THE WAY YOU ARE AT HOME IS THE WAY YOU ACT ON THE JOB

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SHOW DATE: NOVEMBER 6, 2013

Chris Christie, a conservative in the very blue state of New Jersey, got re-elected last week with 60% of the vote.

Fascinating, considering the majority of New Jerseyans don’t see eye to eye on many of his basic issues. He doesn’t, for example, want to raise the minimum wage, and he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. So how did Christie get such a large slice of voters on his side?

It’s simple. Christie knows exactly who he is. There’s no bullshit demarcating him: he’s the same guy on the job, in the public eye, as he is at home. He takes his strengths and weaknesses and leverages them. What can we take away from this?

You are the same person on the job as you are at home. Whatever you do at home—the good, the bad and the ugly—you play out in the office.

The problem is you think you act differently on the job. There is some imaginary “professional mask” you wear at work that you think you take off at home.

Those mannerisms that drive your partner or friend crazy, you’re bringing that into the workplace whether you know it or not.

Let’s say you and your partner sit down and watch an hour of TV, and it takes two hours to get through a one hour show because you keep getting up to do stuff like get a snack, check your phone or computer, or brush your teeth, so you’re constantly pausing the DVR. Your thoughts are scattered and distracted. This is exactly what you take to work, and although you’re more limited in how you sidestep your tasks, you still do it on the job without even realizing it.

The first step to mitigating the problem is becoming aware of the causal factors.

How exactly do you parse out your Achilles heel(s)? Assess yourself. Ask yourself, what are a few things that drive my partner/roommate/friend crazy? What’s that complaint they always have about me? This is what you’re likely taking with you to the job. Better yet, ask them what they think your quirks are.

For example, it’s your turn to take out the trash, walk the dog or clean the dishes, and your response is always the same: “I’ll do it in a minute.” Guess what? At work, you’re likely putting everything off till the last minute, until your tasks accumulate to a point where disaster is imminent.

Here’s how to systematically assess your problems, hone in on them and shoot them down before they manifest into something job-threatening:

1) Grab hold of someone who sees you on daily basis, or has known you for years, and get them to spill the beans on what annoys them the most. They might enjoy it.

2) Take a breath—don’t be stubborn and fold your arms at their response; think about how this may affect your performance at work.

3) Lose the attitude and start observing yourself on the job—catch your quirks before you have a chance act them out.

You don’t always want to hear the truth about yourself. But this is what will get you ahead in your career. Listen to what people are saying. Lose the grand delusion of separate home and work personas. These only serve to distract you from the small, quickly dismissed foibles that affect your job performance. Once you’re honest with yourself, once you drop the bullshit, you’re going to be more liked, more respected and more likely to get promoted.

WHEN YOUR CO-WORKER BECOMES YOUR NIGHTMARE BOSS

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 30, 2013

They used to be so sweet and supportive; now they’re practically ruining your life.

You don’t even want to come into work anymore.

Is this a familiar tune? It should be, because all of us have had the experience: you help a co-worker you’re friends with get promoted, and they turn their back on you without acknowledging everything you did for them.

It hurts when you say all these great things to help your friend, and then BAM, they treat you like nobody just because they’re in a position of power. It’s a huge smack to the face, especially if they’re now your boss. The least they could do is invite you to meetings, or ask you for advice, or even just give you an explanation of why they’re sidelining you.

We emphasize a great deal. Auntie Evan is having this very same ordeal going down at an organization he works for, and Uncle David has helped someone get on a national television show who’s now making millions, but who hasn’t acknowledged him since.

Anger is not going to help you get that promotion. We get that you simply want to be respected for your deed, to be acknowledged for your help. But the angrier and more bitter you get, the less people want to be around you.

It can be emotionally draining (and sometimes even downright infuriating) to have someone you cared about suddenly make a 180 and become the biggest bitch this planet’s ever seen. The good news? You can confront them about it. The bad news? You have to confront them about it.

