Workplace Relationships

Bouncing Back from a Bad Review

Have you ever had a bad performance review? Or, gone in for your yearly evaluation only to find that you haven’t been doing as well as you thought? If you have experienced a situation like this, you might have found it difficult to jump back into your job without having negativity or resentment toward your boss. To help you get through times like this, here are some tips to get you back in good graces with your boss.

Stay Open. No matter what, don’t close the lines of communication with your boss. Try talking to them so you can better understand your role in the company and what your primary goals are. Ask questions even if you understand the less-than-flattering review so you can see their side. Have your boss explain or give examples of what went wrong. Ask them to tell you how they would handle a similar situation in the future. By asking for examples for bad marks on your review, you’re not only allowing yourself the opportunity to explain the situation, but you’re also allowing your boss to see that you genuinely care to correct the problem.

Make Improvements. You may have not been proactive in your career before, but now is the perfect time to start. Schedule a monthly meeting with your boss to go over your objectives and your progress over the previous month. Show your boss that you’re taking an active role in improving your work quality. They will not only respect you for handling the situation well, they will value you for your hard work and determination to correct the issue.

Stay Positive. Negative comments can make anyone feel insecure, but remember, everyone has felt this way at one point. Like the old saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Take this opportunity to learn from your mistakes, address them and improve. By allowing yourself the chance to improve your performance, you’re learning both what to do and what not to do to. This will help you grow within your position and develop professionally.

Have you ever had a bad review? If so, how did you handle the situation?

Developing Leadership Skills

What does it take to be someone who influences others and spurs them on to success? Strong leadership skills aren’t just natural traits that simply appear without any practice. If you aspire to lead those around you, focus on developing your leadership skills now.

Build Team Unity. You can’t create a team from people who hate each other. That’s why in order to lead those around you, you must first establish team unity. Some ways to build unity are discouraging gossip, helping co-workers see the good in others and keeping a positive attitude. It’s far easier to tear a team apart than to build it up, so make sure your focus remains on the needs and success of the team as a whole, not just individuals among the team.

Encourage Others to Succeed. No one can succeed without some level of support from others. By helping your teammates get ahead, you’ll be laying the groundwork for your own future victories. Those you’ve helped in the past will feel loyal to you for what you’ve done for them. Not only that, but your reputation as a leader will grow as you help others to reach their potential.

Be an Example. Good leaders lead by example. You can’t expect those around you to admire you or aim to imitate you unless you provide an example of exemplary conduct with your own work. This means always acting with integrity and consistently producing high-caliber work.

By working on your leadership skills now, you can prepare yourself for future opportunities to inspire and motivate those around you. Remember, it takes more than just natural ability to be a great leader – practice is what turns potential into reality.

3 Career Tips for New Professionals

startEntering the workplace for the first time is both exciting and a little scary. These mixed emotions are also often felt by experienced workers changing jobs. Whether it’s your first day of work or your first day in a new position, you’ll want to make a good impression and do your best work. Here a few tips to help make the first weeks and months at a new job go smoother.

Be humble. Even if you’re a quick study and your new job seems like a breeze, your new co-workers will like you much more if you come in with a humble attitude. Nothing bothers long-time employees more than being told how to do things by newbies. Wait until you’ve been at your new job a while before handing out advice. Not only will your suggestions be taken more seriously, your insights will most likely be improved by a little on-the-job experience.

Ask questions. As the new person, no one expects you to know everything – so ask as many questions as possible when you’re new. But, make sure you’re not asking the same questions over and over. This indicates you aren’t paying attention to the answers and is a bad move. Also, if you’ve been given training materials, review these first for answers to common questions. Then you may be able to formulate even more complex questions, which is a great way to demonstrate your desire to thoroughly understand your new responsibilities.

Learn from others. Your new co-workers are the best resource for learning the ropes at your new job – even better than supervisors. The reason is that your peers will tell you the unwritten expectations of the job. They also typically have more time and a better understanding of the specifics of your job duties. You can observe those around you to learn about the organization’s culture and values. Additionally, building relationships with your new co-workers will also serve as a foundation for continued success and teamwork.

At some point in your new career you’ll make a few mistakes, but as long as you keep a positive attitude, you’ll learn to fit in at your new job and impress those around you as you grow professionally.

4 Tips for Knowing it’s Time to Quit

Do you ever feel left out in a team meeting? Do your co-workers exclude your from group discussions? Are you doing work that you find unrewarding? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it might be time for you to quit your job.

Often times, people tend to stay at one job because they don’t want to be seen as job hoppers, or that they can’t handle difficult situations. Other times, the need for financial stability keeps people in their current positions, despite the hardships they feel on the job. Below are several clues that might indicate it’s time to move on from your current job.

