TAKE ANY OPPORTUNITY YOUR BOSS OFFERS YOU

opportunity

SHOW DATE: SEPTEMBER 11, 2013

When your boss offers you an opportunity to take on a new responsibility, don’t even think. Don’t even breath. Just take it.

Whether it’s speaking in front of a group or taking on a new task at work, the opportunity can reveal your skills, teach you new ones, and show your employer what you’re capable of. Even if you’re offered the opportunity last minute, if you mess up, at least you have the excuse that you had no time to prepare.

“But I get nervous, I get cold feed, what do I do?” Don’t get nervous. All your employer is going to think is that you’re not going to get offered another opportunity for a long time—you had your shot and blew it.

Stop with the excuses—you can’t rely on your boss to coddle you. Don’t lose the chance to take on a new opportunity: it’s going to get you a raise, or a promotion, and you’re going to be seen as bigger, better and greater.

ARE YOU GETTING TOO FRIENDLY WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS?

Employees

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.

WANT TO BE PHENOMENAL ON YOUR JOB? BE LIKE MILEY CYRUS

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 28, 2013

Every once in a while, someone does something so outlandish and bizarre and so completely different from what people are used to, that no matter how awkward or mediocre the actual execution, that someone becomes an instant cultural phenomenon. You might have guessed from the title that we’re talking about Miley Cyrus’s… kinetic performance on last Sunday’s VMAs.

What’s our point? If you want to be phenomenal on your job, be like Miley.

Before you start throwing your old Hannah Montana DVDs at us, hear us out. If you get down to the nitty-gritty, Miley accomplished the very goal she set out to achieve: she reinvented herself and got everyone talking about her.

This is exactly what needs to happen at your office: people must talk about the risks you take, the unconventional ideas you bring to the table, the fearless approach you adopt in your execution. If you’re flying under the radar, diffidently pushing that same button day in and day out, afraid to stir things up, let alone shake them (or twerk them, if you will), then forget about it—you’re not going to get anywhere in your career.

You’re left with two options: you need to speak out or get out. Find a new job, get a different career. Because if you’re afraid to bring new ideas to the table, you’re never going to move ahead.

Miley certainly spoke up last Sunday. After all, she’s a pop star and that’s her job: to get noticed, to keep people’s attention centered on her, to be the talk of the town.

You can either view Miley as attention-hungry trash with no class, or you can view her as a smart employee. We suggest the latter. With her performance, Miley has made millions of dollars for her label. That’s the kind of employee that all employers salivate for: someone who can take extraordinary risks that make the company lots of money. In the days following the VMA performance, Miley garnered over 200,000 extra followers on Twitter, over 200,000 more likes on her Facebook page and around 90,000 downloads of her new single.

How long did we need her to be Hannah Montana? Miley created her own promotion, and that’s exactly what you need to do.

You’re sitting in your office. You’re a researcher, a junior analyst, a receptionist, whatever. You’re going through the usual quotidian motions: clock in, do what you’re supposed to do and clock out. How long do you think you will do this before getting a promotion? Five years? A decade? Probably never.

It’s time for you to speak out.

We know it’s hard to change. Just like it’s hard to imagine your straight-laced mom twerking and your dad grinding against her, or your coworkers witnessing you outside of your usual role. It’s the whole, “Johnny is the receptionist, and he’ll always be the receptionist” thing.

If you don’t want to be in the same position ten years from now, you need to step up and change the way you’re seen in the office.

Okay, so you’re all pumped up and ready to take the necessary risks and present your new ideas to everybody. There’s just one condition: you have to own them. After all, your ideas will most likely get shut down. But as long as you stick with them, we guarantee you that you will never be seen as the same person again. No one will ever just say, “Oh, she’s great in the mail room,” or “He’s good at answering the phones” again. You will be the person who tried to change the company for the better, even if your attempt fell flat.

So far, embracing change has been an abstract concept. We understand that you want some concrete examples, and we have ‘em. Here’s a smattering of tips to help you change the way you’re seen in the office forever:

Change your appearance:  You can begin by sprucing up your aesthetics. Not only does this work on a symbolic level, planting within you the seeds of change, but it can change the way people view you in the office. If you wear the standard lax shirt-and-khaki getup, start coming into work with a jacket and tie. Or if you already do so, modify your appearance in other, smaller ways: always iron your clothes, come in washed and neat, straighten your posture. You may understandably feel self-conscious and become frightened of what may people think of you. This is normal. Over time, notice the way people listen and react to you gradually change. It’s this shift in perspective that distinguishes you from other employees and puts you in the radar for a promotion.

Take a leap towards change: Say you’re a receptionist. You have a certain way of answering the phones and you’re great at it. Good. Step one is mastering the job basics—you don’t shower the office with your reign of reform if you can’t do your basic job tasks. Master the old stuff and then begin to see the flaws in the system. If you see faults in the messaging system at your receptionist job, send a memo out or make the suggestions directly to the supervisors. It’s about getting noticed and getting others on your side. Physically go up to your higher-ups and ask them what they’d like to see done with the messages. Make a poll, or a vote, or a suggestion box. Just don’t be afraid to act.

