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Do You Have the Boss From Hell? June 19, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in career development, Coaching, workplace success.
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Having hierarchical levels has pretty much become necessary in most companies. If you happen to work in a company that has no levels and no real bosses, then read no further unless you want to help out your buddy who does have the boss from hell.

Most bosses are people who have been promoted because they showed leadership promise and were interested in supervising and leading others. However, like the rest of the population, there are the occasional ‘bad actors’ who for whatever reason make life miserable to those who report to them.

Strategies to Stay Sane

if you’re in the difficult position of working for the boss from hell, you have probably tried your own strategies for staying sane in the face of arrogance, incompetence, lack of compassion, or whatever flavor of craziness your boss demonstrates. However, I’d like to add a few strategies that you may find helpful to tide you over until the situation eases or end.

  1. Spend some time listening to what your boss says—in meetings, in relaxed moments, in conversation with his/her cronies. And while you are listening, turn off that critic in your head that provides a running commentary on how awful, unreasonable, or incompetent your boss is. Why do this? Because you want to learn as much as you can about what is important to your boss. By learning this you can be in a position to take care of those concerns without being asked to, thereby building trust with the boss. So if you determine that your boss is very interested in looking good to his boss (and who isn’t?), you can make sure to add to that positive picture whenever you can. And if you can leave behind your negative judgments about your boss while doing it, the better it will go. Remember, the better the boss looks the quicker that promotion will come his way, leaving you with a sigh of relief.
  2. Suck it up. Sometimes we get caught in a being critical of the boss because he or she does not do things the way our old boss did, or the way we’d like them done. In a perfect world, we’d work the way we want to all of the time. But in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not a perfect world. So take a deep breath, and give your boss a break. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s not your boss—it’s you. (Read this blog post for some less than successful types at work:  5 People Who Probably Won’t be Successful at Work
  3. Don’t add fuel to the fire. If your boss’ particular misbehavior is screaming and carrying on, your response should be dead calm. For you to respond in kind will lead to escalation of emotions- –not a pretty picture. ‘Stay calm and carry on,’ to quote the Brits.
  4. Avoid being a doormat. You may think that this advice flies in the face of the one above but not really. You are an employee, not an indentured servant. If your boss consistently asks you to do things that are clearly out of your job responsibilities AND not something that adds to your job knowledge or development, you are perfectly within your rights to protest. Yes, I know it can be hard to stand up to your boss, scary in fact. And that’s why we have HR departments. And if you are being sexually harassed or in any other way threatened…don’t think for a moment. Go report it.
  5. Make the hard decision. If you have a truly abusive, incompetent, or otherwise impossible boss, and the prospect of it getting better does not look promising, it may be time to move on. If your crazy boss is driving you crazy, looking for and securing a new job is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Look here for a post on soul-killing jobs.

I hope these strategies have given you some ideas for new actions you can take to thrive at your job, even if you have a crazy-making boss. And if you find that you need some help, let me remind you that I am a workplace success coach. Follow this link to find out how to work with me: Work With Me

Good luck with that boss…

Leave a comment if you’ve got a great story about a boss from hell!

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What’s Grammar Got To Do With Your Promotion? May 12, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Uncategorized.
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Grammar—-oooohh. Brings up images of that high school English teacher with the ever-present red pencil who wreaked havoc on every paper you wrote. Or those sentence diagrams or subject-verb agreement. But in the real world of business and jobs, even though grammar is seldom addressed, it really is important.

Grammar is part of your image…

As you are considered for the next level promotion, particularly if that’s a fairly high level in your company, how you present yourself becomes more and more important. And making good (including impeccable grammar) presentations, for example, is an important skill for supervisors, managers, and executives or anyone who aspires to be one.

One company I worked for put their executives though a ‘charm school’ training with consultants who specialized in polishing executives for the best possible impression. The course included public speaking, speaking to the press, wardrobe, and even dining etiquette…really.

If you want to climb the ladder, pay attention

If you have no aspirations to higher levels within your company/career, read no further. But if you aspire to higher levels of the corporate (or company) ladder, read on. I’m going to point out some of the most common (and annoying) grammatical errors that I hear people making.

· Lie and lay

These two verbs are virtually never used correctly by the average American speaker. The verb lay means to put or place NOT to recline. Here is an example of the correct usage: I will lay the paper on your desk when I find it. It is not correct to say, I’m going to lay down before dinner (which everyone does—except my son who was brainwashed from an early age.)

The past tense of lay is laid as in; I laid the book on my bedside table before I went to sleep.

