Monthly Archive for August, 2008

Career Advice: HOW TO CONTROL MEETING BEASTS

Tired of meetings that waste time and resources? Here are five steps you can take to control be beasts that cause meetings fail.

First, don’t hold a meeting unless it’s absolutely necessary. It has been estimated that as much as one-third of the subject matter taken up at meetings is not appropriate for that venue. Instead of convening a meeting, try to handle issues by other means: email, telephone or stand-up discussion in the hallway.

Second, if a meeting is necessary, the chances for success are enhanced greatly by having an effective chairman, one who will be fair, yet relentlessly and fully in control of the proceedings. Contrary to popular belief, good meetings are not freewheeling exercises in utopian democracy. The best meetings are conduced by benevolent dictators.

Third, always have a firm agenda that everyone is aware of.

Fourth, start and finish on time.

Fifth, reach conclusions; agree on the next steps to be taken.

I wish you productive meetings and career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. I invite you to visit Common Sense At Work for more free career coaching.

Your Blog For Career Advice Expanded and Improved

I’m pleased to tell you that Your Blog For Career Advice has been expanded and improved to deliver more vital career coaching.

Don’t Miss A Posting

Now you can receive email alerts every time I provide new postings on Your Blog For Career Advice. It’s easy. Just enter your email address in the box in the right hand column and click on the Subscribe icon. Feedburner will send you an email immediately to let you know there’s been a new posting. (There’ll be at least two new postings each week.)

If you have a RSS reader, add our feed to your reader. Just click on “Subscribe to a feed in a reader” beside the orange icon in the right hand column.

Expand Your Sources For Career Advice

I’ve also added a feature to Your Blog For Career Advice that will enable you to subscribe to additional newsletters, blogs and other resources that will help you to accelerate your career. See Blogroll immediately below the Archives in the right hand column.

I invite you to email me at ramon@commonsenseatwork.com with suggestions for adding other resources that you have found to be helpful in achieving your career goals.

Recommendations for improving and expanding Your Blog For Career Advice are always welcome.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

The Reasons Meetings Fall Short

Meetings, meetings…there is no escaping them, even though we know many fail to serve their purpose; and they burn up our time that could be spent working toward our career goals.

What’s the problem?

Meetings fail or fall short of their objective for a variety of reasons.

The most frequent cause is that no one – not even the chairman – is in charge. This usually means a clear purpose for the meeting has not been established. An agenda has not been drawn up. So there is a lot of wandering around.
The door is left wide open for discussion of any and everything, other than the matter at hand. This condition also allows the showboats to get their time on stage. Turf hogs are permitted to take over and freeze others out of the discussion.

Some people may even prolong a meeting because they have nothing better to do, or they are avoiding work . Meetings are often called to achieve something a meeting cannot accomplish, such as drafting a statement. They may flop because participants have not done their homework. All too often, meetings end without a decision as to next steps.

Do yourself and your employer a favor by not contributing to the failure of meetings.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. Before the end of this week I will announce steps I am taking to expand and improve Your Blog For Career Advice.

Career Advice: Warning! Meeting In Progress

Job Tip: There ought to be a sign posted on every closed office and conference room door that reads: Warning! Meeting In Progress. Hazardous To Your Career Success.

Meetings burn up a lot of your time and company resources that could be spent on useful purposes. Many of these sessions are either not necessary, or they are so poorly organized and conducted that they achieve only a fraction of their purpose.

You’d think any thing that dangerous would be drastically reduced if not eradicated. Not so, the number of meetings appears to be proliferating.

How Much Are Meetings Costing Your Company?

How much of a problem are meetings for you and your employer?

Is the time spent in meetings causing you to be late in turning out your work? Are you going in at night and on weekends to make up for time spent at meetings? Are meetings eating up time you could be spending advancing progress on your career path?

Are meetings worth what they are costing your company?

