Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What do Do If You Love Your Job But Hate Your Boss

When you love your job, but hate your boss, it can be tough. While you may look forward to doing your job every day, the thought of dealing with your boss is enough to make your morning latte curdle in your stomach.

It's often said that people don't leave jobs -- they leave bosses. That's certainly true when the the boss is an idiot, a jerk and a moron.

But what if you don't want to leave because you like the work, your colleagues -- even the customers? Can you stick it out?

Speaking from personal experience, it's not easy. If the boss is determined to make your life miserable, he or she will succeed to some degree. If the boss is just going through a rough patch (a divorce, for example), you might be able to stay in your job in the hopes things will get better (they often do).

First, know that you're not alone in your dilemma. Lots of people struggle with this issue.

Second, there are some things you can do to make a better evaluation of your situation and get a clearer idea of your options -- and help yourself feel better. You should:

  • Write down the pros and cons. Research has shown that writing things down helps you gain clarity. Write down the good, bad and just plain ugly parts of your job and the impact the boss has on all those issues.
  • Dissect the boss. OK, I do not mean this literally. But I do think you need to think about him or her objectively, such as assessing strengths and weaknesses. Are you learning anything from this boss? Does she give you new opportunities or at least get out of the way when necessary? Does he or she have the kinds of contacts that will be valuable for you to tap into? Is she known for helping team members get ahead?
  • Get some perspective. Don't fall into the trap of holding a gripe fest every night after work with other people who hate your boss. Try connecting with others who have worked with him or her in some capacity, such as someone from another department or even another company. Don't air your gripes, but find ways to get them to talk about their experience with the boss. It could be you'll gain some kind of insight that will help you better work with your boss, or help you understand some of his motives.
  • Be more observant. When you don't like your boss, every little thing he does gets on your last nerve. But instead of going ballistic when he sends you a curt email, try to observe his interactions with others. Does he seem to relax or communicate more freely with some people? Does he seem to warm up to others when they ask about his kids? Do they talk about sports, gardening or travel in a way that the boss seems to enjoy? These are clues that you can integrate some of these things into your conversations with the boss and possibly help your relationship improve. Remember, we're all more comfortable being around others who are like us, so the more you can make the boss comfortable with subjects he enjoys, the better it will be for you.
  • Improve your communications. I was once on a radio show and a caller phoned in to complain that his boss was a pain because she wouldn't communicate with him. I asked the caller: "How best does your boss like to communicate? Through email or in person? Is she an introvert or an extrovert?" The caller said he had no clue. If you also don't know, now is the time to figure it out. Often, the biggest friction in any workplace situation surrounds communication . If you don't know how your boss best likes to communicate, find out. Taking responsibility for better understanding the boss could really pay off in improved relations.
  • Follow the Golden Rule. I'm always surprised by how workers don't seem to think of the boss as a real person. They all go out for lunch -- and never invite her along. They ask "How was your weekend?" of co-workers -- but never ask the boss. They don't even say "Good morning" unless the boss speaks first. Sometimes you're so busy disliking your boss and being unfriendly or unkind to her that you end up making yourself more and more unhappy. Follow the Golden Rule and you might just find that you and your boss begin to get along.
Finally, if you've really made an effort to get along better with your boss but you're still miserable, it may be time to move on. Only you can judge whether a job is worth putting up with a bad boss. Just remember that when you're interviewing for new positions, don't make the mistake of working for the same kind of manager. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Gretchen Rubin: How to Make Teams Better Than Ever

If you want your team be happier and more productive, help them develop the individual habits that are right for them and you will reap the rewards of a better team.
Do you have team members that drive you crazy?
Perhaps one employee hates rules and fights any kind of oversight. Another worker seems to get upset when not given lots of deadlines and structure. In frustration, you decide everyone will just do as you say – with no whining. The result: unhappy teams who become less productive over time.
“It’s very difficult to understand how people might be different from ourselves,” says Gretchen Rubin, a bestselling author who writes about happiness. “If I’m a manager and I work a certain way, then it makes sense to me that things should be done that way. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to others who do not work that way.”
So while managers may want team members to adopt better work habits and drop others that are seen as less desirable, it’s not something that can be accomplished merely by issuing a memo or adopting new software.
“The fact is, no one-size-fits-all solution exists,” Rubin says.
In her book, “Better Than Before,” Rubin explains that before individuals can adopt new habits to improve their work performance, they must first understand how they respond to expectations. Once they do that, then workers can better understand how to embrace habits that will be most beneficial.
Rubin says that her research shows that people fall into these four groups:
1. Upholders. These people respond readily to both inner expectations (such as New Year’s resolutions) and outer expectations (such as meeting work deadlines). These types wake up each morning and think: “What’s on the schedule and the to-do list for today?” They avoid making mistakes or letting (read more here)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Why You Should Work for a "Bad" Boss

Everyone wants a "good" boss. This is the manager is who nice, let's you take off when you need and doesn't yell at you.

