Friday, February 28, 2014

Why Even the Best Workers Lie and Cheat

If we only worked with nice, honest people life would be much easier, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, the workplace often has its share of liars and cheats.
But before you begin pointing the finger, consider the fact that research shows even the nicest among us is likely to cheat if they feel they won’t get caught, and those that do cheat enjoy it. Getting away with something makes people feel good.
Unethical behavior like lying and cheating not only fails to evoke a negative emotional reaction from the people who demonstrate it, but can give them an “emotional high,” say researchers from Wharton University, the London Business School, the University of Washington and Harvard Business School.
The experiments conducted by the researchers found that when individuals were confronted with moral decisions that didn’t seem to directly impact a specific individual, then they were less likely to feel badly when they lied or cheated. So, if you can fudge that expense report or stuff some office supplies into your backpack, then you may not feel badly about it – not like you would if you stole $5 out of a coworker’s pocket.
“I think we often presume that guilt and remorse are going to hold people back. As humans, I really think we’re quite good at justifying our own behavior and putting it out of our mind in a way that makes guilt and remorse poor disincentives,” says Wharton professor Maurice E. Schweitzer.
In his new book, “The Truth about Trust,” David DeSteno explains that his research shows that 90% of those in an experiment cheated because they didn’t think they would get caught, even though they had earlier said such behavior was wrong. When asked about their cheating, they reported believing that what they did was acceptable, even as they condemned others for doing the same thing.
“They were perfect hypocrites – absolving themselves of guilt for the same moral failures for which they condemned others – and as such were immune (read more here)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Scale Up Excellence

One of the most difficult problems a leader can face is how to spread and grow success throughout a team or organization. Companies like Facebook and Google have added thousands of employees successfully without sacrificing excellence, while Starbucks and Yahoo faltered as they focused more on creating a big footprint instead of ensuring the right mindset permeates an organization.
In a new book based on seven years of research, Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao look at how successful leaders and companies worked to spread a culture of specific beliefs, behaviors and practices. The book, “Scaling Up Excellence: Getting To More Without Settling for Less,” provides case studies and insights from those who have been in the trenches of scaling challenges.
For example, in the early days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was close enough to workers to constantly hammer home his vision. But as the company grew, that no longer became possible so employees are now sent to a six-week “boot camp,” where they performed various small assignments for about a dozen diverse groups before they are given a specific job within the company.
During this time, the company’s credo of “move fast and break things” is reinforced, along with the company’s core beliefs. In addition, each new employee is given a non-management mentor to help him or her navigate boot camp. This practice helps Facebook scale up talent because it lets mentors “stick a toe in the management waters,” the authors explain.
Rao says that those organizations that scale well do so not by spreading (see more here)

How to Become a Thought Leader

"People use the term ‘thought leader’ as if all you have to do to become one is set up a Twitter account and start tweeting. This is hardly the case. True thought leaders have expertise, passion and a track record of changing the world.” – Guy Kawasaki in the foreward to “Ready to Be a Thought Leader?”
The Twitterverse is littered with the dead hashtags of those who thought they could become thought leaders and failed. There are hundreds of moldy blogs that attest to the challenge of maintaining a lively, consistent following.
So how do you break out of the pack and become a thought leader? Anita Bruzzese recently spoke with Denise Brosseau, author of “Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success.”
AB: What is a thought leader?
DB: Thought leaders are change agents who move and inspire others with their innovative ideas, turn those ideas into reality and then create a dedicated group of fans and followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas into sustainable change.
One example of a thought leader is Avinash Kaushik who was the director of web research and analytics at Intuit when he began his journey. He started a blog, “Occam’s Razor,” to share his day-to-day experiences and his expertise. As he started to gain a wide readership, Wiley Press invited him to write a book, compiling his blog posts as well as additional content. His thought leadership attracted new people to his team, led to a promotion and opened the door to many other new roles and opportunities. He’s since written a second book and today he is the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google and his blog is read by chief technology officers and beginners alike.
AB:  Why is it important to become a thought leader?
DB: Thought leadership is the key that unlocks a whole new level of professional accomplishment and achievement as well as career and personal satisfaction.
As exemplified by Avinash’s story, as a thought leader you can amplify your impact, multiply your influence and have the opportunity to leave a legacy that matters. Avinash told me that every day he gets emails from around the world from people telling him how his blog posts have helped them find a new career and solve their (and their company’s) challenges. He told me what joy it gives him to receive these emails and they keep (read more here)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: Lesson from the Beatles

