Parkinsons Law “ Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
“The only thing that is ‘constant’ is ‘change’” – Heraclitus of Ephesos (c. 500 BCE).
Parkinsons Law effectively means tasks somehow become increasingly complex and daunting the more time we allocate to them.
Heraclitus, aka the ‘dark’ philosopher, so called because his writings were so difficult to understand. Had he been alive in the complex world we now live in, such contentions would appear normal. Change is indeed all around, leading often to separation of some kind. When it takes place, separation has a habit of activating coping mechanisms. One such mechanism being to ‘reclaim power’ from the situation forced upon us. This often manifests in the “Well I won’t be missing that!” statement. Whether it be true or camouflage for deep rooted feelings of hurt, loss or anger shouldn’t be an issue. It has served the purpose of even if it is just in your own mind, beginning to turn the negative into a positive and begin the forward journey.
Picture this. A straw poll of people leaving their place of work for the final time. If you were to ask them to sum up their feeling in one word. Would you be surprised if that turned out to be ‘freedom’? To my knowledge no such study has taken place. Yet. But I’d place a wager that wouldn’t be far from But just today, speaking to someone imminently leaving their job, they mentioned freedom. I certainly know that’s how I felt.
February 12 2012, the day I left behind 25 years service with the same company, emerging from the numbing sensation brought on by a protracted, nepotism fuelled and somewhat distasteful redundancy process. Emerging from that shadow of discontent into the crisp, cloud free late afternoon sky, the caress of the weakened sunlight brought optimism, relief and a sense of freedom. On breaching the threshold, immediate thoughts entering my head were “Thank God, I no longer have to be in the presence of ____________ (the incompetent manager appointed by his Godfather’s friend) followed quickly by ‘And of course no more having to sacrifice yet another lunch hour attending yet another ‘urgent’ meeting’! The drive home was filled with a long list of things not to be missed – the insanely absurd and those potent enough to be considered a modern day form of Chinese water torture.
That was the epiphany. The illuminating ‘Hmmmmm. I wonder?’ moment imagining how many others were having the exact same thoughts as myself. Some maybe not even leaving a job but wishing they were. Contemplating but seldom discussing publicly (apart from within the safety of a protective and trusted circle) non-essentials, unimportant, ineffectual, unhelpful, comical, perplexing and embarrassing facets of their job.
Be absolutely clear though. This was never to be about work bashing. Employment has its value. It is a means through which we derive achievement, freedom, choice, security, independence, fulfilment, belonging, status, growth, mobility, etc. Work is central to individual identity, social roles and social status. Plenty to be thankful for. It’s just when you’re expected to carry other team members, ‘manage up’ or having to go through a restructure every six months you question the true value, purpose and benefit of work.
Whilst the early stages of development often consisted of totally randomised thought dumps, anything from “Why is he always clicking that pen?” to being interrupted and being asked questions while clearly you’re fully concentrating on a task. By the way, on average you’re distracted every 11 minutes after which it takes a further 25 minutes to fully re-focus. A little chaotic and directionless, but gradually it begun to take shape. One thing where there was clarity, was this was never going to be touted as self-help. There are no real exercises, techniques and such like to help find that elusive and magical path.
Life coaches, physcologists, change theorists et al, enjoy successful careers penning titles in the hugely popular and ever increasing self-help genre. And there is no wonder why when considering this genre is the fastest growing xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Self-help titles will in some shape or form favour and advise ‘ moving on’ as a central connecting theme for their varying strategies. To an extent that is sage advice. But there has to be something intrinsically cleansing and valuable in reflecting on those bad, annoying frustrating times we’ve all experienced . Like xxxxxxxxxxxxxx . In a way some of you may view this book as a form of self help, but I assure you it was not written and formulated to tap into a pot of gold.
That sense of discovery upon realising your experiences are far from unique, provide, contrary to public opinion, assurance that you’re not just a workplace mis-fit. Just talking about and sharing the implausible, the unfathomable and the plain ridiculous does help to move on. There is something inherently satisfying in ‘letting it all out’. How many times has a victim of a broken relationship been comforted with the words ‘You’re better off without him’ and ‘Just think no more complaining about leaving nail clippings all over the bathroom’. Anyone who thinks of themselves as ‘too professional’ not to dwell on such negatives, the challenge is, on the way home from work, on that crowded train full of lawyers, solicitors and doctors listen to the conversations around you. Job titles cannot and will never disguise dissatisfaction. Count the number discussing ‘ Being expected to multi task’ or ‘Working through lunch break – again’. We, the working community, spend as much time moaning about work when away from it as we probably do whilst sat in front of the screen.
I have built on documented examples and personal anecdotes of observations and experiences confidantes share every day during (often clandestine) exchanges around water coolers, over the dinner table, in a text, on the journey to work, on blogs, in confessionals, etc. Without actually realising, your everyday conversation is at some point punctuated with the vagaries of work and a subconscious aggregation of ‘What you really wouldn’t miss if you left your job?’
A serious amount of time was spent thinking of an ‘elevator pitch’ – how to approach literary agents and publishers before eventually coming to the conclusion that it didn’t really matter. The title’s ability to convey a universally understood theme replaces the need to pidgeon hole and label. The easy option would be to slip this piece of work under the radar and into the aforementioned self-help genre. But, may I ask, when last did you see any studies, which test the efficacy of self help books, CDs, guides, etc.? Or was the measure of success merely that the reader feel better about themselves as opposed to discovering and practicing the secret to happiness? Instead this book approaches that ‘feel better factor’ by realising, however temporary, one day perhaps, you’ll not have to concoct and remember ‘exaggerations of the truth’ when throwing a sickie. Or not experience the walk of shame from the manager’s office to your cubicle, after being told you were unsuccessful in interviewing for you own job. There is great faith in a market existing for this read as it contains real-life and recognisable events and examples, it’s just that it couldn’t be conveniently labelled for shelf display. It is perhaps a one of a kind affording any reader an opportunity to laugh, to reflect, take action, to re-energize. In fact it may move and elicit unexpected reactions (please let me know what these are). It is for you the reader to decide, how best it suits your needs. Will it be comforting finding the same or similar experiences you’ve encountered? Will it indeed help analyse your current situation and begin the process of planning a move. Or will it actually rescind my early view and be that stimulating ‘self-help’ elixir , energising you to combat, eliminate and plan for obstacles, difficult people and constant office distractions where it is said you only really gain focus a full 20 minutes after the interruption. If self-help is a fit, then it’s been an absolute and a serendipitous pleasure to have thrown a guiding light in that direction.
I chuckled, frowned, sighed, regretted, reminisced, scorned and rejoiced throughout the writing of this book. Too many emotions were at play to list them all, but on reflection, I recall laughing a hell of a lot thinking of some of the truly comical experiences. Like the IT guys taking themselves and their work, way too seriously and talking in a language no-one but their nerdy peers can understand. It was so therapeutic and such a blast! Writing it was never a chore. I’m so excited having taken it largely out of my head and into print (or the electronic equivalent) eagerly anticipating the reaction. I sincerely hope it helps you ‘think out loud’ on a subject that may be considered by some as non-conforming being ‘not the professional way of meeting and managing career and employment challenges ’.
This is where the subtext emerges. Don’t be apologetic for opposing a view of a job being all wonderful and that you must strive to be a great success and be completely fulfilled through the conformity of badly organised and manged work. No organisation can claim perfection and being devoid of harmful irritants. If there has to be a message it is this. What tends to happen when your job immerses you in the pointless, boring, tedious, dull and predictable is you too eventually become pointless, boring, tedious, dull and predictable. Yes. You slowly but surely become your job and not the person you’re capable of being!
Adios for now.
Understandably, you’d be thinking “How is applying for a job, something you won’t miss …” Surely, as you’ve just left a job, you’d be looking for another one and therefore expected to go through the application process once again. Yes, very true. For a moment though imagine you’re one of the 10% or so in the fortunate and enviable position facing imminent or are into retirement, benefitting from a large inheritance or a jackpot lottery win. Indulge yourself in a non work dependent world for a moment, one devoid of navigating the whole job application process. Grin, chuckle and laugh at the drudgery of what is the job search.
With the current trend toward on-line applications, many organisations will state closing dates by which interested parties should submit their applications. Many of them fail to give a cut off time e.g. 12 noon, 5 pm, 23:59. So you figure in the absence of a specified time, 23:59 should be good right? Wrong! Of course they’re going to expect it by close of business (5 or 6 pm) never mind they won’t be doing anything with them until the start of the following working day! You only realise this when you enquire as to why you weren’t shortlisted only to be told the application was received after the deadline!
This affects you in what way? Well, it’s a waste of everyone’s time actually. Miscommunication can lead to reading far more into the job and trying to persuade yourself you have what it takes. The reality is however the job is quite a match away from your skillsets ending only in disappointment all round.
You’ve seen them before. Some sadistic HR professional has endorsed this knowing the level of suffering and pain this is going to cause. If you have fifty two points on a Job Description, quite frankly you should be in the running for the president of the U.S. of A.
Why do you need to complete an application form?? You’re on page 7 of 25 and you’ve only just completed your personal details. Worse is yet to come. The shortlisting criterion contains 47 points each of which you’re expected to address on one side of A4. Maybe the long application form is a deterrent for you not to apply for the job?
Back to on-line applications here. After slaving for a couple of weeks writing the perfect application for the perfect job, you hear nothing 4 weeks after the closing date. Upon enquiring with HR you’re told the application was never received and nothing can be done about it now. A word of warning. This also happens, probably more so, with external applications. It is always good practice to follow up with a phone call (or e-mail) to confirm the application was received. Regardless whether or not an automatic response has been issued.
These are the qualities omitted from the job specification or ad board, which had you realised you might not have wasted everyone’s time or given a bit more thought to how you approach the recruitment process.
Getting Results. These types with a determination to succeed and who care about the impact of their work, rather than appearances will always be favoured. Tenacious and persistent when facing roadblocks, more so than the average person. Standing up and holding themselves accountable, scrutinizing ideas to make sure they get every ounce of a good outcome that they can.
Decency. Treating others with the respect and courtesy they’d require themselves. Someone who is not rude, arrogant or dismissive to clients or colleagues. Able to give others the benefit of the doubt, respect the opinions of others where they may differ and can handle disagreement in a civil and adult manner.
Striving to improve. A driven desire to succeed meaning constantly identifying ways their performance could be improved. People with this trait are generally open about their flaws and pretty obsessive about learning from experience so they can incorporate those lessons into practice and be as effective as possible.
Communicative. You’ll know why this one is important if you’ve ever worked with someone who never shared problems or made themselves unapproachable around work issues. When everyone operates in a transparent manner, the path to collaboration is a smooth one. Colleagues who bury and hide problems hoping no-one will notice are about as useful as a fur coat in summer. Or, worse still hold on to the belief that had you asked, I would have told you what the position was!
A sense of possibility. Start off, within reason, that anything is possible, rather than believing ‘that can’t be done’. Obviously, that can’t be done is the right answer in some instances, but you shouldn’t use that as the defacto starting position. This approach is more likely to build a team that embraces rather than avoids challenges and persists in the face of setbacks rather than throwing in the towel too easily.
‘Purple Squirrels’. Recruitment speak for the perfect ‘star’ candidate, so unique they’ll transform the organisation infecting others with their adventurous and innovative spirit. Trouble is requirements are so great there never is one person able to know and do all that is required. Someone exactly like them. They’ll never acknowledge it, but subconsciously they’re looking for someone similar to themselves in terms of leisure activities, experiences and social standing.
When there is a substantially higher than anticipated response to a vacancy, believe it or not, some recruiters employer the very scientific approach of taking every fourth application from a pile to actually read. So all the number ones, twos and threes are automatically consigned to the waste bin.
Jealous %&*@$! Because they’re unable to move beyond the position they’ve held for the last 18 years, you shouldn’t have the opportunity. They concoct all sorts of excuses ranging from it them not being notified the mandatory 8 weeks in advance to having afire drill that day so everyone needs to be there.
Great! Shortlisted for that perfect job and been invited to interview. Problem is its either short notice or clashes with an existing commitment. You need to come up with a plausible excuse or cover your tracks really well so no-one has solid proof you were away on interview. Here are some of the most common excuses used to attend external interviews:
• Doctor/dentist appointment (31%)
• Feeling unwell (15%)
• Repairman is coming (9%)
• Awaiting a delivery at home (8%)
• Transport problems (4%)
• Needing to look after a sick child (4%)
• Caring for an ill relative (3%)
• Going to see the vet (2%)
• Attending a school event (2%)
• Going to a funeral (3%)
Here’s the thing. Generally, your boss and colleagues intuitively know when you’re attending an interview, but without a valid reason to deny your request for time off, it has to be approved.
