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Showing posts from September, 2012

Do You Work With Someone Who Can't Let Things Go?

Something strange happens at work, but you work through it and move on. But not your co-worker. Days, weeks, months later she's still bringing it up to re-live, re-hash and re-stew. Let's talk about the co-worker who keeps talking about ancient history! Say, for some reason, you never got the message about a meeting. So, you missed it. Maybe the message was detained by an aggressive spam filter? You don't know; you can't find the message. So you backtrack, tie up loose ends, and move forward. Too bad your co-worker can't seem to do the same thing. Are you SURE you never got my email? That's really strange. I know I sent it to you! You apologize for dropping your end of the ball, say how it's good that things are up to speed and moving along, and then you try to change the subject, which goes well for about five minutes until she segues right back to the topic. Are you SURE you never got my email? That's really strange. I know I sent it to you! You was…

Hiring Managers Saying "TTYL" To the Millennials

A new report finds employers want to hire older workers over Millennials, which is good, because it's National Employ Older Workers Week. That's one awkwardly-phrased designation, but let's talk about it, anyway. Adecco Staffing US/Braun Research polled hiring managers and found they're three times more likely to hire a "mature" worker (defined as a worker aged 50-plus) over a 20-something Millennial because mature workers have a work ethic, don't text the whole time you're trying to talk to them, and, in general, have the know-how and proper social graces to get the job done:"The rise of mature workers in today's workforce is a direct result of economic and societal factors," said Joyce Russell, President of Adecco Staffing US. "These are individuals who long ago paid their dues, and given their years of experience and work ethic, they make excellent job candidates and strong employees — and the results of this survey show how ove…

13 Things That Will Disappear From the Workplace In Five Years

I had to use a fax machine* the other day. Yes, a fax machine. I know, right? I thought this technology had gone the way of the dodo, too. Well, if you believe a new LinkedIn survey, it is on its way out along with a long list of other office stuff. Let's adjust our monocles and have a look-see! Ditching fax machines, tape recorders, and Rolodexes is only the start of The Great Office Upgrade coming our way over the next five years. Ten other things LinkedIn has put on the endangered list include standard working hours; desktop computers (take a breath, Microsoft!); cubicles; business cards; copiers; USB thumb drives; formal business attire; desk phones; corner offices for managers; and, finally, offices with a door. I'll give office desks and chairs two-thirds of a seat at the soon-to-be-extinct table, too. The manager of the future will always have an open door policy because he or she won't have a door. Listening to employees complain about their co-workers will stil…

The Future Workplace Offers No Seat At the Table

If you're an upwardly-projecting employee looking for your seat at the table, just cool it already because employers everywhere are starting to cut back on chairs. Yes, chairs. By 2020, you might just be chair of the committee without a chair from which to chair. Take that, Clint Eastwood! It's no secret that global companies have been downsizing office space over the last decade. We don't need no big, stinkin' office; just pack everyone in like sardines! And Citrix Systems tells us that it's going to get worse. In 2020, the average global employee will be working from two-thirds of a desk, and the average office will have only seven desks for every ten employees. Just stand there pecking at your average of six mobile devices, which will also be a big part of the excuse reason you don't need a desk or a chair anymore. But it's mostly about cost savings. According to the Citrix Systems report:Organizations expect to reduce workplace space by seven percent w…

What To Do When Your Boss Has A Really Bad Idea

You're in a meeting when your boss throws out what could be one of the worst ideas in the entire history of the world. Oh no, what to do. Anyone who works long enough will encounter the departmental manager or CEO with The Really Bad Idea. This idea is breathtaking both in its stupidity and its probability of failure, whether it's an "idea" (I use the term loosely) for a new product, an updated procedure or even simple suggestions for a co-worker's surprise birthday party. Besides wondering how this person was elected leader in the first place, you suddenly feel like you're between a rock and a hard place. Do I call my boss out on his or her disastrous idea, or do I go with the flow as it inevitably circles the drain? This question is on my mind after reading a L.A. Times story over the weekend in which Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said something silly. So silly, in fact, that I had to re-read the passage a few times to make sure I had read i…

