Posts Tagged ‘workplace’

Button Down for Opportunity

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Mark Twain said it best: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

Well, that’s probably stretching it. You probably don’t go to work naked. But even so, there may be times when your workplace attire isn’t putting your best foot forward.

Executives are buzzing about inappropriate dress making some of their workers less promotable. It’s fast becoming one of the most talked about problems in companies. You don’t want to end up on that list.

Standards vary by profession, but here are some basic recommendations for what’s appropriate if you’re in a professional office.

Consider these things:

Ladies: Dressing for the nightclub (or the fitness club, for that matter) is not the same as dressing for work. At work, it’s conservative – no perfume, skirts right above the knee, clothes that are not too tight or pants dragging on the floor. And the biggest issue of all—if you want to be taken seriously, keep “the girls” under cover! Research shows that if you have “that line” showing even once, it tends to reduce the likelihood of advancement. Don’t make that career-limiting move.

I’m not saying you have to dress like Little Orphan Annie. There is a middle ground. It’s about looking like you could meet with a top prospect at the drop of a hat and be a respectable representative of the company.

Guys: You have it a little easier. Shirts in white or blue are best—no Easter egg colors or flashy ties. Grey, navy, or black jackets and pants complete a good professional look where you can’t go wrong. The biggest complaints with guys include not being pressed or not having hair your clean and well cut and face shaved. And by the way, Bigfoot – don’t forget to shave your neck.

Best tip of all: Watch to see what your manager wears, and start wearing that NOW if you want to ever want to be considered for a promotion. If in doubt, dress more conservatively and more professionally. A navy and black jacket will turn almost anything into a professional look. Invest in one of those.

You might say it’s not fair to be passed over if your performance is good. Let me just say it happens every day anyway because there’s an enormous subjective component to hiring and advancement, and how you present yourself and how you represent the company really does matter.

So get those neat, well-dressed ducks in a row to remove one more obstacle in your path to success!

Build Community

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

With family, something is unique. You hurt when they hurt. You laugh when they laugh. You feel what they feel.

But elsewhere, it’s hard to find this same genuine support, this feeling of real community.

Your son’s hockey team wins the championship – a game winner scored by the team captain with 10 seconds remaining. It’s great that they won, of course, but you and your boy both wish that time could go back, so HE could score the game-winning goal.

Tim, your buddy in the cubicle down the hall, pretty much just won the lottery. He closed a monstrous deal with a customer who would’ve bought anything from anyone. You’re mature enough to congratulate him, but dang, you begin to think that he doesn’t deserve this kind of luck. YOU deserve this kind of luck! Right?

We’ve all been there. And it isn’t good. More than anything, this ME, ME, ME mentality gets in the way of establishing a sense of community, a sense of family, in the workplace.

Imagine just for a second what things would look like if everyone had each other’s best interests at heart.

When Jim closes the deal, you’re so excited for him that it may as well have been you.

When Marcia gets sick, she’s on your mind.

When Sally gets promoted, you’re thrilled.

When Tom struggles with his project, you assist him as if it were your own. When the business thrives, YOU feel fantastic!

A sense of family and community at work—now wouldn’t that be something? So why not make it that way?

Take NO Pride in Being Frazzled!

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Far too many people in the workforce today wear their worn-out, run-down, bleary-eyed frazzle like a badge of honor, as if THAT’s the outcome that drives success.

It isn’t.

If you want to improve the quality of your work, boost your productivity and impress the boss, you won’t do it by showing your frayed edges at every opportunity. The key is to become a well-oiled machine, NOT an overheated engine. Only the first one is of any use in the long run.

I know what some of you are thinking: You can’t cut back. You are barely keeping everything together as it is. If you slow down, you’ll drop the ball. And you may be right. So the key isn’t to slow down—the key is to handle the speed better. And like a car running at high speed, that might mean doing a little maintenance.

First and foremost, take responsibility for your physical and emotional health. Get rest, eat right, and exercise. If you see a frazzled, sleep-deprived face in the mirror, consider it not as a badge of honor but a failure to maximize your abilities by taking proper care of yourself.

Second, every time you hear yourself proudly complaining about how worn out you are, STOP. Refuse to take pride in anything but results.

It takes some doing, since we’re so conditioned to relish our exhaustion. But once you do it and see your productivity and quality of life go through the roof, you’ll never go back to that tired old illusion again.

Confronting a Gossip

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

When most people think of a dysfunctional workplace, they picture a lot of screaming and yelling. That’s unpleasant, but believe it or not, it’s not the most destructive thing a workplace can endure. Real dysfunction has little that has to do with raised voices.

If I had to nominate just one thing as the most destructive symptom of the dysfunctional workplace, there’s no contest. It’s GOSSIP. And the only way to root it out is by going straight to the source—confronting the gossip directly.

But how do you confront a gossip?

Step one is to recognize that gossip is an attempt at communication— seriously screwed up communication, sure, but communication nonetheless. You can’t eliminate the behavior without providing something to replace it—namely a good and healthy way of communicating.

If Joe was late once again with his report, Jack might be tempted to do a little quiet backstabbing. But if he wants an actual change in Joe’s behavior and a sane workplace, all Jack has to do is to go to Joe and say, “Joe, when you are late with that analysis, I end up on my knees to my boss because then my report is late. Please promise me you’ll get that to me on time from now on.”

Reasonable. Direct. Easy.

If instead Jack makes the wrong choice and comes to you with gossip about Joe, simply say, “Gee, it sounds like you need to talk to Joe directly so you can work this out.” Then add the clincher: “Let’s go over to Joe right now and make your suggestion about what you want to see changed.”

If Jack says, “Oooh, I don’t know if I want to do that, he’ll get mad,” you point out how much madder he would be if he learned that he was being talked about behind his back! “I know you want to do this honestly, so let’s go ask Joe for what you need.” Reasonable. Direct. Easy!

It’s amazing how quickly gossip withers on the vine when you stop feeding it. So have some courage, be the one who not only declares a zero-tolerance policy for talking behind another person’s back, but also walks the walks. Then watch the dysfunction ebb away.

Quick Tip

Be sure to watch yourself as well! Nothing will kill your gossip-free initiative quicker than gossiping yourself.

Stay Focused on the Right Things

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Admit it, we’ve all been guilty of giving the excuse, “I’m WAY too busy,” or “I don’t have time for one more thing.”

Often, if you really thought about it, you’d realize that it’s not that you have too much to do, it’s that you’re spending too much time on the things that don’t matter. You may be “focused” on too much—another way of saying you’re not focused at all.

The people who complain the most that they have too much to do are always the ones best at manufacturing work where none exists as an excuse to not do the most critical things. Like making time to sort the paper clips…

Instead, be in the highest and best use of your time constantly. Start today by doing this:

  • Make a list of everything you plan on doing today.
  • Next, go through the list and cross off anything that’s not critical. Things that don’t generate revenue, directly or indirectly, are almost certainly not critical.
  • Block times for those “big rocks”—projects that need extreme focus, and let the “sand” fill in the rest of your day.
  • Then, stick to the list!

Each of those steps is crucial. Some people make a list and think they’re done. But every day, without exception, you need to REDUCE that list as a next step. Not everything that pops into your head automatically earns a precious block of time today. Move something to tomorrow, or delegate it, or cross it off completely. Then do it again and again, making each task earn its spot, until suddenly your list is reasonable for a single day’s work.

The last step is too often forgotten. Once you make the list and refine it, stick to it! Don’t start improvising around it or allowing yourself to be distracted by shiny objects. Treat it like your one-day strategic plan.

You’ll be amazed at how much you accomplish—so get focused NOW!