The response should be no. If fidgeting nervously and sweating profusely isn’t enough of a signal of being there for an interview, what else is? There’s really no need for photos, and it shows they haven’t been particularly thoughtful about all the reasons people might be uncomfortable with this.
But if you turn it down, then you’re the candidate who overreacted to a small request, and now you’re dramatic and difficult the sort of person who doesn’t fit with the organisations 2,000 core set of competencies.
For most traditional interviews, this is how long you have to impress and demonstrate your suitability for the job. Which really isn’t fair, unless you have the gift of the gab and able to weave a yarn of lies and deception. Most tend to loathe them, but correctly applied the assessment centre route is a better measure of abilities to do a job. Let’s face it you can conjure up a whole basket full of achievements and responsibilities, with them only ever being aspirations at best. The assessment or its little cousins, typing test, letter writing, presentation or spreadsheet exercise is a much closer simulation of knowledge and abilities rather than ‘saying’ and the interviewer relying on what’s been said you may or may not be able to do. This is one of the very reasons why 80% of jobs are held by those who are in no way qualified or able to do the jobs they’re employed for.
For many, especially in a recessionary climate, their overriding motivation is to earn (more) money, be nearer to home, etc. In fact, the job or work itself may rarely be a prime motivator (despite what utopian theorists would have you believe).
This is the list of top ten weird interview questions for 2015 as published by the website Glassdoor:
1. Can you calculate how many tennis balls are used in the course of Wimbledon? – Accenture
2. Estimate the total number of cars in the UK? – Barclays Investment
3. How many calories in a grocery store? – Google
4. How would you sell a fridge to an Eskimo? – Harrods
5. What would you take to a lonely island with you and why? – Urban Outfitters
6. Is batman a super hero?- Alpha Sights
7. You have 17 red and 17 blue balls, and you remove 2 at a time. If the two are the same colour, add in one extra blue ball. If they are different colours, add in an extra red ball. What colour is the final ball removed? – Geonomics
8. What cartoon character would you be and why? – Asda
9. What is the wildest thing you have done? – Metro Bank
10. What was your opinion of the film Blair Witch Project? – Jeffries & Company
Some jobs you just can’t get fired up about. Sorry, but it’s the truth. For many a job is a pay-check and a means to an end. Especially, in economic downturns where jobs are at a premium and professional ambition is thrown to one side in favour of paying next months rent/mortgage.
Real life experience. Arrived 15 mins early for interview. Waited one full hour past the scheduled time. No apology given by the ‘meet and greet’ person. They never spoke the entire journey to the 8th floor location. Placed in a room with a laptop and instructions on paper including advice to use a calculator. No calculator provided! Files/answers of previous candidates clearly visible/accessible from recent history area. After test sat in interview and told panel no longer interested in job due to poor impression. Got up and left.
June 2015 – The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission declared from a recent study of 13 elite accountancy, law and financial services firms, the UK’s bright working-class applicants were being side-lined in favour of a small pool of privileged, “polished” graduates, who probably went to private or selective schools.
The study carried out by Royal Holloway, University of London, on behalf of the commission, found that despite attempts to improve social inclusion over the past 10 to 15 years, such elite firms continue to be heavily dominated at entry level by people from privileged social backgrounds “systematically excluding bright working-class applicants” from their workforce.
To break into top jobs, state school candidates needed higher qualifications than privately educated peers. Recruitment methods target the Russell Group of 24 highly selective UK universities. Some 40% to 50% of job applications were made by applicants who had attended these universities. They received 60% to 70% of all job offers.
Candidates from fee-paying and selective schools, which tend to dominate Russell Group universities, made up 70% of graduate trainees, despite being only 7% and 4% of the UK population respectively.
Firms also used nuanced criteria to help find “talented” applicants, including factors like the candidate’s accent and experiences of travelling.
Candidates who show they are “confident”, “poised” and “polished”, who articulate themselves in a certain way, and in the right accent, who have experienced foreign travel and the kind of social situations, such as large dinners, helpful to business, are considered safe bets.
The report said: “Elite firms define ‘talent’ according to a number of factors such as drive, resilience, strong communication skills and above all confidence and ‘polish’, which participants in the research acknowledge can be mapped to middle-class status and socialisation.”
In summary then, to quote Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education,: “Access to graduate careers should be about your skills and ability to do the job, not about the places you’ve been, the school you went to or the contacts you have”.
We are all guilty of this from time to time. We’re not born this way. We’re taught, trained or institutionalised to behave this way.
Unconscious bias can be a harmful barrier to spotting talent and enabling people to reach their full potential – recruiters, like everyone else, form judgements not only about the things they can see (age, ethnicity, etc.) but develop perceptions based on behaviour.
Research points toward an introvert brain thinking more deeply and focus more thoroughly on an issue than an extrovert brain. But recruiters are more likely to recruit and promote the extrovert into leadership positions.
The time taken between application and offer, is taking longer as research by Glassdoor.com suggests. In June 2015, this averaged 28.6 days in the UK, with the highest being France topping out at 31.9 days. Since 2009, the interviewing process has steadily increased by around 4 days. A main factor is the ‘screening’ methods used by employers. Each additional method such as phone interviews, presentations, group panel interviews add the length of the process. Another problem area is likely found in creeping bureaucracy, the need for everyone right down to the janitor to be consulted on your appointment. Funny, the wide spread use of on-line recruitment you would think have made the process more efficient.
What should be pretty straightforward turns out to be anything but. They’re a pretty inconsiderate bunch are referees. They always have to be your current or last employee, the one you had a few choice words for in your rather drunken leaving speech. And then, there’s the one truly great boss who decided to move on without leaving a forwarding address.
# The recruitment process expects/assumes knowledge can and is only derived from the formal academic routes which result in paper based qualifications. Whereas an abundance of knowledge exists outside academic establishments - try searching for example organisational theory - and acquired through non-institutionalised routes is a far better judge of acumen. Trouble is you can’t produce a certificate that says ‘I-found-all-of-the-modules-from-a- Business- Management-degree-on-the-internet, read them, understood them and then applied them at work to increase profitability by 25%’.
As an example it would be you’re really good at getting things done, but have a quite assertive manner. The employer works in an industry which is lets say a little more laid back so your forthright manner concerns the hirer.
A veritable minefield of nepotism, shady references, no references, overlooked incompetence, face doesn’t fit – the list is endless and be sure you’re always on the wrong end. So bask in the moment of not having to deal with the incompetency of the person responsible for hiring and firing.
Makes you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. To refuse, even politely can come across as being ungrateful. But your concerns are rooted in having the right set of skills, technical and otherwise to perform in the role and not fall short of anyone’s lofty expectations.
“You’re really great and we really value your contribution to the organisation. You have enormous potential and great attitude, but we’ve decided to offer the job to Sarah” This always sucks, whilst it maybe the truth, its still a hard pill to swallow.
As much as the rejection hurts, what is even more painful, as an internal, is that walk back through the office to your desk knowing the whole office knows you’ve been rejected. May pass with time, but be sure it will rear its self at some point in the not too distant future. The impact can leave you feeling permanently scarred, choosing never to put yourself in line for rejection regardless how good your chances of internal promotion are.
Rubbing salt into the wounds would be hearing the successful candidate wasn’t suited or qualified, but were given the role for fear of losing them. However, looking on the bright side the ‘unsuitable’ will now be completely exposed by their lack of skills and experience (hehehehehe!).
“We had strong competition, but in the end one of the other candidates had more experience”. This simply means, we’re offering to someone else but we can’t tell you why because we don’t know. Had it been put to you, in one or two specific areas they excelled, then that has a greater ring of truth to it. A blanket ‘more experience’ generally indicates the ‘look’ of the other candidate was favoured above your look.
Journey To Work – Commuting
If you’ve ever driven to your place of work, you’ll understand. There’s something comforting and satisfying about this, even if you end up sitting in traffic for more than half the journey. It’s that solace of being cocooned in ones own space where others can’t infect, invade nor disturb. Not to mention the ability to jam away to a favourite tune or chuckle to the regional breakfast time phone- in.
Whether you drive all or part of the way to your place of work unless you leave fully two days before, you’ll never get a parking spot. Parking around train stations requires precision timing and arriving a good 2 hours before you expect to board a train.
In the words of the Rt. Hon. Robert Nesta Marley it’s not the angelic, warbling of three little birds on your doorstep. No, it is a sight of social concern and just a little too common for you to not ponder what is going on. It is in fact the Yawn chorus – sighting of multiple people on the way to work yawning. And it seems to be contagious, one starts and before you know it you have a chorus. Watching is very uncomfortable as you imagine the demands and pressures these people are under, work or extra-curricular commitments, forcing them to forego a good night’s sleep.
During the daily commute, public transport morphs into an almost unrecognisable and uncontrollable beast. Probably the most inopportune time to use public transport when it’s stressed and tested to near breaking point. There’s no escape during the apocalyptic like hours of 06.30 and 10.00 and 15.00 to 19.30. If ever you needed a reminder, this is the starkest example of being caught up in the rat race. Like an actual fire or any other real life emergency, planned rehearsals tend to go through the window. The same can be said for etiquette during the rush hour periods. What is permissible, civil and enjoyable (knowing you can travel between points A and B in relative speed and comfort) is in stark contrast to the near Neanderthal antics and mentality the minute rush hour is upon you. Ponder the following:
Slowest UK cities (average speed) for the rush hour commute (8-9 am and 4-6pm):
Westminster 10.06 mph
Source: Direct Line Plus circa June 2014
Not only is there something wholly unsightly about seeing the wide eyed stare that accompanies the flicking motion of mascara being applied, the question begs ….. WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT AT HOME!! The question we all need to be asking is “Why are you bothering?” We’ve already seen how God wasn’t so kind when dishing out the Hollywood A-list looks.
Regardless whether or not the train is sardine packed, they seem to see it as their fare paying right. They then wonder why arguments ensue when someone is pushed against them, causing the precious handheld to drop, smashing the screen into a gazillion tiny pieces.
# (Young) men vacating their seats for young, nubile, bosom heaving, eyelash flickering, pouting, sexpots. Hello?????? Have I not been standing here a full twenty minutes before her?
# In September 2015, around 28% of passengers could not get a seat between 8am and 9am as they headed into London, UK.
Between July 2013 an April 2014, public transport in the UK saw a 27% jump in the number of sexual offences reported, with 936 cases, compared with 737 a year earlier. It did however coincide with an awareness push to report such offences.
Despite the increase, it is estimated around 90 to 95% of cases never even get reported. And with a bit of logical thinking, it’s easy to understand why. It can be a pretty difficult task proving someone rubbing against you on a packed train was actually looking to get a thrill out of it. Also, unfortunately many see the incidents as minor and unworthy of reporting.
One defiant victim claimed revenge sharing the outcome on social media “On train home guy rubs my bum. I grab hand, lift it in the air & say ‘Has anyone lost a hand? I found this one on my arse!”
- Making eye contact
- Being caught reading over someone’s shoulder
- Rushing onto a tube that doesn’t move for 10 mins
- Falling over when the train comes
- Waving at a stranger
- Spilling a drink
- Falling asleep on someone
- Passing wind
- Singing with headphones on
- Missing your stop
- Grabbing the overhead handrail….revealing your wet armpit
- Using facial gestures to deny the stench of body odour isn’t coming from you
Better still the words ‘Disciplinary’ jump out at you. Imagine the amount of breaches being committed by this person under Data Protection laws? What about the randomness of the disciplinary subject being someone you know????
# A report in 2015 by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said more than three million UK employees now had long commutes. That is a rise of 72% in the last decade. According to the 83,000 employees interviewed, the increase is due to people ‘priced out’ of living in areas near their workplaces. Women seem to be the most affected, with a 131% rise in women travelling three hours or more.
# If your commute lasts 90 minutes or more, there is a chance of ongoing neck and back pain – like 33% of those surveyed as part of a 2010 Gallup poll. This reduces to 25% if the journey is 10 or fewer minutes. Slumping forward may be to blame.
# Cost of commuting. Fare rises 10% above inflation while your own pay stagnates or even decreases. Commuter fares can easily cost anywhere up to a third of wages (and in some unfortunate cases even more).
This may only apply to that fortunate 5% of the working age population, who’ve never had to face the prospect of a new job ever again. Putting this in perspective, there are overwhelming and majority positives to new jobs. But we’d not have a book if that were the focus. No. Let’s think of those awkward little ‘Help?’ and ‘Oh gawd, what have I done?’ moments.
