employee http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/168/all en-US Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_working_happy_000022817538_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning ways to ace her performance review" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An upcoming performance review can certainly mess with your emotions. On one hand, you may be ready to hear what your employer has to say, especially if a positive review might result in a salary increase. On the other, you may be nervous at the possibility that you're not meeting your employer's expectations. And that sucks. But there's plenty you can do beforehand to maximize your performance review. Consider these seven tips to help ensure you get those gold stars.</p> <h2>1. Go in With an Open Mind</h2> <p>Prior to meeting with your boss for a performance review, you need to prepare your mind for the possibility of hearing something negative. Overall, your boss may be satisfied with your performance. But there's always room for growth, so she might also highlight areas that need improving.</p> <p>It's natural to become defensive, but don't immediately jump in and offer an explanation or justify your actions. Let your boss finish and listen to her concerns. There may be some truth to those claims. Besides, any negative feedback you receive likely comes from a good place. Your employer wants you to succeed and reach your potential. If she didn't, she wouldn't bother providing feedback.</p> <h2>2. Ask for Clarification</h2> <p>You're not the only one nervous during a performance review. Your employer may also be a little anxious, especially if he's bringing up items you need to work on. If he's nervous or has to meet with many of your coworkers in a short amount of time, he may rush the review or not express himself clearly. This can result in vague statements and misunderstandings. You shouldn't leave the meeting confused or puzzled, so don't be afraid to ask for clarification or specific examples. You can't improve your work performance when you don't fully understand the issue.</p> <h2>3. Understand Your Employer's Expectations</h2> <p>If you don't receive a good performance review, the problem may have nothing to do with lack of effort, but rather different expectations. In your mind, you're hitting the mark and helping the company succeed, yet your boss thinks otherwise. For example, maybe you put a lot of time and energy into meeting deadlines, but your boss feels you don't take the initiative or contribute to the team in other ways. To maximize the takeaways from a performance review, ask your boss to clarify her expectations. Based on this information, you can set short and long-term goals to improve your performance.</p> <h2>4. Take Notes During the Review</h2> <p>Your employer may have a lot to say during a performance review, and you may forget some of the important points. Therefore, come prepared to take notes. You can jot down your weaknesses, as well as your strengths. This way you'll get a clear picture of how you're performing as a whole. Taking notes also leaves a good impression with your employer. This shows that you're committed to improving and growing as an employee and giving 100% to the job.</p> <h2>5. Don't Slack After a Positive Review</h2> <p>Performance reviews aren't always negative. Your employer may have nothing but good things to say about your work performance. You might meet all his expectations, and you might be the best worker on the job. It's okay to give yourself a pat on the back, but don't let a perfect review go to your head. Let this be your motivation to continue on the right path. This isn't the time to slack off or think you don't have to work as hard. You want to continue to impress your employer so that your next review will be equally positive.</p> <h2>6. Summarize Key Points</h2> <p>To show your boss you were listening during the review, end the meeting by summarizing in your own words his <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-certifications-that-add-big-to-your-salary">suggestions for improvement</a>. Briefly explain how you plan to address these issues moving forward.</p> <h2>7. Schedule a Mid-Year Review</h2> <p>If possible, don't wait until your next performance review to track your progress. During the initial meeting, discuss goals with your employer and then see if you can schedule another meeting in the upcoming months to evaluate your progress thus far. If your employer conducts annual performance reviews, maybe you can schedule another meeting in six months. Or if your employer conducts reviews every six months, perhaps he can schedule a follow-up review in three months.</p> <p><em>What do you do to maximize your performance review? I'd love to hear some of your tips in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work">12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-important-signs-that-your-job-sucks">10 Important Signs That Your Job Sucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-unmistakeable-signs-youre-slacking-at-work">5 Unmistakeable Signs You&#039;re Slacking at Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-bad-habits-that-are-ruining-your-career">6 Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tips-for-better-workplace-body-language">7 Tips for Better Workplace Body Language</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building boss employee Office performance review work work performance Mon, 16 Nov 2015 09:15:53 +0000 Mikey Rox 1612346 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Reasons People Don't Do What They Are Supposed to Do http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-supposed-to-do <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-supposed-to-do" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-suppose...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-supposed-to-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005573449Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ever noticed that people don&rsquo;t always do what they are supposed to do?</p> <p>Whether you have recently hired new employees for the first time or have lengthy experience in leading teams comprised of full-time, permanent staff plus contract workers, you may encounter situations in which <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/dealing-with-problem-employees-the-basics-of-progressive-discipline-1" target="_blank">people don&rsquo;t do what they&rsquo;ve been asked to do</a>. Here are common scenarios and suggested fixes.</p> <p><b>1. He is unable to change his habits</b>, which are ingrained in how he executes day-to-day tasks. Frequent reminders, retraining, and disciplinary actions have no lasting impact.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Make changes to the environment and sequencing of work to break outdated, unwanted patterns of behavior. Remove the temptation (perhaps an improperly used tool or always-on website), rather than keep asking the employee to break bad habits.</p> <p><b>2. She misunderstands the nature and scope of her work. </b>Sadly, instead of asking questions or signaling her confusion, she muddles through each day. Though her focus should be on figuring out how to accomplish specific goals, co-workers and vendors dictate her priorities.