Tag Archives: work

Never Apologize At Work

15 Oct

If you are a working woman and reading this then you have probably at some point in your career apologized to someone for something. You are sorry the copy machine stopped working or the network went down or  the coffee pot is leaking or  your boss can’t open an attachment you sent him. Am I right? I know that I have apologized for things. And while there are times and places to be sorry (like when you majorly screw something up) you should never be apologizing for the small things that you have no control over.

For example, the other day I was working out with my husband. We work out at Crossfit. That day was a partner WOD (where you have a partner and the two of you complete a long, hard workout together), and I was partners with a young girl who was stronger and faster than me. We did the workout at pretty much the same pace, but I kind of felt the whole time as if I were holding her back. I think it was just my insecurity in thinking that she was better than me, and I let that get to me. At the end of the workout we said good job to each other and then I blurted out an apology. I said, “Sorry if I was a little slow.” When she said no problem and walked away my husband scolded me. He said that I should never, ever apologize to anyone for working hard and doing the best I can. The moment he said this I knew he was right, and then I instantly felt stupid for second-guessing myself and automatically thinking she was better than me.

This experience can easily translate to the work environment. Let’s say you are working on something with a co-worker who is at your level, and maybe it takes you a little longer or maybe you have a harder time understanding the objective or the results. Either way you in some way feel as if you are making a mistake or not doing things good enough, when in reality you are working your hardest and doing the best you can do. In such an instance you should NEVER apologize for being you. Think about it – the only thing apologizing does it make the other person, your co-worker, the one who is supposed to have confidence in you, think you are insecure and incapable of handling the job.

How many times have you ever heard a male at work say they were sorry? Even when men make mistake, big mistakes, they never really apologize. Instead they will say, you were right – not I’m sorry for being wrong. I do think apologizing is somewhat of a woman characteristic. We always feel the need to please and help others, so when we feel as if we aren’t living up to our own expectations we should apologize. While I, as a woman, understand the need to apologize and make things right, doing this at work does nothing but hurt your career and progression.

Have you ever apologized at work and then regretted doing so? Have you ever apologized for someone else’s mistakes? I tend to think that women do this a lot, and if I could give you one piece of advice it would be never to apologize for being you and doing the best you can.

You Have The Power To Make Yourself Happy

6 Jun

The other day I was listening to a good friend complain about her job. She was going on and on about how her boss micromanages her too much and drives her crazy on a regular basis. I let her vent because sometimes that is really all we need, and then I said, “But I thought you liked your job?”

She responded by saying, “I do like my job, just not all the time.”

This got me thinking, is not liking your job some of the time normal? I have days where I wonder whether my career path is the right one for me, and then my husband tells me that it is called work for a reason. While I tend to agree that work cannot be exciting all of the time, aren’t there people out there who claim that they absolutely LOVE what they do? I always hear actors saying how blessed they are and how much they enjoy their job, but are there really average-Joes out there who thoroughly enjoy their jobs enough that they can tell you with a straight face that they are 100% happy?

If you listen closely you will find that a lot of people complain about their jobs. Heck, I even complain about mine. Either the drive is too long, your boss is a jerk, you don’t get enough direction, your boss micromanages you, you aren’t learning enough, you are bored, you aren’t making enough money, or your work simply doesn’t stimulate you. At some point in my life or another I have felt every single one of those emotions, but does that mean that my career path is all wrong? Does that mean that I am unhappy?

Even if having those days where you hate your job is normal, how do you know if you are really happy?

In my opinion you have the ability to make yourself happy. Happiness is a decision you make and you alone hold the power.

Ok, I hold the power, what does that even mean?

To me it means that we have a responsibility to ourselves to take a step back and evaluate our situations and feelings to determine whether or not we are happy with our given job and life circumstances. If you feel down about your job one day try taking the time to really thinking about how you feel. Ask yourself, “why do I feel unhappy?” Is it because your boss just yelled at you or is it over something much more serious, like working your fourth weekend in a row and feeling like you want to cry or throw yourself off a bridge?

Once you figure out what it is that is bothering you, consider whether this is something you can live with forever. For my friend I mentioned above, I asked her if she could stand working for her micromanaging boss forever. Her answer – probably not. This tells me that deep down she is unhappy in her current situation. Sure, there may be days when she feels good about her job, but those days where her boss is overwhelming her stand out in her mind more so than the good days.

When I have a bad day or am annoyed at work I always sit back and think about why I am mad or annoyed. Usually finding the answer and being honest with myself allows me to fix the problem. At my last job I found that I was always in a bad mood after work. It wasn’t because my boss was mean, it was because my day had been boring or very uneventful. Yes, I know that work gets boring and slow sometimes, but I was bored and slow all of the time. I took a long time thinking about whether that meant my current career path was wrong for me or not. I did almost everything I could to try to see if something else made me happy – I thought of applying to business school, I started writing a book, I created this blog, and I applied to other positions that I was qualified for. In the end I discovered that my current working situation was what was making me unhappy, so I made a change. Now I am working in a new position that fits my overall life and professional goals better.

