Can you measure the impact of employee benefits?

In a sea of Employee Benefits providers at recent conference in London (EB Connect) you would think that a smart engagement platform such as Motivii would be somewhat out of place? Motivii does not provide employees with reasonably priced cars, health care insurance, a gym pass or other “employee benefits”.

So why did we attend? What connects Motivii with Employee Benefits providers such as Tusker, GymPass and Vitality?

Ultimately benefits are given to employees to make them feel more valued, add additional perks to the role, motivate people to work harder, stay with the company longer and improve productivity. However, with all the benefits that a modern employee get, measuring the impact these benefits is a nightmare; especially when different benefits motivate different employees in different ways.  One size does not fit all, and so far there has been no way to measure what “fits” different types of employees. Stereotypically, Millennials may be more interested in a gym pass and a TasteCard, whereas baby boomers might be more geared towards smart eye care and private health care. How can employers know what suits their employees without measuring this?

This is where a bit like Google Analytics measuring digital marketing, Motivii could help measure the impact that these benefits have on employees.

Our solution is simple: to understand the effect of benefits you have to ask your employees about them: frequently and in a democratic way.

This can’t be done through a show of hands or a flimsy survey question but rather there needs to be a smart automated ‘continuous listening process’ that can track impact engagement and motivation over time.

At Motivii, we can map and monitor the impact of employee benefits through encouraging employees to complete a weekly review, where they log in their motivation and focus levels for the week. They are asked what their top 3 highlights and challenges were and what they want to focus on the next week. Similarly they answer 2-3 pulse questions each week that are inspired by Gallup and Great Place to Work questions.

Organisations can add custom questions, such as “what do you think of benefit X?” or “what benefits would you like to see?” But, importantly, Motivii provides you with a platform where you can understand the impact that the benefit has on employees by looking at sentiment, engagement, word cloud analysis around the time of implementing the benefit.

Importantly this integrated smart engagement platform allows companies to monitor over time how their teams are doing before and after employee benefits have been implemented with very little admin or having to “send out a survey”.

We are excited to be working with a few of these benefits providers and their clients to better quantify what benefits have the maximum impact on your employees. Our suggestion is that organisations need to not just look at the benefit but also how they measure the impact of that benefit. Similarly we see a future where benefits providers can show future prospects the measurable impact of their particular service.

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Getting better sleep in 2017

So, what is so important about sleep anyway?

A good sleep is one of the most sought after resources in the world. It seems the more we yearn for it the less we get it. According to a study by the University of Hertfordshire 60% of Britons do not get enough sleep and sleep deprivation costs the American economy $411 billion in productivity. Loss of productivity relates to absenteeism, when people fail to turn up to work, but also presenteeism where people turn up to work and do not engage.

Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for productivity it also comes with some health concern. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to suffer from depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Similarly tiredness can impact decision making and may lead to impulsiveness which may affect people’s relationships, career, or even accidents on the road.

Create a sleep sanctuary.

The bed, a place dedicated to sleep, has been corroded in the modern era. How do we help it to return to the sanctuary that it is?

Unplugging your life-line: Removing your phone, tablet or laptop from your bedroom can help you disassociate work and worry from your sleeping ritual. Not only are phones and other electronic devices a part of your busy active life, they also use a blue light which disrupts your sleep hormones.

Keeping them out of the bed or bedroom allows you to leave the business of work behind, and helps you to focus on relaxing and psychologically transitioning into sleeping mode.

Lighting in your bedroom is also important, as light activates the brain and wakes you up. Scientists suggest making the most out of natural light in the morning and making sure that bedrooms are dark with thick curtains and dimmed lighting. You should consider using a light bulb that isn’t so harsh for your lampshade. Similarly, using a night mask might also help with blocking out any light that you can’t control.

Invest in a good mattress and pillows. Mattresses often have a lifeline of around 9-10 years, so investing in a new comfortable one might be worth it if it is going to help you sleep better. Most recent tech is an anti-snoring mattress which might help you and/or your partner get some quality uninterrupted shut eye.

Try and disassociate sleeplessness with your bedroom..