Robotic Assistants Are Coming To Take Your Job

A "robotic presence" is coming for you, but it doesn't look anything like Mitt Romney. Yet. A Boston start-up called Rethink Robotics wants to bring robotic assistants to your workplace of the near future to interact with you, to do things for you, and to not take your job away from you. (We'll come back to the last part in a minute.) Rethink's first robot, Baxter, will be released next month to a scared, anxious workforce. His total, one-time retail cost: $22,000. That's a hell of a lot cheaper than you with your pesky health plans, sick days, kid's noon-time school events, and free dry cleaning. Baxter requires only occasional maintenance, and he doesn't give a damn about office politics or cake in the break room. He's going to be the Rudy of the workplace. If only you could put out 110% like Baxter here, bosses across America will say, we could get some real work done! Sigh. Here is your future nemesis in action! Perhaps sensing the unease …

Senate Republicans Shoot Down Veterans Jobs Bill

I can't seem to pull myself away from watching the implosion of the Mitt Romney campaign this week. As a past and current member of the 47% thanks to student loans and the Great Recession* it's just, wow. Incredible. While everyone's talking about Mitt, however, the U.S. Senate took the veterans jobs bill to the mat yesterday by blocking it 58-40 on a budget vote. The Veterans Jobs Corp Act of 2012 would have set up new job-training programs so our military veterans could land work in a variety of fields. The $1 billion program would be set up as as pay-as-you-go system where the revenue generated over ten years would have paid for the program. The unemployment rate of returning soldiers can be rather volatile, but alas, the Republicans didn't like the $1 billion price tag and...well, I'll just let Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) explain:"This violates the Budget Control Act, there is no dispute about it," Sessions said in a floor speech Wednesday. "Th…

Vocal Fry Is Rrrreaaaly Frying Job Applicants' Chances

You just found out that you didn't get the job. Was it something you said? Yes. In fact, it might have been everything you said and how you, like, said it. Instead of sounding serious and erudite, you came across sounding like a young Moon Zappa from 30 years ago. Moon Zappa's "Valley Girl" talk was the precursor to today's "vocal fry," a low-toned, verbally elongated way of speaking that plagues many a modern young person, particularly young women. If you think you haven't heard vocal fry here, there and everywhere at the mall and at the movies, then here's your tutorial: Like, sound familiaaaaaar? Vocal fry is on my mind this week because I was at a playground recently standing near two twenty-something moms who were engaged in a rapid-fire, full-scale, VERY LOUD vocal fry session. Between the two of them, the word "like" was uttered nearly 30 times in a two-minute time span. (Yes, I counted, because I'm a nerd.) That's ro…

One-third Of U.S. Workers Work For A Younger Boss

Does your boss make you feel like a vintage 8-track tape sometimes? If you find yourself avoiding '70s, '80s (or even '90s) cultural references whenever your boss walks in the room, you're not alone: Slightly more than one-third (34%) of American employees work for a younger boss, and 15% work for a boss who is at least 10 years younger. At least, this is one age spot CareerBuilder's new generational survey hands us: "Age disparities in the office are perhaps more diverse now than they've ever been. It's not uncommon to see 30-year-olds managing 50-year-olds or 65-year-olds mentoring 22-year-olds," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "While the tenants of successful management are consistent across generations, there are subtle differences in work habits and views that all workers must empathize with when working with or managing someone who’s much different in age." So don't make any Bobby…

Does Your Co-worker Take Credit For Your Work?

You've been hard at work on something, and it's time for the Big Reveal during a meeting. But wait! Here comes your nowhere-to-be-seen-until-now co-worker swooping in to take partial (or full) credit for your hard labor. What is this "we" stuff you speak of? Co-workers who steal the credit always make the list of employees' Top 10 workplace gripes, and for good reason. Working alongside them is sort of like being back in high school or college with the One Person in your assigned class project group (there was always one...) who didn't work as hard to contribute but sure as hell wanted to ride the group's coattails to extra credit. We found in our research...we? Our? I didn't know you could enter Google search terms on Grand Theft Auto, buddy. Thanks for always being 20 minutes late to our group study sessions, and for texting your friends the entire time, too. Having to drag your dead weight across the finish line was a lot of fun for everyone invol…