One company mounted a large digital meter in its conference room. The total cost per hour for each person (salary and benefits) attending a meeting was fed into a computer, which in turn, divided the sum into cost per minute. The device was activated when more than one person arrived for the meeting and was shut off when the last person left the room. The total cost of the meeting was shown on a screen for all to see. The number and length of meetings were soon sharply reduced.

You can make the same calculation for your firm with a scratch pad and pencil. I guarantee you will be surprised at the cost.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. If you find messages such as this to be helpful career coaching, I invite you to subscribe to my free semi-monthly Internet newsletter. Click: Career Advice.

Free Book: How To Get and Accept A Raise

Are you being paid what you believe you are worth at work?

If not, I have a book for you that provides a 13-step plan to maximize your chances of getting the compensation package you believe you deserve. It also provides common sense advice on how to accept a raise so that you sow the seeds for more raises to come in the future. My career coaching also works when you are negotiating for your compensation on a new job.

You’ll find a blueprint for these 13 crucial actions in my free 30 page E-book, How To Get A Raise and Not Shoot Yourself In The Foot.

You can secure a copy by subscribing to my free newsletter, The Career Accelerator (c). This semi-monthly publication is packed with take-it-to-the-bank job advice on how to advance your career and reach your personal goals. No charge/no obligation. Click on Free Career Advice.

And there’s more waiting for you.

I’ll give you a copy of my e-book, How To Make The Boss Relationship Work For You (And Be A Better Boss Yourself), a $19.95 value, when you recommend five of your friends as subscribers to The Career Accelerator (c). No charge/No obligation. Send their names and e-mail address to ramon@commonsenseatwork.com> Your friends will receive The Career Accelerator twice each month plus my e-book, How To Get A Raise.

I want help you achieve the career success you deserve.

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Recommend A Solution With The Problem

I enjoyed the current issue of The Career Accelerator addressing the importance of decision-making in career success.

When I was a battalion commander in the Arkansas National Guard’s one of my first instructions to my company commanders and battalion staff was to tell them that if they brought me a problem they should also bring me their preferred solution and at least one alternative.

Additionally, I told them if they did that they would get their way 80 percent of the time, but if they only brought me the problem and no solution they would get my way 100 percent of the time. Guess what, they learned to communicate with other commanders and staff within the battalion to solve their own problems. I still had problems to address (all commanders and bosses do), but we were working together as a team and I could spend my time on bigger issues

One of my goals for my commanders and staff was that no problem that could be solved within our battalion should go forward to a higher command. Only one complaint went forward in two years and I was taken by surprise. The young captain who committed the error caught my wrath for insisting on petty details instead of concentrating on our objective.

Markam Howe
mhowe@astate.edu

Contact ramon@commonsenseatwork.com for a copy of The Career Accelerator on this subject.

Career Advice: To Gossip or Not To Gossip

Count yourself in the minority if you don’t gossip at work.

Over three-fourths of your cohorts do.

Fifty-three percent gossip at their desks. Another 22 percent prefer to gossip in the kitchen or lunchroom. Defying folklore, a scant 2 percent choose to gossip at the water cooler. That’s a total of 77 percent.

These eye-opening stats are reported by Kelton Research.

Few people admit to being gossips or have a good word to say about the practice. Nevertheless, it exists and it’s not going away.

Here’s the real-world question: Are you wasting time or engaging in a destructive practice when you help churn the rumor mill? Or are you out of the loop on vital information that could help you do a better job and advance your career if you don’t participate in gossip on the job? (A survey by a research firm, known as ISR, showed that 63% of U. S. employees get all or most of their information about their companies from “water-cooler talk.”)

Okay, in a perfect world gossipers wouldn’t exist, but we all know the world has its imperfections a plenty. Gossip and gossipers are here to stay. Deal with it if you want to achieve your career goals.

The fact is that every place of employment functions with two channels of communications. One is the official conduit: memos from the boss, bulletin board postings, e-mails, meetings and employee newsletters. The second is known by various names: gossip, rumors and grapevine.