We all have the power to change our own lives and get them moving in the direction that we want them to go. I always hear people saying they are stuck in a rut or have no other options, but I don’t agree with that. If you are unhappy at work figure out why and make a change.

Jobs Are Like Relationships – When Its Time To Move On You’ll Know

4 Jun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have all been in a relationship that starts out with so much potential that we start imagining ourselves living with a certain person forever. We dream of love, rings, wedding dresses, and children, only to find out somewhere down the road that you and the other person are not as compatible as you once thought. Either your personalities clash, your lives go in different directions, or you decide that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with that person. We all know that breaking up is hard to do, but inevitably if we want to move on with our lives (without that person) we need to do it, right?

In a relationship there are certain deal-breakers that present themselves that ultimately show us that we are no longer supposed to date that person. For example, you date a guy for two years and find out right before you plan to get married that he has been lying to you about his finances and debt. Deal-breaker, right? Or you are dating a guy who forgets to tell you that he had a child with a crazy woman who is now stalking you. Deal breaker for sure!

In life, when these deal-breakers present themselves and show us who the person we are dating really is we find it easy to dump them and move on (at least I did). I mean who wants to be married to someone who can’t be honest about his money? Not me!

Just as in intimate relationships, deal-breakers present themselves in our working relationships and careers. The following are examples of career deal-breakers that I would not stand for:

  • Having a boss that constantly yells at me or demeans me, making me feel inadequate and stupid.
  • Having a job that causes me too much stress for very little gain.
  • Finding that your learning has slowed and your position is becoming stagnant.
  • Hearing rumors that your company is about to go under.
  • Being physically and mentally miserable at work for any reason.

I am sure you have other deal-breakers than the ones Ihave listed, but my point is that they exist. These deal-breakers find a way to creep through the very crevices of your happiness and make you feel unhappy and unsatisfied with your career.  While these deal-breakers occur in everyone’s career (no matter what anyone tells you no one’s career and/or job is perfect), it seems to me that people have a harder time leaving an awful job than leaving an awful mate. Why is that?

Maybe leaving your job (and your steady income) seems scarier to you than pushing someone who brings you negative energy out of your life. Maybe the thought of being unemployed, which often has a bad stigma attached to it, embarrasses you. Maybe you feel as if you won’t be able to get another job making comparable pay.

There are a lot of reasons people may feel trapped at their jobs. Trust me, I understand what it feels like to be trapped. I used to spend hours on the internet searching for a way out of my old job, but never actually had the guts to quit. It ultimately took me about an entire year to find another job before I even thought about quitting a job that left me unhappy a lot of the times. 

You may be wondering how you know if something is a deal-breaker.  There is no definition of a deal-breaker, but trust me, when something is a deal-breaker you will know. You will know because whatever it is will make you unhappy. My advice: just use your intuition, you always know what is best for you.

What can you do when a deal-breaker presents itself at your current job?

  • Start looking for another job. Utilize social media and your contacts to see if there are any jobs out there that match your skills.
  • Try solving the problem by talking to your supervisor. If the deal-breaker is something that can be fixed, try being honest with your boss and see if he/she is willing to accommodate your requests.
  • Talk to other people in your field to see if the deal-breaker is common. Finding out if this deal-breaker will present itself at another job is important to know before you leave your current situation. For example, if you are a lawyer and hate having a billable hour requirement you will want to make sure that a different job won’t present the same issues for you.
  • Reevaluate your career path. If you find that you dislike multiple things about your current job you may want to reevaluate your career path. For example, if you went into sales and discovered that you hate having to drive around and service client maybe you will find a sales supervisor position more suitable to your personality.

Remember, just because you took the job doesn’t mean you have to stay there for the rest of your life. We live in a culture where it is more acceptable to go from one job to another, and a large reason for that is because Generation Y does not stay at a job they dislike.

So if you are stuck in a bad working relationship then breakup and move on.

What are your career deal-breakers? Have you ever left a job because one of them presented itself?

First Impressions Really Matter

11 Apr

This morning I was talking to our receptionist about what her first impression of me was when I came in to interview with the company. She told me that she thought I was a little standoffish and didn’t seem interested in talking to her. This then resulted in her thinking I was somewhat bitchy. Of course her perception of me has since changed, but I couldn’t help feeling a little upset that her first impression of me was a bad one. This is a reaction that I often get when I ask people about their first impressions of me. Its not that I am bitchy, I am just shy and don’t find small talk with people I don’t know interesting. In fact, I find it somewhat intimidating and scary.

