Monday, May 20, 2019

The Best Way to End a Job Interview

"Is there anything else you'd like to add?"

This has always been the question I ask last in an interview, and it usually produces some great results. Sometimes people will say, "No, I think we've about covered everything...." and then jump in with some new information.

The reason I ask it is because I wouldn't be doing my job as a journalist if I didn't do everything I can to conduct a thorough interview. But I also find it's helpful because it can give me real insight into what the person considers important.

I'm not the only one who asks such a question. Hiring managers often ask some version of it, such as "Is there anything else you feel we should know?"

That's when many job candidates stumble and say, "Uh, no, not really." Or, they really screw up and say, "When can I take my first vacation?"

When a hiring manager asks this question, don't waste an opportunity to leave a positive lasting impression.

For example, reiterate your interest in the job and what you have to offer: "I think this job sounds like a great fit for me and I'm excited about the possibilities. With my education and strong work experience in generating sales through social media, I think I could hit the ground running on Day 1."

Or, it could be that the hiring manager didn't touch on the fact that you speak two other languages, which could be a real plus in dealing with customers or partners overseas. "I know we covered a lot, but I just wanted to mention that I also speak Mandarin and Spanish, which I think could be helpful to this company as it expands into markets overseas."

Don't be too long winded -- you don't want to repeat the entire interview. The hiring manager is a busy person, so focus on the highlights and concisely review your strengths so she is left with a positive impression,

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

5 Ways to Successfully Join a New Team

It can be very exciting to join a new team. But it also can be a bit daunting when you realize the successful track record of that team.

How can you make your mark? How can you get others to listen to your ideas? What if they don't like you or what you have to say?

These are pretty normal questions, so don't feel like you're the only one who has ever felt this way. In fact, it's probably a good thing to be concerned with how others may feel about you because it shows that you're ready to be tuned into others and won't be a know-it-all that others may immediately dislike.

At the same time, your ideas are valuable. You would not have been asked to join the team if others didn't feel that way, so don't be shy about speaking up when you have something to contribute.

Here are some way to smoothly join a new team:

1. Listen. The only way to fully understand the team members and their goals is to spend time asking questions and gathering information. Once you have a better picture of how the team functions, then you can contribute more effectively. For example, it doesn't make sense for you to jump in on Day 1 to suggest recreating a process or product that failed earlier.

2. Widen your circle. Just talking to the current team members isn't enough -- you need to get the bigger picture of how things get done. Talk to support staff and outside partners (as long as you get permission to do so), who can provide a more complete picture of needs and concerns.

3. Leverage your strengths. You don't have to make a huge splash from the beginning. But you can also start making a difference pretty quickly if you know your strengths and begin using them to help the team. Help various team members understand your strengths and vice versa. When you combine your strengths with someone else's, the impact can be seen right away.

4. Curtail your ego. You didn't get put on this team because you're a mediocre employee. You were invited to join the team because people felt you had something critical to offer. Still, that doesn't mean you're going to be hailed as a hero from the first day. More than likely, one or two other team members will feel they need to knock you down a peg or two. If you stay focused on how to achieve results, you'll soon earn respect from everyone as a professional who is more concerned with quality work than gaining recognition.

5. Find ways to connect. Invite team members out for coffee or join them after work at the local pub. Those connections are just as important as the ones you make inside the company walls and will make it easier for other team members to accept you.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Are You Burned Out? Here's What to Do

"I'm so burned out."

I overheard the comment while on a subway recently as a young woman talked to someone on her cellphone. I was surprised to see how clearly distraught the woman was -- and how young she appeared to be.

I thought about that young woman several times that day, especially since I had just read statistics saying that one in five adults in this country experience mental illness in a year. While "burnout" isn't a medical diagnosis, it is a very real concern for many people.

Doctors say that job burnout is a work-related stress that can make someone feel mentally and physically exhausted. People begin to feel they are losing who they really are and don't have much to show for their lives -- they don't even really recognize that it's their job that is real reason behind how they feel.

While some believe that depression may be behind job burnout, there are a number of symptoms. The Mayo Clinic suggests you ask yourself:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
Job burnout can lead to insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, anger and sadness and heart disease. If you feel like you may be suffering from it, the Mayo Clinic suggests you:

  • Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
  • Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.
  • Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.
  • Get some sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Don't Be a Jerk When Rejecting an Offer

A Robert Half survey finds that six in 10 workers in a variety of fields and industries say they've received two or more job offers simultaneously when applying for jobs. When weighing their decision, candidates say they look at salary, benefits, advancement potential, commute and the job's responsibilities or challenges.

Those are all important criteria, but it doesn't always make the choice a no-brainer. You not only have to make the right choice for you (and pray you are right) but you have to figure out a way to say "no" to the other offer without sounding like a jerk.

Not sounding like a jerk is very important. Why? Because the world is often very small and you may run across that hiring manager again one day. If you act like a jerk -- and she tells everyone you acted like a jerk -- then you could damage your professional reputation. Hiring managers often talk to one another and if they start telling others about your poor behavior, they may steer clear of you. The one thing we know for sure is that one day the job market will tank again, and where will you be when everyone thinks you're a jerk?

Here is the right way to reject a job offer:

  • Don't wait. As soon as you're sure of your decision, tell the hiring manager. 
  • Don't be chicken. Sending a text is not cool. The person deserves to have a phone conversation, but an email is the next best thing.
  • Offer a reason. Job seekers always want to know why they didn't get a job, so have the same courtesy for a hiring manager. You don't have to go into a lengthy explanation, but you can say something like, "The commute was going to be much longer to your company, so along with the salary and benefits they were offering, it just made more economic sense for me to choose them," you can say.
  • Be polite. It costs money and time to recruit a candidate, so always be appreciative of that investment: "I want to thank you for the time you spent talking to me and I'd appreciate you also thanking the others who shared their thoughts about the job. I hope one day we run across each other again."

Monday, May 6, 2019

Should You Follow Up After an Interview?

You may be feeling great after a job interview and believe a job offer is just around the corner.

Then, nothing. Silence. No phone calls or emails from the hiring manager.

Now your worry kicks in. Did you say something wrong in the interview? Have they already hired someone else?

Should you follow up? How? When?

There are lots of questions and worries probably swirling in your brain about now, but there's no need to panic.

