Monday, May 23, 2022

What To Do If You're Insulted at Work


As many workers head back into the office, there will be some good times -- seeing likeable colleagues in person, going out to lunch with a work friend and even getting out of the house for a change.

But there are bound to be bad days. The commute is too long and someone in the office is microwaving fish sticks. And -- here's something no one misses -- you are the target of a barbed comment.

It may be a subtle insult such as "Oh, it's nice to see you gain! You never used video on Zoom calls so I always figured you were watching TV the whole time!" Or, "Now you have to work for real and won't be 'unavailable' because you're napping with your cat!"

These kinds of comments may be said with a sort of "ha, ha, isn't that funny" attitude, but no one wants to be insulted at work.

There are a couple of things you can do:

1. Laugh it off.

2. Say, "What are you accusing me of?" or "Are you insulting me?" or "What did you mean by that?"

3. Calmly say, "I know it's not your intent, but those comments are hurtful and make me feel like you don't value me or what I contribute."

4, Ignore it.

Keep in mind that everyone's "people skills" are going to be a bit rusty as we gather again in person. You may want to give the insulter a "grace period" to regain some manners and behave better. If it continues, however, it may be worth a private conversation with the person to state how the comments make you feel. Remember, however, that such conversations can be difficult and may result in more hard feelings if you are confrontational and not conversational. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Why It's Time to Onboard Your Entire Team

 As workers return to the workplace in dribs and drabs, some feel a bit disoriented.

Gone are the days of working at the kitchen table or taking the dog for a walk in between Zoom calls. Gone are the days of wearing slippers all day or doing the laundry while working.

In addition, many workers claim they've lost that "human" connection, despite working via Zoom or other online channels. Even when they return to the office, people separate into their own spaces and only interact online.

Liz Fosslien has an interesting take on Harvard Business Review: That it's time to "re-onboard" everyone.

Fosslien says that it's important to be more intentional about bringing teams back together. She suggests leaders need to:

1. Make an emotional connection through random 30-minute, one-on-one meetings between members. Start in-person meetings with lighthearted prompts ("What food is underrated?") and let each person talk about a personal highlight for the week.

2. Recognize unique contributions. Encourage people to use the special talents or gifts they have and then share how those talents lead to great ideas.

3. Set short-term goals for immediate success. Let people share successes for attainable 30-day goals. This helps re-establish confidence and motivation.

4. Set clear expectations. How will team members working remotely still have a voice? How will progress be tracked? How will feedback be offered?

5. Celebrate. Offer recognition for those who meet the team values. Let team members recognize one another or win prizes for meeting goals or helping others.

While none of these suggestions are earth-shattering, they are important. That's because many of us feel out of sorts while trying to navigate a return to "normal" and any support from leadership will be critical during this transition.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Is Endless Scrolling Ruining Your Career?

When I first began working from home decades ago, people were envious and said they wanted to do the same. They often asked me for advice, and there were two things I told them:

1. You cannot work with kids underfoot.

2. Be disciplined and set a schedule.

Now with the pandemic, I think a lot of people know that I wasn't kidding. The biggest problem is that while I arranged babysitters and day care for my kids when they were still too young for school, now parents are faced with their kids of all ages being at home more.

So, while I know that it's really difficult to work with kids underfoot, millions of parents are doing it. I take my hat off to them -- they are superhero parents.

As for the second bit of advice I offered, "be disciplined and set a schedule," -- I think is tougher.

A survey finds that  people say "scrolling aimlessly on a device" is the second biggest reason (behind distractions from kids) that takes them away from work the most. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, dating apps, news alerts -- all these are a rabbit hole that you fall into and end up wasting hours of time.

Another big time waster, according to the survey: messaging, video games and job searching.

