September 12, 2014

How to help a co-worker who is burning out

One day at work, one of my co-workers put her face into her hands and screamed. It was bizarre. All of us just watched, not really sure how to react. After a few minutes went by, the screaming got louder.

She was having a HUGE meltdown and it felt like acknowledging it might make it worse. I know that burnout happens. But watching it happen feels awful. For weeks, this co-worker, a single mother, had complained to me about having too much on her plate. When I arrived at the office, she was there. When I left, she was there.

Burn out has ended more than a few careers. But is it possible to help prevent a co-worker or even a boss from burning out?  In most companies, hard work is rewarded with more work. Should anyone step in when they see someone who can't seem to strike a work life balance? 

CareerCast.com says "We usually reach the point of being burned up when we try and tough out unpleasant work-related situations without an effective strategy. We ignore the signs of unhappiness, make excuses for the miserable way we feel on the job, justify staying on the job with any number of reasons, and gradually fall into a downward spiral where our motivation to change the situation is gone and, running on fumes becomes running on empty."

While it may be hard to recognize in ourselves, burn out could be easier to recognize in our co-workers. So, if we see some like my co-worker on the verge of a meltdown, what should be do about it?

CareerCast.com offers these suggestions:

 

  • 1. Urge your co-worker to seek help from a trained mental health professional who treats work-related problems.

 

  • 2. Step in with a gentle suggestion before the problem becomes so severe your co-worker loses his or her job or burns bridges.

 

  • 3. Urge your co-worker to consult a career counselor to find out if he or she has other career and work interests at a new and possibly different type of job, profession or career.

 

  • 4. Let your co-worker know that just because he or she is burned out on a current job or in a current role, doesn't mean it will necessarily be the same on a new job or new position. Circumstances change and, with it, a different job could lead to increased energy and a more positive frame of mind.

 

After my co-worker's complete crash, she was encouraged by her boss to take a long weekend. When she came back to work, she was offered a  less stressful, lower paying position at the same company. I encouraged her to take it, although it meant she has to live more frugally. 

A year later she seems much more in control of her work life balance and happier at work. 

Lot of us see co-workers every day who can't or don't make time for a personal life. Sometimes it is by choice. Sometimes he or she feels the company expects a 24/7 commitment.

Have your ever witnessed a co-worker burning out? Do you feel a responsibility to say or do so something? 

 

September 08, 2014

Would a pay raise improve your work life balance?

 

                                   Pay raise

 

 

What would you do with a raise?

Would you make changes that would make your home and work life easier? Would you buy a more reliable car to drive to work?  Or how about hiring someone to care for your elderly parent while you're not home?

My son gets minimum wage as a bus boy at a local pizza restaurant. He works like a dog for each cent he brings home. Still, he doesn't think a small increase would make a big difference for the dishwasher who works a second job to support his family. I disagree and have told him that every penny counts when you are living paycheck to paycheck.

Across the country, fast food workers have been rallying for higher wages, trying to get food businesses to pay at least $15 an hour. Now that's a significant increase from the $7.93 a cook at a Miami fast food joint says he makes. The cook says that extra $7 an hour would  allow him to pay rent and have enough left to buy an ample supply of food for his family.

White collar workers are struggling, too. In some workplaces, staffers haven't seen a pay jump in at least five years -- even if they are busting their butts.

The good news is U.S. employers are planning to give pay raises averaging 3 percent  in 2015, on par with the 2.9 percent average raise in 2014 and 2013, according to a survey of nearly 1,100 U.S. companies by compensation consultant Towers Watson.

A small raise is better than no raise, right? But what if you feel like you're working harder than your colleagues?

Who gets a raise and why can create major contention. Employees believe that employers are falling short in how pay decisions are made, and that there is much need for improvement,'' says  Towers Watson managing director Laury Sejen. Only half believe they are paid fairly. Their big gripe is that employers are not differentiating pay for top performers as much as they have been in recent years.

The median annual salary among the nation's 106.6 million workers is now about $40,560, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Base pay is the No. 1 reason why employees join a company or choose to leave,'' Sejen told USA Today.  "So there's value in companies making the effort to improve base pay."

