Posts Tagged ‘career strategies’

Are You the Office Trick or Treat?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

36096388_mOrganizational leadership guru Adam Grant recently commented on what spoils a workplace culture. It’s surprisingly simple. It takes just one person to obliterate a collaborative, supportive and positive environment. It doesn’t have to be a person at the top. One mean-spirited, conniving, credit-hogging, work-shirking colleague will ruin your day, your week, or however long you can stand being employed in the same organization.

One rotten apple spoils the barrel.

But one good egg does not make a dozen.

It’s unfortunate to learn that one super-generous, caring and helpful colleague does not cancel out the dirty trickster.

In other words, an organization can’t neutralize a bad apple with a good egg.

That frustrates a lot of workers who enjoy their work and each other. No matter how large the group that gets along and happily produces great work, the impact of a negative, slacking, tattletale telling lout is an unstoppable, sickening virus.

In a client company that I consult with now, there is a really bad apple. In fact, he is a poison apple. He fakes illness. He doesn’t return emails. He verbally attacks junior staff. He demands help when he simply doesn’t want to do his own work.

This was an open secret before I arrived. Now it’s exploded – because he has finally lost the few allies who personally liked him despite his behavior at work.

There is only one answer. It’s a choice, really. He either gets fired or the company will devolve: making less profit, generating less revenue, getting less worker productivity and lots more errors because caring is wearing thin among the minions.

Company layoffs, financial belt-tightening and vulnerability to competitive threats are often laid at the feet of various departments. What went wrong? Did finance manage cash poorly or fail to secure the right financing? Did marketing make bad decisions about buyer behavior and preferences? Were sales reps not filling their prospecting funnels or selling upgrades and add-ons? Has R&D missed the category roadmap, or built when it should have acquired?

“WHAT went wrong?” is commonly asked; however, “what” is the beginning of the wrong question.

WHO went wrong? That’s the question few companies ask or address. Why?

It’s nearly impossible for top management to imagine that ONE person – something so granular in an organization – could be responsible for organizational dystopia or even its demise.

It’s difficult to imagine one person can infect an entire organization.

But, come off an airplane where one person coughed and sneezed throughout a five hour flight, and within the week you have a former planeload of passengers who are now just a bunch of sick people unable to work.

As Adam Grant advises: fire the taker, the faker, the bad seed and the trickster.

Like pruning my beloved rose trees so they can flourish again, I made that recommendation this week.

Watch this space. More will be revealed.

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How to Turn a Bad Job into a Good Job

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

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Have you recently gone from no job to a bad job?

A lot of people have emerged from their parents’ basement. They are dressed for work that they loathe. You know why. The crazy boss. Lazy coworkers. Angry customers. Too many meetings. Not enough freedom. The air conditioning is too cold. Someone steals your lunch from the fridge.

Even if the compensation is good enough, there’s no “there” there. Nothing that personally means anything to you.

Why? The job is about productivity not people.

Maybe your keystrokes are counted to ensure you meet quota. Maybe your job is to get on and off the phone as quickly as possible.

Or maybe the product or service is deficient. It does less than it could. Less than the competitors do. It’s not the latest in technology, fashion, approach or media.

Or maybe you don’t like the customers. You can’t relate to their problems. You never use your company’s product or service, because you like something else better.

Or maybe, as we used to say in advertising, your job is to “put lipstick on that pig.” The product or service is truly awful. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do.

There’s at least one theory that gets to the root of the reason you actually want to go back into the basement.

That theory is:

You feel like you don’t matter.

You feel like you are not making a difference.

You have been cut off from a part of yourself that is dying to be expressed.

Before you quit or start looking elsewhere: consider what would boost your personal involvement. What would ignite your feel good emotions? What could you do that is OUTSIDE of your job description that would make you happy or proud?

An enlightened CEO or department head knows how important it is to develop your personal investment in the job. And, we know it has nothing to do with the tasks or skills.

When we can create meaning, we retain employees. And that meaning needs to be genuine, and personally gratifying. In other words, meaning is worth more than money to employees. All the studies have shown that.

A janitor who interacts with employees working after hours might find joy in the jokes he tells to his audience of over-timers. A customer service rep who actually meets a tech-frazzled customer, sees that solving her problem really saves that customer’s business.

