Friday, May 27, 2016

Don't let a bad employee control you

I hate cliches like "rent space in your head," but duking it out with a problem employee can be like letting that person move in.

Art Petty, Government Executive Magazine, writes about this.

This type of employee...

--Is a master manipulator

--Works within the system

--Finds ways to vex you with nose-thumbing ease, as Petty puts it.

This can drain your energy day after day.

This employee seems to be constantly thinking up ways to torture you. They go behind your back, spread rumors, take credit for your work, sabotage or contradict you in meetings, you know the type.

Some managers even choose to find another career, much less job, after expending time and sanity dealing with such a person. Or they become cynical and never trust anyone again.

What can you do?

After you finally get the person out, you need to reset your team, make stronger relationships with everyone.

Roll up lessons learned and move on.  One woman asked her boss what she did wrong and took the suggestions to heart.

Take another look at the organization's values--that is where the reset needs to be made.

Or maybe you need to take a break.

This is one job, one bad apple, put things in perspective. Don't let it taint your whole working life. What a waste that would be--and how happy would that employee be if he or she knew.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why is everything such an annoying hassle?

The election, getting to a doctor, controlling the upcreep in bills, family, eek.

Now--I open a new super expensive cartridge for the super expensive printer I bought because I needed a scanner--and the darn thing was empty.

Yes, a private citizen sold it to me--on eBay.

I am a huge user of eBay--more than 500 transactions to date. Usually I love it--and get keep spending down...but these dratted printer cartridges are outrageous--$25 a shot...for a month in my office?

My old Laserjet cost $20 a year for ink.

I know, I am a crabby throwback...But come on--$25 and empty?

I already left positive feedback--yes, the TWO came on time...But only one had ink in it...too late to point THAT out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

No matter what's on your resume, employers want more

If you are looking for a job, do you feel like you are on treadmill--this advice, that advice, what to do. No one ever seems satisfied. Am I driving you nuts, too?

Mary Lorzenz, CareerBuilder, says this is a common feeling. You do and redo your resume, then you also have to fill in huge on-line questionnaires, then more often than not...crickets.

But managers and HR people also have their frustrations, she says.  More than half (53%) say they don't get enough from a resume to make a decision. This is one reason, they go to social media.

--39% of employers would also like to see your work, your portfolio.

--29% want a cover letter.

And--this was interesting--more than half also reach out directly to people when they have an opening--one more reason to build your brand and social media presence.

It also helps not to alienate employers.

--Don't apply if you are not qualified--39% of employers surveyed said this is a pet peeve.

--Don't have unrealistic expectations about pay.

--Don't lie.

--Don't check on your application too often.

--Don't submit a poorly done resume.

Ask yourself:

--Do your skills match what they want? Make this clear.

--Have you communicated your work history.

--Have you outlined your current skills, your soft skills?

--Do you know the culture and would you fit in?

--Are you asking for realistic money?

--Would you stay long term?

--Would this be a new career for you?

This is a tough job--this getting a job--isn't it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why Millennials would pick govt work

Stereotype of govt work--what's to like? 
Jerry Greenwell, Government Executive Magazine, says 60% of all federal workers are over 45 and one-third of all state and federal employees will be eligible to retire within four years.

This exodus is sometimes called "the silver tsunami."

Recently, some Millennials were quizzed on why they had worked in the public sector--or wanted to.

--Most said they wanted to make a direct impact on the community. One almost became a corporate shark, as she put it, but changed her mind.

--The advantages of the public sector, they said, included job security and good benefits.

--As for disadvantages, low pay, reduced staffs, and political interference were cited. "Money cannot be the reason," one firefighter said. Also, they said, starting new initiatives can be difficult because of lack of funding. Other turnoffs were shutdowns, pay freezes, competing for older workers and veterans for jobs, lack of full-time positions, and less opportunity for creativity.

--They recommended govt recruiters visit college campuses and participate in job fairs. Get govt leaders involved in getting people to think of govt work.

--They also recommended that govt agencies teach supervisors how to motivate and keep younger workers. Millennials like on-the-spot recognition, for instance, rather than a good review months later. Also supervisors need to institute open-door policies.

--The hiring process also should be quicker. If the process takes 120 days, you will hire who's left over, not necessarily the best.

--The Millennials also said the job descriptions for govt jobs needed work. They should inform--and inspire. Create a picture of what the applicant will contribute.

--And--of course--the govt needs to increase its online presence.Advertise on social media, the Millennials urged. Websites need to be uupdated and not look like they are artifacts of the Dawn of the Internet.

So...time's awastin'...Let's go after the new blood.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Time for some spring cleaning?

Writing in Government Executive Magazine, May 17, 2016, Barbara Hemphill says entrrepreneurs and managers often have cluttered offices.

These people, she says, think "big picture" and not "big mess."

A 2010 study by the office machine company Brother found that messy desks and time spent looking for things cost $177 billion annually. Nearly two work weeks a year per worker!

Getting and staying organized is not easy. Most offices have too much stuff. On one level, you need to regard this stuff and ask, "Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?" If you say no, but still hang onto the item, then ask: "What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I trash this?"

I used to go through piles and find things I did not know I had--but then I would think, if I didn't know I had this, I would never have looked for it--so toss.

Or donate or recycle (say books you will never read again).

Here are six tools Hemphill suggests:

Three containers--In, Out, File. Put them in reach of your deskchair.

Wastebasket/recycle/shred. Make it easy to put each item someplace.

Calendar. Get rid of the Post-Its and note reminders--get a calendar.

Contact management system. Names, addresses, phone, emails... In one spot.

Action files. These are close to your desk.

Reference files. You may not need these on a daily basis, but you don't want to throw them away.

Then you need to maintain this. If you can't, hire someone who can.

Sounds so simple...

Hey! I just threw away this's a start.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Even trees need down time

All living things adapt to night and day, it's been found. Flowers open in the morning, close at night.

Even ancient researchers found that flowers in a dark cellar continued to open and close.

Now, a team of researchers from Austria, Finland, and Hungary measured sleep movement in trees, using laser point cloudss that calibrate millions of points each.

Trees droop during the night, they concluded. The branches and leaves change position. It's not a big change--but it can be measured.

Two trees were observed--one in Finland and one in Austria.

In the morning, the leaves and branches returned to their original positions in a few hours.

Were they awakened by the sun or their own internal rhythm. The researchers don't know.

Could the drooping be related to water? Maybe. It's part of the research.

And all this is part of life's rich tapestry, isn't it?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

True grit may be overrated

Are there other roads to success?
An Iowa State University psychologist named Marcus Crede and his colleagues studied the role of "grit" in performance.

Grit is defined as perseverance and commitment to long-term goals.

A Univ of Pennsylvania researcher named Angela Duckworth first studied grit--but Crede says grit is really no different than conscientiousness. Crede calls it a repackaging of conscientiousness.

The most well-known grit study was of West Point cadets. Those with above average grit scores were said to be 99% more likely to complete training than cadets with average grit.

Crede says this is a misinterpretation--that should be 3% not 99%.

But it has led to the encouragement of grit, the teaching of grit, even at the Dept of Education level.

Grit is easy to understand, Crede says--think of someone who gives up easily compared with someone who sticks with it even if it's hard--it makes sense the first one would succeed more often.

But this isn't true. Nobody, Crede says, wants to think life is made up of many factors that add up--your education, how hard you work, your conscientiousness, your creativity.

Adjustment, study habits, test anxiety, class attendance--all are more strongly related to performance than grit.

Well, durn, Pilgrim. (Like my John Wayne?)