You have several choices, in fact. You can quit, not resolving anything; you can seethe with bitterness till you’re fired; or you can take the high road and talk to your former co-worker/ex-friend one-on-one.

To be clear, just because they’re acting like a flaccid douche bag doesn’t mean you should do the same. With that in mind, let’s move on to how to finally confront your friend-turned-nightmare-boss (the right way):

1) You’ve marginalized me: Sit down with them and say, “Listen, I feel like you’ve marginalized me. It’s hard to talk about this, and I feel awkward doing so, but I really feel like since you got your promotion, things haven’t been right between us.” The amazing thing is, after you tell them how you feel, they might be surprised at your sentiment; they might’ve thought they were acting fine. Or they might get right back up on their bitchiness pedestal. Either way, move on to step 2…

2) Treat me with respect: If you’re going to confront your new superior, don’t come empty handed. Give a legitimate example where you weren’t treated with respect… not a time when you felt unnoticed because your ego wasn’t in check.

3) Cool off, walk away: Don’t push it. you’re trying to mend the relationship, not prove to them that you’re right. If they’re not budging, back off and calm down. Focus your energy on your work.

In the end, this is about your ego. You feel betrayed, taken for granted and left in the dust. But you won’t know the situation till you confront your former co-worker and deal with the problem head on. Even if you don’t hear what you want, leave your ego at the doorstep and focus on the thing that will make you an amazing co-worker: being great at what you do.

LEARN TO DEAL WITH THE CO-WORKER YOU HATE

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 23, 2013

We’re not afraid of laying down the truth here at Job Talk, even if it stings. And today’s honest observation is one of the simplest and most painful truths in the job world: you can’t pick and choose your co-workers.

Or, as Auntie Evan had infamously put it, “you can’t choose them and you can’t shoot them.”

You have to make it work, whether you like it or not. We get it, you’re at your wits end. They keep doing everything wrong and you’re always picking up the slack. But if you’re starting to get emotional about it, vowing to shun them and watch as they slowly crumble to their ruin (yep, we all get like that), not only are you being a poor team player, you start looking like the problem yourself.

When you’re unwilling to cooperate, it makes it harder for your other co-workers—you  know, the ones you actually care for—to their jobs.

How do you control your emotions when you despise your co-worker? How do you make it work? You’ve got questions, we have answers:

Sit down with them: Don’t go gossiping and complaining to your boss (yet)—try and have a conversation with your co-worker. Stop avoiding them and sit down and talk with them. Yeah, you’ve got that running tape in your head going, “he’s going to tell me ‘I’m sorry,’ and he’s going to do it again.” But you’re just standing in your own way: you’re creating this conversation in your mind when you don’t even know what they’re going to say. You’re also taking away your co-worker’s opportunity to rise to the occasion. Give them a chance.

Stop focusing on being right: Yeah, you’re right. What does that get you? You still can’t choose your co-workers, it doesn’t buy you lunch and it certainly doesn’t get you promoted. If you really want to find a way to work everything out, you’re going to have to drop the notion that being right will change the situation.

Document your talks: Make sure to record when you sat down and talked with your co-worker. When you email them, mention how great it was talking to them about the problem, and that you’re excited that they’re going to now be more proactive about it. You’re codifying on paper that you’re trying to create a solution. But be forewarned: if you’re not coming into this with the intention of actually helping your co-worker, and you’re just out to be right, it’s not going to work.

They get three strikes: You’ve talked to them three times—or more—and nothing’s getting through. It’s high time to take it to the boss. Ask your boss for help; explain that you’ve tried on three separate occasions to talk to them. Remember when we said document your conversations? You now have a written record of when and what you told them. You’re not tattling on them—you’ve already taken the measures to correct the situation.

You can’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow: things can go wrong and you have to be prepared. But what you can do is put your heart into the matter and really try to help your co-worker. You come out a better teammate and better leader in the end.

