Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cool Perks to Look for at a New Employer

Would you like to have your employer do your laundry? Or buy a new wardrobe on the company tab? What about having someone run errands for you while you’re at work?
If those ideas sound far-fetched to you, think again. “Employers have been stingier with salaries and they have to think about offering some of these other benefits,” says Laurie Ruettimann, a human resources consultant. 
Even more: “Companies are always open to ideas that don’t cost them anything, such as getting discounts to theme parks,” adds Sharlyn Lauby, author of the blog HR Bartender. And experts say anyone can bring up an idea for a new benefit or perk. Consider some of these cool perks already being offered to workers.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Learn to Receive Feedback Well

This morning your mirror confirmed that yes, indeed, you do look fat in those pants. Your new puppy let you know that your house-training efforts are not working. Then you got to work and your boss had edited your report so heavily the only original thing was your name and the date.
No matter where we get feedback – from our dog or our boss – it can be difficult to take. Even our own mirror doesn’t want to be a friend to us on some days.
We’re often coached on how to give feedback, but no one tells us how to hear feedback and like it. Or at least hear it and not assume the fetal position or punch a hole in the wall.
In a new book, “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well,” authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen contend that how we receive feedback is even more important than how it’s given. In other words, someone can give you really great feedback, but if you’re not open to receiving it in a positive way, what difference does it make?
What are some reasons you dismiss feedback?   Consider:
  • Truth triggers. The feedback seems off-target and is based on incomplete information or out of line with what you’re trying to do. You believe it to be lousy feedback, so you ignore it.
  • Relationship triggers. Forget whatever is being said, it’s the relationship with the person offering the feedback that is the problem. Maybe the person doesn’t appreciate your efforts or accomplishments. It could also be that you distrust the other person’s motives or expertise.
  • Identity triggers.  You’re so overwhelmed by the feedback you can’t discuss it. It undermines how you see yourself in some way, or even threatens your sense of safety or well-being. The feedback can become distorted because you’re so out of sorts.
Stone and Heen say that you can become better at receiving feedback (read more here)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why You're Annoying Your Colleagues

You’re never late for meetings. You also chip in for every co-worker’s birthday or baby shower that comes along. That’s why you consider yourself a good colleague – certainly not like that annoying person in the cubicle next to you.
But what you may not realize is that you are indeed that person. The person who annoys teammates with rude, sloppy, underhanded and clueless behavior.
So let’s look at what seems to be getting you in the most trouble:
Other rude behavior that most irks colleagues is gabbing about personal issues on your cellphone. A Jive Software study finds that 65% of workers are annoyed by someone having loud or private conversations in a public area. The buzzing and beeping of your phone signaling incoming texts or emails also annoys your colleagues, and 59% say they dislike it when you fail to silence or turn off your phone when appropriate.
“Your mobile phone is mobile. Stand up, walk to somewhere that’s a little bit more private to have those private conversations,” says Sydney Sloan, Jive’s social media expert.
  • You’re sloppy. It’s one thing to turn your cubicle into a toxic waste dump, but it’s another when your slovenly habits affect others. Another OfficeTeam survey finds that 44% of workers say that making a mess for others to clean up is the most annoying break room behavior. So is eating smelly food in your cubicle, dripping coffee (read more here)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How to Get the Best Employees to Stick Around

Get ready to say good-bye to some of your best talent this year.
According to new RainmakerThinking research, employees are unhappier than ever and Founder Bruce Tulgan believes that it could lead to a “sudden spike” in turnover as the job market improves.
In the words of Scooby Doo: Ruh-roh.
Specifically, the survey finds that 46% of employees report that in the last year they’ve felt “stuck” in their jobs and have an unfulfilled desire to head for the exit. In addition, 90% say they’re less committed, are less productive and are less willing to “go the extra mile” or “contribute their best ideas,” Tulgan says.
One of the biggest gripes by employees? Being required to do more work with less support and resources. They also complain about pay and benefits.
To make matters worse, the research finds that those polled are not considered the worst performers, which means that it’s not going to be the bottom-feeders who leave.
So, if you really don’t want to conduct exit interviews with your best performers in the near future, then it’s time to take action and start doing “stay” interviews.
A stay interview means that you sit down one-on-one (read more here)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

3 Keys for Surviving a Terrible Boss

Anyone who has ever worked for a bad boss knows that, despite such lighthearted looks at these people through comics such as “Dilbert” and television shows such as “The Office”, it really is no laughing matter.

I’ve had two really bad bosses in my life, and I can tell you it is truly a painful experience, both physically and emotionally. At times I was depressed, at times angry – and suffered from headaches and stomachaches, not to mention waking at 3 a.m. every night and re-running every horrible encounter through my head.

