Bosses' Small Gestures Send Big Signals

provided by

by Joann S. Lublin
December 2, 2010

Welcome to the executive suite. But beware: Your smallest acts can cause big consequences.

Consider Linda Parker Hudson, promoted last fall to run the U.S. arm of BAE Systems PLC, a global defense giant.

She told her top lieutenants that she expected "rapid responses" to email around the clock. To her surprise, several started sleeping beside their beeping BlackBerry so they could answer her 3 a.m. messages right away.

Ms. Hudson says she repeatedly reassured these colleagues that they could sleep at night and tried to lessen her nocturnal BlackBerry use. But "it was probably a few months before we all got used to each other,'' she concedes.

Ms. Hudson experienced "executive amplification," a widespread phenomenon that can significantly affect your career. When you land a senior post, staffers constantly will scrutinize -- and possibly misconstrue – your deeds, dress and words.

Yet power makes you "less aware that your behavior matters,'' cautions Adam Galinsky, a professor of organizational behavior at Northwestern University's business school. "That can be a career killer by demoralizing your troops.'' Even lack of eye contact with them as you walk down the hall conveys your disapproval, risking alienation.

Amplification also can work to your advantage because effective, small moves often improve employee motivation. You must recognize that "leadership is a role, and you are always on,'' says Gary Bradt, an executive coach in Summerfield, N.C. "Make sure you send the messages that you want to send.''

Employers Tread a Minefield

provided by

by Jeanette Borzo
January 21, 2011

Firings for Alleged Social-Media Infractions Sometimes Backfire on Companies

Facebook gaffes that can cause trouble in the workplace aren't unique to drunken college students anymore. As more companies and their workers tap into the world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, employers are tripping over legal potholes in social media.

Next week a National Labor Relations Board judge will consider whether a medical-transportation company illegally fired a worker after she criticized her boss on Facebook, in the federal agency's first complaint linked to social media.

In another case, workers sued a restaurant company when they were dismissed after managers accessed a private Myspace page the employees set up to chat about work.

Job seekers and employees have long been warned that risqué revelations on Facebook can jeopardize career prospects. But now companies are facing their own challenges for alleged blunders in dealing with social media.

Being an Effective Communicator

Much has been written on the importance of effective communication for success in our jobs and our personal relationships. Communication touches every aspect of what we do in a given day. We communicate verbally, in written format and non-verbally in our body language throughout the day. If we do so much of it, how is it that we make so many mistakes at it?

The problem starts with our approach. We are so focused on delivering a message that we do not always think of the personality, gender or culture of the receiver of the message when we compose our thoughts and transmit. We approach others and choose words based on our personal life experience and communication style and expect the receiver to understand exactly what we’re ‘trying’ to say leaving us extremely frustrated when ‘they don’t get it’. Secondly, we filter and ‘listen’ to their response based on our personal interpretation of what they say, often not actually hearing the message being passed as we’re too tuned in to the internal dialogue in our own heads – “I don’t agree with him there, I know he’s wrong”.

We’re left wondering why a person is being so difficult and perceive that they are deliberately not listening to us. We think we’re making perfect sense and are clear in our words and delivery. Belief and perception become reality and we now have a full blown conflict between both parties based on our inability to communicate. Sound familiar?

Managing Relationships

Leading and managing people has been a constant challenge in a workplace as everyone has his or her own way of thinking and behaving. The reality is we need people to drive our businesses, to get things done and to realise our business vision and mission.

Organisations only function with the cooperation of their staff. We all know that ineffective organisations can be very frustrating. We also know that effective organisations can demand so much from their employees that those people have nothing of themselves left for life beyond their work environment. Either of these scenarios can result in personal and relationship stress or breakdown at work and at home. Thus, a sound relationship building is not only a want but a necessity in today’s business world. A strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the people around us can not only help us realise our potentials and aspirations both in our career and personal lives as a person, a worker or a leader but it can also contribute to us having a healthy relationship with our family and loved ones.

One common issue posed by many working people is work-life balance, that is juggling or managing between fulfilling the demands at work and familial duties at home. And especially when job pressure increases, leaving work on time to spend quality time with the family has slowly become a desired goal for many of us. Building good relationships in the workplace is in many ways similar to building good relationships outside of work. Similar to making friends outside of the work environment, we need to realise that relationships can often seem like fragile things – especially in the workplace where they are often built and destroyed by the actions we take. However, quality and lasting relationships can certainly be built by reinforcing them with a few simple principles such as these:

Career Crossroads and Challenges

Contributed by Kamal Kant

As 2010 draws to a close and 2011 is about to dawn, many of us will take stock of our career progress to-date and where we are headed. Some of us have achieved our career goals and even been rewarded appropriately. But many of us regretfully feel we have put in much but not been even recognised. In fact, all of us come to end of year career crossroads. It is often this momentary pause at the career crossroad that prompts us to make New Year resolutions for our career. These resolutions unsurprisingly will be reactive and hardly addresses the action to overcome the real causes of career challenges or the lethargy of career advancement.

