Friday, 23 August 2013

Great Days At Work (Suzanne Hazelton)

--The blurb--
"Great Days at Work will enable you to become more enthusiastic at work, feel more positive and work more effectively with others. Drawing on the latest insights from positive psychology, and based on hard business results, it outlines the practical day-to-day changes you can make immediately for instant benefit, as well as helping you develop a longer term strategy that means you'll get more out of work. This easily applicable book reveals how to develop an effective perspective on time, embed productive new habits, gain a clear sense of self and build better working relationships. As a result you will make a bigger contribution to your organization, as well as feel more engaged, satisfied and in control of your own work and career. Discover how to have a great day at work, every day!"

--The review--
While growing up, most people have a dream about what they want to do with their lives, and children tend to state adventurous or romantic, generally aspirational and traditional professions that require creativity or bravery as the dream: firemen, astronauts, policemen, teachers, doctors, vets, writers, and artists all tend to feature. A common link between these professions is control, whether it's over other people in an authoritative profession, or over ourselves, whereby creativity allows us to prioritise our personal freedom and control our own destinies. So with those commonly-held childhood dreams in mind, it's understandable that when many of us end up in jobs involving a little more drudgery (sorry to anyone in those professions, but find me a child who wants to be a cold caller, administrator, tollbooth operator...), or just any job that isn't what we'd dreamed of, we may feel like we're losing control or even that some great injustice has been done to us. This logically leads to further negative thoughts, a general sense of despair, and more bad days than good.

Suzanne Hazelton comes to the rescue with Great Days At Work. Rather than being a fluffy version of psychology for dummies, the slim volume is full of surprisingly easy and practical ideas to really create change in our lives. And Hazelton packs a lot in to the 238-page manual, covering everything to checking up on our health to negotiating with others. The tone is friendly and accessible without being patronising, and the content draws on up-to-date research, videos and quizzes, as well as mentioning inspiring figures of today's world that we can all admire, such as Steve Jobs and Andy Murray. 

The only problem with Hazelton's use of these very recent resources is formatting: many of the web addresses she gives are so long as to be unusable, as they will either quickly become outdated or have a high risk of readers typing them into their browsers incorrectly (in this sense, having Great Days At Work as an ebook is more practical). Reducing the links to much shorter ones using URL redirection services is all that's required. Plus, while most of the sources used are reliable, I'm not sure there's any excuse for citing Wikipedia, no matter how occasionally it's done.

Nonetheless, the resources that the author does direct us to are relevant, useful, and easy to use, examining every aspect of our individual approaches to life and work, whether it's quizzing us on spirituality or frequency of physical activity, or encouraging us to watch inspirational lectures. In addition, as personal growth is an ongoing process, there is plenty of food for thought even for people who are already reasonably happy with themselves and their job. 

Hazelton's background in the IT industry means that there is inevitably some focus on this type of business environment. However, the principles of positive psychology involved in this book not only apply to any type of workplace, but also to any stage of one's working life (even though there is a small section on retirement). Further to this, much of what Hazelton advises can apply to virtually any age or life stage too - meaning that as well as using its precepts to help myself have more great days at work, I can also use them as part of my students' social education time in homeroom, so that not only will they be able to manage their lives more effectively now, but also that in future they too will be able to adapt and carry through these same ideas in order to have great days at work themselves.

also by Suzanne Hazelton
Raise Your Game (2012) 

No comments: