Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Manage People You Can't Stand

It’s bad enough if you have to work with people you can’t stand – but what if you manage them?
Well, one quick solution is to just fire an obnoxious twit.
Unfortunately, while that may give you a brief respite, you may soon be forced to acknowledge the twit was actually very talented, and now you have the headache of trying to recruit and train his replacement.
The reality is that you’re going to be required to manage lots of people you don’t like. But it’s your job to manage people and their skills, and that means finding a way to bring out the best in them to get the job done – and not lose your last shred of sanity.
Here are some of the ways you can manage these difficult people and redirect them to more positive behavior as outlined in “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand” by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner:
  • Root out discontent. If you’ve got an employee who is like a sniper in the bushes just waiting to take a shot, don’t ignore him. If you get a snide comment, address it in a neutral tone. Try asking, “When you say that, what are you really trying to say?” Be aggressive and direct with such an employee to keep the situation from growing worse. Often this will allow you to then direct the person in a more positive way.
  • Stand up to pushy employees. These aggressive types may (read more here)

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Get New Workers to Love Your Company

You know those cool perks you offer employees like free food? Well, guess what?
Your new employees are not impressed.
A new survey from BambooHR of 1,000 employees who quit a job after six months finds that less than 1% of them say such perks would keep them from leaving.
What new workers want the most – and will keep them with an employer longer – is on-the job-training and mentorship, the research shows.
More than three-fourths (76%) of new workers agree that if they’re to get up to speed quickly and start contributing, they need on-the job training. No. 2 on their list is a buddy or mentor requested by 37% of new workers, followed by 28% who say an employee handbook is helpful.
The survey also finds that 43% say that time and money are wasted on ineffective onboarding processes (most thought at least $10,000 a year is wasted), while 15% of respondents say that poor onboarding is enough to make them consider leaving a job.
“This research emphasizes the notion that companies cannot (read more here)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Management Practices That Make Employees Quit

Let’s say you’re watching an episode of Dr. Phil where someone is describing a person in his or her life that yells, is rude, blames everyone else for mistakes and expects others to jump 24/7 whenever it is demanded.
“Well, you need to tell this person that that dog won’t hunt,” Dr. Phil might suggest.
You agree with Dr.Phil, calling out your own advice to the television. “Leave the jerk!” you yell at the screen.
But what if that person being described is….you? And the person complaining about the treatment is one of your employees?
Things may suddenly seem much different.
Behavior we would never begin to tolerate in our personal lives is often something we demonstrate at work because we don’t recognize how destructive it can be to morale or we feel it gets results. Employees may not complain to you directly because they fear losing their jobs.
But it’s estimated by the Hay Group that average employee turnover rates will increase from 20.6% to 23.4% in the next five years. That means that top performers may quickly make an exit from bosses who make the workplace miserable – or even slightly unpleasant.
People leave managers
A  Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers found that the top reason employees quit their jobs is because of a bad boss or immediate supervisor.
“People leave managers, not companies. In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup reports.
What many managers may not realize is that what they consider “tough” management techniques they believe necessary to get results are actually poor strategies that lead to turnover and poorer performance. Specifically, Gallup finds that poorly managed work groups are on average 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed groups.
If employees are taking off from your department faster than others, you can bet your performance will be called into question by the higher-ups, and your job could be threatened.
So it’s time to break the bad habits that are making you a terrible manager. Here are 10 things that you’re doing to drive employees out the door:
  1. You make them work terrible hours. It’s not enough to put in eight or 10 hours at the office. You make them answer emails or phone calls at night and on weekends. You don’t think they need a day off after they’ve returned exhausted from business travel across different time zones. In a survey by NPA, 41.5% of workers say they were motivated to change employers because of issues like job travel and hours.
  2. You make them scapegoats. You can’t have the big boss (read more here)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Are You Trying to be Perfect?

I was recently asked to contribute to the career section on LinkedIn, and thought it would provide a good opportunity to interact with new people.

Here's my first post...

Many of us can share stories about colleagues who submit sloppy or incorrect work so that others are forced to step in and salvage it. Annoying, right?
But often just as damaging is the colleague who insists everything be perfect.
While it may seem odd to gripe about someone who wants things to be perfect, there is a difference between perfectionism and excellence.
Perfectionism on the job is anything but. It's disruptive and unproductive. For the perfectionist, it can lead to physical illness and depression. For those who must work with a perfectionist, it's annoying as hell.
The problem is that the perfectionist gets so caught up in minor details that she can't attain excellence. Instead,she becomes a bottleneck as she fusses, for example, with the binding of a project report instead of getting the report completed by deadline. The perfectionist boss hovers and nitpicks and agonizes over the smallest detail, preventing the staff from getting their work done.
And, perfectionists can be dangerous: Putting them (read the rest here, and dozens of interesting comments)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why You Don't Want A Mini-Me

Admit it: You would rather work with people who are pretty much just like you.
It’s human nature to feel more comfortable with people who share common traits, habits or values. But there is real danger in surrounding yourself with a bunch of “mini-mes.”
Research shows that “homogeneity” can lead to individuals underestimating the actual complexity of tasks facing a group “because they assume that others’ behavior is more predictable than it actually is,” says Evan Apfelbaum, the W. Maurice Young Career Development Professor of Management and an assistant professor of organization studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Why? Apfelbaum explains that those in homogenous groups tend to believe that because others look like them, they are like them in terms of having similar perspectives, knowledge and behavior.
“This assumption of like-mindedness feels comfortable; it caters to our basic human need for social acceptance and inclusion. But it also creates blind spots in our judgments and behavior,” he says. “We underestimate the potential for seemingly similar others to have substantively different perspectives and ideas, which can lead us to make oversimplified, perhaps even, objectively inaccurate, assessments in these contexts.”
A Harvard University study further underscores the problem of collaborating with those who have similar backgrounds.
Specifically, researchers found that venture capitalists tended (read more here)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Read This if You're Sick of Winter

“A Polar Vortex sounds like something Mr. Freeze would use to destroy Gotham City… or a new flavor of Powerade.” — Jimmy Kimmel
The bad weather that has stormed and stomped its way across the U.S. this winter has left in its path a trail of crumpled cars, downed power lines, teenagers with their pants pulled ALL the way up,  and people who are frustrated and exhausted by the constant battle with Mother Nature.
“I don’t even want to watch the winter Olympics, and I love the games,” Adam Fogle told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m so tired of ice and snow… I don’t care if I ever see it again.”
While the polar vortex has made the Weather Channel folks nearly giddy, the reality is that people are indeed at the end of their rope—if they didn’t reach it weeks ago. Their battle with the elements has taken a toll not only on their psyche, but also on this nation’s productivity.
For example, when looking at lost productivity from December, the winter weather is expected to cost the economy almost $50 billion in lost productivity and 76,000 jobs, finds a new poll by CNBC of Wall Street economists, fund managers and strategists. While the economy is expected to mostly recover in the coming months, it is not clear what the impact is on employee engagement and turnover.
That’s why it is so important that leaders step up and realize that (read more here

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Work Smarter and Be More Productive

You've downloaded every new app that promises to keep you organized, read books that vow to make you more efficient — and yet you still feel stressed out and overwhelmed with the clutter on your desk and in your mind.
To make matters worse, you're working harder than ever, putting in late nights and feeling overwhelmed at what you need to get done.
Tamara Myles, a certified professional organizer, often hears this common story.
"Most clients call me because something bad has happened, such as missing a deadline, and there is a moment of desperation that causes them to call," she says.
The majority of callers are seeking help with overwhelming stacks of paper that hide missing key documents. But such disorganization is just a symptom of a bigger problem, Myles says.
"It's really a time-management problem," she says. "Most of my clients are Type A personalities and very hard working. But that doesn't mean they work smart."
In a new book, The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best, Myles outlines her strategy to better organization and productivity using a what she calls a "personal productivity system."
"There is no single solution that will work for everyone," she says. "But we can make the most of the time we have by making choices."
She suggests beginning with a "brain dump," writing down everything on your plate to get a clear idea of what needs to get done. While you may find you have more tasks than time, you will learn to make choices and do the right things with the time you have.
By beginning with physical organization, you can start decluttering your piles of paper into toss, to-do and keep stacks. When considering electronic options, Myles cautions not to employ anything before you carefully considered its advantages and disadvantages.
"Some people don't use apps efficiently or correctly, and they just have to have the latest and greatest," she says. "That just becomes more clutter."

You have an electronic-clutter problem when you feel anxious about deleting something, forget what you say or spend a lot of time searching for files, she says.
Some other tips she provides in her book:
1. Prioritize your tasks and activities by looking at each one to determine its urgency and importance. Become more aware of how much time you spend on activities that distract you from what's important.
2. Learn to avoid the traps that can distract you from your goals. If you are interrupted continually at work for things that are not important, try posting a sign that says, "Please don't interrupt me now."
3. Make smart choices. Once you make progress on clutter, you will find more time opening up.
What will you fill it with? Make choices that will fulfill you and give you even more incentives to continue organizing your time.
"In my workshops, people hope to uncover a big secret about being more productive and getting organized. But this is not rocket science. Many of the things I tell them they probably heard before," Myles says. "But there is no one thing that can address any one need. What you need is a road map that will work best for you."