Monday, February 9, 2009

5 Ways to Put the "I" in Team


Teams are pretty commonplace in the workplace these days, but that doesn't mean they're fun. Or pleasant. Or useful. Or efficient. Or productive.

Certainly, there are lots of folks who love teams. These are usually the people who put teams together, or make a living out of touting how teams are fun, pleasant, useful, efficient and productive. But for those who have to work in teams, the experience is often frustrating, unproductive and annoying.

Is there a middle ground? I think so. What makes teams useful is when you understand they can be helpful in getting work done, but they can also be a bottleneck. You need to understand that while you can reap the rewards of being on a team, you also need to watch out for yourself and your own career interests.

In other words, it's time to put the "I" in team.

Now, this is where it gets tricky. Companies who get all warm and fuzzy when talking about teams aren't going to take kindly to you breaking away from the pack to promote your own contributions. And certainly your other team members aren't going to like it. But I think in this economy, with this bad job market, you need to find ways to make sure your skills and abilities don't get overlooked.

How to make that happen? First, you've got to take stock of your team dynamic. How does it function? What is its purpose? Do you understand exactly how your specific skills are being used? If you can't answer these questions, then you're in trouble. Why? Because it clearly points out that you are letting the team happen to you. And if you're not participating totally, then you could be overlooked for your contribution -- not something you want when a layoff could be hovering around the corner.

So, let's look at how you need to put yourself into a team equation that most benefits your career future:

1. Find your niche. Every team has certain people, such as the leader, the troubleshooter, the cheerleader, the risk taker etc. All these roles are essential, so find one and grab it. You want a role that is visible enough you come into contact with key people within your department and company. You want to make sure that other team members will consistently need you, or look to you for support or leadership. In other words, you want to be memorable.

2. Focus on bottom-line impact. These days, you can't afford to do anything else. When you participate in a team, constantly ask yourself -- and others -- what the impact of your efforts will be on bringing in revenue. If you can't come up with an answer, it's time to re-think your efforts.

3. Enter the fray. You may think that all you want to do right now is keep your head down, and hopefully you won't do anything to lose your job. Wrong strategy. Right now companies are operating so lean that it's critical every worker be thinking like an entrepreneur. That means you don't stand on the sidelines, but wade into the middle of a problem and start helping. Phones ringing like crazy? Help answer them. Files piling up and everything becoming a disorganized mess? Grab some paperwork and start filing. Difficult customer than no one likes? Jump in with a smile.

4. Use a lifeline. Sometimes working in a team can be like working in a vacuum. You start a group-think mentality where everything you come up with seems like a good idea. Even if you might have a niggling doubt somewhere, you squash it. But that can be a deadly mistake, because if the team bombs, you're going to be one of the casualties. To avoid such a scenario, always have someone -- a mentor or senior manager -- within the company that is aware of what you're doing. You can update this person through e-mails or phone calls about your contributions. That way, if things go terribly wrong, you may be able to save your own skin because someone understands you have value.

5. Focus on PR. When working on a team, always make sure you're looking at the public relations angle. Say positive things to others about team members while you're promoting your own accomplishments. By doing this, you're much more likely to get them to say equally positive things about you. This is critical in case a key role comes up either on your team or within the company. Lobbying for that job will be much easier if you've already started your PR campaign.

What are some other suggestions to promote yourself in a team environment?


Lijit Search

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Creativity Can Help Save Your Job -- Here's How to Find Yours


Be creative.

These are the words being echoed in workplaces across the world.

Be creative in coming up with new ideas to grow the business.
Be creative in finding ways to outsmart the competition.
Be creative in finding ways to work more efficiently.
Be creative in coming up with ways to cut costs.

They're just words, but two words that pack a wallop for a lot of people.

Be creative. OK. But....how?

What if your idea of being creative is taking a different route to work? Or wearing a blue shirt with brown pants instead of black? Bosses have said over and over that those who add the most value will be the ones who keep their jobs. Does that mean if you're uncreative, you could be in danger?

