Cube Life

Being Promoted to Your Boss’s Level

Congratulations! You make more money and things are awkward.

You work incredibly hard, and truly care about your company. When a big management position opens up, you’re ready for it and submit your resume. You ace the interview (perhaps thanks in part to our handy tips), and now you’re a manager!

There’s only one problem: that means your previous boss is now just a regular co-worker. How do you act? What can you say? Is it all right to ask them to meet deadlines?

Here are our tips on turning a former boss into a colleague.

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Workplace Lessons Learned from “The Breakfast Club”

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – Andrew Clark, The Breakfast Club

On February 15, 1985, a movie about a group of misfit teens in detention debuted. Many critics still consider it one of the greatest films of all time. The film explored our tendency to judge others based on appearances and who we think they are, as opposed to getting to know them.

You probably recognize that film as The Breakfast Club. But did you know the coming-of-age flick has plenty of lessons that apply to your adult working life? Here’s what the characters of The Breakfast Club can teach us about the workplace.

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Diversity vs. Inclusion and Why They Matter

Do you know the difference?

Current work philosophy dictates the best possible team is one chock-full of varying viewpoints, personalities, and skills. Differences in opinion and beliefs result in more stimulating brainstorming sessions and a higher degree of innovation overall.

Many employers are starting to embrace “diverse” workplaces with employees coming from a wide range of walks of life.

But HR folks still say that this “diversity” is not enough. There needs to be inclusion as well, but this can be a difficult concept for employees to understand. What’s the difference anyway?

Here’s the difference between diversity and inclusion, and why both are important to have in any workplace. (more…)

Dating in the Workplace

How to handle it.

You see someone across a crowded room. Perhaps it’s an assembly line in the warehouse, a busy hallway in an office, or a crowded call center.

Your eyes meet. The attraction is magnetic. Bad love songs play in your head.

You just got bit by the workplace love bug.

For Valentine’s Day, here are a few rules to follow to ensure that your blossoming romance doesn’t backfire if things turn sour.

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Are You Too Nice to Your Co-workers?

When never saying “no” turns into a problem.

It’s a question they ask. Every. Single. Interview.

“Are you a team player?”

There’s only one right answer: “Yes.” Followed by examples of how great you are at working with a team.

And it’s true—if you can’t work well with others, you’re probably going to have trouble in any workplace.

However, there’s a limit. If you accommodate every single person’s request, from picking up lunch for a group meeting to taking notes, you become everybody’s “go-to guy (or gal).” It’s flattering to be thought of as the co-worker who can get any task done. But that can take a toll on you, both mentally and physically.

Here’s a few ways to tell it might be time to start embracing the word “no” (or a suitably polite equivalent).

You Say Yes. A Lot.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, many employees now spend 85% of their time working with other team member in emails, meetings, conference calls, or instant messaging. That’s why it becomes a problem when you tell everyone you can handle anything.

You want to do a great job. So, you email a friend in a different department that you’ll send their request to your manager, help every customer (via phone or in-person) with any requests they have, and tell the front office coordinator you can cover the desk while they’re on lunch break. You like being reliable.

But before you know it, it’s two hours before you’re supposed to go home and you haven’t even started your own projects for the day.

You’re (Too) Stressed

When you say you can do several things for several different people, even if they’re all small, it all adds up. And saying “yes” makes you accountable. You said you’d do it, and don’t want to let everyone down.

But now you’re juggling too many things. You almost forget what you’re working on, who requested it, and when it’s due. And even if you can keep all those things straight, you still have your own responsibilities as well.

You’re Becoming Bitter

Eventually, initial feelings of pride over being the reliable person can turn sour. You don’t even remember why you started doing these things that aren’t in your job description in the first place! Why did people even ask you to handle responsibilities that aren’t yours? Why don’t they do it themselves! But now it’s too late to say no. You’re buried with no way out.

Or are you?

You’ve Accepted You’re A Yes (Wo)Man; Now What?

First off: you’re not alone. Being overwhelmed is a real problem, all across North America.

According to Robert Cross, lead author of an eight-year, 28 employer study on collaborative demands, “The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees have risen 50% in the past decade.”

But not all hope is lost. The article goes on to note that “changing just a few behaviors can regain 18% to 24% of the time spent collaborating.

These include:

  • Taking time to focus, whether through meditation or whatever else relaxes you.
  • Not answering every email. It’s okay, not everything is meant for you to respond to. If you’re addressed directly, feel free to forward it to the appropriate person.
  • Having hard discussions. Sitting down with your boss or a particularly demanding co-worker to let them know you’re a bit overwhelmed. If you’re handling odd jobs for multiple people, it’s likely each person doesn’t know the full extent of everything you do.

And if you’re resolved to continue doing everything for everybody? At least try to schedule your workload down to the minute. Once you go past your scheduled time on a task, stop it and move to the next one. Prioritize your own projects and let people know you’ll be handling those responsibilities first.

 

Have you ever ended up as the workplace go-to person for basically everything? If it became overwhelming, how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Poll Results: Are Companies Offering the Flexible Work Employees Crave?

