Monday, June 28, 2021

3 Things to Do When You've Made a Mistake at Work

When was the last time you made a mistake at work?

If you say "never," then I've got one word for you: HA.

That's because everyone makes mistakes at work. Sometimes they're little, harmless ones like forgetting to take your moldy sandwich out of the office refrigerator. But sometimes they're much bigger -- like the kind that can put your job in jeopardy.

The key is this: Don't try to cover up a mistake with lies or by acting as if it never happened. If the mistake comes to light, you might get in even more trouble for covering it up. Here's what you do when you screw up:

1. Own it. As soon as you realize you've made a mistake, take responsibility. Don't try to blame someone else, start deleting incriminating emails or ask someone to lie for you.

2. Look for a solution. Once you've discovered the mistake, you have to tell the boss. But before you do that, is there something you can do to fix it? If so, you go to your boss and state what happened -- and immediately say that you've thought of a solution or plan of action. The boss may not like your idea, but it shows him or her that you're trying to get on top of it.

3. Don't grovel. Yes, you're going to have to apologize to those who have been harmed by your mistake, whether it's the colleague who will now have to work overtime to help you fix it or the boss who has to explain to his boss what happened. Still, that doesn't mean you have to act like the lowest life form. You made a mistake, you apologized, you're trying to fix it -- all the things a professional should do in such cases. Don't keep apologizing or walking around with your head down, or that will give you an unflattering reputation.

The key for any mistake at work is to learn from it. Think about what you could have done differently to prevent it from happening again. Not only does this improve your performance, but the boss will certainly appreciate that you're taking proactive steps to do your job better.

Monday, June 21, 2021

3 Easy Ways to Be a Better Person at Work

Walk into any mall store -- or check out any online retailer -- and you're likely to find a "Be Kind" t-shirt. Or tote bag. Or pillow. Or coffee mug.

It seems we all want to be kind to one another and hope others will do the same.

But what does it mean to be kind in the workplace? Some seasoned career professionals will tell you that being kind is fine, but when it comes to your career, you have to be a bit cutthroat as well if you want to survive.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I don't advise anyone to be so kind that they become a human doormat and don't stand up for themselves at work. At the same time, most cutthroat people end up burning so many bridges that later in their careers they often have no supporters -- and no careers.

Many of us have been working remotely, or have taken new jobs. We may vow to "be kind" in the workplace and not fall into the trap of gossiping, being negative and being selfish at work. 

But, how, exactly, can you be kind at work without falling into the doormat trap? Think about:

1. Helping others. I know that most of us have more than enough on our plates most days, but that doesn't mean you can't put some effort into helping someone who is struggling.  You don't have to take on that person's work, but you can buy them a cup of coffee, offer to proofread a report or just be a sounding board for them.

2. Paying more attention. Everyone has a bad day at work, and sometimes it's a bad week. When it happens, don't just turn a blind eye. Offer words of encouragement and even share times when you've struggled. Just putting a "You can do this!" note on someone's desk can really help that person.

3. Be an advocate. Is there someone in meetings who is always ignored, or has his or her ideas shot down? If so, speak up. Say: "I'd like to hear what Julie has to say," or "Jason, you made a good point -- can you elaborate on that a bit?" Even after a meeting is a good time to say to someone: "I thought that information you offered about online sales was really helpful."

Sometimes we believe we don't have the energy to take on another thing, even if it's helping someone having a bad day. But what anyone will tell you is that being kind is energizing -- for the receiver and for the giver. The added bonus is that some of the most successful people say that being kind is what got them ahead.


Monday, June 14, 2021

How to Ensure Fair Treatment as a Remote Worker

When interviewing for a job, it's always a good idea to pay attention when you get a tour of the workplace and meet other employees. During this time, you want to look for red flags -- the things that indicate that employees are unhappy or that the workplace has a toxic atmosphere. (Some indications include workers who never smile or make eye contact, rundown facilities, lack of clarity regarding advancement, etc.)

The same thing is true when you're considering a remote or hybrid job. Just because the employer says you can work from home doesn't mean that you can ignore the warning signs that the job or the company may be harmful to your career or mental well-being.

Recently, FlexJobs identified red flags it believes are signs of a toxic hybrid workplace, including:

1. No senior leaders who work remotely.

2. Celebrations or rewards happen only in the office.

3. Meetings are scheduled at odd hours.

4. Lack of appropriate equipment for remote workers or lack of proper remote communication tools.

I'd also like to add that any boss who has remote workers needs to be able to offer a clear idea of how he or she measures performance. Are you expected to have set office hours? Are online measurement tools used? 

What about attending professional events? Are those open to you as a remote worker? When you're working from home, it's probably even more important for your career that you attend offsite team events, professional conferences, etc.  Make sure that "working remote" doesn't mean "staying remote." You should be given opportunities to participate in company events.

To be fair, many bosses are still trying to figure out hybrid work arrangements and may not have all these tools and practices in place. But when asked, the boss should show that he or she is proactively looking out for remote workers and gives them as much energy as workers in the office all week.


Monday, June 7, 2021

How to Make Yourself More Powerful at Work

Are you a person who gets things done?

Not just your daily "to do" list of picking up the dry cleaning, attending a meeting or hitting the gym. But do you get things done when others are opposing you?

The key to that question may be in determining how you are seen by others. Are you giving off nonverbal cues that make you seem strong -- or weak? 

For example, tilting your head or looking down means you're giving away your power, says Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. 

But, when you look someone in the eye, stand tall instead of hunching and take up some space with expansive, forceful gestures, then you are seen as having more power, he says.

You also are seen as more powerful if you refuse to be interrupted, using simple, forceful language and employing vivid words and descriptions, Pfeffer says.

"You don't want to use filler words and you don't want to use, to the extent possible, 'ums' or 'ahs' or anything like that," he adds.

It's also important to consider how your emotions are contagious. Research finds that when you smile at someone, they smile back. Or if you frown, then others are more likely to frown. So, if your energy is upbeat and confident, others will mirror those emotions. "You don't want to say, 'I think there may be some chance that our new venture might succeed.' You want to say, 'we are going to succeed and there's no question about it,'" he explains.

While some may feel that speaking confidently or powerfully is only for certain people, Pfeffer urges everyone to learn to use such methods to advance their careers.  He says it's important to think about how you're conveying yourself through your dress, your mannerisms and your speech.

By simplifying your approach in verbal and nonverbal areas, you can focus on using methods that will boost your power in the eyes of others.