Probably not. If you're adding value by doing a great job, then there's no reason to believe your lack of creativity will hurt you. At the same time, coming up with new ideas is a sure-fire way to not only solidify your position currently, but possibly even garner you a promotion -- or increase your appeal to other employers who may be willing to pay more for your creative talent.

And let me be clear here: Creativity is not just the purview of those in areas such as marketing or design. Every workplace needs creativity in order to survive in today's highly competitive marketplace. You may not believe you're a creative person, but I bet you are. You may just need to exercise different muscles in order to really get yourself in top shape so you can call on your creativity more often.

So, let's look at some ways to develop your creativity:

1. Play. I'm not talking Guitar Hero. I'm talking about learning to look at everything in your world as something to explore. There's a reason that kids rip into toys on Christmas morning and then spend more time playing with the box it came in. It's more fun because it can become anything and everything for that child. Start playing with things in your job -- would you be more productive if your desk faced another way? Should invoices be another color or another shape to avoid getting mixed up with other paperwork? Why can't all meetings have a big bucket of Legos for everyone to play with? Experts say that children learn through play -- so why have we stopped playing as adults?

2. Challenge yourself. The next time you're stuck in traffic, look at what's in your glove box. Think of how you could use each item if you were a) stranded in the woods b) asked to make an art project or c) had to describe each item using at least 10 words. You can also do this while at home -- just use items in a desk or kitchen junk drawer.

3. Understand "no" is your friend. Lots of creative folks are told "no." John Grisham is a famous case, receiving dozens of rejection letters for his first novel. Why do you think artists are often starving before they are multimillionaires? It's because they were told no over and over again, but kept plugging away. Often, being rejected really boosts your creativity. So if your boss says "no" to an idea, that just means you're being pushed into a new realm of creativity. Be grateful for it and keep thinking.

4. Be vulnerable. No one likes to do things they're not good at. You don't want to take ballroom dancing lessons if you're so klutzy you can't take a flight of stairs without tripping. You may think art classes are for people who actually know the different between white and ivory. Not so. In fact, the more inept you believe yourself to be at something or the more you don't like it, the more you should embrace it. If you're conservative, take the most liberal person at work to lunch. If you hate country music, listen to Hank Williams. Learn to speak another language. Only by exposing yourself to new and different experiences can you start to jump-start your brain into seeking out new ideas.

5. Go for it.
Once you begin embracing your new-found creativity, you may be shy about sharing it. You may hesitate to propose your new ideas to the boss or co-workers. I'll be honest -- they may reject them in the beginning. After all, if you've not been known for your creativity, people may be a little taken aback when you seem to have morphed into something new. We often have a hard time initially accepting change. But don't let that stop you. Once you consistently offer new ideas, others will begin to see you in a new light -- as someone who is creative and energetic, as someone who is willing to pursue new ways of doing things in a challenging marketplace. And who doesn't want someone like that around?

What are some other ways you can become more creative at work?



Lijit Search

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Monday, January 12, 2009

How Teaching Can Make You Unforgettable


Recently, I posed this question on Twitter: "What was the name of your favorite teacher and what did he/she teach?"

I immediately got nearly a dozen responses, and the enthusiasm was palpable. English, history, economics, drums and literature teachers were lauded by fellow Twitterers who noted how the favored teacher was "encouraging," "brilliant," had "patience" or a sense of humor.

What I also found interesting was that no one forgot the name of that great teacher, which is kind of amazing when you think how many people claim they are "bad with names" even if they've met someone in business many times.

So, this got me to thinking about the power of teaching, and how we can use that in our careers.

While using LinkedIn and Facebook and other online networking tools can be helpful, and attending business and industry functions can be beneficial to your career, don't forget that teaching may have one of the greatest positive impacts on your success.

Teaching, I believe, can take many different forms in the workplace. You can teach the new employee how to use the phone system, you can teach an older employee how to streamline a process, you can teach your boss how to access material on the Internet or you can teach a co-worker how to handle a difficult colleague.