# Within 6 months, 31% of UK employees admit they had made a mistake (Harris Interactive on behalf of Glassdoor.com).
From care free, rites of passage scholastic activities to fully fledged employee status, offers a range of new experiences, some pleasant (paid holidays!) and some less so. The following are what entry level workers don’t always realise when accepting their first offer of employment.
1. The salary you accept when you take the job is the one you need to live with for at least a year.
When new to the professional workforce, there is sometimes an expectation to negotiate a raise after say three or six months. This will never go down well with an employer, since the accepted convention (and wisdom) is typically to wait at least a year for a salary increase. Sorry.
2. Mistakes only affect you.
Wrong. It’s not like handing in a test paper or a solo assignment. At work, the impact of mistakes can be far reaching. Those affected could be your boss, your colleagues and the organisation. Consequently other employees may end up staying behind to fix the mistakes, they may even have to miss their own deadlines or lose business.
3. Think you’re smart?
So what, its achievement what counts now. At school, college or university the smartest students are often favoured to the point sometimes of being cut some slack on say preparing for class or working hard. In the real world, reputations and careers are rarely built on what you know. Actual work and achievements are what count. Being smart won’t help if you miss deadlines, don’t meet goals or arrive unprepared for meetings.
4. Statutory holidays are not automatically followed by time off.
Oh, no. No more automatic free weeks following Christmas and New Years – the notion of ‘term-time’ no longer exists. Most places of work re-open the day after these statutory breaks. And speaking of vacations. Generally, two weeks is the most time you can take off at once in many workplaces. Lengthy vacations will become a thing of the past with two weeks being the uppermost limit of how much time off will be allowed (exceptions may exist if you’d have to say travel to attend a family members funeral, for example). Don’t forget once leave entitlement has been used, that’s it. Gone. Until the next year.
5. Great performance isn’t just about waiting for assignments and doing them.
Whilst this is the practice you may have been accustomed to in your scholarly existence, the work environment requires a more proactive approach. You’ll often be expected to identify ways of driving your department forward; taking the initiative to do things better. Waiting around for someone to tell you what to do, might not get a lot done. You do need however to know the boundaries of when it’s ok to use initiative. Unfortunately it is not that straight forward, nor explicit and requires over time becoming adept at reading situations and behaviour.
6. No matter how bored you are, always, always look interested at meetings.
Seniors at the meetings have earned the right to display the signs of boredom unchallenged. You on the other hand need to earn those stripes. Nodding off or being distracted is a greater sin as you’re expected to be attentive and sharp, no matter how strong the urge to sleep is.
7. Attitude, attitude and attitude.
Good work counts for nothing if you come across as unfriendly, rude, disinterested in others or defensive. All of these traits will make it hard to advance and may end up with you losing your job. To thrive and forge ahead means, being polite, courteous and respectful.
8. No such thing as a lunch ‘hour’.
Whatever you’ve seen or been told, for many employees lunch is a maximum of 30 minutes, forcing you to grab lunch on the go, sit munching a sandwich while at the same time tapping on the keyboard, or chew ever so quietly sat in the boardroom watching the monthly presentation.
9. You need to get to the point.
Academic institutions hone and perfect the art of hypothesis, advocacy, argument and counter argument. You won’t have time nor will you be required to do much of that. Managers want to hear, from the get-go the key facts or issues before deciding whether the background is needed. True in face-to-face conversations, but more so in writing where there is neither the time nor inclination to read lengthy e-mails and documents. Executive summaries rule!
There are probably two worse case scenarios for the first day in a job. You either are told nothing whatsoever about the job and after 10.00 am you’re left on your own, with a bound copy of the 862 page HR Manual. The other is being thrown in the deep end – asked to produce last years annual review by the end of the week, making sure your manager gets a draft copy by Wednesday to go through with a red pen.
You can be unlucky enough to end up with no-one showing you what you’re supposed to be doing.
• Getting stuck in the loo
• Saying to your new female boss, whom you’ve never seen before, “Can you show me the way to the Director of Operations office? I believe HE is on the fourth floor.”
• Tipping a cup of coffee all over a very expensive and new laptop.
• Forgetting to take your building entry swipe card with you and having to wait an hour or more to get back into the office.
• Not realising swearing and cuss words are not acceptable here. This after that risqué joke you shared during the morning coffee break.
• Being caught using the wrong toilet because the gender sign had fallen off.
• Having to fix some unfamiliar machinery, with no reference manual in sight and no-one else to refer to.
• You notice your work colleague has a personally offensive tattoo on their forearm.
• Being taken for a two hour lunch by a junior member of staff, on their second day, only to return and be hauled over the coals by the Director.
Can take place very soon after starting or anything up to six months thereafter. They go one of two ways and neither are satisfactory. One lasts for three days, where you get to meet 800 people, attacked by the 93 page business continuity plan, go through 16 icebreakers and sit through two days of presentations from co-opted staff telling you how ‘passionate’ they feel about working there. The other, well yes you guessed it is over in an hour usually concluded by an instruction directing you to the intranet as if you’ll find what you need among 750 badly designed pages.
Really some induction events are so bad, as opposed to welcoming you to the organisation, you’d be forgiven for thinking someone’s doing their best to dissuade you from joining the organisation!
Ever noticed it appears only junior staff are ever selected for the sheep dipping process? As if there’s the plebs corporate vision and then there’s the executive version.
Senior managers are notable absentees from the starring line-up. Imagine the last minute ‘conflict’ alerting Outlook entries suddenly appearing across large swathes of the exclusive manager distribution group the minute an induction attendance request comes into view.
You must have come across this before. Some over zealous type, books the boardroom a whole year in advance (excluding anyone with a genuine need from using the room). Come the time for the weekly/monthly meeting, it’s an embarrassing mess, dominated by the chair with everyone else gazing longingly at the green meadow scene through the window beyond the car park. Damn it. By hook or by crook, this meeting will work they promise themselves. They’ll try all sorts – rotating the chair, standing during the meeting, having ‘safety positions’, etc. Alas it all comes to no avail and everyone knows it’s a huge waste of time. Time that could be spent more effectively doing some work. But here’s the rub. Despite your protestation and that of others, meetings still happen, again and again and again. Only because the pompous basket case whose brainchild the meeting is couldn’t bear cancelling as that’s a definite sign of defeat, or a reason for an equally profligate team-building exercise .
Cancel. Re-schedule. Cancel. Re-schedule. A never ending cycle. Don’t be surprised when I don’t turn up or stop accepting the invitations. The organiser just ends up being labelled as poor at time management or incompetent, wasting everyone’s time. Some don’t even bother with the courtesy of letting you know why its necessary to cancel by attaching an apology for the inconvenience and for wasting someone’s’ precious time.’
I don’t want to meet over lunch; I’d actually like to have some lunch during lunchtime! How many times have you heard ‘Can we have a quick catch up just before lunch – will only take five minutes’? Your growling stomach is responded to by ‘Oh, I’m sorry. You must be getting hungry now. Gosh I didn’t realise we’d been talking for over an hour’.
The Boss – the one who listens to all the excuses then two hours later goes with their own recommendations.
Ball of stress – expects every meeting to result in mammoth changes to everything they do, and for that to happen by next week, with zero budget spend.
Nervous Nellie – very uncomfortable, expecting to be asked really difficult questions or asked for their opinion on a matter.
Ms Minutia – is adamant every inconsequential point needs to be listened to, discussed and evaluated.
Second in command – seriously deluded when it comes to how big their seat of power actually is – expert at displaying ‘in control’ body language until asked for a decision when they show their hand declaring consent is required from superiors.
Aggressive – challenges and bunkers every single suggestion, talking way over everyone else, picking fault at presentations for no apparent reason and any chance of a successful meeting evaporates the moment this person steps into the room.
- Getting to the point – if you can’t summarise in a sentence, you shouldn’t be having a meeting.
- Time wasting – the having a meeting about a meeting
- Failing to prepare – not reading the material in advance
- Dispensing with the chaff – only the relevant people should attend otherwise important voices could be drowned by irrelevant ones
- No snacking – with food on the table, professionalism takes a nosedive. No-one concentrates when there’s a box of chocolate cookies or Dunkin Donuts on show.
- Ground rules – so everyone knows how we conduct meetings
- No agenda
- Going endlessly around the table saying what’s been accomplished
- Could all have been said in an e-mail
Monday morning, you arrive early to get a head start only to find out the system isn’t working. You call the helpline (that is if it hasn’t been replaced by some useless ‘self-help’ system – surely if I could help myself, I wouldn’t be asking for help??). You’re greeted with a ‘Hello. IT Services’. How they’d love to answer is ‘What now??’, or even ‘This better be good. Don’t you realise I’m on level 178 of Candy Crush?
A quick explanation of how this works – images and audio are transmitted between two or more computers allowing a ‘meeting’ to take place. Obvious benefit being not everyone needs to be in the same room at the same time. That’s the theory. What tends to happen 9 times out of 10, is:
- No connection made between the remote devices
- Everyone can be seen but not heard
- Everyone can be heard but not seen
- Repeatedly telling someone to turn the mic on or off (to reduce the effects of feedback)
- Not all are able to see the presentation
Trying to explain for the millionth time the reason you don’t use it is because you can never find what you’re looking for and if by chance you do, it’s always out of date. Isn’t the intranet only good for selling lava lamps to co-workers?
Ok. The big problem is error messages are really, really good at telling you what’s wrong with your computer or terminal. Heck, they’re even so polite they’ll tell you they’re about to shut down, obliterate your whole afternoon’s work and there ain’t a damn thing you can do to prevent it.
But the most annoying thing being, the messages don’t actually tell you what’s wrong – well not in any commonly understood language. You end up, telling IT Kevin, over the phone what it’s saying. Invariably Kevin will say “You have a Hyper Extender ZX 5. That message was coded into the ZX 4 so it must be wrong”. At which point you’re on the verge of yelling “That’s what’s on the screen. If it’s wrong, you need to come ask it why it’s wrong. Capiche?”
Obviously, this complaint can apply to lots of error messages, with their cryptic hash codes and core dumps and other gibberish. All information is basically useless to anyone who’d actually see the error message. A regular computer user doesn’t know what it means. A regular computer user’s cousin Stephen (who’s pretty good with computers) doesn’t know what it means. Tech Support doesn’t know what it means. It sort of could be the kind of information a Microsoft programmer could use, but they sure didn’t want to read it.
These kinds of error messages do serve a purpose, but only when the software is still being developed, when programmers are actively trying to fix these bugs.
If you’re old enough to remember working in an office pre- MFD (Multi Function Device), the sometimes networked but often stand alone printers always but always jammed on you, displaying the infamous ‘PC LOAD LETTER’. The first time you stood there scratching your head as it was about as useful as a fur coat in the Sahara. Well, a bit late but you can at last be put out of your misery. It stands for Paper Cassette Load Letter. Regardless everyone called it a ‘Paper Tray’, that’s what it was waiting for you to do. Oh, and another thing. The ‘Letter’ is a reference to paper size, regardless that most countries apart from North America use A4 for standardisation.
The one person technically knowledgeable on VC is away on leave day.
Sometimes these happen for no just or apparent reason, but when they do there’s a pretty strong base of evidence to suggest they end up with job applications (internal or external) and for sure they’ll end with someone – you? – having to leave a job.
All and sundry are now entitled to pitch for the job you know like the back of your hand. That includes the person whose had seven disciplinaries, four months of ‘stress related’ absence and lost the company £75k, all within the last 6 months.
Alternatively, the job that was so under-graded, in six months time is bumped up a few grades. This sort of subterfuge fools no-one with its deviously hatched plan to get rid of people that are just not liked and refuse to bow to every whim of their line manager.
The lot of the Head’s role, generally speaking is an odd one. Their purpose (although, I’m sure they will disagree) is quite unfathomable. Deprived of the required technical skills. No, let’s rephrase. Once maybe, they possessed day to day technical know-how but have either long since forgotten or not kept pace with innovations and advancements in the area. Neither are they entrusted with decision making authority or true line of sight to develop strategies and initiatives. A head’s job description will typically use language like ‘oversee’, ‘check’, ‘co-ordinate’, etc. Have you identified the common factor yet? Well done if you have. There’s an absence of output and producing… well, anything?
A thought for anyone who is a Head of Nothingness. As a Head, you have some sympathy as it must be extremely frustrating for you, constantly ping-ponging between your direct reports and the executives above you.
In the absence of clear leadership roles, cliques begin to form. Senior managers become less aware of how things are done on the ground with junior staff ending up feeling directionless and put upon with responsibilities they’re not prepared or paid for.
