Don’t Let Facebook Cost You a Job

Facebook Kimberley Swann, an office administrator in England was sacked last month for telling her friends that it was boring. Dan Leone, a stadium operations worker in Philadelphia, lost his job last week for criticizing management’s decisions.

Where they erred – they vented to their Facebook friends.

They didn’t mention specific people. They didn’t even name their employers. They just updated their Facebook status with what they were feeling at the time – about work.

Today’s social networkers should consider the lessons learned from these examples.

Know your friends. With Facebook, you pick who you want to be friends with. There are pros and cons to befriending co-workers, and there are advantages to separating your work life from your private life. Did Leone’s friends rat him out, or was he Facebook friends with his boss? Swann’s slip up was clear. She was 16-years-old and in her first real job. She wanted to make friends and fit in. Her downward spiral began when she added co-workers to her Facebook friends and then started talking negatively about her job.

Don’t alienate a revenue stream. You shouldn’t target any co-worker by name and should really try and avoid talking about workplace specifics on social media profiles. You have the right to express yourself; however, your employer can determine what’s “appropriate.” Swann’s employer felt that her comments about her job were a sign that she was not happy and didn’t enjoy her work. They didn’t want to continue to invest time and energy training her.

Control your emotions. If you’re going to share your feelings and opinions, or even vent online, be prepared to stand behind what you write. All you’ve achieved in your career can be gone in a flash. Leone worked his way up through the ranks with six years of dedication, but a few days after his status post, he was fired. It didn’t matter that he took the post down after two days. As far as his employer was concerned, his post was a bell he couldn’t unring.

There will be growing pains as social networking evolves – especially in the workplace, where one mistake could cost you your job. Swann and Leone found out the hard way what not to say about work online.

The next time you get ready to post something to your profile, add a co-worker as your friend, or vent online, think about what happened to these individuals and how their job loss could have been avoided.

Have you faced a similar situation? Do you know anyone who has? Let us know in the comments section below.

How Not to Ask for a Raise: Part 4 of 4

Peanuts_1 Never approach your supervisor asking for a raise with a cavalier attitude or a sense of entitlement. As a manager, nothing frustrates me more than when employees feel they deserve a raise just because they lasted another year.

If your significant accomplishments include being on time and meeting deadlines, you might think twice about asking for a raise because those are examples of just doing the bare minimum.

Raises – especially significant raises – are earned by being a top performer and demonstrating your value to the company. You have to be able to demonstrate how your company is better off because of your efforts or you aren’t likely to get a raise.

Prove why you deserve one – not that you need one because of poor financial choices or a bad economy.

You might not be able to receive a raise now, but look at where you can be in a year. Set your goals high and persevere, then this time next year you’ll be able to negotiate a well-deserved raise without making any mistakes.

Managers, please share your successes or tales of disastrous raise requests by commenting below.

What Do You Mean “No Raise”?: Part 3 of 4

Corporate You’ve done your homework, written out your case for a raise and presented it to your boss, only to be met with a resounding “No.” Where do you go from here? Well, you can take the rejection and curl up in your cube or hide in your locker, or you could do something about it.

Be flexible. If money is tight, you should consider asking for additional paid time off, stock options, or tuition reimbursement. These are alternative benefits that don’t require permanent salary commitments.

Be persistent. Ask your boss what you have to do to be considered for a raise. It might be nothing, or it might be something substantial. Now that your request is on the radar, you can keep the topic front and center by committing to a deadline. Tell your supervisor that you want to revisit the request in six months. This puts pressure on you to perform but shows initiative on your part. By scheduling regular one-on-one progress meetings with your boss, you may have the raise sooner than you planned.

Get promoted. Your company may have hiring and salary freezes in place, but that doesn’t rule out promoting people. Rather than a raise, you might be considered for a promotion, especially if people are leaving your company. Set your sights on the promotion instead of a raise and the financial windfall could be significantly better a few months down the line. If you think of yourself as promotion-worthy, the same rules apply – prove you’re a top performer by documenting your value to the company.

Everyone wants to be properly compensated for the job they do. If your company is operating in the red and there have been significant layoffs, now is probably not the best time to ask for a raise. But if you have a plan in place, you’ll be way ahead of your co-workers when the economy turns around.