First, the hiring manager is probably interviewing other candidates, which is pretty common. Second, the hiring manager probably has to check in with others about making a job offer. Third, hiring manager have other duties, so it may be that she's simply so busy she hasn't had a chance to consider candidates and make an offer.

But if a week goes by and you've heard nothing, now is the time to follow up. You can send an email again citing your interest in the job and highlight your qualifications that make your a great fit for the job. If you feel like you didn't mention something that makes you right for the job, you can mention it in your follow-up.

If you get the elusive "we're still considering candidates" response from the hiring manager, then you're going to have to wait another week to follow up or just be more patient and await the decision.

Whatever you decide, don't sit on your hands waiting on an offer. Keep your job hunt going so that you don't lose momentum. If you get a job offer, great. If not, you know that you're being proactive and won't have time to dwell on not being selected for a particular job since there may be a better fit just around the corner.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Are You Ignoring This Simple Key to Success?

When was the last time you wrote a thank-you note?

I'm not talking about an email or a text. I'm talking about a handwritten note to someone expressing your appreciation or gratitude. The kind, you know, that has to have a stamp and be put in that thing known as a mailbox.

For many people, the last time they wrote such a missive may be when they were in school (elementary).

But for those who are really savvy about their careers, a handwritten thank-you note is a key to their success. They have a box of nice thank-you cards in their desk drawer. They may even carry some with them so they can jot a note when they have time while commuting or waiting in a dentist's office.

While you, on the other hand, spend all your spare time watching the guy putting weird things in his air fryer on YouTube or posting what you ate for lunch on Instagram.

A career is not something that has it's own momentum. You have to create it. You have to maintain it. You have to plot where you're going before it goes off the rails because you're not  paying attention as you're in a deep discussion about "Avengers: Endgame" on Reddit.

One of the simplest things you can do to help your career -- and maintain important network contacts -- is to hand write a thank-you note. It's so old school it's new again. It's so unexpected that whoever gets your thank-you note isn't going to forget it, or you.

If you're not sure how to write a thank-you note, there are numerous examples, such as here.

Sometimes it's difficult to stand out when you're courting new customers, trying to get a job or land a promotion. A sincere, hand-written thank-you note may be just the ticket you need to put you in the lead.

Monday, April 29, 2019

What the Most Productive People Know About Email

As summer approaches, many new graduates will begin their careers in a variety of organizations, full of hope and determination about changing the world.

The more seasoned workers sort of smirk at this enthusiasm, knowing it won't take long to break their spirits. In fact, there is one thing guaranteed to bring down these hopeful young people: email.

Hundreds of emails will begin to clog these young worker's lives -- they might be surprised how often that "ding!" signals a new missive. While they may have gotten emails in college or in their training programs, it's nothing compared to the deluge that will hit them once they become full-time workers.

Hence, the smirk by other workers. They know that the young worker's hope and determination to change the world will soon crater as they struggle to keep up with their inbox.

But all is not lost. There is a way for these young workers -- and their smirking colleagues -- to be more productive in the face of the email onslaught. In fact, the most successful people have shown they all have several things in common, including the ability to skillfully handle their messages.

Data from Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of "Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours," finds that the most productive people not only manage their emails by using email filters, they answer critical emails immediately and identify those emails that need to be dealt with but need more time to read (such as those that come with long attachments).

For young workers -- and their colleagues -- the message is clear: Deal with your email effectively if you want to be more productive. Find a system that works for you and you're more likely to have a career that is drive by you instead of your inbox.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Research Shows Why Young Workers Need to Take More Risks

As the world's economy begins to slow, there is more talk that a recession is around the corner and economists predict it will hit in 2020.

If you're a young worker, this news could impact you more than any other age group. That's because when a recession hits, it can affect young employees for a lifetime.

A new study by the University of Hong Kong and the University of Michigan finds that those age 21-25 experience an unemployment rate twice as fast as those age 25-54 when a recession hits. The reason: when times are good, companies are more likely to take a chance on an unseasoned worker. When times are bad, they turn to their proven superstars.

Researchers say that young workers who want to protect their future earning potential may need to take more risks earlier in their careers. In industries where risk is greater, so is the reward.

Monday, April 22, 2019

4 Ways to Handle Distracting Coworkers

We all spend a lot of time at work, and some days it feels like a family get-together gone horribly wrong.

You're tired of hearing about your colleague's bratty daughter. You don't want to be pulled into any more conversations about "Game of Thrones." You don't want to have 10-minute debate about the best font for email.

But unlike bad family times where you can go to your bedroom and slam the door -- or at least get in your car and drive away -- you're stuck at work. You have to show up and do your job if you want to get paid (they're real sticklers about this).

So, how do you avoid some of the distractions that drive you mad?

Here's some things to try:

  • Turn your back. If possible, turn your work station so that your back is to the noisiest, most distracting colleagues. Better yet, put on headphones if the company allows it, and avoid making eye contact with anyone who passes by or sits near you. You'll become totally absorbed in your work -- or at least look like you're totally absorbed -- and it will be much more obvious if someone interrupts you. If they don't get the hint and stop interrupting you, say something like, "Oh, can I finish this thing first? I'm really on a roll and don't want to lose my train of thought." Or simply say, "I'm on a deadline with this and can't fall further behind. Can we catch up when I take a break?"
  • Be uninteresting. One of the reasons that a colleague stops to chat at your desk is because you're too nice to turn away from them, or feel it necessary to respond to a query about a new game or some other inane topic. If you've got a colleague who doesn't seem to "get" that you're busy, then don't make eye contact. Respond with "hmmmm" to comments or reply "I don't know" or "I haven't thought about it" when you're asked a question. Your dullness will send the person to someone else who is more interesting.
  • Follow up. Are you one of those people who says you'll call someone back -- and then doesn't do it? If you tell someone you'll reach out when you take a break -- and then use that break to check out Instagram instead -- then that person will call you again later. So, instead of talking to someone while you are free, you've pushed them into interrupting you again later.
  • Be respectful.  If you want people to honor your request to talk later, then you must do the same for them. When someone is obviously in the zone and diligently working, can your interruption wait? Or, can you possibly find the information on your own or wait until you have several questions that can be asked at one time? You will get more respect for your time if you show the same to others.