STOP HOLDING YOUR OFFICE HOSTAGE

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SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 2, 2013

(At the time of this posting, Auntie Evan has finally learned how to use Dropbox)

These days it’s wise to adapt “change is good” as nothing short of dogma. But still many refuse to accept what has already been set in motion. It’s happening on a national scale with the government shutdown and it’s happening in your office. While the politicians hold the government hostage because they refuse to accept that ObamaCare is a reality, you are, whether consciously or otherwise, holding your office hostage because you can’t deal with the new decisions being made.

Politicians are huffing and puffing and slamming their feet down until they get what they want. Why should you do the same? Stop acting like a politician and start acting like an adult.

You may not think you’re acting like the government, but in many ways you are: when you don’t like the changes made in your office you start to gossip, complain, hold back internally—there are plenty of ways you shut down when things aren’t going your way.

All we’re asking you to do is to start acting like an adult. If you keep bitching and complaining, you’re going to end up looking like the bad guy and, eventually, you’re going to lose your job.

But we of all people understand how hard it is to just jump on board with change, especially when the change covers unfamiliar territory.

One and a half years ago we made the decision to implement Dropbox to better manage our plethora of files. Well, our very own Auntie Evan has since dug his heels into the ground and pronounced just how much he hates it and doesn’t want to learn it. Auntie Evan says he’s too busy to learn DropBox. But this is making it hard for everybody else in the office who’s already integrated it into their daily routine.

Once you learn to accept and implement the change, however, it’ll be like you could never live without it. Take iOS 7, for example. Right now, you can’t turn left without hearing somebody whine about the update. By the time iOS 8 rolls out, everyone’ll be bitching and complaining about how much they hate the new iOS and how they can’t live without iOS 7.

This is a classic case of “back in the day” syndrome. “Back in the day, things were great.” Back in the day they used mimeographs and typewriters. Change is inevitable, and it’s a fact. Your new boss or teammate is a fact; the new filing system is a fact; these are not things you could stave off by being stubborn.

We’re not saying don’t have an opinion. By all means, give your constructive input before the decision is made. But when the decision becomes a fact, it’s time to get on board because the train’s leaving, buddy.

We get it, you want to be right, prove that change is wrong and the old way of doing things is better. But being right will only feel good for a minute. Then what? It certainly doesn’t do anything to help the company get any bigger or better. There’s no need to hold the office hostage. If you need to get the frustration off your chest, talk with someone at home or in the office a few times and then STOP. At that point, you either get on board or get left behind.

The bottom line is start acting like an adult and play ball. If the Jets lose a game, they don’t shut down the whole NFL and say give me 25 extra points. If a political party doesn’t get a bill off the table, it doesn’t just put millions at a disadvantage just to… oh, wait.

Don’t dread change. Change is inevitable. If you have a new boss taking over, prepare yourself instead of having a mental beef with them before they even arrive. Understand that new systems will be implemented, new rules will be put into play. You’re going to be a superstar when you give in and give change a chance.

When your mentality is, “I tried it, I have my reasons as to why it shouldn’t be this way, but I am on board now 100%,” your team and your supervisor are going to feel it, they’re going to feel that you’re a killer team player, and this will earn them your trust. And you can guess what that leads to: they won’t be afraid to put you on a higher-level team and give you a promotion.

When you get on board, people want to work with you, they want to be with you. By the time the next major decision looms around and you offer your opinion, people will listen. They’ll be able to take you seriously because you acted like an adult and accepted change the first time around.

FIRE OF THE WEEK: OCCUPY WALL STREET

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next. 

SHOW DATE: SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

Happy two-year anniversary Occupy Wall Street! Huh, what’s that you say? You’re still occupying? How’s that going for you? Honestly, we had no idea…

Well, to be fair, nobody did. And the reason is simple: nobody’s in charge. There’s no leader or central organizer or anything.