The point is that you're doing what great teachers do: Giving of your time and efforts with the purpose of passing on the gift of knowledge so that the student's life will be enhanced, better and richer for having met you.

Don't ever believe that you're not patient enough, or smart enough or giving enough to be a teacher in the workplace. Even the smallest effort to pass on your knowledge can have a huge impact on someone else, and that's very valuable in a workplace culture that is often so fast-paced and stressful that we forget someone's name the minute we delete their e-mail.

Think back to your favorite teacher. What did he or she offer you that made you always remember him or her? How did they help you expand your mind and absorb the knowledge they offered you?

Now, consider what you have to offer someone else in the workplace. How can you use that knowledge to make yourself memorable, to form a connection that will last? Because let's face it: Solid connections in the workplace not only benefit you now but in the future. Who do you think will help you when you're looking for a new job or an important business contact -- the person you helped teach, or the person you brushed off because you were too busy to help show the ropes?

"Teaching," Albert Einstein said, "should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.”

What are some ways you can "teach" in the workplace?



Lijit Search

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Does Your Career Tell The Right Story?


Let's say someone held a taser to your chest right this minute and said: "Tell me the story of your career." Could you do it? I'm not sure I could -- being zapped by a taser is bound to make me a bit nervous and the most I might be able to do is give my name and e-mail address.

But more and more, people want you to tell them career stories. They want to know of a time when you handled a problem at work, when you dealt with a difficult customer or when you led an important project. Oh, yeah, and this story has got to be quick, concise, compelling, riveting and memorable.

I found it interesting that one of the commenters on this blog noted that when I wrote about the "Seven Random (and Sorta Weird) Facts About Me," he said he "can never think of the simple things who make us who we are."

That got me to thinking about how difficult it sometimes is to come up with stories that illustrate our career. I think part of the problem is that we're so busy with our jobs and everything that goes along with it (answering e-mails, phone calls, Twittering, checking Facebook) that we just don't get the time we need to think about what makes us "who we are" on the job.

So, as this year winds down, I think it's a good time to stop and reflect on what we know about ourselves and our career. What really makes us unique? What is something we have brought to a job that makes us valuable? What stories can we tell to others that will make us memorable?

At a time when everyone fears for their job, when we may be facing an important job interview or performance evaluation, let's look at some ways to shape our career stories.

1. Keep if professional. Try to avoid a lot of references to your family and friends. Those are certainly great stories, but you want the listener to see you in the primary role, to have a vision of how you impacted a particular situation.

2. Showcase your ingenuity. I've interviewed many management experts over the last several months, and the one thing they all agree on is that the companies that will survive are the ones who will come up with new and innovative ideas. Think of times you showed you could roll with the punches and still come up with a creative or innovative solution. This not only shows you can handle adversity, but are adaptable as well.

3. Be truthful. I love Aesop's Fables as much as the next person, but anytime you tell a career story, make sure it is true. And believable -- try not to embellish too much.

4. Don't be offensive. Your story loses its power when you use profanities, racial or gender stereotypes or otherwise show you need diversity training. Never tell a story that would embarrass someone else.

5. Keep is short. A story should never be more than a couple of minutes long. If it's a great story, look for ways to shorten it and just highlight the key points.

6. Be interesting. While you should know your stories well enough that you could tell them even if you're nervous (envision that taser), you don't want to sound like you're reciting the Gettysburg Address for a fifth-grade teacher. Tape record yourself, or ask someone else to listen to you tell your story. Does your voice have good inflection? Do you pause for effect? Do you sound and look confident?

7. Do you sound sane? I've heard career stories before that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. While the tellers of these tales thought the stories made them sound tough, or forceful or innovative, I just thought it made them sound a bit deranged. You want to make sure that your stories are logical. They should show that you understood a problem or issue, thought of an appropriate response and then acted professionally.

What are some other tips for telling career stories?



