TouchDown with a Bad Boss – Week 2


Check out this week's top solutions for how to deal with a tough boss. As part of the Touchdown with a Bad Boss contest, each week from now until September 1, we will be spotlighting three top solutions we've received on how employees handled a tough boss.  E-mail your story to At the end of the contest, voting will begin to determine which solution is the best. The person who receives the most votes will win the grand prize. Tell us your story today and the winner could be you!

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

When Patricia was 18 she was a waitress at a truck stop in Wyoming. The dress code required heels but Patricia had broken her foot in the past and heels were not the easiest thing to wear all day. After wearing heels for a couple of weeks she realized this wouldn’t work for her feet long term. Patricia proposed the idea to the boss that he wear heels for two hours and if his feet didn’t hurt afterward she’d continue with the dress code, but if he discovered otherwise, the dress code would be changed. After the two hours were up he asked the ladies, “How in the world do you work in these things?” That day the boss changed the rules to allow clean white tennis shoes for the waitresses. The whole team had fun watching the boss try to work in heels and everyone was happy with the outcome. This experience was nearly thirty years ago, and Patricia learned that when your boss makes a request sometimes it’s okay to ask them to take a walk in your shoes while you tackle the job together. As Patricia said, “Some bosses have never had to do what you do, and do not really how know hard the job is.” Patricia has used these moments in her career to find better ways to do things and has demonstrated the positive impact change can bring.

Pushing Through
One evening after a long day of work, Christopher was asked by his manager at a national TV rental company to repossess a 19-inch TV on his way home. When Christopher pulled up at the customer’s house, he saw that the house was surrounded by a SWAT team, and a team of paramedics. As he climbed out of his van, he stopped a paramedic and asked if he could slip inside and repossess the TV. But, the paramedic said it wasn’t a good idea since the customer had just been killed in a domestic dispute. So, Christopher called his boss and told him the situation. His boss ordered him to get the TV again, but this time Christopher was turned away by a police officer. His boss was furious that Christopher came away empty-handed. This was just one example of his boss’ unbending attitude. Christopher stayed focused on diligently doing his job and going above and beyond what was expected of him. Eventually, his boss left the company and Christopher was promoted to manager.

Keep Cool
Ken had to learn real fast how to deal with his quick-tempered new boss. Not long after being promoted to an afternoon shift, front-line supervisor, Ken was in his office preparing for work when he glanced out his window and saw his boss on the department floor frantically waving like he was trying to land an airplane. When Ken rushed down to see what the problem was, his manger pointed to a brand new pounds-per-square-inch gauge lying on the ground, and he demanded to know where it came from. Since it was not a cheap piece of equipment, Ken wondered how he could explain it being on the ground. But, before he had a chance to explain, his boss shouted, “I want to know right now where that came from!” Ken calmly picked up the gauge, turned it over, and read aloud from the manufacturing stamp, “Green Bay, Wisconsin!” At first his boss was speechless, but after a minute he smiled and nicely asked, “Can you make sure it gets put away, please?” From that day on, he treated Ken with respect and realized that there are better ways than anger to get the job done.

Didn't see last week's top solutions? Check them out here!

I Got a Promotion! Now What Should I Do?

EntryLevelLifeButton_C All your hard work has paid off. Your manager has noticed your attention to details, skills, and abilities. You are being promoted and will receive a pay raise and a new job title. Sounds good, right? Congratulations are in order, but if you are concerned about what your new promotion entails, here is some advice to help ease into the transition of your new job role.

Maintain open communication. Anytime you take on more work responsibilities, it’s natural to have some questions about your new role or need some guidance. In most situations, managers will give you time to get adjusted to the changes. To help ensure that you don’t fall behind on tasks, be sure to talk with your manager about things you don’t understand, prioritizing tasks, how you’re feeling about your new advancement, and the progress you’re making. Keeping the lines of communication open is important.

Set goals. In order to get where you want to go, you first have to know how to get there. This applies to your daily workload. When you take on more responsibility, more work naturally follows. Make an outline of your goals for the year, quarter, or month. What do you want to achieve in your new role? Talk with your manager regarding what your objectives are and what it is you want and need to accomplish. This is a way for you to track your success over time. It also allows you to quickly report on your progress to your team and managers. And, don’t forget to outline your goals for the week to help give you direction and manage your time.

Develop your skills. Although you have received a promotion, this doesn’t mean your career stops here – unless you want it to. When you get a promotion, it’s usually because a manager has recognized your outstanding work ethic. Continue this momentum after your promotion. Seek out new training and learning opportunities to grow your skills and gain more knowledge. Remember, “Knowledge is power – the more you learn, the farther you go!”  Some examples of ways to develop your skills include: reading blogs about your field of interest, subscribing to newsletters, attending monthly networking meetings or training seminars, or taking a class at a local vo-tech or college. Just be sure to discuss your training plan with your manager first. By staying motivated and driven, more opportunities are likely to come your way in the future.

