Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Doing This One Thing Will Give You a Professional Edge

When you were growing up, your teacher or your mom probably made you write thank-you notes. You hated it. You vowed when you grew up, you would never, never, never, never write another thank-you note.

So, you didn't. You didn't send a thank-you note when Aunt Nancy sent you a graduation gift. You didn't send a thank-you note when you got married and people gave you a bunch of cool stuff.

This "no thank-you note policy" may make sense to you. You might say "thank you" the next time you see Aunt Nancy (which is good enough), or you may believe that if the gift-giver really cares about the giving, then you shouldn't have to send a thank-you note.

You're not writing a thank-you note. Discussion over.

OK, I'll go along. You don't have to write a thank-you note in your private life if you don't want to -- even if I do believe you sound like a spoiled ingrate. That's your business.

When it comes to your professional life, however, I'm going to advise you to write thank-you notes. Here's the reason why:

  • It shows you're mature. 
  • It shows you have emotional intelligence.
  • It shows you're not an ingrate.
  • It makes a good impression.
Writing thank-you notes can be difficult for some people, but if you Google "how to write thank-you notes," more than 7 million results pop up. That means you can jot off a thank-you note in about five minutes and earn yourself a lot of goodwill from clients, colleagues, mentors and bosses.

Believe me, it makes a difference. People have become so lazy about writing thank-you notes that when you do, it will stand out. It will impress the boss. It will impress a hiring manager. It will impress a potential client.

The bottom line: Show more appreciation in your professional life, and more appreciation is likely to be shown for you.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Research Reveals New Insight About Workaholics

Many people have turned to mindfulness or meditation or yoga as a way to deal with the stresses of their careers. They believe that if they don't want to drop dead at their desks, then they need to figure out ways to let their workplace worries go. (Overwork, research shows, can lead to insomnia, anxiety, headaches, stomach ailments, etc.)

But there are also people who love what they do, and don't mind how many hours they spend doing it. Such people often are called workaholics, and friends and loved ones predict such people will, undoubtedly, drop dead doing their jobs.

Or will they?

New research is presented in a paper called "Beyond Nine to Five: Is Working to Excess Bad for Your Health?" has some interesting findings, such as:

  • Working long hours doesn't wreck your health. As researchers note, not all workaholics work long hours, and working long hours doesn't make you a workaholic. Some of those who work long hours, for example, can recharge after a good night's sleep and not risk becoming ill.
  • Being compulsive can hurt you. If you can't switch off work, you risk health problems. Tossing and turning all night as you think about your job means that your body isn't getting the rest that it needs and that can lead to physical problems.
  • Not all workaholics are created the same. If you're a workaholic and don't like your job, your risk of developing poor health increases. But if you're a workaholic that loves what you do, then you stay healthy.
  • Support helps. If you're a workaholic that really is engaged and passionate about what you do and you have support from a spouse, friend or colleague, then that's a real advantage. Such workaholics were found to have better communication skills and better time management and didn't ruin their health.
Researchers stress that there can be real long-term health consequences for those working long hours who don't like what they do and are not engaged or enthusiastic. They say that time for recovery is critical, as is finding balance and getting support.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

8 Ways to Create Greater Workplace Happiness

On a scale of one to 10, how happy are the employees in your organization?
If your answer is “seven” then you’re right in line with the answer given by most CEOs.
“Seven is an interesting number,” says Kris Boesch, an workplace culture expert. “It’s representative of ‘we’re doing okay, not great’ or ‘I really don’t know.’ You’re confident that no one is going to go postal. Overall you have a good group of people who get along well enough. There are some areas that could use improvement. It’s a ‘safe’ number.”
But Boesch says no one should be thrilled with such an assessment, because when employees are happier, the bottom line is healthier.
Further, don’t try to defend your culture to Boesch by claiming that your workers are “satisfied” or “engaged.”
“That’s a pretty low bar to try and hit. Would you be thrilled to say that your clients are ‘satisfied’? And what is engaged? I don’t really know (read more here)

Monday, December 4, 2017

5 Reasons to Attend the Office Holiday Party That You May Not Have Considered

Have you started plotting your excuse to get out of the holiday party yet?

You've got malaria.

Your dog ate all your clothes.

Your great-grandmother is expected to die on the day of the party. (Even though she died before you were born).

Some people truly dread the office holiday celebration, for a bunch of different reasons. I don't really care why you don't want to go (believe me, I've had my share of reasons), but it's important that you attend.

Since I know that you can come up with many reasons why you don't want to go and shouldn't have to, I'm going to give you the reasons you must attend:

1.  Everyone will talk about you if you don't go. And it won't be nice.

2. You will miss the boss wearing an ugly holiday sweater that his Nana made for him 10 years ago. It's not meant to be ironic, by the way.

