Monthly Archive for October, 2006

To Take The Needle Or Not

Does your employer have a dress code? If so, does it cover the matter of tatoos and body piercings? Do you think your employer has a right to establish rules on this issue as well for dress?

The Associated Press reports that about half of the people in their 20s have either a tattoo or a body piercing.

This fact, plus the drift from casual to offensive sloppiness in the workplace, is leading more companies to issue dress codes. Some of them are as long as five pages.

One point of view from employees is “So long as I get my job done, who cares about my dress and decorations?” Others agree wih a 24-year old working in a public relations agency, who has tatoos on his stomach, back and ankle, declares, “No one cares what you have on your body as long as (others) don’t have to look at it. I want to be perceived as a professional.”

Some employers are more prone to say “Do whatever you want to your body, but I don’t want to be subjected to it in the workplace.” They feel that body art can be a distraction and especially important when investors and clients visit. The same is true for ultra-casual dress.

Each careerist, of course, has a right to make a choice about dress and body art. It just seems to me, like it or not, it is wise to study the environment in which you work and respect it by conforming. Acceptable appearance in a hot cyberspace business is one thing; it is an entirely different matter in a bank or when calling on professional clients.

What do you think?


True Leadership’s Not Based On Popularity

You will never become a truly effective manager and leader as long as you feel compelled to have everyone like you.

That’s rock-solid career advice you can bank on.

Of course, your task as a leader is made easier, and more pleasant, if your associates like you. But your becoming an effective manager and leader over any period of time will not be based primarily on your popularity. Instead, it will depend on the respect followers have for you and their feeling they can trust you to do the right things by them.

Job Tip: Many people who want to be leaders do not understand these fundamental truths. Therefore, they misspend their energies scurrying here and there, agreeing with everyone, and being a fun-buddy to one and all. They make decisions to curry favor among their associates instead of for the good of the enterprise.

Leaders Can’t Agree With Everyone

It’s not possible to exert effective leadership while agreeing with everyone. Leaders have to make decisions. They have to parcel out resources. Not everyone will get his or her way. Leaders have to exert discipline and provide rewards. There will always be winners and losers in this system.

Not everyone is going to like the leader.

Career Tip: Deep down inside, most people want their leaders to be more than a good buddy. They want to be led by someone they can trust and respect for their courage, ability and fairness – a figure standing somewhat apart from them.

Being a leader is not an easy task. In fact, quite often it can be an unpleasant, if not painful, experience.

Most everyone would much rather join the crowd on the career path. Besides, it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing that all of the warmth radiating from popularity and even adoration provides the key to leadership.

Bill’s Downfall

Take the real-life example of Bill R.

Bill’s parents were among the principal shareholders of a large manufacturing company. By virtue of this connection, the young man was included in the company’s fast-track management development program. As he rotated from one assistant manager’s position to another, he always tried to be liked by everyone. He clowned around with his subordinates, often agreeing with their criticism of the company and his boss. He required little of those who reported to him, other than that they like him.

Bill was a disaster in assignment after assignment.
Finally, in an attempt to save his career, senior management put him in charge of a new manufacturing process. He and several associates were sent to a neighboring state to observe the new equipment in use.

Bill told a coworker: “I am going to make a success of this job. I am going to get off on the right foot. When they start showing us how to run that machine, I am going to make everyone of them like me. They will send a good report back to my boss.”

When the report on Bill came back, he was given a failing grade by his coworkers and the host team. Their reports agreed. Bill had been too ready to agree with everything said. He had tried to be amusing at every turn. He had alienated his associates by playing up to the host and down to them. He had failed to lead his team.

Bill never got his career path to job success.

This is not to suggest that a leader has to act like the south end of a horse headed north. But there are common sense lessons on every hand that say leadership grounded principally on popularity won’t get you very far.

Career Tip: It has been said that the man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd some of the time.

You’re Not Paranoid; They Are Watching You

Career Tip: Beware! Big Brother is monitoring your use of e-mails and instant messaging.

Before you conclude it’s not happening at your place of employment consider these statistics from the American Management Association. Of the companies surveyed:

76% of the companies surveyed monitor Internet usage;
55% store and review e-mail;
51% use video surveillance;
50% store and review computer usage;
22% record phone calls.

The first concern of these monitoring tactics is preventing leaks of confidential information. Blocking out viruses and hackers come next. But it follows that they also turn up visits to porn sites, company gossip, criticisms of bosses and organizations, purchases made on line and personal information.

Also, many companies routinely sweep hotel conference rooms and other outside places for electronic-listening devices before confidential meetings are held.

Other employers are looking into software to be applied to cell phones.

Before you protest that these tactics are a violation of your privacy rights, know that generally speaking it is legal for companies to monitor their own corporate telephone records as well as computer and e-mail use on their own corporate accounts.

Job Tip: Stop, think before you post any message on the Internet; realize you are leaving a digital trail that theoretically will be floating around in Cyberspace forever.

Career Advice: Never post anything on the company’s computers that you wouldn’t want to see appear on the bulletin boards where you work.

What’s Happened To Your New Year’s Resolutions?

What’s happened to those resolutions you promised yourself nine months ago that you would accomplish in 2006? If you are like most people, you have fallen short or abandoned them entirely. I’ve fallen short.

But let’s don’t throw in the towel just yet. We’ve still got 82 days to make good on the contract we made with ourselves for accomplishments this year.

Here are five action steps that we can take:

1. Make a list of your accomplishments for the year to date. Reward ourselves for what we’ve achieved.

2. Identify the resolutions that are still valid but unrealized.

3. Make an action plan and work it hard to complete every step before year-end.

4. Refuse to accept detours from plan.

5. Visualize how good we will feel at the New Year’s party when we celebrate a year when we tried our best to realize our resolutions.

I wish you success!