How to Keep Your Job From Driving You Crazy

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We all have them. The times when our job is getting on our last nerve. Or we are being kept awake at night re-hashing some workplace drama in our mind. Hardly any of us escape those times, even if we basically love our jobs.

So is there a way that we can keep ourselves safe from these teeth-on-edge times? Well, yes, there is. Mostly when we find ourselves up at night, or in mental disarray, it always goes back to one thing—a relationship or more than one that is just not working.

Tough Times at Work Often Relate to Relationship Breakdowns

When I think back to some of the times in my career that had me tied in knots, they are all related to a relationship breakdown in some way. Some examples: I had a co-manager (who ever thought of such an arrangement was nuts—but that’s for another day.) This co-manager did not get the concept of ‘co’ and figured he was really in charge of the whole department. Thus, I had to constantly fight for my place.

Then in another job I was a brand spanking new manager whose staff thought I did not know a thing about managing people. The truth was that I had been a manager in another company so I was not totally clueless. However, they did not know this, whaving not been at that other company.

Which Work Relationships Could Benefit From Some TLC?

So what are your job crazy-makers? Betcha a bunch of money that they can all be traced back to a relationship or two that’s not in good order or that could benefit from a little TLC.

How do you do that? Understanding that the quality of the relationship (or lack of) is the first step. Then having the intention to do what it takes to make the relationship workable is what you need to do next. And the of course, you’ll need to take some action.

This is What I Did

So in the case of the co-manager from hell, I had to go into the lion’s den and stand up for myself. In the absence of my setting my own boundaries my colleague was perfectly happy to run rough-shod over me. However, once I set my guidelines and expectations, things became a lot better. Which brings me to another point. You don’t have to like another person in your workplace to make the relationship work better. It’s really nice if you do and a lucky circumstance, but it’s really not necessary. Improving a relationship at work—even with someone you don’t particularly like (and let’s face it, you’re not going to like everyone you work with, nor they you) can make your workplace a lot less crazy-making. Heck, it might even make it a place you enjoy spending time in…what a concept!

As for my staff who didn’t respect my potential as their manager, I chipped away at each person—spending time with them, listening to their concerns and roadblocks, and supporting them where I could. By the time I left that job three years later, there was a high level of trust and respect among all of us.

Don’t Forget About the Good Ones

So if you’re in one of your crazy-making periods, think about what relationships need  bolstering. And think about the good ones you have in place. When things go wrong, it’s always good to have someone to share that with who has your back. There’s nothing better than that.

Here’s a Book On the Subject

And in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, (or maybe not shameless), I should mention that I have co-authored a book on this very topic.  If you think that you might benefit from some reading on the topic, try this link: Relationships That Work, Work That Matters

Do your best to fix those crazy-making relationships. You spend too manymnay hours of your life at work to be unhappy there. Really…

If you’d like workplace success coaching, visit my web site and schedule a coaching information session to get started. No More Drama At Work.com

Do You Realize You Have a Customer?

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Were you startled by the question that’s the title of this post? If you are in the sales business you probably weren’t. You know you have a customer and you know who it is. But how about if you’re not in sales? Let’s say you’re an engineer, a communications manager, an administrative assistant, a plant manager, or any of thousands of other jobs that are not direct sales. Do you realize that you have a customer in every job you do, every task you complete?

Ignoring This Leads to Breakdowns

Whenever I’ve observed breakdowns in my consulting and coaching work with people, 9 times out of 10 it can be traced back to one of two things. Either the work relationships are in disarray or people are unclear about who the customer of a piece of work is and who’s the performer. Or both. And boy, can that lead to some messy, messy situations.

A Take-Charge Guy

Here’s an example.  Ed was a take-charge kind of guy. He firmly believed that he had the best judgment and approach to solve any problem. As a result, he believed he was the customer of any project—even if he was supposed to be the performer. He would automatically assume the role of customer and start delivering orders and expectations to everyone else. Can you imagine how this might have caused problems? Mostly it p—ed people off. But it also led to a huge case of gridlock in many cases. Because Ed was busy being the customer when he was supposed to be delivering a product, things did not get done in a timely way. And any work team he interacted with grew to be resentful of him and automatically stonewalled his efforts.

Figure Out the Roles

So to avoid the breakdowns when everyone thinks they are the customer or conversely when no one thinks they are the customer, it’s important to figure that out going in to any workflow.

The customer is the one who has made the request and who has a set of expectations and conditions of satisfaction for the final product. The performer is the person who says ‘Yes’ I’ll do that job and I’ll do it using your conditions of satisfaction as my guidelines.

A few years back I was working with Sharon who found herself on a committee that was working on producing some materials for her company. Only problem was that they could not get moving. Every meeting ended with a sense of having accomplished nothing and a lack of where the group was going to go next.

