March 24, 2015

HBO''s GIRLS producer talks workplace dos and don'ts

 

Whether or not you are a fan of HBO's GIRLS, the hit show with Lena Dunham, I think you will enjoy this Glamour Step Into My Office Segment with executive producer Jennifer Konner. It has some great career advice from Jennifer on how to negotiate salary, demand equal pay and create a fun working environment. Jennifer also addresses whether it is okay to cry at work and discloses her workplace policies.

I would want to work for Jennifer Konner. Let me know if you feel that way, too.

March 20, 2015

On International Day of Happiness, lots to think about

Happy

 

 

Today is International Day of Happiness and it's making me wonder: Is there too much pressure on us to be happy?

The prior generations worked hard at home, in manufacturing plants, in offices. They found happiness in small moments when family or friends were gathered around the dinner table or sitting out on the porch. Today, we're so busy. There is so much pressure on us to make money, eat healthy, exercise, respond to what's on our smartphones. We're supposed to do everything on our to-do lists, help solve world problems, raise super-motivated kids and be super happy.

Have we set ourselves up to fall short?

I just read an article in the New York Times about a new play on Broadway, a revival of Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles. The headline of the article read: A Debate of the '80s, Motherhood vs. Career, Still Resonates. Even as more women work than stay at home, we still are debating whether we can have it all. We have put tremendous pressure on ourselves to have amazing work lives and happy home lives. 

And, on top of that, we can't even manage to allow ourselves time off to take real vacations. 

“Americans are among the world’s worst vacationers,” said John de Graaf, President of Take Back Your Time. “According to U.S. Travel Association, some 40 percent of Americans leave an average of seven or more days of paid vacation on the table every year."

Why can't we slow down and allow ourselves to be happy? Is our struggle for work life balance standing in the way of our happiness?

We need to look at what's standing in the way of our happiness in our personal and wife lives.  It requires introspection and maybe some rethinking of the definition of happiness.

Experts tell us the obstacle to a happier life could be ourselves, or someone else. In the workplace, we tend to be unhappy when we clash with our boss or co-worker. At home we tend to be unhappy when our expectations from our friends, relatives or children aren't met.

Regardless, we have the power to improve the lines of communication, lower our expectations, and tell others what we need from them. 

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, believes we can tinker with our small habits to create more happiness in our lives. I think we can all be happier if we stop putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect, happy people who are elated and confident every moment of every day.

On this International Day of Happiness, I'm issuing all of you a challenge: Come up with one small change you can make that will increase your level of happiness. Take a vacation day, refuse to let a co-worker ruin your work experience, ask your spouse for help with chores, take up a new hobby, allow yourself to make mistakes. Most important, notice when you are happy and recreate that experience as often as possible.

I'm planning to allow myself time each day to power down and live in the moment. I'm convinced that will help me feel happier.

What are your thoughts on happiness?

Are too many of us just getting through our lives without examining whether we are happy? If you've made a change that has increased your happiness level, please share!

March 18, 2015

Pat Pineda: How She Got to the Top at Toyota

IMG_2247

 

 

 

 

At 63, Patricia Salas Pineda is a bundle of energy as she runs around Miami this week representing Toyota at one of the nation's largest Hispanic events, Hispanicize. This mother of three has spent 30 years at Toyota and holds a key spot as one of the highest ranking women and THE highest ranked Hispanic at the company. She is in Miami because she leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group, which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community.

Pat talked with me about how she got to the top of her company and offered advice to other women.

Most important, she says, plotting a successful career path involves being open to opportunities within different areas of a company. In her case, during her 30 years at Toyota, she has held positions in the legal department, with the Toyota Foundation and now she is group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America  “I feel fortunate to have spent my career with a company that supported my career and offered me different opportunities.”

Pineda says she became a Latina executive in an industry where there were very few women holding senior positions. Some acquaintances called her a “trailblazer.” Her family and friends used another word to describe my career choice: “crazy.”

I prodded Pat to find out just how she managed the climb at Toyota while raising three children.

This trailblazer was with Toyota a decade before having children, which she says allowed her to prove herself and become confident in her role. “I was one of the first female managers and proud to be among a group of women throughout Toyota’s companies who were moving up through the ranks.”

