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Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

Photo Credit: Aaron Edwards @Flickr

Photo Credit: Aaron Edwards @Flickr

Revolutionize

Common opinion: the current job market sucks and employers have all the power.

Truth: employers are just as screwed as you are…kind of.

The world at large would like to wag their fingers and say employers are the almighty powerful ones because they are the ones with the jobs.

Nonetheless, how powerful can they really be when forced to slash jobs and lose labor, thus diluting their market share? The ambiguous, elusive big-badness of a down economy affects employers as well.

True business productivity is invested in how much is created – not how much is deleted.

Companies in a down turn need to seek new alternatives to connect with the unemployed besides creating boring Monster ads. There is a disconnect – a gap – between keeping the job seekers relevant to the market and the employers maintaining  business productivity. 

Just because the job is “gone” doesn’t always mean the work still doesn’t need to get done.

There are ways for the job seeker to keep their skills and ideas fresh while they look for permanent work. As a business, how are you taking advantage of that?

Shut up

Job descriptions say too much.

Or, they don’t say enough.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to opine that employers veer into the former much more often than the latter. Oh no! Employers wring  their hands and yammer with gusto “How else do I attact the right candidate?”

In reality, you probably are not attracting the right anything because your HR manager’s in-bin is flooded with qualified, unqualifed and crazy job candidates.

People are applying in droves to everything, everywhere. So, what exactly is the purpose of  master tailoring  your job descriptions to speak to certain candidates?

None. Zip. Nada. Goose eggs. 

It would be best to revamp how you want to recruit for the downturn instead of worrying so much about keywords and scanable resumes. 

Also, keep your promotion as a teaser. It’s fair to say that you’ll eventually interview someone for a job with your company. Tell me just enough. And, if you’re lucky (or, if I’m lucky) when you interview me, you can talk (ad nauseum) about how great your company is.

And, while you may be sure that a certain job would be great for the right candidate – don’t inundate (or alienate) me with overstuffed descriptions, pretentiousness or fresh vocab from Bill O’Reilly’s Spin Thesaurus.

Numbers

Perhaps this is a quirk that only HR folks like to use. Numbering a list of responsibilites in a job description makes it look boring and rigidly unimaginative. Why? See below:

  1. Wake up
  2. Brush teeth
  3. Shower
  4. Eat
  5. Blog
  6. Nap
  7. Job search
  8. Nap
  9. Eat
  10. Bed

Wow. All this to be done in one day? I can’t wait. In reality – it’s a lot more fun than it looks.

Don’t embarrass yourself

I recently saw a job description that called for the following (emphasis mine):

The candidate needs to work it and own the front desk.

They also have to be comfortable with hearing the other brokers yell (not necessarily at them).

Also, when the big guys in the office have clients (football players, star athletes, entertainers) the receptionist will need to step up.

Does this company want a receptionist or an In Living Color fly girl running the front desk? Scarily, I think they want the Fly Girl. 

I wonder how seriously such a company takes the jobs of its employees. In this case, they are trivializing the job in question when mandating that the receptionist “own” his/her desk. Trust me on this: owning a desk is not the company’s way of “hipster-izing” job duties or professional accountability.

Just because I’m a twenty something (soon to be thirty something), please don’t talk to me like an idiot.

Better yet, don’t talk like that. Period.

 

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Obo-bobolina @Flickr

Photo Credit: Obo-bobolina @Flickr

You can’t get a word in. When you do, it’s glossed over like you are talking about the weather. You are ignored.

Or, at least it feels like it. Lots of twenty somethings complain that their superiors look over their ideas or outright ignore their creativity in the workplace.

Cue rolling eyes and huffy sighs

Frustration is inevitable when one has so many ideas they want to implement – if only their boss would just listen to them!

Contribution and creativity are, in reality, two different things in the workplace. Effective contributions generate ideas that have a foreseeable (and achievable) impact on a company or department’s bottom line, operations or strategical methods (or all three). They are not necessarily plans that have the “wow” factor attached to them or implement the never-seen-before-or heard-before ideas.

Creativity ignores that – not in a bad way, though.

Creativity doesn’t follow the route of necessarily being practical. It tends to be big. It creates new (or side) projects. It requires a leap of faith or someone with guts. Creativity may not always be effective. Yet, it damn sure is interesting (to the creator, at least). 