In a coaching session she was moaning about how frustrating it was to work with this group and how she dreaded the meetings. It happened that we were discussing the roles of the customer and the performer at that time, so I asked ‘Who is the customer?’

She couldn’t answer. But she resolved to ask that question at the next meeting. Well, lo and behold…everyone at the meeting thought they were the customer of the work. Amazingly, they were all setting out expectations and wondering why it didn’t happen. Gee, with all the customers in the room there was no one to do the work.

Sharon was amazed and overjoyed when the team was able to move forward once they identified  the customer of the work. Success!

Agreement is Important

All sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it is as long as there is agreement about who’s who. That’s the important element. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s not. If your boss makes a request of you, easy. If a group of your colleagues gets together and decides to do a project, not so easy. However until you know who the customer is, it’s going to be hard to move forward productively. In such a situation you’ll do a lot of chasing your own tail—better known as wasting your time—until that gets figured out.  And in some cases, it never does. These are the nightmare projects that take months longer than they should and sometimes just die a slow death, leaving everyone involved with a bad taste in their mouth.

The way this agreement gets figured out is to have a conversation about it. What a concept. You mean we should discuss the roles? Yeah, you should, actually you must if you’re going to get things going in the right direction. And while I’m on the topic of conversations, I’d like to give you another post that I did on knowing who you are really having conversations with . With Whom am I Speaking

This is Not Just for Large Projects

There’s a lot more to completing a successful workflow once you have identified the key players, but things fall into place much more easily if you realize that ANY piece of work needs a customer and a performer to make it go. This can be something as simple as updating an email, or deciding what room to use for your next meeting. Or it can be as complicated as installing a new data system in your company.

Any coordination of action between two or more people needs a customer and a performer. Try looking at these roles in some of your current workflows that have gone sideways and see if you don’t find things improving. And when you start a new project or even a small job, make sure everyone is clear on customer and performer.

Relationships That Work, Work That Matters

If you’d like to know more about this topic, there is an entire chapter on workflow and what makes a good one in my book, Relationships That Work, Work That Matters, available on Amazon.

Trust in the Workplace—Build It and Guard It

 

3780_394912580592380_115401052_nI have been embroiled in a family crisis for the last few months and it has not been a lot of fun. However, I’ve learned or rather re-learned one or two valuable lessons– which is a good thing. When you have to suffer through a difficult time, you may as well get something out of it besides insomnia!

Trust is the bedrock of all successful relationships

That is what is prompting the subject of this post—trust. Trust is the bedrock of all successful relationships. If the trust goes away, it takes something to re-build it and in the meantime, the relationship is rocky at best. And it makes no difference whether the relationship is in your personal life or at work. The principles of building trust in a relationship are the same. And trust in the workplace is essential to getting your job done more successfully and easily. Most of the time when breakdowns happen at work it’s because trust has been broken,on some level. Think of any problem that you are now having at work and I’ll bet that there is a relationship breakdown somewhere in the chain that could be fixed with a good dose of trust-building. [Read more…]

Office Politics: Naughty or Nice?

Navigating Office PoliticsI’ve been thinking a lot about office politics in the past couple of weeks. That’s because I’ve been creating an audio program on the subject. I chose that topic because office politics seems to be a term that strikes fear in the hearts of people who work in an organization. Whenever things go wrong for people in their jobs, they tend to blame it on office politics. And often they’re right.

But rather than blame the politics, I suggest making office politics your friend—at least as much as you can. Then, rather than dreading its effect on you and your career, you could learn to be a positive actor in the politics of your workplace. [Read more…]

Do You Have the Boss From Hell?

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Having hierarchical levels has pretty much become necessary in most companies. If you happen to work in a company that has no levels and no real bosses, then read no further unless you want to help out your buddy who does have the boss from hell.

Most bosses are people who have been promoted because they showed leadership promise and were interested in supervising and leading others. However, like the rest of the population, there are the occasional ‘bad actors’ who for whatever reason make life miserable to those who report to them.

Strategies to Stay Sane [Read more…]

Will Job Success Make You Happy or Will Being Happy Bring You Job Success?

 

How often have you thought to yourself something like, “If only I could get that promotion I’d be really happy in life.” Then lo and behold, you get the promotion and you’re just not as happy as you thought you’d be. The reason for this is that when we link our happiness to an external event or thing, we keep raising the bar for happiness.

Shawn Achor is a well-known author who writes about the nature of happiness. His book is called The Happiness Advantage. In a TED talk, he talks about how job success is directly linked to how happy we are. If you’d like to watch the video use this link:  Shawn Achor Ted Talk

Only 25 % of Job Success is Linked to IQ

[Read more…]

What’s Grammar Got To Do With Your Promotion?

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Grammar—-oooohh. Brings up images of that high school English teacher with the ever-present red pencil who wreaked havoc on every paper you wrote. Or those sentence diagrams or subject-verb agreement. But in the real world of business and jobs, even though grammar is seldom addressed, it really is important.

