Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Jerks Still Get Ahead

The rise of the #metoo movement in the last year and more attention to inequalities in the workplace has prompted a lot of discussions inside and outside of the workplace.

David Mayer, a professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business, says that women aren't the only ones who can be treated unfairly on the job -- nice guys don't always finish first.

"Some research shows that when men are more agreeable and nice, they earn 18 percent less over their lifetime than men who are more dominant," he says.

Still, he cautions this isn't a "woe is me" moment for men, because they're still more likely to be in leadership positions and make more money on average that women. It's more a matter of nice guys displaying some of the stereotypical characteristics such as compassion, humility, kindness and being more relationship-oriented.

This is an interesting development as I've written many stories over the last couple of years that more companies are hiring and promoting for emotional intelligence, which is just such characteristics. Companies are finding that without emotional intelligence, there is less collaboration, teamwork and creativity -- and that hits the bottom line.

If companies really want to develop emotional intelligence within their ranks, then they're going to have to do more to reward those who have it, such as women and nice guys.

Mayer says that when he asked his students about whether they've worked at places where it's OK to act like a jerk and still get promoted, about 80 percent said that had been their experience.

"I think it's something we can change as we look into the future," he says.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Why Job Shadowing Can Give You an Advantage

Job shadowing might sound a little creepy—does it mean you’re skulking around a workplace, spying on people?
Well, part of that is correct—you will be in a workplace and there will be people. But far from skulking or spying, you’re given a front-row seat to how work gets done. Whether it’s in an architecture firm, at a high-tech startup, or at an auto body repair shop, experienced workers let you watch how they do their jobs. You’re given a chance to ask job shadowing questions, observe a “day in the life of,” and just absorb and reflect on whether the environment and the workers are something that appeal to you.
Some job shadowers will come away (read more here)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How to Respond to a Demotion

Have you ever been demoted?

If so, you're not alone. A survey finds that 46 percent of human resource managers say their company has demoted an employee. Most of those demotions hit male professionals and those ages 18 to 34.

If you think about it, the first thing you would want to do after being demoted is deliver a significant hand gesture to your boss and walk out the door, possibly kicking a nearby trash can for good measure. Or, go into a massive sulk and do only the bare minimum required to still collect a paycheck.

The survey supports this: For those who are demoted, 52 percent quit while 47 percent become disengaged.

Such reactions won't surprise an employer. First, they may have demoted you in an effort to get you to quit. Second, they demoted you and are paper-trailing you so that they can fire you in the near future as your performance deteriorates.

But what if you don't quit? What if you turn the tables and actually get better at your job? If you take that course of action, then you've taken control of your career instead of letting a demotion derail it.

It won't be easy. You're going to be pissed, frustrated, depressed and demoralized by the demotion. The demotion may not even be the result of poor performance, but have to do with internal politics or restructuring.

Whatever you're feeling and whatever the reason you were demoted, you have to be smart about it and understand that if you decide to leave, it's going to be much easier to find another job if you depart on good terms. That means you've got to prove you're of value. How? By turning in work where you show proven value and results.

When you've been demoted, it's going to be more important than ever that you:

  • Suck it up. Don't let them see you sweat or cry. All they should see written on your face is steely resolve and determination.
  • Get specifics. Make sure you're 100 percent clear on the performance issues that got you demoted and what your boss believes you need to do to correct them. 
  • Craft a battle plan. Make no mistake: You're going to have to fight to regain ground and get your career back on track. Write out what you need to accomplish in the next week and coming months.
  • Communicate in writing. Let the boss know what you're doing to improve. Daily email reports can provide a way for you to prove you're making changes. You can also give these reports in person, but written evidence will help the boss clearly see the steady progress you're making.
  • Add value. Craft a plan to cut customer turnover, make a process more efficient or improve safety. This is a move designed to make you more valuable to your current employer -- but also beef up your resume so that if you decide to leave you can demonstrate your worth.
Being demoted is no fun. But there's no reason to let it define you. Once it happens, you cannot change it but you can use it to spur new actions that will help you with your current employer -- or propel you into a job that is a better fit.