3. You won't be in any photos that will be posted on Facebook talking about what a great time was had by everyone. While the enjoyment factor may not have truly been outstanding, your absence will be noted by senior managers. (This is not a good thing).

4. The elusive IT guy you've been trying to reach for three months to fix a bug in a key client's system is at the party, and feeling very open to conversation. You missed him reciting "Oh Captain! My Captain! near the dessert table, and also therefore failed to nab his cooperation to fix a big problem for you.

5. After your boss's boss led a conga line, she was in such a jovial mood that she revealed the next big project the company  is working on. This led to her setting up future appointments with those in her conga line so that she could discuss potential assignments more in-depth during the workweek. You failed to make the party, the conga line -- and a chance to get in on a big, new exciting project that could pay off for your career.

Instead of thinking up excuses of why you don't want to attend the holiday party, think of all the things you want to accomplish this next year, and how interactions at the holiday party could go a long way in helping you achieve them. New projects, better collaboration with other departments, boosting your reputation with senior leaders -- and getting to see the ugliest holiday sweater ever -- should spur you into attending.

Have fun!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Research Shows Why You May Make Bad Decisions

If you are under persistent, long-term stress, be aware that any decisions you make will tilt toward higher-risk options -- such as accepting a job that might be a mistake.

New research from MIT neuroscientists finds that riskier decisions are made when there are impairments of a specific brain circuit. 

The good news is that in tests on mice, scientists were able to bring back normal thinking patterns by manipulating this circuit. The hope is that someday something similar could help people with depression, addiction, anxiety or poor decision-making.

In the meantime, this is a something to be aware of when you're trying to make a decision about a new job or even a new work assignment and you've been under chronic stress.

Scientists say that when you're faced with options that have both positive and negative elements, you're more likely to opt for the riskier choice because the stress is affecting your brain's decision-making. You may, for example, ignore the high cost of the job (long hours) and choose the high reward (high salary) instead of the job that will offer you less pay but give you more time off.

Another cautionary note: Once the shift in thinking occurs, it can last for months.

There has been plenty written about the havoc that stress causes on your body. It can lead to physical ailments such as high blood pressure and stomach problems, not to mention sleepless nights. It can hurt your relationships on the job and at home. Now with this research, there's something else to consider about stress since it might impair your decision making.

While you're entering the sometimes frantic holiday season, thinking about whether it's time you took significant steps to reducing your stress, whether it's through exercise, taking up a fun hobby or even finding a therapist to talk about what's stressing you out. Your future career happiness may depend on it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Why It's Time to Push Back Against Industry Norms

Since he was a university student in the Netherlands, it has bothered Freek Vermeulen that newspapers are printed in the broadsheet format, which he contends is awkward and flimsy to read.
When he became an assistant professor of strategic and international management at London Business School, he took the opportunity to question newspaper leaders about their format and discovered leaders didn’t really know why they used broadsheets – it had just always been done that way.
Vermeulen then turned a couple of research assistants loose to dig deeper into the reasoning. They found that the broadsheets were born after the English government in 1712 began taxing newspaper companies based on the number of pages that were printed. While printing the larger pages made sense at the time, the practice continued even after the tax law was abolished.
Vermeulen, now a full professor, says this is a great example of the trap many companies fall into – hanging onto things that don’t really make sense. It’s also why they fail to evolve and innovate.
“In principle, the world is Darwinian, including in business. Part of adaptation is dumping things that don’t work,” he says. “If you have bad habits, you may not survive.”
While some businesses may be able to continue bad habits for a “surprisingly long (read more here)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why Today's Workplace Needs You to Be Fast on Your Feet

You know those picky and demanding customers who drive you nuts? Or, those employees who endlessly complain that things could be done better?
Instead of running away from those you may consider annoying, it’s time to start listening to them, says Amanda Setili, a strategy consultant who has worked with Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and Home Depot.
That’s because those who complain – whether employees or customers – are doing so because they have ideas about how things can be done better. It’s just those idea, she says, that may keep a company afloat in a rapidly changing marketplace.
“When change is happening so fast, then whoever is fast on their feet will gain the advantage,” says Setili, author of “Fearless Growth: The New Rules to Stay Competitive, Foster Innovation and Dominate Your Markets.” “So, embrace the problem customers. Listen to the skeptical naysayers in your company because they can help you be fast and agile and innovative.”
Unfortunately, many companies do exactly the opposite and tune out diverse opinions. They hunker down in their uncertainty, blocking out dissenting views and embracing the status quo as a way to ride out the unknown.
But Setili, who has been an executive with two successful disruptive technology startups in the U.S. and Malaysia, says that companies need to learn to be adaptable and “ready for anything.” One way (read more here)