Monday, November 19, 2018

Why We Need More Fights at Work



There's no shortage of fighting these days -- whether it's the WWE or a cable news show.

In real life, many people avoid fighting. They will turn their backs on a fuming co-worker or not respond to snarky emails at work. Or, they may simply hold up their hands in surrender during a contentious team meeting and back away from a disagreement simply because they don't want to fight.

You may take such action because you hate fighting -- it's bad enough to have a 15-minute argument every morning with your child because she doesn't want to wear shoes to school. You feel like there's enough disagreement in the world, and you just don't want to add to it.

But what if you're making everything worse by not fighting? What if you could make your life -- and those of your colleagues -- better by fighting?

Adam Kahane is author of "How to fight in a Productive Way." He has plenty of experience in some serious battles -- he works with Mexican leaders to help them develop solutions to the country's issues such as a lack of security and equality. As director of Reos Partners, an international consultancy that helps people work together on their most contentious issues, he says that avoiding conflict and differences isn't a good strategy.

The reason: Those differences will just "fester and erupt later with greater violence."

While we probably won't see violence erupt in the workplace with most spats, Kahane's point is still valid: That we need to be ready to challenge others and be open to being challenged right back. When we avoid challenges, we stagnate. We don't learn anything new.

Here are some ways he suggests we can embrace "useful" fighting:


  • Diversify. Teams need to have members of different strengths and perspectives. An IT team, for example, shouldn't just be IT people. Throw in some marketing or human resource people and vise versa. More teams need to have members willing to say: "I think that's a mistake," or "I don't think that makes sense because....."
  • Slow down. Many workplace decisions are made because a team is under deadline pressure or feels compelled to mark something off the "to do" list and move on. But Kahane points out that the workshops of Mexican leaders always included a "get to know you" activity such as having dinner together or two people with differing opinions taking a walk. Spending that time together can lessen anxieties and lead to a shifting of thoughts so that people are more open to one another and perhaps change their positions a bit.
  • Understand that you're not the boss of me. The best way to get people to work together to reach a decision is that you cannot allow any of them to have more decision-making control than someone else. The only way to get change is that each team member must change himself or herself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This is How LinkedIn Can Help You Find a Job


It’s estimated that 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, which means ignoring the site during a job search is sort of like tossing your resume in a shredder and hoping someone finds it and pieces it back together.
That’s not likely to happen, and neither are you likely to find the most available jobs or contacts if you’re ignoring LinkedIn. While you may think you shouldn’t use LinkedIn because you’re still in school or don’t have much experience, you’re wrong. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for catching the eyes of a recruiters; it’s also one of the best professional networking tools online. Your lack of a LinkedIn presence not only makes you invisible to recruiters, it (read more here)

Monday, November 12, 2018

How to Get Ahead When Working Remotely

Working from home is no longer a rarity – IWG reports that 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week. And 53 percent of professionals work remotely for at least half the week! The arrangement has many advantages, such as providing better work/life balance or a much shorter commute. Still, being “out of sight” poses a real challenge to your career. Your contributions may go unnoticed by others and jeopardize your chances of getting a promotion.
(Read more here)

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Do These 5 Things When You Get a New Boss

There's nothing quite as disconcerting as getting a new boss. Even if you hated the old boss, at least you knew all her weird habits and devious tricks and could counteract them before they did much harm.

But a new boss? This means a lot of changes, even if the new boss says there won't be changes. The new boss may only like to communicate via email, even if he's sitting across the table from you. Or, he may not understand that he really shouldn't talk to you before you've had a cup of coffee -- not because you're crabby but because you literally can't form full sentences until the caffeine hits your bloodstream.



There are some ways to ensure a smoother transition with a new boss, and also help him understand your value to the organization -- and to him. You need to:

1. Step up. Be ready to introduce yourself to the new boss like a real grown-up professional. No slouching behind your computer and hoping he won't see you. You can send him your LinkedIn profile or even a short email outlining what you're working on and any areas of development you're tackling (attending night classes, taking an online certification course). 

2. Eliminate "but" from your answers. There's nothing more frustrating to a new boss that always hearing employees say "but that's not how we've always done it" or "but that won't work" or something equally negative. Listen with an open mind to his ideas. Try to expand on them and instead of saying "No, but..." try to find times to say, "Yes, and..."

3. Take notes. When the new boss is giving directives -- from how to ask for time off to who is taking on which project -- write it down. New bosses have a lot on their plates, and employees who pay attention the first time will be seen as assets that are part of his plan when moving forward. Don't risk getting left behind because you're always asking "What was that again?"

4. Offer help. You don't have to be Billy Brownoser with the new boss, but be willing to offer resources or information that can make the new boss's life easier. "I can send you the report I did on that competitor last year. You might find some helpful information in it or perhaps I can answer some questions," you offer.

5. Don't badmouth anyone. In the beginning, the new boss is trying to get the lay of the land -- who does good work and who does not. Badmouthing a colleague -- or even your former boss -- is very unprofessional and will get you labeled a gossip. The boss may find your information helpful, but he will forever see you as a disloyal person -- and that means you'll never be trusted by him. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

The 3 People You Want to Meet at Work


If you want to see where you career is going, look at who you hang out with at work.

Is it the guy who plays on his phone during meetings? Is it the woman who is short-tempered and can be snarky to the intern?

