Monday, June 2, 2014

5 Common Pitfalls Of Work Friendships

How not to end up fired and friendless.

She's your boss-- and your friend (at least when she can actually loosen up and act like a normal human being). As the lines between professional and personal life become increasingly blurred, and people spend more hours of the day working (or at least pretending to), it's unrealistic to think that work can't-- or shouldn't-- engender true friendships. Nonetheless, there are six common missteps that can spell doom for the ever-tenuous dance between colleague and friend:

Drawing Inadequate Boundaries: You need not put Saran Wrap around your cube, but you must find a way not to violate the first tenet of professionalism: maintaining adequate boundaries. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time to let your team members know about your blog, or confide to that intern about that you went through a bit of a hallucinogenic phase in high school. Tread carefully. Whether it's too loud of personal phone calls or having a bright-pink email signature listing every last one of your favorite movie quotes, it can be quite tempting to reveal too much-- greatly damaging your professional identity in the process.

Creating an All-for-One and One-for-All Partnership: If you and your closer-than-close work buddy are virtually indistinguishable from each other (it's a bad sign if your bladders are in sync because of all the dual coffee and bathroom breaks), then you're denying yourself the opportunity to shine as an individual. And you're also entrusting your professional identity-- and future opportunities-- to someone else, who might be a fabulous friend but a less-than-stellar worker. If a natural, genuine friendship develops with a coworker, by all means, enjoy it. But don't let your bosom-buddyhood keep you from being seen as your own person.

Overindulging in Gossip: What would a workplace be without a little dirt? The answer is hard-- and quite boring-- to imagine. It's a natural human instinct to discuss other people, and it makes sense that in a self-contained community such as a workplace, occasional gossip-- just like passive-aggressive kitchen notes-- will happen. But becoming known as the office snarker, or being indiscreet or hurtful in your discussions, will only lose you trust-- and keep you from moving forward, both personally and professionally.

Letting Your Work Friends Be Your Only Circle: If your office is particularly close-knit, or you work grueling hours in a particularly emotional environment, you might truly feel like your coworkers understand you even better than your family does. In fact, the concept of the "work spouse"-- that partner-in-crime who gets you through the day-- is just beginning to get attention. But just as we all need relationships outside our family, so too do we need friends outside of our workplace. Outside friends might not know a thing about your TPS reports, but they'll be more able to provide you stress relief and distraction-- and better able to ring the the alarm bells if your work seems to be leading you down an unhealthy path.

Expecting To Be Treated as a Friend Instead of a Coworker: You might have the best boss in town. You're close, it's comfortable, and you count her among the people you care most for in life. That's wonderful! But it can easily come back to bite you if you forget that she's still your boss. Sometimes when you've got such a great rapport, it's easy to start expecting to be treated a bit better than everyone else, or to be surprised when special consideration doesn't come your way. Don't fall for this. Your boss expects you to follow the same procedures and rules as everyone else, whether your kids have playdates together-- or you share a shoe-shopping obsession-- or not.

Adapted from "The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up With Your Friends" (St. Martin's Press), by Andrea Bonior, Ph.D.

Thanks to Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. / Psychology Today
http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201111/the-office-is-not-playground/5-common-pitfalls-work-friendships

 
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

10 Things To Remove From Your Resume

20 Seconds.

That's the average amount of time that an employer will spend scanning your resume. The phrase "Less is more" has often been used for design purposes, but it can apply just as well to your resume. The point is to keep only information on your resume that is clear, simple and that supports your brand/message. It is a balance of having just enough information to draw the interest of an employer, while leaving room for you to further explain during an interview. The more irrelevant information you add to your resume, the more it dilutes your key message. Employers today also look right through fluff words and are rather annoyed by them.

