Recover From a Bad Conversation With Your Boss

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Perhaps this happened to you. You’re enjoying a typical day on the job when suddenly things take a turn for the worst. Tempers flare, words are exchanged, and regret sets in. You had a bad conversation, maybe even a fight, with your boss. Thankfully, these regrettable conversations are not always a deal breaker. You may be given the opportunity to redeem yourself, move forward, and continue to wow your employer. The trick is, how do you begin the recovery process?

Cool down.
During any argument it is natural to turn on our defenses, however, entering a resolution while feeling defensive is rarely productive. Take time to cool down and collect your emotions and thoughts. For each individual this time is different; whether you need five minutes or an afternoon, take the time you feel is appropriate and necessary.

Apologize.
Admitting fault is never fun. If after taking some time to cool down you realize you were in the wrong (yes, you actually did snap at that customer), approach your boss with humility and a resolution. But, apologizing is simply not enough. Be able to tell your boss why what you did was wrong and how you plan on avoiding similar situations in the future. Show initiative in taking steps toward a better you. Admitting fault when you still believe you were in the right is especially difficult, but it is vital in moving forward. When you’re having trouble finding fault in yourself, apologize for the way you reacted. Most of us say or do things we regret in the heat of the moment, so, if nothing else, apologize to your boss for your “momentary lack of professionalism.” Acknowledging that you were wrong, in at least some way, will show your employer you are taking some of the responsibility.

Move forward.
Unfortunately, many of us like to bring up situations that should be left alone. After apologizing, don’t continue bringing up the argument. Making light of the situation may seem like an easy way to get over the awkwardness but keep in mind, each time the conversation is brought up, your teammates are reminded of your moment of weakness. If co-workers, or even your boss, continuously bring up your meltdown, simply remind them the situation has been addressed and you are taking the necessary steps to move forward. In this case, the less ammunition you give your peers, the better. 

Arguing with an employer is undoubtedly awkward and even scary. The true test will be your ability to recover from the situation professionally. Showing the maturity to move forward will prove your ability to conduct business respectfully and graciously.

Break Your Web Surfing Habit

Websurfing_June2011_web With so many jobs now requiring employees to spend the day on the internet, distractions are bound to occur. Whether you are susceptible to Facebook, news stories, or checking your bank statements, we all have something that steals our attention and productivity. Although some workplace distractions are inevitable, there are some simple precautions you can take in order to avoid one-hour YouTube watch parties with your co-workers.
 
1. Acknowledge your personal high and low productivity hours. Do you hate mornings? Do you always feel especially tired after lunch?  Recognize your low points of the day and schedule your workload around them. That isn’t to say you are allowed to sit and do nothing during your slump, but by working harder during your best hours you will be able to ensure a more productive, effective day in the office.

2.  Create deadlines for yourself. It can be hard to stay on task if you have an unspecified time to produce results. If your manager doesn’t set a deadline, set one for yourself. Make your deadline reasonable; no time constraint should be unattainable nor should it be lackadaisical.

3. Listen while you work. Studies show that music impacts reasoning skills, the cardiovascular system, and moods. Use music as a powerful way to improve your health and focus during work. Instead of looking to the internet for entertainment, you can play your favorite song for some much needed comfort and inspiration. Listening to music can ensure you’re having fun and getting your work finished at the same time.

4. Block inappropriate websites. You know the websites you’re prone to look at when you should be working. To keep your eyes from wandering, block these websites during times you are supposed to be working. There are a plethora of blocking programs, including LeechBlock, that help curb your time spent on the biggest time-wasting sites. 

5. Change your attitude toward work. At the end of the day, if you are compelled to waste time, you will. The biggest obstacle in breaking your tendency to procrastinate is the way you think about your workday. If you are bored, uninspired, and don’t feel challenged at work, there may be something deeper occurring. Really consider your time at work and if it is worth your efforts. Although most procrastination is simply human, some may be a sign you are in need of a more fulfilling job.

There will always be things to distract you at work. Although getting sidetracked is nothing to feel guilty about, it is something that should happen in moderation. Strive to focus on work, give yourself breaks to refresh and rejuvenate your mind, and have fun. You’ll find the more you enjoy work, the less procrastinating you’ll end up doing. 

5 Things You Should Do Before Calling IT

IT_June2011_web We’ve all been there; the point of no return when technology has turned its back on us, leaving us high and dry. As frustrating as this scenario is, it is not uncommon, especially in the workplace. Keeping your cool when dealing with misbehaving or unresponsive technology is an important step on the path to staying sane at work. Although it is tempting to immediately call Information Technology (IT) when a computer crisis occurs, try following these steps before picking up your phone for quick and easy fixes.

