Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Some Four Letter Words Belong At Work


If you’re at all like me, there have been times when you’ve been at work...sitting at your desk...staring at your computer screen...and wondering what exactly it was that you were supposed to be doing.  What’s even better is the fact that just minutes before, you were sitting in an hour-long meeting that was scheduled specifically to outline how to do exactly what it is that you still don’t know how to do.

It’s perfectly okay not to understand something after it was initially explained to you.  It doesn’t make you less capable, promotable, or competent than your peers and co-workers.  It makes you human. There’s no error in that.  I do think however, that we error when we don’t ask for HELP.  As unoriginal and intuitive as the idea seems, many of us are terrified at the very thought.  Some of us would probably chose public speaking over telling our peers or manager that we don't know what we're doing.

Not asking for help or further explanation is not communicating at a time when it’s critical to do so...and more importantly, not communicating proactively.

There’s a stigma when it comes to asking for help within the context of the work place.  We're afraid of being looked down upon by our boss or co-workers, and would rather save face than admit that we don’t understand something.  Why?  We're afraid of losing credibility.  We're afraid of losing our sense of autonomy.  Some of us worry that asking for help will negatively impact the perception our managers and peers have of us, simply because we may need a few extra minutes of their time.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Your Boss Deserves A Chance

Have you ever left a company, transferred, or just flat out quit a job because of a not-so-great relationship with your manager? Do you call your best friend, significant other, or anybody willing to listen to you vent about your boss day after day; the moment you get off of work?  Do you find yourself re-routing the walk to your desk the moment you spot your boss; hoping to miss out on an interaction with them?

It's been said that employees don't leave companies, they leave managers.  So...if any of my questions struck a chord or two, it's alright.  You're not alone.  But, I want to ask you just one more question.  

Have you ever had at least one honest conversation with your boss to discuss how you feel?  I realize it's a pretty radical idea, and such an action could have catastrophic results.  But, just stay with me for a few more paragraphs..

Everyone vents or complains to co-workers, family members, and friends about their bosses.   Nothing wrong with that.  Getting things off of your chest is always better than allowing them to sit and fester. Not to mention seeking feedback from a third-party; someone that can be provide objective input, is a great way to ensure that you’re evaluating the situation from all angles...not just your own.

Nevertheless, there’s one critical step that you shouldn’t neglect to do - talk with your manager.  At some point, you have to include them in the conflict/issues resolution process.  Believe it or not, they may not have any idea how their actions are coming across or being received.  As crazy as it is to imagine, it's very possible that your boss doesn't wake up every morning plotting your personal demise.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

To Make Waves In This Tough Job Market, You Need A Tough Resume!

According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Labor last month, the total number of private sector job openings has been steadily increasing since this number reached its lowest point in July 2009.  Now...this is definitely something to celebrate, especially given the financially tumultuous years that the U.S. has just fought its way through.

Now, here’s the rub…

The job opening-per-job seeker ratio is also the highest it’s ever been.  At the very beginning of the recession…in other words, before the stock market crashed in September 2008, there were 1.8 unemployed persons per job opening.  By the time the recession “ended” in June of 2009 there were 6.2 unemployed persons per job opening.  The most current data shows that today there are 5.1 unemployed job seekers per job opening. 

Hold on…it’s a little worse.

This number just divides the total number of unemployed job seekers by the total number of job openings reported nationally.  The number doesn’t factor in the total number of job applicants seeking any one position, for example the total number of employed in addition to the total number of those that are unemployed.  It also doesn’t factor that job seekers apply for multiple open positions.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Communicating Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

If you’re at all like me, sometimes you’re just more comfortable being in your own world; with familiar faces and familiar conversations.  And, that’s perfectly natural.  I think most of us prefer seeing familiar faces over those of people we barely know, and engaging in conversations that are about topics we can relate to.  We prefer to feel at home instead of a like a foreigner or outsider.  Why - because we’re more comfortable with those familiar faces; sharing our thoughts, ideas, and who we are with people we know and relate to.
 
Many of us probably walk by the same cubicles and offices every day...and barely know anything about the person occupying them, because they have nothing to do with the position we hold or our day-to-day work.  We communicate with teammates about projects we’re working on.  We discuss task issues with co-workers.  And, we engage those who have the same type of job we have or a similar background.  We naturally gravitate to similarity; to common ground.  We naturally gravitate to what's familiar; to what's comfortable.  And, there’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone - but consider this...

How do we create opportunities if we never leave our comfort zone? How do we establish new relationships; how do we learn about different departments or business areas within our company; how do we get to know new people; how do we gain understanding or build cooperation if we never make efforts to engage those outside of our world.  The answer very simply is, you don’t.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Managing Competing Messages

I was recently asked for some helpful advice when it comes to successfully navigating the often precarious and frustrating waters of working under multiple managers.  Having more than one boss can make work, well...interesting sometimes.

People can be as different as night and day, at the office and in our personal lives.  All managers don’t manage the same way.  Different leaders have different leadership styles.  This isn’t a bad thing.  After all, different styles of leadership and management enrich the corporate culture.

Where things can get tricky, is when you receive conflicting or mixed messages from your leadership.  For example, one manager may perceive a particular project, goal, or customer to be priority over another.  This point of view however, may be a complete 180 from the direction you were given by another manager.

Receiving conflicting messages from multiple managers can have an adverse impact on you doing your job effectively.  It’s kind of like what happens to a car when its wheels are out of alignment.  Instead of traveling straight, the car may pull to the right side or the left.  

So - what can you do to ensure that you’re able to do your job effectively when competing messages are being communicated by management?