Category Archives: Career Resource

How to Deal with an Overly Controlling Boss

Have you ever had a boss who is always peeking over your shoulder, constantly needing to be involved in your work, or sending you a detailed-to-the-max list? If so, you know how it feels to be micromanaged. As much as you would wish the situation would just go away, you may have to learn how to deal with this kind of boss.

Understand the Cause

There are several reasons why a boss may micromanage. None of them is an excuse for this behavior but knowing “the why” may help you in dealing with them. Basically, this kind of person is a control freak. The need for control can come from a lot of different areas, the principal one being fear. Are they getting a lot of pressure from their boss to produce at a certain level? Are they feeling the stress of a competitive workplace? Whatever it is, knowing this can help in resolving the issue.

Maybe part of the cause is yours or your coworkers’ behavior. Examine your own work. Have you been turning projects in late? Are there things you’ve relaxed or that you need to tighten up? It could be that your manager took the fall for a project for which you or one of your coworkers were responsible. First, be willing to check your work and habits, and if you’ve got an area for improvement, start there!

Think Ahead

Are you constantly reminded to do things that are on your regularly scheduled to-do list? Get ahead on some of those, so that when you’re reminded of them, you can go ahead and tell your manager you’ve already completed it.

Communicate with your coworkers what you’re working to accomplish. If you’re all working to show that you can do your jobs well, this will help your micromanager understand that they don’t need to be controlling.

You can also keep track of what you’re doing so that if your manager asks you about it, you can show them right then and there. This may also help if they require updates on what you’re doing. By showing that you’re aware of what you’re supposed to be doing and that you’re getting it done, you’ll boost their confidence in your abilities.

Talk to Them

It may come down to confronting—in a gentle, respectful way—your manager about this issue. This can be very difficult to do, especially if you’re in a workplace where you don’t know your manager well. If possible, try talking to them and letting them know how their actions are impacting you. They may not even know what they’re doing.

If you can’t necessarily approach them in that way, then see if you can get them to agree to letting you work on a project on your own—without any day to day interference. Let them know that at the end of the project you’d welcome a meeting with them. Then you can talk about what you did well and what needed improvement. When you excel, your manager will see that you, at least, don’t need such constant supervision.

There’s no easy way to deal with micromanagers, but it can be done. If you’re willing to put in the work, you may be able to help change their attitude towards you and you will enjoy your workday more.

How to Use Effective Humor to Improve Your Workplace

Humor at your workplace? Bite your tongue!

But really, humor has great benefits, if done well. People who laugh together create a bond. When you’re enjoying some humor at the office, you’ll generally be more productive and enjoy being at work. However, if humor is done the wrong way or taken too far, you can quickly crash and burn. Here are some ways to properly use humor at work.

  • When in doubt…

Your idea of funny may not exactly line up with everyone else’s in your office. Something funny to you could be offensive to the next person. When you’re considering a joke, if you’re not sure if you should say it, then don’t. Better to err on the side of caution. Your goal may be to lighten up the atmosphere, but if your joke goes south, it’s going to make that atmosphere even worse.

  • “And then I…”

Being able to laugh at yourself is a great trait. Seeing the humor or irony in situations you find yourself in assures that you’re not offending someone by poking fun at them. Also, being able to laugh at yourself is a good way for people to see that you don’t take yourself too seriously. As with all jokes, just don’t go overboard. You still want your colleagues to respect you.

  • Train yourself

Start to train yourself to see the humor in certain situations. Irony or seeing the absurd is a great chuckle-inducer. Even if you never voice what you find funny, being able to have a lighter perspective on your environment can be helpful to you personally.

  • Stop the passive-aggressiveness

Humor or making jokes about someone is not the way to go if you have an issue with them. Rather, talk with them directly. Mean-spirited joking really isn’t funny, even if people go along with it and give it a chuckle. If you have to say, “I was only joking!”, or you find yourself complaining that “they don’t know how to take a joke,” then you’ve got a problem.

  • Just be you

Can you tell a joke? Can you really? Let’s be frank, there are just some people who can’t tell a good joke, and that’s okay. Contribute with a smile or a laugh! Be who you are, don’t try to force something when it isn’t natural. Just remember, you can learn how to develop this aspect of yourself.

