How To Tackle Workplace Challenges

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English coach Ben Ryan steered Fiji to their first ever Olympic medal when they won rugby sevens gold in Rio 2016. Use his sports field-inspired advice to negotiate everyday workplace challenges and achieve new levels of career success

Workplace Challenge: You Get Public Speaking Nerves

The Solution: Be Prepared And Make Notes

The first thing to make sure you do is get stuck in to your planning. That means there’s one less thing to get worried about. Create a crib sheet, where one word can trigger a whole ripple effect of different things you remember.

Make sure that you’re hydrated and have eaten so that your energy levels are high and you’re thinking with as much clarity as possible. The key thing is that being underprepared triggers nervousness, so that’s the number one thing you need to address.

Workplace Challenge: It’s Annual Review Time

The Solution: Get Your Point Across

You need to have plan and you need to have three or four key points that you want to get across. You also need to “up-manage” and make sure your boss thinks you’re dependable, focused and a team player.

Also try to be proactive and ask questions to show that you’re a good listener. When they answer your question, leave a pregnant pause after they’ve finished talking. You might elicit further information from them – and that’s likely to be the really tasty stuff that you can use to get your own point across.

The Challenge: You Miss Out On A Promotion

The Solution: Use Feedback To Get Stronger

Patience is definitely a virtue in this situation. You need to show some humility – get some good honest feedback from the boss, then thank them for giving it. You can say that you’ve taken the advice on board and that you still feel you’re good enough for the position.

Control what you can control – which means your behaviour and attitude. Act on their feedback and make sure that the next time it comes up you have a better chance of getting that promotion.

The Challenge: You’re Doubting Your Own Ability

The Solution: Understand That Everyone Fails

Always have perspective and know that no-one ever goes through life being endlessly successful and getting every win they try for. You can always learn something valuable from not succeeding.

It’s easy to think negatively about something that you could turn into a positive. If you look at the bigger picture, maybe they were right and you’re not quite ready to take on that task or that role. But the next time the opportunity comes along, you might be.

The Challenge: You’re Starting A New Job

The Solution: Listen First And Act Second

When you go into anywhere new it’s a good opportunity to take some time to observe and listen. Don’t make big calls too early. Get as much information as possible and learn what would be valuable for you to make the best impact.

There’s nothing wrong with pressing the pause button – take your time and you’ll make the right impression because you’ll be acting on a better portfolio of information.

There’s nothing clever about jumping in and trying to make an impression without having the information you need.

The Challenge: You Get Thrown A Special Project

The Solution: Focus On The Goal And You’ll Nail It

Set your goal and, whatever you’re doing, ask yourself: is this getting us closer to the goal? Try to keep it simple – if you don’t know where you’re trying to get to then there’s no way you’re going to get there.

Plan your work and then work your plan; share your vision and share your plan. Make sure everyone has bought in to your vision, then start to empower everyone around you.

You also need to have indicators that tell you if you’re on track and mechanisms in place that tell you if you’re moving away from the plan.

Ben Ryan, pictured left above, stars in Sevens From Heaven, an HSBC Sport film that tells the story of the Fiji rugby sevens team. You can watch it below

Coach Staff

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