But a "good" boss doesn't always help your career. In fact, the boss that some would classify as "bad" because he or she is demanding, calls you out when you screw up and isn't always nice may be better for you in the long run.

First, let me state that no one should work with a boss who is abusive, either emotionally, mentally or physically.

But I do think that workers sometimes get so wrapped up in finding the nice boss they really make a mistake in working for him or her.

The best kind of bosses:

  • Challenge you. They aren't willing to let you just follow your job description. They expect you to reach for new goals.
  • Make you feel uncomfortable. They don't let you rest on your laurels -- they push you to learn new things constantly and push you outside of your comfort zone. They require you to make key decisions and then see them through.
  • Don't offer a lot of compliments. If you're getting  "good job!" every time you load new paper into the copier, then you're going to become blase about words of recognition. You want someone who has high standards and expects you to meet or exceed them before offering words of praise.
  • Hold you accountable. There's no fudging deadlines without a darn good reason, and if you screw up, you better have a good reason and a way to make it right.
  • Force you to delegate. If you want to rise in the ranks, you've got to focus on the right skills and experience -- and that means learning to delegate tasks that can be done by someone else.
No one wants to work for an a**hole boss, but there's a difference between that kind of jerk and bosses who challenge you, who sometimes frustrate you -- but are always there to help you to grow in your career.

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Words That Limit Your Career Success

There's a lot of things that challenge me in life and in my work.

I cannot flip a pancake without making a mess. I get lost in new places -- even with a map. I find it difficult to focus on work when I know the St. Louis Cardinals are playing.

That's why it would be easy for me to say: I'm not a good cook. I panic in new places. I can't focus on work.

Those are pretty drastic statements when you think about it. With more practice, I can get better at flipping pancakes. I can find my way around a new place by asking for help or studying a map before heading out to a new place. I can set my DVR to watch the game later, after I've finished my work.

All easy solutions, right?

But I cannot count the number of times I've heard someone say, "I'm not good at that."

With those handful of words, you've just told your boss you're not willing to learn. You've let others know that even you believe you are incompetent, and not someone on whom they can depend.

Whether it's learning new technology, communicating better or volunteering for a difficult project, you cannot put limits on yourself.

Once you do, then you've told others it's OK to put limits on you, too.

So, eliminate "I'm not good at" statements from your life.  Instead, learn to say, "It's something I'd like to learn," or "I'm working on getting better at it."

You might be surprised at how easy it is to achieve new goals in your career once you see challenges as opportunities -- not signs of your ineptness. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

CEO Says It's Important to Be Paranoid

Ever heard of Kronites?
Your first guess might be that they’re part of the new Star Wars movie. But if you’re dealing with employee management on a regular basis, you might know the right answer: Kronites are the people who keep Kronos, a worldwide workforce management cloud solution company, running.
At the helm of Kronos is Aron Ain, the CEO of the $1 billion enterprise that has tripled its profitability since 2005 and has 20 million to 35 million users every day. It has moved from zero cloud customers in 2005 to some 16,000 customers in 2015.
While it certainly sounds impressive, Ain says he keeps it in perspective by reminding himself that “we’re not working in the ER (emergency room).”
That’s a lesson he says he learned in his early days as CEO.
“Since I’d always reported to someone else, early on I looked for permission too often before moving forward with a decision. The lightbulb went off when I understood that there was no one to ask and that the decision lies with me to act and move the company forward,” he says. “None of the decisions were life or death.”
That doesn’t mean that Ain and his Kronites aren’t pushing the envelope. With customers in more than 100 countries, the company knows the competition is growing and it can’t afford to rest on its laurels.
For Ain, who has worked in nearly every functional department since he started in 1979, the toughest challenge comes “when it’s clear that something isn’t working,” he says.
He says that he’s learned that as a leader he must identify issues or programs “falling off the track fast” and then quickly rectify the problem.” You have to lead and take action as most problems do not work themselves out. Not doing something puts the company, its customers, and employees at risk, so as a CEO you have to be action-oriented. There’s really no other way,” he says.
Another key part of his job is making sure he’s got the right people in place who believe in the company and its mission, especially when it comes to driving change.
“You have to communicate in an open, clear, and transparent manner. Team members can tell when you are being straight with them,” he says, while admitting that it isn’t always easy to get everyone to adopt such transparency.
“It takes lots of reinforcement, leading by example, and encouraging the behaviors that support this kind of environment. When you get this right, the outcomes are magical and almost any challenge can be solved,” he says. “I love it when I see a leader (read more here)

Monday, January 25, 2016

6 Steps for Getting an Internship

When it's cold and miserable outside  and there are 80% off sales on Christmas decorations, it's often difficult to think about spring, let alone summer.