And how do workers define flexible work?

Open up any employment news report these days and you’ll see that workers want flexible schedules.

But what does that even mean? And does it mean the same thing to workers as it does to employers?

We decided to find out with two polls. One here on Movin’ On Up, and one on Refresh Leadership, our blog for business leaders.

The Results

Job seekers listed “freedom to adjust your schedule to accommodate personal family needs” at number one, with 22% of the vote. Just under 25% of business leaders agreed, making this the most popular response for both groups.

The number two definition for jobseekers at 19% of the vote was “freedom to adjust your own hours/schedule.” Number two for employers was “options to work outside the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business day,” with 20% of the vote.

And rounding out the top three for jobseekers was “options to work outside the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business day” at 18%, while 15% of employers chose “freedom to adjust your own hours/schedule” as their number three choice.

Beside that slight difference, responses were more or less the same. We’ve listed the remaining results for both job seekers and business leaders below.

What Flexibility Means to Jobseekers:

  1. Working extra hours each day to accommodate a 4-day week: 10%
  2. Working from home part-time: 9%
  3. Working remotely from another city or state/province, etc.: 7%
  4. Working from home full-time: 5%
  5. Working part-time: 4%
  6. Unlimited vacation/paid time off (PTO): 2%
  7. Job sharing: 1%
  8. Doing freelance/gig work: 1%

What Flexibility Means to Employers:

  1. Working extra hours each day to accommodate a 4-day week: 11%
  2. Working from home part-time: 10%
  3. Working remotely from another city or state/province, etc.: 8%
  4. Working from home full-time: 3%
  5. Working part-time: 3%
  6. Unlimited vacation/paid time off (PTO): 2%
  7. Job sharing: 2%
  8. Doing freelance/gig work: 1%

What does this mean?

Job seekers and employers mostly agree on what flexible work means. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that flexibility is being provided. Conversations should be had between employers and employees to work toward a suitable solution to the flexibility question.

About Express

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S and Canada with over 800 locations. If you have any questions about part-time work in your area or job search in general, feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

Does your employer offer a flexible work situation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Diffusing Tension in the Workplace

Resolve conflict and bring peace to the work world

The workplace is complicated. It doesn’t matter if you work on an assembly line, type away at a cubicle, make cold calls in a call center, or take customer orders at a dinner table; you always deal with other people.

We’re all human and we have bad days. And sometimes you might do something inadvertently to make someone’s day worse. It could be a miscommunication via email, perhaps you chew loudly, or maybe there’s a scheduling conflict you just can’t agree on. These little things add up and suddenly there’s tension between the two of you.

Getting rid of that tension is one of the most important workplace soft skills. An employee who can effectively resolve conflict is priceless. So, how is this accomplished?

There are five main styles for managing conflict, according to Thomas, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann originators of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The key is to figure out the right mix of styles for any given situation, and recognize your coworker’s preferred conflict management style.

Here are those given conflict management styles, as outlined by SourcesOfInsight.com.

  1. Accommodating

Think of this as killing your enemy with kindness.

Basically, if accommodating is your style of choice, your tendency is to give into the other person’s desires without making sure you get what you want. Maybe you think your boss’ idea is less than great, but don’t tell them because that would make waves.

Although it might sound cowardly on paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the accommodating style. All styles are valid. For example, it’s usually better to defer to those with more experience when you’re new to the job.

  1. Avoiding 

With this style, you avoid conflict at all costs. You never win arguments and prefer to stay out of the combat zone entirely. You don’t want to say no so you end up saying nothing. Think of this as the “let well enough alone” mentality.

Avoidance is a great for when emotions are running high and you need time to think, when you know you can’t win, or just don’t feel like the situation is worth the effort. Why engage when there will be minimal gains?

  1. Collaborating

Think of this as the “win-win” scenario. You want to work with your coworker in order to achieve common ground and for everyone to get what they want.

This is a great conflict resolution style when everyone is already on the same page. You trust each other, value teamwork,  say what you mean, and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings. It’s not a great choice when emotions are running high or people’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.

  1. Competing

This is the “might makes right” mentality. You want to get what you want no matter what, and the opposing side’s wishes aren’t important.

Again, this sounds like the angry boss who intimidates his direct reports into getting something done. In that case, it’s not the best decision. But if you’re an accountant on a deadline and someone on another team is trying to tell you how to do your job, competing is a perfect response. You know your job better than someone in a different department, and don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings.

  1. Compromising

Think of this as standard negotiating procedure. The “give and take” approach. You and your coworker both work toward a solution by giving things up until common ground is reached.

The main problem with this one is that it takes time and isn’t affective when someone is unwilling to give anything up. That means it’s best used when you need a temporary solution or when both sides have important goals. However, beware: compromising can frequently be the result when collaborating is the better choice because it’s easier to get done. But if everyone can get what they want with a bit of hard work, why not go that route?

If you’re partial to any of these conflict resolution tactics, ask yourself if you’re trying the same solution in every situation and not getting the results you need. If you are, you might want to explore other methods to get rid of the problem.

Have you ever had to solve a workplace dispute? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.