1. Reboot: Yes, this idea is as basic as it sounds but you’d be surprised how many employees don’t try this simple step before calling for help. If your computer is giving you trouble, try turning it off and back on again. Believe it or not, at times computers get confused just like us. This confusion can sometimes result in the computer attempting an incorrect action and receiving an error message. The reboot will potentially clear your computer of confusion and save you an embarrassing phone call.

2. Check the plug: If you’re having trouble with one of the accessories attached to your computer, confirm that the hardware is plugged in and turned on. For example, if you are receiving error messages when trying to print, check out the printer. Is it plugged in correctly? Did you try plugging it back in? Is it turned on? If it’s a printer, does it have paper? Answer all of the basic questions you can think of because these are the preliminary questions IT will ask you. The closer you look at your hardware, the smoother your phone conversation with support will be.

3. Force quit: This quick and easy step may be the answer to all of your questions. For PC users, this command is known as Ctrl + Alt + Delete, while Mac users select Command + Option + Escape. Forcing your computer into this action will allow you the opportunity to look at your Task Manager. Task Manager will show you all the programs currently running, as well as those that aren’t responding or “frozen.” If you do have an unresponsive program, you will be able to manually quit via the Task Manager and, hopefully, free up your computer’s ability to run smoothly.

4. Support forums: Check out online support forums that offer general support and answers for your computer. Whether you’re a Mac or a PC, you should be able to find answers to basic questions others have had in the past. The research may also help you become more familiar with your technology, teaching you things you didn’t know before.

5. Gather information: If you have exhausted all other means and still need to call IT, know some basic information about your computer before dialing. Be ready to give IT the type of operating system you’re running, what applications were open when the error occurred, when the problem occurred, what error message came up during your issues, and what you were trying to do. Depending on your office policy, there may be other information you need to know, including warranty information, purchase date, and the serial number. When in doubt, gather what you can, call IT, and ask to call them back if you need to collect further information from your supervisor.

Without question, technology enhances life and makes our workload easier. That being said, it can also cause quite a few headaches when errors arise. Knowing these simple steps when trouble comes will save you time on the phone with IT.

Is Chronic Disorganization Taking a Toll on Your Productivity?

Do you lose valuable time at work due to disorganization? If so, you’re not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, 51% of respondents said they lose up to nine hours a week due to desk or office clutter.

Now that we are past the recession, businesses are rebuilding their workforces and new work is piling up. With more to do, every minute counts. Let us know how workplace organization, or the lack of it, is impacting you.

 

Take our survey!

 

Risky Business: Six Risks You Should Take When it Comes to Your Career

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Finding and keeping a job can be two scary and challenging feats. Although there are steps you should take to do both of these, some risk is involved. Implementing some of the following risks to your career should provide some much needed direction and guidance.

1. Negotiate: Negotiating can be a risky situation because it needs to be approached with the correct attitude. Appearing too demanding or confident during a negotiation may leave the wrong impression, while allowing yourself to be pushed around is unsatisfying as well. Approach any negotiation with a calm, confident demeanor, understanding the fact that your request may be denied. However if you take the risk of losing a job offer – or job – to ask for what you want, you might just get it! That being said, if you are happy with where you are in your career, don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiation.

2. Disagree: Office disagreements can be difficult and awkward, but only if you allow them to be. Sharing your differing opinion with your employer and co-workers will establish yourself as an invested employee contributing to your company. Should a time arise when your disagreement is not appreciated, don’t panic. Collect your thoughts, attempt to explain yourself in a clearer manner, and keep your cool. Your office should appreciate your professionalism and voice.

3. Do what you love: Although this isn’t a foreign concept, not every individual applies it to their life. Discover your passion and go after it. You may falter along the way, but pursuing what inspires you is a great risk with an even greater reward.

4. Switch careers: As we mentioned above, loving your job is key. Leaving your current job for one more focused on your passions can give you a renewed sense of purpose and zest for life. Don’t be afraid to make the leap, even if it means taking a pay cut or starting at the bottom, again.

5. Vacation: Society has trained us to think of time away from work as an immediate career-killer. However, taking time for yourself allows you to reassess career goals and objectives, refuel, and come back refreshed. If you work hard while in the office, no one will question your taking a much-needed vacation.

