Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Don't Reveal Too Many Personal Details in Interview

I'm battling a virus today and am going to take my own advice and go back to bed instead of trying to work. With that in mind, here's a column I wrote earlier and feel like it's worth repeating....

I've heard many horror stories over the years about job interviews gone wrong.

Many times the mistakes are made by interviewees because they didn't prepare. It wasn't a matter of what they didn't say -- but rather what they did say. It was often a case of TMI.

Interviews can be emotional -- you're often excited and nervous -- and that can lead to things slipping out of your mouth that you later will regret.

For example, I've heard about interviewees who said things like:

  • "My boss says I'm about a subtle as a freight train."
  •  "I like just wandering around at work and shooting the breeze -- I find it's a great way to get to know people."
  • "My No. 1 interest is fantasy football. I'm addicted."
  • "I don't get along with my family. In fact, the less I have to do with them, the better."
  • "I'm somebody who needs a lot of stroking -- criticism really depresses me."
While you may think such people are clueless, it's not unusual for even really bright people to reveal too many personal details in an interview -- or phrase something so badly they look like idiots. This can often happen at the end of an interview because you feel such a sense of relief that the "formal" interview is over that you relax and don't watch your words as carefully.

That's why it's so important to understand that you need to set boundaries for yourself before an interview. The hiring manager's job is to make you so comfortable that you let your guard down and reveal things about yourself that you might not otherwise.

Before an interview, remind yourself that you should not talk about intimate details of your personal life, disagreements with colleagues or bosses or any insecurities. Think about how you can best answer questions regarding your work style so that it comes across as professional -- not needy, immature or silly.

It's great when you have a nice rapport with an interviewer, but just remember that it can have a downside if you start revealing unflattering information to your new BFF. Draw your boundaries beforehand and stick to them.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why Your Boss is Afraid of New Technology -- and What to Do About It

You know you may have an issue persuading senior leadership to embrace new technology when half of them still use a flip phone and the other half still have their assistants print out emails.
It’s not unusual to have some leaders be wary of new technology, but their level of resistance may undermine your efforts to be more innovative – or your company’s ability to compete.
How do you convince senior leaders that new technology isn’t reserved for the latest Star Trek movie and that using it can deliver better results?
First, you need to understand that the resistance by these leaders may be grounded in insecurity. Vineet Nayar, the former CEO of HCL Technologies and chairman and CEO of Sampark Foundation, explains that it’s important to understand the source of his or her insecurity.
“Make sure you aren’t feeding your boss’s insecurity by acting too aggressively,” he says. “If you approach him or her collaboratively, you might just get better results.”
Your direct supervisor may be able to help you get a meeting with a senior leader, giving you a chance to provide an easy explanation of what the technology can do. While the senior boss may not (read more here)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Here's How to Kill Negativity at Work

While looking at the social media comments as 2017 came to a close, I was struck by how many people were glad to see the end of the year. They lamented the negativity, the divisiveness and the general unhappiness that seemed to infect the country.
That negativity also has shown up in the workplace. Many people feel like they need to slap on headphones and stay huddled around their computer all day to avoid unpleasant discussions over world issues.
But I think when that happens you just become sadder and even more isolated. That's why I think it's important to be more proactive and have a strategy in place to deal with negativity at work. 
  • Look for positive people. Just as some people seem to wallow in their misery, there are others who seem to always have a positive, upbeat attitude. When you ask them how they are, they respond with "Great!" Make sure you interact in some way with these people as often as you can, especially if you've had a negative experience with the office Debbie Downer.
  • Listen to yourself. If you find yourself constantly complaining about politics or even the traffic, break free of that cycle by finding more positive things to talk about. Think about the positive interaction you had with a customer, or the funny joke your bus driver shared.
  • Handle social networking carefully. While chatting with friends online can be fun and make you feel better, the same cannot be said when you get into snarky interactions with strangers, Don't spend your time getting angry at people you don't even know, or feeling sad when people make hateful comments. Move on.
  • Help others. So many companies these days contribute to their communities by helping at food banks or organizing blood drives. Get involved or ask to organize an event to support a cause to help others. Putting positive energy into worthwhile activities can help reduce the impact of workplace negativity.

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to Get a New Boss to Like You

The new year is often a time when many people make changes, and that may include your boss. One day she's your boss -- you understand all her quirky habits and she understands yours -- and the next day she announces she's leaving for a new job.
That means a new boss is about to upend your world and you don't know what to expect. How will the new boss know that you've always worked hard to be a team player? Will she accept your snow globe collection or make you get rid of it? Is it possible that she'll ignore your abilities and favor your vile cubicle mate?
You can't predict what will happen with a new boss, but you do need to understand it's time to hit the reset button. She doesn't care what you did before. What matters to the new boss is what relationship you have with her and how you're going to contribute to her success and that of the team. 
Here are some do's and dont's when it comes to a new boss:
1. Don't show up in her office the first day listing your accomplishments for the last five years. It's much better to spend your initial conversations with her to talking about all the things you've learned in the last year. That way, what you've done still seems valuable and makes you look like someone who continues to grow in the position.
2. Do be pleasant. You don't have to gush all over the new boss, but also don't seem snippy or resentful of her presence. Be friendly and approachable. Make her feel like a valued new member of the team.
3. Do determine her work style. Ask her whether she'd rather receive texts, emails, phone calls or personal updates. Many new relationships get off on the wrong foot simply because of poor communication.
4. Do listen to what she says -- but also be observant. A new boss may say she wants to be informed weekly of your progress, but you can tell she gets stressed when she doesn't have an update more often. Be flexible and ready to deliver what seems to make the boss happiest.
5. Do get to know her, but don't be creepy. While it's important to spend time talking to your boss to get to know her, it's also a good idea to check out her LinkedIn profile or other professional information. Stay away from trying to get personal information about her online -- there's always the chance she will find out and that may not sit well with her.
6. Offer help. New bosses are trying to learn the ropes, just like any new employee. So, if you can show her a shortcut on a software program, do so. Or, you can offer some background on an important client. Remember: a boss's success is your success. If anyone is going to fail in this new relationship, it's likely that you will fail first.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Research Shows Why Your Smartphone is Hurting Your Career

If you want to be a better leader this year, put your phone down.

