The Joys of Self Employment

It used to be that the overwhelming majority of individuals spent their entire careers working for larger organizations. However, with the number of corporations that went through the phase of downsizing in the last twenty years, many individuals were introduced to the world of self employment. The self employed now make up nearly ten percent of the workforce and is growing each year. The opportunity to be self employed offers a great many challenges to those who take it. It is quite common for individuals who are accustomed to working for others to at first be caught off guard by the demands of being self employment. Nonetheless, those who are willing to work through these differences can make themselves a satisfying career.When many think of self employment, they often think of the freedom to set one’s own hours or working from a home office their pajamas. While this is somewhat true, there are also times when self employment means long hours. Individuals who choose this method of employment need to be self motivated, goal oriented and comfortable with being the sole decision maker. They are responsible for making sure their own Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid and they must also file quarterly taxes. At the same time, they have great freedom to take things in any direction they see fit and many of their expenses are tax deductible.Before jumping into the role of the self employed worker, one should study up on as many resources as possible. Books, websites, seminars and workshops are readily available for those seeking information. There are many aspects to learn about self employment, from how to deal with the isolation of the work at home office to legally collecting past due debts. These resources also show how to lessen tax burdens and how to keep expenses to a minimum until real profits start coming in. Joining groups and organizations for the self employed is a great way to stay connected and get firsthand tips and advice.While there are no rules, it is said that older individuals are more likely to choose self employment and stick with it. Their years of experience and knowledge give them a bit of an edge when it comes to the ups and downs that self employment can sometimes bring. At the same time, younger individuals are more likely to be able to put in the longer hours that being self employed sometimes requires. At any rate, the option of being one’s own boss is becoming more and more attractive with the shifting job market.

Multiple Intelligences

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Promoted to Manager? Great! – What Now?

Congratulations on being promoted to your new management role! Did you have a party? Have you settled into your new desk yet? Did you decide what to do with your pay rise?And are you wondering ‘what now?’I remember well my first promotion to manager. Maybe my experience is something like yours? Here’s how it wentA typical story of the newly promoted managerI was recruited into a job as a ‘technician’ (in the glamorous world of Tax Audit, as you asked). I was good at this so quickly got promoted to senior technician and then manager. We had a party on the Friday afternoon – goodbye senior technician role – and then I was into my management job on the Monday morning. Date of next management course? Six months hence. Likelihood of being coached by my senior manager? – zilch. Result? Six very tricky and stressful months where I managed to make just about every mistake in the management book (and write a few new ones as well)Not fun and not funny – for me, and certainly not for the poor people I was attempting to ‘manage’.Eventually I did get some training. It wasn’t great and I still made a lot of mistakes. But then I got lucky. I got a new manager who was not only skilled at managing, but a great coach. And I became a much better manager. And not a day too soon some would say (including me)Is this sounding familiar? I guess it might (on the basis I’ve rarely met a manager, team leader or supervisor who hasn’t had a similar experience!)What do new managers need?Here’s what I needed when I became a manager and what I see many managers, team leaders and supervisors needing;• Some simple tools I could have accessed from day one would have been hugely helpful. Practical, step-by-step processes that I could have used as ‘road maps’ or guidelines. Some ‘how to’ information. Anything that would have helped me approach my new management role with some level of competence and confidence• Some advice on how to deal with those tricky management situations – the underperforming employee, the high performing (but unhappy) employee. Some help in working out how to motivate my employees to high performance, preferably by someone who’s been there and done it themselves.It’s no fun making it up as you go along or trying to learn by ‘trial and error’ (often with the focus on error). And if you’re anything like most of the managers, team leaders and supervisors I know you just don’t have the time to get out there and do the reading and research on what makes for effective management and then learn how to apply that knowledgeGetting the help and support you needThe biggest mistake I made as a new manager was failing to look for help and support. Instead I tried to tough it out and muddle along. I wouldn’t recommend it. So here are some ideas on how you could get the help and support you need to build your management confidence and competence1. Go to your learning and development, training, HR department or whoever it is who looks after developing people. Don’t wait until they come to you. My tip here is be very specific about what you’re looking for. My experience in life generally is that, the more specific you are about what you want, the more likely you are to get it. If you need, for example, a simple step process for defining and agreeing performance objectives, or a sample agenda for performance review or appraisal meeting, or a planned approach for having a conversation with your staff around improving their performance then go to your L&D, HR, training department and ask them for specifically for that. I think sometimes we make the mistake of waiting for opportunities to come to us in this area of learning. That’s what those people are there to do – to help you develop your management competence and confidence. What sometimes you need to do though is get out there, get to those people and ask for what you want.2. Look for coaching, mentoring or just some good old plain advice. Take a look around and try to identify managers who are managing in a way that you think is effective. It could be your own manager. It could be the manager in the next department. It could be a manager who maybe isn’t in your organisation but who you know is an effective manager. Or ask other people. Ask your colleagues. Who do they consider to be a really effective manager? What you’re trying to do here is to find a model – someone you can learn from. Then the question is, would they help you? Most effective managers are open to helping other managers develop. And again be really clear on what you’re looking for because most people find it easier to say yes to a request if that request is very specific. For example you might ask “I would like some help in thinking through how to explain to my employees that I need them to work in a different way”, or, “I’d appreciate some help with working out how to have a conversation with one of my employees about an area of performance they need to improve.” Get really clear on what you want and then go and ask for it.3. Do some research. If you need tools and techniques, there are many resources out there you can use. You could visit you local bookshop or library or, of course, access some of the thousands of blogs, articles, or videos you can find online. OK so it takes some time, but so does trying to learn by your mistakes!SummaryIt’s easy (as I know to my cost!) to wait patiently for management development opportunities to arise, to wait eagerly for the next training course date to be announced. The issue is we often need help right here, right now. I want to encourage you to take responsibility for your own development as a manager, to get clear on what you want and need and then try to find ways of meeting those wants and needs, so that you can quickly, efficiently, and effectively build your management competence and confidence