Monday, December 3, 2018

3 Ways the Office Party Can Help Your Career

Whether it's an office potluck or a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, most workplaces have some type of holiday gathering.

You may look forward to these events as you sneak extra cookies into your pocket -- or you may dread them and plan to fake a case of malaria to get out of it. (Bad idea. Don't skip the event as no one ever believes such excuses).

While I hope you enjoy your party, you need to always remember that whether you do or not, it's still a work event. That means that if you wouldn't dance on the table during a regular work meeting, then you shouldn't do it at an office party. Still, I'm not saying you shouldn't have a good time, and getting into the spirit of the holidays can actually help your career.

How? It gives others a chance to see you in a whole new light -- as someone who is funny or makes a point of talking to the shyest person at the event. Your career can always benefit when you demonstrate a genuine interest in others.

As you don your ugly Christmas sweater or make your favorite bean dip for the potluck, here are some ways to make sure the holiday party doesn't derail your career:

1. Hang out with people who drive you crazy. You don't have to subject yourself to an entire evening of Debbie Downer's company or Loud Fred's obnoxious stories, but do commit to spending time with people you generally avoid at work. "What's your favorite holiday tradition?" you can ask. Or, introduce yourself to this person's significant other to make him or her feel welcome. Just exchanging pleasantries can help ease some anxieties for your colleagues and perhaps reduce some of their unpleasant behavior during the week if they feel a greater rapport with you. Keep in mind that you're expected to work well with everyone on the job -- you're there to contribute, not avoid people you don't like.

2. Network. People often believe that networking only takes place with those outside a current company. Wrong. You should also be networking with those inside your company because those are often the people who you run across in the future when you need a referral to another job or require information to land a new position. Never burn bridges -- only work to make them stronger. Don't neglect relationships inside your company or you may pay the price later in your career.

3. Have fun. Laughing, telling funny stories or just enjoying the moment of seeing Loud Fred do his Elvis impression is important. Jobs are often tedious, frustrating, stressful and difficult. This needs to be a time when you put all that aside and get to know your colleagues in a new and fun way. Mute your phone. Stick it in your pocket and leave it there. These moments are what will form a new and better bond with your team, and that's a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How to Stand Out When it Comes to Your Career

What makes you unique? If you ask your nana, it’s the fact that you have the cutest little dimples ever. Your friends might say you’re special because you can burp the alphabet. But do those things really mean anything to an employer?
Probably not. The key to success in your career often comes down to how you’re able to bring that special “something” to an employer — some unique ability or skill that will help them beat the competition.
But coming up with that unique value proposition — or your personal brand story — can be daunting. Thousands of people may say they have many of the same skills as you (project management, copywriting, leadership, etc.), so the key is figuring out how you can differentiate yourself in a positive way.
“You’re not an ‘employee’ of General Motors, you’re (read more here)

Monday, November 26, 2018

10 Great Gift Ideas for Coworkers

While it seems like everyone should be in a jolly mood around the office because it's the holiday season, there is also a lot of stress.

And here's some reasons why: Do you buy the boss a gift? What should you get your "work spouse"? Should you get something goofy or something nice for the office gift exchange?

While most agree that you don't have to give the boss something, you really need to follow the norm in your office. If everyone else gives the boss a gift, you don't want to be the lone holdout. As for your "work spouse" -- the person who is your emotional and professional support on the job -- you want to give something appropriate that shows your appreciation. Same thing for the office gift exchange -- it can be fun but should not be something that couldn't be put on someone's desk. (This will keep you from gifting sexy underwear, liquor or an illegal download of "A Star is Born.")

To help alleviate some of your gift-buying anxiety, I'm offering some appropriate gift ideas in a range of prices. While I will include links, I am not endorsing a particular retailer or product -- and will leave it to you to find the best deal should you choose to purchase anything on the list.

Here goes....