Grammar is part of your image…

As you are considered for the next level promotion, particularly if that’s a fairly high level in your company, how you present yourself becomes more and more important. And making good (including impeccable grammar) presentations, for example, is an important skill for supervisors, managers, and executives or anyone who aspires to be one.

One company I worked for put their executives though a ‘charm school’ training with consultants who specialized in polishing executives for the best possible impression. The course included public speaking, speaking to the press, wardrobe, and even dining etiquette…really.

If you want to climb the ladder, pay attention

If you have no aspirations to higher levels within your company/career, read no further. But if you aspire to higher levels of the corporate (or company) ladder, read on. I’m going to point out some of the most common (and annoying) grammatical errors that I hear people making.

· Lie and lay

These two verbs are virtually never used correctly by the average American speaker. The verb lay means to put or place NOT to recline. Here is an example of the correct usage: I will lay the paper on your desk when I find it. It is not correct to say, I’m going to lay down before dinner (which everyone does—except my son who was brainwashed from an early age.)

The past tense of lay is laid as in; I laid the book on my bedside table before I went to sleep.

Now onto lie. Lie means to recline as in; I try to lie down when I’m tired. But to make it even more confusing the past tense of lie is lay. Yesterday I lay down on the floor after hearing the bad news. In the preceding sentence, ‘laid’ would be incorrect. For a more in-depth analysis of lie and lay try this link:  Grammar Girl on Lie and Lay

And if you want to take a quiz to see how good you are– go here. Lie and Lay Quiz. Just learn to use it correctly, at least when you’re in a formal setting.

· I and me

Another common error I hear (and one that bugs me) is the use of I when me should be used. Here’s an example: Sarah left the invitation for John and I. Most people use I. I’m not sure why—I guess people were brainwashed at an early age to think me was undesirable in some way. The correct usage is Sarah left the invitation for John and me. If the sentence were changed to read John and I left the invitation for Sarah, then I would be correct.

Here’s an easy way to differentiate. When there is a compound subject or object (sorry to get so English teacher-y but that IS what it’s called) as in John and me in the above sentence, try taking out the first person named and saying the sentence. Sarah left the invitation for I. Sound right? NO. Sarah left the invitation for me. Yes, that’s it. Therefore that sentence is correct when it reads; Sarah left the invitation for John and me.

Now there is a rule for the correct usage which has to do with whether the pronoun is a subject or an object but you really don’t need to bother yourself with that if you use the method I described above. Capisce? (a little Italian throw in for variety)

Another closely related pronoun mishap is the use of myself. People in business do this all the time. Again I think that they believe it sounds more formal and therefore better somehow. An example: The boss called Tom and myself into to his office. Nope, not right. You know this one already, right? The boss called Tom and me into his office.

Myself is what is known as a reflexive pronoun. Correctly used it emphasizes the subject of the sentence. I often quote myself. So for the correct usage when you have a compound subject or object, just go back to the hint above and take out the first part of the compound to see what’s correct. If you’d like to read more about it go to Wiki and read this entry: Reflexive Pronouns

I could go on and on about the correct use of grammar and its impact on your image in the business arena, however, this is a post not a textbook. And I have to proofread it twelve more times to be sure there are no grammatical errors.

You decide

To summarize my point: depending on your job industry and the culture of your workplace, making grammatical errors can subtly influence the impression that you’re making. And while it may not keep you from getting promoted, in certain situations, it may. Just sayin.’

Being Kinder Than Necessary at Work

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I was dusting the top of my TV yesterday (something I do fairly regularly, honest). I moved a wooden decoration that I keep on top of the TV which says “Be kinder than necessary.” And since I was thinking about my next blog post, I put two and two together and thought that sentence would make a great theme for a blog post—hence the words that follow. [Read more…]

5 People Who Probably Won’t Be Successful at Work

 

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Ever wonder why some people do well at work while others never seem to get ahead? If you’re in the latter category, maybe it’s time to take a good look in the mirror to see if your actions might be sabotaging you.

As an executive and workplace coach I’ve had a chance to observe these ‘characters’ first hand. Some of them have even been coaching clients. Many of them were able to change their actions once they became aware of them. However some were just too stubborn or entrenched to change—and they suffered the consequences. [Read more…]

Is Your Mood Making You a PITA at Work?

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How’s your mood? The answer to this question is an important one because your mood (sometimes called ‘attitude’ in the workplace) is a strong factor in how well you do at work.

A Negative Mood Can Make You Less Successful at Work

Why is this? Because having a negative mood can make you less successful at work. When you are living in a negative space, you lack the ability to see possibilities for yourself and for the situations and people around you. That can translate to your being a real pain in the tushie to work with—someone who others would rather work around than spend one additional minute in your presence. Also your negative mood can have an effect on your own well-being, taking the joy out of your day to day life. [Read more…]