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Clarify your expectations for her position, updating and refining her job description as needed. Coach her on techniques for dealing with outside pressures. Confirm that you will provide direction and support but make sure that she develops the ability to stand on her own without your continual intervention.</p> <p><b>3.</b> <b>He is in a hurry.</b> For whatever reason, he wants coworkers and vendors to execute his ideas quickly. He may have had a late-in-the-season epiphany for a marketing campaign or new product introduction. Or timelines are generally inconsequential to him.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Establish firm lead times that are nonnegotiable, especially if certain ideas require execution by work areas with limited resources. Alternatively, establish processes to execute quick turnaround on ideas with high ROI potential outside of your regular workflow.</p> <p><b>4.</b> <b>She lacks discernment</b> and is unable to sort through what&rsquo;s important and what&rsquo;s insignificant. Overloaded with information and short on insights, she waffles on decisions, defers action under she gets more clarity, and chooses unwisely.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Provide regular coaching sessions to step her through the process of making sound decisions consistent with your company&rsquo;s mission and its values. Communicate direction and get involved in helping her make difficult choices early rather than later.</p> <p><b>5. He is not getting the information he needs.</b> System glitches and ill-designed reports prevent him from getting alerts, exception reports, and so on in a timely manner. The information that he does receive takes hours to analyze in order to get relevant facts needed to do his job.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Don&rsquo;t underestimate the need for timely, accurate information. Make sure your technology team solves these information problems quickly. While waiting for a strategic IT solution, develop a workaround that speeds up the reporting process.</p> <p><b>6. She doesn&rsquo;t trust your judgment.</b> Specifically, she believes that your guidelines are inappropriate based on her perception of customer needs and company&rsquo;s brand positioning. So she ignores your instructions and continually does things her way, which she believes provides a superior experience to the customer and upholds the brand message more appropriately.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Clarify her sphere of influence and reiterate your brand promise distinct from her desires. Plus, give her honest, quantitative feedback on her effectiveness. Set objective, quantitative goals that measure her performance objectively, rather than allowing her to rely a general feeling that she is a doing a good job, serving the customer well, and preserving the integrity of the brand promise.</p> <p><b>7. His workload is overwhelming.</b> Because he feels that that he can&rsquo;t possibly complete all of his work, he tends to focus on tasks that he enjoys and finishes assignments that benefit the most demanding (rather than the most important) customers. Other items are left to languish, eventually causing problems.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Evaluate workload for feasibility and make adjustments if necessary. Establish quality and timeline expectations so that proper emphasis is placed on assignments and areas of accountability. Schedule periodic progress reviews on longer-term projects to make sure that there are no surprises close to deadlines.</p> <p><b>8.</b> <b>It&rsquo;s complicated.</b> The assignment is so out of the ordinary and complex that she doesn&rsquo;t know where to begin, so she delays the start. Plus, her regular workload keeps her so busy that there is little time to really consider how to tackle this project.</p> <p><i>Fix: </i>Move mundane tasks to another employee so that she can have time to develop the project plan. Encourage her to ask questions so that you can share your knowledge, point to resources, and help narrow decisions.</p> <p><b>9.</b> <b>The wrong person is in the job.</b> You discover that he doesn&rsquo;t have the problem-solving abilities, mental courage, or leadership abilities that you thought he did when you hired him. He doesn&rsquo;t really understand how to bring innovation to the company, which you need now more than ever.</p> <p><i>Fix:</i> Realize that not all problems can be remedied by changes in your approach. Instead of struggling with a difficult person who is slow to adapt to new circumstances, can&rsquo;t sort through workload without hand-holding, and the like, change the assignments of your staff members or find a replacement who can do what he is supposed to do.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/9-reasons-people-dont-do-what-they-are-supposed-to-do">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-all-successful-freelancers-do">10 Things All Successful Freelancers Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center employee employee communication employee management employee motivation lazy employees leadership small business Sat, 22 Oct 2011 17:54:48 +0000 Julie Rains 756220 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Ways to Revive Burned Out Employees http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-ways-to-revive-burned-out-employees <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-ways-to-revive-burned-out-employees" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-ways-to-revive-burned-out-employees</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-ways-to-revive-burned-out-employees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009377117Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to miss signs that your employees are getting burned out&mdash;especially if the economy has left you battle-fatigued, too.</p> <p>But chances are, there are people on your team who are losing steam, given the increased productivity demanded of many workers since the 2008 financial crisis. A Harris Interactive poll for the site CareerBuilder that was released in July found that <a href="http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr649&amp;sd=7%2F28%2F2011&amp;ed=12%2F31%2F2011" target="_blank">77 percent of employees</a> say they are sometimes or always burned out on their jobs.</p> <p>Fortunately, it doesn&rsquo;t cost a lot of money <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/10-myths-about-employee-incentive-programs-1" target="_blank">to turn things around</a> if members of your team seem tired, cranky, unenthused or stressed out these days. Here are some tips on how to prevent or reverse employee burnout&mdash;before your key players jump ship.</p> <p><b>Make Sure You Are Not Causing Burnout</b></p> <p>The majority of white collar workers who are happy at work take vacations, leave work at a reasonable hour, and take breaks during the day, according to the <a href="http://www.infographicsarchive.com/health-and-safety/men-happier-with-work-life-balance-than-women/" target="_blank">Captivate Office Plus Survey in September 2011</a>.The more organized you are in running your business, the easier it will be for your employees to adopt these habits.