Now onto lie. Lie means to recline as in; I try to lie down when I’m tired. But to make it even more confusing the past tense of lie is lay. Yesterday I lay down on the floor after hearing the bad news. In the preceding sentence, ‘laid’ would be incorrect. For a more in-depth analysis of lie and lay try this link:  Grammar Girl on Lie and Lay

And if you want to take a quiz to see how good you are– go here. Lie and Lay Quiz. Just learn to use it correctly, at least when you’re in a formal setting.

· I and me

Another common error I hear (and one that bugs me) is the use of I when me should be used. Here’s an example: Sarah left the invitation for John and I. Most people use I. I’m not sure why—I guess people were brainwashed at an early age to think me was undesirable in some way. The correct usage is Sarah left the invitation for John and me. If the sentence were changed to read John and I left the invitation for Sarah, then I would be correct.

Here’s an easy way to differentiate. When there is a compound subject or object (sorry to get so English teacher-y but that IS what it’s called) as in John and me in the above sentence, try taking out the first person named and saying the sentence. Sarah left the invitation for I. Sound right? NO. Sarah left the invitation for me. Yes, that’s it. Therefore that sentence is correct when it reads; Sarah left the invitation for John and me.

Now there is a rule for the correct usage which has to do with whether the pronoun is a subject or an object but you really don’t need to bother yourself with that if you use the method I described above. Capisce? (a little Italian throw in for variety)

Another closely related pronoun mishap is the use of myself. People in business do this all the time. Again I think that they believe it sounds more formal and therefore better somehow. An example: The boss called Tom and myself into to his office. Nope, not right. You know this one already, right? The boss called Tom and me into his office.

 

Myself is what is known as a reflexive pronoun. Correctly used it emphasizes the subject of the sentence. I often quote myself. So for the correct usage when you have a compound subject or object, just go back to the hint above and take out the first part of the compound to see what’s correct. If you’d like to read more about it go to Wiki and read this entry: Reflexive Pronouns

I could go on and on about the correct use of grammar and its impact on your image in the business arena, however, this is a post not a textbook. And I have to proofread it twelve more times to be sure there are no grammatical errors.

You decide

To summarize my point: depending on your job industry and the culture of your workplace, making grammatical errors can subtly influence the impression that you’re making. And while it may not keep you from getting promoted, in certain situations, it may. Just sayin.’

Ann Bertorelli is a workplace success coach. She helps people who work get more done, build solid work relationships and start enjoying their jobs again. To learn more go to www.NoMoreDramaAtWork.com

What To Do When You Hate Your Job January 7, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in career development.
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hate-your-job.gif.pagespeed.ce.2rhR1mmd6vAs I was considering the topic of this post, I decided to do a little research on how many people are unhappy in their jobs. And boy, was I in for a shock. The statistics say that 70% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. (If you’re reading from another country, that statistic is probably lower. It’s a well-established fact that Americans (U.S.) have to work longer hours and get less vacation than employees in other countries.)

So a lot of people in the U. S. hate their jobs—or at the very least don’t love them. If you think about that, it’s pretty sad, since we spend about 2000 hours (or more) every year working at said jobs.

If you’re one of those people, then you know that every day at a job you don’t like can feel like a Monday, every night before feels like a Sunday night. Not only are you not enjoying the job, you’re losing valuable hours of your life dreading it when you’re not even there.

Is there a way to cope with not having the job of your dreams? Having had jobs in various stages of my life that I did not love, I say the answer is ‘yes.’ It is possible to cope with a job that doesn’t ring your bells. What follows are some suggestions about how to do that.

Cultivate a life outside of work.

Yes, that’s right. Get a life—and live it. If you currently have a hobby or interest that you absolutely love, make sure you are allotting time in your life to pursue that interest. It’s easy to become a drudge, taking work home because you think you ‘should.’ Screw the should’s . Of course do your best at your job but set boundaries on its intrusion into your personal time.

Personal time should be—well, personal. So,for example, if you like to ski, make sure you plan a trip or a weekend or even an afternoon at the slopes. It you love to read novels, then have a good one going at all times—and maybe even join a book club so that you can be inspired by others. If you have children, spend time with them as they are growing up rather than holing yourself up with work files while you’re at home in the evening. Get the drift? There is a life outside of work, honest!

Find ways to enjoy your job while you’re there.

Is that possible?  Of course it is. Cultivate the best possible relationships that you can with your co-workers and your boss. The things that most often make people hate their jobs usually relate to relationship break-downs. These break-downs make you tense or paranoid at work, sap your energy, and keep you up at night. So the more you can do to intentionally build good relationships at work, the happier you will be.

