Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Being unemployed affects men and women differently

A recent Kaiser and CBS News poll showed that out of work men and women with children spend more time with the kids--60% of the women said this improved relations with the kids, but only 22% of the men thought it did.

Working is in decline, according to Binyamin Appelbaum, NYT, Dec 15, 2014.

But men seem to be more burdened with pride and are less willing to take a lesser job.

One man's wife made $10 an hour, but he would not take such a job, saying she was more "accepting."

Women--especially those with children--put a higher value on being at home. They are more likely to cite "family responsibilities" as a reason not to go back to work.

So far, this seems unremarkable.

But--now for a problem--43% of out of work men report worse mental health and only 16% of women do.

Twenty-five percent of women even said they felt better.

Women said they spent their time volunteering, caring for others, and exercising. Men said they read, watched TV and surfed the net.

Was looking for a job anywhere in the mix? Did not see it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Could a layoff be coming?

Is it possible to second-guess the coming of a layoff. Maybe.

Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of Call to Career, says some red flags of a coming layoff are:

--Frequent closed-door meetings of execs.

--Budget shortfalls.

--Reassignment of your tasks.

--Company mergers.

If you smell it in the air, first try to secure your position. Align yourself with the direction of the company, Palmer advises. The workers "not in sync" can be the first to be laid off. Be able to quantify the money you saved or earned the company.

If you do get laid off, expand your network. Volunteer to serve on committees--up your visibility.

In job interviews, let the interviewer know you were not the only one laid off (if this is true).

Be level-headed, hysterics are your enemy.

Regarding the merger clue--I have had people say well, the merger will create more customers and more jobs--but usually redundant people from one of the companies will be laid off.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bad raise? Maybe some perks might be possible

Deborah Jian Lee, writing on, says wage stagnation is a fact, but sometimes instead of pay you can get other things to make life more pleasant.

Want some ideas?

Flexible schedule. Maybe coming in early and leaving early. or work longer Mon-Thurs so you can have Friday off.

Telecommuting. Work from home 1-2 days a week. Skip the commute, catch up on exercise, etc.

Time off. Try to get extra vacation days.

How about a nicer office? Bigger, a window.

Better work equipment is also nice..maybe an ergonomic chair, bigger monitor.

Continuing ed classes are nice. This also shows you are industrious.

Maybe it's time for that dream assignment or a better title.

And last, you could ask for commuting reimbursement...Companies offer this.

Or you may have to ask first. You can ask anybody anything...remember that. However, I would not ask for all of these--be brave, but think first.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ah, idiots, we love them so

I used to say, "I have many bosses but no superiors." This, naturally, went over big with the boss class.

Scott Reeves, writing in Forbes, explains the best ways to work with idiot bosses. I guess one way would be not to call them idiots.

He suggests "idiot engineering"--turning the boss's cluelessness to your advantage.

Many people try to make idiot bosses look bad--the best strategy, though, is to do the opposite.

You want to diminish the harm to you the boss's cluelessness can do.

First listen to the person. Try to key in on their hobbies or interests.

Idiot engineering is not butt-kissing. Incorporate your ideas into the idiot's language and agenda.

Remember, though--this is the person with the institutional power. They can pop alive and do you damage.

The battler against idiocy is a long twilight struggle, Reeves says. And--remember--you may have a little idiot in you. Combining that with the boss's can mean disaster.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

People who say they are good at math...

..may not be. Apparently thinking you are good and being good are two different things.

One in five people who say they are bad at math score in the top half of testing. One third of those who say they are good are in the bottom third.

Still...this does not mean they are not good with numbers. Being good with numbers takes different forms. Those who think they are good, for example, stick with a problem longer. Those who think they are bad, are not motivated and quit.

Those who think they are "bad," may put off their taxes, pick the wrong health insurance--give up, basically.

Of course, they did a big study on this--what does "being good" mean and how does this test?

They learned there are variations in numeracy.One was objective numeracy--being able to work problems, predict answers, etc. Some were better at symbolic-number mapping used rough estimates, which were usually good enough.

There is more than one way to be good at math, they concluded.

I can always see if a calculation "makes sense." I will say to my sister, "That can't be right." She looks blank.

I think I am in the good enough camp.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to snag a great mentor

Scott Eblin, Govt Executive Magazine, Dec 5, 2014, says usually a mentor relationship evolves from people you know--you don't go out and request someone to devote time to you.

He suggests some ways to intersect with someone:

Volunteer. Sometimes a boss or person will say no, but usually they will welcome your help and attitude.

Do great work. Treat every job as a chance to do your best. Create more value than expected.

Be open. If you are asked to do something you don't feel ready for, be open. Mentors can spot talent--try to live up to it.

Watch and learn. Learn from the best in your organization, the way they appear, how they deal with others, how they handle disappointment.

Again, don't ask a senior person to mentor you. Mentors choose proteges.

I had one mentor in my career--and he was sort of a negative mentor--he pushed, mocked, prodded---I vowed not to be like him--yet, I did change and grow.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Some body language poses to avoid

Did you ever judge someone by how they sit? Of course, you have.

Bernard Marr is a business strategy guy. Writing in Forbes, he has some body poses you may want to watch out for--in others--and avoid in yourself.

Leaning back too much. You look lazy and/or arrogant.

Leaning forward--too aggressive.

Breaking eye contact to soon--makes you look untrustworthy.

Nodding too much--makes you look like a bobblehead.

Crossing your arms--defensive.

Looking up or around--make you look like a liar or fake. Looking left means lying, some say.

Staring--aggressive or serial killer.

Steepling fingers or holding palms up--begging.

Checking phone or watch--we all know that one--bored, looking for someone better to talk to. Washington DC version: Looking over the listener's shoulder for someone more famous.

So what should you do? Beats me.