</p> <p>If managing your time and planning company endeavors is not your strong point&mdash;and you consistently find yourself asking employees to stay late to tackle last minute requests or jump on a quick conference call while they&rsquo;re vacationing with family&mdash;you need help immediately. Hire a coach, bring on an assistant, or ask an organized employee to help you with project management. Running your business in a disorganized and chaotic way is going to drive your best people out the door.</p> <p><strong>Customize Jobs When You Can</strong></p> <p>Many employees&rsquo; work-life balance has suffered since the recession, as they&rsquo;ve taken on more responsibilities.<b> </b>If you have the flexibility to tailor jobs to the individuals on your staff, it can help tremendously in fighting burnout.<b> </b>For one stressed out employee on his team, Gary Levitt, founder of New York City e-newsletter provider Mad Mimi, did away with formal office hours and offered responsibilities that could be scheduled around family responsibilities. Result: The worker&rsquo;s productivity improved dramatically. &quot;I'm very lucky,&quot; says Levitt.</p> <p><strong>Invest in Making Workers More Productive</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve already asked your team to take on more projects since the economic downturn, they may not be able to comfortably juggle any more. Instead of hitting them with more work, consider bringing in a contractor or freelancer to help for a few days. It&rsquo;s far cheaper than replacing someone you&rsquo;ve pushed over the brink with overwork. Or make strategic investments in technology that helps key members of your existing team to work more efficiently. For instance, a Stapes Advantage survey recently found that 60 percent of tablet users find they have become more productive since getting one. To avoid wasting money on technology that doesn&rsquo;t help much, try a small pilot program among a few employees before making a company-wide investment.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elaine-pofeldt">Elaine Pofeldt</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-ways-to-revive-burned-out-employees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-embrace-failure-keep-going-and-win">How to Embrace Failure, Keep Going, and Win</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center burn out employee employee management employee motivation motivation small business Wed, 19 Oct 2011 18:21:31 +0000 Elaine Pofeldt 747236 at http://www.wisebread.com Become a Star Employee by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-star-employee-by-thinking-like-an-entrepreneur <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/become-a-star-employee-by-thinking-like-an-entrepreneur" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000003760673XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="163" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&rsquo;re wondering if there&rsquo;s a way to really make a job recession-proof, there is. Yes, a large part of it depends on your industry and whether or not it&rsquo;s expanding or shedding jobs. However, even though you might not have control over the decisions your company makes, you are in control over how you do your job.</p> <p>Years ago when I was in my first real corporate job, I remember hearing that employees should be more entrepreneurial in the workplace. It didn&rsquo;t make much sense to me then. I couldn&rsquo;t see how you could be both an entrepreneur and an employee. As far as I knew, an entrepreneur ran a business, and that was not the same thing as having a job.</p> <p>Now that I&rsquo;ve had experience in both worlds, I can understand how employees can benefit by bringing entrepreneurial thinking into their work environment. In fact, during these times, there&rsquo;s a big advantage to companies to have their employees more invested in their work. Though in some workplaces, employees may not have the impression that their efforts really matter, engaged employees are more productive. It&rsquo;s not hard to understand why. If you care about your position and the company, you&rsquo;re going to do more to make it successful. That certainly would be good news for a lot of businesses.</p> <h2>Your Attitude</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to have negative feelings on the job if there have been a lot of cuts in personnel and you&rsquo;re left to pick up the slack. An attitude change may be easier said than done. So, you have to look at the big picture.</p> <p>Entrepreneurs start out with a vision of what they want to create, whether it is a product or a service. As an employee, your vision is just as important. What is your vision for your career? Do you see opportunities for advancement? If you look at the big picture, you can see that by improving the bottom line you&rsquo;re also contributing to the overall success of the company. That means that your efforts are extremely important.</p> <h2>Be Creative</h2> <p>Another trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to find creative ways to get things done. If a small business owner doesn&rsquo;t have funding or has to wear multiple hats, they have to find alternative ways to accomplish the tasks required to run their business. I&rsquo;ve worked in companies where no one wanted to change because &ldquo;we&rsquo;ve always done it this way.&rdquo; In an environment where change takes a long time to happen, you may hit resistance to new ideas. If you&rsquo;re in that type of workplace, pick your battles. If you can make a change in how you do something and be more productive in your own work, then that can go a long way. Just because there&rsquo;s been only one way to do something, it doesn&rsquo;t mean you can&rsquo;t try another way.</p> <h2>Keep an Open Mind</h2> <p>A most important trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to learn new information and to continue to adapt. The business idea you came up with in the beginning may need tweaking or a major overhaul as time goes on. You have to be ready and willing to move quickly when you see new opportunities.</p> <p>For many people, this may be the toughest thing of all. If you&rsquo;re in a job where you&rsquo;ve been for many years, it can be tempting to be comfortable in your accumulated knowledge. On the downside, many employees are finding that once they leave their jobs a lot has changed in the outside world. They may not have kept up with new skills or continued to learn. If you are current with certifications or degrees, then you&rsquo;ll not only be an asset to the company, but you&rsquo;ll be helping yourself as well. The more knowledge you have, the more attractive you&rsquo;ll be as an employee. People who stay current will be in a much better position to advance or take on other roles within the company. The more you learn, and show that you&rsquo;re willing to keep learning, the less likely you&rsquo;ll be looked on as someone who&rsquo;s stuck and unwilling to change.</p> <p>Thinking like an entrepreneur is not just for business owners; it can benefit employees as well. Your company is not just your employer, but it&rsquo;s also a place where you&rsquo;ve made a major investment of your time and energy. Being entrepreneurial in your workplace will position you as an asset, as opposed to being seen as someone who can be easily replaced.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Deborah Bailey, author of <strong>Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life</strong>. With a background in human resources, employee and executive coaching, and hiring strategies with companies such as Lucent, AT&amp;T and Johnson and Johnson, Deborah helps clients get 'unstuck' in their professional lives by adopting the entrepreneurial mindset. Read more articles by Deborah:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2247-Workplace-Issues-Can-You-Stay-Sane-in-a-Negative-Work-Environment/?cbsid=14be5d4766594958b5034c945086e315-326161887-RF-4&amp;pf=true&amp;ArticleID=2247&amp;cbRecursionCnt=3">Can You Stay Sane in a Negative Work Environment?</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.more.com/4879/7067-how-to-choose-a-career">How to Choose a Career or Business Coach</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.more.com/2046/8725-the-people-pleasers">The People Pleasers</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/deborah-bailey">Deborah Bailey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/become-a-star-employee-by-thinking-like-an-entrepreneur">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-behaviors-and-attitudes-that-can-drive-workplace-success">14 Behaviors and Attitudes That Can Drive Workplace Success</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks">Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-lessons-from-moneyball-can-help-your-career">How Lessons From Moneyball Can Help Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sing-your-own-praises-at-work-without-bragging">How to Sing Your Own Praises at Work (Without Bragging)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-progress-the-missing-link-between-management-and-employees">Making Progress: The Missing Link Between Management and Employees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building attitude employee workplace success Tue, 04 May 2010 12:00:03 +0000 Deborah Bailey 59642 at http://www.wisebread.com A Society of Fear http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-society-of-fear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/free-labor-will-win.jpg" alt="Worker in front of American Flag with the text &quot;Free Labor Will Win&quot;" title="Free Labor Will Win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="346" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are people out there whose livelihoods depend on the fact that most people go every day to some job or another. Business owners, investors, retired folks &mdash; capitalists in general &mdash; pay their expenses with profits that would be threatened if there weren't plenty of workers trading their life for a paycheck.</p> <p>I don't mean to speak ill of capitalists &mdash; I'm one of them (in my own &quot;eking out a meager existence&quot; way). But as a group, they have a vested interest in most people choosing to get up and go to work every day. And, as a group, they're terrified that most people wouldn't do that unless they had to.</p> <p>I think that's why society has been organized to make the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">wage slave/debt slave trap</a> the default path for almost everyone.</p> <p>It's a gentle trap: borrow a bit to go to college, a bit more to buy a car, a bit more to buy a house... You earn plenty of money and enjoy a comfortable life &mdash; and all you lose is your freedom to do anything else besides get up everyday and go to work.</p> <p>When I wrote about it before, a lot of commenters chimed in to defend the wage slave/debt slave trap &mdash; on the grounds that it motivates people to &quot;work;&quot; that it teaches them how to &quot;manage money;&quot; that it keeps them &quot;honest.&quot;</p> <p>And I find that fascinating. Because, see, I can understand <strong>business owners</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their profits would drop if people managed to escape their debt traps, gaining options besides showing up at their job day after day. I can also understand <strong>managers</strong> feeling that way &mdash; their bonuses would be a lot smaller (and their jobs a lot harder) if their employees were in a position to choose the work that was the most fun or interesting or useful or important. I can understand the <strong>government</strong> feeling this way &mdash; income taxes could drop a lot if debt-free citizens could choose to earn less.</p> <p>But I'm mystified by <strong>ordinary people</strong> feeling this way. It's bad enough that people put themselves into the position of having to go to work every day &mdash; and worse, having to go with whatever job pays the most because it's the only way to get all the bills paid &mdash; rather than being able to choose work because it's interesting or because it helps people. But that's only the beginning of the madness. Everyone in the debt slave/wage slave trap has to worry that any little mistake could cost them all their worldly goods and their entire future.</p> <p>In a world where these sorts of debts are normal, an ordinary person with ordinary expenses has to be afraid all the time. An unexpected expense can put the whole household at risk &mdash; it means more debt, probably at a higher rate. Any little glitch in earnings can be ruinous &mdash; it means missed payments, late fees and penalty rates of interest.</p> <p>Imagine if things were different &mdash; if most people had a comfortable emergency fund and little or no debt. A lost job would mean belt tightening, but not foreclosure. A sudden spike in fuel costs would mean turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater, but not pawning the wedding rings for enough gas to get to work one more week. It would mean not living in fear.</p> <p>As I said, there are a lot of people who think their livelihood depends on that fear. Those whose profits are higher and jobs are easier when there are plenty of frightened workers have a vested interest in things as they are. But I think we'd be better off if people were less afraid.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wage-slave-debt-slave">Wage slave, debt slave</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-on-the-installment-plan">Retirement on the installment plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-long-can-you-really-live-on-unemployment">How Long Can You Really Live on Unemployment?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income Debt Management capital capitalism debt debt slave debt slavery employee employment fear freedom unemployment wage slave wage slavery Wed, 28 Oct 2009 13:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 3760 at http://www.wisebread.com What's an employee to do? Part 2 http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Il_Condottiere.jpg" alt="Condottiere by Leonardo da Vinci" title="Condottiere by Leonardo da Vinci" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="346" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The trend toward replacing traditional employees with varying combinations of temps, contractors, outsourcing, and off-shoring is old news now.&nbsp; That gives us a bit of perspective to look at the situation and come up with some strategies for employees (and, increasingly, ex-employees) to deal with the situation.