These are some basic tips to help you continue to climb the career ladder. A promotion is usually a great sign that your employer respects and values your work and abilities. Whether you just received a promotion or one is in the future, use this information to help you reach the top.

Touchdown With a Bad Boss

ACA10BOSS_200X200_W The Touchdown with a Bad Boss contest is underway! Each week from now until September 1, we will be spotlighting three top solutions we've received on how employees handled a tough boss. For this contest, we want you to submit your story on how you solved a problem with a boss that was "tough to tackle." E-mail your story to At the end of the contest, voting will begin to determine the favorite story of the 12. The person who receives the most votes will win the grand prize. Learn more about this contest and submit your story today!

Top Solutions Submitted from Aug. 2  Aug. 6

A Team Player Can Tackle Two Bosses  
Marisa worked for two tough bosses, each with their own game plans. Marisa’s boss was offended when she brought up a problem with a team leader; but provided her with some tips. Marisa thanked the boss for her tips and followed back up with her when the problem was solved. Marisa also identified that the formerly offended boss was motivated by securing her own position as a team leader. In Marisa’s role as supporting this boss, Marissa made sure to pass on compliments from team members on project completion and appreciation for her contribution. Marisa realized while this boss could get upset easily, the boss rewarded hardworking and proactive staff so Marisa made sure to stay at the top of her game. Additionally, in this role Marisa’s other boss would turn to office politics to further her role as a boss. Marisa saw it was easy to lose when you engage in office politics so the best way to move forward was to stay focused on her job and be a helpful asset to everyone on the team. The more people you are helping out, the greater your value to the team. This eliminates the need for you to join in with office politics. Marisa offers these tips to help improve your relationship with your boss: learn the best way to navigate company culture; appreciate the strengths of your boss; amplify the quality your boss appreciates in you; and earn the respect and support of your co-workers so your boss can join them in celebrating you!

For the Love of the Team  
Bruce worked with a manager who was trying to bring his game tactics as a football quarterback from twenty years earlier, into the workplace. The boss’ strategy was to stomp and yell when making a request to ensure he was understood. In a misguided effort to have fun with employees, he would inform them they were fired and then laugh hysterically and tell them it was all a joke. As an HR professional Bruce saw the opportunity to motivate this manager by showing him how his past game experiences could be used in a positive way in the workplace. Bruce suggested the manager draw on the inspirational moments from sports to coach his team into action, rather than relying on intimidation. Bruce feared the manager would not accept this advice, and could even retaliate by firing him. His feedback was instead met with silence at first. A couple of weeks later the team lost a big account, and instead of blowing steam the manager gathered the team together and gave the most motivating speech ever. The manager drew on a sports memory and then went on to tell the team they had the opportunity, strength, and ability to win the account back. The team gave the once-feared manager a standing ovation for his heartfelt speech, and that was the beginning of a new workplace environment. The other great news is that the team did land the account again a year later. By leading up, Bruce was able to score a touchdown with his boss.

Game change
Scott was hired by the boss’ wife and the boss didn’t approve of Scott. The boss would voice his frustration by yelling and ordering Scott to clean up unnecessarily-made messes in the restaurant. Instead of being disrespectful or giving up, Scott worked harder and took on extra responsibilities. Eventually, Scott was even able to give his boss advice on increasing the profitability of the restaurant. With all of his actions, Scott became a valued team member, and when he moved on to a new career opportunity, the boss tried to find a way for him to stay. When the boss who tried to throw you from the game makes you the MVP, you know there has been a good change in the game.

How to Write a Business Proposal

EntryLevelLifeButton_E In the workplace, there may come a day when you need to create a project proposal. Maybe you think your company needs a weekly brainstorming meeting. Maybe you have developed a new filing system. A project proposal is a detailed description of activities targeted at solving a problem – from beginning to end and everything in between. If you need to create a project proposal, start with an outline the five W’s of the project –who, what, when, where, and why – as well as outline the how. Creating a proposal helps explain a project to others, gets buy-in, and helps ensure a project of quality and efficiency. So, keep these tips in mind when you’re creating a project proposal.

Justify your reasoning for the project. You can’t just create a project because you think it will be fun. You need to be able to give reasons and examples of how this project could improve or impact business. Outline what value the project will bring to your company, how the project fits into the overall scheme of what your company does, how it will impact you and your co-workers, and the anticipated outcome.

Create a timeline. After you present a brief overview, break the project down into smaller, more manageable pieces and shows your commitment to the details. Doing so provides organization to your project. You can either break a project down step-by-step or divide it into different phases. It’s also important to assign deadline dates to the project to ensure that the project is created and implemented in a timely manner. The dates that you set should be realistic. Allow enough time for a quality product to be produced, but don’t allow so much time that months or years down the line there is still no end result to show.