So if you are struggling to get to sleep in your bed, try and move to another room to do something that is not stimulating and will make you tired. If you associate your bed with sleeplessness it may be difficult to break the pattern.  

Lifestyle choices

We have all heard enough about what we should and shouldn’t eat this january. As dry January or Veganuary has taken its hold it is difficult to remember that eating healthily and not drinking alcohol is not just for show is not only good for our waist-line but also our sleeping patterns.

Scientists suggest that we should limit heavy food around 2 hours before we go to bed and should stay away from spicy food that might mess with our indigestion. Similarly, while alcohol might be useful to help us get to sleep but it will not keep us asleep nor will it be a quality sleep.

Caffeine is well known to keep us awake. It might be our lifeline through the day but when it gets to the afternoon it may also be our nemesis. The caffeine in our system can build up throughout the day and come to affect us later in the evening. Studies suggest that caffeine intake ( including tea, coffee and energy drinks) should be limited after 2pm.

Want better sleep? Activity is encouraged… Whether this is 30 mins a day in the gym or a 10 minute walk around the park at lunch. Activity and exercise is a necessary element to encouraging your body to feel tired.

However, it does matter when you do your exercise. It is suggested that you do it in the middle of the day rather than in the evening as exercise. Like coffee, exercise is a stimulant which can keep you alert for hours after you’ve finished. While libidos may decrease with sleep deprivation, sex is one of the only forms of exercise that can help you get to sleep.

 

Prepare yourself for sleep

The way that we prepare children for sleep, we must also prepare ourselves for sleep. Whether that be a hot bath, a few sprays of lavender on your pillow or setting up a dimmed lamp to read a novel. Slowing down activity up to two hours before sleep can help aid your brain into a relaxed state.

Relaxation, not sleep should be the goal.

While relaxation does not replace sleep it can also be a useful way for you to enter the realm of slumber.

In the period before sleep you can plan for the next day, write a to do list for what you want to achieve the next day, set out your clothes or even go through a mental list of what you have done that day and what you want to focus on the next day. Reflecting can be a great way to relax and close off.

By focusing on relaxation as a goal, rather than sleep, you can take the attention and worry away from it so it comes more naturally. Similarly, we should move away from the aim that we must get 8 hours to function. While, eight hours may be a recommended guideline: sleep is different for everyone and the quantity and quality differs from person to person meaning that focussing on the golden eight hours might actually be shooting yourself in the foot rather than putting yourself on the road to a good sleep.

So, while sleep is different for everyone, the benefits of it are indisputable.

Try and find what best works for you. Reflection can be a useful tool to understand how and why you want to get better sleep and can put you one step closer towards actually achieving what you want.

Setting objectives- a phenomena not just for January

So, we have left 2016- a year harangued by celebrity deaths and seismic political shifts, but have you taken the time to reflect on how it went for you? Did you achieve what you set out to, did you set any goals at all?

It might be almost half way through January,  but there is no time like the present to address your goals and objectives for now and the rest of 2017.

How do you want to succeed and progress as a person and in your career?

Start by pinpointing exactly what you want from work and how you can get there efficiently. Understanding what you want from your actions, and what you will gain, may be the first steps to actually getting there.

Make goals Specific

We set hard aspirational goals for ourselves that are often too broad to be attainable . But as David Kadevy reasoned “the bigger the goal the easier it is to give up on it.”

In light of this it may be useful to break our big goal down into smaller more specific objectives. Starting with specific and easy to achieve goals we can form goal completing habits that can be transferred into bigger objectives at a later date. Kadevy wanted to write a novel and was so overwhelmed by the prospect of it that he broke it down into writing a 100 words every day. The easier the goal, the more ridiculous it is to make excuses not to do it.

Big things happen because of small things, which means that if all you do is “go big,” you’ll never actually get to your goal.- Jeff Rodman, Polycom

For instance my larger goal may be to improve digital marketing at Motivii, but by breaking it down into smaller objectives over the course of the next three months I am more likely to reach my goal. For example, ‘Get clicks to the website up by 50% in three months time’, or ‘get 1,000 more followers on twitter by next March,’ or ‘get an article about Motivii on a well read online magazine’. The possibilities of these larger goals are endless but when broken down into bite-size steps that I can review and reflect on each week I am more likely to achieve them.