This is an update from an earlier post.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

7 Signs You're a Workaholic

For most workers, the days of clocking out at 5 p.m. and never thinking of work again until the next morning when we clocked in at 9 a.m. are over.

Texts and emails keep us tethered to the job, not to mention the "quick phone call" to the office when we're supposed to be on vacation.

All of these can be annoying and disheartening, but many of us are trying to limit "screen time" after we leave the workplace and even dare not to respond to emails while on vacation.

But what about those folks who don't seem to mind the 24/7 work demands? Who seem to be unable to leave work behind, no matter what? Who are threatening personal relationships because they can't stop working?

Often, the term "workaholic" is thrown around in an admiring or even amusing way. But the reality is, being a workaholic is dangerous to your health, your relationships and even your career.

Researchers from the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen have identified specific symptoms that are characteristic of workaholics:

1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guiltanxiety, helplessness and/or depression.

4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
If you think you may be a workaholic, then it's time to become more aware of what you're doing and try to make changes. If you can't figure out a way to do that on your own, enlist the help of family or friends to help you disengage -- or seek help from a therapist.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Why This 83-Year-Old Career Advice Still Makes Sense

I've written before about how important it is to get along with others at work. You don't have to be besties, with your co-workers, but you do need to know what motivates them, what discourages them and how you can best help one another. To think you can go it alone at work and succeed is delusional.

In addition, more companies are keeping an eye on whether you can get along with other people. If you can, then they are more comfortable promoting you. If not, they may believe that you don't really have the willingness -- or the necessary emotional intelligence -- to be given bigger opportunities.

That's why I want to re-visit some great advice by Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Carnegie wrote this book in 1936, and I believe it really stands the test of time. (I've given this book to many high school or college graduates.)

Here is some great advice from Carnegie on how to make people like you:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people. "You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you." The only way to make quality, lasting friendships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests.
  2. Smile. Happiness does not depend on outside circumstances, but rather on inward attitudes. Smiles are free to give and have an amazing ability to make others feel wonderful. Smile in everything that you do.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. "The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together." People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. The easiest way to become a good conversationalist is to become a good listener. To be a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. Many times people don't want an entertaining conversation partner; they just want someone who will listen to them.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest. The royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued and value us in return.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. The golden rule is to treat other people how we would like to be treated. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. People will talk to us for hours if we allow them to talk about themselves. If we can make people feel important in a sincere and appreciative way, then we will win all the friends we could ever dream of.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

5 Steps to Take When You Don't Know What Your Boss Wants

Some people believe a micromanaging boss is the worst thing ever, but I'd have to say that a boss who doesn't communicate what he or she wants is also pretty bad.

This is the boss who can't exactly tell you what he wants. Half the time you don't really know what he's talking about and when he says, "So, everything OK?" you want to respond: "No! Everything is not OK! I have no idea what you really want!"

Instead -- because you don't want to lose your job -- you say: "Sure! Everything's fine!"

The problem here is that you and your boss have gotten into a bad communications rut. He's not telling you what he wants, and you're not asking for what you need.

It's time to change this dysfunctional dynamic:

1. Ask to meet with the boss. Set up a time when you can talk to your boss uninterrupted to clarify some objectives.

2. Choose priorities. Clarify with your boss your top three priorities.

3. Determine resources. Ask the boss if there are additional resources to help you complete these priorities. Are there outside partners you can consult? Do you need to work with someone in another department? Do you have access to necessary data?

4. Set a schedule. Are you in alignment with the boss on the schedule, including preliminary reports, a presentation or a final report to him or to clients? What benchmarks will the boss be looking for along the way?

5. Answer "what if" issues. How much leeway do you have if anything starts to get off track, such as available resources or the schedule? Does he want to be informed of any roadblocks, or are you given the green light to handle them?

Once you've gone through these issues, you and your boss should have a much clearer understanding of your objectives and projected outcomes. This should be standard with all your assignments -- if you can't answer these key questions, then meet with the boss. He'll soon discover that your proactive approach brings about the best results.

Monday, April 8, 2019

4 Things Employees Need From Any Boss

What happens when a worker doesn't trust the boss?

They consider quitting, finds a new survey. At a time when employers are pulling out all the stops to find talent in a tight job market, this should be of great concern. Not only do these employees have one foot out the door in their minds, it probably won't take much to lure them away if they believe they'll have better career opportunities elsewhere.

Further, the survey finds that a quarter of all young workers doubt whether their contributions are valued -- and that should be another area of great concern according to researchers writing in the Harvard Business Review. 

What research finds is that when employers fail to win over the minds -- and hearts -- of workers, they risk the best and brightest walking out the door. It's not enough to pay workers, because although that matters a great deal, workers want to know that they matter and what they do matters.

Richard E. Clark and Bror Saxberg, writing in HBR, provide insight on the top reasons employees get turned off -- and how bosses can rejuvenate them. None of them seem too difficult, but boy, do bosses get them wrong a lot. Here goes:

1. People think differently. Just look on Twitter on any given day, and you may have a vigorous debate about why Neapolitan ice cream should be outlawed. So it stands to reason that what you care about as a boss is not what an employee cares about when it comes to the job. You have to talk to individual employees to truly understand what they care about in life (helping others,sustainability, education) and connect that to the job they do. "You know, Sharon," says the boss, "I know that you care a lot about Third World issues. Did you know this company is making parts that are used in Third World countries to assemble drinkable water systems? So, every time you help to ensure our inventory is accurate, it helps us make sure those parts get there on time and without additional costs."

2. They need support. Does a garden grow without water or the proper soil? Do children get through school without teachers or parents helping them? So, why would an employee believe he will be successful if new tasks or skills are thrown at him without any guidance or instruction? Bosses need to challenge workers, but not at the expense of their self-esteem. They need to provide support to workers learning new skills or procedures, so that they gain confidence and succeed. If they feel they can't succeed, what's the point in trying? Employees who feel such a sense of defeat will certainly not feel motivated to put their best into the company.

3. They need to be heard. Everyone gets stressed, and sometimes that stress erupts in anger or results in depression. Such situations are not healthy for the worker or the workplace. Always be available to take an employee to a quiet place to listen to their frustrations or concerns, which often result from feeling they are not understood. Once they feel they are being heard, the boss can offer some strategies to build more positive outcomes, and that can re-engage the worker.