Having help at home and a supportive husband who worked from home helped with the work life juggle. “It made my situation much easier. But that’s not to say it was without challenges.” Her children now are 28, 27 and 22 and she’s optimistic about other women at her company successfully balancing work and family. “It is possible to enjoy a family life and have a successful career.” 

Pat sees positive changes ahead for working parents, particularly because of the mindset of young managers in her workplace. “The younger men want to be more engaged fathers. They are less reluctant about taking time to go to their son or daughter’s event. I think that’s helpful because they are more sensitive to others with demands at home.”

In her rise to leadership, Pat was guided by male mentors inside and outside of her company. She came in contact with those outside her company through board positions. “Serving on external boards gave them an opportunity to observe me in action. They were able to help me obtain other key board positions.”

Today, Pat serves on the Board of Directors for Levi Strauss & Co. and is a Corporate Advisory Board Member for National Council of La Raza and an Alumni Trustee for The Rand Corporation.

With the benefit of hindsight, Pat says she would tell young mothers not to worry about what others might think about their choices. She remembers worrying about who might see her leaving for a medical appoint or whether to work from home because it was the nanny’s day off. “I wish I had worried less because it was really unnecessary.”

By staying with Toyota, Pat has brought the company tremendous value. She was chosen as one of the 25 most powerful Latinas by People en Español in 2014: “Across the roles I have had, I've been good at developing external relationships that have been helpful to the company.” Her relationships span from the Hispanic community, to the non-profit world, to elected officials to the media. “I have shared with them the wonderful things Toyota is doing. I think that’s why the company has been so supportive.”

Often, Pat finds herself counseling young mothers who are thinking of leaving the workplace. “I tell them, 'don’t make that decision now.' ” Most women have thanked her for encouraging them to “hang in there” and have gone on to success in their jobs. “That’s not to say staying doesn’t have consequences but I think a lot of women make that decision sooner than is prudent.”

 

Pat Pineda’s Career Climb From present to past:

* Group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. She leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group (HBSG), which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community

* Head of the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation, overseeing national philanthropy efforts

* Toyota Motor North America group vice president of corporate communications and general counsel.

* Vice president of human resources, government and legal affairs and corporate secretary for New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), the corporate joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors Corporation,

 

March 13, 2015

Would you want a work life do-over? Hitting a milestone birthday

  50

This weekend I hit a huge milestone in life. I’m turning 50! 

That sounds old, doesn’t it?

Turning 50 marks a shift – physically and emotionally: My back aches a little. My flexibility is not what it was just a decade ago. My children are growing up, my parents are growing old and my home is getting emptier.

On the up side, I’m alive, healthy, working and happily married.

I look around and I see people accomplishing amazing feats in their later years of life. They are starting businesses, mentoring young professionals and advancing in their companies. They are traveling, taking up new hobbies and enjoying their romantic relationships in ways they didn’t have time for while raising their young children or that they put off for later.

Seeing others embrace their senior years has inspired me. When I recently read this week about Patrick Pichette, the 52-year old CFO of Google, who unexpectedly said he was retiring to get to the fun stuff he kept putting off for later in life, I understood where he was coming from.

Like most people my age, I have more wrinkles than I did a few years ago. I’m not going to lie, that bothers me.  But I also have a lot more confidence, direction and a new appreciation for the people in my life. 

After 50 years, I know now that fun and happiness are ageless. Betty While sure looks like she’s having a great time! At 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, fulfilling her longtime dream -- and she's has lots more on her bucket list.

When I look at my peers, I see how easy it can be to get caught up in our Inboxes, our social media accounts, our work projects, and let the stress of our jobs overwhelm us. With half a century behind me, I’m beginning to realize life is too short to waste time being stressed or unsure of our priorities.

I ask myself: If offered a do over, would I take it? The answer is no. 

By now, I also have learned that life is not fair, that awful things happen to wonderful people and sometimes even courage and will power aren’t enough to defeat the odds. It’s that perspective that makes work life balance worth striving to obtain!

 

When I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, I will appreciate the blessings in my life and look forward to the great years ahead. There are no do-overs but there are all kinds of opportunities for 50 years olds who are open to taking them. That will be me, and if you’re creeping up on 50 -- or hitting another milestone in your life --  I hope it will be you too.

