Work Management

So Now You're the Boss

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by Dennis Nishi
July 10, 2010

You finally got that promotion and now you're the new boss. Things might not feel much different in the beginning, but managing former peers requires a major adjustment on both ends. How you handle the change at the outset can affect the long-term harmony and productivity of the group.

Embrace change
Accept that your relationships with co-workers will inevitably change, say experts. This can be hard if you were friends with someone you now supervise. You don't have to give up the friendship, but you do need to have a frank discussion outlining the new parameters of your relationship in the office. "This includes what you can and can't do," says Stephen Xavier, president and CEO of Cornerstone Executive Development in Chapel Hill, N.C. "Obviously, you can't participate in workplace gossip or any negative talk about co-workers." You also can't be as chummy as you were before and you might, say, have to give up your regular lunch dates with your former peer.

Get educated
If the company doesn't provide management training, take a class, get a coach, read books and observe how other bosses handle subordinates. You want to strike a good balance of authority, says Bonnie Hagemann, CEO of Executive Development Associates in Oklahoma City, Okla. There's a tendency for new bosses to manage too harshly or be too lenient.

Bosses' Small Gestures Send Big Signals

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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

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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.

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:

How to Recover From a Bad Performance Review

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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

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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

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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:

Are you Mono or Polychrone?

Are you known to be late for meetings or appointments? Do you feel stressed because you can’t seem to find time to have dinner with family members, go for your spa session or finish your work on time?

Are you always rushing your children from one place to another, taking them to ballet, French lessons, violin practice and other dreadful “enrichment” activities, and feeling more exhausted than they?

If you answer YES, heaven has mercy on your soul for you’re being condemned to a lifetime of penal servitude, no different from a convict doing hard labour.

Get Out of Your Career Rut!

Do you feel like your career is in a rut and that your work is making you unhappy? You may be suffering from a mid-career crisis. What brings about this predicament and how do you walk out of it before the resentment bleeds into the rest of your life?

By Becky Lo

Feeling the blues

You’ve heard of a mid-life crisis, but how about a mid-career crisis? Unlike a mid-life crisis, a mid-career crisis is not age-related, but is about the dissatisfaction you feel about your career.

Many working adults in their late 20s to mid 30s are facing mid-career crises, or what is also known as “mid-career blues”. It usually happens after a few years working in the same field as you feel that your job is heading towards a dead-end: Your work routine is becoming boring, you see your peers edging ahead of you but realise that you are not at all interested in catching up.

Balancing Work and Play

Singaporean women in the accounting and finance sector want better work-life balance, says a survey conducted last May on more than 700 female professionals in the public and private sectors in Singapore.

Almost 60 percent cited work-life balance as their top priority, over other concerns such as opportunities for advancement, job security and skills upgrading. And more than 50 percent of those polled said they would leave their current job for one that offered a better work-life balance, even if it means less money.

It’s probably not just women, but men too, who need to find the right balance between work and their personal life.

Are you married to your work?
It can be tempting to rack up the hours at work — especially if you're trying to earn a promotion or extra money to send your child to university or for a dream vacation to the Caribbean. For others, it is simply necessary because of the heavy workload.

But if you're spending most of your time at work, what suffers is likely to be your home life and personal relationships. If you are perpetually working overtime and on weekends, you may miss out on important events such as your child's first bike ride, your father's 60th birthday or a reunion with your old friends. Missing out on important milestones may harm relationships with your loved ones.