</p> <p>I talked a bit about how these trends played out in the 1990s in <a href="/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">part 1</a>.&nbsp; Now let's look a bit at the underlying forces--and at what an employee needs to do.</p> <p>I first became aware of these shifts in about 1990, when I read the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0553292153?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0553292153"><cite>Powershift</cite></a> by Alvin Toffler.&nbsp; It talks about how changes in technology were empowering the individual, both as consumer and employee.</p> <p>It's worth observing that these forces were (and are) having just as much impact on employers as they are on employees.</p> <h2>The company</h2> <p>Economies of scale were becoming less important, meaning that power was shifting away from big corporations and big banks; much smaller companies (with much smaller need for credit) could compete effectively.&nbsp; That meant that niche products could flourish, and it meant that entrepreneurs could set up small companies to make those products--and that workers could choose to work for one of those small companies, or even set up their own.</p> <p>By the mid-1990s, everyone was talking about &quot;virtual companies.&quot;&nbsp; The model of business was going to be like that of the film industry:&nbsp; A few people who brought money and management expertise (producers) would join forces with some creative types who had a vision (the director and screenwriter).&nbsp; They'd hire some &quot;talent&quot; (actors, cinematographers, composers, etc.) to create the product--perhaps outsourcing some of the work to specialty companies (special visual effects, perhaps), and definitely outsourcing things like shipping, receiving, catering, etc.</p> <p>The virtual company of the future would simply be a handful of people with a vision for how to make some money.&nbsp; They'd come together, hire outside firms to do the mundane work, use their own unique talents and vision to create whatever it was they were creating, sell it (probably outsourcing the marketing, almost certainly outsourcing the sales), and then go their separate ways to their next venture.</p> <h2>The employee</h2> <p>Toffler presented a pretty balanced view that included the downsides of these shifts along with the upsides.&nbsp; Another book written about the same time, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0380704374?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0380704374">Megatrends 2000</a> by John Naisbitt, presented a much cheerier vision, at least for employees--a world where the tools that employers used to control employees would have simply melted away:</p> <blockquote><p>Considering the complex tasks of the information era and its elite labor force, the business leader&rsquo;s job is quite a challenge.</p> <p>He or she possesses no authority over people whatsoever. The military puts deserters in jail. In business, when you are deserted, you get two weeks&rsquo; notice. Maybe. Disobey a military order and you face a court-martial. In a seller&rsquo;s market, if your first lieutenant disagrees with your approach to the client, he or she can go out tomorrow and get another job that probably pays better anyhow.</p> </blockquote> <p>(For an even more radical version of this vision, see <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0684810077?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0684810077"><cite>The Sovereign Individual</cite></a> by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, a book which proposed that these same changes would empower the individual to the point that they would not only be out from under the thumb of companies and managers, but also largely free of the control of nations and states.)</p> <p>An important cheerleader of this vision of future business was the magazine <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/">Fast Company</a>.&nbsp; I first ran into the magazine in 1996, when I visited a relative who worked in human resources and had a copy on his coffee table. &nbsp;</p> <p>I have an old piece of email where I described the magazine this way:</p> <blockquote><p>It's an odd, stressful magazine--targeted at employees and employers of the modern economy. &nbsp;The compositing of the articles is frenetic, with so many sidebars and related articles all mixed together that you just about can't read it linearly.</p> <p>The whole focus of the magazine is on the employer/employee relationship and how the increasingly rapid change in the skills employers need renders employees obsolete in short order unless they constantly renew their training, education, and experience.&nbsp; It's a notion that I think is true, but not one that I'm really happy about.</p> <p>The editorial stance of Fast Company seems to be that workers (the &quot;better&quot; workers) will come out way ahead as the economy shifts. &nbsp;That may turn out to be true, at least in periods when the economy is booming, but I'm not sure the advantages that top-notch talent will be able to wring out of the new economy during a boom will match their losses when the economy is slack. &nbsp;But, as the early 1990s showed, those losses are already being suffered, so it isn't like they have a choice.</p> </blockquote> <p>I wrote that in August, 1998, ten years almost to the day before I lost my job in the winding down of a company that couldn't keep up with changes technology or changes in customer tastes.</p> <p>For the cheerleaders, the key notion was that individuals (who used to be called employees) needed to take charge of their own careers.&nbsp; I read one good article that suggested the Condottieri (a kind of mercenary in Renaissance Italy) as the model that the people formerly called employees should follow.&nbsp; As individuals or small groups they should market themselves to companies, not as &quot;labor&quot; but as &quot;solutions.&quot;&nbsp; Instead of just taking a &quot;job,&quot; they should sign contracts that spelled out the work they'd do and what they'd get paid.</p> <h2>What happened?</h2> <p>For companies, things have gone rather according to the script.&nbsp; You don't hear about &quot;virtual companies&quot; any more, because the concept has gone mainstream.&nbsp; Just as Toffler observed, changes in technology have given small companies many advantages over big companies.&nbsp; If a couple of guys with a good idea want to produce a product or provide a service, it's not just <strong>possible</strong> to outsource whatever parts of the work the creators don't want to do, it's the ordinary thing to do.</p> <p>For employees, the changes have been much more complex and uneven.&nbsp; We have certainly not come to the end of traditional employees.&nbsp; In fact, there are as many traditional employee-type jobs as there have ever been.&nbsp; (According to <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CE16OV?cid=12">Civilian Employment</a> data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics via the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, there are currently 145.9 million jobs, down a statistically insignificant (except to the newly unemployed people and their families) smidgen from November's highest-ever level of 146.6 million.)</p> <p>There was even a period (the peak of the dotcom boom) where demand for employees was so high that all sorts of people who had previously been considered unemployable entered the workforce.