Add value to your company: The above case is a great example of how to contribute value to your company. Here are a few more great examples of value-giving: if you’re part of a new group of hires—junior analysts or restaurant workers or whoever—use your training experience to compile a new-employee handbook and distribute it among all new hires. If you’re a salesperson, come up with a plan for everyone to reach a new segment of the population. Instead of taking value and wasting company resources by doing the bare-minimum that any shmuck can do, contribute something new and fresh that will help not only you, but every employee. Adding value is not complaining about the gap—it’s about filling it.

Adopt Failing Up as a personal mantra: You can get promoted for thinking big, even if your idea isn’t that great or doesn’t play out as well as you thought it would. From ashes of failure rise opportunities for success. Once you take the risk of speaking out for the betterment of your company, you will get noticed by your boss as someone who brings ideas to the table. Even if the ideas don’t pan out, you’ll be a much better candidate that Joe Shmoe over in the next cubicle, who never failed at anything because he never attempted anything new and never took any risks. Your idea might land poorly, they might not work at all. But it’s no catastrophe. When you adopt a Failing Up mentality, you’ll be seen as the person who tried. And that’s a whole lot better than not being seen at all.

It’s only scary at first: We know—all this change stuff is scary as hell. You’re stepping out of the pack, putting your neck out into foreign country. Some people may talk under their breath, think you’re brown-nosing or showing off. Others may find the change of attitude strange and uncomfortable. But all this fear and discomfort slowly melts as you step into the role of a leader. Getting the ball rolling is scarier than when you’re actually leading the charge. When you’re at the helm, things begin to get fun and exciting. Now the hardest part becomes getting people on board, which brings us to our next crucial tip.

Find your allies: Having others—especially your boss—back you on your ideas is the best way to ensure the changes you proposed see the light of day. One great way of converting employees into allies is finding a problem everyone complains about but nobody does anything to solve. Basically, seek out the elephant in the room and jump on the opportunity to do something about it.

If you’re not willing to change and take risks, you’re basically condemning yourself to a life you don’t love. Go ahead, be quiet, slip past everything. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? But realize that the pain of having to walk in every day and press the same button and do the same things will never go away. Nothing will change.

This isn’t what we’re about at Job Talk. We’re about playing big, kicking ass and taking names. We want you to come into the fray roaring, not whimper in a corner for the rest of your life. Be like Miley and reinvent the way you are seen in the office. Take the risk: no one will ever see you as the same employee ever again.

SICK IN BED? CHECK YOUR EMAILS ANYWAY

Paid sick leave

SHOW DATE: AUGUST 21, 2013

Coughing your lungs out and popping Halls like an addict? Even when you’re stuck sick in bed on a workday, you can still play big and be amazing. If you can lift a finger, you can check your emails every few hours. There’s no reason to be out of the loop and under stress when you come back to work. The few minutes it takes to peer at your inbox will save you the chaos of coming back clueless. And your supervisors will notice that you’re the guy/gal who checks in with the office even when you have an excuse to be “checked out.”

HOW TO BE AMAZING AT YOUR JOB

Businessman Crossing the Finish Line

SHOW DATE: AUGUST 21, 2013

When Edward Snowden became the nation’s biggest whistleblower, Glenn Greenwald broke Snowden’s story, and Laura Poitras filmed them both for her documentary, they weren’t being just a computer specialist, just a journalist or just a filmmaker. They used their jobs to band together to do something powerful. They stepped up to the mat, played big and made a huge difference in the world—and made history in the process.

When was the last time you did something amazing at your job?

You don’t have to max out your airport threat level just to play big and do amazing things at work. But you do have to walk into your job and blow up the paradigm; and you do need to try something new, something different every day.

Here are four tips to help you resuscitate your career, your life, and reinvent the way you see yourself at your job.

1. Recognize that you’re operating out of fear: You‘re tired of going to work day in and day out. Sometimes you feel like you’re just counting the minutes till your next paycheck, and it’s making you miserable. That’s not the life you want to have. But you’re having it because you’re operating out of fear. Whether it’s a new job opportunity or an opportunity at your job to make a difference, it’s easier to let it go than to put your money where your mouth is. Recognize that operating out of fear and laziness holds you back from having the life and career that you want. When opportunity is staring you in the face, take it!

2. Stop playing small: You know why you’re not getting that raise you‘ve been yearning for? It’s because you’re playing small. You’re sharpening pencils because you’re told to; you’re only taking on the responsibilities you’re required to do. Don’t just serve that hamburger, make it a full-on experience so people will come back. Change the restaurant. Don’t just sell clothes to customers to make a buck, reinvent the way the customer sees himself—teach him how to dress well, explain to him what colors go well with others. 

3. Get a partner who wants to make a difference: Get a partner in your life who loves you and cares for you and wants to make a difference in your life and at home—it’ll make loving life, and loving your job as part of your life, a whole lot easier.

4. Create a work action plan: What are two things you can do today and tomorrow that will help make a difference at your job? What’s something big you can do in a week? Get proactive and chart out what you can do to transform your job and transform yourself.