  • Think outside the ordinary

The opportunities are limitless for you to come up with a unique way to use humor. From personal choices to office-wide interactions, you can come up with some crazy good ways to have fun. If you’ve got an idea, see if you can get your manager on board. The more support you’ve got, the greater chance the rest of your colleagues will want to join in on the fun.

Not nearly enough workplaces employ humor well, or at all. Be the change at your job and see if you can bring some levity with you to work. The health benefits are numerous, the camaraderie building is beneficial, and it just makes life better.

 

3.5 Reasons why attending an IT Conference every single year can help your career!

Conference Attendees1. Network with your peers. This is an opportunity to meet new people from other companies. It is also important to visit with prior and current co-workers or classmates and get to know them on a more personal level. These are great people to build relationships with for multiple reasons:

a. You may reach out to these people to see how their company is using a new technology or transforming into an agile environment

b. Get non-biased references or opinions about a new technology you are evaluating and thinking about implementing

c. Learn how other companies operate and what makes their cultures great

2. Invest in Yourself! You will be seen by your boss, peers and others that you network with at the conference as a person who wants to keep current with your industry and who cares about keeping up to date with technology and best practices. The educational component of a conference can expose you to new ways to be more productive. Many people who attend conferences return back to work revitalized and more passionate about their work.

3. Hot new technologies.  Take time to meet with vendors. This is a great way to gain insight on what new technologies are available. You also have an opportunity to build relationships with vendors. Those vendors may be the person you need to reach in the middle of a critical project and if you know someone at that company they may be able to help get you connected to the right person to solve your problem. You can also pick up free giveaways or participate in raffles from vendors at many Exhibit Halls.

3.5 Have fun! Attending a conference should be work mixed with fun! Many conferences have activities such as happy hours, late night parties, and golf tournaments. Treat yourself to    an extra day in the city you are visiting. Plan to come in town early or stay an extra day at the at the end of the trip. Mix business with pleasure and keep your career trajectory on track all at the same time.

Don’t be busy, be productive

Do you feel busy? In fact, would you go on to state that you are constantly busy with little time for yourself or new projects?  Well, if your answer is yes then stop it.  Stop saying you are busy and stop being busy as there is a far better way to live life. Busy has accomplished very little in life, not even for the poster board busy bee.  If you asked a bee what it does, he wouldn’t say he is busy.  Rather, he would respond with saying he makes honey and pollenates the flowers of the world. So now it’s time for you to do the same.

The Business of What You Do

As the reader, there is no way one can say with certainty what it is that you do.  In the IT field, you are doing all sorts of technical stuff.  Maybe you are in management watching other people do stuff.  However, whatever stuff it is that you are into, if you were asked what you did, you wouldn’t respond with busy stuff.

So why would you constantly state you are busy? It’s a common belief that human language and spoken word is a powerful tool.  Consequently, your words matter.  Let us propose as a first step to stop stating you’re busy and make a habit to state specifically what you are doing.  Speak not of work, but of outcomes desired.  If your spouse calls you at work, don’t respond with stating you are busy.  State you can’t talk right now because you are designing a system or you are revolutionizing communication for your company.  Be honest, but state what you are doing and feel the power that unleashes.

Shifting Priorities

The other side of busy comes from humans not taking on too much, but prioritizing too poorly.  You see, when you start the habit of stating the business of what you do, certain priorities become clearer.  Simply stating you are busy doesn’t provide the same opportunity as busy can mean a variety of things.  Are you updating the CEO on the future of your organization or are you reading about cats on the internet?  Both would be justified as busy, but each has varying impacts.

Consequently, when you state what each outcome is then you have the ability to shift priorities at will with accuracy.  Imagine a long train with various cars serving various function.  When you can clearly identify the utility of each, then you can simply lift and shift each car in its proper place. Consequently, rather than always existing in a perpetual busy state, you can be accomplishing a series of outcomes in their natural order.  You can do this all day long to include rest and recreation.  Busy?  No thanks. I think I’ll make some honey and pollinate a flower today says the bee.  What will you do today?