4. Sometimes they need help. Even the most qualified workers can run into roadblocks -- problems they believe they can't solve. That's when a boss can step in and see that an employee's own doubts are leading to procrastination or blaming others for the problem. Just talking it through can help. Once an employee begins to explore solutions with a supportive boss, then the roadblocks don't seem insurmountable.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

3 Ways to Get Your Team to Trust You

If you've finally worked your way up the ladder and are now in a management positions, congratulations. Now let me offer this advice: You've still got a lot of work to do.

While you may have proven yourself to be a valuable team member, earning your cred as a manager is a whole different ballgame. Instead of being judged on your output, you're going to be judged on your output and the output of your team.

One of the smartest things you can do as a manager is to assess whether you're really being clear on what you want from your team. I'm not talking about: "We all need to pull together" or "There's no 'I' in team."

I'm talking about the day-to-day communications you have with team members, such as directing them on their daily duties or future projects. While many of them may not need a lot of directions, others will need more input from you -- and that's crucial when it comes to setting the tone of your leadership.

Here's some things to keep in mind when directing a team:

1. They are not mind readers. Maybe you think an employee should know that when a client is unhappy that she should not be ignored. But have you made that clear? Have you said, "Brian, when Marisa calls and she's frustrated that a shipment is late, listen to her and determine what she needs from us to make it right."

2. Give them the why. Your team is much more likely to remember your feedback if you explain why it's important to the organization. "Marisa is a key client and her business is growing with her sales doubling in the last quarter. Her success is important to us being able to grow, too. We don't want to lose her trust or she could go to a competitor."

3. Listen.  You may be swamped with work of your own, but brushing off an employee with a question will come back to haunt you. Just taking a minute to listen could save you many headaches later. "Marisa says they're changing their software. Does that mean I should do something different?" says a team member. The heads up about a software change could be significant -- does your team need to meet with IT to figure out new software? Will you be able to offer the same level of service to this client? Will Marisa see you as a dinosaur if you don't change your software?

This all may sound very time consuming and your stress may grow in the beginning. But once you've shown your team that you trust them, they will trust you. That's the kind of bond that will deliver the best results for your career and for the organization.

Monday, April 1, 2019

3 Ways to Deal with Snarky Co-Workers

We've all had those jobs where every day is fun, even if we don't really like the job or the work. The reason: The people are nice. Really nice. Like if you have a flat tire at work they stop what they're doing and fix your flat and make sure you get home kind of nice.

Then there are the jobs where the co-workers are snarky, rude and wouldn't hold the door for you if your life depended on it, never mind that you're trying to balance a laptop, coffee, a file folder and your coat. If you happen to drop any of it? They'll still let the door slam in your face.

These are exaggerations (or maybe not) but you get the drift. It can be really, really hard to go to a place that is populated by people you don't like because they're just lousy human beings.

The question becomes: How do you survive such a work environment?

1. Don't get sucked in. Just like social media can suck you into negative commentary and ugly rhetoric, so can your colleagues. Many of them may actually be nice people, but they've just gotten in the the bad habit of being snarky. When you show you're not going to be lured down that road, then they may change their tune and become more positive and nice people when they are around you.

2. Distract. Anyone who has toddlers knows that the surest way to avoid an ugly meltdown is to distract the child. "Look! Did you see that unicorn go by?" you say, immediately distracting a child bent on a temper tantrum to look for the unicorn. While you can't do that with a complaining or nasty colleague, you can look for ways to distract: "Did you see they're putting in a new restaurant across the street? Have you heard anything about it?" Or, you can try, "Wait, you have to see this carpool karaoke from last night's show -- it's going to blow you away!" Always have a little something ready to go for when a colleague starts down a negative path -- it can be fairly easy to distract some people.

3. Be blunt. If you just can't get someone to leave you alone -- and they just want to make you listen to all their snark -- then you may have to be crystal clear about your boundaries. "You know, I have a lot to get done, and this conversation isn't going to help me do that. So, I'm just going to get back to work."

What are some ways you've found effective to deal with unpleasant colleagues?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

5 Things You Must Do When Providing References

Once an employer gets around to checking your references, you may be feeling quite confident that a job offer is coming your way.

Hold on.

According to an Accountemps survey, one in three candidates are removed from job consideration after checking with their references.

The problem is often that references don't know that they're your references because you neglected to ask them. Or, you asked so long ago that they have forgotten. Whatever the reason, not preparing your references for that important phone call from a potential employer can upend all your hard work. Instead of a job offer, you are rejected in favor of an applicant whose references provided sterling recommendations.

Here are some way to ensure your references help you:

1. Customize your references. Just as you target your resume and cover letter for a certain job, you should do the same for your references. You want someone who can speak to some of the skills sought in the position, such as creativity or leadership.

2. Look for variety. It's not helpful to an employer if all your references can only speak to one aspect of your character or job skills. Try to look for those who have worked with you in different areas.

3. Ask. It's unfortunate how many people don't feel like they have to ask for someone to be a reference -- they just assume they're so unforgettable and amazing that anyone would be thrilled to be a reference. It's always best to check in with a reference and a) make sure they remember you and your skills and b) will be available to speak to a potential employer.

4. Prep. It's helpful to a reference to talk a bit about the job and how you're a good fit: "They're looking for someone who can collaborate with other departments -- remember how I used to set up meetings with sales and tech so that we could all form a strategy together?" That helps create an image that the reference can recall when contacted by an employer.

5. Follow-up. Everyone is busy these days, so make sure that you thank your reference for their time and offer to stand as a reference for them in the future.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Dumbest Habit That's Going to Hurt Your Career

Whenever I get interviewed as a "career expert" I'm often asked: "What do you think it the biggest problem in the workplace today?"

My answer? "Communication."

Whether it's communication between colleagues, between a boss and an employee or even in the c-suite, I see the most problems crop up because people simply don't communicate clearly or effectively.

Think about it: When you had that dust-up with a team member, can it be traced back to the fact that the team member didn't tell you exactly what he had planned? Or, do you have a problem with the boss because she doesn't clearly explain what she wants?

At the same time, perhaps you've become a poor listener. Maybe you don't give your full attention when someone is speaking in a meeting or in-person. Admit it: You're sneaking looks at your texts in a meeting and you're thinking of all the stuff you need to do when a co-worker stops by your desk to discuss something.