If, however, you are able to successfully merge creativity with an effective contribution – then, you may boost yourself out of the Middle Child Syndrome.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with creativity. It, nonetheless, may have little to do with work. Here is what you can do in the meantime to get over your MCS:

Ignore

As long as your own work is not in peril, it may be best to “act like it’s not happening.” Depending on the hierarchy in your company, your boss and co-workers might not be ready to bask in the light of your sunny ingenuity. Don’t let that stop you from being your wonderful, creative self.

Keep coming up with new ideas – they’ll be useful.

Tone it down

Are you running down your boss (mercilessly) to get your point across? For example, its’ 8:05 a.m., you and your boss are at the Flavia machine and you hound her with all your “great” ideas for getting involved with social media.

Your boss is a 57 year old Baby Boomer who thinks Facebook is stupid. And, the last thing she wants to hear (for the 8th time) is you cheerleading for blogging, twittering or whatever else.

You have to dole your creativity out in small doses. Don’t stampede people with it – spoon feed instead.

Don’t Whine

“No one listens to me – and I have really great stuff to say!” Ugh. That’s one way to alienate everyone in the office. Don’t (openly) complain about how you are not getting the attention you think you deserve.

Be open and cheery. Whining is a major turn off. Who wants to talk to a whiny (Gen Y) brat?

Find a connector

This is especially helpful for women in predominantly male environments. Gender differences in communication (and creativity) will always exist. Therefore, if you have someone who can help support your innovation, it most certainly can’t hurt. Recognize that nothing gets done alone.

Find an evangelist for your ideas.

If that fails, connect with someone who can help you do the following:

  • Tweak your ideas so that they can better fit with the personality and goals of the company
  • Better address the priorities of the company or department
  • Target you towards existing projects that need a fresh jolt of energy and creativity

Chemistry

Sometimes, the frictions are more personal than professional. It can be hard to fit into a new environment and doubly difficult when the chemistry is off kilter. There are ways to fix this, but it takes time. Spend your time being likeable and dependable, implementing creativity will surely follow.

Good ideas and plans don’t expire, so don’t rush yourself.

What do you think of MCS? Do you think there is more to MCS than just having your ideas ignored?

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success3

Photo Credit: Kevinthoule @Flickr

Dear Readers,

You know, a while back, I was supposed to write a series on Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers?

Well, I hope you didn’t forget. I did. And, the next two chapters I am critiquing didn’t make it any better.

As I am sure you have probably finished the book by now, I can only hope you will share your opinions with me…or roll your eyes in annoyance (as I did).

Gladwell names 3 things as contributing factors for Joe Flom’s success: 

  • Being Jewish
  • Luck
  • Meaningful work

Essentially, Gladwell has framed these ideas in context to his past chapters on a sense of entitlement, birth year and the 10,000 hour rule. In short, Mr. Flom was able to capitalize on the discrimination he faced by “white shoe” law firms in the 1950s and ’60s. As such,  a typical (Jewish) lawyer at that time would be forced to work for a “smaller, second-rate, upstart law firm on a rung below the big names downtown” or if they went into business for themselves, they took whatever came through the door.

This setback primes a young lawyer, like Mr. Flom to do work that the big name law firms deemed unfit to perform. What sort of work?  Primarily, litigation and proxy fights. I could go on and cite more (boring) facts that make Gladwell’s case, but I won’t. To summarize, the remaining two factors involve the luck of being born during the Great Depression and being exposed to parents who performed meaningful work.

Gladwell surmises that the cultural legacy of the three factors frame the success for Joe Flom and others like him.

Rounding out his theory on legacy, Gladwell cites the background of the Appalachian Howard and Turner clans of Kentucky. From the description, imagine it as a cross between The Proposition and Appaloosa

What?!

Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives.

They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.

Gladwell is careful to note that using the idea of cultural legacies to determine success is a slippery slope that can lead to racial and social stereotyping. I’m not impressed. And, neither should anyone reading this book. I thought I’d be “wow-ed” by Gladwell’s interpretations of success – I’m only disappointed. No, I did not read Tipping Point or Blink.

I can only assume that those are his better books because they are a part of today’s b-school and grad school curriculums.

