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On Today's Agenda

Setting out clearly all the issues for discussion helps you to have a more productive meeting.

Before The Meeting

Phone ahead. Contact your potential new client and confirm the time, location and number of people attending the meeting. This allows you to have sufficient copies of the material you are planning to use. Check the names and titles of the participants. This will give you an indication of who the decision-maker is.

During The Meeting

Write up an agenda. Before you open your laptop or launch into your presentation, use a whiteboard to list out the items on the agenda. Check the duration of the meeting. If some participants have to leave earlier to attend to another matter, it will allow them to provide you with information. This can be critical when pitching a new product or idea, as you want to ensure that the decision-makers are available for the important components of your discussion.

It is important to get a sense of how people are feeling about the meeting. This can include the investment in time they are making, anticipation of what you have to offer and concerns about product or company. In business, people do not always acknowledge feelings, but these can affect decision-making. You may need to continue asking, "Is there anything else?" If everyone says no, you may need to ask again: "If there were something else, what would it be?" This allows everyone time to declare every agenda on their mind.

Keep Your Career Goals In Sight

Knowing what you want from your job will help you notice if you are still on track. Are you doing work that you signed up for? You may not be doing the work describe by your job title, for example, you could get hired as a customer service assistant but spend your day doing administration and secretarial work. This is not unusual and tends to happen to younger employees or interns, who are least likely to complain.

Take a second look at your designation and your job description and plan to align one to the other. Do you like what you do? Make a list of all your job tasks and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of satisfaction, one being "hate it" and 10 being "love it". If you have more tasks that you hate than love, it is time to make some changes. Consider different ways of doing these tasks.

Perhaps you know of a way to approach them more efficiently, delegate jobs to a junior staff member whom you will train or exchange tasks with other colleagues who might be equally dissatisfied with some of their own. Remember to get your manager's support in this process. If your manager tells you that your current tasks are part of your training, accept it, but ask what your next assignment is going to be. This should send an early warning to your manager that you are getting restless and need to move on.

Are You Being Challenged?

When your job no longer challenges you, boredom sets in and the work becomes more tedious every day. Speak to your manager about how you can get more involved in current or upcoming projects. This will connect you to different parts of your department or company's operations and people. There will be much to learn, and new people to meet and communicate with. You can also challenge yourself by opting to learn a new skill that will add to your job scope.

Striking out into new frontiers this way will not only keep you motivated, but also help you to develop new career options for yourself. Offer to mentor the company's new employees. This could involve anything from checking on them from time to time, to writing a standard operating procedure for indoctrinating your charges, to organising regular coaching sessions to keep them keen. Mentoring pays because it helps you to see your organisation through fresh eyes and alert you to new areas where you can get involved, contribute your knowledge and get noticed.

Do You Feel Connected?

We need to feel connected to the people around us. We respond to eye contact, chitchat in the corridors, a lively rant during lunch, praise from our supervisors, and colleagues who commiserate with us when the going gets tough. Get to really know your colleagues. Talk about how they feel about their work, what their interests are, and find about their families. Share information about yourself as well. You can find common grounds on which to communicate.

Considering that you spend half your waking hours with your colleagues, you should start looking at them as your "work family"- real people - and connect to them on a deeper level. Be proactive: Break out of your designated zone and go meet the people who matter to your career. It can prove to be exhilarating.

Is It Time To Move On?

A tough boss, snooty workmates, dull work or an inferior product can all work together, or separately, to douse your enthusiasm. Ask yourself objectively: What part of your job don't you like? There is no "perfect" job - most people have to tweak their job, or their skill set, until the job becomes tenable or satisfying. However, if you cannot improve a job no matter how hard you try, it is time to explore greener pastures.

Is there another job in your company that you would rather have? Explore your possibilities discreetly, find out what it will take to get the job you want and put your well-crafted plan into action. By jumping ship, you are bound to step on some toes. This may be neutralised by an honest yet diplomatic career discussion with your manager, and your earnest desire for advice and help to move on.

If you decide that your job, the company and everything about it is simply too dreary to contemplate, consider changing employers. Carefully analyse your previous jobs and why you gave them up. Think about the type of tasks that you give your complete dedication to, and those that make you feel like sticking pins in your eyeballs. Scrutinise the type of company you are going to be working for: Does the prospective new employer care as much about your worklife satisfaction as you do?

Remember, no one can do more for your career than you can. Keep a critical eye on your level of commitment to your work. Do not wait till your job frustrates you before analysing your situation: Fix the small problems while they are still manageable, and always keep your next career goal in sight so that when you find yourself in a career-hazard zone, you will know exactly what to do.


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