I think communication has only gotten worse with the increasing use of texts in the workplace and a new survey backs this up. A Podium survey finds that 77 percent of respondents have texted someone in the same room, and 70 percent have done so with someone within a 100 feet of them.

Seriously? Do you honestly believe you're communicating effectively through text? Or, is it a way for you to avoid speaking to someone in person, which you may consider too time consuming? The survey also finds that 12 percent of respondents texted while in a conversation with a boss as work. SERIOUSLY??

This is a slippery slope and a lot of you are going to find yourself at the bottom very quickly. Texting is something that we all do, but that doesn't mean it should be a substitute for forming a better connection with colleagues, bosses and customers. Your career success is going to be built on forming good connections and relationships with others, and that's not going to happen if you can't talk to someone who is within 100 feet of you.

Try going on a texting hiatus. Stop texting in meetings. NEVER text when speaking with the boss, unless she tells you to do it. Don't text a co-worker within 100 feet and don't text when someone is speaking to you.

There will be times when you need to text because that's what a boss or customer prefers. But in other situations, try to cut down on texting and work on your interpersonal communication skills. Nothing will benefit your career more.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How to Get a Job When You're Not Qualified

In the Great Recession many years ago, employers were ridiculous with the job qualifications they requested -- a master's degree to be a receptionist or NASA astronaut experience to drive a bakery truck.

That was when jobs were in short supply. Now, those tables have turned and employers are lowering their requirements. You won your elementary school's spelling bee? You can now be CEO!

OK, that may be stretching it a bit, but a new survey by Robert Half finds that 84 percent of companies are willing to hire and train a candidates who lack required skills for a job. Some 62 percent of employees say they've been offered a job when they were underqualified.

"Workers can be trained on duties for a role, but individuals with the right soft skills and fit with the corporate culture are often harder to come by," explains Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

How do you get a job when you might not possess all the qualifications? Here are some ideas:

1. Focus on what you can do. You've got to make it easier for the hiring manager to see how you'd be a good fit for the role. For example, maybe you don't have a "project management" job title, but for years you've coordinated projects in your job, from beginning to end. You've worked with clients, vendors, colleagues, partners, etc. to bring in projects on time and on budget. Try to link your experience to the job as much as you can by highlighting comparable skills.

2. Highlight your understanding of the company. While I always advise doing your homework on an employer, in this case you're going to have to dig deeper. You need to not only understand the company's culture and what they do, but you need to understand how that really translates into the relationship they have with their customers, how they compete with others in the marketplace and how they position themselves in the industry. This will give you a stronger standing as a job candidate as it shows greater passion, interest and motivation to work at that company. Hiring managers always appreciate those attributes in a candidate.

3. Be a learner. If you want an employer to believe that you're going to seize the day and grow to fit a job, then show them you're already on that track. Listen to TED talks that increase your understanding of the job or industry, start following company leaders on Twitter or LinkedIn and even take online classes if possible. All those things show the employer that you're proactive and really want to learn and develop your skills. 

Finally, show that you've got soft skills that often are more difficult to learn: good communication, problem-solving skills, a solid work ethic, adaptability and teamwork. Employers are often willing to teach hard skills, so finding a candidate with good soft skills is considered a real plus.

Monday, March 18, 2019

You Hate Your New Job -- Now What?

With a low unemployment rate, some employers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to recruiting workers, such as offering perks and higher salaries.

But sometimes the hiring manager goes a bit further -- and doesn't present a realistic picture of what you'll really be doing if you take the job.

So, on the first day when you show up and expect to begin working on exciting projects, you're told that those projects are sort of on hold. Instead, you'll be doing some routine work. OK, you think, I can do that. I can hold on until the real work begins.

Only the real work that you were expecting never seems to materialize. Instead, you're given constant excuses about it's delay and instead take on more and more tasks that you hate.

Then, it dawns on you: You hate your new job.

Now what?

First, don't panic and head for the nearest pub to drown your sorrows for the next week. Second, don't quit. Third, take a deep breath.

Now, it's time to:

1. Take stock. Think about the company culture, the people you work with, the new contacts you've made and the new skills you've learned. Have you been given a chance to travel more, which you love? Have you been offered cross-training in other departments? Are you learning new skills to add to your resume? When you make an honest assessment, you may come to realize that you're learning something valuable, and the job isn't a total bust.

2. Speak up. If you're not getting to do the things you were promised in a job interview, then you need to get to the bottom of what is happening. Meet with your manager and explain how you were told you would be doing X, but you're really doing Y and Z. The boss may or may not be aware of what you were promised, but you need to explain that you want to do well but you are confused as to why you're not doing the job as it was explained to you in the hiring process.

3. Have a plan. If you're really doing something that isn't in your career plan -- and you just don't like it -- then you're going to need to make a game plan about how long you'll stay and give your boss a chance to make it right. If you were lied to about the job -- or somehow the hiring manager was less than transparent -- the company may try to fix the problem and hang onto you. If, however, you believe they don't really care about you or fixing the problem, it may be time to start looking around.

You may be nervous about leaving a job after a short time, but you can explain in future job interviews that the employer was not transparent about your real duties, and the job wasn't what you were told. That puts the next employer on notice that they need to be honest with you -- and will remind you to do your due diligence to truly understand the parameters of another job offer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What it Takes to Land Your Dream Job

Many people talk about their dream job, but do a majority of people achieve it?

According to a recent survey by TollFree Forwarding, no.

Respondents were asked if they managed to achieve their childhood dream and make it to their ideal job. The results: 76 percent never made it.

Many of these respondents lived to regret it: 39 percent say they wish they had pursued their aspirations further, but the majority felt they didn't have the right skills or knowledge.

There was a bright spot in the survey as 24 percent reached their ideal job at some point in their career and 10 percent are in that job right now. Nearly two-thirds of those who said they managed to get their ideal job said it lived up to the expectations they had in childhood. (The top job for men was a professional sports start, musician and engineer, while women chose teacher, doctor/nurse and veterinarian).

I think something we can all learn is that we need to do more realistic planning in our careers. Here are some tips to get the job your heart truly desires:

1.  Do your homework. Whether you want to be a museum curator or a rocket scientist, you have to do some research on what it realistically takes to reach that level. Don't just rely on teachers or your friends (or Google) to give you a clue. You're going to have to dig deeper and find people actually in those jobs and ask what it takes to get to that job. Just getting a degree or certification may not be enough for a job -- you've got to figure out the key skills you need to get hired.

