Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Get What You Want at Work

Have you ever tried to change a co-worker's mind and failed miserably?
Not only is it frustrating, it also may hurt your career. You may not be able to achieve your goals if the person remains entrenched in a position that keeps you from moving forward.
But Rob Jolles, an expert on influence, says you can help people stop procrastinating and make a decision. The key is asking the right questions.
First, you must get the person to admit he has a problem. This requires some diplomacy because you don't want to launch into your theory of the problem and its solutions.
Jolles suggests avoiding the word "problem" and instead use terms like "concerns" or "challenges" that won't put a person on the defensive.
During this stage you also should listen carefully and ask questions, such as "What concerns do you have about this project not being done on time?"
"You've got to be able to think on your feet," Jolles says. "You want to keep asking questions that will keep the conversation going. You need to be patient."
That means you can't jump in with a just-do-it attitude. Instead you must get a person to think about the what-if scenarios of not taking action.
He says his research shows that 4 of 5 people admit that something in their life requires a change, but they also admit that they're not doing anything about it.
The third stage of the process involves using more subtle questions to get a person to look at the issue as a whole: "So, overall, what do you think the ramifications for the future of this department will be of not meeting the project deadline?" you might ask.
The reason you try to get a person to see the long-term effect is because "people don't generally fix small problems. They fix big ones," Jolles says.
By helping a person see how the problem can grow, you urge them to fix it now, he says.
Jolles, author of How to Change Minds: The Art of Influence Without Manipulation, says he doesn't want workers to believe this method is underhanded.
"Influence is often associated with unethical behavior because people may feel like they're being pushed into a situation that benefits someone else," he says. "But the difference is the intent. You truly believe influencing someone else is for the better."
Another key to successfully influencing someone is to understand that it's OK for the other person to voice objections, Jolles says. The chance of changing someone's mind is reduced by 24% if at least one objection isn't aired.
"Just because someone is pushing back doesn't mean it's a bad thing," he says. "It's very natural, and I would rather get that out of the way (read the rest here)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Are You the Jerk at Work?

Are we getting ruder at work?
According to a recent survey, half of workers reported in 2011 that they were treated rudely at least once a week, an increase in from the one quarter reporting boorish behavior in 1998.
Richie Frieman, known as the Modern Manners Guy on, says that yes, indeed, people are rude in the workplace.
They leave dirty dishes lying around. They fire off snarky e-mails, and they show up late on a regular basis. They dress and act like they're in a locker room and have no qualms about bugging busy co-workers.
Despite such mannerless behavior, Frieman has hope.
"I think good manners are coming back," he says. "I think it's hip and cool to be mannerly."
Let's hope so. Not only does working with a boor add a level of stress to every workday, but it has a bottom-line effect.
Specifically, a survey of rude behavior by Christine Porath and Christine Pearsonfinds that workplace incivility leads to less creativity, greater turnover, less high-quality work and poorer customer relationships.
It also drives people nuts, Frieman says.
That's why he has written a book called Reply All ... and Other Ways to Tank Your Career, that outlines some of the worst behavior and why it matters. The bottom line is that rude behavior can hurt your chances of getting ahead in the workplace because people simply don't want to work with or be around people seen as slobs, louts and fools.
"People assume that manners are about white gloves, fine dining and very stuffy — what our grandparents did," Frieman says. "They object to it because they see it as a sign of being told what to do."
But that's wrong, he says.
"Manners mean that basically you don't act like a jerk," he says. "You drop your ego at the door."
While most of us know not to belch the alphabet in the office or stick our stinky feet on the conference table, Frieman offers some advice on other workplace situations:
• Clean up after yourself. Too many people act as if "their mom is going to go right behind them and clean up," as they leave empty food containers and dirty dishes in their cubicles or other work areas, he says.
While everyone snacks in the office, Frieman says no one wants to be near someone who has food and other gunk stuck between the computer keys and trash piled on a desktop or nearby chair.
"It's like leaving a mess when you're a guest in someone's home," he says. "You are just using that desk for a few hours a day. It's not yours, and you don't own it. So clean up and stop throwing stuff around."
• Don't be overbearing about charity contributions. In some companies, managers set a policy of forbidding any solicitations (read the rest here)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are Extroverts Misunderstood?

