Telling your manager you need more resources or training can be awkward. You don’t want to undermine your working relationship or appear less than capable to do your job, but you know these tools will help support your success in your role. You know you need to speak with your manager about this, but how do you walk the fine line between confidently asking for support and appearing underprepared for the task at hand?
Setting goals can be exhilarating and daunting. While you definitely want to approach goal- setting with a healthy dose of what’s realistic for you, setting a goal that really challenges you will help you grow more than you could imagine. Imagine how life will be once you achieve your goal. As we talked about in the last goal-achieving blog post, will it be to become a pilot by 2025, or to earn a promotion at work? Regardless of what your goal is, achieving it should really excite you.
In conversation with Alicja Januszewicz on the importance of setting goals, how do we know we are setting the right goals and tips on how to achieve the outcome you want.
Phew, it is already mid-2023! A great time to check in on the progress of our goals! In many organizations, we set our goals and objectives at the start of a year. There are no rules that goals must start with the new year or that goals will not change or be adapted during the year. Working on your goals can be a journey throughout the year so don’t worry if you are unclear on your goals or unsure if they still feel right for you, now is a good time to reflect.
The critical step is to define those goals, making sure they align with your core principles, are clear on what you want to achieve, by when, and who can support you in making your goals happen. This clarity will help you find the steps to get you there, to give you a roadmap. Many people use the SMART framework to map out their goals, I use SIMple. S for Specific, I for Important, and M for Measurable. Make sure you use some kind of framework!
A manager needs to be equipped with an arsenal of communication skills that cover everything from explaining the goals of a project, presenting progress updates, providing subject-matter training, and so much more. The most important communication skill is the ability to give and receive feedback.
WEST’s first event in the Summertime Management Skills Series focused on the importance of a manager effectively delegating work to their team. This skill enables a manager to remove the tasks from their plate that are preventing them from focusing on their big-picture and strategic planning. Delegating also enables a team to feel engaged, challenged, and fulfilled in their work. However, it also creates the need for feedback communication. Once a manager has delegated a task, they then need to give and receive feedback from their team to ensure that their team understands the task, and has the resources they need to complete it.
When you ask someone the best thing their boss can do for them, the answer is straightforward: “Tell me what is expected of me, present me with growth opportunities, give me clear deadlines, and trust me to do my job.” If you ask them what's the worst thing their boss can do, the number one answer is: “micromanage.”
What is the connection here? Trust. As Etta Jacobs, MA, PCC, told us: “A boss who micromanages, gives their direct reports the impression that they don’t trust them to do the work.” When an employee does not feel valued for their expertise and empowered to solve problems on their own, they begin to lose interest. This leads to the number one reason employees leave their job: a bad manager.
Being part of a Board of Directors can seem like an exclusive, illusive position. It can seem like no matter how much you would really love to be part of an organization’s success, how much you’d like to support a nonprofit’s goal, being on the Board of Directors can feel out of reach. For many, it’s not that it’s out of reach, it’s that there isn’t always a clear path or easy to find information on requirements, process, support, or even general guidance on where to begin.
WEST knows the true value that each Board Member brings to an organization. We are always grateful for the insight, excitement, and endless pursuit of our mission that our Board Members and Advisory Board Members bring to WEST. Knowing how important Board Members are to an organization, WEST is thrilled to be bringing the event “Get on Board: Inside the Board of Directors” to our community.
You know your company is downsizing, your boss calls you into their office. You go in, sit down, lump in your throat, you know what’s next. The conversation is pretty straightforward. Your boss says something like: “I’m really sorry, but as we downsize we’re cutting a lot of positions, and yours is one of them.” At that point, you’re not quite sure what to say or do, whether you expected it or not. The reality of being laid off leaves so much more uncertainty than you could possibly have prepared for.
Topics: STEM, Career, Interview, Panel, Job, Professional, Change, Solutions, Career Path, Developing Your Skills, Career Development, New Opportunities, Hiring, STEM Women, Hiring Women in STEM, Experience
Often we misunderstand confidence to be a magical feeling that we either possess or it will elude us forever. We then find ourselves wondering how we can create this magical feeling of confidence. However, in reality, confidence is less of a magical gift and more a result of the everyday work of taking on difficult things, learning, failing, growing, and succeeding. In other words, it is not a question of whether you are a confident person or not, but a result of showing up courageously and authentically to things that feel hard (even impossible), scare us, and doing our best. Repeatedly showing up in those difficult situations courageously would slowly build that trust for you in your abilities, and that’s what confidence in self is: a feeling of trust in one's abilities, qualities, and judgment. Confidence is an outcome of courage, not the other way around. This is what Pallavi Srivastava will focus on in her workshop for the WEST community “Nurturing Confidence: The Path Through Courage & Authenticity.”
On January 11th, WEST held “The Journey Starts Now: Q&A Sessions With Women in STEM and What You Can Do Starting in High School,” a guest speaker panel moderated by Suhanee Mitragotri (Harvard College 2025. During this event, we had the pleasure of hearing from three incredible speakers: Dr. Cristina Almansa, Dr. Ambika Bajpayee, and Dr. Lesley Chan. Dr. Almansa is the Head of Clinical Sciences, Translational Medicine Immunology at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. She is leading a team of scientists responsible for the design and execution of early development trials to evaluate the safety and determine the mechanism of action of new molecular entities for the treatment of patients with immunological disorders. Dr. Bajpayee is a professor of bioengineering at Northeastern University. Her lab is focused on nanomedicine and bioelectrics designed for delivery of small-molecule drugs, antibodies, and genetic materials to tissue. Dr. Chan is the Senior Director of Process Sciences and Innovations at bluebird bio. She drives initiatives for implementing new manufacturing processes in gene-modified stem and progenitor cell therapy.
Elena Spencer is Chief of Staff to the Chief Scientific Officer for the Inflammation & Immunology Research Unit at Pfizer. After 15 years as a bench scientist, she pivoted to R&D Strategy & Operations in 2016. Elena is also co-founder, President, and CEO of Kendall Square Orchestra, a community organization that seeks to connect science and technology professionals through music. She has been an avid volunteer at WEST events for 3 years and was the recipient of the WEST “Making a Difference in the Community” award in 2020 and “Women of the Future” award in 2018. I recently had the privilege to speak with Elena about her involvement with the WEST community, her career journey, advice for people making career transitions, and how she finds a work-life balance. - Emma Sullaway