The ‘perfect storm’ occurs where an organisation pretends or operates as though it is or needs to be flat – expedient decision making, well trained staff and increased productivity – but typically exists with overlapping or undefined roles (the give away is many titles beginning with assistant or deputy). If you found yourself in a wannabe flat organisation, chances are you experienced issues with leadership, micro-managing, ‘meddling’ managers, unnecessary hierarchy and possibly managing up. Sound familiar??
Junior and experienced staff alike experience difficulties when the expectations of flat structures, namely the absence of hierarchy do not support an empowered and relatively autonomous way of working.
There are a number of reasons why you may become demoted including, downturns in the economy, poor performance, change in management and corporate restructuring. It doesn’t really matter why, it is human nature to want to be raised up and not put down.
There will be even more problems if one is demoted while a former subordinate is promoted. If one is demoted and begins working with people one used to supervise and not treat nicely another set of issues arises. Unfortunately, you must find a way to handle it with dignity and grace and continue to work so that the demotion does not turn into a termination. This includes a realisation that those you once supervised may now be on an equal footing with you! And the unthinkable may happen. A former subordinate is now, the one you have to report to.
Sometimes companies are unwilling to confront the real problem because it’s sensitive—so they take the “easy” way out. Unfortunately, it’s obvious to everyone what is going on and the employee is humiliated publicly.
Your resolve needs to be do the job you now have and do it to the best of our ability. That includes being respectful, courteous and dedicated. Once you have been demoted, you are on the company’s radar; you have caught the eye of people in power.
Section 1 – Descriptions
- There’s a one in three chance someone at work is being bullied
- Taking a stand doesn’t always result in positive outcomes.
- Talking about it only aggravates the situation.
- Staying calm only fuels the bully to keep going in search of the ‘breaking point’.
- The only way to achieve an outcome is through the tedious process of documenting everything.
The UK conciliation service ACAS reported in November 2015 bullying was costing Britain and estimated £18bn. Its helpline service received 20,000 harassment and bullying calls over the previous year. The organisation said minorities and women are most likely to be victims and those affected.
Is it expecting too much to ask for work colleagues to be nice and civil rather than rude and discourteous? Particularly when it comes to staff- manager relationships, as often there seems to be some law of the jungle that you can’t be friendly with your manager.
The interrupter – Finds a way to butt in to your conversation with a co-worker. They cannot believe a conversation can be taking place without their involvement almost as if they should be the centre of attention. Always. Err, look up narcissistic and there’ll probably be their mugshot alongside.
Mr Know It All – Has an opinion on everything and loves telling everyone how to do their job better to the point of being considered obnoxious.
Lazy Git – Finds any excuse or reason not to do work. Not in my job description, or waiting for the meeting minutes, or the paper is the wrong weight, etc. Many will be found on Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Grindr and all other manner of social media networking applications many of which are still in beta mode. Otherwise they’ll be planning their wedding all day, every day. Very clever they are, managing to waste time whilst looking busy and are adept at covering tracks to avoid being tripped up at appraisal time thereby avoiding contract termination.
The Demanding Incompetent – There’s one thing being incompetent, but not keeping that to yourself and being demanding of others is something else. Every workplace has one of these. They have a task or a piece of work to finish and constantly interrupt you asking “How do I do this?” and “What does this mean?”
Speakerphone lover – Voicemail is always played back via speakerphone. Forty-five minute conversations take place on speakerphone oblivious to how annoying this is for the rest of the open plan office.
The Grump – Antithesis of the Joker. Hates everything. New suggestions or practices, the new starter – he hates them all and he makes sure everyone knows it.
The Energy Vampire – This is the person who seems to be annoyed at just everything. Its tough talking to them, as every piece of good news is countered with pessimism. They arm themselves for meetings with lists of why nothing will work. Hard to be around even harder to work with.
Self proclaimed Guru – There’s a fine line between being knowledgeable and trying to be a one-person team. Dismissing talent and expertise of individuals on a team can ultimately harm what you’re all working on by limiting your options. No one person knows everything, nor should anyone expect them to.
Every workplace has one of these and no-one can quite work out why they have two phones, given they’re not holding executive/management positions, they’re always in the office and they’re not required to perform ‘out of office’ services. So why the need for two phones? When asked, they’ll coyly make light of your observation, usually with the response that one is for the wife/mistress/other girlfriend (although you know he’s been unsuccessful in that department for the last three years).And yes, more often than not it’s a man thing, as if somehow paying two line rentals is the equivalent of being a celebrity crush.
Apparently there are more than 30 types of office bore. They’ll give you plenty of gossip to talk about and also stab you in the back to further themselves. If you’re familiar with Myers Briggs Type Indicators and Belbin’s Team Roles and the premise that effective teams need a mixture of team roles, then the same can be applied to offices. Except there are moments you wished they’d just leave you alone. So, do you really need some of the ones that are about to be featured? Here goes:
Brown-noser – Has no shame, sucks up to all and sundry just to gain promotion. Every workplace has one. Who was yours?
The Fraud – Brags and over exaggerates achievements talking more about them than actually achieving them. Wants to appear to be competent and hardworking rather than doing so.
Machiavellian – Ruthlessly ambitious, cunning and prepared to build people up for the inevitable stab in the back all for personal gain. Very competitive and difficult to work with as only they and their ambitions matter.
Credit Hogger – Probably top of the pile in a league table of annoyance. Mostly they are managers, but they can also be found amongst co-workers. How do you identify a credit hogger? Well, passing of ideas and work as their own is a big indicator. They have no original ideas, thoughts or problem solving skills but will pounce the moment any are suggested. They’re canny enough to know how to present them and make sure you’re never around to refute their claims to ownership. They will eventually get found out, maybe not in this role but in future positions. Unfortunately, you’re never around when they do. Heard of the phrase being promoted to the level of your incompetence?
Stress Pot- Always worrying about something and if there isn’t something will invent something to get in a real flap over. The most trivial matters send this person into the draw for some Ibuprofen. ‘Oh you should use enter the file location on documents’ or ‘Steven in block c has been left out of Secret Santa’. They seem to make the tiniest setback seem like the 1970s oil crisis is about to happen all over again.
Educated but not intelligent – Charmed their way into a position, providing an abundance of hip management speak. Yet deep down, at a practical level about as convincing as the legality of a Ponzi scheme.
Chatterbox – There is a difference between being ‘bubbly’ and a chatterbox. When asked they’d probably describe themselves as the former, when in reality they’re afflicted with a loose tongue. Most likely to be heard saying ‘Go on. You can trust me’, or ‘Far be it for me to say, but Jean. In Accounts. She has …..’. Has the tendency of drawing you into long conversations when you have deadlines to meet. Even a ‘Sorry. I’ve got to get back to this as the deadline is two hours from now’, doesn’t halt their flow.
Worker Bee – In no later than 6.30 never leaving before 8.00 pm, religiously breaking at the same time for a half hour lunch and getting by with zero toilet breaks, making you wonder if they have a bladder made of granite. They’ll find it extremely difficult to delegate or work as part of a team, through a constant need to check and double check work. Panics when deadlines beyond two days are set and even though there is a deadline will check on the hour every hour. Cannot stand deadlines stretching beyond two days and even though there is an agreed deadline they will check on the hour every hour ‘Just to see how you’re getting on’.
Mug – Nothing will convince this person of their status nor provide them with the will to change. Their label is truly printed on their forehead in irremovable ink. Saying yes to everything is due to a fear of letting others down or being seen as a failure. The task to hand maybe excruciatingly boring and tedious, they’re still going to say yes. The sad fact is come the day of reckoning their dedication and loyalty won’t count for anything when posts are being cut.
Skiver – Operates (using the term very lightly) from a desk covered in two inches of dust and cobwebs, pulling one too many sick days for them to be believable. They’re easily caught when you asked how the dog got on at the vet only to find out they don’t have a dog at all. To explore further the world of the Skiver you’re encouraged to view The Workshy section.
Joker – Oblivious to any sense of decency or morality and mistakes nervy laughter from colleagues of being popular and liked.
Knowledge Sponge – They’re highly specialised in what they do (could be using a filing system or programming the Hubble telescope) and will not on any account share their knowledge with others around them. Their reasoning other than being pretty insular in all areas, work and non-work, is they’ll consider themselves invaluable and indispensable. That maybe, however inevitably systems and processes and knowledge requirements will over time change and a smart manager or team will not then allow anyone to build that protective bubble around. In fact highly likely they will be consciously avoided, leaving them high, dry and vulnerable with their now redundant knowledge.
Technophobe – Asks you over and over and over how to put a footer in their MS Word document. The computer actually runs them instead of the other way around and you cringe having watched them for the last 15 minutes writing a one line email….. before sending to all and sundry.
Perfectionists – on a road to self destruction. The self inflicted and extreme stress can lead to burn out. They confuse your diligence, flexibility and conscientious approach as somehow harmful to productivity. That’s how perfectionists see themselves, the epitome of productivity. The truth is perfectionism is actually bad for the workplace – heightened anxiety leads to poor performance. Perfectionism has its place and that is in very small and controlled doses.
Multifunction types – spending hours chatting at another’s desk, about what you have no idea as you’re too busy to listen. Nothing is ever said to them, yet you have buzz meetings every day informing you are behind with work. Why do management not address multi functionalism as it clearly don’t work!
Overly Ambitious – you feel a great deal of pity for them always taking notes at meetings, listening intently, reading the article mentioned as an add-on at the end of the presentation. All in the hope this will somehow turn them into a super employee, able to scale the ranks to a lofty position and salary to match. Unfortunately, hard work is never enough as they, and its hard to quantify why, just don’t have that little ‘extra’ , skill, luck, opportunity whatever needed to make the breakthrough. No-one is heartless enough, to suggest face to face they ought to concede their concerted efforts over the last seven years haven’t really reaped dividends by way of a promotion. So on and on, relentlessly they pursue their unattainable dream.
The prioritiser – Logical and critical thinkers. Often controlling with a penchant for analysing huge amounts of data.
The planner – Disgustingly organised and detail conscious. Have to stick to a schedule come hell or high water. Loves nothing more than agendas and action plans. Needs to know all the details rather than focussing on one aspect of a project.
The arranger – So, so emotional. Has to make sure everyone is looked after. Prefers the personal touch over hard, cold straight data and facts.
The visualiser – Out with the fairies. Their thinking is so big and conceptual they lose focus easily and can take you right off track. Will get bored very easily.
An extremely dangerous cocktail. The overly ambitious, as referenced in the last paragraph, are on the harmless enough. An abundance of empathy is the only demand of their colleagues. The bar rises once the hard luck stories are replaced by an indignant expectation that their ambition MUST be rewarded because, well they’re, just you know ambitious. As if the trait of itself is significant enough to warrant a reward.
So description in hand, why would working amongst this necessarily cause concern? It’s the sense of entitlement
Quite easy to detect. Anyone who exhibits a misplaced sense of grandeur based on a disproportionate assessment of standing. Usually such delusion stems from benchmarking their job title against any other role that might also have Director, Manager, Head, Analyst or Specialist in the title. They need to be reminded managing a small budget and team of 3 with the title of Director of so and so in an 8 person company, clearly isn’t the same as Director responsible for 100 staff.
Woman with the silly laugh – indescribable and unfathomable
Bow-tie man – believes he’s incredibly witty and eccentric. Staple lunchtime reads include Noel Coward’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ and highbrow magazines ‘Monocle’ and ‘Mental Floss’.
Serial dieter – eat anything other than sushi and you’ll incur the wrath of this under-nourished bag –o-bones. Often found in the lavatory, sticking out their non-existent belly saying ‘Oh I’ve put on so much weight’.
Salad Shirker – leaves a few grapes on the desk, giving the appearance of innocence. Disappears around 12.30 to stuff their chops with burgers, fries, chocolate and biscuits.
Posh Bird – changes their respectable name of Elizabeth to something like Libs. Apparently quite common in the world of PR.
Bride to be Barbara – a year to sort out her wedding, but is always found reading Bride Today magazines, while her colleagues do all the work. This of course is in-between bouts of tears and dramatic episodes because some overpriced caterer can’t supply cake ribbon to match the exact colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
Friday afternoon guy – the one who always seems to treat every day as though it were Friday afternoon.
Sound bite Steven – speaks in a strange language full of ‘sound-bite’ like statements, such as ‘one version of the truth’, ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’, and ‘up the creek without a paddle’ which are often incongruous with the structure and context of the rest of the sentence, leaving everyone figuratively speaking, scratching their heads.
Aromatic Anne – smells of cigarettes, perfume and hairspray all at the same time.
Personal Space Invaders – always wanting to come over onto your side of the desk.
Glamour Puss – dishes out snide and disparaging remarks like ‘You should go for the whole retro look, not just your skirt’.