Set a time frame

Objectives may be long term goals or short term goals, but without setting a specific time period we often don’t follow through with our objectives. This might be signing up to do a half marathon in six months or completing a work-related project. Setting a time frame means that we HAVE to complete our objectives by a certain date – keeping us both motivated and accountable for our objectives. 

Share it with your manager

Studies show that when you share your objectives and goals with colleagues or managers you are more accountable for the outcome of them. Not only do you make promises to yourself, psychologically in your mind you’ve made promises to them too! Managers and mentors can be great supporters, especially if they have experience in your field and what you are working towards. Often when sharing your goals with your managers they become your biggest cheerleaders.

Making personal objectives that aren’t directly to do with work can help influence your work life and vice versa. Whether it’s going to the gym three times a week or getting clarinet lessons; setting up personal habits can help form good habits in the workplace.

Don’t forget to track the progress of your objectives and mark them off as done when you have completed them!

Ps. With Motivii you can now set objectives!

How to get that Christmas feeling all year round

Teams work well together around Christmas time, with busy social events and work to push for by the end of the year. The tight lipped conformity gets replaced with brandy and christmas sweetness. Yet why should the festive cheer and togetherness end after Christmas?

There may well be twelve days of Christmas, but there are also 12 months in the year…

Here are 3 tips to create that momentum all year round.

  1. Encourage rebellion and curiosity among your team

Conformity and monotony can kill the cat at work. Moving away from clear career trajectories for your employees can create impetus for change and innovation. Inspire new employees not to concentrate on just performance and career-led goals, but also to focus their attention on learning new knowledge and skills. A more well rounded employee who can code, and also help with marketing, will be more beneficial in the long run.

As Francesca Gino writes in HBR: “Of course, not all conformity is bad. But to be successful and evolve, organizations need to strike a balance between adherence to the formal and informal rules that provide necessary structure and the freedom that helps employees do their best work.”

Staleness in a company can not only encourage malaise among your workforce but also kill the company itself. In order for companies to survive they need to embrace uniqueness and adaptability. We only have to compare the likes of Apple and Google with the failures of Polaroid and Blackberry to see that moving away from the status quo into unchartered territory can help drive creativity among your team, and prevent the business from stagnating and revenue plateauing.

Celebrate unstructured work and rebellion amongst your workforce. For example, some CEOs allow developers to have a “create” week, where they go to work and they are allowed to use their skills to develop new things, not necessarily towards the product, but in the hope that it will ignite new curiosities and things they can add to the future.

By developing rebellion and curiosity in your team you can allow your employees to define their own mission, which in turn can help towards your mission as a team and as a company.

  1. Promote proactivity

Team building and away days can be seen as a routine Christmas present, but sport and physical activity amongst your team is important in and out of the office.

No one needs to be reminded of the benefits it does for health and productivity, but what really matters is how it can help your team increase general engagement and develop together.  

One of our plans for Motivii in the New Year is to take meetings outside the office, such as a walk around the park or the Thames river. One way you can do it is to convert your (rectangle) meeting table into a pop up table tennis table and play a quick game or tournament when concentration inevitably lulls on a Thursday afternoon.

3. Social events

Everyone looks forward to the Christmas party because it is a time for employees and managers to let down their hair down and gorge on mince pies and cheap red wine. But why should communication and engagement begin and end with the christmas party?

Organising breakfast and lunchtime catch ups can create an environment in which conversation is allowed and encouraged. Similarly if you promote flexible or remote working, social events can replace the much famed water cooler moments.

Moreover, it can be a good way to bind a team and know what they are up to outside of work. This doesn’t just mean relying on pub drinks every Friday, which can get repetitive.

By engaging your staff in finding out what they want to do, whether it be through an online poll or feedback session,  you might find that as a group you all like Indian food and/or have a shared love for Star Wars. The possibilities are endless, but inevitably if you never ask you will never know.  

