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The Importance of Leadership

Remote work is a perk that has exploded since the pandemic began. Prior to 2020, a remote job was a unique find. Today, it has become the norm for many jobs. But, working from home has introduced challenges related to human connection. And, leadership has never been more important.

It’s funny. Prior to the pandemic, I knew much more about my coworkers, and I bet you did too. I had seen photos of their families. I knew the kinds of cars they drove. I had a good sense if they were morning people, and whether or not they liked coffee. These are details you learn in person.

Remotely, these details are lost. And, so is the connection. Many interactions become far more transactional than before. Gone are the days of chatting over your cube wall to the person next to you. Gone are the watercooler chats.

The other area that has changed is how we interact with our leaders. In the past, it was not unusual to talk with your manager at least once a day. You’d likely have a one-on-one meeting once a week. You would also see them in other scheduled meetings. But, even more importantly, you’d have casual conversations.

The casual conversations were the most important ones. They were the ones where creative ideas would come together. They were the times you would work together to solve big problems that popped up. And, most importantly, it’s where you’d build a real relationship with them. You might learn about their family, and they’d learn about yours. You’d become work friends in a way. These sort of interactions are where mutual trust and respect are formed. It’s where loyalty and common purpose are developed.

Trust and respect are the foundation of any good working relationship. They’re the reason why you keep getting your job done, even when the boss isn’t looking over your shoulder. It’s why your boss can count on you to keep the lights on while they’re on vacation.

But, what happens when these personal interactions begin to dwindle? What happens when the personal relationship fades away? I would argue that work becomes more transactional. Work becomes something you are simply bartering your time for in exchange for a paycheck. And, like any consumer in a store, you’ll looking for the best deal. You’ll want to put in the least amount of effort for the most amount of money.

To the leaders who aren’t taking the time to connect to your team, their work is suffering. It may not be clear today, but someday this pattern will catch up with you. They may be producing less work than they could. They may be producing lower quality work. Or, they may have no hesitation to leave when another job opportunity arises.

Remote work requires you to do more than to control those who work for you. It requires you to lead – more now than ever before.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Congratulations College Graduates

This is a big month. Graduates are emerging from college after spending over two years in a pandemic. Can you imagine what it would have been like to spend your junior and senior years of college being isolated and learning via Zoom? I can’t. Hats off to the graduates who have pulled through this tough time.

It’s now time to find and embark on a new job! For most people, this is both an exciting and scary time. You may feel completely confused, as if you’re on an island with no roadmap.

The first step is, get started on your job search now. I’m sure you’ve seen the news about the strong job market, and the Great Resignation. Do not assume that it will be simple to find a job. Job searching is hard. It can take a very long time.

Start looking now, and enlist a few job searching friends as support. You need people who are going through the same experience to talk to. You’ll have interviews fall apart at the end of the process. Jobs will be put on hold. Companies will ghost you. It’s a lot like dating. You’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs.

When you find something, do your homework on what the current market is paying. But, keep your expectations realistic. As a recent graduate, you will likely be paid on the low end of hiring scales. I know this is frustrating, especially given the high cost of apartments. But, your hard work will pay off. Look for the job that will provide you the best experience and the money will come (later).

Remember that you are only the third group of college graduates to enter the workforce since the start of the pandemic. If you’re working remotely, there are many advantages. But, companies are still learning how to work with their remote employees. And, they are certainly not used to working with young college graduates remotely. If career success is important to you, you’re going to have to work to be more proactive than your older peers.

Look for mentors, look for friends, and work to build a great relationship with your boss. In the remote world, it’s easy to become disconnected. You need to work to create opportunities to learn and grow. You need to create a community for yourself.

Ask your boss to meet with you at least once per week for one-on-one meetings. Setup coffee meetings with your peers. And, look for others within the organization to build bonds with. Talk about work, and then look for opportunities to talk beyond work. Friendships at work is where the real growth happens.

Last but not least, hold yourself accountable. Your career is up to you. Set regular hours, and put in the time – even when no one is looking. The foundation you lay now will help you for years to come. Congratulations, and good luck!

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Respect in a flat world

The world of work seems a little flatter now than it did just a few years ago. Zoom meetings have created a phenomenon. And, I’m not talking about the fact that we’re using a new technology. It’s flattened our relationships.

It reminds me of the military. Whether you’re in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force, when in uniform, there are clear signals about who is who. You can tell which branch of the military someone is in. And, you can see what rank they hold. There is a system that is used to navigate the social work structure within the military. But, without a uniform, it is much harder to guess these details.

In a similar way, working from home has taken away many of the social cues that are normally present in the workplace. It is now difficult to see which designer shoes or clothes someone is wearing. And, in fact, the entire team may have switched to comfortable clothes for the day to day.

Working from home and Zoom also take away some of the hierarchy present at in person meetings. Executives are no longer trying to snag the most influential seat at the conference room table. Video meetings also create a structure where people are more easily able to speak up. And, forget status symbols such as cufflinks.

For remote workers, there are also no longer bigger offices for people with bigger job titles. In other words, everyone is a little more equal. We are all individual people who are working at our individual jobs.

There are many positives that come along with a flatter working world. But, with every positive, there are also challenges. For example, a flatter organization also means that people will interact with one another at all levels. The normal hierarchy is less clear.

You’ll likely engage with colleagues who are both at higher and lower levels than ever before. It may be unclear what age they are, or how senior their roles are. But one thing is for sure. Each and every person should be treated with respect. This is such a key to working well as a virtual team.

Have you ever noticed that people sometimes change their behavior online? For example, some people are more comfortable being rude to others on Facebook and Twitter. The same can be said for remote work. In addition to a flatter organization, relationships are shallower. When is the last time you had a deep conversation with a colleague? Do you know how many children your coworkers have? When is the last time you had lunch with anyone from your work?

The less that we know one another, and the more we’re interacting across the company, the more likely tension is to build. If you find yourself in this situation, try to remember this. We’re all part of one team. We should work together, rather than against one another – for common goals.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Managing Your Burnout

Burnout at work is real, and it’s happening more now than ever. This may be due to the high stress and change we have faced over the last two years. I heard from a reader this week who is experiencing burnout in the workplace, as you may be too. The most important part of the burnout experience is how you manage it.

For many people, the urge is to quit their current job. The thought of one more painful day at the office is the last thing you want to think about. Quitting sounds gratifying. You can take time off to relax, before walking in to a better, higher paying job. The job market is hot now, right? This sounds easy.

But, if you’re like most people, your job helps to pay your bills. You may be okay without income for a period of time, but eventually, you’ll need that steady paycheck again. When someone quits working, they picture that it will be very relaxing. However, for most people, it’s just the opposite. Until you have a new job, you’re often on edge, wondering when the job search will be over. This experience is compounded by loved ones who will ask how the search is going.

The most relaxing time off is between jobs. When you find a new job, set your start date far enough out that you may have time in between. This will be the most relaxing time you’ll have. You’ll be free from work, and you’ll be free from worry.

Most people don’t quit jobs before they’ve found another job. When you go to a job interview, quitting is a difficult thing to explain to your future hiring manager. They may very well assume that you were fired from your last job, or best case scenario, they may assume that you’re a poor decision maker.

In addition, when you have no job and you’re interviewing, you feel more pressure to accept a job offer. For example, if it has been three months since you left your last job, you may feel panicked. You’re running out of money, and you wonder what another three months with no job might look like. This can push you to take the next job offer, even if it pays less or seems to be a bad work situation. In other words, if you feel pressured to take something, you may end up in a worse situation than you are in today.

Take control of how you want to handle your burnout. If it’s time to find a new job, great! If you feel that you are too busy or too stressed to look for another job, consider your options. If you have vacation saved up, this can be a great time to use it. Take time off to apply for jobs and recharge. Focus on your search, so you can create a positive path out as quickly as possible.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

The Argument for Return to Work

As you probably know by now, I’m a supporter of working from home. I believe that when it’s possible, it can provide an increased quality of life for the employee – and a cost savings for the employer. But, it’s starting to become more common for employers to require workers to come back anyway. And, the reasoning is surprising.