 

March 11, 2015

How to manage your boss

 

                                                    Managing-up


Have you ever walked in the door of your home grumpy because your boss spoke to you in a condescending manner or didn't think to include you in a meeting or assigned someone else a key project you wanted to be part of? We all bring our work aggravation home, it's just what we do.

Most of us realize our  relationship with our boss can be critical to our sanity, our income, our advancement, and our work life balance. That's why managing up is a workplace skill. It can make us more valued or appreciated by even the most demanding boss.

What exactly is managing up? It's not the same as sucking up.

Managing up is good communication, says Jay Starkman, CEO of Engage PEO, a Fort Lauderdale HR services provider. “It’s making sure that your manager is getting from you what they need in order to do their job and look good to their boss.” By managing up, you deliver information in the style and manner your manager prefers, “not the way you would want it if you were in their position.”

Starkman encourages his staffers to manage up by sending him regular emails. If there are problems, he wants his employees to communicate them but also include solutions. He believes people who manage up are more effective, and happier in their jobs, because they are working as a team with their boss.

Managing up is thinking ahead and responding to the boss's needs before he has to ask for something. It's bringing a problem to his attention with a solution. It's going beyond the tasks your manager has assigned to you so that you can enhance his work.

Even if you have a difficult boss, you still can manage up.

With a difficult manager, learn his pet peeves or preferences: “You need to ask: What are expectations? What do you think I can do to set myself up for more success?” explains Marla Grant, a Miami certified coach, strategic advisor and professional speaker. Employees who make the effort can change the dynamics of a troubled relationship: “It doesn’t happen overnight,” Grant says. “But you can create room for a shift if your boss sees you as valuable to them or someone who makes them look good."

Along with advancement, managing up can lead to better work/life balance. Sandra Fine, vice president at RBB Public Relations in Miami, has reports and a boss. As a manager, she appreciates when her staff manages up by communicating when they will be out for a while and how they have covered their accounts. “I’m an email person, a much better reader than listener. I like knowing the details are taken care of and my employee is not leaving things on my plate to figure out.”

If you’ve built a relationship and good communication, a manager will give you leeway when you need to work from home, or turn down a promotion, or trust you when you take a new approach with a client,” Grant says. “If don’t have that, a boss will be more judgmental. That’s what managing up is about.”

Do you manage up? Do you see managing up as much different than sucking up?

 

 

 

March 05, 2015

Improve work life balance: Tricks to manage your inbox

BoomerangSendLater-1

 

 

As someone who constantly struggles with managing my Inbox, I was thrilled when Chris Cichon of Baydin, maker of productivity software, asked to be a guest blogger and share tips. Deleting email and clearing the clutter is a goal that seems impossible to keep up with on a regular basis. I'm game for ANYTHING that can help.

Here are Chris's suggestions:

In a recent episode of his podcast, Alex Blumberg, producer for This American Life and co-founder of Planet Money, admitted to having over 78,934 unread emails in his inbox. If you printed out every one of his unread emails on one sheet of paper and stacked them on top of each other, it would be almost 13 feet high and would weigh in at over 780 pounds! Having unread email piling up in your inbox can often feel like you are carrying all of that weight on your back. It doesn’t have to be this way!

As the makers of one of the top email productivity tools, Boomerang for Gmail, we study a lot about the email and productivity habits of highly successful email users. One of our best tips is paradoxically to check your email less frequently. A study that was recently published found that email users who check their email three times a day rather than more often end up sending and receiving approximately the same amount of email, but do so in 20% less time.

You can send and receive the same amount of emails in 20% less time by checking your email less often. 

If you need help building up the discipline of checking your email less, use Inbox Pause to have your email batch delivered to your inbox at set times.

 

Ultimate  Email Workflow: A majority of our users find this to be the most efficient email workflow. Using this method, you should be able to clear through 51 emails in a 20-minute session, meaning even if you get 150 emails a day you shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour managing your email.

With every message, you can take one of four actions: Respond, Archive, Delete, or Defer. As a reminder, we recommend checking email only a few times a day, and go through all of the emails in your inbox during these sessions. Leave emails that require substantial work for the end of these sessions.

 

Respond: David Allen is a time management guru made famous from his book and methodology of Getting Things Done. He has a great best practice that can be applied to email that he coins ‘The 2-Minute Rule.’ As you go through your inbox, if you can respond to a message in 2 minutes or less, respond then and archive it.