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

We are almost at the end of 2016… some may be happy to see it go. A year harangued by celebrity deaths and seismic political shifts, but have you taken the time to reflect on how it went for you? Did you achieve what you set out to, did you set any goals at all? Now it is time to look to the future of 2017…How do you want to succeed and progress as a person and in your career?

Start by pinpointing exactly what you want from work and how you can get there efficiently. Understanding what you want from your actions, and what you will gain, may be the first steps to actually getting there.

Make goals Specific

We set hard aspirational goals for ourselves that are often too broad to be attainable . But as David Kadevy reasoned “the bigger the goal the easier it is to give up on it.”

In light of this it may be useful to break our big goal down into smaller more specific objectives. Starting with specific and easy to achieve goals we can form goal completing habits that can be transferred into bigger objectives at a later date.

For instance my larger goal may be to improve digital marketing at Motivii, but by breaking it down into smaller objectives over the course of the next three months I am more likely to reach my goal. For example, ‘Get clicks to the website up by 50% in three months time’, or ‘get 1,000 more followers on twitter by next March,’ or ‘get an article about Motivii on a well read online magazine’.

The possibilities of these larger goals are endless but when broken down, although they are not “easy,” they are measurable and achievable.

Big things happen because of small things, which means that if all you do is “go big,” you’ll never actually get to your goal.- Jeff Rodman, Polycom

Select a time frame

Similarly objectives may be long term goals or short term goals, but without setting a specific time period we often don’t follow through with our objectives. Setting a time frame means that we HAVE to complete our objectives by a certain date – keeping us both motivated and accountable for our objectives.

Share it with your manager

Studies show that when you share your objectives and goals with colleagues or managers you are more accountable for the outcome of them. Not only do you make promises to yourself, psychologically in your mind you’ve made promises to them too! Managers and mentors can be great supporters, especially if they have experience in your field and what you are working towards. Often when sharing your goals with your managers they become your biggest cheerleaders.

Making personal objectives that aren’t directly to do with work can help influence your work life and vice versa. Whether it’s going to the gym three times a week or getting clarinet lessons; setting up personal habits can help form good habits in the workplace.

Don’t forget to track the progress of your objectives and mark them off as done when you have completed them!

How to create “Zen” in the office

Autumn Season 2/3-Had enough of feeling stuffy and unproductive in the office?

Here are 6 tips to create a zen feeling in the office…

  1. Air quality

Studies have shown that good natural ventilation can do wonders for performance. The World Green Council found that better air quality in the office can improve productivity levels from around 8%, to 11%. Natural air is not only good for health but also can be part of a greener incentive for your office.

2.Good Lighting

Poor lighting has been seen as a detrimental to the health of your employees and their mental health. A report from the university of Groningen found that Workplace lighting can, “in addition to providing sufficient light to conduct work-related visual tasks, affect employees’ alertness, mood, cognition, sleep-wake pattern and health”

3.Foliage

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Of course good design is a must, but in the day and age of startups and being constantly strapped for cash a plant or two can go a long way. Embracing natural surroundings and a “wall of plants” can do wonders for uplifting moods, as well as producing much needed oxygen for the stuffy office. Similarly, and perhaps far more interestingly, plants can absorb noise and refract sound through their stems. Instead of using office partitions consider using screen plants.

4.Declutter

Our offices becomes smaller as our love for kitschy items and technology increases.  However, the issue isn’t the space it is how we intend on using it.

  • Divide the workspace into zones and defined areas. The same with your desk.
  • Try and stop the catch-all cupboard or drawer filled with wires, pens, and old batteries that stopped working three months ago
  • Streamline your desktop so that when you start the new day fresh you are not bombarded with icons and clutter

5.Create a Break out area

Designate an area that is to be unassociated with work; it could be a place to do some reading, to eat lunch or for catching up with colleagues. This encourages employees to eat lunch away from their desk, and to be creative in a less constrained environment.

6.Promote proactivity

Organise half an hour football sessions, or turn your meeting table into a table tennis table. Sushi Friday and Latte Wednesdays may be useful to create connections in the office, but make sure they don’t become repetitive or sidelined for seemingly more important issues. The possibilities for work activities are endless and by communicating with your employees you can find out what they want to do to relax or ways in which you can reignite concentration when there are the inevitable lulls in the working week.