“To me, first impressions mean everything,” the receptionist told me. This got me thinking, do people realize that they are making an impression on everyone they encounter at a job interview from the receptionist to the executive? Do people pay attention and make sure to impress everyone they come in contact with? My guess is probably not. I know that when I came in for my interview I was nervous, which resulted in me not wanting to talk. The receptionist, who is very outgoing and talkative, tried to engage me in conversation. I remember thinking, why is this girl talking to me?

When I asked our receptionist what things someone should do to make a good first impression, she told me that they should smile and engage in conversation when someone tries talking to them. I also asked a few other people around the office, and it seemed universal that to make a good first impression you should always make eye contact, give a firm handshake and smile.

Making a good impression can often be the difference between landing a job or making a new friend. We all know that once we formulate an opinion about someone it is hard to change that opinion. I am generally a pretty shy person, so when people first meet me they oftentimes think I am “bitchy” or “mean.” To me I always laugh at this because it is their opinion of me based on their first time meeting me, which we all know is never usually accurate. Sure, I am reserved and shy, but that doesn’t make me mean. Despite the fact that these first impressions are usually way off, I have found that it is hard to change people’s perception of me.

Here are some tips that I have found useful in trying to make a good first impression on an interview or in a social setting:

1.  Be Confident and Outgoing. Even if you aren’t confident, pretend you are. If you walk into a room with slouched shoulders and a scared look on your face no one is going to think great things about you. Have you ever noticed that we often look and confident people and think, wow I’d like to know them? This is because confidence draws people in. It makes people want to be around you. When people want to be around you they inherently have good thoughts about you. It is also important to be outgoing. This doesn’t necessarily mean being the life of the party, it means trying to be more forthcoming about yourself and trying to engage people in conversations. I know that being outgoing when you are shy and reserved can be hard, but trust me, it can be done!

2. Don’t Fidget, Be Relaxed. When people fidget it often sends a message that they are either nervous, bored, or don’t want to be doing whatever it is they are doing. I know it drives me crazy when my husband can’t stop playing with his silverware while we are waiting for dinner, so I can only imagine having to watch someone I didn’t know doing that. If you are prone to shaking your leg ( like I am) or picking at your cuticles, be cognizant of this and make sure you refrain from doing it while in the presence of those you have just met.

3. Look Presentable. We all know that many first impressions are based upon looks. By “looks” I don’t mean that you have to be attractive. Rather, I mean that you need to be put together and not look as if you came straight from a night out at the bar. For example, what would you think of a woman who walked into a job interview with wrinkled pants and ratty hair? My guess is you probably wouldn’t have very good thoughts about her. I would wonder what prevented her from taking the five minutes to iron her pants. It is important to always make sure that your clothes match, they are not wrinkled, you don’t smell, and your hair isn’t a mess. If you can achieve those things you  will look presentable.

4. Make Eye Contact. One of my biggest pet peeves is someone who talks to me but doesn’t look me in the eye. It sends a message that they are uncomfortable talking with me about the subject matter or that they don’t value me enough to look me in the eyes. I especially hate those people who only look at one person when they are having a conversation with multiple people. Eye contact, along with a good, solid handshake, may be one of the most important tips to making a good first impression, so you should make sure to master it.

5. Remember People’s Names. Have you ever been talking to someone, and halfway through the conversation have them say, “Wait, what is your name again?” When people say this to me it kind of rubs me the wrong way, as if my conversation with them wasn’t exciting enough to make them remember my name. If you are like me and have problems remembering people’s names, try to say their name right after they tell you what it is. I have found that this helps. If you end a conversation by saying the person’s name, that person will be impressed, feel more connected to you, and be more likely to remember your name.

Do you have any suggestions for making a good first impression?

Top 10 Reasons Employers Fire Their Employees

14 Mar

I have talked many times about how hard it is to get a job and how to put yourself in a better position to land the job you want. Today I was listening to a co-worker tell me a story about a friend that recently got fired for stealing money from the company. This got me thinking, what are the top reasons employers fire employees? Most of us out there are worried about getting jobs and making money, but what about when you get the job? What do you have to worry about and what things should you not be doing?

Now, I must admit that I have never really been fired from a job or laid off (not yet at least). And by “never really” I mean from any “real” job. There was one time when I worked in a small office position in college that I came in late to work because my class was let out late, and was let go as a result of not being on time. Sure, I guess you could say that was me being fired, but I don’t really count it because it was not a “real” job. Anyways, from that experience I can tell you that getting told not to come into work the next day sucks and is a major shot to your ego. So, I think I am 100% right  in saying that no one ever wants to get fired.

Most employees are considered to be employees-at-will, which basically means that they can be terminated for any reason so long as that reason is not illegal. What does this mean? It means that you cannot be fired for your race, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation. It does mean that you can be fired because you don’t dress appropriately, because you showed up late, or simply because they don’t like you.

