Not sure when to leave your job? A bad day could be just that, or it could signal the breaking point. Over at US News & World Report today, I talk about some good reasons to quit your job, and help you learn the six signs that show you should sever ties – for good. Read it here.
Likeability is a key factor to workplace success. If personality conflicts occur in the office, productivity slows and targets are missed. Over at US News and World Report today, I talk about five ways to deal with different personality types. Read it here.
While most of us dream about working from home, many who have experience with telecommuting discover it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. And once you start the challenges can start to outweigh the benefits. Over at US News and World Report, I talk about five issues to look out for, and how to mitigate the damage. Read it here.
When you’re passed over for a promotion and your former colleague suddenly becomes your boss, it’s more than a little awkward. But, assuming you want to keep your job, you’re going to have to move forward. Over at The Daily Muse today, I talk about the three conversations you must have to get back on your feet. Read it here.
Bad bosses are pretty common. I don’t think I’ve ever had a truly amazing boss, but get closer with every position. As you learn how you enjoy working, and what you are good at, you become better and better at finding the right people to work with. In the meantime, hop on over to US News and read up on six strategies you can use to manage up. Read it here.
By all accounts, the current state of work is good. Flexible schedules are beginning a workplace transformation. Hierarchal structures are being dismantled, replaced with decentralized team-oriented organizations. Rewards are no longer exclusively linked to extrinsic motivations like salary or titles, but to projects that make us feel good and do good for the planet.
Fresh-faced workers are responding in kind with idealism, strong ethics, and bright-eyed expectations to change the world. With energy and impatience to do something that matters. Even in the recession, we shine to thrive.
And it is from such high hopes that we discover such low realities. Where real life makes every effort to shut us down. Cramp the rainbows. Take out the sun. Step on our rose-colored lenses.
One twenty-something likens entering the real world to “a confidence-killing daily assault of petty degradations. All of this is compounded by the fear that it is all for nothing; that you are a useful fool.”
The bully to blame is work politics and its shameful hum in the background of most companies is a deafening precursor to what we know, but ignore: companies that are built on lies, deceit and manipulation fail.
A recent UK study revealed there is a clear gap between dreams and reality. One in three graduates believes their employer has not met expectations, that management stifles innovation, and that their opinions are undervalued.
Workers are spending more time learning a game with unspoken rules and invisible puppeteers than engaging in any real contribution to society. A fashion designer started a once-anonymous blog to expose such humiliations in his own industry, writing his first posts on “designers whose careers he thought had been unduly advanced by the support of fashion’s power brokers, rather than evidence of hard work.”
But most of us are silent on the issue. Many of us just settle, choosing to bow out of the game, and some bow out of the system all together. Others join the dark side, if you will. And still others – a small, but inspirational minority – bring such goodness and dedication to their jobs that you can almost see halos forming above their brow line.
There is a natural learning curve to growing up, of course. And while it’s okay to learn that change is hard, that everything doesn’t work out because you wish it so, that you have to pay dues, and that life is generally not fair, it’s not okay to live a life without integrity.
It’s not okay to engage in power plays. It’s not okay to cheat and form alliances and be exclusionary. It’s not okay to be unethical or gossip or commandeer confidence and ideas and dreams as a buck-toothed swindler. Pirates, we are not.
When did manipulation become the status quo? When did deceit become “just business”? And when, exactly, did we start ignoring such desperation? When did it become a humming that we worked alongside instead of a shrill invasion?
Instead of gorging on control and power and greed like goblins, companies should take note of Netflix and their “Freedom & Responsibility Culture.” A company that doesn’t theft and abuse the self-worth of their employees, but encourages it with great candor.
“The [Netflix] executives trust staffers to make their own decisions on everything – from whether to bring their dog to the office to how much of their salary they want in cash and how much in stock options,” reports BNET.
In their internal presentation on their work policies, Netflix asks what it would be like if every person you worked with was someone you respected and learned from, defining a great workplace as one filled with “stunning colleagues.” Where responsible employees thrive on freedom, are worthy of a culture of innovation and self-discipline, and even brilliant jerks can’t be tolerated.
Netflix argues that “the best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than trying to control people.” They urge their managers to ask themselves when they are tempted to control their people, “Are you articulate and inspiring enough about goals and strategies?”