Whatever you do, see if you can see yourself as a hero.

So your task is to think beyond the tasks you must do. Think about the results you help accomplish, and how it changes lives. Don’t wait for an enlightened boss to do it for you. In fact, if you do this for yourself, you are likely to become the boss.

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Start Your Naughty List Now

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

good_versus_badHow could it be coming on the end of the year? Where did this year go? Is that how you feel?

Are you looking back and thinking where did you go wrong?

Do you have a sense that this year could have been so much bigger for you?

If you are looking back with some regret, with lingering doubts that you did your best: there is a solution.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to PLAN for the coming one. Take out a big sheet of paper and mark down the milestones you will reach. Write down the actions that you must get to. Imagine what can happen when a fresh new calendar is awaiting you.

There’s only one catch. You must acknowledge what you meant to have happen this year. You have to account for what got in the way. It’s time to write an annual naughty list, so you only reward and move forward with the nice.

If you want to avoid repeating the same patterns that led you astray from your goals, it’s time to take a hard look at what- and who – didn’t work for you this year.

I am sorry that blame has become a synonym for self-righteousness. It’s ridiculous that we don’t value pinpointing the people or processes that were the inflection points of failure. I dislike the trend that no one bears any responsibility for water that has gone over the bridge, milk has been spilt and dreams have been dashed.

I prefer to look failure in the eye and get really granular with who got in the way. Of course, sometimes it’s just the woman (or man) in the mirror.  But, sometimes it was a friend, partner, boss, client, or subordinate who just made progress too hard.

This is a good time to ask:

  • who got in your way?
  • Who needs to be crossed off your holiday gift and email list?
  • Who needs to be reassigned and taken out of your collaboration circles or team?
  • Whose opinion needs to be unsolicited this coming year?
  • Who dropped the ball, took too much time and otherwise just didn’t perform?

If you are going to be an A player, you need to be with A players. You can be friends with everyone, but your closest circle needs to be red hot with motivation, aspirations, and the ability to work hard – especially when the road is rocky.

Take a quiet moment. Make your assessments. Use your judgment. Then decide what next year is going to be made of – including the people and processes on which you will depend.

Then give thanks you, get another year to do better and go bigger.

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A Surprising Physical Secret Behind Intelligent Thinking

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

indexTapping, typing and swiping give you instant access to all kinds of things you want. For example today on Buzzfeed, I tapped open a list of 37 ways to hack IKEA furniture so it looks a little less like IKEA furniture. I typed up a list on Workflowy, to organize the assets of a new learning program I’m about to launch. And, I swiped my credit card to pay for 1,000 monk grass seedlings to surround the treehouse I just built in my backyard.

My brain did almost nothing the entire day.

Turns out when we tap, type and swipe, we fail to engage our brains in a deep and meaningful way. With this device at our fingertips mentality, we are reduced down to poorly operating robots, because we’re simply following prompts, and even worse: we’re easily distracted.

As someone who spends the better part of 18 hours hooked up to a device of some kind almost every day, the new neuroscience on device dependency alarmed me. We are short-circuiting the thought process that comes from writing. The teacher who demanded you learn cursive or at least print out letters and numbers with a pen, pencil, crayon or piece of chalk actually knew best.

Apparently, the physical motion of writing with your hand and fingers while your eyes watch the characters emerge engages your brain in a powerful and positive way. One that cannot be mimicked by any other means, even that cool new feature where you can talk your texts and emails, and the device does the tapping, typing and swiping for you.

If you are in a position – or would like to be in a position where you are trusted to make decisions or advocate for your organization:

  • Push away from your device.
  • Remove your hands from your screen or keyboard.
  • Pick up a pen and get old school – literally.
  • It’s always a surprise when something simple is the fix for what ails you.

If you have been struggling with creativity, motivation, focus, assertiveness, or communication: consider getting out a pen and paper and simply writing down the problems you’d like to solve. Then write down what comes to mind, maybe some key words, a list or even just doodles.

Turns out going device free for a few moments every day might be the key to getting ahead in your career and business.

Uplugging? It’s not just for balance. It’s for business.

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