Category Archives: Inside Track

Use criticism to develop yourself!

By Neha Verma

At some point in life, we all face criticism personally or professionally. Criticism doesn’t come easy and at times it is difficult to acknowledge the same. We often get bogged down by the criticism so much that we ignore what we can actually learn from it. So instead of retaliating or being defensive; pause for a while think critically and then respond – though easy said than done.

I am amongst those who would become extremely uncomfortable when criticized. My initial reactions were driven emotionally. I would carry the distress caused by criticism throughout the day and affect my work. Over the time, I realized that we don’t have control over others; how they judge and form an opinion about us, but we can definitely learn to respond in a better way and display our maturity.

If you are going through difficult time combating criticism, I have listed a few suggestions to face criticism bravely:

  • Criticism opens a whole new perspective which you might not have thought of. Life is a process of continuous learning and we learn best from our flaws.
  • When you accept criticism, you show humility towards the fact that you are ready to acknowledge your own weaknesses.
  • Criticism helps enhance your emotional quotient. You learn to listen.
  • Criticism makes you strong; you will learn to tackle difficult situations and people.
  • Criticism enhances your problem-solving skill and makes you a rational thinker.
  • Learn to let go unconstructive criticism, do not dwell on it for a long time and create a stressful environment for yourself.

We are often scared of being judged and are obsessed with the thought of what other people think of us. Most of the time, we receive unsolicited criticism/feedback and we tend to misinterpret the intention behind it. Criticism challenges our disposition and to maintain a calm demeanor becomes relatively difficult. But, remember you are being critiqued because you created something. So, next time when you are criticized, remember you and your work are being noticed. Don’t let opinion of others stop you from doing what you believe in.

Training is an investment, not an expense!

By Neha Verma

Training is an integral part of any organization; it equips the employees with skills required to perform the job. Every organization invests in training their employees that are responsible for giving results. Most organizations/businesses consider training as an expense when it is actually an investment.

There are numerous reasons to invest in training, like; improved quality or in other words reduction in errors or defects, enhanced productivity, increased motivation, helps in retaining the talent pool, capacity building, groom the leaders, etc. Training helps in building capacity within an organization and investing in people is vital as this is the workforce which can bring excellent profits to your business.

In the times of economic crisis, organization often control its budget by cutting down on non-core or non-billable activities, and unfortunately training is one of such activities – if not cancelled completely. However, training can help both employees and organizations in such challenging situations. With the advancement of technology and globalization, there are various methods to reduce the cost of training whilst maintain its effectiveness. Virtual classes, use of instructional system designs, video conferencing and other technological improvements have helped revamp the training making it cost effective. In this era of globalization, where organizations are spread across the globe, such advancement in training delivery techniques are highly cost effective and have reduced the need of face to face training.

Training should be designed to focus on immediate business need and to cater the various talent pool bespoke training or curriculum is the preferred way of keeping at pace with the organizational changes and needs. Training should be pragmatic in approach and directly applicable to day to day activities which will help organizations to measure ROI. An efficiently trained staff with improved skill set will have high productivity and quality, efficient at their job whilst feeling recognized and valued by management.

As leaders and managers, you are responsible for the success of your organization, and developing your people to increases your chance of success. For any organization, people are one of the biggest investments and they should not be left to rust.

Raise Productivity, Work from Home!

By Neha Verma

Most of us often find ourselves working tirelessly day in and day out and still our efficiency is questioned. Spending long hours with our best friend at work – the thinking machine with hunched back and strained eyes, results in stress and serious health problems. The most debatable topic in the corporate world today is optimal utilization of working hours.

Does working for longer hours enhance productivity? Using the time efficiently is the key. Productivity gets a hit to some extent by pleasure principle and procrastination acts as an icing on the cake. Today organizations worldwide are finding ways to increase productivity by utilizing the available resources strategically. UK recently introduced a new law, giving employees legal right to ask for flexible working hours considering that the flexitime might help boost productivity. This concept is not new to the corporate world. Many organizations encourage this trend and have work from home as one of their policies. The unprecedented growth in technology and communication has made it possible. Today no matter where we are, we can get connected with the world in a jiffy. However, implementing this law at country level may change the working dynamics.

This new law has questioned our age-old concept of being physically present at work. The concept of work from home sounds interesting but it is not easy to work from the confines of one’s home in a pyjama throughout the day.

Behavioural attributes like:

  • Self-discipline
  • Commitment
  • Result-driven
  • Accountability

Will play a key role in the successful implementation of this law. This can act as a motivational for a lot of employees particularly for women employees and working mothers as there will be a choice for them to stay at home and work.

Working from home not only enhances productivity and provides flexibility but it is eco-friendly as well – there would be controlled traffic, less consumption of energy and office space etc. I know there must be a lot of corporate pundits who would disagree with the concept of working from home but in the long run this trend is here to stay.

