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How to Keep Your Job From Driving You Crazy November 2, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in executive coach, Self-Development, workplace success, workplace success coaching.
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We all haspeak my mindve them. The times when our job is getting on our last nerve. Or we are being kept awake at night re-hashing some workplace drama in our mind. Hardly any of us escape those times, even if we basically love our jobs.

So is there a way that we can keep ourselves safe from these teeth-on-edge times? Well, yes, there is. Mostly when we find ourselves up at night, or in mental disarray, it always goes back to one thing—a relationship or more than one that is just not working.

Tough Times at Work Often Relate to Relationship Breakdowns

When I think back to some of the times in my career that had me tied in knots, they are all related to a relationship breakdown in some way. Some examples: I had a co-manager (who ever thought of such an arrangement was nuts—but that’s for another day.) This co-manager did not get the concept of ‘co’ and figured he was really in charge of the whole department. Thus, I had to constantly fight for my place.

Then in another job I was a brand spanking new manager whose staff thought I did not know a thing about managing people. The truth was that I had been a manager in another company so I was not totally clueless. However, they did not know this, whaving not been at that other company.

Which Work Relationships Could Benefit From Some TLC?

So what are your job crazy-makers? Betcha a bunch of money that they can all be traced back to a relationship or two that’s not in good order or that could benefit from a little TLC.

How do you do that? Understanding that the quality of the relationship (or lack of) is the first step. Then having the intention to do what it takes to make the relationship workable is what you need to do next. And the of course, you’ll need to take some action.

This is What I Did

So in the case of the co-manager from hell, I had to go into the lion’s den and stand up for myself. In the absence of my setting my own boundaries my colleague was perfectly happy to run rough-shod over me. However, once I set my guidelines and expectations, things became a lot better. Which brings me to another point. You don’t have to like another person in your workplace to make the relationship work better. It’s really nice if you do and a lucky circumstance, but it’s really not necessary. Improving a relationship at work—even with someone you don’t particularly like (and let’s face it, you’re not going to like everyone you work with, nor they you) can make your workplace a lot less crazy-making. Heck, it might even make it a place you enjoy spending time in…what a concept!

As for my staff who didn’t respect my potential as their manager, I chipped away at each person—spending time with them, listening to their concerns and roadblocks, and supporting them where I could. By the time I left that job three years later, there was a high level of trust and respect among all of us.

Don’t Forget About the Good Ones

So if you’re in one of your crazy-making periods, think about what relationships need  bolstering. And think about the good ones you have in place. When things go wrong, it’s always good to have someone to share that with who has your back. There’s nothing better than that.

Here’s a Book On the Subject

And in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, (or maybe not shameless), I should mention that I have co-authored a book on this very topic.  If you think that you might benefit from some reading on the topic, try this link: Relationships That Work, Work That Matters

Do your best to fix those crazy-making relationships. You spend too manymnay hours of your life at work to be unhappy there. Really…

If you’d like workplace success coaching, visit my web site and schedule a coaching information session to get started. No More Drama At Work.com

 

 

Do You Realize You Have a Customer? October 15, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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dear stress

Were you startled by the question that’s the title of this post? If you are in the sales business you probably weren’t. You know you have a customer and you know who it is. But how about if you’re not in sales? Let’s say you’re an engineer, a communications manager, an administrative assistant, a plant manager, or any of thousands of other jobs that are not direct sales. Do you realize that you have a customer in every job you do, every task you complete?

Ignoring This Leads to Breakdowns

Whenever I’ve observed breakdowns in my consulting and coaching work with people, 9 times out of 10 it can be traced back to one of two things. Either the work relationships are in disarray or people are unclear about who the customer of a piece of work is and who’s the performer. Or both. And boy, can that lead to some messy, messy situations.

A Take-Charge Guy

Here’s an example.  Ed was a take-charge kind of guy. He firmly believed that he had the best judgment and approach to solve any problem. As a result, he believed he was the customer of any project—even if he was supposed to be the performer. He would automatically assume the role of customer and start delivering orders and expectations to everyone else. Can you imagine how this might have caused problems? Mostly it p—ed people off. But it also led to a huge case of gridlock in many cases. Because Ed was busy being the customer when he was supposed to be delivering a product, things did not get done in a timely way. And any work team he interacted with grew to be resentful of him and automatically stonewalled his efforts.