We’re firing OWS because they’re all talk, no action, no solution. They’re not living in the real world. They actually had a good message two years ago. But it’s hard to get on board with the messenger when he’s not reporting back to anyone.

Without a head, OWS is going for the lowest common denominator. The absence of a leader means that nobody is willing to step up. And when you can’t step up for your cause, you’re living in fear.

Even when you have a great idea and you make a solid point, without a leader who embodies that point and carries the message, all you going to receive is a resounding “meh.”

More importantly, the absence of a leader means you don’t have a successor. And without a successor, the organization can’t go on. This is where OWS really shot itself in the foot.

Any successful employee knows he must create a legacy. If you’re on a team, or you’re a supervisor or boss, and you’re getting promoted or moving on, you better leave your work space and job ready and powerful for the next guy.

If you leave everything in a state for mediocrity, you’re not a leader, you’re a loser. And that’s precisely what OWS is.

 

ARE YOU GETTING TOO FRIENDLY WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS?

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SHOW DATE: SEPTEMBER 4, 2013

After working with the same team day in, day out, you get to know your co-workers very well. You even start calling a few of them your friends, maybe even your good friends. It’s like high school, but it’s not: your co-workers are not your true friends. They’re co-workers with benefits.

There’s a difference between your friends at home and the co-workers you deem as friends at your office. This difference isn’t good or bad, it’s just the way it is. Don’t get the idea that we’re cynics, though. We of all people understand that, whether because of time constraints or the difficulty of making new friends, sometimes your only source of friendship are the co-workers at your job. All we want you to understand is the difference between a strong work relationship and your friendship with your friends outside of work.

Amanda Rosenberg, the 27-year-old marketing manager of the Google Glass project who’s allegedly dating Google co-founder Sergey Brin, can’t seem to see this difference. If Brin ever dumps Rosenberg, (apologies for sounding like Star Weekly or People here) or she gets upset with him and decides to fall back on her “good friends” at work, who do you think they‘ll side with? Yep, you got it: the one who makes their paychecks happen.

Imagine this: you get into a brawl on the street. Your best buddy, the one you knew since high school, sees you and jumps into the fray and defends you no questions asked, no matter who’s right in the conflict. Now let’s say you get into an argument with your supervisor at work. Your co-worker, who sits in the cubicle next to yours and with whom you sometimes have a friendly lunch, knows you’re in the right, and can easily testify on your behalf. Instead, he keeps his mouth shut and you either get a warning or you get fired.

If the second scenario has the potential to hurt your feelings, it shouldn’t.

The co-worker who’s going to get fired on your behalf is not only self-defeating, he’s not thinking about his own life at all. The people who work around you, who are good at what they do, are ultimately going to take care of themselves. Their priority is to preserve their jobs and get paid, to support themselves and to support their families. They’re not always going to be there for you.

Since we’re so fond of examples, here is another one that describes why office friendships can be detrimental: imagine that you’re supervising someone you’re really close with. He’s good at what he does, but occasionally he screws up. You sometimes hold back from saying anything to him because you don’t want tension in your friendship. This eventually bites you in the ass: you’re not able to be an effective leader since you’re afraid of disciplining him, and your hesitance to act gets in the way of his career growth since he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. And ultimately, your group’s performance suffers, making it more likely that neither of you have the careers you want.

All this being said, co-worker friendships are not impossible. In fact, they’re easy when you understand the proper guidelines for developing relationships with your office mates:

