndrome: We have a limited amount of time on this earth, and it’s our choice what we do with it. So, why rob yourself of happiness and fulfillment?

Whatever we focus on the most will intensify, so focus on the good. It’s what we tell ourselves that really matters, so stop lying to yourself. Challenge and change those thoughts, so you can change your life. It is a wonderful life, after all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

For over three decades, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping businesses and private clients excel in the workplace and grow in the marketplace. She is an expert in developing the practical skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. With extensive leadership experience and practical mastery in operational excellence, Michelle is a powerful resource for navigating change, conquering fear and doubt, and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in more effective leadership and teamwork, higher efficiency and revenue growth. In addition, Michelle writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and produces a series for public TV, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on November 5th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 oct

The 8 Startup Keys to Confidence

Kerrigan2At a recent MIT Enterprise Forum, I was asked for confidence tips to help startups.

For over three decades, I have helped people become more confident and successful at work. Success depends largely on our ability to grow and change without feeling vulnerable or resistant in the process.

Here are 8 key tips to start:

1. Know your value: How does your product or service improve your clients’ or customers’ condition? Many entrepreneurs experience anxiety in selling their ideas, but when you focus outwardly on how you help others, it builds confidence in you, your company and your audience.

2. Be able to convey that value in human terms: Don’t sound like a presentation, resume or speech. Again—think outside yourself. Think of your audience. Use terms to help them envision successful outcomes.

3. Understand that everything is marketing, so become socially savvy: Real business happens face-to-face, so you need to feel confident in building rapport, relationships and trust. These are important with investors and clients, and are the hallmarks of leadership too.

4. Remember that no one succeeds alone: Reach out and up for help. ASK. It’s OK to not know. Success is always a team effort. Whether it’s your family, friends, co-workers, or coach—we all need support. When you get answers, you help yourself, your team and your business. You become a problem solver, not a problem generator.

5. Learn self control: Confidence comes from self control. You cannot control what happens to you. The only thing you can control is you—your thoughts and how you react to things. Also, learn to release control of those things at which you don’t excel. That’s how you build teams and business.

6. Trust instinct and common sense over technology: Hone and use your ability to interact. To listen and comprehend. To read a room and the street. Don’t let handheld devices replace your instinct, and allow social media to replace social grace, and distraction to replace engagement.

7. Kick the perfection addiction: The wonderful–and terrible–thing about technology is that you can make changes easily, so don’t over-think, over-analyze and over-finesse everything. Move forward by prioritizing according to the revenue line, market share, and customer satisfaction.

8. Believe in yourself: Confidence comes from the inside out. If you don’t believe in you and your company, how can you expect others to? One great saying is, “The first sale is to yourself.” Amen.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps growing businesses and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity. Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change, and solving day-to-day challenges. This results in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth.

In addition, Michelle writes and speaks on the role self esteem plays in achieving success and produces and hosts a series for public television, Workplace Confidence. More at: www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on October 24th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

21 sep

Technology vs. Instinct and Common Sense: Are Smart Phones Making Us Stupid?

Kerrigan2I live in New York–one of the most fast-paced and exciting places in the world. It can also be one of the most dangerous places too. You need to be on your toes here, and aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, the consequences could be severe, even fatal.

However, one thing I’m noticing more and more lately is the rising addiction to smart phones, and people looking down, when they should be looking up. Smart phones are called that because of their technical capabilities. But are they harming our human capabilities? Our instinct and common sense?

I realized that, in the last month alone, I’ve seen 5 people almost get hit by bikes, cars, or taxis as they cross the streets in midtown, oblivious to the world around them.  And, recently, I read that the number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving is skyrocketing. In fact, texting is now surpassing drinking and driving as the prime hazard among that age group. And from what I see on the road, I can imagine the numbers are rising in adult accidents and fatalities too.

Then there’s another, less life-threatening , more career-threatening habit: Employees texting and tweeting while their bosses or company CEOs are speaking.  Or commenting on facebook when they should be working.

There are also the people dining out and gathering at bars everywhere, glued to their tiny screens and unaware of the life-sized action around them.  And, how many of us are so busy focusing on capturing a photo for facebook instead of actually experiencing and enjoying the moment? Just think of the last concert or public event you attended—did your smart phone make a guest appearance?