Check out part four of this series to find out how not to ask for a raise.

Did your persistence pay off? Did you get the promotion you wanted? Share your successes with us.

Plan for Your Raise by Proving Your Value: Part 2 of 4

Running_man Most people go into a performance review thinking about the raise they’ll get. But, if you’re a top performer, you might not have to wait until your next scheduled review. When it comes to asking for a raise, it’s vital to strike while the iron’s hot and your performance is top-of-mind.

When is the moment right? Have you recently closed a big sale, finished a big project, or received accolades from co-workers and the bosses? When you’re being praised for your actions, that’s the perfect time to discuss the value you bring to the company. State your case in a one-page memo that highlights why you should be rewarded.

How valuable are you? Companies reward top performers who can demonstrate their return on investment. How did you contribute to the company’s bottom line last year? What are your plans for this year? When you look at your value in terms of what you’re saving the company or making the company, you can make a strong case for a raise. For instance, if you saved $80,000 by reducing printing waste, a raise might seem in order.

Leave with an answer and a plan. Don’t expect an immediate yes or no. More than likely, your supervisor will want to get back with you. But, don’t fall for the brush off line, “I’ll have to get back to you.” Don’t leave until you have a follow up plan in place. Schedule the next meeting immediately.

How have you demonstrated your value? Have you been successful? Are you still waiting for your supervisor to get back with you? In part three of this series, you’ll learn how to overcome objections.

Asking for a Raise in a Recession: Part 1 of 4

Up_and_down The current economic landscape means that things aren’t pretty when it comes to the workforce these days. Budgets are being slashed, layoffs are increasing, and hiring and salary freezes are now commonplace.

You might think in this economy that it’s the worst time to ask for a raise.

But then again, it might be just the right time to ask for one – if you can justify it to your boss. To improve your chances of success, it’s important to assess your past, present, and future value to the company before asking for more money in these budget-conscious times. This four-part series on raises will help you traverse the obstacles that stand in your way.

Start by thinking about these two questions. And if you’re a supervisor – these questions can help you evaluate a request for a raise.

What have you done for me lately? Performance reviews can be a challenging task for managers because not only are you evaluating performance, you’re also determining if they’re deserving of a pay raise. If it’s time for your review, approach it seriously and remember that there’s a difference between performing your job duties and going above and beyond. Provide specific examples of how you exceeded expectations. Be sure to document, in writing, your benefits to the company, especially if your actions saved or made the company money.

How much are you worth? Everyone wants to get paid what they’re worth, so it’s important to research comparative salaries. Resources such as, and can provide guidelines to help you identify a range for your position based on your job responsibilities and geography. The more knowledgeable you are about your position, the more comfortable you’ll be making your case.

In part two of this series, you’ll learn about timing your request.

5 Attributes for Protégés to Demonstrate

find a protegeIn season eight of Seinfeld, Jerry and George Costanza had the following exchange:

George: I still don’t understand this. Abby has a mentor?
Jerry: Yes. And the mentor advises the protégé.
George: Is there any money involved?
Jerry: No.
George: So what’s in it for the mentor?
Jerry: Respect, admiration, prestige.
George: Would the protégé pick up stuff for the mentor?
Jerry: I suppose if it was on the protégé’s way to the mentor, they might.
George: Laundry? Dry cleaning?
Jerry: It’s not a valet, it’s a protégé.

George was certainly not interested in being a mentor for the right reasons. Later on in the show, Jerry reluctantly mentors a fellow comedian. It was a bad match from the beginning, but part of the problem was the comic protégé did not know his roll. Just as there are Be-Attitudes for mentors, there are Be-attitudes for protégés.

• Be organized. Whether it’s your initial meeting with a mentor or your 15th, you need to have an agenda. You’re not just meeting to meet. This is a learning relationship. Be mindful of the mentor’s time. Don’t waste it by not being prepared. Ask what time is best for them and be flexible. Consider meeting before or after work, or during lunch. You are both setting time aside, so try to separate your mentoring sessions from the work day.

• Be eager to learn. As a protégé, consider yourself to be a ball of clay that is open to being molded and shaped over time. If you open your mind to learning, thinking differently and trying new things you might surprise yourself.

• Be receptive.  Accept honest feedback and view it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Be receptive to change and your mentor can help you grow professionally.