Here at Job Talk Daily, we abhor complacency. It doesn’t matter whether you’re polishing the floors or leading the company: you have the ability to make a difference and do something amazing at your job, and reinvent yourself in the process.

NEVER ASK FOR AN ADVANCE ON YOUR SALARY

Bankrupt

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.

TROUBLE ON THE JOB HUNT? SHOW SOME INITIATIVE

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 7, 2013

Having trouble getting any traction from your job search? You may want to take an inspirational note from Adam Pacitti. The 24-year old from London had hit a cul-de-sac: several months and 250 job applications had yielded no results.

So Pacitti took to some desperate measures: he took out his last 500 pounds (about $775) and put up a billboard that read, “I spent my last 500 pounds on this billboard, please give me a job,” and “employadam.com” right below. Practically overnight, he received 60 job offers, and was finally accepted to a high-level position at an advertising agency.

While the viral campaign around the billboard took several months to plan, it wasn’t the stunt that did it. It was his initiative, his creativity, and his willingness to put everything on the line. He didn’t have a network so he used his billboard to create one.

Think outside the box (or, in this case, the billboard), and show some initiative. You will get noticed.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE CO-WORKER YOU HATE

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SHOW DATE: AUGUST 7, 2013

Co-workers are like family: you can’t choose them and you can’t shoot them.

Excuse us if we’re being a bit grim here, but you know what we’re talking about: some co-workers are like that one creepy relative you can’t stand. Thankfully, you only have to see that relative once a year on Thanksgiving. But the co-worker who buzzes around making your life miserable, always getting on your nerves—yep, they’re around every day.

Here’s the cold water: you have to work it out. A bad work relationship will bleed over to other parts of your life. The same argument you have with your co-worker, you’re having with your wife, your husband, your child, your lover. And the negativity that is produced by the tension between you two casts a dark shroud over the office, which holds the company back from focusing on growth. Worker conflict equals stagnancy, for both co-workers and company.

Are you ready for some extra cold water? Close your eyes: you love it when the co-worker you hate is responsible for your misery, because you get off the hook (learn more on how to deal with scapegoating in the office). When they go crazy and start arguing with you, or when they do something that distracts you from your job, you suddenly get “permission” to turn a blind eye to that email you didn’t answer, that copy machine you didn’t fix, that client you were supposed to call back; in your mind, it’s their fault that you can’t do your job right.

That all has to end now. And the killer here is that you can’t go to your supervisor for help: it’s between the two of you, and no external party can help fix this. Here are a few steps to help you become the better co-worker and start the mending process:

1)    Realize that there is a difference of personalities: Whether they’re a millennial and you’re a baby boomer, or they were raised in a completely different background, realizing that you and you co-worker have totally different personalities is the first step to getting to the heart of the problem.

2)    Understand that external forces may be at play: There may be other factors at play here—forces such as stress, busyness and family conflict—that may be contributing to the tension on either side. Your co-worker has a life outside the office, and his external problems may be just as bad as yours.

3)    Confront them formally: Tell your co-worker that you want to fix the situation, but do so formally. Don’t blindside them with a, “Hey, we have to talk, now.” Set up an appointment, and when you’re both comfortable, describe the issue at hand instead of freaking out and getting emotional. Instead of calling them an ass, tell them how they make you feel. And don’t make this meeting about yourself…

4)    Let them speak: This is the hardest part of all. You have to let the co-worker speak. Even if all they do is dump on you, it just exacerbates the situation if you cut them off and don’t let them spill their guts. Be prepared to be dumped on during your appointment with them. Remember, you’re killing the company by not resolving this—take it for the team and listen.

5)    Make a request: Make a formal request. If they’re on Twitter and Facebook all the time and it’s distracting you, make a request for them to at least curb their usage: “Can you please spend a little less time on social networking sites? It distracts me and makes it hard for me to focus on work.” Be prepared to get your request denied. If this happens, ask them, “What’s a way this can happen?” If they’re still not budging, see if you can propose another request, or offer a different solution for the same request. As long as you operate in a loving way, you can keep proposing until you work something out. Also, avoid being a hypocrite: be prepared to accept a request yourself in order to have yours fulfilled.

6)    Stop trying to be right—start being powerful: You like being right. Who doesn’t? But do you care more about being right, or having a great team? You can either focus on being right and keep battling with your coworker, or work it out and focus on having a great, kick-ass business that makes a lot of money and makes a difference on the planet. A lot of the times, the conflict stems from both you and your coworker wanting to prove the other wrong. Instead, be powerful—think about the company before you think about your ego.

We get it. At the end of the day, you want to be acknowledged for what you do, you want to be loved for all the hard work you put in. Start by being nice to your coworker (read our tips on how to turn your office enemy into a frenemy). Here’s some homework: find one thing you think your co-worker does well and then compliment them for it. They’ll be stunned: after all, this attitude is not your usual modus operandi, and their perspective of you will change. Subsequently, don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers what they like about what you do. Having a functional relationship with your team is the key to your company’s success.