It was 50 years ago this month that the Beatles hit the American music scene. You may have watched CBS ‘ salute to the Beatles Friday night, “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles,” on the 50th anniversary of the band’s debut appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
While there are numerous documentaries and celebrations of this legendary rock group and their impact on music, it is also worth noting the career savviness of these young men.
The actions they took five decades ago are worth heeding for those also seeking a long and successful career.
Among the Fab Four’s smart moves:
  1. They understood their market. In an interview in February 1964, Paul McCartney was asked how long he thought the Beatles would be around. “As long as you keep coming,” McCartney responded. What McCartney and the other band members revealed was that they understood they had to continue to be relevant to customers and deliver (see more here)

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Promote Yourself Without Being an Obnoxious Braggart

We're often told that if we want to get ahead in our careers, we must learn to promote ourselves.
But this is often an uncomfortable thought — partly because we may be shy when it comes to talking about our accomplishments and partly because we've heard others do it and come off as obnoxious blowhards.
But experts say you can find a way to convey your abilities that will feel comfortable and put you on a path to greater success.
"The biggest mistake people make when trying to promote their accomplishments or abilities to others is not projecting a belief in their abilities," says Chief Executive Kim Garst of Boom! Social, a personal branding and social media consulting firm. "If you do not believe it, it is hard to get others to buy into your value. If you do not value your time and knowledge, neither will others."
The problem can become even more challenging when a worker is inexperienced or young, says Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College.
"The key is enthusiasm," she says. "If you emphasize your passion when describing an achievement, people will think you're just excited about it. An excited person appears earnest, and it's hard to be critical of someone earnest."
Garst considers herself is an introvert and understands how uncomfortable some people may be in talking about themselves. She says she has turned to Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, to learn lessons such as asking people about themselves and learning to listen carefully.
"You will be surprised how much easier it is to share information about yourself when you are simply responding to what they have shared with you and revealing your thoughts, successes, goals, etc.," she says.
Try out your promotional efforts on your boss first, Levit suggests.
"It's OK if you mess up and start bragging because your boss is supposed to know about everything you're doing and can't fault you for keeping him informed," she says. "But when informing everyone else of your successes, be as subtle as possible."
Forward e-mails praising your work to your manager, disguising them as "modest FYIs" and making the success seem as though it had been a team effort, such as using "we" instead of "I," she says.
Even if you don't have a lot of experience, you can talk about things you've done through volunteering, after-school jobs or even campus activities, Levit says.
"It's all about showing how you contributed to the success of the organization by leveraging important transferable skills like project management, marketing, finance and client relations," Levit says.
Using social media is a great way to promote yourself without being overbearing, Garst says. She suggests some ways to do that:
1. Be helpful. "People can tell when you actually care about them and when you are just out for you," she says. "Help others without the expectation of reward. Share your knowledge. Give advice, tips, etc."
2. Make it about them. "How are you helpful or useful to your audience?" she asks. "What problem do you solve for them?"
Garst suggests making a list of ways to make a difference. If you worry about over promotion, look at the list to remember how you help your audience.
3. Build relationships. You must be willing to devote the time to build a relationship with your audience.
This means you have to engage, respond to questions on social media and through e-mail and be present to allow people to communicate with you, she says.
"This does not mean that you have to sit in front of your computer 24/7," she says. "Respond when necessary and always give appreciation to those who are promoting you."
4. Be brave, positive and pleasant. "Actions are what people pay attention to," Garst says. "How you handle a positive or negative situation can define you in so many ways."