Figure Out the Roles

So to avoid the breakdowns when everyone thinks they are the customer or conversely when no one thinks they are the customer, it’s important to figure that out going in to any workflow.

The customer is the one who has made the request and who has a set of expectations and conditions of satisfaction for the final product. The performer is the person who says ‘Yes’ I’ll do that job and I’ll do it using your conditions of satisfaction as my guidelines.

A few years back I was working with Sharon who found herself on a committee that was working on producing some materials for her company. Only problem was that they could not get moving. Every meeting ended with a sense of having accomplished nothing and a lack of where the group was going to go next.

In a coaching session she was moaning about how frustrating it was to work with this group and how she dreaded the meetings. It happened that we were discussing the roles of the customer and the performer at that time, so I asked ‘Who is the customer?’

She couldn’t answer. But she resolved to ask that question at the next meeting. Well, lo and behold…everyone at the meeting thought they were the customer of the work. Amazingly, they were all setting out expectations and wondering why it didn’t happen. Gee, with all the customers in the room there was no one to do the work.

Sharon was amazed and overjoyed when the team was able to move forward once they identified  the customer of the work. Success!

Agreement is Important

All sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it is as long as there is agreement about who’s who. That’s the important element. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s not. If your boss makes a request of you, easy. If a group of your colleagues gets together and decides to do a project, not so easy. However until you know who the customer is, it’s going to be hard to move forward productively. In such a situation you’ll do a lot of chasing your own tail—better known as wasting your time—until that gets figured out.  And in some cases, it never does. These are the nightmare projects that take months longer than they should and sometimes just die a slow death, leaving everyone involved with a bad taste in their mouth.

The way this agreement gets figured out is to have a conversation about it. What a concept. You mean we should discuss the roles? Yeah, you should, actually you must if you’re going to get things going in the right direction. And while I’m on the topic of conversations, I’d like to give you another post that I did on knowing who you are really having conversations with . With Whom am I Speaking

This is Not Just for Large Projects

There’s a lot more to completing a successful workflow once you have identified the key players, but things fall into place much more easily if you realize that ANY piece of work needs a customer and a performer to make it go. This can be something as simple as updating an email, or deciding what room to use for your next meeting. Or it can be as complicated as installing a new data system in your company.

Any coordination of action between two or more people needs a customer and a performer. Try looking at these roles in some of your current workflows that have gone sideways and see if you don’t find things improving. And when you start a new project or even a small job, make sure everyone is clear on customer and performer.

Relationships That Work, Work That Matters

If you’d like to know more about this topic, there is an entire chapter on workflow and what makes a good one in my book, Relationships That Work, Work That Matters, available on Amazon.

Will Job Success Make You Happy or Will Being Happy Bring You Job Success? May 28, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success, Self-Development, workplace success.
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How often have you thought to yourself something like, “If only I could get that promotion I’d be really happy in life.” Then lo and behold, you get the promotion and you’re just not as happy as you thought you’d be. The reason for this is that when we link our happiness to an external event or thing, we keep raising the bar for happiness.

Shawn Achor is a well-known author who writes about the nature of happiness. His book is called The Happiness Advantage. In a TED talk, he talks about how job success is directly linked to how happy we are. If you’d like to watch the video use this link:  Shawn Achor Ted Talk

Only 25 % of Job Success is Linked to IQ

As I watched the video I was intrigued and excited by a different twist on achieving success in the workplace. Achor’s research shows that only 25% of our success at work can be attributed to our IQ. This made sense to me. I’ve worked with some people in my career who, while very intelligent, were not a huge success at their job because their interpersonal skills and/or their moods were problematic. Instead, he says that the remaining 75% success factor is determined by a person’s optimism, their social support, and how they relate to the stress in their job.

We Become More Successful when We’re Happy

But perhaps the most interesting part of the talk is that research shows that when we are happy and we then get more successful. We are much more likely to be successful if we are functioning from our ‘happy place’ rather than from a stressed, depressed or otherwise unhappy state. Salespeople have better sales results, doctors make better diagnoses, your intelligence and creativity rises. Hmmm, I don’t know about you but I’m going to make sure my doctor is very happy the next time I visit him with a problem.

