Monday, May 23, 2022

What To Do If You're Insulted at Work


As many workers head back into the office, there will be some good times -- seeing likeable colleagues in person, going out to lunch with a work friend and even getting out of the house for a change.

But there are bound to be bad days. The commute is too long and someone in the office is microwaving fish sticks. And -- here's something no one misses -- you are the target of a barbed comment.

It may be a subtle insult such as "Oh, it's nice to see you gain! You never used video on Zoom calls so I always figured you were watching TV the whole time!" Or, "Now you have to work for real and won't be 'unavailable' because you're napping with your cat!"

These kinds of comments may be said with a sort of "ha, ha, isn't that funny" attitude, but no one wants to be insulted at work.

There are a couple of things you can do:

1. Laugh it off.

2. Say, "What are you accusing me of?" or "Are you insulting me?" or "What did you mean by that?"

3. Calmly say, "I know it's not your intent, but those comments are hurtful and make me feel like you don't value me or what I contribute."

4, Ignore it.

Keep in mind that everyone's "people skills" are going to be a bit rusty as we gather again in person. You may want to give the insulter a "grace period" to regain some manners and behave better. If it continues, however, it may be worth a private conversation with the person to state how the comments make you feel. Remember, however, that such conversations can be difficult and may result in more hard feelings if you are confrontational and not conversational. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Why It's Time to Onboard Your Entire Team

 As workers return to the workplace in dribs and drabs, some feel a bit disoriented.

Gone are the days of working at the kitchen table or taking the dog for a walk in between Zoom calls. Gone are the days of wearing slippers all day or doing the laundry while working.

In addition, many workers claim they've lost that "human" connection, despite working via Zoom or other online channels. Even when they return to the office, people separate into their own spaces and only interact online.

Liz Fosslien has an interesting take on Harvard Business Review: That it's time to "re-onboard" everyone.

Fosslien says that it's important to be more intentional about bringing teams back together. She suggests leaders need to:

1. Make an emotional connection through random 30-minute, one-on-one meetings between members. Start in-person meetings with lighthearted prompts ("What food is underrated?") and let each person talk about a personal highlight for the week.

2. Recognize unique contributions. Encourage people to use the special talents or gifts they have and then share how those talents lead to great ideas.

3. Set short-term goals for immediate success. Let people share successes for attainable 30-day goals. This helps re-establish confidence and motivation.

4. Set clear expectations. How will team members working remotely still have a voice? How will progress be tracked? How will feedback be offered?

5. Celebrate. Offer recognition for those who meet the team values. Let team members recognize one another or win prizes for meeting goals or helping others.

While none of these suggestions are earth-shattering, they are important. That's because many of us feel out of sorts while trying to navigate a return to "normal" and any support from leadership will be critical during this transition.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Is Endless Scrolling Ruining Your Career?

When I first began working from home decades ago, people were envious and said they wanted to do the same. They often asked me for advice, and there were two things I told them:

1. You cannot work with kids underfoot.

2. Be disciplined and set a schedule.

Now with the pandemic, I think a lot of people know that I wasn't kidding. The biggest problem is that while I arranged babysitters and day care for my kids when they were still too young for school, now parents are faced with their kids of all ages being at home more.

So, while I know that it's really difficult to work with kids underfoot, millions of parents are doing it. I take my hat off to them -- they are superhero parents.

As for the second bit of advice I offered, "be disciplined and set a schedule," -- I think is tougher.

A survey finds that  people say "scrolling aimlessly on a device" is the second biggest reason (behind distractions from kids) that takes them away from work the most. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, dating apps, news alerts -- all these are a rabbit hole that you fall into and end up wasting hours of time.

Another big time waster, according to the survey: messaging, video games and job searching.

If you're tired of feeling frazzled, overworked and unorganized, here are some things to try:

1. Log off all social media. Delete them from your phone or your browser.

2.  Get help. Apps like Facebook Nanny and Checky can help you control online habits.

3. Schedule time. Just like in school, you knew recess was coming at a certain time, so you were able to hang in there and complete your math work. Have set times you will check your phone or scroll Instagram. Put on a timer and when time is up, get back to work.

4. Block the noise. If dinging texts and notifications are a problem, simply turn your phone off, use airplane mode or even put the phone in another room. This may be difficult to do if messages are work-related, but your boss may support you checking texts only every couple of hours so that you can stay focused.

I think many of us have picked up bad habits during the pandemic and tell ourselves it's OK. But consider how these bad habits -- such as checking Instagram every minute -- are actually hurting you and very possibly, your career. Are photos of birds with arms really that important? 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Research Shows Why Your LinkedIn Photo Matters

If you're like most people, you have a lot of photos. Photos of you with your bestie. Photos from a fun weekend with your family. Probably even a few work photos from the company picnic.

You probably also have lots of selfies. Perhaps you even posted one of those selfies on your LinkedIn profile.

Did you post a photo that will get your a job -- or get your eliminated from consideration?

According to a recent survey:

  • 71% of recruiters admit they've rejected a candidate at least one because of a LinkedIn profile photo.
  • 87% of recruiters say the consider the professionalism of a profile photo a critical ranking factor.
  • 80% of LinkedIn recruiters believe that profile pictures help them get to know candidates better.
  • 95% believe a LinkedIn profile acts as a business card today.

Here are the keys to an effective LinkedIn photo:

1. Show some charisma. You want people to trust and like you. Smile while thinking of something that makes you feel happy: your dog, walking on the beach, etc. People will be attracted to the warmth they see conveyed in your photo. 

2. Be professional. Photos of you in a swimsuit with a beer, a photo that only shows half your face under a hat or a photo sitting behind the wheel of a car don't say, "I'm ready to work and be professional."

3. Quality. Only  upload well-taken photographs.

4. Show personality. It's OK to have a more "real" photo such as casually sitting or standing in front of a landmark, such as a university statue. This can help establish a connection with the viewer -- and remember to smile!

Monday, March 28, 2022

20 Different Ways to say "Good Job"

If you sometimes feel like a broken record saying "Good job!" to your team, here are some other ways to say the same thing:

1. Exactly right

2. Excellent

3. Exceptional

4. Fabulous

5. Fantastic

6. Sensational

7. Wonderful

8. Outstanding

9. Unbelievable

10. Marvelous

11. Stupendous

12. First class work

13. Amazing

14. Impressive

15. Good thinking

16. Great idea

17. On target

18. Beautiful

19. Perfect

20. Well done

Monday, March 14, 2022

How You Derail Your Own Career

If you've ever had a bad performance review that blindsided you or found yourself excluded from important projects or teams without a clear idea of why, then it might be time to consider that you've sabotaged yourself.

Most people don't knowingly sabotage themselves, but it happens. But it's clear you've done the damage to yourself -- it's not because the boss is an a**hole or because someone has set you up to fail. It's because of how you've behaved, or performed -- or even something you have said -- that pushes you off the road to success.

For example, maybe you failed to work with a new boss in the way he likes to work. Your old boss didn't care when you came into work as long as you got the job done. But the new boss likes you working by 9 a.m. with no excuses. You obviously didn't take that seriously enough, and beginning work at 9:30 a.m. or even 11 a.m. hasn't gone over well.

Or, let's say that you've stepped on a few toes while climbing the ladder. Nothing too awful, but you did have more that a few arguments with team members who you accused of lacking vision or there was that one time you called someone an idiot in front of a customer....

Of course, now those team members aren't standing up for you with the boss, and have even lobbied to have you removed from an important project because you won't "collaborate" and "create a hostile work environment."

See how these issues were created by you? And you will be the one who's career suffers?

If you've gotten feedback that you're difficult to work with, a poor communicator, are too stuck in your ways, etc., then you need to do some work to clean up your act. Better yet, head off these problems before they torpedo your career by going to people who are close to you and who you trust.

"Is there something I am doing that you believe could hurt my success? Please be honest," you ask.

Then, listen. Don't get defensive. Thank them and then get to work making the  improvements you need to keep your career on track.

Monday, February 28, 2022

4 Ways to Better Communicate Complex Information

If you're an expert in your field and are called upon to communicate some complex ideas to an audience that may only understand the basics, it can be a challenge.

If you speak the way you usually do -- say to a teammate or your boss --  you're likely to lose your listeners. Or, if you just throw a lot of statistics at them in an effort to emphasize the importance of your topic, you're likely to lose your listeners.

That may be frustrating for you, which is why you decide to just plow ahead and hope someone gets it.


That will not only lose your listeners, but possibly the good will of your boss.

That's because the boss understands that while the information you share is important, it's also critical that you communicate it so that everyone gets it. Everyone. Not just people in your department.

Here are some ways to communicate complex information:

1. Don't assume anything. Just because you know all about XYZ -- and have for a long time -- doesn't mean anyone else does. So, that means you need to weed out unnecessary information, cut the jargon and break it down to the basics: who, what, when, where, how and why. 

2. Don't use data overload.  While you may have loads of data, that doesn't mean your audience will find it useful. You need to be able to explain your subject without the data first. Why should anyone care about your information? How will it impact them or the company? Can you provide an everyday example of what you're telling them?

3. Focus on your audience. What do they need to hear? What do they need to learn? Use that as your starting point -- don't focus on what you need to say but rather think about the needs of your audience.

4. Use visuals. PowerPoints are not supposed to just be a copy of your presentation. Use visuals to convey a feeling or reveal a few surprising facts or statistics in a bulleted format (this prevents you from data dumping). 

It's not easy to convey complex information in a way that anyone can understand. But with some planning and practice, your presentation can not only be informative, but help your career by showing you as a great communicator.