The Ageing Flirt – thinks she’s still twenty-something, questionable dress sense (leopard everything) and massive designer sunglasses. Greets the office junior with a ‘Hello babes’ swiftly followed by a wink and fawns over all the married men, leaving a distinguishable trail of cheap perfume all over them.
The Sobber – found in the toilet every other day, regaling tales of the latest boyfriend who hasn’t called for two days, because ‘They don’t love meeee’.
Section 2 – What they do?
# Colleagues spending 99% of their time checking their mail.
# Colleagues spending only 1% of their time working.
Whether it be taking credit for a presentation you worked all night on, or accepting praise for winning an account you spent months cultivating. You can’t quite work out if there’s deception involved or they’re plain oblivious. Either way they hog the limelight and are claiming the glory. Sometimes, you’re not even aware until months and months down the line. By which time they’ve done the same thing over and over again. The way round this would have been to claim credit before they do, by keeping your boss in the loop whether during one to one sessions or dropping it in casual conversations. That way the minute the co-worker attempted to claim credit for writing a report, you’ve primed the boss or whoever as to whom the real author is. It’s not as if you would’ve come across as not being a good team player, most good managers will want to understand and know the roles played and who was involved in achieving a result as this is all part of making teams function and perform well.
Snacking has its own rules of engagement. Two common approaches are habitual grazers and dun da daaaah. The Snack Thief.
You try and understand why there is a need for the constant forcing of calories down the oesophagus. If you tactfully raise this, you’ll be pointed with a sense of justification to 20,000 ‘do you good’ bars tattooed with the words ‘organic’, ‘ green’, ‘low-fat’, ‘super food’, etc. (as if that makes it completely acceptable). Sorry, but by anyones standards that’s being more than a tad indulgent. Sometimes it’s a bit of a trap, where n innocent comment about how nice they look leads to offloading the reason for snacking as a substitute or comfort for break up of a relationship, a marriage, massive debts from uncontrollable spending, car repossession … you get the picture. Worse still is they’re consuming calories faster than Usain Bolt, without actually affecting their BMI whilst you on the other hand drink water, live in the gym but still can’t shift the extra 8lbs gained on holiday 4 years ago. Smart grazers disguise the habit very cleverly by securely locking away their stash in their personal lockers, for consumption later whilst everyone’s away in a meeting, or in the oversized deskside cabinet they seemed desperate to obtain from Clarisse when she left.
The Snack Thief
Not sure if you’ve witnessed one in action? Ok, if stock piles suddenly and mysteriously dip below the ability to raise the entire offices sugar levels 10 times above recommended amount, chances are you have a snack thief in your midst. How can you detect the presence of said thief? It’s not that easy, as here are just some of the methods employed:
1. Waiting until no one is around to grab a snack?
2. Only eating and never contributing to the stash.
3. Dashing in and out of the office snack area for fear of being seen taking seconds or thirds?
4. Hiding food in cubicles so as not to share, even when everyone else is sharing?
Granted, you too are sometimes guilty of one or two of these infractions. Sneaking in for seconds or thirds when everyone said they were done. Or perhaps cheating on your diet and not want to get caught with an extra piece of cake.
This was described by Irving Janis back in 1972 as the systematic errors some groups make in trying to minimise conflict and reach consensus without testing, analysing and evaluating their ideas. His work suggested that pressures for conformity restrict the thinking of the group, bias its analysis, promote simplistic and stereotyped thinking, and stifle individual creative and independent thought Sound familiar? Remember the time your reasoned and logical suggestion for a new piece of software was ignored because the rest of the team were all technophobes? How many times have you had brilliant ideas or wanted to challenge, with reasonable logic, suggestions of others only to fall victim to groupthink.
- Rationalization – team members convince themselves their decision is the best one.
- Complacency – feeling any decision is the right one, pointing to an existing and successful track record.
- Peer Pressure – advising anyone disagreeing with group decisions they always have the option to leave.
- Moral High Ground – using morality (we all know what is right) as a basis for decision making is a great incentive to conform as no-one will want to be perceived as immoral.
- Stereotyping – uniformity rules and outside opinion is deemed inferior to the point of negative characteristics being used to discredit opposition.
- Censorship – making sure any gathered information conforms to or supports the chosen decision.
- Illusionary – if no-one speaks out, the group feels their decision is unanimous.
Section 3 – What you do?
Something quite personally, which you may never have come across before let alone having to deal with it. But just imagine. A friend or respected work colleague fails to pass an end of course test – even the open book ‘un-failable’ type test. What do you do? Is it fair for classroom failure to impact negatively on how they are perceived doing their work? After all, their attitude and competence in the work setting may be completely different and superior to that in the learning environment, particularly if the learning topic has only a loose connection to their work.
#Working your guts out for no praise or recognition. Worse still, you do all the work and your boss / co-worker wants to take the credit.
Section 4 – Situations
Not to you, or to others. By way of illustrating the point, do any of these traits within others sound familiar? Always speaking more than others? Thinking interrupting is a natural part of conversation? Thinking about what to say instead of concentrating on the words of the speaker? Being distracted quickly? Impatience when others are speaking? These are all classic ‘not listening’ traits. If it’s a co-worker with cotton wool bunged earholes, whilst annoying it doesn’t usually have a profound effect on you. A sure sign of not listening is wanting to get to the bottom line quickly and not being overly concerned or interested in how people feel, just what’s being achieved.
Consider when the subject is a leader – say your boss or manager/leader in the organisation, that’s when it turns into a problem. Ever approached someone to bounce an idea off them and within a matter of minutes they’ve taken over offering you a million and one solutions? You only wanted some reassurance you were heading down the right path.
About 1 in 5 people has it, so odds are it’ll find it’s way to your desk or the empty chair next to you in the meeting room very soon. Obviously, bad breath is a face to face collaboration killer and it’s one of those things you can’t really tell a co-worker outright, unless you’re good friends with them.
Wouldn’t it be really cool to be able to handpick your work colleagues? Just imagine, instead of an odd combination of individuals there were like minded souls with a similar socio-economic profile. Obviously within organisations and industries there is a ‘type’ or dominant group to be found. But that’s no guarantee of creating the perfect culture. It would give you that edge in being able to perform amongst people you’re comfortable with.
Everyone, will at some point encounter the person who adds no value to the work or the organisation. Partly it can be the role they perform. Most often though, they are just inept and mindless, rather than a source of help, support or guidance they in fact occupy themselves at the opposite end of the spectrum …. Hindrance.
No matter which way you analyse it, there’s always someone you wanna be and the unenviable envy being in awe drives you insane as you know you’ll never be like them. Could be the brilliant manager who always produces, time after time and is everyone’s friend. Or the really ditzy useless person, but everyone loves them. Or, the one that gets promoted ahead of all others, rakes in more money all based on nothing more than the Marketing Director has the hots for him!
It starts out as an innocent and well meaning gesture to help a colleague out of a spot when they’re running late to pick up a child, meet someone, collect a prescription from the chemist, etc. But therein lies the danger because the colleague now knows your everyday daily route is the same as theirs. Before you know it, you’re making up all sorts of subterfuge and divisive plans not to leave work when they do. This easily leads to working later than you would normally, suddenly always having ‘urgent’ pieces to complete and suddenly developing an extremely active after work social life not involving that regular trip.
There’ll be at least one of this type in the workplace. Always talking about where they used to work, how things were done [better] there.
You’ve tried being nice, but every engagement you have descends into disagreement and strife, making it difficult to achieve shared objectives. Considering one-third of waking time is spent with co-workers, you wished they’d just see their way to more harmonious relations. Instead, they’re unable to remove their ego from the equation and feel the need to ‘win’ every argument, rather than tending to the task at hand. They always seem reluctant to be nice in finding something about you to be admired or complimented. Or, as painful as it would’ve been for them, find something they could seek your advice on. No doubt you were forced to realizing, to make things easier, that it’s them and not you. You’ll never be able eliminate difficult people from the workplace, figuring out how to remain calm when faced with these crazy characters will hold you in good form for the next encounter.
How did they ever get the job? Carrying someone in the team can occur for a number of reasons and sometimes, genuinely they’re unable to perform to the usual high standards they’re capable of. Bereavement, missed promotion, return from sickness absence all fall under this heading. And then there’s the blatant don’t give a damn set, who are lazy, incompetent and the most frustrating of people to be around. They sap your energy and because you spend so much time covering for them, your own work falls behind and the boss demands to know why? Knowing you’ve put yourself out, the final insult is when they obtain a new position paying an extra 33% of current salary!
Carrying someone is usually a result of them failing to meet deadlines, slow in making requested revisions and generally uninterested in the work. Rather than this being dealt with it ends up with mugs, like you to ensure completion of jobs.
Certain people just don’t accept or like to be told no. Regardless your protestations of looming deadlines, escalating volumes and 2 weeks leave on the immediate horizon, declining requests is met always with incredulity and dismay. Often viewed by the recipient as disruptive and possibly aggressive, even the softer toned ‘I don’t have time right now’ seems ineffectual. Even helpful suggestions such as seeking the assistance of others gets little to no positive feedback.
Political correctness often divides opinion. It has its place. Rather than use it as a heading, it is not unreasonable to expect the workplace to uphold and support equal treatment and fairness across its valued workforce. That’s the ideal. In practice, well that’s something altogether different. Here is a small selection of some the transgressions, modern office and workplaces observe:
- One subject revealed they once heard a male colleague mention: ‘In many respects, women are people too.’
- Another, upon announcing her pregnancy, was told by her boss: ‘That’s the risk you take when you employ women.’ The subject added: ‘It was said in a jokey way but I was already worried about how my job might be affected.’
- Another once overheard: ‘If she’s pregnant she doesn’t want a career.’
- One woman, Helen, who was being interviewed for the role of human resources manager at a major supermarket was even asked whether she had a boyfriend and whether she wanted children in the future.
- Another, who was temping at what she describes as a ‘very male-dominated office in the City’, says she was referred to by the CEO as ‘legs’. The worker recalls: ‘He once called out at me, “Legs, come into my office and walk up and down”.’
Plenty of subjects revealed they had been teased or patronised about their age and their accent:
- One office worker was once told: ‘You can’t contribute, you’re only 20. Another told: ‘Once someone asked me whether I was old enough to be doing my job. I was 30.’
- One was told to tone down her ‘yorkie accent’. She is from Lincolnshire.
- Another woman, who actually is from Yorkshire, was told by her Irish boss: ‘You’ll be a better salesperson if you change your accent.’
In July 2014, it was suggested the gap between bosses and shop floor workers had trebled over the last 20 years. Top dogs were claimed to have earned 182 times the average worker pay. The High Pay Centre, a think tank which monitors income distribution, shows that top bosses earned on average £4.964m in 2014 compared to £27,195 median pay for a full-time employee in the same year, according to official figures. The gap did not increase significantly between 2014 and 2013, when it averaged 180 times the average worker. Compare that to 2010 however, when again according to the High Pay Centre the differential was 160 and a trend starts to emerge of an ever widening gap.
As if to rub more salt into a gaping wound, The High Pay Centre also reported between 2000 and 2013, bonus payments at the UK’s top 350 listed companies increased at twice the rate of earnings per share and company profits.
Begs the question if executive pay packages go far beyond what is sensible to inspire and attract top executives?
Cost of work? Huh? At the time of writing, the average UK salary is £26,000. Gross that is. If you weren’t working you wouldn’t need to find each year £2,500 for lunch, coffee and snacks; £2,681 on childcare, clothing etc. And then there’s £1,800 for travel (London Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4). Tot that all up and suddenly you’re below£20k. Not so attractive now?
According to a Spring 2015 survey by a prominent insurance firm, it takes the average worker 56 years and 6 months to earn their first million. There are positives and negatives to that. At least it’s within reach (just). Bearing in mind this is for the ‘average’ worker, so it’s interesting just to explore a little those falling outside the norm. For women it takes more than a third longer at 19 years. The industry you work in also has a bearing. If you’re in housing and food service industries be prepared to slog away until the ripe old age of 94. Those likely to get there first, at the relatively foetus like age of 41 are found in the finance sector. Hmmmmm, … ye olde bean counters.
Legal professionals (up 68%)
Transport Planners (up 52%)
Dental Practitioners (up 39%)
Pilots (up 36%)
Driving instructors (up 35%)
Coal miners (down 29%)
Electronic engineers (down 20%)
Marketing professionals (down 15%)
Construction workers (down 14%)
Office managers (down 13%)
So. Did you miss being in a declining profession?
It seems more than 25% of employees rely on bonuses at work to boost their take-home pay, according to analysis conducted on behalf of mortgage lender Kensington (Oct. 2015).