 

Archive: If the email is something you have already taken care of, just an FYI from a colleague, or doesn’t need a response - archive it and move onto the next message. You’ll always be able to search for it later, and with the powerful search features built into email clients, it will be much faster than scanning through your cluttered inbox.

Note: The term ‘archive’ means slightly different things in Gmail and Outlook - we are referring to the Gmail version where it moves the message out of your inbox, but it’s still searchable. If you are using Outlook, we recommend creating a folder called ‘Done’ or ‘Old’ and moving the message there instead.

 

Delete: This is pretty straight forward, but if you won’t even need the email again - such as an old calendar invite or spam message - send it to the trash and be done with it!

 

Defer: You may not be able to answer every email right now because you are waiting on more information or it concerns something that you need to handle in the future like a flight confirmation. Use Boomerang to defer (or snooze) these messages until the time when you have the information you need or are ready to address them.

Boomerang will move the message out of your inbox and bring it back right at the top at the exact time that you specify.

If you need some help sticking to these suggestions, use The Email Game - it’s a free product that integrates into Gmail and gamifies email workflow. It uses a timer to provide a sense of urgency and awards you points as you work through your inbox to keep you motivated.

 

Other Email Tips: The data from millions of emails shows that people are more likely to read (and respond) to your emails if you send it between 6am and 7am. This isn’t always convenient though, especially if you aren’t a morning person. Thankfully, you can use Boomerang for Gmail to schedule your emails for a later delivery. Scheduling an email to send later is particularly handy if you are a night owl who enjoys working late at night, but don’t want your colleagues or clients to know that you’re working on their presentation at 2am.

Boomerang can also automatically remind you if you haven’t received a reply to an email, so you’ll never forget to follow up again.

 

Take Action: Hopefully these tools and techniques can help you be better at time management and find a good work/life balance.

 

What are your favorite email productivity tips?

March 04, 2015

How to handle a hot head boss

                                            Boss

 

 

Does your boss yell?

I have worked for a yeller. My friend currently works for a yeller. It's awful and if you let the screaming get to you, it likely will make you hate your job.

Here's what might be going on: 82% of those selected for management roles don’t have the competence to effectively execute their role, according to a report on Fox News. Given these disturbing facts it’s no wonder new manager’s get frustrated -- and yell!

But for those of us on the other side of the screaming, it can be stressful and upsetting. It can make us start to dislike a job that we otherwise would enjoy. It can mess with our work life balance because we take that stress home -- and even take it out on the people around us.

Michael Woodward, also known as Dr. Woody, is certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University (FIU) Center for Leadership.  He offered these tips for how to cope. I added one of my own.

Don’t Take it Personally: Often these yelling boss doesn’t intend their rants to be taken personally. They are likely reacting out of frustration and may not even be aware of how damaging their behavior to morale. Even in those cases where the yelling boss does get personal, the best thing to do is pull yourself back and focus on the facts. Use evidence as your guide and try to keep emotion out of it. Consider what you did well and what you can do better. 

Never Take the Bait: Never match the tone and tenor of a yelling boss as this will only result in an unhealthy escalation. Once you take the bait you lose you effectively give your power away by acknowledging the rationale of their tone. The best thing you can do is stay calm and just let them burn themselves out! (Cindy's note: I've tried this approach. It works!)

Seek Out Guidance: If the yelling boss can’t actually answer the question of “what do you want me to do?” they aren’t managing, they are just venting frustration. In this case, wait until the dust settles and then seek them out to get some direction on what they actually want you to do in moving forward. Before you approach him or her, be sure to have some ideas on what you can do to make-up for whatever real or imagined problem that caused the situation. 

Don't Put Up with Personal Insults: It's one thing for a boss to scream about an action or behavior, it's another to dish out a personal insult. "You're a moron" is a hurtful statement. When the boss calms down, make it clear that constructive criticism with a clear direction for how to do something better is okay, a put down on a personal level is not.

As Dr. Woody notes: At the end of the day people leave bosses not jobs.If you find yourself the victim of a yelling boss, do your best to not take it personally, be sure to avoid getting drawn in, and find a way to ask for positive direction in moving forward. 

March 02, 2015

Where are all the women law partners?

To say I'm disgusted is an understatement.