All this has led me to wonder:

Is all this reliance on technology endangering our lives?

Are we losing our ability to read a room and read the street? To hold a face-to-face conversation?  To listen and comprehend? Are our natural instincts, common sense and early warning devices being jeopardized by our handheld devices? Are we letting social media replace social grace, and distraction replace engagement, costing us our jobs, our friends, our experiences and our lives?

In other words: are our smart phones making us stupid?

Maybe it’s time to put the phones down, look up, and find out.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 21st, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Health, Personal Stories, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

04 sep

Problem Generating vs. Problem Solving: Choosing the Right Path to Confidence and Success

Kerrigan2Life is filled with change. It is also filled with choice. Success is largely based on the choices we make when facing change.

Many of the changes we face are not welcome and quite challenging, such as getting laid off; going through a restructuring; and doing more with less at work. And, many of us believe that if we worry enough, we can control the outcome.

Well, we can’t. No one can. The only thing we control is ourselves, and how we react to change: Our thoughts and actions. Confidence is all about self control.

When we face change, we come to a fork in the road, and choose from 2 paths: The problem generating path and the problem solving path.

The problem generating path is where we create problems by being too negative. We lose confidence on this path, and we lose our way. It’s where we:

  1. Dwell on the past
  2. Worry about the future
  3. Doubt ourselves
  4. Shut down
  5. Get stuck

“Dwell” is the operative word here. It’s natural to feel anxious and fearful at first. In fact, discomfort often drives change. But, when we dwell on the negative, we mentally go around and around and come out at the same place—nowhere.

Let’s take getting laid off and having to job hunt as an example. Dwelling on the negative may sound like this: “Eh—it’s still the summer—not a great time to look for a job. I really don’t feel like doing this. I really miss my old team. I hate interviewing. I hate networking. I’m not good at either. I’m still upset that they let me go. Is there something wrong with me? Can I really do this? What if I can’t find anything? What if I fail?”

Sound familiar? Doesn’t get us very far, does it?

Now, let’s look at the problem solving path. When we problem solve, we gain confidence. We move forward and succeed. It’s on this path that we:

  1. Acknowledge and accept our fears
  2. Take control—talk ourselves through it
  3. Begin to think positively
  4. Ask “What are our next steps?”
  5. Take action
  6. Turn fear and doubt into planning and action

This path helps us deal instead of dwell. We take control, think empowering thoughts, ask better questions and take action.

It may sound like this: “OK—I might not be thrilled with job hunting, but I’m not going to let that stop me. First, I’m going to educate myself about the companies that I like. Then, I’m going to brush up on my interview skills and reach out to my connections and ask ‘Who can help me?’”

See how it changes? Which path holds us back and which one takes us forward and closer to our goals?

Change is coming at all of us at breakneck speed, and the velocity is increasing. Who knows what the future will bring?

So, our ability to deal with change –by making better choices, and problem solving, not problem generating —will have a big impact on our confidence and success.

It’s time to take control–we are in for the ride of our lives!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach in workplace success who helps corporate and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need to improve their performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 4th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

11 jul

WorkplaceRx: The Question Mark of Confidence in Dealing with Risk

Kerrigan2“Risk is made up of probability and seriousness, minus preventive actions and contingency factors”—Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting

“The lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk”.—Michelle Kerrigan

Operations of the day-to-day workplace comprise roughly 80% of most organizations, making them one of a company’s largest investments and indispensable to business results. Because of their size and varying stages, they are complex systems with a lot of moving parts that can go awry, and often do.

This is a prime target for probable and serious risk.

And, yet, it is often overlooked. Actually, “avoided” is a better word. I know, because it’s the space I’ve worked in for over 25 years. By the time senior management calls me in to do repair work, the damage has already been done. Time, money and momentum have been lost, causing delays, dissatisfaction, and overall frustration.

Now—here’s what I find interesting: once I begin to ask executives questions, the response is invariably the same: their eyes glaze over and they begin to shut down.