I recently learned that some employers are claiming that those who prefer work from home are hiding something. In particular, they are hiding mental health and addiction issues. In other words, the only reason you might want to work from home is if you have a problem you don’t want your boss to know about.

This news is disheartening at best. Through the pandemic, it has been proven that many office workers can work effectively at home. On top of being more efficient at work, many employees have seen their stress levels drop and their personal time increase.

There are many logical reasons leaders may want their people to be back in the physical office. For example, not every job can be performed in a work from home setting. And, if you’re leading an organization where only a portion of the jobs can be remote, you may want everyone to come back together. It may increase the feeling of community and equity across various parts of the organization.

There are also some workers who genuinely prefer working from the office. They appreciate the structure that it creates. They like the separation of home and work that going to the office provides. They enjoy the casual moments of community with coworkers.

There are many legitimate reasons an employer may prefer for their employees to come back in person to a centralized office location. But, to shift blame to employees is wrong. The vast majority of those who enjoy working from home enjoy it for reasons that are no secret. It’s not because there is something wrong with them. It’s not because they’re using substances during the workday, or are shielding the employer from their mental health struggles.

Don’t get me wrong. Many employees did in fact experience mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truly, what did anyone expect from a pandemic? It’s a pandemic. It’s possible that working from home may have helped bridge the gap for some people during a tough patch. But, the idea that all work from home supporters are hiding something is just not true.

If you need your employees to go back to a physical office, be honest. Explain the real reasons that the company believes it makes sense. Then, listen to your employees. Hear their concerns. Work together to come up with a solution that works for both sides of the equation.

Don’t turn on your employees. Don’t pressure them to come back out of fear or shame. As a leader, your role is to inspire others to want to follow your vision.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

WFH Lessons

It’s been two years since we were sent home from work for two weeks. We were collectively wrong about the two weeks, but many workers have been relieved. We learned so much about work over the last two years.

We found that working remotely is not only possible, it’s preferred. Workers are more productive, and overall, they’re happier. We can create customized work environments that work best for us. Commuting is no longer required. And, it’s cheaper for employers. One of the only good things to come from the pandemic has been the flexibility and work life balance introduced with work from home.

So, why are employers now trying to drag their employees back to the office?

Many companies say they need people to be in person in order to form better relationships. Some say it will make us more productive. Others say we need to be in “the building” in order to get real work done. But, what is really going on here? If a company is still in business after two years of work from home, it has been more than proven that work from home is possible.

Returning to the office appears to be driven from two places. Within the organization, older managers struggle with the remote transition more than anyone else. Outside of the organization, cities are struggling to keep their downtowns thriving without business commuters.

This is the problem with both. Neither takes into account the needs and wants of the individual worker. And, both deny the fact that it has now been proven that working from home is possible. Both companies and cities need to become more creative in their problem solving. Rather than chase the past, what exists in the future?

If a company feels that employees are disconnected, that company should look for new ways to connect folks. Perhaps they could schedule more teambuilding activities via video. Or, maybe they could bring everyone together once a month for an in person event.

For struggling downtown areas, what other options exist to revive the economy? Housing is certainly expensive. Perhaps empty office buildings could be repurposed as less expensive apartments. Maybe there are other ways to revitalize downtowns.

We can no longer live in the past. Fighting with employees who prefer to work from home only serves one purpose. It will be the reason those employees apply for jobs at other companies. There are too many options to settle for something that’s not what the employee prefers. And, it’s too late to convince anyone that we need to be together to be productive. That is just not true.

For many organizations, this will be a difficult learning process. They will force employees to come back to work. Those employees will leave. Then, the same organizations will struggle to find anyone who wants to sit in their seats at work.

Listen to your people and learn the lesson.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Is Zoom the Great Equalizer?