Lijit Search

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Monday, October 27, 2008

The 5S concept: Will a Misplaced Stapler Get You in Trouble?


Watch out: 5S may be coming to your workplace. And if it does, well, you have my condolences.

I first read about 5S several months ago, and hoped it was a bad blip on the radar screen, sort of like a new High School Musical cast being assembled.

But no, there it was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this morning. For those who haven't heard of 5S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain), it was originally designed for the manufacturing floor as a way to keep things neat and tidy to increase efficiency. Everything has a specific place, and unnecessary stuff is tossed so that no time is wasted looking for something, seen as especially important when people share a workspace.

Now, 5S has made its way to the upper floors and into the cubicles, and I'm getting a very bad feeling about it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for keeping chaos to a minimum in the workplace, and disorganized, messy work spaces aren't good for anyone. But as someone who has covered the workplace for decades, who has interviewed hundreds of bosses and hundreds of employees over the years, I think this idea is going to be about as welcome as a weekly performance evaluation.

Why? At a time when people are so concerned about their jobs, when companies need every mind engaged in coming up with new and innovative ideas in order to remain competitive, when bosses are just trying to keep employees focused and not watching the stock market go nuts -- we're going to focus on whether a desk is neat? Or whether a person's sweater should be allowed on the back of a chair?

I realize some people think this concept is great, and a perfect solution to the problems of inefficiency and disorganization among team members. But I've seen this thing cause a backlash before, and I just believe when people are being asked to work longer hours, with little or no pay raise or bonus this year, that telling them they put the stapler in the wrong drawer is going to be a bit grating on already frayed nerves.

If you ask a couple who has been together a long time what the secret to their relationship is, many of them might reply it's being respectful, kind, communicating well and valuing what the other person has to bring to the relationship. I'd agree with all of those things. And I think most bosses would agree that's what they also value in their team members.

Do they want to be policing the office looking for points to deduct for lack of neatness? Are employees going to be trying to find ways to keep a picture of their kid or a beloved pet from being banned from their workspace instead of focusing on their work? Will 5S only lead to lower morale -- and lead to greater inefficiency, rather than improve it?

I sure hope not. I sure hope that companies don't go overboard on 5S at a time when we need everyone engaged, enthusiastic, energized and upbeat (the 3E's and 1U method) -- but I'm not counting on it.

What do you think of 5S? Are companies focusing on the wrong things at work these days?


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Friday, October 24, 2008

10 Things Overheard at the Last Management Meeting


As an employee, it's often nerve-wracking to see managers troop into a meeting during these difficult financial times. What are they talking about? Is it good? Is it bad? Are they debating who is going to get laid off? Plans for a big project? What critical decisions are they making that the fate of dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- of employees hinge upon?

It would be interesting to a fly on the wall during these sessions. That's why I thought I would speculate about 10 things overheard at the last management meeting:

1. "I told you we have auditors."

2. "We need to make some decisions about personnel. Anyone got a quarter? OK -- call it. If it's heads, Trish goes. Tails, it's Larry."

3. "We've got to find a way to cut down on distractions around here. All those in favor of moving our next meeting to the golf course, say 'aye.'"

4. "I could have been the next David Hasselhoff, but noooo --I had to get that MBA."

5. "It's unanimous: We use the 'Deal or No Deal' model for payroll this next quarter."

6. "So, no one really batted an eye when I told them to re-use envelopes. But the 'bring your own toilet paper' memo didn't go over so great."

7. "Hey -- I'm hitting the dollar store after work to pickup up a few 'forced early retirement' gifts. Anyone wanna come along?"

8. "It was all I could do to keep a straight face when I told my staff: "Don't panic. Everything's fine."

9. "I just found a great new website to help with performance evaluations. It's called "make-em-squirm.com."

10. "Oh, Lord. Is that the FBI?"

What else might be overheard in a meeting of managers these days?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

10 "Uh-Oh" Signs at Work




If one more person tells me not to panic, well, I might just panic.