Would a pay raise make a difference in your work life balance? How significant a raise would you need to see a real different in your lifestyle?

September 03, 2014

Who to go to for advice

A few nights a week, my husband and I walk around the neighborhood for exercise and talk about our days. We often discuss work related problems that come up in a typical day. While neither of us asks for advice, it's natural to give it.  Often, we view the same scenario differently and give suggestions the other person never considered. 

Knowing how I interact with my husband, I often have felt that my boss' spouse had more influence on my future at a company than any other high level manager.  A new survey proves me right.  Most CEOs admit they consider their spouses the person they turn to first for advice on tough business decisions, more than senior members of their staff. 

According to a survey from the staffing firm Adecco, 37 percent of CEOs and business owners say the opinion of their spouse is what matters most to them. This is followed by their head of business development department (16 percent) and operations department (13 percent).  

“A spouse can be someone to discuss ideas or decisions off of without judgment or agenda. If you’re in a partnership with someone, you hold their thoughts and opinions very highly,” Joyce Russell, president of Adecco Staffing in the US told Business News Daily. 

For most of us, seeking advice is tricky -- particularly from a significant other. While I appreciate the business advice my husband gives me, at times, resisting it has created marital tension. Sometimes, when I just want to vent, he chimes in with a solution that I don't want to hear. 

My friend Jill, who owns her own business, says it has taken her a long time to ask for her husband's advice without feeling guilty if she doesn't take it or getting upset by his more practical appraoch to problem solving. She's convinced listening to her inner gut or her female mentor, rather than her spouse, has led to better business decisions.

Have you ever taken — or totally resisted — business advice from your spouse/significant other? Do you feel like your spouse knows you best and guides you well or doesn't asking for advice open the door to resentment or problems down the road?

 

August 19, 2014

Working parents biggest fears

I shouldn't say I'm shocked but I am. How is it that in 2014, at a time when most mothers and fathers work, we still fear that we will be fired when our family needs interfere with work demands?

It's interesting that men almost fear bringing up child care issues with their boss more than women do. A dad I know once told me I was lucky that I had a flexible work arrangement and said his boss would get angry if he asked for one. I urged him to ask but I don't think he ever did. 

A new Bright Horizons Modern Family Index survey of 1,000 working moms and dads with at least one child under 18 still in the home shows:

  • working parents fear family responsibilities could get them fired
  • fathers are just as stressed and insecure about work and family conflicts as mothers
  • 39 percent of parents fear being denied a raise because of family responsibilities
  • 37 percent of parents fear they will never get promoted while 26 percent worry about a demotion because of family responsibilities
  • 22 percent worry that family commitments will cost them key projects at work
  • 19 percent believe they won’t be invited to important meetings because of family obligations
  • Working parents are nervous to bring up key family-related issues with their employers

That's a lot of fear, isn't it? We all know that business is about making profit or showing performance but workers are the ones who make that happen. When we have to choose between leaving a sick kid home alone or going to work, that's a tough choice we shouldn't have to make.

Here's something all employers should note: . Those working parents who do feel supported by their employer report strong loyalty.

David Liss, CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, said it well:  "it is clear that working parents throughout the U.S. are still struggling to manage all of their responsibilities, and many still feel that they cannot be honest with their supervisors about needing to be available and active in their family lives."

As a working parent, showing vulnerability to the wrong boss can be career suicide. And so, out of fear, we lie. In the survey working parents -- moms and dads --  admitted to lying or bending the truth to their boss about family responsibilities that get in the way of work. Some revealed they have faked sick to meet family obligations. Others said they lied about missing a work event because of a family commitment or the reason why they didn't respond to emails.

Again, all very pathetic but shockingly understandable.

Over my years as a working parent, I found a supportive boss makes all the difference in being a successful working parent and achieviing work life balance. If I hadn't had a supportive boss when my kids were really little, I couldn't have kept my job. The survey shows 41 percent of working parents agree with me.

Have you ever been fearful that family needs will get you fired? Do you think fathers get less of a break at work and have more reason to be fearful than mothers?

July 09, 2014

Need more balance? It may be time to hire a career coach

Have you ever felt stuck with your career? 

