Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Best Thing to Do For Your Career While on Vacation

Probably the last thing you want to do on your summer vacation is think about work. And yet it intrudes into your thoughts, whether you want it to or not. You wonder how many email messages are piling up; how the boss will receive the report you left; and whether you're still in the running for that promotion.

OK, you’re going to think about work whether you want to or not. So why not channel that mindset into something productive? Like taking a mental step back and really considering where your career is at, and where you want it to be.

Consider, for example, whether you’re happy. Not happy just sitting there drinking that margarita, but happy at work. How do you feel about your job? Is it something you look forward to, something you endure or something you truly hate?

These and other questions are not easily answered when you’re running a meeting, rushing to meet a customer’s order or doing reports at home. These are questions best answered when you can sit back, relax, and let your mind and heart work together.

For example, maybe you’ve been thinking about quitting your job, but haven’t really considered the reasons behind it. Look back over the last year. Has something changed that has made you feel unhappy at work? Maybe you’re required to travel more, or perhaps you’ve gotten a new boss that is giving you a hard time. Make a list and decide what must change in order for you to enjoy going to work, and then whether you’re willing to work for those changes in order to stay put.

Or, maybe you’ve been thinking about starting your own business. What do you see yourself doing? Who would be your customers? Do you have the financial and professional resources to make it a success? Can you receive moral support from family and friends?

At the same time, sketch out where you see the business in the future, what resources it would take to get it off the ground, and what failure would mean to you both personally and professionally.

And while you’re considering your career, look into your crystal ball and try and predict where your employer will be in the next year. Considering industry reports, the economy, and your own observations, do things seem solid? Many times those who have been laid off say they never saw it coming, until they reconsidered all the warning signs they ignored. Do you have a game plan in place if things begin to look rocky?

Also consider your time away from the job to think about how you feel -- deep inside -- about your work life. Are you committed to what you’re doing? Are you able to stay focused on your goals, or are you often distracted and depressed? If anger and resentment are present more often than not, maybe it’s time you were honest with yourself about your job. You may realize that your work is making you really unhappy, but you're afraid to give it up because you've grown accustomed to the lifestyle it can give you.

Maybe you can't come up with the answers to all these questions right now, but it's important to take the time to try. Often, we're so busy hacking through the forest that we forget to climb to the top of the trees from time to time to see where the heck we're going. Find some time while you're recharging your batteries to do just that.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Don't let a verbal attack go unanswered

Not responding to a verbal attack at work can have serious consequences for your career, but there are ways to develop your ability to fire back with professionalism.
One of the most frustrating things to happen at work is to get into a verbal tussle with someone and suddenly be unable to respond with anything beyond “Oh, yeah?”
Once you’ve sunk to defending yourself on the level of an 8-year-old, you know that you’ve lost status with anyone who witnesses your humiliation, from your manager to the summer intern.
Of course, it’s not always an all-out argument that can leave you tongue-tied and humiliated. In a meeting you may get a verbal smackdown from a colleague who doesn’t like your idea. Or, a team mate may make snide comments about your work that isn’t exactly insulting – but you know a rude comment when you hear one.
In all these case, it’s critical that you find a way to respond appropriately – and immediately – or you’ll just become the easy target of such smackdowns in the future. The result is an experience that is not only socially painful, but one that is physically painful as well.
Specifically, researchers at UCLA found that after placing test subjects in an MRI scanner, their brains showed the same reaction to social rejection as those undergoing physical pain.
If you’d like to avoid the unpleasant experience of coming out on the losing end of a verbal smackdown, then you’ve got to hone your ability to respond to difficult conversations.
In her book, “Comebacks at Work,” author Kathleen Kelley Reardon preaches that practice makes a difference. In other words, if you don’t want to be left sputtering the next time you are confronted or insulted at work, then you need to prepare.
She advises that overcoming “brain freeze” means that you’ve got to retrain your brain to see such situations as opportunities or challenges instead of feeling trapped. Once you understand that it’s a habit you can break, then you know you can change and won’t always be a victim of someone else’s sharp tongue.
One method she teaches for finding the right comeback is learning to use metaphors. This is especially valuable if the other person is insulting you (see more here)

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Have a Career Like Peter Drucker

When you look five, 10 or even 20 years down the line, are you optimistic about what you see or do you dread what may be facing you and your family? If you’re like one-third of Americans recently polled by Gallup, then you’re dissatisfied about what the future holds.

If that’s the case, don’t lose hope. Bruce Rosenstein, an expert in the life of management guru Peter Drucker, says there are steps you can take starting today that will put you on the path to a future that will make you happy and fulfilled. The key to Rosenstein’s advice is adopting the “forward-thinking” mindset championed by Drucker. That means embracing change instead of fighting it, welcoming new technology and taking smart risks.
In his book, “Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset,” Rosenstein provides a roadmap for how to embrace today’s realities so you can create a better life for yourself in the future. He advises you to:
  1. Not just live in the moment. Drucker was never one to just focus on his current or past achievements, and that served him well as he was considered relevant up until he died at age 95 in 2005. As you go about your daily life, are you focused on the future? Always ask yourself what the future implications will be of what you’re doing today.
  2. Embrace the fact that tomorrow is unknown. People often don’t like – or even want to accept – change. But you cannot predict that tomorrow (read more here)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Advice from Women in the C-Suite