My fellow journalist, Julie Kay at the Daily Business Review, reported today that between lateral hires and promotions, Greenberg Traurig, a national law firm headquartered in Miami, named 18 new South Florida partners in the past year.

Seventeen were men.

Julie notes that by comparison, of the 24 new South Florida partners named by Akerman Senterfitt in the same period, seven are women, both laterals and promotions. That's a small number too, but at least it's better than the ratio at Greenberg.

So, what the heck is going on? Will the male partners have the nerve to say that women opt out of the partnership track because of work life issues? That's an excuse I've been hearing for decades from male leaders at law firms.  

Nationally, the percent of women law partners is slim. In a 2014 Catalyst Women in Law Survey of the 50 best law firms for women, only 19 % of the equity partners were women. The survey also shows women lawyers made 78.9% of men lawyers’ salaries in 2013.

In a statement, here is what Greenberg Traurig CEO Richard Rosenbaum told Julie: "Our annual election of new partners is based on a system of meritocracy. While we always strive to provide opportunities for a diverse group of attorneys, each year that number may fluctuate based on the pool of candidates under consideration."

Boy, that's some fluctuation because at most firms nearly 50 percent of their associates are women. I believe some women don't want to become partner, opting out for work life reasons, but let's be real...those Greenberg numbers for new female partners should be MUCH higher. 


Deborah Baker, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, expressed disappointment at Greenberg Traurig's lopsided partner gender split in South Florida.

She told Julie: "Often there are subtle exclusions of women that prevent them from rising in the ranks, and I hope that Greenberg Traurig will engage in a meaningful examination of its own firm culture and the steps it is taking to ensure that women are able to achieve the levels of professional success that their male counterparts do."

I called Deborah Baker to get some ideas for what firms can do differently. 

One of the big challenges, she says, is societal: men need to take a bigger role in parenting. "It can't always be mom making sure the sick kid gets to the pediatrician.  Society needs to recognize there are two parents and both need to give each other's career equal priority."

I agree with Deborah. Yet, I wonder what kind of reaction a male lawyer gets when he says he needs to stay home with a sick child. (Can't your wife do it?)

In addition, Deborah believes law firm culture needs to change.  She said firms need to put their senior male partners in charge of diversity. "They need to stop looking to women to handle HR and diversity issues. They are giving the women things that take time and they don't get credit for...if diversity is important, the message needs to come from the top."

I asked Deborah what she thinks of the usual rationalization by law firm leaders that women take themselves off the partnership track. "Some women do take themselves out. Some men don't want to be partners either. But if law firms and corporations value women in leadership roles, we all need to change the expectation that mom is the only parent capable of caring for a sick child. If there's equal parenting, firms will provide flexibility for men and women and help them get through the years when their kids are young. "

Still, Deborah insists the biggest obstacle for females to making shareholder is firm culture. "Law firms are pretending they are banging their heads against the wall and honestly it's not that complicated. When the head of litigation takes male associates out and women aren't invited, when it comes time to dole out the great work assignments, he is going to give it to the people he is friendly with, the people he socializes with - the men. That culture needs to end, and it's not ending. It still goes on."

Readers, what are your thoughts on Greenberg's lopsided new group of South Florida shareholders? What do you think needs to change for women who want to advance to actually reach partnership level? Is it law firm management's responsibility to advance more women, or is there something women need to do differently?

(The Good Wife's Alicia Flores has had her battles) 

  Goodwife

February 24, 2015

How to land a new job when you're pregnant

Recently, I watched a random episode of the House of Lies. It was my first time watching the show and Kristen Bell's character, Jeannie Van Der Hooven,  was pregnant. In the show, she plays a high powered management consultant whose firm is being investigated by the Feds. So, Van Der Hooven decides to explore her career options. That's when a recruiter pal tells her no one is going to hire her when she's pregnant. In fact, the recruiter quite bluntly advises her to stay put.

I found it realistic and disturbing.


Mary-Ellen-Slayter0008.vu_Today, my guest blogger Mary Ellen Slayter,CEO/Founder of Reputation Capital Media Services and Monster.com's HR and Careers Expert. She shares her advice for finding a job while pregnant and believes the key is to know your rights and have a plan in place before you head out to an interview. 

She offers this advice:

Looking for a job when you’re pregnant can feel like a huge challenge. If you’re not showing yet, you may feel like you need to hide the fact that you’re pregnant and will soon need some time off. If you are showing, you may feel like going through job interviews aren’t even worth it. But it’s not impossible to get a job while you’re pregnant. Here’s what you need to know.