6. Speak up: Volunteering to give presentations in or outside of the office will give you an edge. Countless researchers have found that individuals fear public speaking more than anything else. Although you may not enjoy the experience, being willing to speak publicly when others allow their fear to hinder them will gain you instant recognition in your employer’s eyes.

Although you may still have concerns about the above career risks, doing nothing can be just as damaging to your career and work-life balance. While you don’t need to do all of these things, accomplishing at least one in a timely fashion will give you beneficial insight into your career.

Three Tips for Getting Your Retirement Started off Right

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When hearing the word retirement you may think of sandy beaches and hours upon hours of free time. The reality is though, without a decent amount of preparation and organization, retirement is anything but a trip to the beach.

Start now.
Ask any financial guru and they will all tell you the same thing – start saving now. No matter your age, it is never too early to begin planning for retirement. The earlier you save, the longer your money has to grow. Each year’s saving will build upon the prior year’s saving, and slowly but surely you will accumulate wealth. If you don’t have much cash to spare, consider easy ways to cut back on spending and put what money you don’t spend toward retirement.

Take advantage of help.
Some companies have great retirement incentives, like 401 (k) plans. This particular type of plan is typically a salary reduction deferral, which regularly contributes a specified amount of an  employee’s paycheck to their 401(k). This plan is designed specifically for retirement savings and can be a great way to help you start saving early. Although you may think receiving your full salary is more beneficial than filling your 401(k), remember the money you aren’t receiving today will be there when you retire.

Set goals.
The worst retirement plan is no retirement plan at all. Knowing this, set realistic goals about the type of lifestyle you want to have after you retire. Consider every expense you may encounter, including living, travel, and food. According to the Department of Labor, “almost 20 percent of retiree income will be spent on health care,” so be sure to save for emergencies as well as luxuries in your later life.

Although retirement may seem like a distant journey, it is never too late to start preparing for it. Remember, the sooner you begin saving, the longer your money will have to accumulate and the better you will be able to enjoy your new post-career life. 

Three Toxic Workplace Behaviors You Should Avoid

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If you think about it, your co-workers really are your second family. They are the people who you see throughout the majority of your day, sharing successes and failures together. You share life celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and office anniversaries. You share about your weekend, your kids, and your life. But, because you share so much, there’s also a risk of sharing negative behaviors and attitudes too. Knowing this, it is important to understand how to approach and live with toxic co-workers.

The Pessimist.
The pessimist co-worker is characterized by his or her ability to consistently anticipate the worst possible outcome in every situation. To be fair, we all have gloomy days where we would rather be somewhere other than work. That being said, the pessimist has more gloomy days than not, bringing the office morale to a dangerous low. The worst thing about a pessimistic attitude is the fact that it is contagious. Recognizing this and avoiding negative conversations with your pessimistic co-worker will be imperative. Keep conversation as positive as possible. For every negative anecdote you hear, share the positive side of thinking. While you may not be able to cure your pessimistic co-worker, a cheerful attitude is contagious too. So it’s definitely worth a try. Plus, it’ll help keep your spirits lifted no matter what.

The Slacker.
We’ve all come in contact with at least one person who tends to procrastinate. Whether they’re putting off returning a phone call or avoiding a major deadline, these slackers don’t just affect their productivity, but yours as well. Typically, when an individual procrastinates, they will look for help during the final countdown of their deadline. To avoid enabling this procrastinator’s tendency, do not offer your services when the clock is ticking and derail your own productivity. For example, if your co-worker approaches you five minutes before your day is over in need of major assistance, simply say you’re unavailable for such a last-minute commitment. Helping your co-workers is a mutually beneficial behavior most of the time, but in this situation you will put an end to the slacker’s bad behavior and point him or her back to the path of productivity. 

The Showboat.
Despite your efforts to create a team atmosphere, a few co-workers may ignore you. Unfortunately in the work world, there will be times when others take full credit for something they only partially contributed to. In this situation, it really is best to say nothing. Continuing to work hard, contributing to the team, and maintaining professional relationships will stand out to your co-workers and employers. In the end, you will gain the greatest achievement of all, the respect and admiration of your peers, and most importantly, your boss. Notice the showboat stealing other people’s thunder too? Come to their aid with helpful words of praise, and they’ll be more likely to point out your achievements too. Besides, recognition is always more valuable when it comes from someone else.

Office relationships are undoubtedly tough. Stressful deadlines, workloads, and co-workers can all contribute to a toxic work environment. However, if you remember to keep your cool and professionalism, you will be able to steer clear of the majority of inner-office drama and toxicity.