Monday, September 20, 2021

How to Set Boundaries When Working From Home

 For many employees, working from home is becoming a new reality of their career -- although how much they work remotely can depend on their job, their company and their boss.

Yet, no matter how much an employee works from home, there is always the dilemma of how to set boundaries so that work doesn't encroach on family time and vice versa.

If you're going to work from home and need some parameters:

1. Stick to a schedule. Some days this won't be possible -- a kid gets sick or the Internet at your house goes on hiatus. But as much as possible, set a schedule just like you did at work: you have a specific start time, a lunch break and end your day at a certain time. This can be tough at first since you don't really have a bus to catch at a certain time in order to get home, for example. But set these times in your mind, and even ask a family member or friend to hold you accountable in the beginning.

2. Dress the part. No one is saying that you have to dress in a suit to work from home, but if that puts you in the right mindset, go ahead. Do change out of your pajamas and take care of your daily hygiene before starting work -- this has the ability to click your brain over into "work" mode. 

3. Communicate on all channels. Make sure your schedule is clearly posted for everyone at work to see: your scheduled meetings; when you plan to be at the gym or taking a kid to school; and when you plan to quit for the day. You need to post this where everyone can see it such as on a company online calendar, on Slack, etc. If your routine schedule changes, then send additional emails or leave voice mails to alert everyone to the alterations.

4. Be dependable. If you set a schedule, stick to it. Nothing is more frustrating to colleagues or bosses than not getting a response when you're supposed to be available. This doesn't mean you have to respond within 10 minutes to their inquiries, but it does mean that you can't be out-of-pocket for hours with no explanation. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Why You Need to Let Your Top Performer Go


As a manager, would you let your top performer go to another department without a fight? Probably not. Most managers aren't going to let their best employee waltz off to work for another manager.

But this "talent hoarding" is exactly what low-performing, non-agile, slow-to-change companies do, writes Kevin Oakes in Harvard Business Review.

This practice of hoarding superstars is natural, of course. Oakes, the CEO of the Institute for Corporate Productivity, says that research shows half of companies (and 74% of low performers) say that managers are often the No. 1 impediment to encouraging mobility of top performers.

It make sense, of course. Losing top performers can certainly adversely impact a department's performance -- and can then hurt a manager's ability to rise in the ranks. 

If companies want to become more agile and innovative -- and better able to deal with unprecedented events like a pandemic -- then they've got to change their thinking and how they move personnel. At the same time, managers have got to quit hoarding their top talent or risk these people leaving anyway because they are looking for more challenges and opportunities.

Oakes says that the best ways to ensure that top talent is used in a way that helps their own career and the company:

1. Don't hide the talent. Call out the contributions these people bring to other departments, and reward managers for sharing them with others. Managers who help their people succeed and move around within a company become "talent magnets" and attract others who want to have a manager than helps with career development.

2. Celebrate lateral moves. Organizations need to make clear that lateral moves are just as valuable as upward trajectories to a career. When employees feel "stuck" and don't have as many options, lateral moves can be a way to continue to grow their talents and value to the organization. Move all employees laterally from time-to-time to avoid "insider verses outsider feelings," he says.

3. Normalize change. If there's one thing that the pandemic has shown workers, it's that change happens to every workplace. If a company culture normalizes change and treats it as a chance for opportunity, then employees will be less stressed and afraid of it. Mobility for workers within a company will be seen simply as part of a healthy business culture and something that makes a company stronger.

Monday, September 6, 2021

What New Managers Must Know to Succeed

Sometimes new bosses are groomed for the role within the company or during their time with another employer. They receive advice and training and are even mentored by more experienced managers. They learn what works and what doesn't.

But other times, new bosses get thrown into the deep end with little training and little support. That's when problems occur, because if they're given little support in the beginning, you can bet they aren't going to get much support as they go along in their jobs. Sometimes these managers find their own footing and everything works out. But many other times, they end up miserable and so does their team.

That's been amplified during the pandemic. Managers who struggled before remote work options have also struggled -- sometimes even more --  during the shutdown because they don't have good management skills necessary to navigate these tough times.

Rachel Pacheco, author of "Bring Up the Boss," says that one of the best ways for managers to learn is to have great role models. That usually happens when they can watch a more experienced manager in action. That means more seasoned bosses need to take the time to help new managers learn complex skills like how to motivate workers, how to give feedback, how to have difficult conversations and how to set fair compensation.