</p> <p>Even at the peak, though, it was obvious that these forces worked against the traditional employee.&nbsp; For example, raises for existing employees were held down, in order to free up cash to pay signing bonuses for incoming workers.</p> <h2>The downside</h2> <p>As I said, though, the gains were unevenly distributed.&nbsp; Many employees, instead of finding themselves holding all the cards, have seen their jobs get steadily crappier.</p> <p>Companies, squeezed between customers who demand the lowest possible price and investors who demand the highest possible return on their investment, have no choice but the grind out the most possible work for the lowest possible pay.&nbsp; They cut costs at every opportunity--wages, benefits, facilities, etc. &nbsp;</p> <p>Well, at <strong>almost</strong> every opportunity--those top managers in a position to do so make sure that <strong>they</strong> are very well compensated indeed.&nbsp; In fact, for a modest number of elite performers--senior managers, key technical people, superstars in just about any area--the advantages that Naisbitt and others saw within the grasp of individuals have actually materialized.&nbsp; Many people out there can always find another job that pays better than the one they've got, giving them considerable control over their situation.</p> <p>Although there are many individuals in that situation, as a fraction of the workforce they're insignificant.&nbsp; There are very few people that management doesn't view as easily replaceable--either locally, or at much lower cost in some low-wage country.&nbsp; With investors demanding it, managers are forced to behave this way, or else be driven out of business.&nbsp; (This is a principle theme of <a href="/book-review-supercapitalism">Robert Reich's latest book</a>.)</p> <p>So, where does this leave the employee?&nbsp; I'm afraid it leaves them just where Fast Company wanted to put them:&nbsp; in charge of their own fate, needing to take responsibility for maintaining their skills, constantly searching for the best opportunities, making whatever deals best advance their career.</p> <p>The cheerleaders notwithstanding, for most people, it's a poorer situation than their parents had as employees of large corporations.&nbsp; Even so, it's worth listening to the cheerleaders, as a way to find the advantages--they're real, even if they don't overcome the downside.</p> <p>The key insight is to realize that your career has almost nothing to do with your job.&nbsp; Whether you're an employee, a temp, a contractor, or an entrepreneur, you need to take charge of your career.</p> <p>In the old days, careers and jobs were interlinked by the concepts of loyalty, job security, and seniority.&nbsp; Those&nbsp; concepts no longer apply to business situations.&nbsp; That's the downside--and you're stuck with it, whether you take advantage of the upside or not.&nbsp; So, how can you win some of the upside?</p> <h2>The upside</h2> <p>The big winners are those who can actually take full advantage of the new situation--the sort who have the temperament and the skills to create companies.</p> <p>Even if you're not that entrepreneurial, you can be one of the people who works at them.&nbsp; That means having a useful skill, and it means having the contacts to find those positions.</p> <p>You need to grab opportunities when they turn up. &nbsp;</p> <p>In the old economy, it often paid to stick with your employer, even when other opportunities showed up.&nbsp; You might miss out on a signing bonus, your raise might not match what another company was offering, but there was some value in your pension, your seniority, a position that matched your skills, a boss who knew what you could do.&nbsp; In the days when a company would carry its employees through a recession, those things might well be worth more than the (possibly very short-term) gain of jumping ship.</p> <p>Nowadays, there just about aren't any pensions any more, and younger folks don't even know what &quot;seniority&quot; used to mean.</p> <p>Taking charge of your career isn't easy.&nbsp; It's not so simple as chasing the biggest salary--you need to find jobs that expand your skills, that expand your network of contacts, and that produce products that showcase your talents.&nbsp; But the days are long past when you can rely on your employer to manage those things.</p> <p>You need to adjust your spending to account for the fact that no one else is going to carry you through a recession.&nbsp; (As a rough approximation, put aside any signing bonus, any raise you got for changing jobs, and any options that you get to carry you over periods when you're between jobs.&nbsp; If you <strong>don't</strong> change jobs, estimate what you could have made and put that amount aside--because you're stuck dealing with the downside, even if you aren't grabbing the upside.)</p> <p>Managing your career might involve doing unpaid work (free software, volunteer for community organizations, etc.) when you're between jobs.&nbsp; Anything that helps you make contacts or that produces something you can point at as a good example of your work is worth doing when you're otherwise unemployed--it's probably worth doing some of that even when you are.</p> <p>Right now (the beginning of a recession) is the hardest time to put these ideas into practice.&nbsp; It'll probably turn out to be a good time to see that the old model for employees is well and truly dead, though.&nbsp; For folks old enough to still imagine that there's such a thing as loyalty in business, that'll be worth quite a bit.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-a-job-learn-the-secret-from-a-bad-movie">How to get a job--learn the secret from a bad movie</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-depressing-jobs-that-arent-worth-the-money">10 Depressing Jobs That Aren&#039;t Worth the Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lose-your-job-without-losing-your-identity">Lose Your Job Without Losing Your Identity</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income career condottiere employee employer job jobs Fri, 18 Apr 2008 15:29:34 +0000 Philip Brewer 2023 at http://www.wisebread.com What's an employee to do? Part 1 http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sign-not-hiring.jpg" alt="Sign that reads: You don&#039;t work here. Keep out. Not hiring." title="Not Hiring" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>During the recession of 1990-1991, and the period of very slow growth that followed, it became conventional wisdom that it was wrong to try to retain key employees through a slowdown.  If there was no work for an employee to do--even just for fifteen minutes--that employee should be let go.</p> <p>In previous decades, companies made an effort to keep valuable employees.  They&#39;d find other work for them to do--they&#39;d even take on projects that could barely break even, just to keep their workers working.  It was considered critical for retaining the skills that the company would need when the economy recovered.</p> <p>In the 1990s, the thinking changed.  Managers and (especially) investors decided that, if new work turned up sometime in the future, it would always be possible to hire someone to do it.