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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

 

 

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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!

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

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!

Know Who You’re Really Having the Conversation With… November 7, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Uncategorized.
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I just finished typing the title to this post and the former English teacher in me(many, many jobs ago) cringed at at a sentence ending with a preposition. So if you’re one of those proper grammar types, we can go with “Know With Whom You’re Really Having the Conversation.” It sounds stodgy but it is grammatically sound. ( I think I need to get out more—I’m starting to have conversations with myself.)

Conversations With Others Grow Relationships—Or Not

But I digress…Back to conversations with OTHERS. It is through conversations that we either grow our relationship with another or diminish it. Of course, we mostly want to have better relationships with others. And if we don’t we’re probably not going to have conversations with them anyway. I’ve been thinking about how sometimes we end up in the middle of a conversation and realize that we’re really talking to someone from our past.

A wonderfully illustrative example… You have a co-worker who is Wendy Whiner—always complaining, awfulizing, seeing the worst possible outcomes for a situation. And it’s that tone of voice that reminds you of running your fingernails on a blackboard…eeek. And she just gets on your very last nerve.

Ever wonder why that is? She doesn’t seem to affect everyone in the way she affects you. So gee, it must be something about you. Could it be that she reminds you of your whiny baby sister who always got her way, never did her chores, and was spoiled rotten by your parents (your story)?  And who to this day you really don’t like being around?

You’re Not Talking to the Right Person

Ding, ding, ding…so when you hear your whiny co-worker you are really hearing your sister. You’re not talking to Wendy Whiner, you’re talking to your sister…

Snap Out of It

So what’s to be done about it? Well, first—snap out of it! Be present to the conversation that’s going on in front of you, not the one that is playing in your head. Take deep breaths and be conscious that Wendy is not baby sister.

A lot of us have voices from the past that we allow to make us feel guilty, unattractive, fat, stupid, or any number of undesirable qualities. When I was a kid, I was not very good in math. My dad was a chemist so he was very good in math. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t get it. So he would sit down with me and have ‘coaching’ sessions to help me with my math. However these sessions always ended up with him yelling at me when I couldn’t get the right answer. Needless to say, I grew up with a bit of a math block. (Aside: my dad was a great dad, just not a great math teacher.)

Fast forward twenty years…I decided to go for my MBA and of course had to take a number of courses that involved math. ( I still shiver when I think about the statistics course) I knew that I couldn’t finish my MBA work unless I did the math.  I wanted to get my MBA. So I made a conscious declaration to silence that voice in my head that said I couldn’t do math—And I did.

Moral of the Story?

Yes, it took something to do it but I was determined. The moral of the story? If you’ve got a difficult relationship in your life(or a bunch of them), get to work and figure out who you might be hearing when they speak to you. Then tell that voice to be quiet and go sit in the corner. You’ll probably have to repeat yourself numerous times but just the self-awareness you bring to the process will make a change for the better…Honest!

 

If you’ve got a difficult someone at work (or anywhere) and would like to look into getting coaching about how to create a more productive relationship with him or her, contact me to schedule a coaching information session. Click on this link to schedule: My Calendar