• Be trustworthy. Trust is something that is hard to earn and easy to lose. Set ground rules up front that what is discussed in mentoring sessions stays in mentoring sessions – it goes in the vault. That is, unless you need help outside of the mentoring session and you ask your mentor to intervene.

• Be open to new ideas. You’ll have the opportunity to see things through the eyes of others. You are looking for perspective, and by considering different ways of doing things you’ll grow exponentially.

Now, armed with this knowledge you are ready to seek out your mentor. Let me know how your journey goes.

9 Essential Qualities to Look for In a Mentor

“Always in motion is the future.”
– Yoda

Mentors are more than just advisors. They are guides that help protégés grow and develop. Mentors are valuable allies to have on your side. Let’s explore some of the best qualities to look for in a mentor.

Mentors should:

• Be available. The relationship between a mentor and protégé doesn’t occur immediately. It evolves over time. And time is something most people have in short supply. Mentors must be willing to spend time regularly with their protégé and have a desire to work with their protégé to plan strategically and to help build that individual’s career.

• Be willing to learn. An ideal mentoring relationship is really a partnership in which both parties learn from each other. The mentor brings knowledge and experience, but so too does the protégé. The mentor’s insights can help boost your skills, abilities and goals accomplishment. The younger protégé (or less experienced because mentors can be younger than their protégé) can provide a different perspective that an open-minded mentor can use to improve their workplace relationships.

• Be knowledgable. A mentor does not have to be an expert, but should be proficient with the political structure and operations of the company, the industry or your profession. You can benefit from a mentor’s cross-departmental relationships or industry contacts. A mentor with a broad-base of knowledge has more to offer and can add to your overall career development.

• Be a good listener. Listening is an important interpersonal skill and one that not everyone is proficient. The mentor should give their full attention to the protégé (and vice versa). Let the person finish speaking before you chime in. It is also important to ask questions. A mentor who is a good listener can ask probing questions to flesh out a clearer picture of what the protégé is presenting. This way the mentor acts as a sounding board who in turn can provide unbiased feedback.

• Be open-minded. By keeping an open mind, a mentor can help you develop a vision for the future based on their short- and long-term goals. Understanding the direction and expectations of the protégé will make charting the course a seamless process.

• Be a confidant. Everyone needs a safe place to safely open up, a place to work off frustration, anger, or apprehension without fear of retaliation. A safe harbor is created after there is mutual trust established in the relationship. In addition to listening, maintaining confidentiality and providing feedback are the key things you needs. Mentors should provide protégés with a shelter where thoughts can be voiced, emotions can run and ideas can be acted upon (or curbed). This sanctuary provides an environment suitable for you to learn control and coping techniques.

• Be challenging. Imagine taking a dog for a walk (I’m in no way comparing a protégé to a dog). You can walk a dog with no leash and the dog can run all over the place. You can also walk a dog on a three-foot leash and it will stay right by your side. Or you can walk a dog on a leash that allows it to walk from three feet to 15 feet away, but it can always get back to safety if danger threatens. Likewise, mentors can create situations or assign activities to protégés. This allows you to step out of your comfort zone and develop new ways of thinking or new skills. The safe environment is conducive to you gaining independence. If the project goes well, the protégé could earn credit and recognition and discover a new identity in the workplace.

• Be honest. When I was growing up my mother would tell me to “look in the mirror” when I was acting out. I didn’t get it until I became a parent. Explaining how others view the protégé is an important attribute of a mentor as well. Just like with parenting, sometimes mentors need to use tough love and say the things that you might not want to hear. The advice is offered in a mentoring relationship, so then you are less likely to get defensive because you know the mentor has your best interests at heart.

• Be a champion. If you have demonstrated that you are a solid performer, a mentor can be your best supporter – and defender. Mentors can help protégés transfer to other areas of the company when opportunities arise. If you misspeak at a meeting and something is taken out of context, the mentor can step in and stop the rumor mill.

You shouldn’t seek out a mentor that can only provide instruction. Instead, you should look to a mentor who can commit to an ongoing, developmental relationship that will foster trust and help build confidence in the workplace. Tomorrow, I will discuss the essential attributes for protégés.

Has your career been impacted by a mentor? If so, please add to my list of mentor attributes.