Changing Aspirations
Dealing with career challenges and setback is never an easy issue. Career challenges and setbacks involve not only workplace issues but also issues related to our social or private life; our habits, moods and attitudes; as well as our aspirations and stage of life. For example, what may have been important in your early thirties is no longer relevant when you are 38 or 39. Your focus may now be your children’s educational advancement rather than your own career advancement. Do you then just keep the pace at work? Or at 45, you are not getting ahead. Do you let your entrepreneurial streak take over and become an independent ‘consultant’? As life circumstances and situation change so do our aspirations to change career goals.

How to Recover From a Bad Performance Review

provided by

If you’ve received negative feedback about your job performance, don’t panic. The first step to recovering is to digest the news with poise. While it’s natural to feel defensive or angry during a bad review, career coaches advise against acting on these emotions to avoid making matters worse.

Take a day or two to let things soak in. Then schedule a meeting with your boss to find out why you received a bad grade. Listen carefully and take notes. If your boss doesn’t offer specific examples of poor performance, ask for a few. This way you can learn from your mistakes and also be sure that he or she isn’t making any false or misguided assertions. When the meeting is over, thank your boss for the feedback.

How to Quit a Job

provided by

Should you stay or should you go? There’s no surefire sign that it’s time to look for greener professional pastures. But there are a few clear reasons that could signal it’s time to change jobs.

First, ask yourself if there is a culture clash. Is your entrepreneurial nature always at odds with the collaborative style of your co-workers? Do you need a social, mobile work environment to keep your creative juices flowing, while your office is neatly divided up into closed office spaces? A company’s core culture isn’t likely to change over night, so if you’re not happy, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Another sign that a job change might be in order is a lack of performance-based rewards. Maybe you’ve received the standard raise yet again, but weren’t awarded a new title. Or you consistently exceed the limits of a company’s bonus structure. Most employees need incentives and rewards to feel valued, and if you’re not getting them, it might be time to dust off that résumé.

Tips for Training Your Boss To Be a Better Manager

provided by

by Arlene S. Hirsch
April 15, 2008

Work can be miserable when you and your boss don't get along. At times, quitting may seem to be the only option.

When she was a working journalist, Jill Geisler decided she didn't want to work for someone she remembers as a "gloriously imperfect" boss. "Picture Anthony Quinn, Vince Lombardi, and Hawkeye Pierce all rolled into one man," she says. "Volatile. Demanding. Larger than life."

Ms. Geisler, now a group leader in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Poynter Institute, a training center for journalists, sought advice from a mentor, who counseled her to get to know her boss before making a rash career decision. Now she's glad she did.

She and the man she didn't want to work for are good friends who laugh about their rocky start 15 years ago. Despite differing styles, they both valued high-quality journalism and community service. Once Ms. Geisler had earned her supervisor's trust and respect, she could question and challenge his decisions and even nag him about his idiosyncrasies.

One reason the relationship succeeded is that Ms. Geisler took responsibility for making it work. Her candor became the foundation for a close and fruitful professional partnership.

If you work for an imperfect boss, what are you prepared to do about it? These suggestions from consultants and employment experts can help you to improve your relationship with a new or long-time supervisor:

Acing Tricky Questions

provided by

by Dennis Nishi
September 5, 2010

On her second round of interviews for an editorial job in Chicago, Jess Wangsness was asked: If you could be a giraffe without a neck or an elephant without a trunk, which would you choose and why?

"Even though none of it had anything to do with the job, we had a fairly animated conversation about elephant behavior," Ms. Wangsness says. She didn't get the job but still wonders about the question. "Perhaps employers simply like to gauge just how interesting their candidates really are?" she says.

Regardless of how offbeat some interview questions may sound, most employers have their own hidden reasons for asking them. Usually, such queries are a way to uncover information about you that standard interview questions don't suss out. And whether the goal is to gauge your leadership aptitude or test your ability to handle stress, experts say you should stay composed and answer concisely.

The way you react to a question or work through an answer can actually score more points with the interviewer than the answer you give.

Applicants' Personalities Put to the Test

provided by

by Toddi Gutner
April 24, 2009

Armed with an M.B.A. from Arkansas State University, 24-year-old Dana Lund figured she had what she needed to succeed at her new job in the sales-training program at Acxiom Corp., a global interactive marketing firm.

But it wasn't until she took the Birkman Method personality assessment test -- a 45-minute assessment to identify an individual's work style and behavior -- that she really got the tools she needed. The Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom requires nearly every new employee to take the 298-question test. Ms. Lund, who joined the company last year, says she quickly learned she worked best by planning a task step-by-step, being creative and having time to reflect. "It has helped me to learn how to interact better with work teams and to leverage my strengths in the workplace," she says.

Many young people are facing this extra hurdle. These days, more than 80% of midsize and large companies use personality and ability assessments for entry and midlevel positions as either pre-employment or new-employee orientation tools, says Scott Erker, a senior vice president at Development Dimensions International, a global human-resources consultancy. These assessments have been widely used in retail positions but are quickly spreading to other industries, including finance, technology, health care and operations.