1. Lexo tumbler.  This mug includes smart phase change technology that keeps your coffee or tea at the perfect drinking temperature for hours and hours and hours....(Full disclosure: A family member works for the company that makes these mugs, but that doesn't change the fact that this tumbler gets rave reviews.)

Image result for lexo smart mug
2. Packing cubes. I tried these for the first time last year and they're a game-changer, especially if you're taking one suitcase to several locations. 
Image result for packing cubes
3. Umbrella. This is not the kind you buy off a street vendor when it's pouring rain. The Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella is the one that other people will try to borrow -- don't let them. Guard it with your life.
4. Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.  This game is selling out fast -- all the Millennials are going bonkers for it, willing to throw some elbows to get  in front of kids who also want the game.

5. Swiss Army Knife. While you probably can't get past the TSA with it, it's a gem to have in your office desk drawer for a multitude of things, from fixing your glasses to opening boxes.
Victorinox Forester in red - 0.8363
6. Travel charger. Anyone who has ever left a phone charger on their desk knows the frustration of having a phone die in the middle of a conversation while on the go. The TravelCard is the size of a credit card, which makes it light and convenient.
Image result for travelcard charger
7. Jelly Belly Rogue One Bean Machine.  Just the name alone is awesome. Who doesn't need one at work for those jelly bean emergencies?
STAR WARS̢㢠Rogue One Bean Machine
8. Fun bluetooth speaker. There are lots of options for bluetooth speakers these days, but this Jamoji speaker would be appropriate for work -- and it gets great reviews.

9. Socks. Why not keep feet warm and do some good for the world? Proceeds from sales of these socks and other products like t-shirts, hats and posters help fund more than 30 park conservancies across the U.S.

10. Keyboard stickers.  If you know someone who is tired of a boring keyboard, try these Van Gogh Starry Night or comic book decals.
Van Gogh Starry Night MacBook Keyboard Decal
Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Here's a Radical Idea: Be Grateful at Work

In my house, we have the Thanksgiving tradition of revealing what we're thankful for (we agree that family is a given and you have to name something else).

Depending on the age of the person, common mentions include "good health," "all-day football" and "the pecan pie in the kitchen."

Personally, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's about being, well, thankful. (No, it's not actually about plotting your strategy for Black Friday sales.) I think it's important to stop for a moment and realize that despite all the hand-wringing and vile rhetoric we sometimes experience, we all have something in our lives for which to be grateful.

The same it true at work. We spend a lot of time griping and stressing about customers, colleagues and the boss. But is it really so horrible? Every bit of it?

Or, do you have a colleague who always greets you with a smile and a cheerful "Good morning!" Did a customer tell you a funny joke? Did the boss let you leave early to attend a child's soccer game even though it's a busy season?

Those may seem like small things, but they're really not. Neither is the paycheck you receive from your employer. Without that paycheck, what would your life be like?

I'm not trying to be Pollyanna, but I do think we can change our mindset a bit about work and use Thanksgiving as a way to jumpstart a new way of thinking.

Recently, Stacey Engle, executive vice president at Fierce Conversations, sent me a list of ideas to practice more gratitude. So, as you ready yourself (and your stomach) for Thanksgiving, think about trying to:

  • Start a gratitude journal: Not all gratitude needs to be expressed outwardly, and recognizing personally what you are grateful for can be very powerful. You may want a journal that encompasses all aspects of your life, or one just for the office. Perhaps every Monday morning you take 10 minutes to write down what work-related people and things you are grateful for. Over time, you can look back and reflect in a meaningful way.
  • Write thank-you notes.  When we are used to email and texting, writing a note can be magical. There is something powerful about taking the time to thank someone with a physical note, whether it's your boss, the intern or even the security guard in your building.
  • Incorporate gratitude into you conversations. During one-on-one meetings, make a habit of highlighting something you appreciate about the person. These conversations can have a lasting impact, and will serve to strengthen the relationship. 
What are some ways to show more gratitude at work?