</p> <p>I spent that whole decade hoping that this thinking would turn out to be wrong--that companies would pay a price for letting valuable employees go just because there was a brief period during which there wasn&#39;t much work for them to do.</p> <p>Sadly, the experience of the dotcom boom seems to show that they were right and I was wrong.</p> <p>Maybe I was technically right--it&#39;s quite possible that it cost more in salary, options, signing bonus, and perks to hire a first-rate employee in 1999 than it would have cost to carry a skilled worker through the mid-1990s--but it almost doesn&#39;t matter.  When they&#39;re making money, companies can (and will) pay <em>whatever it costs</em> to hire the employees they need.  A hugely profitable company doesn&#39;t need to justify its payroll.  A money-losing company can barely justify payroll expenses that add directly to the bottom line.</p> <p>(There may even have been some companies that went bust largely because they couldn&#39;t find (or couldn&#39;t afford) the skilled workers that they needed.  But that simply isn&#39;t visible to the investors who decide these things.  By the time the company is faltering that badly, the Wall Street investors have already dumped the stock.  Nobody cares if the root cause was excessive layoffs in the last recession--that&#39;s ancient history.) </p> <p>There are a few strategies available to employees for dealing with this reality that I&#39;ll talk about in more detail in part 2, but the central point is that companies no longer have the option to carry employees through an economic slowdown.  Their investors simply won&#39;t allow it.  No argument or careful analysis showing that certain skills would be impossible to find or prohibitively expensive to recreate will make a difference:  The only way for management to justify an employee is to show how that employee makes money for the company right now.</p> <p>Many valuable employees don&#39;t.  They might be designing the products the company will be selling two years from now.  They might be reducing future expenses by raising quality or heading off lawsuits.  They might simply be making other employees more productive.  These things are all valuable, and most managers know they&#39;re valuable.  Most managers will fight tooth-and-nail to keep these employees.  They&#39;ll even be successful to a limited extent.  But during an economic slowdown, employees like that are vulnerable every day.</p> <p>If you&#39;re an employee, look at your job and figure out how you make money for the company every day.  Try to find a way to move to a profit center.</p> <p>During good times it can work to educate people on how you add value, even if your job doesn&#39;t directly show a profit.  But during a slowdown, the only thing companies value--the only thing they are permitted to value--is the ability to make money.</p> <p>In <a href="/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2">part 2</a> I talk more broadly about how being an employee has changed.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly Unemployed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-youre-working-for-an-impossible-boss">7 Signs You&#039;re Working for an Impossible Boss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-jobs-you-may-not-have-considered-but-should">9 Jobs You May Not Have Considered (But Should)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income employee employment jobs unemployment Wed, 16 Apr 2008 13:26:28 +0000 Philip Brewer 2011 at http://www.wisebread.com How to hire employees http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-employees <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-hire-employees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/teamwork.jpg" alt="Two dogs running out of the surf carrying the same stick" title="Teamwork" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="174" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I worked one place that was much, much better than anyplace else I ever worked. The guy who ran it told me that the secret was in how to hire people. Most managers do it the wrong way: they hire people who can do the work. So, what&#39;s the right way? Hire people that you want to work with.</p> <p>With an exception here and there, &quot;people that you want to work with&quot; tends to be transitive--people that you want to work with also want to work with you and with each other. If you do it well, you produce a community of people who wake up every morning thinking, &quot;Wow! I get to go to work today! I get to go work with all my cool coworkers!&quot;</p> <p>It&#39;s possible to do this wrong. &quot;People you want to work with&quot; is not the same set as &quot;People you&#39;d like to hang out with.&quot; If you start hiring people in the latter category, you&#39;re going to end up with a bunch of people who want to hang out together, and that&#39;s not a good way to get work done.</p> <p>Much more common than that, though is the error of hiring &quot;people who can do the work.&quot; Hiring managers are prone to this, because they&#39;re worried about their projects being successful. In fact, though, that strategy just leads them astray. </p> <p>Of course you should hire someone who can do the work--who wants to work with someone who can&#39;t do their job? But if you frame the problem in those terms, you&#39;re too likely to make your decision on who you think could do the work <strong>best</strong>. But given the choice between two people who can do the work, you&#39;re way ahead of the game if you hire the one you&#39;d like to work with over the one who might be able to do the work better.</p> <p>The fact is, any bright person who has a demonstrated capability with a related skill set is likely to be able to learn to do any specific task in his or her area. And one who looks forward to coming into work every day will be highly motivated to do so.</p> <p>I think this is a general rule--I think it applies even to very highly skilled, highly specialized jobs like surgeon or baseball pitcher. The surgeons that other surgeons like to scrub up and cut with are probably the ones you want cutting you. The pitchers who gets the whole team to pull together are probably a better choice than ones that can get a few more strikeouts.</p> <p>What if you&#39;re not a hiring manager? Is there an important lesson here for you? Probably not, if you&#39;re just at the point of trying to get a job offer. Most hiring managers are looking for whoever can do the job &quot;best&quot; (whatever they think that means). Convincing them that you&#39;re the sort of person they&#39;d like to work with isn&#39;t going to hurt, but it will probably only make a difference when everything else seems pretty much equal. On the other hand, if you&#39;re trying to decide whether to take an offer, I&#39;d put a considerable amount of weight on the answer to the question, &quot;Do I want to work with these guys?&quot; That&#39;s probably even more important than whether or not you want to do the particular job you&#39;re being hired for.</p> <p>You probably can&#39;t find the person who&#39;s &quot;the best&quot; at some task anyway, and if you could, you couldn&#39;t afford them. But if you hire people you want to work with, they&#39;ll probably do a fine job--and make all your other employees more productive in the bargain.