If you're tired of feeling frazzled, overworked and unorganized, here are some things to try:

1. Log off all social media. Delete them from your phone or your browser.

2.  Get help. Apps like Facebook Nanny and Checky can help you control online habits.

3. Schedule time. Just like in school, you knew recess was coming at a certain time, so you were able to hang in there and complete your math work. Have set times you will check your phone or scroll Instagram. Put on a timer and when time is up, get back to work.

4. Block the noise. If dinging texts and notifications are a problem, simply turn your phone off, use airplane mode or even put the phone in another room. This may be difficult to do if messages are work-related, but your boss may support you checking texts only every couple of hours so that you can stay focused.

I think many of us have picked up bad habits during the pandemic and tell ourselves it's OK. But consider how these bad habits -- such as checking Instagram every minute -- are actually hurting you and very possibly, your career. Are photos of birds with arms really that important? 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Research Shows Why Your LinkedIn Photo Matters

If you're like most people, you have a lot of photos. Photos of you with your bestie. Photos from a fun weekend with your family. Probably even a few work photos from the company picnic.

You probably also have lots of selfies. Perhaps you even posted one of those selfies on your LinkedIn profile.

Did you post a photo that will get your a job -- or get your eliminated from consideration?

According to a recent survey:

  • 71% of recruiters admit they've rejected a candidate at least one because of a LinkedIn profile photo.
  • 87% of recruiters say the consider the professionalism of a profile photo a critical ranking factor.
  • 80% of LinkedIn recruiters believe that profile pictures help them get to know candidates better.
  • 95% believe a LinkedIn profile acts as a business card today.

Here are the keys to an effective LinkedIn photo:

1. Show some charisma. You want people to trust and like you. Smile while thinking of something that makes you feel happy: your dog, walking on the beach, etc. People will be attracted to the warmth they see conveyed in your photo. 

2. Be professional. Photos of you in a swimsuit with a beer, a photo that only shows half your face under a hat or a photo sitting behind the wheel of a car don't say, "I'm ready to work and be professional."

3. Quality. Only  upload well-taken photographs.

4. Show personality. It's OK to have a more "real" photo such as casually sitting or standing in front of a landmark, such as a university statue. This can help establish a connection with the viewer -- and remember to smile!

Monday, March 28, 2022

20 Different Ways to say "Good Job"

If you sometimes feel like a broken record saying "Good job!" to your team, here are some other ways to say the same thing:

1. Exactly right

2. Excellent

3. Exceptional

4. Fabulous

5. Fantastic

6. Sensational

7. Wonderful

8. Outstanding

9. Unbelievable

10. Marvelous

11. Stupendous

12. First class work

13. Amazing

14. Impressive

15. Good thinking

16. Great idea

17. On target

18. Beautiful

19. Perfect

20. Well done

Monday, March 14, 2022

How You Derail Your Own Career

If you've ever had a bad performance review that blindsided you or found yourself excluded from important projects or teams without a clear idea of why, then it might be time to consider that you've sabotaged yourself.

Most people don't knowingly sabotage themselves, but it happens. But it's clear you've done the damage to yourself -- it's not because the boss is an a**hole or because someone has set you up to fail. It's because of how you've behaved, or performed -- or even something you have said -- that pushes you off the road to success.

For example, maybe you failed to work with a new boss in the way he likes to work. Your old boss didn't care when you came into work as long as you got the job done. But the new boss likes you working by 9 a.m. with no excuses. You obviously didn't take that seriously enough, and beginning work at 9:30 a.m. or even 11 a.m. hasn't gone over well.

Or, let's say that you've stepped on a few toes while climbing the ladder. Nothing too awful, but you did have more that a few arguments with team members who you accused of lacking vision or there was that one time you called someone an idiot in front of a customer....

Of course, now those team members aren't standing up for you with the boss, and have even lobbied to have you removed from an important project because you won't "collaborate" and "create a hostile work environment."

See how these issues were created by you? And you will be the one who's career suffers?

If you've gotten feedback that you're difficult to work with, a poor communicator, are too stuck in your ways, etc., then you need to do some work to clean up your act. Better yet, head off these problems before they torpedo your career by going to people who are close to you and who you trust.