Friday, February 21, 2014

The 10 Worst Email Habits

While you may claim to hate email, the truth is that you don’t hate email.
You are peeved by the people who send them.
We’re talking about those email senders who fire off messages that are inane, stupid, weird, incomprehensible, worthless, depressing and annoying.
So it’s time to do an email intervention. It’s time to save the email numbskulls who don’t seem to understand that their bad messages make us believe they are also inane, stupid, weird, incomprehensible, worthless, depressing and annoying.
We beg all bad email senders to stop:
  1. Making vague requests.  If you’re requesting a time to meet with someone, for example, don’t say you need to meet “by next week.” Provide your available times and dates, so that the person can respond without the back-and-forth emails trying to hammer out a time and place. If you need the person to provide specific documents of a certain length, say so.
  2. Letting threads run too long. There’s no reason to hit “reply” so many times the message thread is now as long as Shaquille O’Neal’s right arm.
  3. Being lazy. You don’t want to search through your own files, look on the Internet or make a phone call about an issue, so you send an email that sounds something like this: “Hey Jeff! I can’t remember when we signed that contract with XYZ. Do you remember? Also, do you happen to remember the contact’s name and email? Thanks! Daryl.”  Colleagues see right through this, and resent being asked to interrupt their own work to be your personal assistant.
  4. Using too many abbreviations. You use so many abbreviations and buzzwords that the person can’t tell if you’re asking a question or delivering (read more here)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Best Respond to a Bad Job Review

You can make a bad situation worse when talking to your boss after a poor performance review.
Think for a few seconds before saying anything.
"The first mistake we make is to respond emotionally. We are human and we need to be loved," says Laurie Ruettimann, a human resources consultant. "A poor review hurts our heart and cracks our ego; however, you cannot explain your way out of a poor performance review.
"Just like the Olympics, your performance has been assessed and you cannot sway the judges. It's not a debate," she says. "By the time you hear your review, it's too late to fix it."
If you receive criticism, pay attention to the feedback, says Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog.
"Too often, people get so focused on how to defend themselves — or even just on panicking — that they forget to really listen to what they're being told about what they need to do differently." Green says. "Understanding your manager's concerns is crucial to a good outcome here. ... Listen and ask enough questions that you truly know what you're being asked to change."
The tough part: Honestly consider what you're being told to determine whether criticisms of your performance are true, she says. Figure out what might be causing problems if you want to move forward.
"Honestly, it's not enough to address the deficit," Ruettimann says. "You must improve your performance and exceed expectations in order to redeem yourself."
Your best bet: Immediately apologize for your poor performance, make a plan (read the rest here)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tips for a Better Working Relationship With the Boss

It’s often said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.
In other words, when employees don’t like their bosses, they’re more likely to leave while those who like or appreciate their bosses are likely to stick around longer.
But what if your boss isn’t exactly awful? What if you’re thinking about leaving because you just can’t seem to get him to give you a chance to succeed, or your personalities are polar opposites – or he just seems to not care what you do?
Before you polish off that resume and start looking for another job, consider that if you fail to get along with this boss, a similar scenario may await you at another company. Your failure to manage this critical relationship can be like a dark cloud that follows you from employer-to-employer.
Those who find success no matter where they work often have learned the important skill of meshing with a boss to form a mutually beneficial relationship. You make the boss look good, and he does the same for you.
Sounds easy when it’s put that way, but it can often be tricky road to navigate. This can be especially true if you don’t have a lot of experience working with different bosses.
So, here are some tips to get you on the right path to a better working relationship with your boss:
  • Make sure you’re not the problem. Are you consistently coming in late or leaving early without permission from the boss? Are you submitting so-so work that he has to labor over to improve? Or, are you simply not bringing your “A” game each (read more here)

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to Determine Who to Trust at Work