  1. Don’t get angry if they don’t stick up for you; set realistic expectations: “But I have great friends at work!” you utter indignantly. OK, but do you know how to have even better friends at work? Set your expectations. Their ultimate responsibility at the end of the day is not to you, but to themselves and their jobs. You may go to bat for a co-worker, but you have to understand that they will not always stick up for you. It’s nothing personal—they may have kids, rent, all kinds of responsibilities that they have to prioritize over being a “true” office friend. Don’t get angry; set your expectations. You will have much more fulfilling relationships at work if you understand this concept.
  2. Geographically limit where you hang out: Keep your usual hangout place close to the office. This way, you won’t have to go out of your way to meet up with co-workers just to have them cancel on you, you won’t get angry if they’re late, and you won’t get as annoyed if they bring someone you don’t like. When you set up an evening somewhere far away or inconvenient, it’s like you’re testing your co-workers to see if they’re your true friends. They have every right to cancel, but if they do, you feel angry and trapped. You may get away with testing your real friends outside of work, but doing this with your co-workers will only lead to volatility.
  3. Don’t be afraid to develop strong work relationships: We get it. You want to be liked and accepted. You don’t want to be left out. Yes, it’s important to understand that co-worker relationships have limitations, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly outside of work. If your co-workers are going out on the weekends getting crazy and YOLOing, don’t get jealous or upset. Be the Dalai Lama on this one, especially if you’ve already set your expectations—rethink the situation. They may be wondering why you haven’t asked them to go out on the weekend yet. The point is, you don’t know what’s going on in their heads, or their lives. They have the exact same spectrum of emotions, problems, and fears as you do. So take initiative and invite them over somewhere. If nobody comes, ask them again! It’s a risky move, but you’re taking up the responsibility and making the first move—a sure sign of a leader.

Take care of yourself, be wonderful, be gentle, be amazing and be the great person you are now. Just remember that there is a difference between your coworkers (with benefits) and your friends outside of work.       

 

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH CO-WORKERS WHEN THEY SCREW UP

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 28, 2013

Sometimes you take a worthwhile risk at work and you mess up. And that’s fine, you’re simply Failing Up. It’s a necessary component of being amazing at your job.

But what if somebody else screws the pooch?

When a co-worker messes up, it’s no excuse for you demean him. When you play big, you play graciously. At the risk of being trite: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

If you can’t correct them or help them in a sweet way, shut your mouth. If you absolutely must say something, say it in a constructive way. No good will come from making your co-worker feel like a bonehead. It’s not good for the team or the company, let alone for your professional relationship.

Be the office sweetheart, not the office douchebag.

HIRE OF THE WEEK: NEW JERSEY POWERBALL WINNERS

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.

SHOW DATE: AUGUST 14, 2013

After winning the New Jersey Powerball Lottery, the sixteen employees of the Ocean County Vehicle Maintenance Department—dubbed the “Ocean’s 16”—did something that proved their incredible commitment to their job: with $86 million to their collective name, the lottery winners clocked into work the very next morning, and most have said they will continue working for now.

Comprising a quarter of the workforce, the sixteen Powerball winners could have easily damaged the business by ditching their jobs after the remarkable news. But they stuck to their schedules and continued to punch in. Now that’s dependability.

Another reason the Ocean’s 16 are this week’s Hire is their rock-solid commitment to their team. The woman who picked up the winning lottery ticket could have claimed the money for herself and flown to Barbados with over $50 million (after taxes). There could have been a huge lawsuit in the works. Instead, everyone got their share.

The Ocean’s 16 have shown genuine integrity, and their actions should be used as an exemplar on how to be a true team player, whether you’re a newly-minted multimillionaire or a laborer at a vehicle maintenance garage in Ocean County.

NEVER ASK FOR AN ADVANCE ON YOUR SALARY

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 14, 2013

This is a quick shout out to all you employees who are thinking of asking for an advance on your salary: we suggest you think twice before posing the big question. No matter how cozy and relaxed your workplace is, and no matter how friendly your boss and coworkers are, asking for an advance should be your last resort when you’re having money problems.

The people you work with need to know that you are organized and dependable. Who you are in life is who you are at the job; if you’re screwing up with your personal finances and you need to come to work and ask for an advance, you risk being seen as the potential problem at the office, no matter how much you’re loved.