I've heard a lot about career coaches but I wasn't really sure exactly what they could do for me. I felt that maybe career coaches were for top executives who want to become better leaders. But I found out a career coach can be a HUGE help to almost anyone at any level. 

My Miami Herald column today answers these questions -- When is the right time to hire a career coach and how can hiring one improve your work life balance?

Read on...

Feeling stuck in your job? It may be time to hire a career coach

 

Executive Coach Monique Betty, owner of Boca Raton-based CareerSYNC, coaching the staff of the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida

 

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

When New York Times Editor Jill Abramson was fired last month, she had begun the process of working with a career consultant to work through some of the “management style” and “temperament” concerns that allegedly did her in. Like Abramson, most of excel in our jobs because of our technical expertise in our fields, but often, it is the “people” skills, such as managing and motivating staff, that trip us up.

A career coach can help you figure out behavior changes to help you advance, strategies for a new direction, or an action plan to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

“Think of a career coach as an objective person to talk to who doesn’t have a vested interest in anything but your success and satisfaction,” said Teressa Moore Griffin, an executive coach and founder of Spirit of Purpose.

One Miami executive hired a coach when her nonprofit women’s organization needed new direction.

At the time, Nancy Allen, president/CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council of Florida, was facing the high levels of stress common when nonprofits face board transitions and pressure to raise funds. Allen said that while working with a coach weekly for seven months, she defined steps to bring in new sources of revenue and new programming. Her coach also helped her scrutinize where to focus her time.

“I came out of it with clarity of purpose,” Allen said. “Most executives know what to do, but professional coaching helps them move beyond the minutia to set a plan of action, stay focused and accomplish defined tasks.” Now, Allen has brought her coach to work with her staff individually to develop their strengths: “I think it will lead to a happier, more productive staff.”

As the job market opens, more people, particularly younger workers, are turning to career coaches. In a survey of 12,000 professional coaches by the International Coach Federation, 60 percent of respondents reported an increase in the number of clients over the previous 12 months and more than 75 percent said they anticipated increases in clients and revenue over the next 12 months.

Coaching, once perceived as a luxury available only to senior executives, is increasingly appealing to younger generations, according to the International Coach Federation’s 2014 Global Consumer Awareness Study. Of the 18,800 workers surveyed, 35 percent of those between 25 and 34 years old said they already had participated in a coaching relationship.

Employers, spending once again on leadership development, are hiring coaches for managers, vice presidents and high-level executives who have hit an obstacle in their career progressions or face new challenges. Griffin said that like coaches who work with athletes, she encourages corporate leaders to see how a small change in behavior affects performance: “Often, the person thinks the organization is the problem. I have to get them to see that if they want the team or boss or customer to behave differently, change starts with them.”

Hiring a career coach is different from hiring most other professionals, and can be costly. Expect to pay $100 to $350 for a one-hour session, according to the International Coach Federation. Most professionals work with their coaches for six months to a year.

There is no official licensing agency for career coaches, which has led to a wide range of quality among those claiming to be experts. However, the International Coach Federation has built a worldwide network of more than 12,000 credentialed coaches with a minimum level of training and certification. When selecting, Miami career coach Marlene Green advises asking for recommendations, checking references and asking questions “just as you would when hiring an attorney.”

To be clear, a coach differs from a business consultant. Where a consultant identifies a business problem and gives a solution, a coach asks questions and encourages the client to find answers.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I have financial resources and time resources to get coached and am I in a place where I’m ready to have self-introspection?’ ” said Alexa Sherr Hartley, president of South Florida’s Premier Leadership Coaching. “You’re paying for a coach to help you figure it out, not to figure it out for you.”

After she was twice passed over for a management position at her company, Jenna Altman decided it was time to hire a career coach. “I felt like I was doing everything right and I needed to figure out why I wasn’t being promoted,” she said. Altman says her coach asked her questions that made her think differently about her strengths and weaknesses and how she adds value to her company.

She ended up asking for, and getting, a completely different position that she had never previously considered.

“When you have tried all the tools in your toolkit and you can’t move from your current state to your desired one, that is the help a coach provides,” Sherr explained. Research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of business success comes from personality — the ability to communicate, negotiate and lead.