But if you want a summer internship this year, you need to get busy -- right now.

Companies often get the bulk of applications between February and April, so there is no time to waste if you want a chance to land an internship.

Here's what you need to do:

1. Do your homework. Research employers and industries that interest you. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people with jobs you would love to have -- then look at the internships or jobs they've held. This will help you make a list of the skills, industries and companies that you believe will be a good fit. Otherwise, you'll be overwhelmed with the process and end up applying with less and less enthusiasm -- and employers can detect that a mile away.

2. Tap into available resources. There is no sense reinventing the wheel when your school's career center has counselors and information to help you fill out applications and provide advice. Don't pass up the opportunity to also tap into the school's alumni network.

3. Reinvent the wheel. OK, this may be confusing based on what I wrote above. But, those who show initiative and resourcefulness often will succeed. I know several college students who have stopped by a company and personally handed in their resumes or even cold called the internship coordinator. The result was that the coordinators saw potential, and rather than wade through hundreds of applications, they made the easy decision to hire the person who had the chutzpah to make a personal connection.

4. Be persistent. Let me clarify: Be persistent, not obnoxious. Don't call the recruiter every day and ask, "Have you made a decision yet?" But, you can contact the recruiter once a week with a message such as, "I just saw this amazing article on industry trends and thought you might find it interesting." That way, you distinguish yourself as someone who is thinking more about the company and the industry rather than the next kegger. You also can send updates (that are relevant) to the recruiter, such as writing an article for a campus journal on a subject of interest.

5. Prepare. Once you land an internship interview, it's time to do even more homework.  Read the company's website, learning the names of executives and key information. Learn the company's mission statement so you can use similar language with your interviewer. Then, prepare questions for the interviewer -- never sit there mutely or only ask about days off.

6. Follow up. After the interview, send a note thanking the interviewer for his or her time. Mention how you're enthusiastic about the job and look forward to the opportunity.

Remember that applying for an internship and going through the process is never a waste of time, even if you don't get it. All these steps will be important in your job search, and the more practice you have, the better you will do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Is Your Phone Hurting Your Career?

Are you being held hostage by your phone? Is it preventing you from being successful in your career?

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review notes research findings that say Millennials become anxious when not around their smartphones. Personal experience tells me they're not alone -- I recently went on a cruise and people of all ages were having trouble being disconnected while at sea.

Why the anxiety?
"In my personal experience, mindlessly relying on my phone and computer has been a useful, albeit insidious, way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings," writes Charlotte Liebermana New York-based writer and editor in the HBR article.

I think she's onto something, and I want to explore this further as it relates to careers.

In my job as a journalist, I get to interview a lot of people about a variety of career and workplace issues, and one issue that keeps popping up is the lack of one-on-one connections. It's this lack of personal communications that prevents people from rising in the ranks, creating loyal, professional connections and even from landing big clients.

I know that phones are helpful for a variety of workplace issues, but let's look at when you need to avoid them on the job:

  • When you're unhappy. If you're having difficulty getting along with a colleague or you get nervous around the boss, don't reach for your phone as a way to erect a barrier. Think about what's really going wrong. If your colleague is taking all the credit for a project you helped to build, then that's something that you need to address face-to-face. If your boss makes you nervous, don't hide behind your phone to avoid talking with him or her. The only way that situation is going to improve is by working on your communication skills.
  • When you're talking to a client. Never have your phone in your hand or on your desk when you're with a client. You should only be looking at your phone if you need to schedule something with the client or look up information. Anytime you have a phone nearby, you're telling the client: "You're not important enough for me to abandon my phone and give you my full attention."
  • When you're bored. Don't rely on your phone to entertain you. If you're bored, use it as a time to think more deeply about work, come up with new ideas or help out on a project. Use the time to connect with others at work in a more meaningful way.
  • When you're procrastinating. Phones are a great way to avoid doing something you don't want to do. If you're using your phone to check the weather in Malibu, rant on Facebook or download a podcast on how to make your own wine, then you're using it as a crutch to avoid work. 

Think of it this way: A smartphone is fun and useful, but it's also expensive. How are you going to pay for it if you lose your job? Next time you want to reach for your phone at work -- don't. Give yourself five minutes to think about why you want that phone, and whether your career could benefit from leaving it alone.