"Is there something I am doing that you believe could hurt my success? Please be honest," you ask.

Then, listen. Don't get defensive. Thank them and then get to work making the  improvements you need to keep your career on track.

Monday, February 28, 2022

4 Ways to Better Communicate Complex Information

If you're an expert in your field and are called upon to communicate some complex ideas to an audience that may only understand the basics, it can be a challenge.

If you speak the way you usually do -- say to a teammate or your boss --  you're likely to lose your listeners. Or, if you just throw a lot of statistics at them in an effort to emphasize the importance of your topic, you're likely to lose your listeners.

That may be frustrating for you, which is why you decide to just plow ahead and hope someone gets it.


That will not only lose your listeners, but possibly the good will of your boss.

That's because the boss understands that while the information you share is important, it's also critical that you communicate it so that everyone gets it. Everyone. Not just people in your department.

Here are some ways to communicate complex information:

1. Don't assume anything. Just because you know all about XYZ -- and have for a long time -- doesn't mean anyone else does. So, that means you need to weed out unnecessary information, cut the jargon and break it down to the basics: who, what, when, where, how and why. 

2. Don't use data overload.  While you may have loads of data, that doesn't mean your audience will find it useful. You need to be able to explain your subject without the data first. Why should anyone care about your information? How will it impact them or the company? Can you provide an everyday example of what you're telling them?

3. Focus on your audience. What do they need to hear? What do they need to learn? Use that as your starting point -- don't focus on what you need to say but rather think about the needs of your audience.

4. Use visuals. PowerPoints are not supposed to just be a copy of your presentation. Use visuals to convey a feeling or reveal a few surprising facts or statistics in a bulleted format (this prevents you from data dumping). 

It's not easy to convey complex information in a way that anyone can understand. But with some planning and practice, your presentation can not only be informative, but help your career by showing you as a great communicator.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Always Taking Care of Others? You Could be a Sort of Narcissist

When I think of narcissism, I think of those people whose egos are so outsized that they  never believe they make a mistake or that they are wrong. I think of selfishness, a sense of entitlement and a lack of empathy.

This self-centeredness can pop up in the workplace -- I'll bet you can think of a boss or colleague who fits the mold.

But what if it's you?

Psychologist Nancy Van Dyken says that there are everyday narcissists who may not recognize their own behavior that is frustrating to those around them.

These "garden-variety form of narcissism" folks are often people-pleasers, trying to always "take care" of others and feel responsible for them. They also believe that others are responsible for how they feel. All these beliefs put the person in a central role, setting up an "all powerful" position.

These narcissistic patterns are often instilled in childhood, she says, which makes the person believe he or she is at the center of it all when that's not really the case.

So, someone in this situation might take care of everyone around her at work, while her own mental and physical well-being suffer. Until this person recognizes this destructive pattern -- either through self-reflection or therapy -- then it's likely to make this person unhappy.

If you're feeling stressed at work, think about what unconscious actions you may be taking that prompt you to take care of others at work and feel responsible for them. It could just be that's what you want for yourself -- and that's not  a healthy expectation of your colleagues or bosses.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Yes, Going Back to the Office Means Talking to Humans


As more people head back into the office this year, there will be adjustments.

Some may be a bit silly of course (no more wearing pajama bottoms with a button-down shirt like you did for Zoom calls) while others will require more serious focus, such as learning to interact in person with more people all day long.

In fact, I'll bet more people than are willing to admit are a bit intimidated by the thought of those casual conversations that used to be a regular part of our day before the pandemic hit.

Do you even remember how to have an interesting, off-the-cuff conversation? 