3 ways companies can turn disasters into success

 

When the world gives you oranges make orange juice… 3 ways leaders and companies can turn disasters into success….

In a world where the Lehman brothers can go bankrupt overnight, The UK can leave the EU and Trump goes from reality TV star to president, it is easy to fall foul to a cloud of uncertainty and despair.

While these things were seemingly beyond prediction, big economic and political change is a predictable and fixed part of our society and we have to accept this and move forward. But how do companies and leaders deal with the changes that happen suddenly and how can you ride the wave towards opportunity?

  1. Communication.

Change can trigger anxiety, decrease levels of emotional well-being and ultimately plague productivity. From communicating with your employees you can gage how they are feeling and react to big societal or company changes. Moving away from the “Remote” manager to the “Involved” manager you can show them that you care. You can use online feedback tools to get immediate realisations on how your team is feeling and use that feedback to implement certainty, and guide them through the highs and lows.

By watching and listening to your team you can see if behaviour changes or performance dips; with an insight of feedback you can create the mechanisms to dispel anxiety and create cohesion.

2. Preparation.

Sometimes you can’t prepare for big changes but in the aftermath, preparation is key.

You need to tell your employees what change means for them. Jeanie Daniel Duck reasoned in his book The Change Monster: The Human Forces That Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change, managers need to “interpret what’s going on for people and explain what it means for them in specific, concrete terms”. Providing your employees with information and creates a calming culture of shared knowledge and transparency. Preparation for the future might also mean training your team in some key areas so they are prepared for uncertain economic times and potential re-shuffles within your organisation.

Using the feedback from your team you can cement a roadmap for change and plan for how you will take the future on. Allowing everyone to be part of this new pathway, and creating a forum for suggestions and expression, emphasises a connectedness and creates a joint legacy for each member of the team.  

4. Interpret change as opportunity.

In the face of immense challenge and economic turbulence, all companies have the chance to prosper and expand. It’s about being positive and innovative and seeing the possibilities for continual improvement in each economic climate.

While it may be easy to fixate on the negatives, often the results of world events are out of our immediate control. By engaging your employees and creating a realm of job security, your employees can focus on the work ahead rather than sinking into inefficiency.

In summary, confidence and communicating with your employees will be more likely to breed success than indecision and silence.

What I am really thinking… Enter the Graduate Employee

 

A month in, what has it been like for the new graduate employee?

Here are my five top tips:

  1. Be assertive– If you feel like you have nothing to do, you probably aren’t working hard enough. If you don’t have anything to do, bite the bullet and ask someone. There is no point twiddling your thumbs waiting for someone to give you some work. Everyone may be too busy to remember to give you work, so don’t be shy or afraid to go mining for work.
  1. Communicate – Tell your manager how you are doing or request a one-to-one if you feel like you are losing direction or track. You can always tell your manager if you want more work or if you are struggling. Asking for help, or what may seem like a stupid question, should and will be interpreted as interest and progression. Communicate to yourself what you want to work on each week and take time to reflect on how your week went and what you want to achieve for the week ahead.

 

  • Say yes – To almost everything. By being curious and open to learning new things you can develop your skills in areas that you didn’t expect to. Your job title is fluid and your tasks won’t always fit into what you signed up for. Be excited about learning new things, for example If you start in a marketing job, why not say yes to learning about data and programming. Say yes to social and networking events; it can be a good way to learn about your company, other companies they work with and also how to meet new people.
  • People are just humanIn my first week and by the end of the first month I’ve been in the room, on the phone and working with companies who could be described as “scary” or “very corporate”, yet one has to realise that there are humans behind the corporate masks just like ourselves.
  • Be a rebel (within reason)Break away from conformity and make a pathway for yourself that deviates from the mediocre and unthinkingly acquiescent. Committing to the status quo will only commit yourself to boredom and malaise. By expressing yourself and being who you are you can explore your strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

P.S.A. HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Do you have looming spectres in your workplace?