The conclusion is obvious. Gossip will exist whether you participate or not, and it will include some nourishing wheat along with a lot of worthless chaff. If you are not plugged into the back channel, as well as the official channel, you will be isolated. Therefore, you will not know what’s going on in the environment in which you work. If you don’t know the score, you cannot succeed.

Career Tip: There are six steps you can take to separate the outrageous chatter from the meaningful information so the gossip mill works in your favor on the career path.

1. Recognize you can’t eliminate gossip, even if it is trash; but also know that if you try to shut down the gossip mill you will be cut out of the information loop.

2. Tune out the chatter that deals in personalities, especially the malicious stories that do damage to people and the organization that employs you.

3. Feed positive news into the grapevine at every opportunity.

4. Be alert to gossip about your job and the workplace. Verify it or rule it out.

5. Identify the most active purveyors of gossip. Rank them according to their reliability and interpret their messages for what they are.

6. Confront the originator and set the record straight if the gossip is about you and it is untrue.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: Don’t Hire Anyone You Can’t Fire

Do not hire anyone you can’t fire, unless you are under the harshest kind of pressure you can resist.

When you hire a new employee, hopes are high that the relationship will work out to everyone’s benefit. However, the manager who’s interested in career success will take care to avoid a position where he can’t dismiss that person if things don’t work out.

This means resisting situations where employment is based on any reason other than the needs of the company and the particular worth and “fit” of the person being recruited.

When possible, run for cover when you are being pressured by a friend to hire a friend. Especially try to duck the bullet when the “do hire” message comes on a personal basis from the boss.

In the real world there may be no escaping. If that is the case, protect yourself from the start. Have a clear understanding with all concerned of the basis on which you are acting. Insist that everyone understands that so long as you are held responsible for the results of your department you have the absolute right to hire and fire. You should insist on being let off the hook if that right is denied.

Be sure to document the performance of the offspring of the shotgun wedding. You need facts, whether he or she is a raging success or a total disaster.

“Must Hires” are a potential roadblock along your career path.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. For more such advice that will help you accelerator your career path, I invite you to visit my website:
www.commonsenseatwork.com

Career Advice For Uncertain Times

Eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people employed. That’s true in the world of work, no matter the type or size of the organization.

In this time of economic uncertainty it’s just makes common sense to work your butt off to be sure you are in that segment that is getting the job done.

Here are some job tips on how to be in the top 20.

Know where your job fits in the scheme of things and what is expected from you. Going above and beyond the call of duty enhances your chances for job security. Take the initiative; come up with new ideas; seek additional training to improve your value; come early, stay late. As added insurance maintain your contacts within and outside of the organization that employs you.

Be sure to document the results of your on-the-job performance. Make sure your employer knows the effort you’re making and the results achieved. Ask for regular performance appraisal so you can make mid-course corrections on your career path.

Bottom line: there’s no substitute for hard work.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work

P.S. For more free common sense career counseling I invite you to visit my website: Career Advice

Career Advice: Spyware Is On Working At Home

It seems like the ideal job. Skip the frustrating traffic jams on the commuter route and reduce the soaring cost of gas. Sleep in a bit later. Go to work without leaving home. Spend the day in your bathrobe and flip-flops. Enjoy an extra cup of coffee and raid the refrigerator. Have no distraction from the boss looking over your shoulder or a cubicle mate’s annoying habits.

It’s working from the office at home.

But this idyllic scenario is not without problems. It is being invaded by a growing number of employers who are installing spyware for electronic monitoring and oversight. This sophisticated technology can take photos of the telecommuters at work or goofing off; detect background noises such as children crying and dogs barking; count keystrokes and mouse clicks; sense anger. Call centers record and spot check message traffic. The monitoring is so close in some instances that workers have to schedule trips to the bathroom….time off without pay.

Telecommuters can be kept on an electronic leash that is likely to get shorter. This means that working at home, which has been seen as providing many benefits, including freedom to set one’s own pace, is trending toward the same kinds of problems that often make the work environment unpleasant.

Career Tip: If you think you want to work at home be aware of the potential downside.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work