Monday, February 24, 2020

Are Your Ethics Slipping at Work?

You may never have heard of Potter Stewart, but he was the guy who retired from the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to Sandra Day O'Connor becoming the first female on the court.

Potter died in 1985, but I came across a quote from him that I thought would be beneficial when writing about becoming a better leader in the workplace.

"Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do," Stewart said.

When we talk about leadership in the workplace, we think of someone like a manager who collects a bigger paycheck, gets an office and maybe extra perks like a personal parking space.

But to me, leadership resides with everyone in the workplace. From the newest employee to the most senior executive, leadership cannot be "someone else's job." That's because each worker must lead in doing what is right. If just one person doesn't, then everyone is affected.

Perhaps morale begins to suffer because people are treating one another uncivilly. Or, maybe people begin to look the other way when someone is being sexually harassed or bullied. In some of the worst cases, no one speaks up -- or even joins in -- when customers are being ripped off.

If you feel that your ethics have slipped, I don't think you're alone. People feel stressed and depressed and fed up with the constant divisiveness in this world and that may lead to "no one else cares so why should I."

But it can stop. You can make it stop. You can resolve that you're going to behave more ethically at work, that you're going to step up and be a leader. Here are some things to think about:

  • Make it clear that you care. If you see someone being mistreated, let it be known that it's not OK.
  • Be patient and calm. Yelling at someone who is behaving badly isn't going to solve anything. And it's not going to stop the behavior overnight. Simply state that it's wrong in a calm way and repeat the message every time you see it happening.
  • Be supportive. Don't abandon someone who is standing up for what is right or believe that your silence is showing your support. Speak up. Through your actions and your words, show support for ethical behavior.
  • Ask questions. Being accusatory or judgmental will not help you at work. If you see a problem, ask questions. "Why did you disagree so strongly with Rob and call him an idiot?" To be a leader, you must constantly be learning. Always get the facts before jumping to conclusions. Then, try to educate: "Rob seemed very upset after your comment. We need him to be focused on the project because he's so creative. This kind of interaction could really damage that. No one should be called names." 
  • Stay positive. Don't let yourself become cynical when confronted with the unethical behavior of others. Always do an internal assessment of what you believe to be important and recommit yourself to that behavior. Interact with others who also have a strong ethical compass so that you feel supported.
Finally, remember that if you want your workplace to be more ethical, then you need to consistently model that behavior every day. Before long, you may find that you are truly leading others to be better at their jobs -- and better to one another.

Monday, February 17, 2020

How to Stop Email From Running Your Life

Well, here's a depressing statistic: people on average spend more than five hours a day checking their email, according to an Adobe survey.

When you think of what you could get done in five hours a day if you weren't checking email -- well, it boggles the mind. You might get to leave work on time every day. You might not be forced to work nights or weekends just to catch up on your work. You might even be a nicer, happier person.

Of course, not all that email checking is for work reasons -- the survey finds that more than two hours (143 minutes) is spent checking personal emails. Some of you might not realize that the time you spend entering the HGTV dream house sweepstakes or responding your Mom's email about your high-school bestie getting divorced eats into your day -- but it does. It really does.

Everyone complains about email. We fume about the colleagues who send too many messages and CC's everyone, we whine about the boss who can't go more than 20 minutes without sending an email and we go crazy looking at an inbox with hundreds of unread messages.

But what if the problem is really closer to home? What if we don't take the advice to turn off our email alerts seriously, or we just have to open the Netflix email to learn about the documentary about flaming underpants that we cannot miss? 

Look at it this way: Could you turn off your email alerts for 30 minutes to work uninterrupted if it meant you could leave work earlier than usual? Could you slap "spam" on many of your personal emails and stop opening them? Or, could you set up a second email account that will only be for personal emails and stop checking them at work? Could you start picking up the phone and calling someone if you need to write more than a handful of sentences since that would be a more efficient give-and-take conversation?

You may not think any of these strategies will work for you or claim you've tried them before and they don't work. But try this: Track the number of times you open an email during a day. Be honest -- no trying to change your numbers by refusing to open the latest Fantasy Football email from a friend.

My guess is that you're going to be unpleasantly surprised by how your life is being overtaken by your bad email habits. You're also probably going to see how you're blaming the lion's share of your email overload on others, when it's really something much more under your control.

This isn't a difficult problem to solve. If you want hours of your life back, just use common sense. Decide what's more important -- spending time with your family or friends or checking out the cruise offer you can't afford. I think you'll probably figure out pretty quickly that it's worth it to exert more control over your inbox and get work done instead of letting your inbox run your life.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tom Rath: How to Create a Better Resume

I recently had the chance to interview Tom Rath, who has written one of the most popular books ever to hit Amazon: StrengthsFinder 2.0. In this Q&A, he discusses how anyone can write a better, more compelling resume....

Q. What do you think is the biggest mistake someone makes when putting together a resume?
A. I think people use far too many impersonal and generic words to describe things that are actually very meaningful and important to them personally. For example, the easiest thing to go in resume are your functional skills and how you’ve mastered formulas in Excel or you’re a certified project manager in a certain area. But, that doesn’t get into the heart of what you’ve done, the lives you’ve helped develop or the people you’ve helped.
I would challenge people to think about how to bring the emotional and tangible impact you’ve had on other people into their resume. Human resources is looking for those 

Monday, February 3, 2020

3 Ways to Stop Feeling so Overwhelmed at Work

We're barely into 2020, and a lot of you are feeling overwhelmed at work.

You had such great plans for this year. You were going to get organized. You were going to network with those in other departments. You were going to come up with an innovative idea and present it to the boss.

So far, the most you've accomplished is whittling your inbox down to less than 300 unanswered emails and finally removed the rotting coffee grounds from your coffee cup.

You don't feel like you've accomplished anything meaningful and that feeling of being overwhelmed is growing. Is it time to look for another job? A new career? A new coffee cup?

First, keep in mind that before you take any such actions, you need to realize that you're not the only one feeling overwhelmed. A Gallup poll finds that of 7,500 full-time employees, some 23 percent say they are feeling burned out at work very often or always while another 44 percent report feeling burned out sometimes. That means that a lot of people aren't feeling like they've got it all figured out.

Second, there are strategies you can use to help you feel better about your job and your career. Just because you don't feel super successful right now doesn't mean that you can't turn things around and jumping ship isn't always the smartest decision (especially if you're going to wind up feeling just as overwhelmed in the next job).

Here are some ideas to try:

1. Remember that you're not alone. I've been covering the workplace for a long time, and the one thing I always hear is this: "I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I thought I was the only one going through this." Nope. You're not. Not everyone has it together, and if they do, you can bet they're covering up things that aren't working. That's OK. Just know that you're not the only one who feels overwhelmed.

2. Grab some control. It can feel pretty terrible to look at your "to do" list for the day or the week and realize you didn't get any of it done. When this happens, you can start to lose your confidence. So, set your phone timer for 15-30 minutes. Ignore your emails and texts and phone calls. Instead, focus on getting one thing done. That will help you feel more on track and give you the confidence you need to tackle something bigger.

3. Get help. It's no secret that workers are being asked to do more than ever before. Employees have to act as their own office managers, travel agents, tech gurus, communications strategists, marketing analysts and a host of other things that used to be divvied among other people. Stop making yourself crazy by trying to do it all. Ask people you work with what strategies they use. Tap into your network and ask, "What tools do you use to stay organized?" You may not only get some great ideas from other people, but you may also find that they offer support to help you feel less alone and overwhelmed.