So what does this mean for you? I’m sure you’re reading this blog because you want to be more successful at work, right? The implication is that if we can train our brains to be happy, we’ll find more success at work (and other areas of our life.)

How Do You Train Yourself to be Happy?

So how do we do that? How do we ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’ (That’s a really old song and if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s you’ve probably never heard of it but if you’ve got extra time on your hands or you’re avoiding an unpleasant task here’s a link to hear it: Accentuate the Positive)

3 Gratitudes

But I digress…I was talking about how you train your brain to be positive. Shawn Achor mentions a number of strategies in his talk. However, I have two favorites to suggest. The first is ‘3 Gratitudes’ which is the practice of writing down three different things that you are grateful for every day for 21 days. You may remember that conventional wisdom states that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. I’ve been using this practice for a number of years off and on and I have found that I feel happier when I’m reflecting on what’s good about my life rather than a laundry list of things that aren’t working.

Meditation

The second practice is that of meditation. Meditation helps me to focus my mind rather than hopping around from thought to thought. That’s not to say that when I meditate I have a still mind…nope. But the practice of applying the intention of stilling the mind ultimately does still the mind and makes me more centered and content. And it’s a practice, rather than an achievement—some days are better than others…

So what do you think? Are you willing to try a little experiment? Try either one of the strategies I’ve listed or any of the others from Achor’s video—or even one of your own. See if you get more positive and then notice how that transfers to your success at work. Bet you’ll see something interesting.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of receiving job success coaching, take a look at my programs here.  Work With Me

Is Your Job Killing Your Soul? January 20, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in workplace success.
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Are you feeling depleted every time you think of going to work? Do you dread Monday mornings? Find yourself having a hard time getting up in the morning? Your job is probably the culprit. From relationships that make you feel beaten, to too much work in too little time, sometimes it can feel like you’re selling your soul for a paycheck.

As a veteran of Corporate America myself and a longtime executive coach, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand how difficult jobs can be. And if you’re in that situation it can seem like an uphill battle to find any enjoyment in the 8-10 hours a day you spend at your job.

Interested in some suggestions that might help you get out from under?

OK—here goes.

1. Surround yourself with people whom you enjoy and work well with.

Yes, I know that sometimes this is easier said than done. There are always the difficult relationships to contend with. However, make a conscious effort whenever possible to work and socialize with people who are compatible with your view on life. Even if it’s just that one particular buddy that you have, that’s often enough to give you some comic relief and something to look forward to while you’re at work.

2. Cultivate doing work that you like.

While you can’t always do only the parts of your job that like, you can certainly become good at them, perhaps known for that particular skill. Then you’re more likely to get requests/opportunities to do that work as time goes on.

3. If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that you have, take breaks every two hours or so.

This might seem counterintuitive , however, when you’re in the state of overwhelm it’s easy to get ‘foggy brain,’ a state of muddled thinking, because you’ve got so much coming at you. Taking more frequent breaks gives you a chance to refresh your mental state and can actually lead to getting more done.

4. Make sure you have an interesting/enjoyable life outside of work.

Cultivate some interests or hobbies. Plan to take your kids on a special outing. Have a date with your spouse during the week. Go away for a weekend trip. Or go to the gym after work. Almost anything that you can do to have some enjoyment outside of work will do. Just be sure that you do it.

5. If your attitude about your job is really beyond repair, start looking around for  other options.

If it’s your job or boss, not the company, look at other departments to see if you might find a happier home in one of them. If you’re just out of sync with the culture of the company you work for—and this is not an unusual occurrence—time to start looking outside the company for a new position. It’s best to start this exploration sooner rather than later, in case you need to acquire some new training or schooling. Give some serious thought to your ideal job and work environment. Write it down and then make yourself a deadline for getting another job. If you really want to get wild and crazy, make a vision board. (A collage that you create with words and pictures that show what you want in your future life—lots of fun.)

It doesn’t have to be tomorrow—it may be a year or two down the road. But at least you’ll have a plan that will sustain you when the going gets tough.

You spend about 2080 hours a year at your job. It’s up to you to do what you can to make sure your soul is singing—or at least humming—during those hours.