Analysis of government data shows 27.8% of UK workers – the equivalent of 8.62 million employees – receive bonuses on top of their regular salary.
The bonus capital of the UK is surprisingly not London but Derby, where 46.9% of employees receive bonuses. Central London ranked just sixth behind Bracknell Forest, Milton Keynes, Windsor, Maidenhead and Cheshire East.
Not surprising however is Men being more likely to receive bonuses than women – the analysis shows 34.7% of male workers receive bonuses compared with just 21.1% of female workers.
Industry differences are significant, with average finance and insurance bonuses worth 24.2% of total pay.
Below are the best and worst by local authority region:
Top 10 for bonuses
Bracknell Forest 46.4%
Milton Keynes 41.6%
Windsor & Maidenhead 41.6%
Cheshire East 41.3%
Central London 40.8%
Bottom 10 for bonuses
Isle of Wight 16.7%
East Ayrshire 17.5%
Merthyr Tydfill 17.7%
Cynon Taf 18.4%
# Continuing with the bonus theme, research by Glassdoor.com found women are more likely to receive less in bonus than men. On average one third receive bonuses compared to nearly half of men. Add that to previous research revealing men get 19% more basic pay on average.
A report in October 205 from HM Revenue and Customs stated 115 businesses had in total cheated workers out of £389,000. How come? They were named and shamed for not paying the adult minimum wage of £6.70. The worst culprit, a well known high street fashion retailer, fell foul to the tune of £104,500 – four times as much as any other company and affecting more than 1,400 employees.
A Wikipedia entry describes them as ‘a clause in an executive employment contract that provides the executive with a significant severance package in the case that the executive loses his or her job through firing, restructuring, or even scheduled retirement.’ They appear to date back to pre 1980s when negotiating early retirement.
The rest of us just get elbow out of the way as we get pushed through the back door. The top executives leave by the front door and to boot they hop into a chauffeur-driven car (paid by the company, of course) as they drive off into the sunset. Whether they have done a good job or not, makes no difference as handshakes are often framed as clauses within employment contracts. In the real world people don’t get paid loads of money when they get the push. You just join the dole queue. Some sums are so obscenely huge, they’d feed several small nations together for at least a generation. Here’s the list of some of the biggest golden handshakes in history.
1. Carly Sneed Fiorina -$21 million + $19 million in stock
Former CEO of Hewlett Packard until 2005 when she was asked to leave. Under regulations, no leaving executive was supposed to get more than 2.99 times their base salary. Fiorina’s pay-out was much more than that and there should have been shareholder approval before it was given to her. But, it was never obtained.
2. Frederick Ross Johnson – $53 million
CEO of RJR Nabisco could have ended up with $100 million when he left in 1989, but had to settle for only half. Resulting from a buyout, at the time recorded as the biggest handshake in history.
3. Henry McKinnell – $83 million
Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Inc. until 2006 where he awarded himself with a basic salary increase of 72% while company stock was declining.
4. Charles Prince – $99 million in stock
Stepped down from Citigroup Inc. in 2007 following the enormous debts the company had incurred during the sub-prime crisis. He also had a chauffeur and a car paid for (for 5 years).
5. Stanley O’Neal – $161 million
O’Neal was the Chief Executive Officer of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. before retiring in 2007. At the same time of this payout the company incurred losses to the tune of $8 billion. Listed by CNBC as one of the worst CEOs in history, he is accused of having been one of the people responsible for the financial crisis in 2007.
6. James Kilts – $165 million + $13 million in stock
Kilts was the Chief Executive Officer of Gillette Co. attracting a salary of $6.5 million a yea when a merger with Procter & Gamble saw some 6, 000 people lose their jobs, presumably none of whom got anything near Mr. Kilts’ payoff.
7. Michael Ovitz – $38 million + $131 million in stock
President of Walt Disney, a severance clause signed in 1995 stated he would be paid $130 million. Fourteen months later and with Mr. Ovitz on the way out, in uproar shareholders filed a law suit claiming the money should be paid back. A court ruling allowed Mr. Ovitz to keep the money on the grounds it was given as an incentive to work for the company and not severance pay.
8. Angelo Mozilo – $44 million + $140 million in stock
Mozilo was the Chief Executive Officer of Countrywide Financial Corp. turning a small company into a nationwide business that ended up becoming one of the largest mortgage providers in the USA at the time. A take over by Bank of America Corp. meant Mozilo was able to net his millions and leave the company on July 1st 2008 just before the global financial crisis. The stock options were strangely sold off entirely in 2006 just prior to the bubble bursting. Insider dealing perhaps? Not possible. People don’t do that, do they? He was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 4th 2009 for it along with securities fraud ending up with a fine of $67.5 million. Between 2001 and 2006 he had a combined salary, bonus and stock valued at nearly $470 million. Time magazine listed him as one of the top people to blame for the financial crisis! Guilty. Maybe. Filthy Rich. Definitely!
9. Michael Eisner – $1 billion
Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company until 2005, he added 7 theme parks and launched 10 cable channels. Stock price increased 1, 646% and employees shot up from 28, 000 to 129, 000. He got the push as he clashed with Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold (two former directors), who stated that he constantly had issues with employees and partners of the company.
10. William McGuire – $1.6 billion in stock
Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group Inc. for 15 years until 2006. By the time he left, revenue of $400 million had been turned into $70 billion. He was asked to step down in a growing crisis with the Securities and Exchange Commission that was carrying out an investigation on McGuire for apparently backdating stock options. The price of the options was lower on the date that was chosen and he was subsequently able to sell them off and make a killing.
The reality follows the rumours and suddenly you need to get by with 5, 10 or 20 percent less. Ok, at least we’re in this together. Or so you thought, until someone in the know let’s slip this doesn’t apply to the executives.
Too bad your boss isn’t the legend that is Dan Price boss of Seattle based payment processing company Gravity Payments. In April 2015, Dan reportedly took the magnanimous decision of taking a 90% (you read right) cut to his $1m in order to boost salaries of lower paid workers. Dan the man!
# An article printed in the London Evening Standard (03/08/15) claimed according to a Survation survey for London Fairness Commission, more than 50% of Londoners felt their wages were not a reflection of what they do at work. In addition more than two thirds believed that a salary of over £500,000 would be unfair for a chief executive running an organisation that employs staff on the minimum wage.
Often as a result of demonstrating ‘life-long learning’ or ‘continuous professional development’, just so a manager can demonstrate they’re facilitating staff development. Yeah, right.
#Not being provided with any L&D.
Why is it considered OK to cut back on training budgets and expect employees to produce results without much or any training at all? All this leads to is inefficiencies as staff struggle to work out how to use software or other tools.
Despite proclaiming equality in the workplace, many employers seem to neglect the training and development for the over 50’s. Why? The misconception being at that age you either know it all or are non-receptive to learning new skills/methods.
The difficulty here being if you choose to refuse, does your employer have reason to fire you. Don’t laugh. It could and has happened.
Why can’t they write policies less than 100 pages long?
No eating at your desk. Good for customer facing service reps, unless your employee is diabetic and having quick access to food can be the difference between life and death.
Everyone must be in the office no later than 09:00. Not so good for European colleagues supporting North American clients ending up being in the office until 8:00 or 9:00 pm in the evening.
This is of interest if you’ve held or hold a position where you’re in charge of people. You need that professional, reliable, expert support to help you make the right decision for the good of the company. But you hadn’t bargained for the HR Manager you expected to work with. Here’s a few, maybe familiar scenarios:
- The HR manager is pretty confident they know everything they need to know and never need run anything by the legal department until it lands in the lead solicitors in-tray and is swiftly despatched with more words in the comments margin than in the body of the document.
- Providing the recruitment panel with unqualified candidates wasting everyone’s time, but mostly yours (assuming you’re the applicant). They don’t do proper telephone screens, CV reviews or can differentiate between must have and nice to have qualities.
- Supporting a business or function which they do not understand. Example, an HR unit is attached to a marketing department but have never listened in to sales calls. How can they then address the needs of employees if they don’t know what they do?
- As a manger, not standing up to you. You wanted an explanation of the consequences of a policy or an action you take. Ultimately, it was your decision, but an HR person always saying yes made you a little wary. They probably won’t have paid enough attention to you or the true needs of the operation you’re managing.
Situations are allowed to become problems reaching near crisis point before action is taken. HR should as part of its main function be able to avert potential hiccups, using ‘foresight’. Fixing problems only when they happen and who’s to say the problems weren’t created as a result of HRs inability to act, suggest the organisation should’ve looked for a new HR manager (or two).
Nothing is guaranteed to be treated with more sceptiscm than the annual staff survey. From its inconceivable design (Pat the HR intern is usually responsible), to the usual panic and three line whip when only 5% have responded a day before close. Of course great assurances are given the results are invaluable and a real chance for staff to influence and have a say in things which matter to them. Eight months later the results are still yet to see the light of day – too damaging to set free? Employers never seem to get it. These are meant to be relevant, include only what really matters to staff and acted upon before the entire fourth floor have left the company. There is a positive to staff surveys. Being able to put the fear of god up the obnoxious boss, when they enquire whether you have completed said form and watch them squirm as you innocently reply ‘Oh. Yes. Done it first thing. I wouldn’t miss that opportunity!
In fact the staff survey is a real threat to managers as often they form part of performance management systems. With bonuses and the like at stake, it is a wonder there aren’t more cases like the Sainsbury’s UK Manager accused in June 2014 of rigging a staff survey.
For those who’ve never experienced this, it goes something like this. Twelve months ago you will have been asked, in all seriousness, foresee what you will have achieved twelve months hence even though the organisation doesn’t know what it will be doing in twelve months time? They’re also written as though time stands still and your manipulative little boss doesn’t have you running around carrying out tasks which have nothing to do with your ‘key performance area’, thereby ensuring you have a cat in hells chance of ever achieving targets and getting that bonus you so well deserve. So, let’s see why you’ll not miss this most abused to the point of worthlessness process.
#You start filling in the form, get to page 14 of 15 only to realise it’s the old form.
#You leave it until the day before knowing full well your boss will be asking you about things which happened 10 months ago.
#The appraisal meeting lasts 3 hours and started at 4pm.
Things were going pretty well as far as you were concerned. The evaluation form in front of you says otherwise along the lines of ‘doesn’t meet expectations’. There was no pre-warning of this and in fact only last week your boss sent an e-mail showering you with praise for a job well done. What’s with that?
So you panic and get defensive, focusing on how to defend yourself blocking out anything you’re being told about what needs to be done differently. Even if you know its authenticity is questionable, you still need to say things like ‘I’m glad you’re telling me this – didn’t realise it was a concern’. And then going on to say what you’ll stop doing and what you’ll be working on to improve. Only the best managers make sure this sort of news does not come as a surprise. You wish they’d inform you of problems in real-time, instead of the annual round-up when only last months performance is remembered.
Worse is yet to come. You disagree with your boss’s version, but are still expected to sign it as an accurate and true account of your meeting.
#Those bleeding S-M-A-R-T objectives.
Modern processes require the employee to undertake some form of self assessment. Not so bad really, until your appraiser convinces you the reality is you’re polar opposites to your perception of self. Let’s face it, by the end of the appraisal meeting, for a quick getaway you allow yourself to be bent and moulded toward one persons view (that is naturally skewed as they feel you should be more like them). Take heart. Someone has done exactly what you no doubt would like to have done with the self appraisal.
Back in 2013-14, a police officer famously posted on social media his completed self appraisal. Was it ever submitted? Who knows (who cares)?
Whether or not it was submitted to his superiors remains unclear, but we admire the officer for taking a tongue-in-cheek and lighter approach to the annual box-ticking exercise. Some highlights of the form are below -- we feel 'PC Smith' has a lot to answer for...
Serving the Public: “I am really good at this skill. The other day in the chip shop some guy asked me to pass the vinegar which I did without hesitation or regard for my own safety. That’s like serving innit.”
Openness to Change: “Over the 19 years I have served as a policeman my police costume has changed many times and I have not grumbled once even though I miss my old jumper. PC Smith constantly moans about how tight his trousers are.”
Service Delivery: “Some guy had his car and stuff nicked and was all like ‘can you help me?’ I said ‘sure no worries dude’. Then I got all his stuff back from the baddies by doing really good police stuff and shouting ‘You’re nicked’. PC Smith cried at my excellence.”
Professionalism: “After four months of dedicated training I am pleased to report I can touch my toes without bending my knees. PC Smith can’t.”
Decision Making: “There was a really important decision that needed making and I was like ‘Let’s do that then’. As a result of my action loads of people were saved and a helicopter didn’t crash.”
Working with Others: “When I come to work there are lots of other people in the police station where I work. Does that count?”