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-hire-employees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-you-need-to-stop-asking-hr-for">6 Things You Need to Stop Asking HR For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-ways-to-reduce-workplace-stress">10 Frugal Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-coworkers-think-youre-a-slacker">6 Reasons Your Coworkers Think You&#039;re a Slacker</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-write-a-resume-12-steps-to-your-next-job">How To Write A Resume: 12 Steps To Your Next Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ace-your-next-performance-review-with-these-7-tricks">Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income best employee hire management teamwork work Wed, 30 Jan 2008 09:11:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 1699 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Simple Rules that Your Work-at-Home Employer Should Follow http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-rules-that-your-work-at-home-employer-should-follow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-simple-rules-that-your-work-at-home-employer-should-follow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/work_at_home.jpg" alt="desk with computer and papers" title="desk with computer and papers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Working from home, as a contractor or full-time employee for a legitimate business, seems to be a great way of making money while keeping a flexible schedule with plenty of time for family, friends, fun, and sleep. Or is it? </p> <p>Last year, I investigated contract writing as a way to give myself what I thought might be a more me-friendly schedule. So I sent some samples in response to an ad in a professional-association newsletter, completed a do-it-our-way training session, and started accepting project assignments. </p> <p>The good news is that the company paid on time, precisely what it promised. But hardly anything else matched what a reasonable person (me) would have presumed based on communications with the company owner and its designated trainer / tyrant. </p> <p>The pay, though advertised as excellent, was below even my fairly priced rates. But, according to the owner, each of a nearly full stable of happy, qualified, and loyal writers could complete 2 assignments per day (sometimes 3) so that, according to my math, an assignment should take 4 hours for completion. Given the speed and volume with which I could complete the projects, I could supplement my income very nicely. </p> <p>I was assigned to a trainer who would teach me the company’s way. Perhaps I should have been concerned that she shared the name of a former Caribbean-Basin dictator but I pressed on. </p> <p>According to the agreement, I would confirm my availability to complete each project upon its receipt. In practice, however, I was asked to give a number of weekly assignments that I could handle, which I did, calculated on the 4-hour average. Straying below that number, I later learned, had to be approved by the owner. </p> <p>The assignments involved reviewing client-supplied documents (2 – 20+ pages, occasionally with conflicting information); preparing a 2-5 page, well-written, and completely proofed draft within 48 hours; and responding promptly to any client concerns that included dissatisfaction with the prescribed and unchangeable format.</p> <p>Let me admit that I am a steady but sometimes slow processor of information. I like to review, reflect, analyze, synthesize, and then recast words into a what I hope will be a compelling, though corporate-like, story. Sometimes, I can assemble, knead, bake, and deliver a project within 24 or 48 hours but oftentimes I cannot. Bottom line, it took me a minimum of 4 hours and an average of 8 hours to complete the assignments. </p> <p>Trying to fit it all in (the assignments and the ever-increasing workload from my own business) took nearly every waking hour. I did ask my trainer-turned-manager for tips on speeding up the process. I received silence in response. Questions on how to handle certain scenarios according to the company way were met with what I now deem the Management-by-Magic-8-Ball method: “do what you think is right,” “all signs point to yes,” etc. If I asked the wrong question, misunderstood a requirement, or made a mistake, I would receive the digital equivalent of being yelled at: an email with words written in a very large font. </p> <p>I never dreamed that a virtual work environment could be run like a sweat shop. </p> <p>Less than 7 weeks into my tenure as a contract writer, I quit. </p> <p>My choice was simple, but for others who are breadwinners with little time to search for another position, quitting is not so easy. For example, the husband of a friend has been telecommuting for a large, publicly-held, seemingly well-run company. His job is to provide technical services 24/7 to a designated customer. As the customer grew over the years, so did his workload. His pay and his support from the company (none, ever, it seems) did not change. To maintain service levels, he became chained to his computer, sleeping erratically to view system performance throughout the day and night, and unable to take a few days off in a wireless location. Sure, he could have quit (before a mild illness turned bad and put him in the hospital, etc.) but there should be accountability on the part of the employer, who seemed to have to dangled the promise of a change in schedule or staffing without ever making one. </p> <p>Here are 7 simple rules for companies who engage work-at-home employees or contractors: </p> <p>1. Deliver what you promise when recruiting new employees or contractors. </p> <p>2. Set policies for time off / days off that are easy to understand and easy to follow.</p> <p>3. Require your employees to visit a physician at least once a year.</p> <p>4. Make sure that compensation is competitive for hourly workers as well as salaried employees or pay-per-project contractors.</p> <p>5. Limit hours on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis.</p> <p>6. Encourage employees to take a vacation and provide back-up support for the vacation.</p> <p>7. Evaluate virtual workplace arrangements on an annual basis, identify changes needed, set a deadline for making them, and stick to it.</p> <p>If you are a work-at-home employee or contractor, it&#39;s your job to make sure your work-at-home employer plays by the rules. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-rules-that-your-work-at-home-employer-should-follow">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-2">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-to-make-working-from-home-a-success">10 Tips to Make Working From Home a Success</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/location-independent-career-basics">Location Independent Career Basics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-an-employee-to-do-part-1">What&#039;s an employee to do? Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-finding-legitimate-work-at-home-opportunities">Tips for Finding Legitimate Work at Home Opportunities</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income contractor employee employer telecommuting work at home Thu, 21 Jun 2007 01:23:47 +0000 Julie Rains 763 at http://www.wisebread.com