Laws protect you

 

It’s important to remember the law is on your side when you’re interviewing while pregnant. “Laws protect pregnant applicants from discrimination and employers cannot require you to disclose your pregnancy,” says Cynthia Thomas Calvert, an employment lawyer and president of Workforce 21C.

 

Of course, your situation may be obvious. “Applicants may not be able to hide a pregnancy, or they may feel that it is better to disclose so that if they are hired they do not start their employment under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.”

Make a plan

 

Calvert says pregnancy discrimination is often based on assumptions about how pregnant women will or should act as employees, such as being too tired or too sick to work, taking off too much time, having "pregnancy brain" and not being committed to their job. “These biases may be open and blatant, or hidden and unconscious. Regardless, they affect the hiring process.”

 

She suggests saying things along the lines of, “I enjoy being a sales manager, and I want you to know that if you hire me, I will work very hard to be the best manager I can be. I am very committed to my career and to helping people who work with me to do their best. I know that we will have to work out some logistics based on my pregnancy, and I have some ideas for how we can do that.”

Believe in yourself

 

You are interviewing for new jobs because you believe you can do them. Let that shine through, says Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer at Talent Think Innovations LLC. “I was six months pregnant with my oldest child when I got a new job,” she says. “My advice is to have the same confidence in your abilities during pregnancy that you would if you weren't pregnant. Don't let pregnancy create unnecessary insecurities that make an employer start to second guess you.”

 

Finding a woman-friendly environment can help. “I have hired two women while they were pregnant. Three other women announced they were pregnant shortly after I hired them,” says Kassy Perry, president and CEO of Perry Communications Group.  She says men have asked her why she would hire a pregnant woman. “As a mother of two adult daughters, I typically chuckle and tell them that I didn’t realize pregnancy was a terminal illness and I guess I’m lucky to be back at work and successful after having two children.”

 

Readers, have you ever had to job hunt while pregnant? If so, what was that experience like? Managers, have you ever considered a candidate who was pregnant? What circumstances would lead you to hire that person? 

February 23, 2015

Do you really want honest feedback?

Most of us tell ourselves we want feedback at work -- until we actually receive it. It's kind of like when we ask our spouse if a certain pair of pants makes us look fat. We aren't actually okay with the answer being yes.

Now, employers are asking managers to ease up on harsh feedback for their staff. At a time when younger workers want ongoing feedback, they want the managers to accentuate the positive instead of negative. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

While positive feedback definitely helps with motivation, I want to know the honest truth about where I stand. If something I'm doing is holding me back in my job or career, I want to know it, just like I would want to know if I'm walking around in pants that make me look fat.

There are nice ways to deliver the harsh truth. Good managers have mastered the art of giving truthful feedback in a constructive way. Of course, not every manager has skills to find a constructive way to tell someone he or she is not assertive enough or productive enough or focused enough to get ahead.  While criticism may be awful to hear, if something I'm doing is standing in the way of a raise, promotion or plumb assignment, I want to my manager to empower me correct it.  Having a manager give me only the positive is not going to be enough to open my eyes to the need to change my behavior.

As Talent Management Magazine notes: In a perfect world — and with a perfect employee —  focusing only on the positive is likely effective. But sometimes — and in specific industries — being a little tough can be beneficial as well, especially with an employee who perhaps has taken advantage of a "nice" manager and whose work has suffered as a result.

One boss I know always gives negative feedback. No one wants to work for her. That's not a great approach either. I have seen it lead to bad morale.

I want my manager to extol my strengths and heap praise on me for what I'm doing well, but I also want him or her to be honest about real or perceived weaknesses that might be holding me back. If I'm a remote worker and the perception is that I don't work hard, I want to know that so I can do something about it. If I see myself as a leader and no one else does, I want to know that, too, so I don't put in long hours and become frustrated when it doesn't lead to advancement.

Providing the right kind of truthful feedback -- which includes strengths and weaknesses -- separates a mediocre manager from a great one. A really great manager might tell me how to use my strengths to improve my weaknesses.

What are your thoughts on feedback from the boss? Do you only want to hear the good stuff? Do you think allowing a manager to give critical feedback is opening the door for bad morale?