So, ditch going to the office and find a suitable corner of your house where you can work productively, be flexible, save travelling time and avoid emotional and mental stress.

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

By Andrés Soto Ramos

Key Points:

  • Importance of diversity in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion?
  • Healthier organisational climate:
  • Prevents knowledge inbreeding
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Encourages open communication

Enough has been said about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the digital era that we live in, organizations are under heavy scrutiny of society and can face severe brand image damages if they are caught not following inclusive practices.

We can see an example of this in how U.S. companies have been quick to dismiss any situation in which racial profiling or any kind of abuse to minorities has taken place in their establishments, that are often resulting in the termination of the employee that caused the issue. But business should not advocate for inclusiveness only because it is what our society expect, they should also consider the positive impact in the bottom line of fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

What exactly is diversity and inclusion? These two words are often (wrongly) used as synonyms in advertising or company communications, but it is important to remember that they do not have the same meaning. Instead of going into the dictionary definition of each, we can explain these with a simple metaphor that has proven useful to clarify this subject in corporate environments; diversity means that everyone is invited to the party, and inclusion means that everyone will also be invited to dance. Therefore, diversity an inclusion (D&I) in the workplace translates to building a talent pool of individuals from different background, gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, languages, education, etc; and to nurture an environment in which everyone feels safety in sharing their opinions and that allows them to have access to the same growth opportunities.

While this feels again as an overly romanticised definition that companies can use as a sales pitch, organisations that adopt D&I practices are bound to reap on a wider and more valuable set of benefits that come from a healthier organisational climate:

Prevents knowledge inbreeding

Just as the organisms in an ecosystem have higher disposition to a set of diseases when they share a common gene-pool, organisations that hire and promote individuals from similar backgrounds to management positions are prone to adopt ideas within an identical line of thought, therefore reducing the chance of bad ideas being scrutinised and discussed, and limiting the innovating output.

Enhances employee engagement

Companies around the world invest millions of dollars per year in workshops and teambuilding activities to promote employee satisfaction. But since most modern workers will spend at least a third of their day in their workplaces. Satisfaction and engagement can be also improved by fostering a safe climate in which different opinions are respected and equally taken into consideration. Individuals will show higher attachment towards organisations that genuinely value their contributions.

Encourages open communication

Companies with a diverse workforce that is empowered to openly communicate and share their opinions are most likely to display efficient conflict resolution within their work groups. As well as better problem-solving techniques due to the flexibility that comes with open-mindedness and respect for others’ opinions. In opposition, individuals that feel threatened or judged will refrain from communicating the issues they perceive in their companies due to the fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Consulting data and reports on diversity and inclusion have consistently proven a strong correlation between better financial performance and the adoption of D&I practices. Individuals and managers must not ignore this evidence and advocate for inclusive companies not just because of the positive advertising that can be generated because of this, or simply to follow what can be considered a trend in modern human resources practices. Building a truly inclusive workplace can become a real competitive advantage for organisations, with a direct impact in their climate and overall company performance.

The Network Effect

By Brid O’Donnell

Key Points:

  • Be Brave
  • Prioritize Questions
  • Know when to move on
  • What’s next
  • Execute the follow up

Networking is hard, but necessary to be successful in the business world. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you begin your networking journey.

  1. Be Brave

Networking can sometimes feel like a game of luck, at a certain event, you may meet strangers who you can develop into good friends and allies or else you don’t. However, you can increase your luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible. Regularly try something new and be curious. That can be intimidating and challenging, but a good networker is continuously expanding their networks and leaving their silo. Thus you must put yourself in new situations, and you need to be ready to make the first move, a lot.

In the same thread as being brave, be the person who introduces people. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships; you must ask yourself what you can give, as opposed to thinking about what you want out of this connection. Often the answer to what you can give the other person is connections to new people as everyone needs a hand at networking. By bringing people together, you not only help other people network, but you are also signalling to those around you that you are a leader and creates a good reputation for yourself.

  • Prioritize questions, not stories

Everyone has stories that they enjoy telling. It is fair to say that you need to know your own story, aka your elevator pitch; the 60-second round-up of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It’s important to make sure you get exposure and make yourself memorable and interesting. Thus you should prepare your story in advance and be ready to say. However, it should be brief and quick. After you make that introduction, the focus of the conversation should not be on you, but everyone else and the best way to achieve that is by asking questions.

Therefore, along with preparing your own story, you should also have a good list of go-to questions; broad, open-ended questions that help develop the conversation further. They are useful to fall back on when you are jumping into the deep end with someone completely new. However, don’t treat these questions like a checklist. Think of questions on the go, adapting to how the conversation unfolds. This shows that you are an active listener, which is a vital skill in networking.