So, you ask, "How can I power up my resume and make sure it contains the precise balance of information?" Consider the following:

  1. Replace the "Objective" statement on your resume with "Professional Profile." Employers today are not that interested in what you want. Your opening paragraph needs to be a strong message that summarizes your background and indicates what you are best at. That creates a theme that is then followed by your 'proving' that you are great at these things by showcasing supporting accomplishments in each job.
  2. Eliminate superfluous, or "fluff" words. I can't tell you how many resumes start with "Dynamic visionary…" I call these fluff statements as anyone can make them and they add no real value to your resume. Keep your message on point and stick to the facts. If you want to express these traits, demonstrate it with what you have achieved or accomplished.
  3. Watch your grammar. Sentences in resumes are written like headlines and are in the first person. In other words, the statement "I am known for consistently exceeding my sales quotas" becomes "Known for consistently exceeding sales quotas." Another one of the biggest mistakes when writing a resume is when people mix first person and third person. For example, although "Easily learns new software" sounds right, that is the third-person ("she learns") and should really be "Easily learn" ("I learn"). Small but important point, as you do want your resume to be grammatically correct.
  4. Include one telephone number rather than multiple numbers. If you must list more than one number, make sure to specify under what conditions the other numbers should be used.
  5. Do not include discriminating information. Avoid information that can lead one to discriminate against you, including age, sex, religion, marital status, and ethnicity. This includes the use of photos that should never be on a resume unless your face is an important part of your job (e.g. modeling, TV, etc.). In fact, some employers are forced to ignore your resume if it contains such information because of the chance that they may be accused of discrimination later in the process.
  6. Keep information on your education specific to the degree received, major, institution attended, and if appropriate, your GPA. You do not need to reveal your graduating year, the institution(s) you transferred out of or high school attended.
  7. Include only experiences that are relevant to the job. Employers are not interested in achievements or abilities that are not applicable to the job. If you are in sales and you helped develop an Access database to track supplies, that's nice, but not relevant. Also be cautious about listing your associations or volunteer work that is irrelevant or may be in conflict with the potential employer.
  8. Eliminate technical skills for basic software programs. Most employers today expect you to be familiar with the basic computer programs, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  9. Do not include references unless requested. Employers today expect you to offer references when requested, which is typically during the latter part of the interview process. A top five Peeve of recruiters is seeing "References available upon request" on the resume. Do you really know anyone who would refuse to give references?
  10. Maintain a reasonable length for your resume. If you are a recent graduate, most employers do not expect your resume to be more than one page. However, if you have had considerable professional experience that your resume should be two to three pages. Note the notion all resumes should be one page is not true especially in this market. Resumes need to have enough detail to support your positioning so a two to three page resume is acceptable. I always tell my clients a resume has to have a compelling message and be easy to read, so after you have tightened up your content, format it to have a decent amount of white space.

Finding the right balance of information for your resume can make it impactful. It's not about how long or short your resume is or how many employers you've worked for, but finding the right information and words to present it in the best light to demonstrate that you have the specific experiences and skills the employer is seeking. So, keep in mind the phrase, "Less is more" when creating or updating your resume.

Don Goodman, president of Resume Writing Service – About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert.

Thanks to Don Goodman / Careerealism
http://www.careerealism.com/resume-remove/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+careerealism+%28CAREEREALISM%29

 
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

4 Roles Every Project Team Needs

Over at the HBR Blog Network author Michael Schrage says that CEO's should assign their top creative thinkers to fix up the organization's most boring and ineffective processes. He says that this shift in thinking—putting the brightest employees on the "most trivial/scut work" projects will send a powerful signal to the organization: "Improving efficiency and effectiveness for the entire organization — for everybody — should be a top management and top talent priority, too."

OK, I'm on board with the premise. But here's where this idea could potentially break down: many of those "top talent" types that Schrage is talking about abhor the mundane. My experience tells me that many creative types aren't wired for perfecting processes. Even if an executive could convince the high-performers of the project's merits, the daily grind of ferreting out the inefficiencies of the process would probably drive most "idea people" insane.

For a "put your top talent on your worst business processes" strategy to work, a leader needs to understand that there are four basic project roles* that people enjoy. The key is, not all people enjoy the same roles in equal measure and not all people are equally good at all four roles. Here's a rundown of the 4 roles every process improvement project needs:

Create – this role is about ideation. People who naturally "create" love coming up with ideas (some of them outlandish) and then handing these off to people who will organize their copious and somewhat random stuff into a workable solution.

Advance – creating connections is this role's strength. A person who loves the role of "advancer" loves to bring people together, create coalitions and ensure that all stakeholders' voices are heard.

Refine – think of this role as the "red pen" editor. People who naturally gravitate toward this role are able to take an existing idea and make it better. They can easily spot the gaps or inefficiencies in a process.

