Monday, December 3, 2007

M16 Calling Bond...Jane Bond

It's time for Tidbit Tuesday, where I try and find things to make you smile, think or just use as an excuse to avoid thinking about the fact that Britney Spears will be old enough to run for president in less than 10 years. Here goes:

* I'm movin' on up: has released it's first Top 50 list of the best internships for college students. The top three are: PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitee & Touche. This list ranks the leading programs according to data such as pay and the percentage of interns who get full-time jobs, as well as student feedback.
According to the story , "Getting an internship used to mean a 10-week exercise in photocopying, sorting mail, filing, and fetching sandwiches. If you were lucky, there might be a company-wide picnic thrown in. Forget that image. The college internship has become nothing less than a high-stakes tryout to land the perfect first job. Think of it as the job interview that lasts all summer long."

* Life in cyberspace: As the global economy heats up and more of us work with others outside North America, it's important to understand what they're thinking and doing. Here's something to chew over: as more Chinese are exposed to the Internet, they "need not physically immigrate to an unknown country – they are managing life changes from their own homes," reports
It was found that in comparison to U.S. statistics on digital dependency:
• 61 percent claim they have a parallel life online (US: 13 percent).
• 86 percent report that “I live some of my life online” (US: 42 percent).
• 80 percent agree that “digital technology is an essential part of how I live” (US: 68 percent).
• 25 percent report not feeling OK when they are without internet access for longer than a day (US: 12 percent).
• 42 percent admit they feel sometimes “addicted” to the online life (US: 18 percent).
• 48 percent feel that “things online are more intense than things offline” (US: 12 percent).
• 61 percent report feeling strong emotions prompted by online interactions (US: 47 percent).
• 24 percent feel “more real online than offline” (US: 4 percent).

* No love for Swedish bosses: While Swedes have a reputation of being reserved, a new study shows they'll hug just about anyone except their boss. Nine out of 10 Swedes embrace somebody at least once a week, with women aged 30-44 being the most active huggers, according to the study presented by the Swedish Red Cross.
One-quarter had hugged a work colleague of the same sex, while 14 percent had embraced a co-worker of the opposite gender.
Only 4 percent hugged their boss.
More than 80 percent said it was appropriate to hug a person in mourning, while 55 percent said they would hug a stranger who had just found their wallet.
Sixty percent said hugging a vague acquaintance at a party was not OK.

* Calling all spies: reports that Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6 has opened its doors to a popular radio program, part of its bid to recruit the minorities and female officers it says it needs to spy on the country’s enemies.
MI6 allowed BBC Radio One – a station aimed mainly at young people – to conduct the first ever interviews inside its London headquarters.
The interviews were tightly policed – the MI6 chief of recruitment was referred to by a fake name, while the reporter’s movements inside the building were strictly controlled. The recruiter spoke about Britain’s need for a more diverse bunch of spies.
“People who have a different ethnicity can often go places and do things and meet people that those from a white background can’t,” he said. “There are some places that white males can’t go.”

By the way, Womenco is a new site aimed at women (duh...guess you figured that out from the name), and I've agreed to let them use information from this site that they find helpful.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Your handwriting

Bosses these days are struggling to read the writing of their employees, who often have horrible penmanship.

The problem is that many younger workers have come from schools where proper handwriting was a low priority, and they now rely solely on computers for their writing. Of course in the workplace today, many of these same workers still have to use their own handwriting for certain things, and that's where the trouble begins.

As one boss told me, she would rather work with an employee who has decent handwriting than one who does not. She explained that she simply does not have the time to try and decipher poor handwriting.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Decency at work

Visions of CEOs doing the "perp walk" as they are taken into federal court by stern-faced federal marshalls, front-page stories chronicling executives billion-dollar compensation packages and top managers traveling in corporate jets while hundreds of their workers are laid off are just some of the images that adversely impact the workplace these days.

Such images are demoralizing, of course. Most of us can't hope to make in our lifetimes what some of these executives earn in one day. Add to that the companies that are stingy with annual bonuses or raises, managers who routinely take all the credit for themselves and benefits constantly being trimmed back and it's no wonder we have a problem with ethics in the workplace these days.

Wouldn't it be nice, then, if these negative images were balanced by some everyday decencies on the job? What if instead of the bully manager -- who governs the workplace through bluster and profanity -- there was a boss who welcomed employees by name each day? What if the CEO showed up for the midnight shift and brought in pizza so that workers could take a break and talk to him about their concerns? What if a supervisor gave an employee an extra hour for lunch because the worker had been doing such a good job?

These may not seem like much in the face of rampant corporate executive misdeeds and greed, but companies have got to start somewhere and the answer may be that they begin with the small stuff. Or, as Steve Harrison says, these small decencies would become the "building blocks of an ethical culture."

Harrison, head of Lee Hecht Harrison and author of "The Manager's Book of Decencies," says that while regulatory actions such as Sarbanes-Oxley were supposed to restore investor confidence and increase accountability, some companies have been so "ham-fisted" with their responses to the regulations they've reminded us quite clearly that "regulations by themselves can't move the needle to create well-behaved companies."

While Harrison suggests numerous ways for companies and bosses to improve their decency factor, it's worth noting that one of the key improvements is for bosses at all levels to listen more to employees and quite hogging all the limelight and credit for themselves.

So, let's start listening. It's time the voices of those in the trenches be heard when it comes time to decide how best to create a decent place to work.

Some ideas:

* Be polite. This goes beyond just saying "please" and "thank you." Don't interrupt when someone else is talking, don't gossip and don't exclude anyone.

* Don't lie. Lying is a way of controlling and manipulating people and situations.

* Ask questions. By listening to what someone else has to offer, you continually learn -- and that's critical for companies striving to compete in a global marketplace.

* Don't blame. Look for solutions. Don't make personal attacks or criticize personal characteristics.

* Keep your word. It's not fair to say you'll do something and then not follow through.

* Communicate. Controlling information is a power play that demoralizes employees and leads to hostility.

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