The truth is, we get up every morning and we're not sure what is going to happen. The stock market will rise. It will fall. Chicken Little will go running down the street screaming something about the sky.

So, while it's easy for all the experts to tell us not to panic, it's kind of hard not to be a teensy bit apprehensive about what might await us every day. That's why I'm giving you this checklist so that you can be aware when it might be time to panic. Not that I'm a doomsayer. I'm just sayin'.

The 10 "Uh-Oh" signs at work:

1. Co-workers are putting stickers, bearing their names, on your office furniture.
2. The security guard takes your i.d. and draws a big "X" through your photo.
3. The electricity has been turned off in your cubicle. And mothballs put in your desk drawers.
4. The boss's secretary begins crying whenever she sees you, offering you gum and saying, "I always liked you."
5. HR included store coupons in your most recent paycheck.
6. The guy at the deli where you eat every day takes your "frequent eater" card and tears it up.
7. The IT department has changed your logon to "dead2us."
8. John McCain returns your donation check with a note: "You need this more than I do."
9. The mailroom guy is using your mailbox to store his lunch.
10. You finally get the best reserved parking space in the whole company.

What are some other "uh-oh" signs?




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Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Things Everyone is Thinking About During a Meeting at Work




Go ahead, fess up: You think about a lot of things during a meeting at work, and it often has nothing to do with business. Sure, your mind may focus a bit on how how the issues being discussed will affect your job, but there's lot of other stuff that you think about.

Don't worry. You're not alone. We all do it. In fact, here's a list of what some of us are really thinking when that PowerPoint presentation seems to have our full attention:



1. I don't have time for this.
2. Is she ever going to shut up?
3. Did I turn off the coffeepot this morning?
4. That cannot be his real hair.
5. If he says "think outside the box" one more time, I'll barf. Or throw something at him. Maybe both.
6. Yeah, those pants do make her butt look big.
7. I really, really don't have time for this.
8. I'm starving. I wonder if I still have those leftover M&Ms in my drawer?

9. OK. Seriously? With different glasses and her hair up, she would look just like Sarah Palin.
10. I knew I should have called in sick today.



Time to admit it: What else do you think about during a meeting?


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Monday, September 22, 2008

Has Your Confidence Turned Into Arrogance?


As we can all witness after the latest debacle on Wall Street, there are plenty of big egos when it comes to big business.

A picture is emerging of decision-makers who have reaped millions of dollars in in compensation and benefits as their companies went down the toilet. Now, of course, Congress is getting involved, and those big egos are going to be aired -- and criticized -- in public.

Most of us will tut-tut their behavior ("Those greedy bastards," we'll grouse), and some of us will even learn a thing or two from their bad personal and professional judgment. Unfortunately, many of us will go back to behaving just as we always have -- as the same kind of arrogant beings intent on achieving our own ends through our own means.

Don't get me wrong. I know that confidence is needed in the working world. Without it, you'll get run over and be nothing but career roadkill. But there comes a point -- and I think this is it -- when we need to all take a hard look at how we go about getting what we want.

In other words, has your confidence turned into arrogance?

My dictionary defines arrogant as: "Overly convinced of one's own importance; overbearingly proud; haughty." Now, contrast that with the definition of confidence: "A feeling of assurance or certainty."

We all know those who are arrogant in the workplace. We don't really like them. We don't want to be on teams with them because they believe they are walking books of knowledge on just about any subject, and they rarely listen to anyone but themselves. They believe that just by showing up, success will follow.

But recognizing that arrogance in ourselves may be tougher. We believe we have earned the right to our views, and don't have time to suffer fools. We are impatient with others who don't seem to "get it" and wonder why they don't understand our talent is special and unique. We don't think we are arrogant, just confident.

I can't predict what the outcome of this Wall Street bailout will be, because I'm not an economist. But I can tell you that with the closer scrutiny of leadership behavior in the coming months, it's going to trickle down to all parts of the business sector. There is going to be less tolerance, I believe, of arrogance.