I’ve realized that most of the executives I’ve encountered don’t have the confidence to ask questions. Often, this crisis of confidence is passed down to the team, eventually resulting in serious repercussions. They ignore, avoid, evade, and sidestep until all hell breaks loose.

Most of my success has come from asking the questions nobody likes to ask. It has always been my way to diagnose and fix problems. Asking questions minimizes the probability of risk as well as the seriousness.

Whenever I assess a new operation, I closely observe the day-to-day, and sit side-by-side to interview members of the team. I find out what they do and how they do it, and am very curious about the why and when as well.

Here are some of the questions I ask:

Do you have a to-do list? What processes do you use?

What’s your responsibility in the process? What comes before you and where does it go from here?

What are your most important job functions?

How do you prioritize?

How do you follow up and monitor progress?

Who are you accountable to?

If you don’t know the answer to something, do you ask?

What happens when you ask questions?

Responses to these questions tell me a lot—especially the last two. When employees, line managers and leaders hedge, hesitate or can’t answer simple questions, I know something is wrong.

I’ve found that the lower the confidence in asking or answering questions, the higher the probability and seriousness of risk.

Here are a few examples of the problems which can develop:

Sales are lost because people and process fail to deliver.

Delays are caused by ignored or missed deadlines.

Projects frequently lose direction.

Customers and clients complain more frequently (and loudly).

The number of costly errors increases.

Revenue decreases.

People who fear asking questions avoid realistic issues that could impact their organization. The only probability they try to prevent is being judged negatively. That’s the risk they’re focused on.

Lacking the confidence to ask impacts not only preventative measures, but contingency plans too. They both have to do with a proper assessment and appropriate use of questions.

And here’s the amazing thing: when all hell does break loose, corporate contingencies are invariably inappropriate: firings and exhaustive autopsies begin. It is then that executives decide to ask questions!

But the damage is already done.

So—get confident with asking. It forces you to acknowledge that you don’t have the answers, and that’s the beginning of solutions.

The greater risk is taking no risk at all.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who, for over 25 years, has been helping businesses and private clients develop the skills and confidence critical to high performance and productivity. Michelle also writes and speaks about the roles confidence and self esteem play in achieving success, and currently produces and hosts a series for public TV entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on July 11th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

06 jun

The Brilliance (and Fun) of Improv!

Kerrigan2I tried improvisational theater (improv) for the first time the other night on the upper west side of Manhattan, and I’m hooked.

At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable performing without any script or knowledge of where the story was going. But here’s the thing: No one did, and we were all in this together. You see, improv is created collaboratively, without any pre-planning.

The story just unfolds, and it’s amazing how new ideas begin to flow: the creativity, the cooperation, and the fun are exhilarating! And, it’s all wrapped around a sense of openness and saying “yes” right from the get-go and building from there.

This culture of “yes” frees you from fear and embarrassment, and too much reliance on boring, tried and true habits. The brilliance of improv is that it takes you places you never thought you’d go, and your teammates are along for the ride as you all leap into the unknown together.

Now, picture this culture of “yes” in today’s corporate life, where change is an everyday event and innovation and resilience are necessary for growth. Improvisers take risks and make mistakes, and that’s needed to go forward in new directions. Just picture replacing tension, fear and conflict with encouragement, new ideas, and high team engagement.

Improv can open doors to the unexpected, to seeing and doing things differently. It could be the breath of fresh air, fun and forward-thinking you and your organization need.

So, what are you waiting for? Jump in and say “yes”!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com.

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 6th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 may

Ariane’s Four Talks on Change

ArianedeBonvoisinHello! I’ve just added to YouTube four (4) videos that I wanted to share on Navigating Change. Some of them are nice and short, only five minutes long. If you’ve got a cup of tea and your journal, you can watch the hour-long talk I recently gave on “The 9 Principles of Change,” to a group of 500 executives. I cover personal, professional, health, family, relationship and financial changes. Enjoy and please share with anyone you know who is going through a change, thinking about a change, struggling or helping someone else with a change!

Click here to view Ariane’s Overview of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s Questions about Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The First Principle of Change.

Click here to view Ariane’s The 9 Principles of Change.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on May 17th, 2013 in Ariane, Career, Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Global/Social Change, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments