Q&A With the Boss

On April 15, 2011, in Career Advice, Hot Topics, Success on the Job, by Randstad Staffing

Many employees are confused by their relationship with their boss. There is a certain etiquette involved with relating to a manager, and it isn’t always clear what it and isn’t appropriate.

Thank to a new book by Hank Gilman title “You Can’t Fire Everyone: And Other Lessons from an Accidental  Manager,” some of the most common curiosities about the manager-employee relationship are addressed.

Check out this article about the book from Career Builder’s jobseeker blog. It outlines Gilman’s book along with some common questions and answers about bosses.

If you talk to experienced managers and supervisors, they may tell you that being the boss isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Although it is gratifying to move up and achieve more responsibility, some employees may not realize what moving into a management position actually entails.

According to one article, when surveyed about their top challenges, managers mostly cite issues that deal with the people management aspect of being a supervisor.

This is an important area to keep in mind when moving up the ladder. It’s not only about adding to your responsibilities in regards to the day-to-day workload. Having to deal with issues such as team conflict, performance reviews and morale are skills that need to be acquired.

Prior to moving into a supervisory role, spend some time researching the manager-employee relationship, and take note of the dos and don’ts of communicating with individuals and a team. If possible, take training classes and workshops too.

Also, don’t forget to ask a trusted supervisory peer his or her advice on handling certain situations.

Moving up the ladder is a great compliment to your skills, but it can also include areas of expertise where you do not have experience. Don’t let that deter you. Keep on moving up and look forward to the opportunity of learning additional skills.

Whether you have been fired, or the one who has had to do the firing, it’s important to remember how not to burn a bridge. You never know when you might run into each other at another job or potential employer.

One article outlines just how likely it is that you could run into a former supervisor or employee that fired you or that you had to fire. Your previous behavior sets the foundation for this possible encounter.

If you work in a smaller market or for a specific industry, there is a chance you could run into the same individuals at companies where you get a new job, or at networking events. 

Keep your cool and stay polite, even when your emotions are running high. Don’t say something that you could regret and always stay professional.

Stressed Out At Work

On March 29, 2011, in Career Advice, Hot Topics, Success on the Job, Work/Life Balance, by Randstad Staffing

Feeling stressed? You’re not the only one. According to a recent study, nearly one out of three workers is experiencing extreme stress.

It’s no wonder given the current economic situation, and some of the personal experiences that some individuals  faced during the past two years. Fear about keeping a job, concern if a spouse or partner lost a job, increased costs of everything from food to gas to medical bills.

Stress is a common ailment but it can be helped. If you feel like you are experiencing the signs of anxiety, tension and pressure, consider these tips to help relieve it:

  • Treat yourself to a massage. Good for mind, body and spirit, your stress will melt away. A little pricey? No problem. Check out if there are massage therapy schools near you. Often times, students give massages at a significant discount.
  • Discover a hobby. Take your mind off things by indulging in a hobby. The distraction can help you relax and relieve tension, and give you enjoyment.
  • Indulge in a little “me time”. There’s nothing wrong with solitude, and sometimes that’s all it takes to decompress and let stress go.  Read a book, go for a walk, or take a warm bath or shower to let go of stressful feelings.

Stress can interrupt sleep, become a distraction from work, or worse, make you sick. There are a number of ways to find stress relief, and it’s important to find the one that works best for you.

Economists and pundits are forecasting more hiring in 2011, which is not only favorable news for the state of our nation, but may result in more workers pondering a job change. Maybe you’re happy enough in your job, but you wonder what else is out there. Maybe you feel like you’ve hit a glass ceiling and can’t go any farther. Or maybe you hate your job so much that every morning you can barely make yourself set foot through the front door.

Whether you’re just not sure if something better exists or you’re sure it’s out there but you just can’t seem to make yourself escape, there are some important “signs that it’s time” to consider.

You used to enjoy your job, but haven’t felt challenged for a long time. Your skills have dulled as each day scoops itself blandly into another rut of plain old busy work. While this path of least resistance may seem easy, in the long run it could harm both your career and your mental well being as boredom dulls your days. Consider looking around to see what else might interest you; it’s possible that you’ll discover a more diverse job or even decide to tap into a passion you once taught yourself to ignore.

You vaguely remember having a life once, but not anymore. If your job has grown from a “great opportunity” to a fire breathing monster that threatens to consume your life with a hailstorm of round the clock calls and mobile messages, consider jumping ship. While these jobs are often marketed as temporary gateways to a happier existence, the word “workaholic” has an “aholic” attached to it for a reason. If your life is being lost to your work and you’re miserable, it’s time to back up and take stock of what’s more important.

You want to go, but you’re just too scared. When you think about leaving, mental roadblocks pop up everywhere telling you that you’re not good enough, you don’t have the right skills, or you’ll just never get there. Listen up: Stop that immediately. Life is going to go by faster than you think, and if the only thing that is holding you back is fear, you don’t have a very good reason not to move on. Crash through those barriers and prove to yourself that you’re strong enough to make a change.

Whatever your reason for considering a move, if the thought has occurred to you then it might be the time to do so. At least take a look around and start networking. The worst that can happen is nothing at all, but the best is finding out that you have a shot at doing something you enjoy in a company you like. What have you got to lose?

Assertiveness is a skill that just comes naturally to some people. They’re the people who never get walked on, the people who don’t let them get pressured into doing anything they don’t want to do. And, if they are extra lucky, they also have a natural knack for being polite even as they stand up for themselves. If you aren’t one of those people and instead sometimes (okay, often) get pressured, even bullied, into awkward situations or who are regularly bruised by office politics, here’s some advice.

The first lesson in the primer of how to be assertive is that assertiveness does not equal pushiness. Pushiness isn’t a becoming quality, and it usually borders the thin line of bullying. To be assertive, you don’t have to be mean, loud or violent. You just have to clearly understand and then define your boundaries (and believe in your ability to maintain them). 

The second lesson, and one of the most important, is to leave emotion out of it. If you clearly are worked into a hissy, it’s much harder for people to take you seriously. Consider these two messages: “Ugh! I’m too busy!” or “I’m sorry, but my schedule is a little full. Thank you for thinking of me, though.” Which speaker are you more likely to listen to and respect? 

A topic that goes hand in hand with leaving strong feelings at the door is learning to communicate clearly. Oftentimes when we don’t want to deal with an uncomfortable subject, manners can kick in and make everything we say so vague and non-committal that the listener may just hear what they want to and move on. Don’t let that happen. If you need to say no, say no. Be clear and don’t waver.

Finally, a key point to being assertive isn’t just about speaking well—it’s about being a great listener. If you learn to listen really well, you will be better able to understand exactly what someone is asking for and why. This can help you better evaluate your own response, whether it’s accepting, declining, or offering another solution entirely. Great listening is the key to great communication.