Workplace Relationships

Who’s the Kid in My Boss’s Office?

If you look around your department, you are likely to see someone who is quite a bit older than you – or quite a bit younger. With so many Baby Boomers prolonging retirement and with nearly 80 million Generation Y workers beginning to enter the workforce, it is becoming more common for older and younger generations to share a cubicle.

In some instances, Baby Boomers are actually working for some of these younger individuals. I recently watched an interview on Good Morning America where they spoke with a 54-year-old who had recently landed her ideal job in event marketing. She ended up getting fired because she couldn’t tolerate working for a boss 25 years her junior.

“I think that it’s very common for someone older to be a little resentful to someone who is 25 years younger telling you want to do,” she said in the GMA interview.

Do you find this sort of thing happening in your company? If you’re reporting to someone half your age, how does that make you feel? Do you have a problem working for someone younger who has less experience? Or, if you’re the young boss, how do you communicate with the members of your staff? Do you feel that authority comes with experience or performance?

Are You Looking for Community or Solitude at Work?

Time Magazine recently featured an article about a new trend of communal dining. According to the article, a number of popular restaurants now offer group dining experiences for their patrons. These swanky establishments allow guests to break bread and share an evening getting to know a group of strangers. It seems people are hungry for more than just a good meal – they’re looking for companionship.

What’s behind this trend? Have modern communication tools like e-mail, blogs and social networking sites left people longing for more face-to-face interaction?

At many jobs, workers rarely speak to each other except through e-mail and the occasional phone call. How do you think modern communication has affected workplace relationships? Do you find yourself missing human interaction and seeking ways to interact with your co-workers in a more personal way? Or, do you sit in a cubicle or work closely with others all day and crave more privacy?

Corporate Culture’s Influence: Simon Says Fit In

How many of your habits and ideas do you think you’ve picked up from the people you work with? Most people pride themselves on being individualistic and independent. We like to think we’re only influenced by the role models we choose, not the everyday Jims and Kates we share a cube with. People may not be lemmings, but we’re not impenetrable brick walls either. Our surroundings and co-workers affect us.

Rebel Dad blogger Brian Reid’s guest post on the Washington Post’s blog On Balance – Juggling Work and Family discusses how the workaholic habits of a former boss rubbed off on the entire organization. Reid used to work for former Bloomberg CEO and current New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and he describes how Bloomberg’s penchant for long hours and limited family time created a company culture that followed his lead.

Sure, Bloomberg was the CEO of the corporation, so it’s logical that his employees would seek to emulate his behavior. But a CEO alone can’t create a potent culture without a majority of employees buying in to it. In a recent post on Ben Yoskovitz’s blog, Instigator, he discussed how upper management can’t control culture, they can only instigate it and then allow it to incubate.

Peer pressure can be much stronger than “CEO pressure.” While supervisors control whether you get a raise or promotion, co-workers determine if you are accepted and respected by the group – something that many people value more than money. 

When a person starts a new job, sometimes they mesh or clash with the culture at their workplace immediately. But more often, over time, they will develop behaviors and attitudes about work that mirror those of their co-workers.

For example, if you start working at a company where the employees rarely use their vacation time and never call in sick, after a while, you’ll probably either adopt these unspoken norms or leave the company. Similarly, if you work at a company where being aggressive and blunt is the way to get noticed, you might find yourself saying “please” and “thank you” less and opting for words like “immediately” and “no offense” instead.

A strong company culture isn’t a bad thing though. Without a united front, a company will struggle to accomplish its mission. But, since we’re all likely to be affected by our environment, it makes sense to work at a company and with people whose values you respect.

How do your co-workers’ values match with your own? How do you think your co-workers have influenced you? Do you feel the influence has been positive or negative?

How Can I Prove My Worth to My Boss?

Are you growing in your career? Hopefully, the answer is yes. As your expertise increases, it’s important to keep track of your achievements. A good way to do this is to keep a detailed list of specific projects, deadlines, timelines and accomplishments as you advance in your job. Also, track how you’ve impacted the budget, company goals and other areas that have directly affected the organization as a whole.

Demonstrating that you’ve helped save your organization time or money, or increased profits is a powerful resource for persuading your boss that you’re an asset to the team.

Oops – I Accidentally Forwarded an Insulting E-mail to My Boss!

What do you do when you blow it big time at work? E-mail’s the easiest way to inadvertently offend dozens with the click of your mouse. Usually damage control from workplace gaffes involves apologizing and then lying low for a few days. Other times, you have to pay for the mistake in a more substantial way (forking out some money, getting a write-up, etc.)

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at work, and how did you deal with it?