Here Are (At Least) 25 Small Ways To Honor 9/11

In honor of 9/11, I won't be blogging today other than to remind everyone that today is the National Day of Service and Remembrance. What will you do to make a small difference? If you didn't arrange a formal volunteering project in advance, there are still hundreds of things you can do on a personal level today to make a small difference in the lives of the people around you. Let someone merge into traffic instead of cutting them off. Put your car horn away for the day. Let the stressed-out mom with a full grocery cart and a screaming baby go ahead of you in line. Hold the door for the person(s) behind you. Help a total stranger with a heavy box. Donate $1 to the charity you always say "next time" to at the big box store. Buy a burger and a drink for the homeless person sitting outside the fast food place. Give up your seat to an elderly person (something we should be doing a lot more often, anyway). Pick up something someone dropped on the floor and hand it back …

Medications Are A Bitter Pill Of the Workplace

If you tuned into MSNBC's Morning Joe last week, you might have caught Tom Brokaw acting a little bit...well, a little bit drunk. Let's go to the videotape, because we can! It turns out Brokaw wasn't high on life or anything else. No, he had made a basic mistake while taking his morning medications. Instead of taking an aspirin, he took a sleeping pill. Then he went to work, which just happens to be on national television. Brokaw called his medicinal mix-up a cautionary tale. I call it a bitter pill of the workplace. We feel for you, Tom, because many an average employee has messed up while taking his or her medicines on the way to work. If only we could put a price tag on all of the lost productivity, then we'd probably be able to pay off our national debt. There are a lot of ways to arrive at a medicinal mix-up. Like Brokaw, you might take the wrong pill. You meant to take one pill, but took a Viagra instead. Ooops! I guess it's safe to say you'll be late …

August Jobs Report: We'll Work Again Someday, But Probably Not Today

On the heels of a successful Democratic National Convention comes the August jobs report. And it's totally...well, it's sort of okay instead of really bad, so that's good? The Bureau of Labor Statistics says U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1%. Payroll provider ADP, however, released its own private survey yesterday that says U.S. businesses added 201,000 jobs in August, and that job growth in July was actually better than reported. ADP says that small businesses lead the way in hiring last month -- always a good sign. The healthcare sector is a hot hiring market, too. So things are looking up, at least somewhat, on this old, creaky roller coaster we call economic recovery. Creating 96,000 jobs is always better than losing 96,000 jobs, right? Right. At least things are moving in the right direction. It's way better than the hot mess of an economic crisis we called October 2008. I'll take it. Update: Ezra Klein o…

New Best Buy CEO Will Not Be An Undercover Boss

Best Buy's new CEO, Hubert Joly, has announced he will spend his first week on the job working the retail floor at a few of the company's Minnesota locations. "The last time I worked in a store was in 1975," he says. Wow, this ought to be fun. It's sort of like that CBS reality show Undercover Boss. You know, the teevee show your DVR starts recording before your kids change the channel without asking first. Or maybe that's just me. Joly, whose critics claim lacks retail experience, won't be hiding his 007 CEO identity from his fellow Best Buy co-workers, though. No, he says he wants to work cognito and be trained in the grumpy ways of customer service, ringing up returns, stocking items, and tagging along with Geek Squad agents. I guess he automatically gets the wingman front passenger seat? This story caught my eye, because in the age of reality teevee shows we turn off after two minutes more CEOs are striving to look in-touch, in-tune, less in-humane,…

U R So Fired: Boss Texts Workers That Jobs Are Gone

In this week's edition of horrible firings, an Alabama restaurant owner decides to fire more than 60 employees via text message and apparently thinks it was the right thing to do. No, really! He says that firing employees by text message gives them the "opportunity" to look for new jobs without the burden of having to come to work. Getting fired by text message also keeps employees "safe." Huh? This line of reasoning is one pancake short of a full stack, IMHO. Anyway, it's just another day in the age of job separations over social media. TTYL.

Got A Minute? How To Handle Constant Interruptions At Work

August is finally over, Labor Day has come and gone, and all of your once-vacationing co-workers are back in the office and ready to rock and roll. Now you can finally get some real work don...huh? Uh, what? Please pardon the interruption, what was I saying again? August was slow and staff-strapped, but it was all sorts of awesome because the co-workers who constantly interrupt you took turns being out of the office. The always-emailing co-worker, the cackling cube farm dweller, the "do you have a sec?" memo-reminding hall walker...they all went incommunicado, even if it was only for regular, three-hour "working" lunches at the corner T.G.I. Friday's while your constantly-interrupting boss was on vacation. Ahhhh, quiet. This place is like a freaking library! Now you can finally concentrate and get some work done. Your train of thought is well on its way to its final destination, and it'll be arriving 30 minutes early. But now your train of thought is brok…