Shockingly, only 15 percent is attributed to technical knowledge. But Sherr says that with coaching, those soft skills can be learned and practiced at work and home: “That’s why investing in coaching makes sense.”

 

 

 

May 22, 2014

2014 College Grads Want a Job -- and Work Life Balance

You would think 2014's college grads would be so desperate for a job that they would take whatever they could get -- as long as it pays a decent salary. 

Not true.

This group wants work life balance and they are steering away from jobs  -- and internships -- that seem too demanding. 

Let me know what you think of the mindset of today's college graduate. Will they get the flexibility and work life balance they seek? Will employers have to bend a little to accommodate these young workers?

(The Miami Herald, May 22, 2014)

Many new college graduates seek work/life balance, flexibility as they look for jobs

 

Here come the 2014 college graduates, flooding the highly competitive job market over the next several weeks and bringing their workplace expectations.

University of Florida graduate Stephanie Savage is one of the 11 percent nationwide who has successfully landed a full-time job. Yet, she notices an interesting trend with some of her friends who still are searching: “They’re picky.”

With their notably high debt from student loans, you would think new college graduates would jump at any job they could get. Instead, some of this year’s crop are selective in their job searches, reluctant to be stuck in a cramped cubicle from 9-to-5 each day and looking to be wowed by the jobs they land, career experts say.

“The idea of not being in a job they love is stressful for them,” says Christian Garcia, executive director of the Toppel Career Center at the University of Miami. Garcia said he has had students shy away from jobs in which they’ve heard the boss is difficult, the hours or commute long or the job description “boring.”

“They want to feel each opportunity is THE opportunity. Some can afford to be picky, but there are a lot of students who can’t. I bring them a reality check.”

Savage, 21, who will work as a preschool teacher, sees the same thought process in her peers. “They realize the job market is horrible but they still say, ‘I don’t know if I want to work for someone like that’ or ‘I don’t like the job requirements.’ ”

The pickiness is perplexing considering this is the sixth consecutive graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of profound weakness. However, the Class of 2014 is uniquely optimistic and expects to find positions in their chosen fields, according to an employment survey released this month by consulting firm Accenture. These graduates also are determined to find work/life balance in their jobs — or come up with ways to obtain it.

In fact, for the past few years, work/life balance has been the number one career goal among students in the global surveys by Universum, which offers research and services worldwide to help employers attract talent. More than leadership opportunities, security or prestige, these college graduates seek balance. They want their jobs to reflect who they want to be and the lifestyle they want to live, one that might include training for a 5K or giving back to the community.

 

Fortunately for the 2014 grads, they are the first generation that can easily expect to find a telecommuting or remote job in their fields, according to FlexJobs.com, a website designed to help people find flexible work options. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, said almost every flexible position on her website has entry position levels — and college graduates are applying for them. Many pay salaries equal to onsite positions.

“Telecommuting options are a natural fit,” Fell says. “The younger generation is mobile by nature. They’ve grown up with technology and without having to do location-specific tasks.”

In compiling the best remote jobs for college grads, FlexJobs says some of the jobs to consider are accountant or bookkeeper, online teacher, market research analyst, computer systems analyst, business consulting, data entry positions and customer service posts. “With flexible work, we’re seeing a real broadening of types of opportunities available at all levels,” Fell says.



 

 

May 01, 2014

Should we really care about a positive reputation at work?

Today, I was reading a press release and I found myself declaring out loud that it was just a big bunch of B.S. 

The topic was how to have a good personal reputation in the workplace. 

The release says:  "A good reputation is much more than simply being a hard worker; how you behave both as an individual, and with others, directly impacts your professional growth."

I'd like to think this is true. But look at the people who lead companies today and you are likely to find real jerks. Unfortunately having a reputation as a jerk often is overlooked if the person is a rainmaker or an innovative leader.

The release went on to say, "Understanding the value in showing gratitude, handling conflict in an appropriate manner, and simply being friendly, are all essential characteristics to a positive reputation in the workplace."

To that I say, having a reputation for being friendly gets you nowhere. Sometimes, it even gets you passed over for a promotion -- particularly if you are a woman. I have heard men say, "She's not up to the job. She's too nice."