For my entire life, there’s been a topic that people talk to me about: my height. That’s right, I’m tall. Without shoes on, I’m five feet ten inches, but with the right shoes, I’m quickly over six feet tall. Whether I’m at work or at the grocery store, people love to cover this topic.

Once, my height even became the centerpiece of a job interview. The hiring manager seemed shocked, repeatedly saying that he had no idea I was so tall, and how could no one have told him. As you can imagine, it was a strange job interview.

But, it didn’t stop there. This company had recently built a new, beautiful campus. Five people interviewed me in addition to the hiring manager. They were incredibly impressive, with Ivy League degrees. Each person told me about an amazing basketball court that was part of the new campus. I thought, “This group of people really likes basketball!” It didn’t occur to me until later that they all assumed I played basketball and would want to see the court.

However, something has happened since March of 2020. No one has said a word about my height in job interviews or at work. This is because all of my meetings are now held via Zoom.

It’s interesting how differently things appear through a camera. I no longer know how tall or how short someone is. I know longer can see much about their physical build. I can’t see details like their shoes or their nail polish. I can’t as easily guess someone’s age.

Many of the visual cues that we use to read another person’s background are hidden. Clues like shoes can be an indicator of social class. It can let others know if the person grew up with money or is struggling to make their own way. And, sometimes, even when you are qualified to do a job, a company may not hire you if you don’t seem to fit in. You may not look the part.

The same goes for location. When we work in person, we’re more aware of whether or not someone lives in the hip part of town or the rich part of town or the undesirable part of town. When you’re working remotely, your teammates are very likely in different cities. They rarely have any idea what the neighborhood you live in looks like.

It’s also more likely that people with different cultural backgrounds, and political and religious views will work together today. Why? Because teams are now made up of people from different areas. And, people from different areas are more likely to have diverse viewpoints.

In a certain way, Zoom is leveling playing field. It takes away many of the pieces of irrelevant information that people often use to sort one another into buckets. In a way, it allows your work to speak for itself more now than ever before.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Do you love your job?

It’s the month of love! Happy Valentine’s week! Every year, I write about why it’s important to love your job. This year, let’s look at it another way. If you don’t love your job, it may be time to break it off. It’s time to end that toxic five day per week relationship. You wouldn’t put up with this in a romantic partner. Why are you putting up with it at work?

I know, it’s hard to do. Your job has been so reliable. It’s stable. It’s gotten you through two years of a pandemic. You don’t want to be left in the cold with no job.

But, are you really happy? Does your job put you first? Or, is your job like a partner who’s draining you?
You spend too much time with your job not to love it. In fact, you may spend more time with your job than with your spouse.

If you’re having cold feet about your job, this is the time to make a change. And, by this is the time, I mean – right this minute! The job market is the best that it’s been in a very long time. Economists say that it hasn’t been this great since the late 1960s. New job postings are showing up every day online.

You’ve probably heard that old saying. People don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. It’s true. If you don’t love your company or your boss, do yourself a favor. Look and see what’s new in your job field. You may be surprised.

Make a list of all the things you want in a job. What would make you really love your work? Do you want to work for a great boss? On a great team? Do you want to work on a product that you can get behind? Are you looking for a company with integrity? Do you want to work from home, or in person?

Write down your goal list and start looking for it. What you’re hoping for is out there. Don’t stay committed to a company that’s not committed to you. Look for something better, something more fulfilling. Make your happiness at work a priority.

Breaking up with your job isn’t as hard as it sounds. Don’t tell anyone until you’ve secured a new job. Once you’ve found a new job, wait until you’ve accepted it in writing to tell your boss. Thank them for the opportunity and let them know you’ve found something new. Give at least two weeks of notice, but not more than four. Things can get stressful if you give too much notice. After you’ve shared your news verbally, confirm it in an email. And, come up with a plan about how and when you’ll share the great news with the larger team.

Before long, the breakup will be complete. And, you’ll be off to a bigger and better opportunity that you love!