Ask an introvert about an extroverted colleague and you're likely to hear how these outgoing co-workers talk too much, have trouble staying on task and are generally annoying.
Extroverts may counter such opinions with the argument that their friendly nature helps make sales and establish key contacts, and keeps the workplace a fun and lively place.
But many introverts aren't buying it. They claim they have been putting up with extroverts getting all the attention and promotions and key projects for a long time, and say they are finally finding their voice.
Buoyed by a number of new books and studies on the value of introverts, such personality types are willing to point out the flaws of the extroverts to the world -- but that may be leading to some unfair judgments against extroverts.
Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, says she noticed when writing on her blog about introverts that there was an "increasing hostility" by introverts, who claimed extroverts are "stupid and needy."
Dembling, who says she is an introvert, says she "doesn't buy all that."
In response, she formed a group of about seven extroverted friends that she calls her "Board of Extroverts," to let them offer more information on how they feel about issues and why they react the way they do.
"I think one of the things I learned that really surprised me was that extroverts say when they don't have enough interaction, they feel sad," she says. "So, they assume that when someone else is quiet, they're sad. "
That means that while you as an introvert look for quiet time in your cubicle to recharge and think, the extroverted co-worker who pops up to tell you a joke or try to get you to go to happy hour isn't being annoying on purpose.
"This extrovert really has a genuine concern for you," Dembling says.
While there is much discussion about how introverts can get ahead and work and overcome some issues that may cause them to be overlooked in favor of the more outgoing extroverts, Dembling says there are plenty of career issues facing extroverts.
For example, extroverts love to talk. And talk. And talk. But all that talking means they may sometimes fail to listen to teammates, and miss key information. Or, they may fail to listen to what a customer really wants and lose a sale.
Extroverts experience other challenges at work. For example, while introverts may struggle with an open floor plan at work, extroverts may dislike working in a cubicle, Dembling says.
Their desire for interaction may have them popping up in different cubicles, bothering co-workers who are trying to get tasks done, she says. That means their productivity can be curtailed, not something that goes over big with the boss.
Young workers who are extroverts also need to be more aware of how their outgoing ways can be perceived by more introverted and experienced workers.
Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, says that millennial extroverts need to take a step back and be conscious of how introverts operate.
"Instead of being overly aggressive with an introvert, allow them to talk first and support what they have to say. This will make them more inclined to want to work with you," he says.
Extroverts need "to be sensitive that introverts are usually more quiet, creative and like to keep distance," he says.
Dembling says many members of her extrovert board are creative professionals, and are capable of "turning inward" to come up with creative (read more here)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Being Disruptive at Work Can Be a Good Thing

Bill Jensen often writes about making work simpler to be more productive and successful, but his latest book says it’s time we harnessed the power of disruption to achieve even more. In this interview with Anita Bruzzese, he talks about the ideas behind “Disrupt! Think Epic, Be Epic: 25 Successful Habits for an Extremely Disruptive World.”

Anita Bruzzese: We often see disruption as something bad, so why do you say that disruption is important if you want to be successful?
 Bill Jensen: That’s a great question because it exposes the assumptions we each make about disruptions.
Disruptions are anything that change the course of our daily routines or our lives. They can be either good (birth of a new child, new empowering technology) or bad (global conflicts, economic downturns). Nowadays there’s also a third dimension — it doesn’t matter whether the disruptions are good or bad, there’s just too many of them! You probably encountered a dozen pain-in-the-butt disruptions before you had your first cup of coffee today!
So, wishing that all the disruptions would stop or somehow become manageable simply is not realistic. The amount and intensity of them are only going to increase. Sorry!
What we can do, however, is change our view of disruptions: If they’re going to keep coming at us anyway, we need to get better at embracing them and seeing them as opportunities.
The main takeaway I found is this: Everyone’s job — from the most senior executive to the newest hire — is to figure out how to benefit from, or take advantage of, continuous disarray, disorder and disruption.
We need to change our current view about constant disruptions as being threats to what’s already been planned. Instead, we need to embrace that disorder as new opportunities and understand that every single day is filled with amazing possibilities that we couldn’t have imagined the night before! Constantly adjusting and revising and being flexible and adaptable are the new norms.
AB: You interviewed people for the book that you call “disruptive heroes.”  What are a few habits they all seem to have?
BJ: I interviewed 100 great disruptive heroes — all of whom refused to accept the status quo and are actually causing many of the disruptions we each experience. From CEOs like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer; to tech mavens like the founders of StumbleUpon, Flickr, Wikipedia, Meetup and Crowdcast; to Jon Landau, the producer of Titanic and Avatar, two of the highest-grossing films ever; and more.
I found 25 habits that are crucial to success in a disruptive era. Among them:
• Question everything: When everything is changing so much, so fast, we all need to get better at questioning the assumptions and root causes of whatever problems come at us.
• Kill what you cherish most: Each of us must embrace that all our best work is already being disrupted by someone else. So we need to start reinventing every (read more here)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Employer adds yoga, dance and fun to retain workers