The result is that the company isn’t bogged down in the policies, rigidity, politics, policies, mediocrity or complacency that infects most organizations. Instead, they are adept, fast and flexible. And they’re honest and human. Incredibly human.
And those examples are the future of work, the next step after company-supplied daycare and work-life balance programs.
A future without work politics. A future with goodness. And probably some rainbows too.
What do you think are some of the problems facing work today? Have work politics been an issue? What are some trends you see for the future?
This post isn’t about if you like your job. So please don’t write in the comments that you love your job and your boss so you would never burn bridges. Obviously.
People burn bridges when they don’t like their jobs and their bosses. Or work with totally lame people or are completely bored. So you get fired, or laid off, or there comes a time when your job just isn’t what it used to be so you leave.
You shouldn’t just walk out. You should give notice and finish your projects and be polite (if for no other reason than your own sense of pride and accomplishment). But there’s no point in continuing a negative relationship once you’re out the door. The advice to not burn bridges is outdated.
Here’s why it’s okay to cut ties:
1) You’ll change careers too often for it to matter.
Most likely, you’ll change jobs six to eight times before you’re thirty and 40 million people relocate each year, while 15 million make significant moves of more than 50 or 100 miles, reports Richard Florida.
The old rule was that workers would move to another job in the same industry in the same town. This encouraged politics and the necessity of kissing butt. But work is changing, and now you’ll change careers and locations so often it won’t matter.
2) Your old boss won’t help you.
“Healthy relationships, whether personal or professional, are formed on the basis of give and take,” LaTosha Johnson argues. It’s rare that someone will help you if you can’t help them. And besides, you won’t benefit from forcing a relationship with someone that doesn’t share your values. When push comes to shove, these people will not help you. Why would you want to be associated with them anyway?
3) You won’t need a reference.
If you’re leaving your job, you’ll probably be looking for a new job that is more fun and more challenging. Most cool jobs don’t require traditional references. Instead, they require that you know someone to get you in the door and vouch for you. That’s usually never your current employer.
It’s quite easy to prove yourself and your work ethic in other situations like blogging, volunteering or side projects that show your worth and capability. Networking outside of your career and company is a great path towards success and is your best safety net.
4) You can have an enemy (or two).
But probably not more. Caitlin McCabe says that competition is motivation. Having competition and people that remind you of who you don’t want to be is actually healthy.
In a playful but entirely useful article, Chuck Klosterman argues for both a nemesis and an archenemy: “We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies. Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything.”
5) You can start over.
Whenever you start something new, ask yourself, “If the worst happened, would you be okay? Can you accept the worst case scenario? Can you fail and survive?” Because you might just ruin your reputation, bankrupt your organization and turn an entire city against you. It happens to good people every day. Really.
Failure is an option. And it’s your best negotiating tool. That is, the ability to start over gives you unlimited opportunities.
None of these reasons excuse you from doing a superior job or give you an excuse to be a dick or a slacker. But there’s no reason to hold onto baggage that isn’t healthy. Remember, there’s a reason you’re leaving.
As the workplace weather changes, Generation X isn’t happy to see Generation Y as the rainbow in their persistent rainstorm.
Both generations have similarities, sure. Technological savvy and the willingness to rebel against boomer norms brought us together for a short time. But as more of Gen Y enters the workplace, Gen X is becoming increasingly marginalized, and the fundamental differences of how we operate are now dividing us along fierce lines:
1. Different job markets
Generation Y is a demographic powerhouse entering into our choice of jobs. With the world conspiring in our favor, we’ve already pushed the limits of the foundation Generation X laid.
Generation X tried to change the status quo while entering into one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression. They scorned the good ole boys, but had to play by their rules anyway, while millenials are able to create our own rules.
The fact that Gen Xers worked hard with little success beyond casual Fridays means that they are “only mentioned to be polite” in generational discussions. This is aggravated by Generation Y’s readiness to assume all the leadership positions when the Boomer generation retires. Gen X can’t seem to win and Gen Y reaps the rewards.
2. Cynicism vs. Idealism
Since the Gen Xers weren’t able to create the workplace change they desired, it’s no wonder that I get the feeling that Generation X is inherently skeptical of who I am. They’re weary of how easy success comes to me, of my desire to bring them into the mix, and of my idealism.