From Gladwell’s observations, I only conclude (so far) that he is supplying interesting facts and tethering what may seem like disconnected ideas to give success a new “spin.”

Maybe, I’m biased or short-sighted. Perhaps, I’m reading everything wrong. Generally, a book that is seeking to change my views on success has only created a set of factors (some within my control, some not) as annoyances and ancestrally created obstacles.

If Gladwell is trying to (re)define success as something that is 3-dimensional, he has succeeded. Yet, only for the wrong reasons.

According to Outliers, if my parents time my birth year just right, I will only need to spend 10,000 hours doing something meaningful and complex that gives me autonomy. I have to remember to speak up and make sure that people accomodate my needs. I just need to be smart enough to get into college, but not necessarily be a genius. And, if I’m raised in the South and haven’t gone to jail (yet)  for someone “disrespecting” me – I should be OK.

So far…(maybe not) so good.

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Petar_C @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Petar_C @ Flickr

I had an interesting conversation with my Editor about the validity of social media sites and blogging. As a career journalist, it boggles his brain that people are so willing to famously record their lives for the sake of readership and attention (at least, that’s the motivation behind it, he thinks).

And, as a journalist, it makes no sense to him that people think their opinions and ideas matter so much that they should be read by (possible) thousands on the web-o-sphere.  

Despite  knowing that blogging is about conversation, I think some journalists see it as conversation circulating in a vacuum.

As for my own shortcomings as a blogger and journalist, I still have to decide how much of myself I want to reveal in my posts. I’m not against honesty – but I always think people can have too much of a good thing.

I even de-friended a “friend” on Facebook because she updated too much. I know, that’s terrible. I’m a horrible person with no soul. But at least I didn’t do it for a Whopper.  And, to further add to my (ridiculous) hypocrisy, I was the jerk who was updating her own FaceBook page a gazillion times a day via my links on Twitterfeed.

But, I felt like I was getting on  people’s nerves doing that, so I dismantled the connection.

At times, the social media/blogging experience is uber wonderful. You read breaking news, discuss cool topics and connect with people who are interested in the same things you are. Other times, I feel like I’m the only one wearing sweats in a nudist colony. Everyone is so in tune with themselves.

The barrier to entry on broadcasting yourself to the world is so low, everyone wants an opportunity to chronicle every (insane) mundane event in their life. From cataloging hundreds of photos on Facebook to tweeting obscene updates on Twitter. Even blogging – your opinions count in the blogosphere (but only if someone is reading them).

So, instead, soul searching  morphs to a point where it becomes self-flagellation. Instead of having the secret embarrassment of making mistakes, people blog/FB/tweet about their not-so-secret pains and upsets. What happens with the intimate connection of just keeping some revelations to yourself? What happens with having whatever clarity of thought be just for you and no one else?

There’s transparency – and then there’s unabashed nekkidness.

But, I guess that is the point. The democratization of information. But, when did that include the democratization of extreme self-awareness to be witnessed by all?

Everyone is scrambling for a voice. People want recognition. They want to be heard. People need to learn from others. But then, only the rest of the world seems to be paying attention to the same percentage of people. Was your life any more (or less) interesting before you got a blog? Do 475 people really need to see you making out with your ex-boyfriend on Facebook? How thoughtful is that post about your girlfriend dumping you on your birthday?

Particularly, I’m interested in being meaningful. Blending complexity. Creating autonomy. Building relationships. And, I’m not sure how well people are blending, creating and building when they are so narrowly focused on steering attention on themselves.

I haven’t been able to (yet) reconcile the distinct voice I can have in the chattering mass of the blogosphere. Or, justify not having my photos scattered all over the web universe. Maybe that makes me (too) intensely private. But, in a world where everyone seems to be watching (and wants to be watched) the idea of keeping it to yourself seems dead.

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dunce-capPeople who make our jobs harder never cease to amaze me. Because of some fleeting whimsy, they dole out orders, execute actions or change procedure giving little forethought to the consequences.

For example, a co-worker of mine has to clean out a database filled with contacts from imported lists. These lists sometimes contain duplicates, sometimes not.

How do you know?

An indicator in the form of a question mark appears next to each name. So, you can ferret out the ones that are duplicates. Then, merge them with the originals already existing in the database.

Did I mention that there are thousands of contacts? 