Quitting Your Job? 5 Considerations Before Deciding

Are you frustrated with your current job or boss and ready to make a change?  It is important that you are strategic when you are leaving your job, so that you can be positioned to move your career forward.  Too often, people make the decision to leave an organization without putting a proper plan in place.  Here are five things to consider before you turn in your notice.

  1. Assess Your Finances
    Plan ahead and build up your nest egg.  Money is one of the biggest motivators that will push you back to your old job, or into a new job that you don’t like. There may also be a gap in between companies pay cycles and you don’t want to get caught short on cash.  Companies often check credit and you do not want to have late pays or delinquencies.  Your savings will also allow you to take the time that is needed to find the best match for your career, rather than settling for something else because you need to pay the bills.
  1. Establish a relationship with a “Career Agent”
    Just because you are currently employed, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a relationship with a Recruiter (Career Agent).  You want to have a career agent just like an all-star athlete wants a sports agent.  You want someone who can represent your best interests and has a pulse on the market.  A good Recruiter will keep you posted on opportunities that will match what you are looking for and if the timing is right for you, you should explore the position and if not, let the Recruiter know that the timing is just not right.
  1. Fly under the radar
    As tempting as it might be to tell your friends at work, don’t mention the fact that you are looking for a new job.  The information could be accidentally or intentionally leaked to management, which might result in a situation where you then must make a move or you may end up burning bridges or ruining relationships.  Stay quiet about your job search!
  1. Resignation / Transition
    You will need to provide your boss with a letter stating the reason that you are leaving, how you plan to transition your work and your last date of employment.  It is possible that someone might call your former employer for a reference at some point in time, and the way you resign and transition your work can have an impact on the impression that you leave with your boss and the company.
  1. Plan how to leave on a positive note
    Work diligently through your last day.  Make sure that you have everything organized for the team member(s) taking over your workload.  You will have an easier time maintaining relationships and cultivating goodwill by working hard to make the transition easier for your coworkers and management.

Are you too Busy for your Own Good?

There are three types of people in this world: people who are busy, people who are not, and people who have the time to brag about how busy they are. No matter which camp you belong to, keep reading.

  • Busier Than Ever?
    The projects at work are mounting to Himalayan proportions. The list of personal errands is swelling by the minute. New family responsibilities keep popping up. If you observe the stereotypical TV sitcom family, they’re constantly in motion, going from one scheduled activity to another, from exhausting weekdays to jam-packed weekends, with nary a moment to stop and smell the roses. Everyone’s running around like headless chickens, right? Well, that’s the thing – it’s not everyone. There are people who live the slower life. It’s just that the busy bees are often ambitious type-A personalities who are very vocal about their lack of time. Or they’re type-B folks who voice their stress during moments of genuine time-crunch, and when their schedule calms down we assume that their plate is still full; we have no reason to assume otherwise. Then again, have you ever heard any of your colleagues bragging to their boss about how much free time they have? It doesn’t happen often.
  • This Is Not a Competition
    Time management is not a team competition. It’s a useful individual skill which few have truly mastered, but it’s not a game. If you try to play it, you may ultimately lose. If you spread yourself too thin by taking on too many projects in an effort to impress your boss or colleagues, you’ll end up with little time to reflect, to wonder, to nourish relationships, to develop projects, and to cultivate creativity. You may accomplish all of your tasks by working long hours and weekends, but this is not a healthy long-term strategy. By bragging about how busy you are, you are helping to perpetuate the view that this state of affairs is not only common but acceptable. The challenge is to transcend this plague of the modern workplace by either (a) managing your time effectively or (b) not complaining, even when you are swamped.
  • Consider Your Health
    In the workplace, physical and emotional health is often relegated to lower importance than work. In some offices, project deadlines are of the utmost priority and must be met at all costs, especially when executive visibility is involved. If you are extremely busy, your reputation as a hard worker (or workaholic) may grow, but in the long run your ability to deliver on all your commitments will shrivel. Retention of critical information will suffer. Organic learning will be stunted. Relationships, both personal and professional, will fall to the wayside. Self-awareness will go down the drain. If you’re overworked, your health may be compromised, which can affect your productivity, happiness, and long-term prospect at the job. In other words, by working too hard, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.
  • Would You Rather Be a Liar, or Incompetent?
    If you spend too much time bragging or even “just” complaining about how busy you are, you are either (a) exaggerating or (b) genuinely too busy for your own good. If it’s the former, and colleagues see that you’re spending too much time on irrelevant or personal tasks (e.g. checking your phone or social media accounts), you’re putting your professional and personal reputation on the line. There’s also the possibility that you have terrible time management skills. Another employee might be able to complete tasks in half the time with higher quality. Perhaps they are aware of shortcuts, or simply able to prioritize and focus better than you. Either way, admitting that you’re swamped doesn’t look impressive to a boss. Either boost your time management skills or…
  • Learn To Ask for Help, And To Say No
    Instead of spending a huge chunk of your day complaining about the never-ending pile of projects, focus on what you can accomplish. Additionally, make a commitment to say no – firmly, but politely — to additional responsibilities. If a new task is critical (everything is NOT a fire, contrary to some beliefs), be realistic and explain to your boss and/or client that something else will have to give. If you don’t communicate this, you’ll be expected to deliver everything on time, which may not be realistic. Instead of taking everything onto your own plate, hone the skill of asking for help. If you’ve been helping colleagues all along, they should be willing to lend a hand when you need it most. Don’t see this as a sign of weakness. By inviting others to help, you give people the chance to feel useful and you can strengthen relationships that way as well. You will achieve greater professional success by recognizing the contributions of others than by complaining about your incredibly, ridiculously, insanely busy workload.