Unlike our older co-workers, Generation Y doesn’t operate out of fear or distrust, but the possibility of what can be done. I realize that Generation Y is new to the workplace. To Gen X, I just don’t get how the world works. And while it’s quite possible that we won’t change the world like we anticipate, why shoot for just the possible? Idealism is what changes the world.
3. You vs. Us
The Gen X focus on distrust makes them solitary workers, preferring to rely solely on their selves to see a project through, while Generation Y tends to want to support and work together. A Gen Xer is often found at the office, squeezing by on their flextime, and blocking out the world with their iPod.
Generation X is no doubt feeling like a stepping stone generation, and many are, in fact, choosing to align themselves with Generation Y rather than fade into the background. The founder of MySpace went so far as to lie about his age.
I say the more the merrier. There is strength and value to realism, and there is strength and value to optimism. That’s why we have to work together. What can I say? I’m a team player.
More specifically, that I’m a high-maintenance spoiled brat. But who’s counting.
I appreciate criticism, even if it’s lackluster on the constructive side. I want this blog to recognize and appreciate the foundation that previous generations have laid and build upon it. To greatness. I want it to be about dialogue and community. And kicking some major butt. This includes realizing when I haven’t given the full picture. Here are seven concessions to the Gen-Y naysayers:
1) Gen-Y will fail. Miserably. We won’t change the world straight away. You have to fail to succeed. When you haven’t wiped the crud off your shoes, you can’t develop emotional intelligence, which is an important factor for career advancement. Only experience will help us learn. Let us take the reins quickly so we can learn quickly.
2) We’re idealistic and naïve. We want to believe in the dream of changing the world a little longer. Why are other generations so intent on crushing the dreams of idealistic youth so swiftly? What sense is there in bringing us to the dark side? Don’t break my knees just as I’m training for the marathon.
3) You have to play the game to win. I know that. I’ve talked about it here. But guess what? The current game sucks. So, along the way, we’re going to break every rule and change what it means to win.
4) Patience is a virtue too. Millennials are an impatient bunch. We want to change things right away, right now, this instant. Patience is crucial in this process to avoid burnout. We understand change takes time, and don’t mind, as long as we’re taking action. Gen-Y patience is about perseverance.
5) You have to pay dues. No one gets to skip paying dues all together. I didn’t like my first job, but I moved on. Good things are learned from bad experiences. The key is to learn those things and move on as soon as possible. The real world isn’t all that great sometimes. Young workers shouldn’t have to pay dues to a workforce that is often dirty, unethical and shameful.
6) We can’t all be leaders. Not all of us are suited to be leaders. True. But the last time I checked, we need leaders to encourage positive change. Most movements today – political, environmental, social – all greatly suffer from lack of visionary leadership. The more quality leaders we can cultivate, the better.
7) Loyalty is important. Gen Y plays the field of careers. It’s not good. But it’s not bad. We’re twenty-somethings; loyalty means something different to us. It’s not about time, but the value that the company and the Gen-Y employee offer each other.
And now the challenge…
The discussion surrounding Generation Y should center on how we can leverage our weaknesses into strengths and how we can use our unique talents effectively in our professional development, entrepreneurial, social, public policy, and philanthropic endeavors.
So please, tell me:
How can Generation Y show respect and learn from previous generations so that we may fully engage in meaningful interactions to our mutual benefit? How can we work together to fulfill our dreams?
Really, I want to know the answer.
I’m going to start something new and exciting soon. As a result, “everyone” has been talking to me. Or rather, at me. They talk. I sit. They have opinions and advice and information, and it doesn’t matter if they have credibility or experience, they tell me what to do regardless. “Everyone” knows better than I do.
And, as a result, I’m paralyzed. I’m scared to do anything. I can’t even get dressed in the morning without thinking about what “everyone” will think.
My paralysis has been especially prevalent on this blog. I feel I can’t write what I want to write because it might offend “everyone.” Swirling through my head are should nots and better nots and other such niceties that make small talk boring.
“Everyone” wants to make sure they don’t show up in my blog. The guy that I’ve been dating tells me with a stern and expectant look that he doesn’t want to see any allusions to our relationship in my blog. Whatsoever. Which is a shame, because I could really be quite flattering to him if you catch my drift. My ex-boyfriend thinks I should make less such references to sex, because it’s not professional, he says. As if sex didn’t exist. As if it wasn’t one of the main forces behind everything a twenty-something does. A fact I guess he’s not thinking about when he calls me at 2:16 am, “just because,” a call which I ignore.