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

The Cost of Remote Work

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the privilege of being both a full-time salaried employee, and a self-employed business owner.  There are pros and cons that come with each. For example, when you’re an employee, you typically have perks such as health insurance and vacation. When you’re self-employed, you can select your hours of operation and make decisions about which clients you will or won’t take on.

There’s also another big difference between these two types of employment. When you’re self-employed, you pay for your own business expenses. If you have an office, that’s a business expense. If you purchase office furniture, that’s a business expense. Pens and paper are a business expense.

As a full-time employee, anything related to doing your job is typically paid for by your company. This could include anything from the office chair you sit in to electricity to the internet connection. It could include the paper you’re writing on and the pens you’re writing with.

But, has anyone noticed this trend shifting a bit? Part of the reason people are now working remotely is because there’s a big cost savings to companies. After all, companies were paying so much in rent for big office buildings, and all the related expenses that come along with them.

However, it seems unclear whether or not employees are benefitting financially in the same way as remote employees. I’ve heard from employees of people who have moved to a larger living space in order to now accommodate a home office. They’ve invested in home office furniture. They’ve upgraded their home internet package.

In this virtual world, it’s become very important that employees are self-sufficient. On top of having a great workspace, employees are now expected to use their personal phones for business. The lines between work and home have blurred more than ever before.

Most people aren’t talking about this issue, because who wants to go back to working in person? But, who is paying for all these home office upgrades? In many cases, it’s the employee. Occasionally, I have seen businesses that will mail out both office supplies and office furniture to employees, but it’s not the norm.

Most companies are sending employees a monthly stipend to cover their home expenses. Typically, the stipend is between $50 and $150 per month. For some people, this amount might cover the cost of their cell phone and internet. But rarely will it cover any of the other expenses employees are sinking into being a productive worker.

So, what is the real solution? This work from home revolution certainly wasn’t planned. It’s tough to blame employers for not being more prepared for it. That said, two years into work from home feels like a good time to reevaluate. We need to have conversations about the real cost of remote work. Otherwise, it begins to feel as if we’re all self-employed small business owners.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Where’s Your Pain Threshold?

I’ve long believed that our interest in finding a new job is related to the pain we’re experiencing at our existing job. After all, starting a new job is a little like switching to a new high school half way through. Even though it may be a good idea, it’s still painful. You don’t know the social norms. You don’t have friends. And, you haven’t yet learned your way around.

Job searching is also quite a painful process. I often compare it to dating, but sometimes, it feels similar to what I’d imagine a beauty pageant feels like. There are many people around who are judging you on various criteria. Not only do you need to fit the qualifications, but you need to be likable and look the part. Employers want to know that you’ll fit in well with the team.

For most people, the pain at their current job has to outweigh the cost of switching. You have to be willing to put in the energy with a job search, and you have to be willing to start all over again at a new company – to make new friends, and prove your reputation at work, again.

So, the question is this. What is your pain threshold? What are your deal breakers at work?

There’s a strange old saying about boiling a frog. It’s basically that if you put a frog straight into boiling water, it will jump right out. If you put it in colder water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay until it eventually dies. I really dislike this analogy, but it describes what many people experience at work.

I can’t tell you the countless stories I’ve heard about someone being yelled at during work by their boss. It doesn’t just happen once; it happens often. And, it brings the person to tears. Now, do you think if the boss had yelled like this during the interview that the employee would have signed up for this kind of abuse? No way. But, over time, it can start to feel normal. And, when it does, it will erode at the self-esteem of the employee

Don’t let yourself be the frog. If you haven’t, take some time to assess where your boundaries are. Where are your limits? If a friend told you about their day (and it sounded like yours), what would you say? If the friend was in the middle of an abusive work situation, you’d likely advise them to start looking. But when we’re the ones on the receiving end, it can feel less important. It feels tolerable.

Make a list the way you would in any situation. Determine where your boundaries are. Evaluate what you can influence, and what you cannot. If you find that there are deal breakers that you cannot accept, it’s time to look for another option. It’s time to polish up your resume.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

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