Outline financial costs and human resources. It’s also important to estimate how much you think the project will cost. This will include such things as employee time and supplies. Projects can range from needing a very small budget to a large budget, so review the budgets of previous projects completed on a similar level to get a more accurate estimate. It’s also not a bad idea to talk to your manager about what seems realistic for a budget on your project.

Implement a follow-up plan. Once you have all the basics for your project outlined, it’s time to think about how you would measure the results to ensure you’re meeting your goals. Be sure to list out how you would track results and how often you would conduct tracking. The goal of this is to make sure your project achieves the desired results that you hoped for and to determine if you’re addressing the goals.

These are some basics of creating a project proposal. In general, when you take more time in the planning process, the more sound and structured a project will be. Also, doing this communicates to your boss that you believe in your project and want to make it the best it can be. Most bosses would look at this as a sign of leadership, drive, and determination – all good quality’s to have in today’s workforce.

Have You Seen My Stapler? The Rules of Office Supplies

rules of office suppliesAs an employee, you need specific tools to get your daily work done. Pens, highlighters, notepads, staplers, folders, and the list goes on and on. Maybe your company provides you with these supplies. Maybe your company doesn’t. Either way, here are a few tips to keep in mind about workplace office supplies that will help you keep the peace at work, maintain good relationships with your co-workers, and avoid asking the question, “Um, excuse me … have you seen my stapler?”

If you have to borrow something, ask first. Maybe you really can’t find your stapler and you do need to borrow one for a major stapling project. Before you grab the first one you see, be sure to ask if you can borrow it. It’s important to be respectful of your co-workers’ desk space – it’s their territory. Keep in mind how you would feel if you went to grab your tape dispenser only to discover that your co-worker borrowed it a few days ago. To avoid workplace drama, it’s always better to ask to borrow something, especially if it’s for an extended period of time.

Return what you borrow. The rule of thumb to remember is that if you borrow something from one of your co-workers, be sure to return it back to them in a timely manner AND in the same condition it was in before you borrowed it. Be respectful of others’ property.

Don’t take office supplies home. If your company keeps you stocked with office supplies, that doesn’t mean you can take some home for your personal use. It’s easy to drop a pen in your purse or put one in a pocket and walk out of the office with it. But, after time, those little things start to add up and can start costing your company big bucks. Make it a point to keep your office supplies at the office and purchase your own personal office supplies to use at home.

Learn the policy for re-ordering. So, what do you do when there are no more tissues or you can’t find a highlighter in your entire workplace? Is there someone in your office who’s in charge of buying more office supplies for the whole team? Or is it an every man for himself mentality? Be sure you know what to do so that when you run out of sticky notes you don’t get stuck empty handed.

Label items you bought. If your work doesn’t pay for your office supplies, label the items you buy. Put your initials in marker on the bottom of each item, that way if something does get lost, others will know that it belongs to you. This will help prevent debates about who owns what.

Office supplies seem like such a minor part of the workday, but employees can be a little particular when it comes to these tools. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure your workday runs smoothly.

Hold the Phone: The Line Between Personal and Business

EntryLevelLifeButton_A Today it seems impossible to find someone who doesn’t have a cell phone of some kind. It’s also becoming impossible to find someone who’s not on their phone all the time. Your company may or may not have policies that forbid cell phones at work, so be sure you know the rules. If your company does allow you to have cell phones at work, there are some important things you need to be aware of. In a recent survey conducted by Express on smart phones versus workplace etiquette, 59% of voters said that most people are irresponsible with their smart phone use while at work. Phones can be an easy distraction, but follow these tips to help stay focused on the tasks at hand during your work day, and make sure your phone doesn’t become a distraction.

Keep it quiet. When you get to work, turn your cell phone to silent or vibrate mode. This will prevent your ringtone – however great you think it might be – from blaring across your workplace, alerting everyone that you’ve got an incoming call.

Limit your personal phone calls. If there is a reason you have to accept or make a personal phone call at work, keep it short and sweet. Don’t make too many personal calls at work because that will take time away from doing your job and might create a negative situation between you and your manager.

Excuse yourself. If you work in close proximity with your co-workers, like a cubicle, and do get a personal phone call, quietly step out to take it. Go to a quiet spot where you can possibly shut a door to keep your conversation private. Having a phone conversation could distract your co-workers and not everyone in your workplace wants or needs to hear your conversation.

Keep it tucked away. It’s not necessary to take your phone with you everywhere you go throughout your work day. Unless you are expecting an emergency phone call from someone, it is better to leave your phone in a secure place, like your desk, keys, or locker.  If someone does call and you’re away, they can leave you a message and you can call them back at a later, more convenient time. By leaving your phone behind during a meeting, it won’t be a distraction to you or others if someone calls you.