Execute – "Get 'er done" is this role's motto. Milestones and action plans are this role's sweet spot. People who are skilled in execution can keep the project moving along, and will deliver on time and under budget.

Here's my caution to a leader considering Schrage's recommendation to put the "top talent" on clean-up duty for messy company processes: be sure that the talent you select not only can create, but can advance, refine and execute. Most likely, this is going to require a diverse project team, because most Creators love ideation but abhor refinement. Likewise, most Refiners love to edit the process, but find ideation tedious. And so on.

All of these roles must be fulfilled if an organization is to succeed in shedding what Schrage calls the "computational crap and digital detritus that inevitably occur when organizations try to keep going and growing fast."

Thanks to Jennifer Miller / People-Equation / The People Equation blog by Jennifer V. Miller On Workplace Dynamics
http://people-equation.com/4-roles-every-project-team-needs/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePeopleEquation+%28The+People+Equation%29

 
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Why Do We Always Pick On The New Guy?

As the child of a military man, we were always on the move. Every one or two years from the ages of 5 to 18 we moved from one military base to the next. We moved so much that after a while I stopped saying goodbye to my friends before I would leave. I would just 'split.'

My adult life hasn't been much different, as I have transferred quite a few times for jobs. At the college where I am currently employed I have only worked there for two years.

Which means I am quite familiar with the role of the new guy. As a child this always meant new friendships and sometimes exciting new environments. It also meant new bullies and as a teenage male always having to prove myself to different sets of testosterone filled adolescents.

As an adult being the new guy (or gal) takes on a different meaning. The craziness of school yard childhood bullying goes away and is often replaced by passive aggressive workplace behavior from workmates/colleagues and the occasional office tyrant.

Many of you may already know what I'm talking about, but there are a few who may have been lucky enough to have no or very pleasant 'new guy' experiences. Yet, regardless of the severity or pleasantness of the 'new guy' experience the back and forth dance must take place.

Robert Sommers in his book Personal Space: The Basis of Behavioral Design (2008), talks about two things that affect people's behavior when first meeting each other. Those things are "territoriality" and "dominance." Sommers asserts that most people avoid trouble because they are fully aware of areas that are 'safe' territories (usually their own) and avoid those that aren't. Further, because they are intimately familiar with the power hierarchies that exist between them and other people within their own environment there is usually no need for conflict (dominance) because arrangements, whether conscious or not, have already been determined.

Now imagine the 'new guy' entering the new work environment. The people within the organization already have their arrangements in place. They know their roles, who is in charge, their general standing in the scheme of things and written and unwritten protocols of the organization. The new person upsets this balance and the balance has to be restored, albeit in a different way than before.

The established members of the group only have to deal with the new person once in establishing a relationship, regardless if the outcome is positive or negative. The new person has to negotiate terms with everyone in the organization.

As Sommers expressed in his research, established members use territorial claims in negotiating with newcomers and let them know immediately where they stand. These types of claims are often verbal and serve as gentle warnings. For instance, an established member may say, "Don't worry about these invoices, I always handle these." Usually, the new person (without rank) would respond to such statements with deference until they learn where their own boundaries begin and end.

However, if that fails then 'dominance' techniques will be used, depending of course, on the level of aggressiveness the established members are willing to display. But, since the workplace is not designed or tolerates such behavior, newcomers are usually at the receiving end of passive aggressive activity.

Examples of the treatment handed out to 'new guys' in the workplace include being called a "newbie" or "rookie;" being told an inappropriate joke to see how they will respond; being ignored by someone in the hallway even after being properly introduced; having to listen to rants such as "you young people are all over the place;" and being subjected to the "stick with me and I'll show you the ropes" conversations. In severe cases, established members try to assert themselves by yelling or using threats.

What can be done?

Well, one major way to lessen 'new guy' woes is to make sure you learn as much as you can about your new environment and the role you will serve before accepting a position.Unwritten rules and informal codes always play a role in any job and sometimes can only be learned on the job, but knowing your rights, responsibilities and duties can go a long way in avoiding hassles and 'stepping on toes.'

Is there a cure-all to avoid some of the pinch of being the new guy? Not really, because people can applaud, resent or be indifferent to your arrival for the same reasons. But knowing that friction can and will occur and that its most likely not you, but the circumstance, will help you deal with situations more calmly as they arise.

Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. is the author of Pop Psychology - The Psychology of Pop Culture and Everyday Life! 



 

 

 

 


 

Thanks to Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. / Psychology Today
http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201111/the-office-is-not-playground/why-do-we-always-pick-the-new-guy

 

How To Set Better Goals: Avoid Four Common Mistakes

Badly Set Goals Can Degrade Performance, Motivate Unethical Behavior And Damage Organization's.

It's no accident that goal-setting pervades so many areas of modern life.

There are hundreds of research studies going back decades showing that setting goals can increase people's performance.

Most have heard the goal-setting mantra that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T.); but few recognise the dangers of poor goal-setting and the unintended consequences that can follow.

Here's how to avoid four common problems with goal-setting, which are highlighted by Ordonez et al. (2009) at the Harvard Business School.

1. Too Specific

The problem with setting goals that are too specific is that they can bias people's behaviour in unintended ways.  For example:

  • If you use goals to effectively tell a university professor that all that's important is publishing articles, then what is going to happen to her teaching?
  • If you tell call-center staff that the main thing is how quickly they answer the phone, what's going to happen to how they deal with the call?

Very specific goals can degrade overall performance by warping the way people view their jobs.

Better goals: keep them somewhat vague. This gives people control and choice over how they do their jobs. When people are given vaguer goals they can take into account more factors: in short it makes them think for themselves. It's no wonder that having control is strongly linked with job satisfaction.

2. Too Many Goals

Perhaps the answer, then, is to set loads of goals which cover all aspects of a person's work? Not necessarily, as that introduces its own problems.

For one thing people tend to concentrate on the easiest goal to the exclusion of the others. For example, in one study participants were given both quality and quantity goals related to a task. When quantity goals were easier to achieve than quality, they focused mostly on quantity.

This study is showing how a well-meaning goal can warp people's behaviour in unintended directions.

Better goals: limit the total number of goals. Apart from anything else, who can remember 10 or 20 goals they are supposed to be working towards?

3. Short-Termism

Why is it so hard to get a cab on a rainy day?

The answer isn't just that more people are hailing cabs; it's also that the cab drivers go home earlier because they hit their targets earlier for the day. So Camerer et al., (1997) found in their study of New York cab drivers.

This is a prime example of short-termism: goals can make people believe that when they hit their target, they can take the rest of the day (or month!) off.

This works at an organizational level as well: if an organization is continually working to meet short-term goals, it can neglect the long-term importance of innovation and evolution.

Better goals: Make sure short-term goals don't interfere with the long-term vision, otherwise they can be corrosive for the organization.

4. Too Hard

When goals are too hard, they encourage people to do anything in order to meet them; that includes unethical behaviour.

One example of unethical behaviour prompted by poor goals was in the hard disk manufacturer, MiniScribe. Back in 1989, in order to meet financial targets, they began shipping bricks instead of hard drives. The bricks sat unopened for a few weeks in a Singapore warehouse, while Miniscribe successfully invoiced for them. The company soon went into bankruptcy.

Miniscribe's story is also a brilliant example of short-term thinking. What did they think was going to happen when the bricks were discovered, as they surely would be?

Similarly, research has also shown that when people are set more difficult goals, they are more willing to take risks. In some circumstances this may be acceptable, but often it is not.

Not only that, but goals that are too hard are simply demotivating. How come almost reaching your target feels like failure, even when you're 99% there?

Better goals: Set genuinely achievable goals rather than so-called 'stretch' goals. These will avoid encouraging people to behave unethically.

New Rules Of Goal-Setting

All of these problems are further exaggerated by larger the incentives. When there are huge amounts of money at stake, then badly set goals can distort human behaviour even more.

So, use these warnings as ways to set better goals, and be careful of unintended consequences.

Ordonez et al. (2009) conclude by saying:

"Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for students of management, experts need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision."

With that warning in mind, here are some new rules of goal-setting

  • Goals should be somewhat abstract.
  • Goals should be set with an eye on the long-term.
  • Goals should be relatively limited in number.
  • Goals should not be too hard to achieve.

(Oh, and unless they've ordered them, never ship bricks.)

Thanks to Spring Org UK / PsyBlog
http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/08/how-to-set-better-goals-avoid-four-common-mistakes.php#utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PsychologyBlog+%28PsyBlog%29