That's why today I'm hoping to save you some pain in the coming months. I challenge you to think about whether your confidence has turned into something more damaging. I urge you to think about not how you see yourself -- but how others see you. Do your actions really align with who you are and where you want to go?

Think about:

* Listening. Do you brush over others' opinions, or not ask for them at all? Even the most confident person values ideas from other people, but the arrogant worker believes he/she has all the answers.
* Admitting mistakes. Arrogance doesn't leave any room for acknowledging an error; pride prevents learning anything from a mistake. Those with enough confidence to own up to a mistake not only earn more respect from others, they gain useful insight on avoiding the problem in the future.
* Reaching back. When you have confidence, you're not afraid to help train or educate workers with less knowledge or skill. You see it as a chance to enhance the overall product or effort. If you're arrogant, you see it as a waste of time to work with those less skilled than you (which takes in almost everyone).
* You believe your own press. You're mentioned in company newsletters as a star performer, the boss recognizes you in meetings for your contributions and if you Google your name -- whoo boy! You start to rest on your laurels, believing your touch to be golden. While that is certainly a boost to your confidence, and should be enjoyed, you need to remember that your career success can often rest on a "what have you done for me lately" attitude. That's why it's important to make sure you interact often with people who disagree with you -- or don't even like you. They'll keep that ego from heading into arrogance.

What are some other signs of arrogance?


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Monday, August 25, 2008

Would You Rather Have Your Pinky Toe Cut Off?


We had just spent several sweaty hours at a professional baseball game, and my youngest son was balking at getting in the car for the two-hour drive home. Having gotten a bit carsick on the way to the game, he was negotiating getting a hotel room and staying the night.

All I could think of was a cool shower and the comfort of my own bed, so I stood tough in the face of some serious whining.

"I'll tell you what," I said. "I'll play a game with you on the way home."

"It's dark! We can't see to play anything!" he argued.

"Sure, we can," I said, trying not to let the exhaustion I felt creep into my "enthusiastic mommy" voice. "We'll play 20 questions. It will be fun!"

My son, still in negotiation mode, said: "How about if we play 'which would you rather?'"

Since I had never heard of such a game, I asked him to start us off.

Settled into the cool, dark confines of the back seat and headed home, he launched his first question: "Uh, OK. Which would you rather have: Your pinky toe cut off -- permanently -- or both arms broken and in a cast for a year?"

I was sort of taken aback by the game (was this going to be about missing body parts?) but after a moment's consideration I said: "Well, I can do without my pinky toe. It's not like I would fall over without it. And I'd hate to be in two casts for a year. Think of all the bad hair days. I'll go with the pinky toe."

For the next two hours, we played the game. My husband and other son quickly joined in. At times the questions were fun: Which would my 13-year-old son rather do -- carry a Hannah Montana backpack to school or have his head shaved? Would my oldest rather have a date with Jessica Alba or get a new Porshe?

Often, the questions to me were about my career: Which would I rather do, work for the former boss who yelled at me a lot or the other past boss who was sneaky and mean?

While giving up my pinky toe was a pretty easy decision, some of the queries were much more tough. My initial response would often come to a halt as I pondered aloud some questions about where I wanted to go in my career and my life.

I was struck by how simple the questions were, but how much they clarified the things that I found truly important. It wasn't one of those cases where I said, "Oh, gee, I can't make up my mind. I don't know whether I'd want to work for the yelling boss -- who could be nice at times -- or the sneaky and mean boss." I knew I'd rather work for someone who was openly a jerk than someone who gave snakes a bad name. (It dawned on me that was probably why I had recently decided not to apply for a job where the management had a bad reputation. To me, the money was not worth the stress of a snarky boss and I'd rather put my energy into something else.)

In the last couple of days, I've thought a lot about the game my family played on that summer night. I not only learned a lot about myself, but also about what others thought I considered important. They also learned a lot about me.