All of us, or at least most of us, want to be known as a valuable employee. And, some of us want to be viewed as leadership material. While being friendly can help you make the connections that land you a job or a promotion, it's what you do with those connections that matter. To me, having a good personal reputation at work is less critical to advancement than being someone the boss or client can trust to get a job done well or someone who comes up with a great idea and acts on it. I'd like to say that requires people skills. But often it doesn't.

Being friendly, handling conflict well, showing appreciation....those are nice qualities but unfortunately not always the ones that tend to lead to advancement.

What are your thoughts about reputation? How important do you think it is to be "friendly" at work?

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2014

Surviving a tyrant boss

Inside one of Miami's most interesting art museums lurked a tyrant boss whose behavior made her staff dread coming to work. The boss' behavior was so horrendous that former employees say working at the museum was akin to being trapped in a psychological torture chamber.

This is what the employees allege their tyrant boss did:

* Insult an employee in front of everyone .

* MaKe workers afraid to come to work because they were unsure of her state of mind.

* Bully workers on a personal level and call them stupid

At one point, this boss was asked to work on her people skills with a professional coach. But at some point, she stopped meeting with the coach. Some say she actually became worse.

If any of you have worked for a boss who speaks to you with a condescending tone or criticizes you publicly, you probably feel the frustration of these museum workers.

An article in yesterday's Miami Herald draws an interesting picture of what went on behind the public displays at Florida International University's Wolfsonian Museum and it reminded me how much leverage a boss holds over our professional and personal well being.

When questioned about employee accusations against her, this boss claimed that getting the Wolfsonian Museum recognized as a hip up and comer on the arts scene required long hours and sometimes stressful working conditions. Does that sound familiar to those of you whose boss claims that he or she is the only one who is keeping the business afloat? 

Must you be a tyrant to lead your business to success? Steve Jobs was tyrant. The business world is famous for its difficult bosses. But there are plenty of bosses who prove that a more colloborative style is equally as successful.

Today, there are lots of employees cheering the end of the 17-year reign of this museum director. Yes, it took 17 years for her to fall from grace -- even after repeated complaints to human resources. Of course, by now, most of the employees with any sanity left have quit.

So, what if you don't have 17 years to spend with someone who makes your work life miserable? What if you don't want to dread coming to work on Monday? 

Changing jobs is always an option. When it comes to keeping your sanity and your stress levels in check, it's an important option. Now that job market is rebounding, it might be a good time to put feelers out. 

Another option might be to have a sit down with someone who has influence on your tyrant boss -- a company owner, a big customer, an investor, a managing partner. This is risky. But it can work if complaints are posed as problems with solutions and issues are posed as hurdles to the success of the company or department.

 

As for the tyrant boss/museum director who is now unemployed, I wonder if she has learned her lesson or still considers herself a fabulous leader.  I wonder if she will change her leadership style in her next job. I can't see it happening but I don't want to rule out the possibility for reform.

Have any of you seen a horrible boss who was able to be reformed? Do you think this woman's reputation as a tyrant will prevent her from getting another job?  How did you handle being bullied at work and did you outlast your bully boss?

 

 

 

April 24, 2014

Managing work and life as you move up the ladder

 

What if you’re the middle manager and your boss is making your staff miserable? What if his or her actions are wreaking havoc on everyone’s work life balance?  Do you confront him or her with constructive criticism? Or, do you direct your staff the way you want and ignore your boss’ behavior?

Yesterday, I got up close and personal with Leading Women in Broward, an initiative led by Laurie Sallarulo of the Leadership Broward Foundation. About 50 women were at the program and I heard some pretty interesting answers to the questions above. The discussion centered on managing up and down, taking risks, balance work and family and ascending to leadership.

 I learned that work life balance is a constant struggle for all business women at all career stages, and that being successful in most careers will require some politicking and risk taking.

Here are some things successful women shared that I found helpful:

  1. Have a mission statement. Make sure it includes what you live by now and what you aspire to live by. Stay focused on it. Keep it on your computer desktop so you can remind yourself what you should be focused on when you stray from your mission or find yourself climbing the ladder up the wrong wall?
  2. Leaders eat last – When you put your people or your team first, they become the kind of team that wants to follow you.
  3. Take risks – Have the attitude that you will try things. If a risk goes south, recognize it, get out and don’t be afraid to try again.
  4. Speak up carefully – sometimes you have to manage your boss. That means picking your battles, pausing and thinking carefully about the outcome you want to achieve.