# 32% say progression in their organisation is ‘unachievable’ - 20% say managers fail to explain objectives and expectations effectively (CIPD/Halogen Software Outlook Survey June 2014).
They’ll go by a variety of names e.g. Targeted Development Plan. They may not even be that formal as to have a ‘plan’ formulated, but be sure someone, somewhere is watching your moves. These, let’s call them PIPs. Originally came about as a way of helping a struggling employee by providing the tools and support (training, mentoring, coaching, etc.) needed to succeed at work. The manager or sometimes the HR department will treat it as a process, that has a start, a finish (supposedly), a result/outcome and crucially an impact (often psychological for the employee).
It should come as no surprise this topic commands a significant word count. The ‘Boss’ deserves their own special mention and it would be such a travesty including them under a section devoted to co-workers. Because, there is and always will be some distancing between you and the boss (regardless your level in the organisation). As a boss, of course none of the following applies to you only to your Boss, their boss and their bosses’ boss. Yeah, right.
1 What they do?
Whether they’re willing to admit it or not a boss’s golden rule is “Always surround yourself with people who are better than you. Whatever it is that you are not – surround yourself with them”. You’d only wish they would be as gracious in publicly acknowledging the fact and seeing their way toward sharing their pay and benefits package.
Why is it Paul gets to work from home on Fridays but your boss won’t consider telecommuting for you, or why Jane doesn’t have to turn in the onerous weekly reports your boss requires for you? If it were for good reason like standing medical appointments on Fridays and your boss isn’t going to discuss her confidential medical situation with others. Or Jane’s work is so stellar that your manager decided she didn’t need the same level of reporting from him as from others. But when they don’t say, it’s just plain infuriating and can leave you feeling bitter towards your co-workers.
You’re on point. The work you produce is quality stamped all over. You’re bringing in shed loads of revenue, yet …. There’s no recognition from the boss. The reality is few managers have the same insight as you do when it comes to your work. Either it wasn’t your style or you hadn’t realised trumpet blowing was the way to get noticed. Sitting around waiting was never going to get the woman on the fifth floor to press the applause button. It should have been a case of talking up and highlighting key victories and passing along praise from your clients or co-workers. If you’re taking this forward, don’t over-do it by seeking compliments or recognition for filing regular reports a day early, you’ll just end up being an irritant.
The donation in itself can polarise opinion and innocently cause fractions. Add to this ‘performing a task’ or foregoing one of life’s essentials. Sometimes the circular e-mail advising ‘Wear your sports shirt day’ is this Friday creates greater anxiety than the parting of cash. It can become quite peevish with feelings, attitudes and morality spilling over into work and relationship territory all because you chose not to provide a pineapple upside down cake for the office bake sale. Some of the innocuous efforts include…. Best worst tie? Baby photo competition? Eco fines (turning off lights/paper usage)? Sweepstakes for sporting competitions? No cards – no presents? It is the hardcore, iron man/women type of pursuits that can really cause angst. You know, the climbing of Mount Everest. Cycling to the North Pole. Rowing over Niagara Falls. All of that is serious stuff and the more life endangering, death defying the pursuit the greater pressure you’ll feel to cough up.
Many a locker room confab will have this as the core. What was agreed two months ago as the desired outcome, seems now not to be the case once the work has been completed. Who got it wrong? You’re pretty sure the e-mail request was clear and in fact you double checked. But in the intervening moments something has happened and your boss won’t be admitting anytime soon they may just have been a little imprecise in listing out their requirements.
Whilst they may be to some extent clear in their own mind, they fail to pass that on to those charged with making things happen. Short of a crash course in telepathy, inevitably you’ll experience the dreaded “Can you come and see me in my office”? moment.
Transactional Analysis is a theory coined by Dr. Eric Berne in the 1950s. The good doctor considered when communicating with others we adopt the ‘ego state’ of a Parent, Adult or Child. So long as you are in the ‘right state’ conversations will continue uninterrupted. When transactions become crossed, the conversation is brought to an end until someone changes their ego state. As adults doing a job, we rarely take kindly to Parent to Child transactions i.e. ‘You must go and do that now’. The equivalent Adult to Adult conversation might be ‘If that is done now, do you think it will keep us on track for the next stage?’
Knowing the theory is great, suggesting managers change is effectively telling them their ego is getting in the way of us having a good relationship!
#Forced to hot desk and the boss manages to find the seat next to you despite there being at least 25 other empty chairs/desks to choose from.
They are few and far between, but when you come across examples of the near perfect boss they should be lauded and acclaimed for their virtues and philanthropic intentions.
Newly appointed in July 2015 as the first female boss of accounting firm Grant Thornton, this lovely, lovely woman has made it her personal mission to shake things up a bit. The headline grabbers are:
- Capping her salary to no more than 20 times the average salary at Grant Thornton (the industry average for CEO is 149 times the average worker) – she explained her rationale as “it just didn’t feel right”;
- Introducing a shared enterprise scheme -profits to be shared amongst all 4,500 staff instead of seniors at the top;
- Possibly allowing lower ranked staff to attend board meetings (wow!)
- Casting tradition aside and accepting that social media, working from home, meeting in cafes or outdoors rather than boardrooms should become the norm (Caffe Late anyone?)
Insisting every minor detail of a project is approved by them, despite there being experienced, competent employees who could easily handle those details themselves? Or, where work does need to be approved, it sits in the in-box for weeks on end.
Staff used as ‘helpers’ rather than being given real responsibilities, leaving them feeling they’re only around to execute tasks the manager assigns without being able to act more broadly. A good example is booking a venue for a conference room as opposed to quality checking the venue (site visit, etc.) making sure it’s suitable for the delegates.
This is without question one of the most unfortunate situations you can find yourself in. It will eat away at your very will to live day by day, as you ponder ‘This joker is paid double what I earn, yet I have to keep them in check’.
They meet with colleagues to discuss key updates or projects that you’re a part of when you’re not there? Hearing after the fact about decisions made which you should have had input on?
The Aggravator – someone who just winds you up. Period. You may actually get along with them, however, the fact they’re you’re boss just, well, gets to you. They always seem to be micromanaging, failing to set proper direction for you and the team. Ineffective in the most critical aspects of their job. Or it’s their unique personality that is the issue.
The Incompetent – a nice sort of chap, a little quirky but oddly likeable. These endearing qualities cannot however hide the fact they are clearly underqualified for the job. Incapable of making difficult decisions without seeking consensus, require their subordinates to constantly ‘manage up’ and no amount of coaching and training makes the slightest bit of difference.
The Slacker – Pushes their responsibilities on to their line reports. Showing little to no initiative means extra effort is required when they delegate. The slacker boss simply doesn’t like to work.
The Distracted Exec – Always nodding, “Mm-hmm”. But none of it’s actually sinking in. You catch them out when you ask their opinion and as if on auto-pilot their response is “What’s your take on that?” This despite the fact you gave your opinion barely two minutes ago. Meetings are no different with the constant checking of their smart phone. If they only grasped the importance of what you’re presenting before it becomes a crisis. Wouldn’t it be funny to go into the office, sit down, say nothing and then see how long they take to look up from their screen?
The Super Snoop – They come over on the pretence of wanting to talk to you, yet the minute they appear their eyes dart towards your screen to see what they can find out. An innocent elevator journey with her boss turns into an inquisition the moment she realises you’ve shared space and that’s something she ought to know about. So within minutes she’ll come and find out what you talked about. Yes, managers ought to wander around to get a sense of what’s going on. Not however, to the point you feel as though you’re being spied on, or micromanaged.
The Conclusion Jumper – As you’re filling him in, he’s finishing your sentences. Before you can propose a solution to a problem, you’re already being told what to do and how to do it. It may be a natural managerial reaction wanting to push on due to a self perception of being a very, very busy person.
The Confrontational Boss – Maybe she has your back a little too much. Remember the time you shared the little problem you had with the IT guy on the 4th floor? A week later she tells you he’s on disciplinary thanks to her intervention. A report that Accounting turned down a supply request, suddenly creates open warfare with the two departments locked in combat. Other managers hate her and your fear is by association you’re hated too.
Someone always in conflict mode, likely has a personality characteristic that isn’t going to change any time soon.
The Know-It-All – This is the guy who dominates brainstorming meetings, or writes cutting comments on your documents. When you present a new idea, he asks so many pointed questions you feel like you’re in a game of ‘Gotcha!’ It’s all a need to show ‘I’m smarter and in control.
The Badmouthing Boss – Behind closed doors they’ll give you an earful about your co-workers’ weaknesses, but you’re pretty sure she’s never talked directly to them. So you have to wonder, what’s been said about you behind your back?
The Ticking Timebomb – This is the yeller, the desk banger, the door-slammer, the phone-thrower, the keyboard basher. Sadly it’s not too uncommon to see immature, unstable, petulant behaviour in managerial positions. These people are the ones that shouldn’t be approached one-on-one; their volatility makes the outcome unpredictable. Instead, if there is an active, functional HR department they should be alerted, preferably through a group. This kind of behaviour can lead to people getting hurt and companies possibly being sued.
The ‘Too Much Information’ Manager – Two nights ago, she and her partner got drunk had a fight and slept in separate rooms. You know this because she told you. You also know about the upcoming firing of Sylvia in the Marketing Department. Again, she told you about that too. To avoid listening to information that’s not really for your ears, you resort to ‘exit’ tactics with perfunctory statements like saying ‘I’m still so behind, I need to get back to my desk’ or ‘I have a phone call scheduled, so I need to bow out.’ People who talk a lot are used to being interrupted and cut off, because others do to it to them all the time, so your manager might not even notice.
Mentally Absent Manager – Strategy? Goals? Whatever! Whilst they’re physically present, you’re never quite sure what’s going on up top or indeed what it is he does exactly—except play a lot of solitaire and fantasy leagues. The blame cannot lie solely at your manager’s feet. Their manager is also at fault. If the behaviour has gone on unchecked for a while, it’s effectively being condoned from above. Possible there’s a ‘special relationship’ there, or your boss has specific skills (undetected by you) of value to the company, but they’re in the wrong job.
‘Fluff Managers (and leaders)’ – Big title, huge salary, zero accountability
The Perpetually Indecisive – Puts off making decisions for so long that everything always turns into a crisis, opportunities are lost and endless non-work hours are spent trying to recapture and make up ground before you inevitably slip back … yet again. The only way to ‘manage’ this type is by deadlines delivered by e-mail, text, Post-It, meetings in case there’s one they respond to best. At the heart of the indecisiveness can be huge amounts of insecurity, fear of failure or doing something wrong, sometimes a legacy from having an uncompromising boss.
Don’t worry, little upstarts. Your rebuttal follows.
Typically, these are the under-30s with a penchant for changing jobs as frequently as their Facebook profile photo.
A survey published in October 2015 by leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman suggest young managers had trouble gaining the trust of their employees who questioned their experience, skills and technical expertise. They also come in for criticism over their perceived lack of corporate loyalty confirming this by placing higher importance on talent rather than loyalty. They show little understanding of why other colleagues would complain about working long hours. Their style of communication is unashamedly geared around social media and technology, which older workers may not appreciate, not because they aren’t conversant, but they probably feel messages need to be communicated face to face or by quill, ink pot and papyrus.
Inexperience is a major cause of rifts, creating a less trusting environment.
Bureaucratic. Technophobes. Boring. Need to feel in charge. Don’t understand ‘Mash Ups’. Overly sensitive. Resistant to change. Obnoxious know-it-all. Distrusting. ‘Cradle to grave’ job mentality.
Scenario. Your previous boss with whom you had worked with for a number of years and was utterly fantastic, took the selfish decision to pursue pastures new leaving you agonising how you’ll ever cope forming a new boss-worker relationship. And you have good reason to be fearful. From the moment the new boss joined the company they made it clear you were not liked and nothing you do seems right. She seems annoyed when you try and speak with her, shoots down ideas and leaves you out of important meetings you used to be included in or worse, use to chair. Others, even the office slacker have found her generous side, its just you she’s got it in for!
When a manager takes this approach and refuses to tackle performance issues head on, you’ll be glad when its time to leave. You cannot, for the good of the company point out errors, unfinished tasks as colleagues will run off to the manager knowing they’ll side with them placing performance secondary and being all cozy and warm as a priority. Things such as training on new tasks are a no-go area as again the moment one doesn’t like the new methods, a boo-hoo e-mail wings its way off to the manager.
A cunning tactic used when professional, technical and business acumen is almost entirely absent. The trick is in creating an impenetrable shield between their boss(es) and them and their subordinates and them. That way nothing gets through to alert bosses of incompetence. How would you detect such a strategy? Your boss and their boss rarely attending the same meetings? Original ideas or proposals are never produced by your boss, they always seem to ‘summarise’, ‘appraise’ or ‘critique’ the output of yourself and co-workers? Masterful at creating ‘emergencies’ so as to be absent the same time as their boss – clearly they can’t then act as deputy which would require some act of responsibility, risk management and knowledge based decision making.