So, on this Monday morning, I'm going to ask you to play "which would you rather." Spend some time playing this game with people who are close to you. You're going to be amazed at what you'll learn about yourself:

1. Which would you rather have: Three months doing a job you really hate -- for a lot of money -- or a job for a year that you love, but for much less money?

2. Which would you rather have: A prestigious award from your industry or a 25 percent pay raise?

3. Which would you rather have: Three weeks vacation at a destination of your choice or your boss giving you much more recognition?

4. Which would you rather have: Being able to work on an important project or everyone getting along at work?

5. Which would you rather have: Catered lunches for a month or an hour alone with the CEO to tell him/her your ideas?

What would you answer and why?


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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I’ve Stared Into the Abyss…and Seen a Lot of My Friends

If you’re not worried, you’re not paying attention.

Bad times are here, folks. Those people who make the numbers 4 and 5 are busy printing them up as fast as they can for gas stations. As in: $4.00 a gallon. $5 a gallon.

The front page of AJR (American Journalism Review) reads:"Maybe It Is Time to Panic."

And here's a press release from JobFox: "While the value of the dollar is shrinking, many job seekers - including in-demand technology specialists - must accept new positions at lower salaries than they did just a month ago."

OK, you don't have to beat me over the head with it. I get it. It's bad and it's time to take action and not just sit around and wring my hands.

So, in the last two weeks, I have:

*Networked with dozens of new people and established contact with them online and via phone.
* Done detailed research about where new opportunities are being predicted and how I can move into those areas.
* Checked in with all my bosses and clients to make sure they still find my product of value.
* Began adding "extras" to my work -- and letting my bosses and clients know about it.
* Checked into new technology and researched where it can help me do my job better. I'm ready to make an investment in voice recognition because my bad elbow is seriously hampering my productivity.

So, what are you doing about your current career situation? Are you hunkered down and praying the next business or economic downturn will pass you by?

I want to know: What are you doing to UP YOUR GAME?


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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Isaiah Washington's Big Mistakes

I recently watched Isaiah Washington on “Larry King Live” as he discussed his feelings about being fired for making reportedly homophobic comments about his fellow cast mate, T.R. Knight, who is gay.

I sat in awe as I watched this guy dig a hole so deep for himself he may never get out of it. In fact, he broke just about every rule you can regarding your work performance and a former employer.

Here’s what needs to be learned by everyone regarding this nasty little fight between Washington and his colleagues and his bosses:
  • It’s a small world. If you work in a specific industry, such as Washington’s acting arena, you’re going to run into many of the same people throughout the course of your career. That means that you don’t muddy the waters with nasty comments about people you might come to work with again in the future. Keep in mind that someone you badmouth today may be someone who can hire you in the future – or be your boss.
  • You are often remembered more for how you leave a job than anything else. No matter how angry you might be at other people when you walk out that door, keep your mouth shut. Offer a handshake and a smile and just leave. Anything you say otherwise will be gossiped about for weeks or years to come. Washington’s name will forever be linked with not only what he said to start the gossip, but what he did to perpetuate it. Trust me, the man’s obit in 50 years will mention the spat.
  • Let it go for your own peace of mind. Dwelling on the past, as Washington appears to be doing, does not help you get another job. You need to be upbeat, enthusiastic and focused on the future – not past problems. Whether he has a legitimate gripe or not, he’s not helping himself or his family by trying to rewrite history.
  • Grace under pressure is underrated. I once had a boss who treated me and everyone else like garbage. But when I resigned, my letter simply stated the fact that I was leaving in two weeks. I didn’t offer anything else, and that prompted her to look me in the eye and claim, “You know, I’m not easy to work for, but you’ve been grace under pressure.” I kept my gag reflex under control, and felt like I hadn’t let her “win.” I had kept my cool, my perspective…and gotten the heck out of there with my sanity intact. Think of how the message boards would look if Washington had stopped whining and instead nabbed another great job without badmouthing everyone in the process.




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