  • Know when to move on

It often gets overlooked, but at a busy reception, it is easy to get end up in a conversation that has received its full potential; however, you feel too awkward to end the conversation. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your time; It was so nice meeting you” or something similarly polite. You don’t need an excuse like I need to go to the bathroom, you need to acknowledge that you enjoyed the conversation and leave. If you are feeling like the conversation is nearing its natural end, the other person most likely feels the same way and appreciate the chance to start other conversations.

  • Next Steps

Introducing yourself to someone and having a chat isn’t enough to consider them a connection. Even adding them on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. You need to recall and formalize. I’m forgetful, especially when it comes to exact details, and the best advice I have ever received is to get a contact book or rather a personal CRM. Of course, you should take note of the person’s name, organization, background and contact details but don’t forget the small things. If you spoke about a certain topic or the person has a particular interest, include it. Even the stuff which seems irrelevant, like if someone mentions that they are a fan of Arsenal, remember that. Later on, when you reconnect, your contact will appreciate you remembering the small irrelevant things. There are many CRM apps out there you can use, but a well-designed spreadsheet could also suffice.

  • Execute the Follow-Up

The last step to networking is the follow-up. Emailing or reaching out to a new contact on LinkedIn soon after your first meeting can reenforce your first introduction and creates a new channel of contact. Use this opportunity to thank the person and show your appreciation and delight at meeting them. A specific thank you to someone can create a lot of goodwill and don’t be subtle about it. Finally, remember to keep your word and be thoughtful. If you said you would check something for them, follow through. This shows that you are reliable and quickly builds trust. As for being thoughtful, don’t be shy about sending people articles or clips that you think will interest them. This stage of networking can quickly become relationship-managing, and it can seem slow going, but networking is about continuous efforts that lead to future successes.

If you are interested in developing your networking skills further, Trinity graduate Kingsley Aikins has established The Networking Institute (www.thenetworkinginstitute.com) and has worked with major global corporates in finance, accounting and consultancy as well as governments and non-profit. Visit the website to pick up even more tips and advice on networking!

Foreign Language Skill: How it opens up a world of Job Opportunities?

Key Points:

  • English is not enough!
  • Speaking another language makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • Helps to discover new cultures.
  • Helps to meet new people.
  • You develop 4 key skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing.
  • Speaking more than one language increases your brain capacity and causes you to have a better memory.
  • It’s an impressive achievement to speak a foreign language and you’ll have better options for your future!

Today’s world is full of different and very interesting cultures. So why not to use this opportunity and learn something new – a new language. Having this skill, will help you in so many ways:

  • Open up a world of Job Opportunities

In English speaking countries it is important to stand out. You can do it by learning another language.

The world is changing fast. More companies than ever are doing business around the world, but they can’t do it without hiring globally minded people who can speak at least one foreign language. Ever wanted to be like those people you see in the airport travelling to foreign countries “on business” all the time? That can be you.

  • It’s great for traveling

Knowing more than one language opens up your vacation destination possibilities. Traveling to a foreign country becomes much easier if you can speak the language of that country.

Getting to a comfortable speaking level in a foreign language is a great motivator to get you out there – practise!

  • You build multitasking skills

Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech and writing easily. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. (Employers love this one)

Interesting Fact: It is also known that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving tests.

  • You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia

For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.

  • You become smarter

Learning a second language improves your memory and increases your attention span. The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, challenges you to concentrate and boosts your problem-solving skills.

Bilingual students tend to score higher on standardized tests than monolingual students, especially in the areas of vocabulary, reading and math. As you learn to switch from one language to another, you improve your multitasking abilities. Bilingual individuals have also been shown to be more logical and rational, be more perceptive and aware of their surroundings.

  • It boosts your creativity

Researchers are also concluding that multilingual speakers are more creative than monolingual speakers. Learning a foreign language improves not only your ability to solve problems and to think more logically, it also makes you experiment with new words and phrases.

Leveling up your second language skills forces you to reach for alternate words when you can’t quite remember the original one you wanted to use. It improves your skills in divergent thinking, which is the ability to identify multiple solutions to a single problem. This is exactly what kind of people employers are looking for!

  • It builds up your self-confidence

You’re about to teach yourself to believe, “yes, I can.”

Confidence increases when a new skill is mastered, and learning a foreign language is no different. And let’s face it: confident people are more interesting than those who are unsure of themselves. The techniques you use to develop a second tongue result in a greater sense of open-mindedness.

In order to master a new language, conversations with native and fluent speakers are essential. If you’re shy but want to meet new people, using the excuse that you want to practice your speaking skills is a great opener and a doorway to making new friends, expanding your horizons and broadening your life experiences. Plus, who doesn’t want to be more interesting?