 

Travisano (1)The highlight of the program was Jackie Travisano, executive vice president & COO of Nova Southeastern University. Jackie shared her amazing story of becoming a single mom at a young age,  pursuing her MBA degree, working as an accountant, remarrying, going to work in her husband’s business, landing jobs in higher education with progressively more responsibility, and making lots of tough decisions and personal sacrifices along the way. Today she manages thousands of employees and 11 departments. She also reports to NSU’s president and is accountable to all university stakeholders.



Here is her advice on managing up and down:

  1. When you’re at a crossroads, listen to your gut. Don’t let fear take over when you can achieve greatness.
  2. The key to managing lots of departments is to hire great people.  No one leader can compensate for an underperformer.
  3. Only attend meetings you need to be at. Let your people handle as much as they can.
  4. Lean In, but listen. Don’t react to those above you until you have truly listened. Find the right time to speak and do so confidently.
  5. When life doesn’t work out as planned, that’s okay. It’s great to have goals, but let life happen.
  6. There will be sacrifices that come along with leadership. Having the right ear can help make changes that make the workplace better for all.
  7. Have a sounding board, a champion, someone who will encourage you to reach for the stars.

 

What have been your experiences as a middle manager? How do you handle upper level management when those below you are complaining? When is it worth the risk to speak up? And, what do you think is the key to being a good leader?

March 11, 2014

Dealing with Workplace Drama

Have you ever dreaded going to work because you don't want to deal with the drama going on at the office? 

One day, riding to the office, I just knew there was going to be a big scene because my co-worker was going to publicly tell another colleague that she had enough of his slacking. Of course, the slacker was someone she had dated who had dumped her. Such drama! 

Expert Marlene Chism says those who say, “I don’t do drama,” usually have the most drama. She also says drama manifests in different forms, and all of us experience our fair share of it. Ignoring, avoiding or denying drama only increases its power, she says.

Today, Marlene is my guest blogger. She is an international speaker, consultant, leadership coach and author of Stop Workplace Drama (Wiley 2011). She is currently working on her next book, From Drama to Enlightenment, Leadership Skills for Transforming Culture. Marlene, whose website is stopworkplacedrama.comoffers advice that all of us can use. 

Marlene

Improving Workplace Relationships: Three Responses to Dealing with Drama

There are many habits that can contribute to workplace drama.

One habit is taking the bait. It’s those times when you put your foot in your mouth, or you get drawn into an argument or communication exchange that you later regret, yet it happens again and again. It’s like you are a big carp swimming in a river and you see this juicy worm and you bite the hook. The other person is the fisherman who reels you in.

Even when you learn to identify the bait and swim right past that juicy worm, a few miles downstream you see a juicy piece of cheesecake and before you know it, you are being reeled in again.

It seems those who love to pull our triggers know just what bait to use. If you get wise to the worm, they figure cheesecake will work.

You mother knows how to bait the hook. When you call her, she answers with “Well hello stranger!”  Her innuendo of calling you “stranger” is manipulation to make you feel guilty for not calling more often. Yep, she knows just how to reel you in. It works every time.

In your professional life it’s the employee who shows up in your office with yet, another major life catastrophe that keeps her from performing. You feel sorry, offer some leniency and your kindness backfires. She calls in sick the next day.

If you want to stop being reeled in, here are the steps for improving workplace relationships:

1. Awareness
You must first recognize the trigger. If you can recognize the pattern, you can be prepared for the next time.

2. Offer No Reaction

Avoid the temptation to get the last word or to prove the other person wrong. Don’t resort to sarcasm or defensiveness. Simply take a breath and offer no response.

3. Listen and Acknowledge
To listen so the other person feels heard, acknowledge their emotion without agreeing with the content. Here are three examples:

*Wow. That must feel terrible.

*It sounds like you are frustrated with me. (Breathe)

*Sounds like you need some space.

In the workplace, it helps to have the compassion to listen but the wisdom to not get drawn into drama.