If you're a little anxious about having casual interactions with colleagues or even bosses, here are a few things to think about:

  • Don't try to be great. No one is expecting anyone to be a sparkling conversationalist after  more than a year of working remotely. Just by simply listening to the other person and giving him or her your undivided attention (no nervously glancing for an exit or looking at your phone) you will have set yourself up to respond naturally to the speaker.
  • This is a good thing. After such a long time apart, think about how nice it is to see a colleague in person. Think of the opportunity you now have to strengthen a bond with this person, and to have more straightforward interactions without the hassle of a spotty Internet connection or one of your dog's howling in the background. This will help you relax and interact more naturally.
  • Take advantage of the situation. There were probably several times during remote interactions where you wished you could pull someone aside more casually and ask them to give you the informal "scoop" on something or explain a situation in more detail -- but a Zoom call with the entire staff didn't make it easy. Now that you can have more casual conversations in person, you take take better advantage of someone's input or knowledge and perhaps make your job easier and more rewarding.
Remember that everyone is going through some kind of adjustment as more people return to work in person. Don't put too much pressure on yourself and expect things will be easy in the beginning. By focusing on the positive aspects of casual, in-person interactions, it will make the events more enjoyable and less stressful.

Monday, January 17, 2022

The 4 Things Hiring Managers Really Want to Know

As more people job hop these days in an effort to obtain better positions, they need to understand that just because they have a pulse doesn't mean they will be hired.

Employers are still being somewhat discerning, especially when it comes to those who are seeking a "leap" in their career or even a completely new career.

For those who may lack the specific skills or experience required in a position, these are some of the abilities that will get the interest of hiring managers:

1. An ability to self-manage. Whether you're seeking a remote or on-site position, be aware that many managers are being pushed to constantly monitor employee "health and well-being," as well as provide proof that employees are getting their jobs done. Talk about how you organize your time at work, how you manage your own stress or how you are aware of how your own actions -- or inactions -- can impact others on a team.

2. Motivated. During the pandemic, we've all had to find ways to stay upbeat. If you've found a strategy to stay engaged and excited about work, share that with a hiring manager. Maybe it's listening to great music, finding satisfaction in helping someone solve a problem or enjoying the challenge of exceeding customer expectations.

3. You consider other viewpoints. Although many people would like to choose the people they work with, that rarely happens. It's just a fact of the workplace that you're going to work with people who are different from you in a variety of ways. What a hiring manager wants to know is: Can you work with others who may rub you the wrong way?  Are you able to deal with conflict in a professional manner? Can you relate a time that you resolved a conflict or learned to find common ground?

4. You strategize for success. You know the goals of an employer and set your job goals to help meet them. In other words, you recognize that your success is the company's success, and vice versa. You cannot operate in a vacuum and need to be flexible enough to shift as the company goals shift, and to align yourself to the most important goals.

No matter what job you're seeking, these are important issues that any hiring manager will consider. That's why it's important to think of examples to share with an employer throughout the interviewing process to show that you're prepared, motivated, professional and ready to take on new challenges.


Monday, January 3, 2022

How to Learn if Your Resume is Memorable

How memorable is your resume?

It might take a stranger to truly reveal that answer.

Ask someone you don't know to review your resume, either online or in a printed format. 

Let them review it for less than 10 seconds, then take the resume back and ask: "What do you know about me?"

It's often said that hiring managers don't give more than six or seven seconds to review your resume, so this test is a good way to gauge what is memorable about you.

Once you've gotten your answer, then it's time to consider several factors:

  • Did the reviewer only remember information that was in boldface, or a larger type size?
  • Did the reviewer remember only information in one area of the resume such as the upper right corner?
  • Did the reviewer only remember job titles?
  • Could the reviewer remember any of your accomplishments?
These are all important questions because they may reveal that your resume simply needs a few tweaks (more boldface, more bulleted points) or that you need to put your most important information in the upper right corner.

Try this test with several people, if possible. While this is certainly far from scientific, it does give you a good idea of a resume that isn't visually appealing or memorable in any way. If a stranger doesn't notice your qualifications, then it's worth making sure a hiring manager doesn't also miss them.