Do you trust your co-workers?
Do you trust your boss?
Does anyone at work trust you?
These are questions we may not ask ourselves consciously, but they are key in determining success in our careers.
"I think what makes trust in the workplace a little bit different is that the stakes are usually higher day to day in terms of pushing for profit and everyone is trying to maximize their own gain in the workplace," says David DeSteno, a Northeastern University psychology professor. In other words, your colleagues are likely focused on themselves, not you or anybody else.
In deciding whether we should trust someone, many of us rely on a person's reputation, DeSteno says.
That's not a good idea.
"Reputations are not a good predictor" of what someone will do, he says. Research has shown that even the most honest people are willing to cheat if they feel they can get away with it.
Furthermore, when questioned, the people who cheat will claim they did act fairly, he says.
"Your mind is always making calculations between what is good for me in the here and now versus what it's going to do to me in the long term," DeSteno says.
Figuring out who is honest and when can be difficult in today's workplace. In DeSteno's new book, The Truth about Trust: How It Determines Access in Life, Love, Learning, and More, he discusses how to look at trust based on research.
Among his tips:
• Look for several cues. Don't rely on one nonverbal cue, such as shifty eyes, when determining someone's trustworthiness.
Instead, look for cues that express a more general representation of someone's internal motivations and thoughts.
• Don't blindly trust your gut. "Your intuitive (read more here)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Develop More Confidence in Your Creativity

Think back to when you were in kindergarten and you’ll probably agree you were a creative kid. Whether it was building a Batmobile from toilet paper rolls or performing a one-act play you wrote with your dog, you displayed creativity freely and abundantly.

But fast-forward to your professional life now, and you may no longer believe you are creative. For whatever reason, creativity didn’t stick with you.
That’s a crock, Tom Kelley says.
Kelley, along with his brother, David, are creativity experts. Their firm, IDEO, designed the first mouse for Apple along with the first laptop, and the company has won numerous innovation awards.
Tom Kelley says you don’t lose creativity, but you can become less confident about it. Instead of fostering and developing it, you focus on other abilities. Before long, you see yourself as someone who simply isn’t the creative type and you let others propose innovative ideas.
“People do have a fear of being judged,” he says.
After some 100 interviews for their book, “Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All,” Kelley says he and his brother firmly believe creativity resides in all of us.
He says if we want to remain competitive in business and excel in our careers, we need to rediscover it because “being creative helps you become more confident and more resilient,” he says. “You learn perseverance.”
Once we do tap into that creativity, then it’s time to learn to put those ideas into action, because “having the courage to do so is at least as important as the idea itself,” he says.
But how do we tap into that creativity within us? Here are some ideas they offer in cultivating a creative spark:
  1. Choose creativity. Stop squashing that little kid inside of you. Make a commitment to decide you want to revive your innovative voice.
  2. Think like a traveler. Stop being oblivious to your (read more here)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Self-directed Learning Puts Experts At Your Fingertips

If you ever feel as if the demands of your job and your industry are moving too fast to keep on top and maintain your sanity, you're not alone.
Rapid technology changes, worldwide competition and increasing demands from employers can make even the most confident worker a bit shaky.
That's why self-directed learning is gaining momentum. Workers can find online resources to learn about everything from project management to marketing, helping them learn when the time is best for them.
Instead of taking days or even weeks to try to figure out a problem on their own, they also can tap into an online expert to give them information in a matter of minutes or hours — for a fee.
"I don't think schools are going away, but new tech provides another option to learn," says Ken Howery, a PayPal cofounder and now founder and partner with Founders Fund.
Last year he was part of a $2 million investment in an education start-up called PopExpert.
PopExpert provides hundreds of experts that meet one on one through video sessions and charge a per-hour rate for services. But PopExpert goes beyond job skills, also targeting workers' well being.
Howery says he personally uses PopExpert meditation instructor Kenneth Folk.
"I have worked with Kenneth in person when he's in San Francisco, and nothing is as good as in person," Howery says. "But still, video is way better than a phone call."
Folk is listed on PopExpert as available for instruction at $125 a session. But other sessions, such as meeting with a productivity expert, may cost only $37 for the first session, the site reveals.
For Satya Twena, fashion entrepreneur and fine milliner in New York City, the decision to tap into a social media-expert from PopExpert came about after she realized that her in-house social-media hire wasn't delivering for her business.
The expert Twena chose spent about an hour researching her company's social-media strategy and met with her online to show her how she could put in place a better social-media effort.
"I found out what we were not doing. By finding this expert, I believe it (read more here)