Here are the top ten reasons people get fired:

  1. Consistently Being Late Or Calling In Sick.  When an employer hires you they do so because they want you at work. They are not paying you those six figures so you can sit at home and watch T.V. A lot of jobs have flexible hours and allow employees to come and go as they please as long as they get their work done, but there are other jobs and certain circumstances where punctuality is important. Imagine if you are a teacher and show up an hour late to work or if you are an executive but completely miss a big meeting. Surely none of those things would go over well with your boss. In addition to constantly being late, calling in sick all of the time when you really are not sick is a bad habit to get into. Employers are counting on you to be there every day, so calling in sick all of the time and at the last minute gives you a bad name and is a sure-fire way to make your employer mad.
  2. Lying On Your Job Application Or Resume. Generally employers require individuals to submit job applications and resumes so the employer can make sure that the employee is qualified for the position. Finding out that you lied on your application/resume and that you are not qualified to perform your job functions can definitely get you fired. While every beefs up their resume to look better, they do this with fluff words not actual lies. For example, you cannot state on your resume that you are a CPA when you took all the study courses but never took the test. Remember, honesty is always the best policy.
  3. Have Bad Personal Hygiene.  While it is sort of sad to say, those who don’t take care of themselves have a significantly higher chance of getting fired. Just imagine sitting next to someone who always smells like body odor, has greasy hair, and dresses poorly. Sure, not everyone has a lot of money, but most people can afford showers and decent clothes (even if they are from Kmart).
  4. Not Respecting The Chain of Command. The chain of command is there for a reason – so people have bosses who can give them advice and help them along and so there is order in the office. Trust that when you start working at a company that the chain of command has probably been in place for quite some time. While you may feel entitled to an opinion or smarter than your boss, it is never a good idea to overstep someone who is higher in the chain of command then you. Just as you are supposed to respect your elders you need to respect those in higher positions. When your manager runs to the CEO to tell him/her that you went above his head and did something, do you really think the CEO is going to pat you on the back?
  5. Saying Bad Things About Your Company/Co-Workers On Facebook/Twitter/Myspace.  Too often I see people use Facebook as a way to express their anger, feelings and opinions on certain situations. Sure, sometimes I use Facebook for those things too, but there is a time and a place for everything and posting something about your awful boss or company on Facebook is not a good thing to do EVER. Not only does this make you look like a complainer, but it will get around to those in your company (even if you aren’t friends with anyone from work on Facebook).
  6. Engaging in Unethical Conduct. Unethical conduct could mean a number of things. The best way to know if you are doing something “unethical” is to think about whether or not your mother would condone what you are doing. This may sound silly, but it works. Would your mother like that you are stealing money from your company, stealing clients and opening your own business, dating your subordinate, or being dishonest about something? I bet not. I am sure your mother raised you better than that. I have found that when people trust you and later find out that you were engaging in unethical conduct behind their backs, things will not go well for you in the end. At one of my old jobs, one of the higher-ups was caught dating his subordinate and when he left the company we found out about lies he had told and bad things he had done that ultimately hurt the company’s reputation. This resulted in friendships being broken and feelings getting hurt. From that experience I learned that it is always better to do the right thing.
  7. Personality Issues.  Many people often complain about that annoying co-worker who needs constant reassurance or who yells all of the time. The reason these people are complaining is because their personality does not mix well with the other’s. Sometimes this happens and it ultimately means that the working relationship, just as any other relationship, will not work out. (If I had to be fired for something I probably would rather this be the reason).
  8. Not Performing.  When you are hired and are given certain job duties, the employer expects you to perform those duties. If you slack off, produce bad work, or don’t meet expectations you can most certainly expect to get fired. In my opinion, it is always important to ask for feedback and to get a sense of how your employer thinks you are performing. Yes, the employer should be giving you periodic reviews, but if they don’t then you need to speak up and make sure everything is ok.
  9. Drug/Alcohol Use.  Most employers have a drug and alcohol policy. The reason for this is to ensure that you are not engaging in any sort of conduct that could ultimately get the company in trouble. Just as drinking and driving is not legal and permissible, drinking and negotiating and signing a contract is not permissible and your company most certainly won’t stand for it. If you have a substance abuse problem your best bet is to be open and honest with your employer and seek rehab.  
  10. Engaging In Sexual Harassment. Now-a-days people have different meanings for the term “sexual harassment” and that can cause problems. At my old job there were complaints from some women about a boss who commented on the fact that their hair looked nice one day and their jewelry was pretty. To me that is just silly, but there are a lot of different things that make different people uncomfortable. So, my policy is to never say anything too personal to anyone of the opposite sex, especially if you are a man talking to a woman and are in a higher position than the woman. Sexual harassment is serious and no employer wants to take a chance of being sued by the EEOC.