2. Get experience. Maybe no one will hire you right now as a marketing professional because you're employed at a local bakery. But there's nothing stopping you from setting up your own consulting business and starting to be a freelance marketer. Build your accounts and marketing campaigns and soon you'll have something to show in the "experience" section of your resume. That will help open doors.

3. Network. If you want to be a graphic designer, then try to be around other graphic designers. Join a graphic desinger's association. Read industry publications. Make connections to other graphic designers via social media. The more people you get to know in the industry, the better. These people will start to see the value of your passion for graphic design, see you striving to get the right skills and help you with advice. They are also the ones the most likely to help point you to available jobs or provide a recommendation.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Can a Clean Desk Create Inner Happiness?

I've known people in my life who are so into cleanliness and order that you could eat off their garage floor, surrounded by gardening tools that stand at attention like little soldiers. I've also known people whose surrounding environment -- whether at home or at work -- that I wouldn't touch without wearing a hazmat suit and knowing avalanche procedures in case a mountain of junk fell on my head.

Gretchen Rubin, who I have interviewed many times about happiness in the workplace, has a new book, "Outer Order, Inner Calm." In it, she writes how an orderly, peaceful environment will lead to inner peace and happiness. Need to write a tough email? Rubin says it will be much easier with a neat desk.

Rubin's research into happiness has shown that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to organization, but rather using some strategies to reach out own personal state of inner calm. (I don't need an immaculate garage to feel calm, thank you very much.)

Here are some of her ideas:

  • Never label anything "miscallaneous." "I once created a file called 'active useful documents' and then never looked in it again," Rubin writes. Also, Rubin says you can't use a term that's a synonym for "miscellaneous."
  • Do you need more than one? You probably don't really need two tape dispensers, two pairs of scissors and three pen cups on your desk.
  • Cut out doodads. I once knew an editor who had a desk full of snow globes. Every time someone went on a vacation, they brought him a snow globe from their destination. I once counted 40 snow globes before I gave up. You really only need a couple of meaningful mementos at work, and keep them small, Rubin says.
  • Allow technology to clear clutter. You probably don't need a dictionary, thesaurus, maps or a fax machine if you can do that work online. Get rid of them.
  • Protect your desk. A desk is what Rubin refers to as "extremely valuable real estate." She advises being very selective about what's on its surface, as well as any shelves, drawers or cabinets that are within easy reach. "Unless you're consulting a book every day, don't leave it on your desk. If you have three boxes of your favorite brand of pen, don't store them in your top drawer."
  • Beware of conference swag and freebies. "The best way to deal with clutter is never to accept these freebies in the first place. Something free can end up costing a lot of time, energy and space," she says.
  • Don't own it. It can be very stressful to look at a messy desk and say "I need to get organized!" Instead, your first instinct should be to get rid of stuff. "If you don't own it, you don't have to organize it," she says.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

3 Things to Remember When Turning Down a Job Offer

When you get called back for a second interview, it can be pretty exciting. You are obviously on the short list for the position.

But, wait. If you do an internal gut check, you realize you're not super excited about the job or the company. Oh, well, you think, just get that second interview because you're close to desperation to get a new job.

When the job offer does come, you might get a momentary spark of joy, but it's nothing on the scale of a Marie Kondo spark of joy. In fact, it's already fizzled and you're left with the reality that you really don't want the job.

Now what? Should you take the job and hate it from Day 1? Or, do you want to turn it down and keep trying?

A lot depends on your financial situation and where you feel you need to go next in your career. This is a good time to make a list of the pros and cons and speak with trusted mentors or family. If you do decide that you just can't take the job because of various reasons, how you decline the position may be one of the most critical tightropes you will walk in your career.

That's because hiring managers often know other hiring managers and well, they talk. They talk about job candidates and if you blow off the job offer with a rude "no" then they will be talking about you. That could seriously impact your ability to get interviews or offers from other companies.

If you get a job offer that you don't want, then you need to:

  • Be honest. You don't have to be brutally honest, such as saying "I realized I'd be dying a slow death if I took the job because it just sounds so boring." But you can say something like: "The more I thought about the job, the more I realized that it just wasn't the direction I wanted to take my career. I really want to do more field work, rather than analysis in the office." 
  • Be appreciative. You can probably never begin to appreciate the time and energy is takes to post a job, go through resumes, interview candidates, check references and get approval to make a job offer. Not to mention the money it costs. The hiring manager deserves appreciation for spending all that time and energy on you, and you need to also show an awareness of all the other people who may have spent time talking to you or answering questions.
  • Keep communication open. If you genuinely liked the hiring manager, then feel free to say something like, "I enjoyed getting to know you and if I can ever be of help to you in the future, please let me know." Then, you can send a LinkedIn request that will let the hiring manager know you're not just empty words.
Finally, let the experience be a lesson to you that you need to do some careful consideration when you're called for a second interview. If you're truly not interested in the company or the position, then don't waste everyone's time and politely tell the hiring manager you've decided to go in another direction.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Science Shows How to Have Better Meetings

It seems like every few years someone comes out with a new idea for how to have more productive meetings. But then they get shot down by those who think those ideas are dumb:

  • Standing meetings. The complaint: "I'm not standing! I have a bad back! Someone get me a chair!"
  • Walking meetings. The complaint. "I'm wearing 5-inch heels! I'm not walking a mile in 5-inch heels over broken sidewalk! Someone get me a chair!"
  • Impromptu meetings. The complaint: "I'm not ready for a meeting! I need time to prepare my notes! Someone get me a chair!"
Before you know it, the entire team has grouped around a table and a chairs like wildebeests who have just found the last good watering hole for 100 miles. Just like that you're in a traditional meeting with all the traditional problems. ("This chair is so uncomfortable!" "Why aren't there snacks?" "Why am I in this meeting -- I don't even know you people!")

Now it's time that science steps in and figures out what human beings cannot: How to have productive meetings.

Steven Rogelberg, professor of organizational science, management and philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has some suggestions in his new book, "The Surprising Science of Meetings."