A number of years ago I was part of a small, rather dysfunctional work team. My colleagues and I did not like each other very much and no matter what we tried we couldn’t seem to become a cohesive team. This made me very unhappy since a lot of the angst was directed my way. However, when I look back on that time I remember it as being one of the most satisfying work times of my life. Why? Because rather than continuing to muck around with relationships that sapped my energy, I intentionally cultivated broader relationships in the company. This resulted in my getting some interesting and rewarding assignments. Yes, I was still unhappy with my team but I was able to focus on the productive relationships I had outside the team and the very cool work I got to do as a result. Life got a lot better –and ultimately the team was disbanded.

Do something about it!

If you really hate your job, you can change it. It may not be an easy thing to do but you get to decide if you’re up for it. And just deciding can be an empowering thing. It could sound something like, “Yeah, I hate this job but it’s paying the bills and I’m willing to find fulfillment in other areas of my life.” To make a conscious decision to stay in a job that doesn’t ring your bells makes you the author of your life rather than the victim who’s living it.

And if you really can’t bear to stay in the job, then start making some moves to change it.

Here are some questions to explore

What would my ideal job be? Do I currently have the skills to do that job? If not, am I interested in doing what it takes to obtain the skills? Is it time to start putting out some feelers for another position?

Would I like to start my own business? What would that entail? How could I get myself in a position to leave this job? How much would I need to have in the bank? Is my spouse on board?

What is my passion? Could I make a paying job out of following that passion? There are plenty of people in the world who have.

If you are well and truly miserable and know you just can’t live out your life in your present job, the most self-caring thing you can do is to figure out how to move on. Give yourself time to do this. Make a plan about what you’re going to explore, who you’re going to talk to, and then start working the plan. Having a dream and a future to plan can make a not-so-happy present more bearable.

Whatever you do—do something!

What To Do When Your Co-Worker is Driving You Nuts December 11, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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I’ve been coaching people in the workplace for 14 years now. And as a workplace coach I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of stories of frustration and woe. Invariably these stories are about conflict that my client is having with another person they work with. And of course, it’s always the fault of the other insensitive, inconsiderate, incompetent—or any other in-word that you’d prefer. Of course as a good coach should do, I always listen carefully to the story. And then comes the expectant pause in which I am expected to utter pearls of wisdom. And I do—naturally.

You have a style difference

The pearl that often escapes my lips is this: You and your nemesis have a style difference. You’re not wrong and he’s not wrong—you just have a different style based on your personality type.

Most of my clients are conversant with the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and I go on to explain my comment in those terms. But even if you’re not familiar with the MBTI, you can probably benefit from taking a look at this idea. So here goes…

We each have our own particular set of preferences based on our personality. And because of our personality we have a preferred style of action.

An example of a style difference

Let’s look at an example. You are a very organized person. You place a lot of value on timetables and schedules. You like to map out project steps before you begin the project. You also like to make a decision and get on with it, preferring not to go back and re-visit it once it’s made. Surprises tend to upset your plans.

Your co-worker (the one that’s driving you crazy) likes to leave room in the schedule for late-breaking changes. She doesn’t want to map out each step, knowing that there will always be a need for changing based on the situations that come up. She likes to search for all the options before making a decision and likes to maintain flexibility throughout the project—so nothing is ever ‘cast in stone.’

As you can tell, the two of you have a style difference. You like to work a project in different ways. You may both come up with the same finished project but you get there using different paths. But her methods drive you crazy and vice versa.

So what can you do about that?

First of all remember that she is not trying to drive you crazy (even though she may be), she is simply working from her view of the world. She probably spends time wondering why you do the things that you do too. If you can appreciate that there may be something valuable in the way she works and actively look for that, you’ll probably have an easier time of it—and so will your co-worker.

Here are some things to try:

· Share your perspective about a new project and how you’d like to proceed. Then ask for her perspective. Have an open discussion about where you feel uncomfortable with her approach and get that same information from your co-worker.

· Understand that these are style differences—there’s no real right or wrong. If you can remember that more than likely there is no malice intended, it will probably be easier to work successfully together.

· Try adopting your co-worker’s style for a day and, if your relationship is close enough, ask her to adopt yours.

· When a conflict arises, explain why you are taking the course of action that you are.

· Be sincerely open to the idea that your way may not be the best way in all circumstances. Give the other method a try once in a while.

· Think about this: Behaviors that annoy you in others may be a clue to areas that you need to pay attention to for your own self-development. So if you are annoyed that your co-worker can’t seem to make a decision, maybe you are jumping to a decision too soon and need to practice more information-gathering before finalizing your decisions.

It’s been my experience that these small (or large) style differences lead to a lot of conflict in the workplace. And while conflict is inevitable, why not stop sweating the small stuff?