  • It aids in self-discovery and self-actualization

It is an interesting outcome, not at all something that you list as your expected result when you embark to learn a new language. But trying to understand a language and the heritage that goes with it will put you in a position of self-discovery. It makes you come to terms with how you view the world and other cultures.

So which language are you starting to learn first?! In Trinity we have a choice from Russian to Spanish, from Polish to Italian and many more. Don’t miss this brilliant opportunity to have something unique along your creative business mind!

Differences between Hard and Soft skills? Why are they so important for employers?

  • What are the skills employers are looking from the graduates?
  • How can YOU learn those skills and become a better candidate for an internship or a job?
  • What are the differences between soft and hard skills?
  • Why are they so important?

What are the Hard skills?

  • Hard skills are the tough skills.
  • They show your knowledge about the job and your ability to do the work right.
  • They are specific to each job and are basis of job requirements.
  • They are quantifiable and are often learned in school, through earned certifications or in previous work experiences.
  • These skills can also be considered “resume keywords,” which are words recruiters use to search for applicants. Each resume should use the exact hard skills found in the job description.

What are the Soft Skills?

  • Soft skills are interpersonal skills.
  • These are much harder to define and evaluate.
  • They show how well employee can interact with customers.
  • They are non-measurable and so not specific to any job or career.
  • Soft skills are “people” skills.
  • These skills are personality traits that help define character but offer less proof of experience than hard skills.
  • Soft skills include communication skills, listening skills, and empathy etc.

Hard Skills List  

Examples of Hard Skills:                                        

  • Data Analysis                                                
  • Planning Skills                                               
  • Accounting
  • Financial
  • Software
  • Word Processing
  • Writing

Tips I recommend to improve your Hard skills

  • It is not a surprise that almost every type of job is in a strong connection with computers. Examples of basic computer skills are the ability to work with Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook Express and Windows Share Folders. If you need education or additional learning for these essential computer skills, here are some helpful courses:

1) Microsoft Excel Course – Excel from Beginner to Advanced:

2) Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint Training With Certificate Data Analysis

  • Analyzing some kind of data is a common part of many job positions and responsibilities. There are many reasons to learn data analysis: want to start a new career, want to develop your hard skills in your current career, or you want to know how to use, collect and present data for any purpose. If you have one of the above reasons, here are 2 important courses that can help:

1) Complete Introduction to Business Data Analysis

2) Data Science A-Z: Real-Life Data Science Exercises Included

  • Knowing Foreign Languages: Although English is the official business correspondence language for many countries, it is a big advantage to know other languages. Examples of the most required languages are German, Spanish, French, Chinese. So, is it the time to go and start learning a new language? And the answer is – Yes. It will make you a better candidate for any internship or a job. Check out some courses here: https://www.duolingo.com/courses

Soft Skills List

Examples of Soft Skills include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Time management skills
  • Willingness to learn

Five tips I recommend to improve your Soft skills

  1. Build self-awareness – Understand why you react to certain situations and certain people in a certain way. In order to develop any self-management skill, you first have to understand yourself.
  2. Change yourself not others – Some people might think or say that improving soft skills can help you manipulate other people actions. However, it is not true. Improving soft skills is all about changing yourself, your perception, your approach to situations.
  3. Understand other people’s motivations – Any action that cause a conflict and trigger yours or other person’s insecurity, will create a difficult or unexpected situation. By proactively trying to put yourself in their shoes before any interaction, you could communicate better and can better manage your reaction to unexpected situations.
  4. Start Easy and Relax –You cannot improve all your soft skills over one night, so identify one soft skill you want to start with. Start researching (books, blogs, etc…) and practice on that one skill. Once you make progress on one soft skill, it will give you the confidence to improve more on others a step at a time.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice – Sadly soft skills are not something you can just study in a book to get better, improvement takes practice over time. Improving soft skills is fundamentally about changing your behaviour toward yourself and others. Every next interaction you have with people at work is an opportunity to practice a soft skill!

HARD Skills vs. SOFT Skills

A combination of hard skills and soft skills forms a well-rounded job applicant. While hard skills are quite different than soft skills, together, they create a good balance between hard knowledge and interpersonal attributes. Hard skills show mastery and proficiency while soft skills show communication and relational abilities.

The balance of hard and soft skills is important. Hard skills help the applicant get past ATS while showing experience level and qualification for the position. Soft skills make the applicant human, showing leadership, empathy, and character. Both of them added together can make a perfect employee or a graduate.

So, which skills are more important – hard or soft?

Of course, both of them are equal. Balance is the key and the best answer here. So, make sure that your resume and/or CV contains enough skills of both types! Good luck!

« Older Entries