Other people are beginning to preface conversations with, “You’re not going to put this in your blog, are you?” to which I shrug as my stomach tightens, because this usually means they are about to say something incredibly boring, and not at all blog-worthy. Such occurrences are happening so frequently I am seriously considering investing in a high quality helmet to protect my tender head from the many times I’ve had to bang it against the wall. Then there are the brave few who will start a conversation with, “You should put this in your blog,” and tell me how Star Trek is really, really cool. Really.
I don’t want to limit my writing to what “everyone” wants me to subtract or add. I want to write about how many blogs in the blogosphere are so impressively mediocre. I want to write about how if you want to be good-looking and successful and powerful, you should hang out with good-looking and successful and powerful people. I want to write about the nice things too. Mostly, I want to write about how to really change the world, no holds barred.
I shouldn’t, however.
Because if I wrote about those things, “everyone” tells me, two-thirds of our population might have a heart attack at the same time, and the world would fall off its axis, and life on earth as we know it would end. It would be that bad.
I shouldn’t write about the realness of the real world, “everyone” says. So, as you may have noticed, I haven’t written much of anything recently.
But no longer.
It’s not that I don’t care about “everyone’s” opinion. I do. I have the reputation of a do-gooder for good reason; I believe in the goodness of people. I really like people. All of this talk and opinion has made my life much more interesting. Truly. I’ve learned a lot, and for that I am grateful.
Instead, I blame myself for getting caught up in “everyone’s” opinion, for becoming so self-absorbed that I thought I was a BIG DEAL, and not remembering the big picture. Not remembering starvation in Africa and lack of quality education in the U.S. and the fact that we’re all just doing the best we can.
I forget sometimes that you have to fail to succeed. The longer you wait to take action, the higher the edge will seem from the ground. You must take the jump, and trust the parachute will open eventually.
The Real World.
Update: This post was also published at Damsels in Success.
We all want things in life. Perhaps it’s joining the Peace Corps or maybe it’s grinding on the dance floor with your date. Whatever it is, you have to persuade and influence others to get what you want. There’s one secret to persuasion:
Simply be quiet. And listen.
People don’t care about your opinion anyway. They care about their own opinions. They care about themselves first and moving their own agenda forward. Your agenda can be the leader of the pack. You start by listening.
Lobbyists are particularly good at the art of persuasion. We should all become lobbyists in our lives, in fact. They “are masters at conversations with outcome wrapped into them.” Lobbyists listen. They sit back and observe a situation. Acutely and actively. They have a slew of tools up their sleeve, but rarely use any, preferring instead to painstakingly craft a new tool for each project. The right tool.
This is because every situation and every person is unique. Lobbyists have been doing for years what the mass consumer market is now clamoring to figure out – customization of an experience or interaction. It’s no secret I want to feel special. You want to feel special. We all do. Someone listening to you or me is the easiest way to get our hearts swelling and smiles spreading.
Lobbyists are stealthy creatures, but they don’t lie. They can’t. There is no negotiating power if you lie. Instead, you have to make the truth as attractive as possible. You must minimize negative or potentially harmful situations. While your target is becoming warm and fuzzy inside, position yourself for the win. Learn all you can about the other person, and then use it.
Exhibit the strengths of your proposition so the other party feels good about their decision. Make it so that they would be doing more harm than good by disagreeing with you.
The outcome is one in which everyone is happy, the effervescent win-win.
We’re all racing towards the finish line, clutching the books of our opinions and hopes and desires to our chests, eager to claim first prize. Good lobbyists know every crinkle in the paper, every smear of ink. They know the pages you threw away containing the sordid details of your affair. They pick up the sheets that fly out of your tunnel vision, as you rush haphazardly towards the end. They know what you’ve underlined and what you haven’t even written yet. And they use all of this information so that when you cross the line in fifth place, you’re still ecstatic to have been part of the game.
To get what you want, to be a good lobbyist, you have to understand the rules of this game so well that you can manipulate how the race ends, and what it means to win. To get ahead:
1) First, listen.
3) Use it.
4) Everyone wins.