Some areas of work might seem a bit too spooky and scary to deal with. We’ve alligned some key areas with our favourite halloween monsters.

Here are a few tricks and treats to help solve the situation

(bit like magic really)

  1. Organisation- Dementer  triwizardmaze_pm_b4c31m1_dementorintriwizardmaze_moment  

Often in some companies turnover can be very high or fear their security in their own job. This can lead to people losing sight of the product or services they are providing. Organisation issues have to be remedied to help retain key talent.

Tips

  • Understand: what is your company’s mission, what is it trying to do, how do you feel about this? Value: what are the values of your company and do you agree and relate to these values. Customer: do you know what your customers think about you. Impact: What impact are you having on the above? How can you help improve things at work?
  • Identify and solve an organisational problem; a great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as problem-solver within the organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.

2. Team- Wolves

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Sometimes in companies there can be lone wolves in the wolfpack, often leaving many employees to feel alone and like their work isn’t worth being valued by their colleagues. Similarly in the work environment it can be hard to create strong friendships outside the workplace. Team collaboration can be one of the most important areas in businesses succeeding.

Tips

  • Organise team building sessions: People work better together if they get along. It’s just part of our natural human instinct. As a manager it is up to you to organise events that will help foster relationships between your team. Big or small, formal or informal, everything counts.
  • Encourage and welcome advice: If relationships are suffering or you’re finding it difficult to work well with your team, ask your manager for advice. Rather than complaining about your colleagues, which likely won’t go down well with your manager, ask them for advice on how they think you could improve certain relationships.
  1. Communication- Zombies

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At time we can be left in the dark about where our company is going. Similarly without frequent two-way communication between employees and managers it is difficult to know when things are going well in terms of performance and also motivation levels at work. Often managers forget that employees, like their customers and clients, need support and attention to be the most productive and motivated to do the best job possible.

Tips

  • Don’t shy away from problems; If problems arise within work, don’t shy away from them; face them head on. Tell your boss when things aren’t going right, and communicate to them your prepared solutions. This will generate a faster, problem-solving conversation between you both and will nip the issue in the bud before it spirals into something bigger.
  • Make internal knowledge and documents easily accessible: especially important for newer employees, making internal documentation easily accessible is a great way of boosting communication and can even act as a training programme for new staff. Sharing files via Google drive or making them accessible on your company intranet is a good start.
  1. Wellbeing- Edward Scissorhands

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Long hours and lack of sunlight are no longer vogue in the modern workplace. Commonly in the workplace we are pressed for hard work rather than clever work, which can be detrimental to employees well being. Hard work often doesn’t allow employees to do what they are best at. For engaged employees, wellbeing and mindfulness should be respected and encouraged in the workplace.

Tips

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle: adopting a healthy lifestyle is a key element in improving your workplace wellbeing. For example if you’ve got a busy afternoon, a heavy lunch probably isn’t the best option. Nor is skipping it completely.
  • Drink lots of water: water is the key to a healthy mind and body. Make sure you drink enough and you have access to it at work. Get into the habit of having a glass or bottle at your desk
  1. Manager – Voldemort

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Managing can be hard, while we all know we need to better managing ourselves it can be difficult to manage other people at the same time. Some managers may find themselves too busy to give feedback to their direct reports. But they do not see the importance of giving praise to their employees. Similarly employees can often feel that ghost-like managers do not respect or value the work that they do, therefore they become disenchanted and disengaged with the tasks at hand.

Tips

  • Schedule catch-ups into your monthly routine: Town Halls, or simple monthly meetings, are a great way for everyone to share what’s happening and ask questions. This helps keep everyone in the loop. Motivii has recently launched a ‘Meeting Mode’ which would be really useful for these meetings; it summarises everyone’s weekly reviews into one page which you can all discuss together.
  1. Development- Chucky

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Sometimes the path of work can get a bit spooky and unknown. Without good managing employees can lack direction and development can be stunted. Without opportunities to learn and grow within a company a general malaise can settle and morph into prolonged discontent and stagnation.

Tips

  • Engage your manager in a career discussion; Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career
  • Attend courses to broaden your skills; once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.