A new study from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business finds that bosses who can't tear themselves away from their phone long enough to pay attention to their employees (called "phubbing"), erode trust.

Specifically, the study of 413 supervisors and employees finds:

  • 76% of those surveyed showed a lack of trust in a supervisor who phubbed them.
  • 75% showed decreases in psychological meaningfulness, psychological availability and psychological safety.
  • The lack of trust and decreases in those key areas led to a 5% decrease in employee engagement.
"Phubbing is a harmful behavior. It undermines any corporate culture based on respect for others. Thus, it is crucial that corporations create a culture embodied by care for one another," says James Roberts, a Baylor professor of marketing and author of a book on phone addiction.

Researchers say that in order to cut down on phubbing and improve a company culture, companies need to:

1. Make it OK not to respond immediately to texts or emails. When meeting with team members, bosses should give them undivided attention.

2. Let employees rate bosses. Team members need to be able to give their opinions on whether the boss is attentive when needed -- and have those ratings tied to the boss's performance evaluation.

3. Provide training. Giving up phubbing won't be easy, and bosses may need some training in better face-to-face communications and how to give up a smartphone addiction.

4. Put it in writing. Smartphone use rules need to be set clearly, as well as the consequences for violating them.

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Resolutions That Could Change Your Career

A lot of people don't like resolutions for the new year because they think it will make them feel like a failure if they don't achieve every item on their list for 2018.

I've always liked resolutions. I like them so much, in fact, that I often make them in July. Or October.

I look at resolutions as my marching orders. I think about what I want to stop doing (driving so aggressively my family is afraid to get in the car with me) or what I want to start doing (being kinder, listening more, keeping houseplants alive).

Resolutions are important because they are promises to yourself. Only you have to know about them -- don't worry about sharing them on Facebook or revealing them at book club. Instead, think of them as a way to focus on what's important to you. If you don't achieve all (or any) of them, so what? You can try again later or decide that cleaning out every closet by the end of the month isn't a good use of your time.

Since I focus on careers and the workplace in this blog, I'm going to offer some ideas for career resolutions in 2018. If you don't want to start them until March, that's OK. If you only want to do a few of them, that's OK. Or, if you'd rather write your own list, that's fine. Just think about these career promises that are aimed at making you more successful -- and hopefully, much happier.

Some resolutions to consider:

1. You will stop being toxic. You will quit whining about everything you don't like about your boss, your job and your team members. If you're miserable, get your resume together or ask to train in another department. Stop shoveling your toxic thoughts onto other people -- if you're unhappy in your career, then it's your job to fix it.

2. Pick your head up. I was talking to a physical therapist the other day, and he says he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients with chronic neck and shoulder pain that results from hunching over cell phones and computers. Try putting down your phone and getting out from behind your computer to speak face-to-face to another human being. When you've got your head up, you're much more likely to see the possibilities in front of you.

3. Invest in yourself. Many employees these days say they want more career development opportunities from their employers. While some employers do offer such chances, not all of them do -- or follow through when they say they will. Don't wait on someone else to make you smarter, more valuable, more engaged or more creative. Look into local opportunities to attend business classes -- or even take an art class. Check out online learning or attend a coding bootcamp.

4. Make diverse connections. If you're in marketing, you probably have a ton of marketing LinkedIn connections. But do you have a connection from marine biology? Or public policy? The point is to try and expand your horizons, because only then will you have a wider view that will broaden your opportunities and chances for success.

5. Give thanks more often. Sometimes we get so focused on what we want to achieve or what we don't have that we forget to simply be still and give thanks for what we do have. When you approach your resolutions with an attitude of gratefulness, you will find that your list is a gift to yourself, not a burden.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How to Be Truly Innovative

Have you ever considered why you need water to mop a floor?
If so, you may have thought that the water doesn’t really help clean the floor – it just turns the dirt into mud. Mud that then must be cleaned from the mop.
That’s exactly what a small research design team realized when Proctor and Gamble directed them to explore how, when and why people mop their kitchen floors.
Not only did mopping floors with water mean more time was actually spent cleaning the mop than cleaning the floor – but better mops required even more mud cleaning from the implement.
That’s when the research team questioned P&G engineers: Isn’t there something better to clean up the dirt? Their answer: dry cleaning cloths that use electrostatic forces to pick up dust – no water necessary.
The Swiffer was born. The disposable pads and the tool to hold them have made the company billions of dollars.
“It was solving the right problem – a problem that P&G didn’t even know existed,” says Thomas Lockwood, who has a PhD in design management. The Swiffer development is one of the stories he explores with Edgar Pike in “Innovation By Design: How Any Organization Can Leverage Design Thinking to Produce Change, Drive New Ideas and Deliver Meaningful Solutions.
Solving the right problem, Lockwood explains, is the first tenet to design thinking. So is a deep understanding of the user through observation (read more here)