Pacheco, who is also an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, says that it's also critical that new managers understand that just being a great engineer, for example, won't make them a great manager. The skills they used to rise through the ranks aren't necessarily the ones that will make them good bosses.

One of the key lessons she says new managers need to learn is about communicating as much as possible. Communicate important messages or complex ideas repeatedly and in different ways -- through email, texts, personal conversations or Zoom calls, she advises.

Never believe that you've communicated enough, she says. Always keep honing your message and making sure everyone gets it, she says.


Monday, August 30, 2021

Please Stop Using This Jargon


It's often the little things that get on our last nerve at work. The guy who heats up his stinky lunch in the office microwave. The boss who sends emails after 5 p.m. on Friday.

But according to a new study, one of the most annoying things is business jargon. According to MyPerfectResume, the most annoying jargon is:

"Giving" -- 59 percent

"I'll ping you" -- 59 percent

"Think outside the box" -- 56 percent

"Low-hanging fruit" -- 54 percent

"Reinvent the wheel" -- 53 percent

"Synergy" -- 52 percent

"Take it to the next level" -- 50 percent

"Blue sky thinking" -- 49 percent

"Bring to the table" -- 49 percent

"Touch base" -- 49 percent

"Move the needle" -- 48 percent

"Kudos" -- 47 percent

"Circle back" -- 47 percent

"Take ownership" -- 47 percent

"Raise the bar" -- 46 percent

"Win-win" -- 46 percent

"Core competency" -- 45 percent

"Empower" -- 43 percent

"Strategic partnership" -- 42 percent

"Take offline: -- 42 percent

So, if you don't want to further annoy a boss, co-worker or customer, try to use such words sparingly. If not, they may not want to circle back with you to form a strategic partnership, will not be pinging you, won't want you to move the needle and it certainly won't be a win-win.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Working Moms Should Feel Good About Their Choices

Being a working mother is no cakewalk. The multitasking and juggling required to raise children — with or without a partner — while also maintaining a career can be daunting at times. But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects for some women is their guilt when others criticize them for working instead of devoting themselves full-time to their children.

That criticism even comes from other women, who may hint that a nanny is the "real parent" or that moms should be at home while their children are young.

However, working moms may feel better about their choices when looking at Harvard Business School and Mount Holyoke College research, which shows that when women work, their daughters are likely to have jobs, hold supervisory duties, and earn bigger paychecks than those whose moms stayed at home.

In addition, the sons of working moms are more likely to become men that pitch in with household chores and help with caring for family members.

Courtney Henderson, 37, of Auburn, Alabama, says that when she was growing up, her father's paycheck could support the family, but her mother chose to work. Her mother worked (read more here)

Monday, August 16, 2021

3 Ways to Tailor Your Resume for an Employer

If you're not tailoring your resume to a specific job, it could be why you're not getting any responses to your application.

It's long been said that hiring managers don't spend more than seconds looking at a resume, and if they don't see details that match their needs, they move on.

But how do you tailor a resume for a specific job?

Here are some things to consider:

1. Use keywords. These are often the qualifications listed in a job posting, such as a "team player," or "proficient in Excel." Since many companies now use applicant tracking software (ATS) to initially screen resumes, leaving out these terms could get your resume eliminated by a computer. Also remember that hiring managers are much more likely to be receptive to your resume when you're using language that is familiar to them -- such as the qualifications posted in the job ad.

2. Show your knowledge of the company's culture. If you know, for example, that the company is pushing sustainability efforts or dedication to the arts, try to include skills or experience that highlight your own abilities in this area. You might include community volunteer efforts to clean up waterways or that you teach an art class to inner-city youth on the weekends. Most companies post about their culture through their websites or their online social media feeds.

3. Tap your network. It makes much more sense to find a connection to an employer through your network than just hitting "send" and hoping your resume gets seen by someone at the company. Look at your LinkedIn connections and type in the company's name -- does anyone pop up? Maybe someone's brother-in-law works at the company or a former classmate now works there or knows someone who does? Mine Facebook and Twitter to see if you've got any connections.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Tips for Preparing for a Job Interview

The worst mistake you can make in a job interview is trying to "wing it." Whatever you do, don't walk into the room unprepared. No matter your level of experience or the skills you possess, interviewing well requires preparation and practice, and those who are willing to do the work are much more likely to receive a job offer.

While there is no "best" way to handle interview preparation, we can distill our advice into two core ways to get into the interview mindset (read more here)