His findings:

1. Forget an agenda. It really doesn't do anything in terms of meeting effectiveness despite all the advice that You. Must. Have. An. Agenda.

2. Stop holding people hostage. Do you have a weekly meeting that is pretty much the same every week? Instead of the wash, rinse, repeat cycle, try sending out information to everyone to consider then giving five minutes to answering any questions about it. 

3. Remote meetings suck. Those in remote locations can be forgotten like Kevin in "Home Alone." Nobody really notices that the remote worker is fading into the background, so it's up to the meeting leader to make sure no one leaves him or her out of the discussion.

4. Don't let a calendar dictate. Just because Google or Outlook blocks out 30 minutes or 60 minutes for a meeting doesn't mean you have to follow it. Try to estimate how long the meeting will really take -- 56 minutes or 18 minutes. Then, try to cut that meeting time by 5 minutes. Science shows that when people are under pressure, they tend to focus more and be more productive.

5. Brainstorm in silence. When people are allowed to write their ideas on paper, you're likely to get many more ideas -- and the time won't be hogged by one person elaborating on one idea or everyone just following the boss's idea.

6. Get lean. Try to trim the number of participants in a meeting to as few as possible. The more people, the more time likely to be wasted -- for everyone.

7. Be a good host. If you're in charge of a meeting, be aware that people hate you. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. But you've called the meeting, so you're the reason they've been pulled away from getting other stuff done and that makes them cranky. So, if you want a productive meeting, you're going to have to be a good host and make it enjoyable. Be welcoming and express appreciation to those attending. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

3 Ways to Feel Better About Failure

I'm not sure I know many people who get up every morning and say, "Gee, I can't wait to fail today!"

Fail. Failure. Failing. Any of those words are drilled into us from childhood to avoid. No teacher or parent wants us to fail. We don't want to fail in front of friends or coworkers.

So it makes sense that when we fail, we feel terrible.

But what if we could feel good about failure -- or at least better? Could feeling better about failure mean that we are less likely to dwell on thoughts that get us nowhere? Could failing become something that energizes us instead of depresses us?

Here's some things to consider about failing:

1. What did you learn? I remember the time I climbed up on the bed to hang curtains, forgetting that the ceiling fan was on. Yep. The ceiling fan clipped me in the head and I did an Olympic-caliber flip off the bed. Sure, I had a headache, but I also learned from it (always check whether the fan is on before climbing on a bed to hang curtains). Sounds obvious, but sometimes we do the dumbest thing at work that we need to stop doing. Or, it can be a much bigger lesson about trusting the wrong person or not listening to our gut. If you frame failure in terms of it being a teaching tool, you're more likely to see it in positive terms.

2. Take baby steps. If you are taking on something that is out of the norm for you or something you consider risky, don't feel you have to jump in with both feet. For example, if you want to start your own business, try to keep your regular job (with health benefits, ahem) while you test the waters and try out your idea. If you're trying to change positions within your company, build a safety net with mentors and cross-departmental training. If you fail at your new venture, you haven't risked everything and can make some adjustments to boost your chances of success. Failure then becomes a minor setback as opposed to a colossal screw-up.

3. Ask questions. This can be one of the most difficult steps, because many people find it hard to ask others why something failed. Look at it this way: If you went to a restaurant and vowed never to go back because you had a snotty waitress who got your order wrong, don't you think it would be helpful for the restaurant manager to know that? Or, should the manager just "guess" at what was wrong and come to the conclusion that the menu needed to be changed. That doesn't make sense, and it also doesn't make sense to "guess" why you failed. Try to get some specific feedback on what went wrong so that you can better understand how to fix the problem and succeed in the future.

Monday, February 25, 2019

3 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Everyone has heard the expression "work smarter, not harder."

If you're like me, that's often easier said than done. When you're under pressure from your boss, or you're trying to juggle multiple projects, you might forget all about such advice, and find yourself working 12-hour days.

Of course, you're not really clear about what you're getting done -- but you did answer 100 emails, send 100 emails and create a paperwork blizzard on your desk. Yes, indeedy! Your boss will be impressed with your productivity, right?

Wrong. Your boss is wondering why you are working so many hours, seem to be buried under paper and still haven't made progress on that key project.

Here's where you need to stop and repeat after me: Work smarter. Not harder.

Let's look at some ways to do that before your paperwork buries you like a late-season snowstorm:

1. The boss's goals are your goals. Sure, you'd like to answer emails and send emails, but is that what your boss wants done? The best way to work smart is to always say to yourself: "What is the boss's priority? Am I working on that?" Only when you've got the boss's goals taken care of can you move onto something else.

2. Clearly communicate. If someone comes to you and wants your help, clearly state why you can or cannot help. "I can help you tomorrow if I get the boss's request done. There is the chance she'll ask me to do something else, and that takes priority. If you want to wait, I'm happy to let you know when I'm done." No one is going to argue with that reasoning, and it clearly shows why you can't jump to another task. If the boss comes to you with another request (or several), get a clear indication from her about how she would like your energies directed -- the task she wants done first, second, third, etc.

3. Be intentional. If using Facebook or Twitter or Instagram isn't a part of your job, don't even look at it during work hours. Save it for break times, and then only allot a certain amount of time. You're really better off recharging your batteries -- and working smarter -- if you use your break times to take a walk or eat something nutritious. When you set parameters about how to use your time during work hours, you will stay in your lane and stop drifting to "busy" work or tasks not related to the job at hand.

You may believe that you are a good worker because you're always busy, busy, busy! But if you're hiding behind meaningless work, the boss will not see you as a valuable member of her team. Only when you're directly contributing to helping her meet her goals and contributing to the success of the organization will you truly be working smart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

4 Steps to Being Happier

When my children were babies, I knew exactly what I would do if I won the lottery: Hire a nighttime nanny.

That's because my kids couldn't seem to get the hang of sleeping through the night, and I was beyond exhausted. I could have tried out for the "Walking Dead" and won a part based on how I felt -- and how I looked.

Things got a bit easier once my kids decided to start sleeping, but that led to a host of other stresses as they grew: baseball and music practice, school projects, friends' birthday parties, etc. At the same time, my career was becoming busier and busier and I was taking on bigger projects.

That led to a bad spate of insomnia as I struggled with thoughts of schedules and science projects and work commitments. It was a tough time, and not the first or the last of tough times trying to figure out a personal life and a career. There just felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.