Don’t Know What To Do? Act!

Do you often find yourself stuck in a pattern of analysis, constantly looking at hypothetical scenarios without taking action? Indecision is common problem that people face, and the inability to move forward can freeze their progress and have a negative impact on their career. One of the best things that you can do to move forward is to start taking action, even if you are only moving forward one step at a time.


Action Uncovers Possibilities
You can analyze all day long, but it will be impossible to uncover the real possibilities until you start taking action. This principle applies to all areas of your life, including your career. For example, if you are involved in a project with a team at work and you find yourself in the situation of always making suggestions but never implementing anything, then it is likely that the team will become frustrated because no forward progress will be made.

On the other hand, you can develop stronger credibility with your coworkers and managers by showing that you are willing to take action. It is important to assess the situation before moving forward, but sometimes the best analysis can’t happen until you have started taking action on the project.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Many people are scared to take action because they are afraid of failure. So, they limit their progress by analyzing the situation in order to reduce the possibilities of failure. The truth is that failure is inevitable in life, and you can gain some of the best experiences by taking action to see what didn’t work.

If you start taking action, you can always make small adjustments along the way to increase the likelihood of success. Or, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to completely start over, but you have valuable insights that will make the new plan even more effective.

Taking Action Positions You as a Leader
Taking action is a key factor to help you move forward with your career, because other people will naturally follow when you are taking action. More action gives you more opportunity to improve systems, increase productivity, and achieve higher levels of success. Other people are drawn to the employees and managers that are confident in their actions, and you can come out on top if you aren’t scared to get your hands dirty.

Eliminate Regrets
When you take action, you can eliminate regrets in your life and your career. One of the worst feelings is the doubtful “what-if” questions that arise when you missed a potential opportunity. Action will help you to increase the likelihood of success, and you won’t have any doubts or regrets along the way.

At the same time, action makes you an interesting person. If you don’t want to be the boring person in the office, then you need to start taking action to get people to notice what you are doing.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so it is better to look at the first step instead of trying to understand every step of the process. Start moving in the right direction, and you will see that the momentum will carry you to higher levels of success.

Find an Extra Hour Every Day

Time is passing you by this very minute as you read.  If you are currently reading this article, then perhaps you have some interest in creating a little more time in your day.  Now to be perfectly honest, your day is going only have 24 hours in it whether you like it or not. So don’t consider yourself a magician creating time, but a detective scavenging your day for that precious 60 minutes that might have lost its way. And more than a tip or trick, self-awareness is your map to these 60 minutes.