You dread going to work. If you find yourself moaning on Sunday about having to go to work the next day, you should consider why you feel this way. It could be fatigue or personal issues that are weighing you down. Try getting a little extra sleep the night before, exercising more or taking a few days off of work to clear your head. If you still find yourself checking the time throughout the day and waiting for 5 p.m. to roll around, then it might be time to find a new job.

You don’t get along with your boss. If you feel that you can cut the tension between you and your boss with a knife, chances are, they feel that way too. Try scheduling a meeting to discuss your problems and concerns before making drastic decisions. If you’ve tried to communicate with your boss about your feelings and nothing has changed, then it might be time to clean out your desk.

You get all the grunt work. If you feel that you’re being underutilized within your department while others take on more challenging tasks, then you might want to check in with your boss before you check out of your job. Talk to your boss about increasing your workload or presenting you with more engaging projects. Also, it could be you’re new to the department, so you might have to prove you worth. Remember, everyone has to do work on projects they don’t want to every now and again. However, if you’re constantly taking on the scraps while your co-workers get the good assignments, even after confronting your boss, then you might want to investigate another job opportunity.

You feel excluded from the team. If you find yourself on the outskirts of team meetings or your fellow co-workers ignore your requests to go to lunch or small talk, then you might want to inquire as to why you aren’t included. If you have spoken with your boss and tried their suggestions, and nothing has changed, a light bulb should go off inside your head.

If you feel that any of these pertain to you in your current position. Try communicating with your boss and/or co-workers first before you retreat into another job. It could just be a simple miscommunication. Letting your feelings known just might be the answer to your problems. If you have tried everything possible to remedy the situation to no avail, then you might want to start looking for a new job. Remember, it is OK to not feel as though you are a perfect match within your job, but if it starts to affect your health or sanity, then leaving might be your only option.

Don’t Complain, Communicate: Boost Your Career with 7 Tips

Yesterday, I covered why complaining is dangerous to your career. That said, it’s important to understand the fine line between communicating and complaining, because one can hurt your career while the other can enhance it.

One of the most critical skills for employees seeking to grow professionally is communication. Sometimes, it’s necessary to communicate about negative things. Perhaps you need to tell your boss about an abusive co-worker. Maybe as a manager, you need to deal with an employee who messed up an entire product line.

Excellent communicators know that even when they’re dealing with negative subjects, they can keep things positive through what they say and how they say it. You can communicate professionally and make sure you don’t cross the line into the complaining zone by following these tips.

1. Prepare first. When you don’t take time to prepare your thoughts, it’s easy for communication about negative things to become complaining. Think of yourself as a politician who has bad news to deliver to the media – you wouldn’t go into it without well thought out points. Take the time to sort out your ideas, cool off if necessary and prepare your comments before taking on a conversation about a not-so-happy subject.

2. Communicate formally. Most gripe sessions are spontaneous, unplanned, secret and informal. To keep yourself from falling into the complaint trap when it’s time to bring up something negative, do so formally with an in-person meeting.

3. Don’t make it personal. This one is tricky, especially when other people are involved. But you should avoid making things personal when dealing with a negative situation. Otherwise, you’ll become too emotional and won’t be able to handle the situation with a level head. To keep things professional on the job, discuss issues, not people.

4. Discuss the problem briefly. Make sure you outline the basic issue, but don’t give more than a few minutes to communicate it, or you will end up in the midst of a gripe session. If you’re talking to someone else involved in the situation, you will need to take responsibility for limiting this part of the discussion, or you may find yourself dragged down a long path of negativity.

5. Focus on solutions. To keep the conversation grounded and to avoid getting personal, focus on talking about solutions, outcomes and opportunities. Sometimes, worst case scenarios are opportunities in disguise. Talk about what positive changes can be made or what needs to be done to address the situation fully.

6. Follow through. Because it’s a self-serving, emotional process, complaining rarely results in action. It usually starts and ends with negativity. To make sure your hard work and effort in addressing a bad situation properly don’t end up getting lumped in with complaining, follow through on your proposed solutions with actions to change things for the better.

7. Be positive. People often say that complaining is contagious, but positive communication is as well. No matter what negative things are going on, put a smile on your face and focus on the positive aspects of your work, life, co-workers, family and employers. You will realize that thinking positively changes your perspective and helps you communicate rather than complain – and it rubs off on the people around you, too.

Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself complaining when you were trying to communicate? How do you make sure you stay professional and avoid workplace negativity?

5 Reasons Complaining Can Hurt Your Career

Everyone can think of someone who never stops complaining. They have too much work to do, dislike their boss, have annoying co-workers, struggle financially, have family problems, etc. The thing is, they may have very valid complaints. Maybe their boss is a micromanager and they have a co-worker who refuses to act professionally. They may be bogged down with boring tasks or have too many things assigned to them.