Often the little things can make a difference in how an employee feels about a workplace.
Maybe the boss ensures that you get your favorite color of nail polish at holiday time. Maybe you can bring your dog to work. Or, maybe the culture asks you to do kind things for other people.
Michele Litzky does all those things and more when it comes to trying to keep her workers happy. Celebrating her 25th year running Litzky Public Relations in Hoboken, N.J., Litzky believes offering a smorgasbord of perks is what keeps her nearly all female staff smiling and says, "Happy employees mean happy customers."
So Litzky lets workers shove furniture around in the conference room at 5 p.m. twice a week for a yoga instructor who soon has up to 15 workers on the floor going through downward facing dogs and backbends.
"One of the things we encourage is that we're all equal here," which means a senior leader may be on the floor twisting and turning on a yoga mat right next to an intern, she says.
"We want to help them handle stress, and we encourage them to do the things they love," Litzky says. "It also gives them a chance to develop a camaraderie and a chance to network with one another."
She also welcomes Libby, the office mutt, who often is featured on the company's holiday card and adds to the fun atmosphere that Litzky wants to cultivate.
It must be working. Employee Kaylie Nelson says it's indeed a fun place to work. But she says that leadership also is serious about coaching and mentoring staff.
In public relations, workers often leave an employer every couple of years, but Nelson has stayed put for five years. And that's not uncommon at the agency that has clients such as Hasbro.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time here I'm having a blast," Nelson says. "People might think that with all these women they'd be catty or competitive, but that's a stereotype. We bounce ideas off each other all the time."
Informal brainstorming sessions are made easier with the office's open concept floor plan, which also has a floor-to-ceiling view of New York through the windows, Litzky says.
As for the perks, Litzky says they are often a revolving door of ideas.
As part of the 25th year celebration, the staff is doing "25 acts of kindness" that includes helping coach children to enter the Special Olympics or making goodies for local firefighters. Employees also have "summer Fridays" that rotate among employees to allow a staffer to take off at 1 p.m. Friday to extend weekends during the summer months, she says.
Since public relations agencies often work months in advance and the staff has been busy working on holiday themes, they recently each wore the worst holiday sweater they owned and brought in their favorite holiday treat to share.
One of the best indications Litzky has had that her company provides the right culture to engage workers is a video that the staff made to recruit new employees. Set to Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe, the staff urges others to apply.
"I knew nothing about it. But I saw it and just loved their energy," Litzky says. "I was just so proud of all of them, and it was a great message to me that people are flourishing in this culture."
That doesn't mean that the firm hires only those who can dance in music videos.
"We have fun, but we work hard. We are very (read more here)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Real Reasons You Didn't Get the Promotion

There are very few things that are more discouraging than being rejected for a promotion. You may feel you’re ready to move up the ladder, but you watch others get promotions while you’re passed over.
Believe it or not, the reasons are often pretty simple. It’s not some complicated plot that involves Vladimir Putin or the CIA. It often comes down to this:
  1. You’re like a bull in a china shop. You not only gossip and complain loudly enough to be heard by anyone with a half-mile radius, but you make inappropriate comments and swear like a sailor on shore leave. Obnoxious and bratty behavior that could net you a reality show isn’t the professional attitude that is appreciated by bosses. If you embarrass, offend or anger co-workers with your demeanor, you can bet the boss doesn’t want you carrying your offensiveness into a leadership position.
  2. You can’t go anywhere without your GPS.  If you can’t take the next step in a project without clear guidance from your supervisor or a trail of bread crumbs from team members, then you’re not showing the boss that you’re capable of taking on a new challenges if promoted. Standing around dithering while you wait on instructions reveals you as someone who needs to be constantly supervised, and that’s not a recipe for a promotion.
  3. “Huffy” is your middle name. Do you take feedback well, or get huffy and pout or gripe about any criticism? You’ve got to develop thicker skin the higher you go on the career ladder, so an inability to accept feedback professionally could be sending the message you’re immature and not ready to play with the big kids.
  4. You’re never late for happy hour. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your time off after work, but you can’t expect the boss to consider you for a promotion when you hit the door at 5 p.m. like a bullet, racing out to your car to get to happy hour or yoga class. Try lingering a bit after quitting time to show the boss that something else is not always more important than your job.
  5. You don’t speak up. Bosses are not mind readers. If you want a promotion, ask for it. Then, give all the reasons why you’d be great for the job.
  6. You don’t have the right skills. It’s surprising how many people ask for a promotion when they have no real idea of what the job entails. Do your homework so that you know the specific skills or certifications you need to fulfill the job duties. Then, take stock of what soft skills you have to offer. Perhaps you’re adept at soothing angry customers or you’re good at rallying diverse team members around a common goal. A combination of skills are critical for getting a promotion because any boss wants to feel like she’s getting a well-rounded person who won’t require a lot of hand-holding.
  7. You never make a good suggestion. Sure, you thought your idea of putting a slushie machine in the breakroom was brilliant, but how exactly does that help the boss or the company? Those who want to be promoted have to show that (read more here)