There's an old proverb that says you are known by the company you keep. (Your Mom probably quoted it to you once a day when you were a teenager.) While you don't want to isolate yourself at work or avoid having a diverse group of contacts, you do want to consider what you're getting from those relationships.

For example, you may think the guy who plays on his phone during meetings is also pretty funny. You like going to lunch with him and watching him do impersonations of various people in the office. Or, the woman who is snarky to interns usually isn't rude to you, so you don't have a problem hanging out with her for a drink after work.

But how do you really feel about interacting all the time with such colleagues? Do you find yourself thinking up new ideas, wanting to try and match their passion for their work or appreciate learning something new from them? Or, are you becoming caught in their endless cycle of disengagement, snarkiness and laziness?

I'm not suggesting you cut these people completely. What I am suggesting is that you need to assess whether such relationships inspire you or provide encouragement. If not, it's time to spend less time with them and instead look for colleagues who can help you develop professionally because they model the right behavior.

Look for people who are:

  • Curious. These colleagues are intrigued by information. They read widely -- they may be able to tell you 10 facts about lemurs or discuss the latest industry acquisition. When you interact with those who are always expanding their minds, you will start to do the same -- and that's always a plus for any career.
  • Good listeners. The colleagues who put their phones away during a meeting, turn away from their computers when your're talking to them and let others complete their sentences without interrupting are the kind of co-workers who go far in their careers. They're seen as great negotiators, leaders and team members and have the kind of skills you should emulate.
  • Are not perfect. You want to be around people who are not afraid -- or too pompous -- to admit when they make a mistake. These are the kind of colleagues who learn from their goofs and become even better in their jobs. They don't become focused on fixing the blame, and instead want to fix the problem. You will learn a lot from such team members and you career will benefit from learning how they move on from mistakes and thrive.





Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why You Don't Want to Rely on Gut Instinct



As you rise through the ranks and become a manager, you may be faced with ethical dilemmas. Perhaps you're not worried -- you know your moral compass is solid and you would never do anything that wasn't in line with your values.

But can you really rely on that compass when you're in a fast-paced environment where there is constant pressure to produce results and beat the competition -- or else? You may still contend that your ethics won't abandon you, and you know that you'll make the right decisions.

Then comes the day when you need to fudge some product results (just a teeny tiny bit!) in order to keep the company afloat. People could lose their jobs if the results don't measure up. What's the harm in just rounding up a few numbers?

Or, let's say one of your employees has access to some data from a competitor. He accessed it by guessing the password of a friend who works at the company. You've been under a lot of pressure from your boss to find ways to beat this competitor. What's the harm in just taking a look at the data, right?

This is the slippery slope of which many people speak.

Stanford Graduate School of Business professors recently addressed ethical leadership and found that managers can fall short if they don't truly understand their values and how to deal with the business challenges they will face. Among their thoughts:


  • Don't rely on your gut. Just because you have data doesn't mean you're making a sound decision. You can rig that data to align with what you really want to do. Make sure you're doing a good analysis of data and not just using it to prop up your opinion.
  • Let others challenge you. Make it OK for your staff to disagree or criticize your thinking. Let the person with the least seniority offer the first suggestion -- that breaks down the group think structure.
  • Plan ahead. Think about what you will do if you're asked to fudge numbers or look at another company's data without permission. It can be tempting to do something wrong when you're in the heat of the moment so make sure you know the lines you will not cross. 
Finally, don't let the "everyone does it" argument sway you into doing something that violates your ethics. You may make a split-second decision that you have to live with for a long time -- and make you into someone you never wanted to be.


Monday, October 29, 2018

3 Ways to Change the World from Your Cubicle



I'm fed up, and I know many of you must feel the same.

I'm fed up with the name-calling, the finger-pointing and the yelling. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away, but I can't. What I can do is think about how I behave every day and hopefully do a little better.

Most of us spend the majority of our hours at work. While we're unlikely to stand up in our cubicle, point at someone and start yelling about how they're wrong, stupid, hateful and wear ugly shoes -- we can use the workplace as a starting point.

The starting point can be this: I will shut up. I will listen. I will ask questions. I will try to understand. I will actively seek out people with different opinions.

Adam Kahane, author of "Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work With People You Don't Agree with or Like or Trust," recently offered some tips on how we can get along better with others at work.

1. Find common ground. Who doesn't feel better walking through a park on a beautiful fall day? Or having a nice cup of coffee? Finding neutral spaces to meet with people can help lower the temperature of an interaction, making it easier to just communicate.

2. Suspend judgments. How many times have you labeled a colleague "difficult" or "annoying"? Try to stop labeling the person and instead think about whether that difficult or annoying label is really more about you. Do you get annoyed when someone challenges your authority? Or find it difficult when someone wants to challenge the status quo?

3. Embrace different. Instead of getting tense or annoyed because a colleague challenges you, think about seeing things from his or her point of view. When you feel your body tense up, try to relax and think about how you cannot control how this person acts, but you still need to work with him or her.

Human beings are hardwired to fight change -- they fear it may be something that will hurt them. But we're in a time when the constant state of warfare is becoming a norm that only undermines our humanity.

Maybe you can't change the world overnight, but you can change how you will advocate for civility and collaboration one cubicle at a time.