It’s probably little consolation to anyone caught in such a terrible situation that there are plenty of people going through the same thing, but I think it’s important to show that these bad bosses are at least being exposed more and more to the sunlight. First, there are several websites devoted to outing bad bosses and providing helpful advice to employees going through a rough time.

Second, more press has been given to the fact that a lack of management training means we’re putting ill-prepared and poorly qualified people into these upper positions where they can become abusive.

Third, rising healthcare costs mean that companies cannot afford to have employees sickened by bad bosses, plus face high employee turnover because bully bosses drive away the talent.

If you're someone who works for a terrible boss,  think about how to survive until you -- or the boss -- moves on. Consider:

  • Staying visible at work. While it’s common for the employee to blame himself or herself for the situation, hiding out can hurt a career because it can prevent others from noticing individual talent and contributions. And remember, bullies have often subjected others to this treatment, so their history is probably already known to others.
  •  Keeping focused on the future. While it may seem that you’ll never break free of the boss, chances are good that you will eventually work for someone else, and you want to make sure your performance will impress others. 
  •  Knowing when to draw the line. No one should take abuse that is physical or would be considered harassment or discrimination. Such complaints should be made through formal channels, such as internal grievance committees or law enforcement.

How have you handled a bully boss?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Research: Spur Workers Through "Do Nothing" Option

Want your team to get more done? Then give them the option of doing nothing.
While you might believe you’re giving them free reign to goof off, a new study shows that by giving people the option of doing nothing, you’re actually spurring them into reaching their objectives.
Wharton University marketing professor Rom Y. Schrift and Jeffrey R. Parker, a marketing professor at Georgia State University, found that by introducing a “do-nothing” option, people become even more committed to accomplishing goals.
Schrift explains that while you may assume that having the option of doing nothing will make someone less persistent,  being able to choose actually teaches someone about himself and personal preferences, and that helps the person persist longer when hitting a roadblock or difficulty.
Schrift adds one important element of this method is ensuring that a “not doing” choice “isn’t really desirable” or “relevant.”
“In this case, a manager could add that ‘I don’t really recommend (read more here)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why You Should Get Rid of Your "To Do" List

In 2007, Ari Meisel was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s disease (a disease of the digestive tract) and nearly died. He was in an out of the hospital and told the disease was incurable.
But in 2011, he completed Ironman France and was declared free of all traces of the disease.
Meisel says that he achieved his good health by improving his diet and fitness, but also by finding a way to deal with stress, which he says was a big part of his illness.
What Meisel learned about how to deal with his stress and put him on the road to better health is shared in his upcoming book, “Less Doing, More Living.” He says he believes others can learn from the “less is more” philosophy that he has says can help anyone rid their lives of superfluous work and repetitive tasks that often cause stress.
“Stress is a major cause of inflammation. It taxes our nervous system in a way that is really dangerous when it becomes chronic,” he says. “I created ‘Less Doing’ with the goal of freeing up as much time as possible so people could reclaim their minds, stress less, and do the things they want to do.”
As part of that philosophy, Meisel says he uses the “80/20 rule” differently that most people who see it as a “resource allocation model.”
“For me, it’s a constant reminder to track everything I do,” he says. “Nowadays it’s so easy to track what you eat, how well you slept, how many emails you sent, even your blood markers. With that data comes a lot of power to find places where we can achieve more optimal results.”
Here are some suggestions from Meisel on how to reclaim your time:
  • Track productivity. Tools such as RescueTime can (read more here)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Are Women Holding Themselves Back?

As we recently celebrated International Women’s Day, let's consider:
  • 64% of women have the lowest position in law firms, such as staff attorney jobs, while only 17% garner top spots such as equity partners, reports the National Association of Women Lawyers.
  • While women make up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce and are more educated, they hold less than 20% of leadership positions across all sectors, finds a University of Denver study.
  • Based on median annual earnings for full-time year-round workers, women earned 76.5% of men’s earnings in 2012, finds a Catalyst survey.
While 70% of 4,100 professionals surveyed in 32 countries by Accenture say that the number of women in leadership roles will increase by 2020, there are still problems in female advancement in the workplace.
Do you think women are getting ahead? Your answer may depend on where you work, your profession or your race.  Because even thought leaders can’t seem to agree on what women should — or should not — be doing in order to move into leadership roles.
For example,  Dr. Lois P. Frankel wrote in her book that women undermine themselves in dozens of unconscious ways, such as giving limp handshakes, (read more here)