Regardless, you’ve probably had moments where you’ve pegged this person as negative, self-absorbed and socially inept. Perhaps you’ve found yourself complaining about their constant state of negativity – after all, it brings down morale, ruins your productivity and is distracting.

But, if you’re honest with yourself, you probably have to admit that you complain at work too. It’s natural to want to talk to your co-workers about issues, frustrations and struggles – work related or otherwise. But complaining at work is a dangerous habit. Here are five reasons complaining is bad for your career. 

1. Complaining plants seeds of negativity. You may start by complaining every once in a while about your finances or your spouse. But complaining about one thing sparks complaining about other things. When you give in to the habit of complaining, it increases your stress level, pushing you into the downward spiral of negativity. Before you know it, you may be complaining about everything from your car to your boss. Your outlook on your job is bound to get worse the more you complain.

2. Complaining about your workload makes you look incompetent. Wasting time complaining about how much you have to do merely demonstrates to your boss that you’re not focused, skilled at time management or capable of doing your work. Smart employees know to approach their boss for help balancing their workload instead of complaining about it.

3. Complaining about your tasks makes you seem entitled. Complaining about not liking the work you are assigned makes you seen ungrateful and high maintenance. It also demonstrates to your boss that you don’t have the skills or confidence to propose new tasks or projects.

4. Complaining is a sign of a bad leader. Leaders don’t complain; they foster change. Complainers make bad leaders. They encourage other people to complain rather than taking action to improve things. This puts the entire team in a negative environment that kills productivity, cooperation, creativity and innovation.

5. Complaining stunts career advancement. Here’s the thing about complainers – they rely on complaining to cope rather than relying on their skills and abilities. Being dubbed the complainer can kill your career advancement opportunities because it becomes the attribute that sticks out most in your employers’ minds, no matter how good your work may be.

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a difference between communicating and complaining. Communicating focuses on solutions and positive change, while complaining is usually self-serving and focuses on how you feel. Check back tomorrow for more on how to get past complaining and start communicating.

Do you have a co-worker who always complains? How often do you find yourself complaining at work? What do you complain about? Have you ever considered how complaining can affect your career?

Leaving on a Good Note

Ever start a job and know immediately that it wasn’t for you? If you read my post on Picking the Job That’s Right for You, you’ll remember the dilemma that my sister-in-law faced when trying to pick between several job offers. She ended up picking a job by following those tips. However, she didn’t plan on one of companies she interviewed with calling her back and offering her more money, better hours and increased benefits (which was the reason she turned it down in the first place). This was the job she originally wanted, and now it was a perfect match.

My sister-in-law decided to take the new job offer. Now, she had to figure out how she was going to tell her employers she wasn’t going to continue to work for them. She had only been there one day. Breaking the last tip on my post – don’t back out, she had to find a professional way of leaving without burning bridges.

Leaving a company, whether after one day or five years, is always difficult. Try following these tips to ensure that your transition out is a good one.

Let your boss know first. When you decide that it’s time to leave a company, talk to your supervisor before you talk to your co-workers. One thing that will surely upset your boss is to find out that you’re leaving the company from someone other than you. Try to schedule a meeting with your boss as soon as you make the decision. After you have informed your boss, then you can tell your colleagues.

Be honest. When talking to your boss, let them know why you are leaving the company. Whether it is for a professional or personal reason, being upfront and honest will give them the opportunity to remedy the situation if possible. It also allows them a chance to know what they might need to correct to retain future employees.

Be polite during your exit interview. If you are leaving the company due to a clash in the corporate culture or negativity among your co-workers, let them know the situation in hopes that they can correct the problem for future employees, but do it tactfully. Inform them of the situation with professionalism and maturity. Your boss is more likely to take your complaints and resignation positively if your demeanor and dialogue are well thought out and without malice.

Give a two-week notice. This is a typical time frame when leaving a job; however, if you work in a position that requires more time for your employer to find a replacement, then notify accordingly. Also, follow up with a short and simple resignation letter. Include your boss’s name, employment dates, departure date and your signature. If relevant, thank your boss for the opportunity, and try to say some positive things about him/her and the company.

Wrap up loose-ends. Try to finish up all your projects before your departure. If possible, type up detailed instructions for the next employee on how to do your job. Offer assistance in training the next employee if possible. By offering help and making the transition from one employee to the next a little easier for your former employer, you will demonstrate and generate respect rather than ill-will.

To keep yourself from having a bad experience on your way out of an old job and into a new one, keep these tips in mind. You never know, your past might collide with your future. And you wouldn’t want a bad exit to hurt your future career plans.

Have you ever had a bad experience when leaving a job? How did you handle your departure?