Create texting ground rules, too. Different generations have different expectations, so be mindful of others’ communication preferences. Be mindful that when you’re engaged in face-to-face conversations with co-workers, it’s important to give them your full attention. Make it a rule to not text at the same time you’re speaking with them.

Be cautious about smartphone apps. Smartphones are growing in popularity, and what they are capable of doing is quite impressive. With a smartphone, you have the ability to download applications for games such as Words with Friends – a scrabble game you can play with co-workers – or for social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. However “cool” these apps might be, they can cost your employer a lot of money in lost productivity if you’re more focused on your smartphone through the day than your job. Be responsible with your time while on the job and save your smartphone fun for your free time, such as lunch, breaks, or after work.  

It’s important to know about cell phone etiquette in the workplace. Always be aware of your personal phone usage and be sure that you’re getting your work completed first and foremost.

What’s the Worst that Can Happen? Saying No to Projects

EntryLevelLifeButton_C You agreed to lead staff meeting this morning. It’s your day to go on a lunch run for everyone. You have a conference call with a client right after lunch. You have three back-to-back meetings from 2:30 to 4 p.m. You agreed to help distribute the office mail. And, to top it all off, you’re working the weekend shift to help out a co-worker who’s sick. Just the thought of all you have to do is overwhelming. It’s not a bad thing to want to be a “super employee,” but when you try to take on everything by yourself, you quickly start to feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done.  If this sounds familiar, you could be overcommitted at work.

Juggling tasks and demands is a big part of any job in any workplace, and the art of time management is an important skill to have as an employee. But, when you get bombarded with projects, how many times do you agree to do something else when you’re already maxed for time? To effectively manage your workday, you have to learn the art of saying one little word: “no.” Although “no” can be a scary word to say, it’s much worse to over promise and under deliver. The art of saying “no” is all about how you approach it and how you say it. Here are some tips on how to make your “no” effective when you can’t say “yes” to everything.

Track your project workload. Always know what projects you’re working on, when they’re due, and how much time you’re spending on them. This keeps you aware of what projects you have already said yes to and whether or not you can take on anything else. If your boss wants to assign you four new projects with an immediate deadline by maintaining a project list you can show him whether or not that can be accomplished with your current workload. If it’s not, ask if you can work out a new project deadline so you can have the necessary time to make the project the best it can be, rather than doing something quickly and filled with errors.

Know your job priorities. What key tasks are you responsible for in your current job? In your job description, what goals were outlined for your career? Those goals and projects are usually your main focus. But, you will have times where you do need to help out a co-worker with some of their tasks or take on a special project that has nothing to do with your job. It’s never OK to use the excuse of “that’s not part of my job.” A team does have to give and take, but if special projects are taking over your work schedule and you’re not able to complete your core tasks, something needs to give. For instance, if a manager asks you to pick up their dry cleaning, it might be time to have a chat with your boss about what projects you can gracefully decline. If someone other than your manager asks you to take on a project, tell them, “thank you, but I will have to check with my manager before I know whether or not I can do this project.” If you don't know what the priorities are for your job, check out the Tough Conversations podcast series to learn how to approach your manager.  

Maintain your ethics. In the workplace, not everything you do is going to get you ahead of the game. Never under any circumstances should you do anything that compromises your integrity. For example, if a co-worker asks you to lie to your manager to cover up a mistake she made, that definitely justifies saying “no.” Sometimes saying “no” may make you the unpopular person, but it’s better than jeopardizing your values and losing your job. Don’t let individuals bully you into saying “yes” to something that’s against company policy or makes you feel uncomfortable. If someone asks you to do something questionable or illegal, tell them “no” and explain that you feel uncomfortable with that. If you continue to be asked to perform that task, contact your HR department.

Keep things relevant. Obviously if you don’t know how to do something, don’t just agree to take it on. If you find yourself in the situation of not knowing how to complete a project because you don’t have the skills, let your manager know your concerns. It’s better to decline the project rather than try to take it on and hurt your career in the process. Most managers and co-workers would be appreciative and understanding of what you can and cannot do. Instead, they should look at that as a learning process for you under the guidance of someone more experienced. In the event that this happens to you, explain that you would like to take on the project, but do not have the necessary skills to complete it. You could also let them know you’re interested in learning how to do that particular job, but you would feel comfortable with some training or supervision first. 

“No” doesn’t have to be a bad word, as long as you can logically show why that is the best answer in a situation. Just keep in mind that as you continue to grow and develop in your profession, you will be expected to take on more duties. As your schedule gets busier and your projects increase, be sure you’re in control of your projects and your workday so they don’t control you. Follow these basic tips to empower you to say “no” when necessary.