That's why research from Ashley Whillans at Harvard University really struck a chord with me: Having enough time, or "time affluence" is now at a record low in this country -- and we're really in a "famine" when it comes to effectively managing our time.

But here's the surprise: Despite the perception that people today work longer hours, the data shows that most of us have more discretionary time than ever before.

What Whillans and her team have discovered is that we spend our time trying to get money -- taking on bigger jobs for more money. We believe that money will make us happier in the long run.


It turns out that the happiest people use their money to buy time. Whether it's working fewer hours or paying someone else to do disliked tasks, we experience more fulfilling relationships and careers when we use our money to buy time.

But even Whillans admits that making better choices for our happiness isn't easy. Sending emails while on the beach, making phone calls during a commute and giving up exercise time to talk to a colleague all sabotage her efforts.

Still, she says there are ways to shift such a mindset. Among her suggestions:

1. Forget spontaneity. Our brains don't like it, and it leads you to check your email instead of going our with friends. So, plan ahead. Plan what you want to do on your weekend or after work and then stick to it.

2. Get moving. Try to build in activities that require you to be physically active, whether it's volunteering at a food bank or walking the dog. Research shows you'll be happier if you engage in more active, rather than passive, activities.

3. Enjoy a meal. Don't eat in front of the television or the computer. Savor your food -- enjoying your food reduces your stress.

4. Be open. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone in line as research shows that casual social interactions with strangers "significantly boosts happiness," she says. At the same time, volunteering also increases your happiness and makes you feel like you have more time.

Monday, February 18, 2019

This is What You Need to Do to Change Industries Successfully

More people are expected to test the job waters this year as more than 12,500 U.S. employers are looking for new workers and unemployment remains low. This comes as good news for workers who are ready to take the leap to a new job or industry, including those federal workers who are looking for steadier paychecks after government shutdown uncertainty.
Still, those seeking to change industries in their job search will need a strategy to overcome blockades. Computers may weed them out in an initial screening, and employers may be wary of hiring an industry newbie.
That’s why it’s key to craft your resume and cover letter in a way that highlights transferable skills. Here are some things (see more here)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

3 Ways to Handle a Negative Coworker

It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is always talking or writing about "times like these." Usually, it's not "times like these are so great." It's usually something like, "Times like these are so horrible."

For a lot of people, this negative outlook on life becomes a big problem and they carry it like a heavy backpack with them wherever they go. They sigh when they sit down in a meeting. They mutter under their breath when others are talking about new ideas. They rarely contribute anything to discussions unless it's a criticism or complaint.

Eventually, you realize that this colleague's negative behavior is getting to you. Perhaps you even worry that her negativity is starting to rub off on you.

What can you do?

First, realize that you're not helpless -- do not start to believe that the negative colleague is in control. You are, and there are things you can do. Among them:

1. Study her. What makes her so hateful? Are there certain times that she's more negative than others? When you take the more "scientific" attitude to studying her, then you become less emotionally invested in what she does. Think of it as getting an inside look at what NOT to do.

2.  Stay calm. One of the reasons you're so upset with the negative behavior is because you know that it's having an impact on you. You think about the negativity at night, making it difficult to fall asleep. You know it's making you so tense that you are becoming more frustrated driving home after work, and worry you're developing road rage. Enough. It's time to disconnect from her bad behavior. Don't engage with her and try to find the "bright side" of life when she's being negative. Don't argue her point of view. "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree" can be your mantra when she tries to drag you down with her.

3. Start walking. You can't always walk away from a negative coworker, such as when you're in a meeting or she's working with you on a project. But once you're done interacting with her in a professional capacity, don't be hesitant about walking away. If you don't want to be rude, tell her you've got to return a phone call, meet with someone else, etc. But the physical act of walking away will help alleviate the emotional stress of dealing with her, and the physical activity will help lower your blood pressure and restore you equilibrium.

Finally, if you suspect your coworker's negativity may be related to depression or some other mental illness, go to your boss or human resources to relate your concerns. They are equipped to handle such an assessment better than you.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Research Shows the Secret to Influencing Social Change at Your Company

Do you care about social issues like protecting the environment or curbing poverty? Would you like to see your employer get more involved in such issues?

If so, you might want to pay attention to research that shows you might be more successful in getting a company on board if you frame the issue to fit the company's values and mission.

"Our findings suggest that this approach works because it elicits feelings of anticipated guilt and motivates managers to devote resources and promote issues that benefit society," says David Mayer, a University of Michigan professor and one of the researchers.

In other words, you may want to see your company practice more sustainable practices to help the environment, but the best way to get your manager on board is to connect that sustainability to your company's business and its stated values in a "moral" type of message.

However, don't just try and get a manager to support your issue with only economic language or moral language. Researchers say this strategy isn't always as successful as connecting morality and the business values.

Mayer says that the research clearly shows that even lower level employees can be successful in trying to bring about change for social issues in their companies, which can provide "inspiration in their future that they can be influential within their organizations."

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Research Shows What Can Help You Survive a Toxic Boss

If you have a horrible boss, you know that each day seems to get longer and longer, it gets harder and harder to get out of bed and you start to develop physical ailments like headaches and stomachaches.

You know deep down that you will get past this, and someday you may even look back on this period and laugh about it (or maybe not). But in the meantime, you've got to find a way to somehow survive the bad boss.

The results of a new study might help. Researchers say that when you've been mistreated by a toxic boss, you are more likely to show ethical behavior when you become a leader. When you have an abusive boss, you "distance" yourself from them and are less likely to be abusive to your own team members, they say.

"This suggests the cycle of abuse isn't inevitable in organizations, just as developmental psychology research shows that abusive parenting does not always lead the next generation of parents to become offenders," researchers say.

At the same time, researchers recommend that if organizations want to stop bad leadership behavior and instead establish a culture of ethical leadership, then they must promote those who have strong "moral identities" and strengthen the moral identities of current managers. One way to do that, they suggest, is by ensuring that everyone is crystal clear on organizational and professional standards and making sure those rules are displayed in an office environment.

So, while you have to go to work today for your a**hole boss, try to console yourself with the fact that this bad experience is molding you into being a better leader one day, because you'll know what NOT to do when you become a boss.