As so often happens, readers have offered very useful perspectives on some recent columns.
The May 2 column addressed the shift to part-time work. And, as reader Carol, pointed out, I didn't include any comments about impact on pay and benefits. Thanks for pointing that out! When assessing whether part-time work is right for you, take a look at your budget, your insurance and other benefits, and any profit sharing or retirement implications. You want to be sure that you can afford the shift short-term and long-term. Also, be clear when you talk to your boss that you understand that there will be an effect on your compensation; some people ask for part-time hours but still expect to receive full-time pay -- this is naive at best.
This reader also suggested another option for a trial approach: "have an employee use accrued vacation time for a period -- they retain their salary and benefits and have a chance to see how it works." As long as the employee doesn't mind using vacation this way, it's certainly a viable option.
In response to "How to meet the challenge of improving meetings" (May 16), reader Jennie pointed out the value of setting guidelines and training employees on how to hold good meetings, noting that people seemed really grateful for direction. She also mentioned a couple of resources that were useful in her career. As she said, "Today's column on meetings reminded me of my favorite book on holding productive meetings, "Making Meetings Work -- A guide for Leaders and Group Members," by Leland P. Bradford. It's copyrighted 1976, but it holds up very well, and I still use his advice in meetings I lead or participate in. Another favorite, time-tested book I love is "Peopleware" by Tom DeMarco. I go back to it often." While both of these books are a bit older, both are available through online booksellers.
Another reader noted that many adults are in the same boat as in the column "Figure out what you want out of college before planning your return" (May 9). She commented that, in Minnesota, many public and private colleges have fast-track programs to help working adults finish a degree quickly. See her blog, Back to School for Grownups for more information and ideas.
Career strategy and job search topics are just one step away from the "returning to school" topic, and a couple of useful books have come my way recently. One, "Navigating Through Now What" by Karen Kodzik, highlights both mistakes that people make (so you can avoid them), ways to align a new job with your values, and practical strategies to make a change. Another, "Nail It! Six Steps to Transform Your Career," lays out an accessible approach to self-coaching your way into a new career. These books can help make a decision about the path to take in returning to school or moving into a new phase in your work life.
Readers, as always, help me out when you have additional ideas -- your knowledge and insights are a great resource to all of us. Post your comments online at startribune.com or drop me an e-mail.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.