 

IS YOUR BOSS UNFAIR? SPEAK UP…THE RIGHT WAY

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 14, 2013

People treat you the way you allow them to treat you—and this includes the insane head honcho in your office.

We’ve talked about monster bosses before, and because it’s such a sensitive issue for so many, we’re bringing it back up for an in-depth look at how to handle your boss and keep them from trampling all over you.

Say your boss leaves for weeks at a time, then comes back, calls you into the office and rips you a new one. Or he cuts your hours after you tattle on another employee for doing something that hurts the business. And when you point this out to their boss, your complaints are ignored.

The stories may be different, but in the end, it all culminates in you feeling deflated, dejected and angry at your boss for treating you so unfairly. Your job becomes less about kicking ass and doing the best work you can and more about managing your boss’s out-of-control personality.

Here’s the kicker: you’re actually missing plenty of opportunities to stand up for yourself and make the situation right.

Don’t believe us? Well, what do you do when you get verbally smacked around by your boss? You either:

  • a) come home and complain to (or take it out on) your spouse or partner
  • b) act nice and take it, saying nothing and letting them walk all over you, or
  • c) you react, talk back and exacerbate the situation.

But there’s a better way to respond—one that flips the situation right-side up. A way to stop feeling nauseous every time you go to work because you know you’ll have to face your boss. A way to stop living in fear and contempt and take a constructive approach. And the first step is to internalize the truism mentioned earlier: you’re only treated the way you let others treat you.

Although no work relationship can be segregated into simply black and white terms, most of the tension with your boss can fall into two categories: you’re either trying to be “nice,” and are afraid to make any waves at the office, thus allowing yourself to be trampled on; or you’re too aggressive, overreacting because of past experience with a terrible boss who took advantage of your silence.

Here’s how to handle both of these situations:

Change your understanding of nice: If you’re too accepting when your boss treats you unfairly because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job if you stand up for yourself, it’s time reevaluate what it means to be “nice” in a work environment. Maybe you came out a little strong when you first began working and were reprimanded for it. Maybe you’re just diffident. But you’re certainly not nice because you fear for you job—you’re nice because you want to be nice, because you’re wrapped up in the act. Here’s the thing: nice gets you no respect, no pay raise, and keeps you at the status quo. It’s passive-destructive: while you’re bowing your head at work, you’re yelling it off at home. It’s time to change your understanding of what it means to be nice.

Ask yourself if you’re overreacting: Did your previous acquiescence make you determined not to take any more guff from your future employers? Here’s the good side of this: you’re not afraid to take action and you don’t bite your tongue anymore when treated unfairly. The bad? Instead of fear, you’re expressing anger, something equally destructive as complacency. Instead of reacting to what’s in front of you, you’re basing your responses on past experiences, which can lead you to lash out for no reason.

If you’re struggling to find the right balance between naughty and nice, here are three simple steps to follow to get you on the path to a healthier work relationship:

1.  Forget what you know about confrontations: Confrontation is made out to be a dirty, taboo word in the workplace due to its connotations of screaming, yelling and general wrong-making. But all it means is having a conversation with somebody about something that needs to change, or that they might disagree with. You’re confronting an issue and you’re dealing with it. A confrontation is proactive, not reactive.

2.  Stop trying to be right: We’ve discussed this before, and it’s just as vital here as in any other situation. You can’t sett out to make your boss suffer, and you can’t play the gotcha game. This is not about you being right, this is about having a good relationship with your boss.

3.  Have an authentic conversation: This is not about accusing anybody, and it’s not about outputting your anger. If you’ve been experiencing some recent tension with your boss, tell them, “Listen, I think there’s some tension here, but I’d prefer to work it out and have a great work relationship. Can you tell me what’s going on?” Calmly explain to your boss how you would like them to deal with a similar situation next time.

Your boss might run the office, but YOU are always in control of your office relationships. Don’t let complacency or aggression get the best of you—you are the only one who gets to decide how others treat you.