That Thing Only You Know

People are more self-aware than they are often given credit. Consequently, the experts believe that with the right questions, people can quickly come to a conclusion more powerful than anything they have been told. So here is where you start to find your lost 60 minutes.  Start with you analyzing your day and you being honest with yourself.

How much time do you spend doing things at work that you wouldn’t want your boss to see? This works for management as well.  How much time do you spend on something at work for which you would be embarrassed if your hard working employees were to witness?  You see, there are those that expect good stewardship of your time.  You know who those people are and you know the time spent on things that would disappoint those people.

It’s not that a little time aloof can’t be healthy from time to time.  However, if you really want to find a lost hour of the day, you have to start here as no one knows what this time looks like apart from you.  If you are unwilling to go here, then you need to question how committed you are to finding that extra hour.

The End of the Day

If you get off work at 5:00, what time do you stop working?  This is not a trick question.  Remember, we are talking about saving the day by finding an extra 60 minutes.  So if you frequently shut down at 4:45 every day, then recovering that time gets you 25% of the way there. Now this is more than just a motivational approach, but a scheduling one as well.

However, before you schedule, you have to be honest with yourself about when you quit working. You can’t ask your boss about it because you often don’t tell your boss that from 4:30 is when you start staring at the clock rather than working.  If you know this about yourself, then its time to start being smart about what you schedule for the end of the day.

If you put projects that are too large to complete at the end of the day, then you need to ask yourself if it is too tempting to just wait until the next day to start.  Moreover, if you put frivolous tasks without deadlines at the end of the day, the temptation might be to just put it off until tomorrow.  Remember, we are seeking an extra 60 minutes, not a whole day. Consider putting easy tasks with a deadline of that very day as an end of the day task.  Consequently, it forces you to put that last hour to use which otherwise would be unproductive.

So these are routes to discovering lost time for which self-awareness will be your guide. If you are unwilling to ask yourself the hard questions about your own work habits, then all the tips and tactics in the world will be of no use. Search yourself and these 60 minutes will be easier to find than you think.

Avoid These 6 Crummy Work Habits

Bad habits are hard to change, but make sure to carve out time regularly to reflect on your behavior — not just your work — at the office. Your reputation and employment may be at stake.

  1. Being Tardy to the Party
    Just because others are a few minutes late to the meeting, doesn’t mean you should conform. Instead, try arriving 5 minutes early — you can use the peace and quiet to clear your head and review the agenda, so that when the meeting starts you’ll be ready to roll. Consistent punctuality drastically improves an employee’s reputation — you’ll be perceived as organized, in control, responsible and reliable, everything that a professional aspires to be.
  2. Procrastinating Like a Boss… When You’re Not the Boss
    Unlike tardiness, procrastination may fly under the radar for some time, but it will bite you in the rear sooner or later — well, probably later if you’re a procrastinator. By leaving large projects or even small tasks to the very last minute, you rob yourself of the chance to edit your work or, worse yet, you don’t give your colleagues ample time to provide valuable feedback. Living life on the edge may give you a thrill in the moment, but you won’t enjoy when the deadline comes rearing its ugly head, and all you have is a half-baked, error-rich deliverable. When procrastinating on a major task, you maintain a constant unpleasant feeling in the back of your mind which can actually detract from the quality of any lesser tasks you may be doing at the moment. It’s a lose-lose scenario.
  3. Yelling Just To Be Heard
    Depending on where you work, yelling may be a commonplace occurrence or it may be totally unheard of. Either way, avoid the urge to yell at all costs. Yelling is the adult equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum. When you can’t think of a more mature way to handle a situation gone wrong, your best bet is to step away for a moment — take a walk around the office, have some tea, and take a few deep breaths. Otherwise, you risk being perceived as domineering, unprofessional, even insecure and overcompensating for something. Sadly, it only takes one incident of poor judgment that you’ll then have to carry with your for months, even years, until you find your next gig.
  4. Gossiping Harmlessly
    Sure, most people gossip to some small degree. Then there are the pros who turn it into an art form. Folks who exert so much energy worrying about the work or behavior of colleagues are wasting the company’s time and money, and are likely to become topics of gossip themselves. It’s one thing to vent to a spouse or friend outside of work, but another thing to risk your reputation within your office walls. The next time you sense an urge to say something petty about a colleague, think about how you’d feel if they found out. Or imagine how you’d feel if you discovered someone was nit-picking what you wore to the office yesterday. Think before you talk. Shift your focus by listening to one of your favorite songs (if your job allows), or work on an easy task to boost your sense of accomplishment and move on with the rest of your day.
  5. Spreading Yourself Too Thin
    Being a workaholic-martyr is not something to be proud of, though every office has a few. If you are blessed with a hectic job and a ton of work on your plate, it’s especially important to understand the power of saying “no.” If you take on too many items and spread yourself too thin, you’re doing everyone a disservice: your boss, your coworkers and business partners, your friends and family, and most of all yourself. Even if you manage to achieve some semblance of external success, you’ll be burning out inside. More than likely, though, you’ll be running from task to task like a chicken with its head cut off, while your judgment, decision-making, creativity and empathy suffer.
  6. Throwing Bodies Under the Bus
    Much can be said on this topic, but it can also be summarized briefly: don’t do it! Throwing colleagues under the bus is a recipe for disaster. It drains team morale and productivity, and places a target on your back for the future. Instead of wasting your precious energy on the blame game, refocus your thoughts on how you can improve communications and processes so the mistake doesn’t recur. You’ll be the unsung office hero, rather than the silently hated villain.