The double-edged sword of the modern day workplace continues: 69 percent of senior women say they are confident they’ll reach the C-suite in their careers (yay!), but that’s only compared to 86 percent of their male colleagues (ugh), according to a recent McKinsey and Co. survey.
Women in positions of power is commonplace, but if you dig into the stats, you’ll find that ladies hold only 5 percent of chief executive positions in the world today. The good news: More senior-level women are lending their words of wisdom to other female managers rising the ranks.
Looking for some guidance in upper management? Consider the advice of women who have forged their own paths, sit at the top of massive corporations, or simply know what it takes to score that corner office.
1 of 9
Delegate Effectively
Delegate Effectively
“An important task as a manager is to delegate responsibility effectively. One of our studies found that 60 percent of employees who feel they have an impact on the direction of the company are engaged. Women should give employees more responsibility and empower them to be future leaders. It’s also essential to work toward balancing work and family. A good way to achieve this is to focus on time management skills at work and outside of the office. If you’re using your time wisely during work hours, you will benefit from having more available time outside of the office.” -Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of marketing at Dale Carnegie Training

2 of 9
Define Your Legacy
Define Your Legacy
"Your team is your most precious asset. It does not matter if it’s at work or at home, build a support system of women of worth in your life that inspire and motivate you. Never say ‘no’ to an opportunity and embrace experiences outside of your comfort zone. Everyone leaves a legacy and only you can define what yours will be. Never lose (read more here)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Should You Tell Others What You Earn?

Over the years there has been great discussion about whether companies and employees should be more transparent over salaries. 
The latest salvo in this discussion comes from a Tel Aviv University and Cornell University study that finds pay secrecy can hurt individual performance.
Why? Because if employees don’t clearly see that better performers earn better paychecks, then they don’t understand that they need to work harder. In addition, top performers may be more likely to leave if they don’t understand that they’re earning more money because they’re seen as valuable, researchers say.
Despite such studies, most companies don’t want workers talking about how much they earn. For one reason, it’s easier to gain the upper hand in salary negotiations if employees are in the dark about what others are earning. For another, they fear it will damage morale and lead to spats among workers and create headaches for managers.
But Edward E. Lawler III, the distinguished professor of business at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, has argued for years that leaving workers (read more here)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Best Manage Telecommuters

Allowing employees to work from home or other remote locations is often touted as a way to keep workers more engaged and retain key employees. With more than 3.3 million working remotely, or about 2.6% of the U.S. employee workforce, it’s clear that the definition of the American workplace is changing.
But that doesn’t mean working remotely is without its problems. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer put the kabosh on work-from-home deals and ordered everyone to return to the office so they could be more collaborative and innovative. Soon after, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman issued a memo urging the employees to work more in the office because “HP needs all hands on deck.”
Dan Ingram, vice president of marketing at Enkata, writes in that his company found that those who work in an office do get more done, but telecommuting isn’t going to go away because it does offer many advantages such as savings on office space and a broader candidate pool.
“The problem is that many companies, Yahoo included, manage telecommuters exactly the same as they would manage people in the office. This doesn’t work,” he writes.
So let’s look at the biggest mistakes you make as a manager when it comes to remote workers: (see rest of post here)

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Make Your Presentations Much, Much Better

Everyone can give a fantastic presentation.
Not so, you may think. You’ve seen plenty of horrible ones, and may even believe that it’s something you’re only so-so at doing. (If you’re being completely honest, you may even admit your last presentation sucked.)
That’s OK, right? Everyone has their gifts, and for some people, presenting an idea to a bunch of strangers or co-workers isn’t one of them.
But that’s the wrong attitude to take, especially since effective presentations are so critical when it comes to moving up the career ladder, no matter your job.
Dan Roam, author of “Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations,” may be finally able to break you free from presentation jitters and propel you into the world of great speakers and presenters.
The first key, he says, is telling the truth. 
“There are a lot of people who are like snake-oil salesmen or deliver such crappy presentations we don’t believe a word they say,” Roam says.
But if you speak the truth as you know it – without spinning it or lying – then two-thirds of your worry over a presentation will evaporate, he says.
Another key is to simply tell a story, he says.
“It’s in our genetic code (read more here)

Friday, May 2, 2014

How You Can Be Happy Like Pharrell Williams

I think there's a reason that Pharrell Williams hit, "Happy" appeals to so many people.

Simply put: It sucks to be sad.

We can't always avoid it, of course, and sometimes we need to let ourselves feel down in order to deal with a situation and then be able to move on.

But when you're stuck at work with someone whose main character trait seems to be "glum", then that bad vice can rub off on you, robbing you of the things you could be enjoying about your career.

So, here are some things to be on the lookout for so you don't let negativity get your down at work:

  • Blue moods: If you find yourself feeling gloomy when you've been around a certain people, then you know you need to think about how they're affecting you, and why. Is there a way you can change that interaction -- possibly being around them less or finding something that will lighten your mood after dealing with them? Try taking a brief walk, repeating a favorite inspirational quote or just saying hello to the most cheerful person in the office. A friendly smile may be just what you need.
  •  Dissect your reaction: Why are you feeling negative after a certain interaction? Is the person rude or whiny? The old adage about you can't control other people's actions, but you can control your reaction to them is often very true. When the other person begins making rude comments, do you take it or say, "I can see you're upset about something, but I want to be spoken to with respect. Now, I'd like to focus on how we can get this project done on time." Or, if the person starts whining about other things, point out that you're on deadline and have to focus on the work. Leave once you've taken care of business.
  • Trust your gut. If you see someone frowning, and the body language seems tense (hunched shoulders, crossed arms, unsmiling), then try to avoid dealing with the person until later. You could end up being a convenient punching bag for an issue that has nothing to do with you. If this person always seems in a bad mood, try to schedule an appointed time to speak, so that you don't catch them unaware -- which can often make a negative person even more so.

Of course,everyone has negative thoughts and there are going to be some days that just stink. But the more you can do to keep a good perspective, the more positive your work performance will be and that will always pay off in the long run.