Yes, it’s a boring, tedious and repetitive task, but it needs to get done. But having a little help made the work easier, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, somebody decided they didn’t like the way question marks looked in the database. They removed them. Every. Single. One. Also, the double whammy is that this certain somebody needs to have the list free and clear of duplicate contacts because they desperately want to avoid calling existing customers. If not, they’ll be in trouble. BIG TROUBLE.

Of course this person was told about the “mistake.” Their response, “I didn’t like the question marks.”

Now, my co-worker has to go through each and every contact. Search for duplicates, whether they exist or not. It slows down the project. And perhaps, the department’s time line is shot.

Oh well. Somebody didn’t like question marks.

So, you see folks, people who make your job harder don’t have good reasons for making it that way. And if they do, you know why up front – not afterwards. But usually, they make things harder for themselves, whether they realize it or not.

Plainly, that just makes them idiots.

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shoppingI decided that it was a great idea to shop for a dress on New Year’s Eve. My boyfriend and I were going out to dinner with another couple and we had to “dress up.” This is funny because my boyfriend and I aren’t the dress up types, but we don’t embarrass anyone if we are told to look nice.

So, anyway, I told myself to find a dress in a color I like that’s in my size. It actually didn’t have to be a color I really like, because I don’t have favorite colors or signatures hues that I wear all the time. I wear what I like. That’s it.

Also, it didn’t matter if it was real pretty (or not) because it’s New Year’s Eve. Everyone’s getting pissy drunk or having too much of a good time to notice if you are wearing an ugly dress. And, if they aren’t having a good time, maybe you are in the wrong place.

So, actually, I just needed to find a dress in my size that I could stand wearing again.

I walked into the Forever 21 – a virtual madhouse, barely short of stampeding women. I don’t feel silly shopping there even though they market to teeny boppers and barely legal twenty somethings. I also know that despite the name, the people shopping there probably haven’t seen 21 in quite a few years, nor do they feel like they will be “forever 21” wearing the clothes.

I go there because I know I can find something cute for under $30 and be able to wear it to death before it turns into a Forever 21 rag.

I spot a dress (or what I think is a dress) with puffed sleeves and heather tan coloring. It’s also got pockets on the front. Cute and functional – I make a beeline.  It’s not “New Year’s Eve Party” festive, but it’s “You can dress me up” festive.

And, that’s all I need.

Alas, it’s few sizes too big. I don’t care. I need a dress. If it looks ridiculous in the changing room, I can scour the floor for some other ideas (provided I don’t suffer a stampede).

It turns out the dress looks great. And, I prefer the larger size because of the way the dress swings when I’m wearing it. Plus, it’s in a color I can wear to work  and not look like I’m ready for Happy Hour at 9:30 in the morning.

I’ve got my dress and few sparkling cheap things to glam it up a little. All this done under 45 minutes (this even includes the time I spent casually browsing after I picked my dress). When I get home, the tag describes the “dress” as a tunic top. Even better, I can wear it with jeans. My boyfriend says I look lovely and we had a wonderful New Year’s Eve.

So, sometimes when you just begin with a fuzzy idea and don’t think too hard or expect too much, wonderful things can happen. And, when wonderful things happen, you sometimes get a whole lot more than you bargained for.

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beach-imageIt’s December 2008 and the year is nearly over. And yet – where did it go?

It seems like we can spend inordinate amounts of time waiting for this to finish or that to be over and never really looking forward to a beginning.

And, some of us have spent our time wishing and wondering how we can “fix” the past 11 months. Perhaps you’ve been laid off (or fired) or looking for a job that will fulfill your dreams.

Maybe a relationship has ended badly (or several), maybe you are wondering if your dreams are still worth pursuing – you’ve been spending time in deep reflection.

You can no more change what you see in hindsight than you could the actions of the past.

We convince ourselves that we’ll be careful of “this” and not do “that” again, but life cannot be edited backwards. You have to make the changes along the way so you can live in a forward fashion.

The person you were in high school, or  college or even yesterday is not the same person that’s reading this post now.

Relying too much on past mistakes to steer you clear of future problems is trickier than it looks.

Living forward means understanding past troubles as exactly that – the past. What you knew then is so much more than what you know now.

So, embrace that and embolden yourself to take as may steps forward as you can.

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