 

Organize Your Work, 4 Quick Wins

We all know that organization is the key to success. Here are some concrete tips to help you get there, no rush, try out one per week over the next 4 weeks.

  • Make Prioritization a Priority
    Whatever you hope to accomplish in a given day or week, you’ll need to make it a priority, and approach it with relentless laser focus, otherwise it will be pulled under the current of countless requests, emails, text messages, IMs, tasks, blogs, etc. – you get the gist. If you’ve resolved to get better organized at work, that decision is a great first step – now you’ll need to put the below steps to work.
  • Clean Your Desk
    If you’re OCD when it comes to cleanliness, you can probably skip this section. For everyone else: make sure your physical desktop is clean and clutter-free. You may be a slob at home, but at work your professional reputation is always on display, so put your best foot forward. Having a clean, mostly clear office desk will allow you to quickly find what you need; otherwise, the mess will keep nagging you in back of your mind and can even prevent you from fully focusing on your work. To get a handle on the chaos, come to work 30 minutes earlier than usual, and divide the stuff into two piles: things to keep, and junk to discard. Once you’ve thrown out the latter, start organizing the remaining pile, at the very least into two more piles: active projects and archived material. Each of those piles, in turn, can be sorted into subfolders by project name or date, depending on your needs and preferences. Like any other, organization is a skill that gets better with practice.
  • Don’t Forget Your Digital Workspace
    Depending on your industry, most of your work and materials may be digital, not physical. So even if your work area is super neat, you may still have a lot of organizing to do with your virtual desktop. Think back to the last time a manager requested a document from you, and you scrambled to find it on your computer desktop or shared drive. Chances are, poor folder organization was the time-sucking culprit. Get a handle on the issue once and for all by carving out some time (perhaps a Friday afternoon) to reorganize and rename folders, and delete or archive any inactive documents – just make sure to communicate your process to anyone who may be impacted to mitigate confusion.
  • Make Time For Your Calendar
    Part and parcel with a clean digital and physical workspace is an organized calendar. While you may not always be in full control over your schedule, you probably have more agency than you realize. One way to keep your work life organized is by thoughtfully scheduling your tasks each day and week. Be mindful of your energy and creative levels: if you’re someone who is sharp and alert in the morning, plan your toughest tasks in the AM. Think about the natural rhythm of work in your department: if Wednesdays are always crazy, schedule a buffer to help you handle the pandemonium (e.g. a 30 minute block of time in the AM and PM). And always have a list of back-up tasks (in order of priority) on the off-chance that the day is quieter than expected. At all costs, avoid multi-tasking like the plague. Focusing on one task at a time will help you get things done faster, will increase your sense of accomplishment, and will demonstrate to others that you indeed have the laser-like focus and determination that are so characteristic of successful people.