# Few things are worse than a boss who spends less than 50% of their time in the office, making it impossible to grab their time for important discussions and direction regarding work. There’s also the inescapable feeling wondering whether they’re absent doing company business or skiving?
A good boss would want to hear when you have a different take on a project, or how realistic a deadline is, or the best way to deal with a difficult client. Unfortunately you may have experienced a different response, which at times is interpreted as dissent, ‘being overly emotional’ or grrrrr….insubordination! It’s difficult faced with this seemingly impenetrable block. Success of a project may depend on your suggestions being implemented, but if you do not have presence of mind to take a calm unemotional stance, with the realisation that ultimately your boss makes the call, you’ll inevitable get that sinking feeling.
Regular cancellation of planned meetings, doesn’t return calls or e-mails and generally doesn’t have you on the priority list.
# Not liking your boss- Four typical signs of not liking your manager:
1. You’re much, much happier when your boss is on vacation or traveling. It’s normal to enjoy the times when your boss is away; after all, a boss’s absence will often result in less work, fewer interruptions and lower stress. But when you’re only happy when your boss is away, it’s a bad sign about the relationship.
2. You avoid talking with your boss, even when you need to. Putting off important conversations with your manager or avoiding them altogether, even when you know you really should be touching base with her?
3. You’re disappointed when your manager is included in meetings or when she joins your conversation. If you have a sinking feeling when your boss joins your conversation or when you see her name on a meeting invite list, you probably don’t have a great relationship.
4. Everything she does annoys you. Sometimes when you’re aggravated with someone, everything about him or her starts to annoy you, including things that wouldn’t even register if someone else did them.
Working with Interims
The interim market has grown largely through organisational focus on the financial benefits gauged solely in terms of the recruitment process: there is no search fee, a simple daily rate, no addition to the fixed payroll and no termination costs. Many will argue also these are highly experienced individuals who for the duration of their tenure impart knowledge and experience it would take the organisations several months if not years to cultivate through home grown methods. Sounds too good to be true?
Economists, politicians and like minded ivory tower inhabitants have come up with a label for those who have capacity and the desire to work more or longer hours but the opportunities do not present themselves. Not true. This is the correct definition of underemployment. When you’ve had to take a lower paying, mind blowingly mundane position that’s underemployment. When you know more than your boss and they’re constantly seeking your opinion or stealing your ideas, that’s underemployment.
A person unable to add value to an otherwise redundant role, is a recipe for the perfect storm. There are those inexplicable roles/positions that, whichever way you look… up, down, around, left or right, you cannot figure out what the post is supposed to achieve or contribute, yet someone still occupies it?
In May 2014 it was estimated around 1.4m jobs were based on ‘zero hour contracts’. In practice this meant no guarantee of work, but expected to turn up to be told whether there was work or not. So, people unfortunate enough to be exploited by such a regime would find themselves possibly having to pay to get to work with the prospect of no pay. This type of insecurity gained favour with large employees who viewed it as an opportunity to cut the wage bill as there were no in a sense need to pay if there was no direct reward or income to be gained. During the recession starting in 2008, it ceased to be confined to the fringes of the job market gaining wider popularity (among employers it has to be said). Employers would naturally claim the practice provided important and flexible employment opportunities. In July 2014, a report suggested women were twice as likely to have zero hours jobs in London than their male counterparts. This in part due to growth in industries where zero hours have gained popularity and traditionally have attracted more female than male employees.
You were hired as development manager, but you end up managing spreadsheets. Or your “Accounts Director” job turns out to be little more than making cold calls to prospects. May not have been a deliberate bait-and-switch, but the work isn’t what you were sold in the interview. It may have been a good move for you, in which case everyone ends up happy. There is of course the ‘shunt’ effect, being asked on a ‘temporary’ basis to hold the fort or to help out in another area. These arrangements never come with any form of written agreement that provides any protection or guarantee that after said period, normal service will be resumed. So you end up feeling put upon and taken advantage of without an escape route. Yes, roles evolve and change, by necessity and to make them interesting. When they do, leaving the postholder dissatisfied it only ever leads to two real outcomes. A de-motivated clock watcher or any empty seat.
Every minute you spend in you current job is a minute not spent in your dream job. What is your idea of a dream job? This is an interesting insight to what some consider would be worth getting out of bed for:
• Spy for MI5
• Crown Jeweller
• Raven Master
• Lock-keeper for the British Waterways
• Selfridges window dresser
• Buyer for Harrods
• Tower Bridge operator
• Swan Marker
• Bartender at the House of Commons
• Actor for The London Dungeon
If you’re not in your dream job, and let’s face it who can honestly say they are, do you feel the same pressures as shared by this group of respondents:
• I’m ambitious 43%
• Pressure I put on myself 41%
• Self-satisfaction 40%
• Financial pressure 40%
• Society’s expectations 26%
• Friends’/family expectations 25%
• Want to retire early 3%
• Religious reasons/expectations 1%
# According to the UK Trades Union Council, the number of night workers in 2014 stood at 3.17 million. That’s an increase of 6.9% since 2007.
2 Rules and Regulations
#People who don’t follow the rules and you’re left inconvenienced.
Imagine in an IT environment where everything follows procedure and everything has an audit trail. So an example would be logging in and out before you run a process. Now, every time you go to run your process, someone else is logged in meaning you either a) have to log them off, or b) find them and get them to log off. Sounds small and petty, but happening time and time again? Next time send a saucy e-mail to their boss from their account. That will soon get them to change their ways.
- Life Coaches
- Atmosphere co-ordinators (people hired to create a party vibe in bars)
- Chief learning officers
- Beverage Dissemination Officer – Bartender
- Brand Evangelist
- Gastronomical Hygiene Technician – Dishwasher
- Digital Overlord – Website Manager
- Chief Thinking Officer – …. Stop and actually do something.
- Field Nourishment Consultant – Waitress
- Anything with ‘assistant’ or ‘deputy’ in the title – worse still if both words feature!
Simply, Ultradian Rhythm is based on a daily cycle which recognises the need for alternate periods of activity peaks and rest troughs. So a translation would be for every 90 minutes of activity, there is a mandatory 20 mins period of rest where you completely shut off from work. It’s a common approach in creative settings to help those juices flowing, but can just as easily be applied to lesser creative areas. Pomodoro Technique is quite similar, where 1 x Pomodoro = 25 minutes after which there should be 5 minutes of break time. Alternatively, 4 Pomodoros are followed by 15 minutes break. The Pomodoro technique is designed to stop you from procrastinating or being idle. Here’s the science bit. These approaches are about managing energy, not time and if developed and accepted can remove the need for all those endless and unproductive meetings (which are mainly convened at the behest of the often poor excuses for managers).
Certain professions confound logic with the amount of paperwork required. Doctors. Lawyers. Paramedics. Even policeman are now required to complete in triplicate. Then there is of course clerical roles (if they still exist), where the primary purpose is to process an ever growing and unrelenting mound of paperwork feed on an imaginary breakneck speed conveyor belt.
It will need around four time & motion studies, 73 meetings at junior management level, 48 at mid level, 19 at senior level and 6 at board level. 42 spreadsheets will accompany the 19 PowerPoint presentations and the net result will be….carry on as you were!!
Whether it be for an industry accreditation Investors In People, ISO etc. or the six figure client account visit, there’s always a frantic rush to ‘tidy’ the place up. As if for the other 364 days of the year, complaining the place is like a pig sty, the first aid boxes always being empty and no-one giving or knowing a fig about data protection means diddly squat.
There never is such a thing as no rush on that because the minute you categorise it as such, Murphy’s Law has a habit of changing it up on you! The law of averages states the task is coming from way on high and through successive delegation for ‘personal development’ purposes and not because overpaid managers deem it menial and can’t be bothered to do it by the time it lands in your in-tray.
#Project Work ends up with:
Person 1 – Does 99% of the work. That of course will be you!
Person 2 – Has no idea what’s going on the whole of the time.
Person 3 – Says they’re going to help but doesn’t.
Person 4 – Disappears at the very beginning and re-appears at the end.
When at the start of a major piece of work, you presented a list of over 40 things why success wouldn’t be forthcoming. Had they listened to you and addressed the causes of disaster, things would’ve worked out just fine. In other words, a pre-mortem was in order, but once again you were over-ruled.
It is said, as an office worker on average you will be distracted every 11 mins. It will take a further 25 minutes to return to a task once you’ve been diverted onto something else. Put another way, roughly 20 times a day you’ll be muttering to yourself ‘Now. Where was I?’ The biggest office distractions appear to be:
- Colleagues interrupting you to ask questions
- Others talking loudly on the phone
- IT problems (e.g. computer is slow, takes too long to boot up)
- Too many meetings
- Social media or surfing internet
- Loud music or TVs
- Co-workers constantly clicking pens
- People chewing or eating loudly
# People working more than 48 hours a week has risen by 15%, according to the Trades Union Council (Sept. 2015). Hotels and catering sectors have risen the most, 36% followed by health and social work (32%) then education 31%). Regionally, Yorkshire and Humber have seen a rise of 30% in workers clocking up more than 48 hours, with London coming in at 21%.
Dramatic increases from how it use to be to you feeling the need to pick between getting everything done (badly) or getting some things done well. Even bathroom breaks would stress you out. Your manager never quite believed you as he wasn’t as attuned to the context in the same way you were. All the while it was left for you to decide which took priority, knowing someone would be waiting to bear down on you when their task was running late.
How often is it, the people who don’t do the work, don’t understand the procedures to be followed, don’t understand the risk, and so on, and so on? Point is the person who knows best how long a task or job takes, is never the one to set the deadline or completion date. Instead it is left to the person whose only real interest is the outcome of the work, or more specifically it is done on time (forget it costs twice as much and is of poor quality).
Most people rise to the challenge and sense of accomplishment of being able to undertake more than one task at the same time. Indeed, it is an expectation in pretty much all work positions (perhaps not commercial pilots though). However, ‘task-creep’ is the one to watch out for. This is where successive task request are made from multiple sources. Each source is not in the slightest bit interested in the others. Eventually it changes from completing the tasks, to juggling deadlines and managing the excuse you have to give as to why ‘xyz’ will not be completed on time. Actually research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows our brains become drained when we try to do too many things at once, which ironically can make us 50 percent less productive.
As a manager, it’s challenging and hard enough leading and motivating direct reports, but when one of those ‘matrix’ or sideways management propositions are thrown at you, then it all becomes a little bit interesting.
Even when you’re stopped dead in your tracks listening to that rhetorical ‘You want me to do what???? voice in head, it’ll probably pale into insignificance when matched against probably the role which has bragging rights on the subject. Yes, the trusty and oft put upon PA/Secretary.
The clue is in the job title, and boy do some bosses know exactly how to ‘milk it’ with their very personal requests. These poor to the legendary undisputed these are those over and above call of duty tales which fill after hours wind downs in bars and restaurants. One role in particular is subjected to more than their fair share. Of course we’re talking about the oft put upon PA/Secretary.
The following are examples seen through the eyes of trusted Personal Assistants and Secretaries across the globe. And yes, apparently they are true!
- Sending your boss’s wife’s contraception to him whilst they were on honeymoon
- Flying spinach to Spain:
- Measuring gym shoes and buying socks
- Choosing birthday presents
- Buying g dinner every night
- Sourcing toupee tape
There is no way of telling of course, but these do look as though they’re from a male boss?
Some interesting findings from a study of 1,000 US workers carried out by enterprise mobility company Good Technology:
80% of people continue working after leaving the office – half doing so because they feel they have “no choice”.
Connectedness means customers demand fast replies. There’s no off switch. Half of respondents check their email in bed, starting at around 7:09 AM. 68% check email before 8 AM.
The average amount of “extra work” occurring outside normal working hours is seven extra hours per week – nearly another full day, 30 hours per month or 365 extra hours per year.
57% checked email on family outings, 38% at the dinner table, 69% can’t go to sleep without checking email, 40% do so after 10 PM. A quarter of respondents said overtime caused occasional disagreements with their partner. Worse, over half said it did not!
• you lied at interview about you skills
• you ran out of time
• it was a pointless and meaningless exercise
• overloaded with work (better to speak up next time!)
# On average the UK produce 30% less per hour than workers in Germany, the US and France. If the UK were as productive as these others, by investing more in technology and training staff, the savings made could give everyone Friday off!.
# Figuring out the 20% of your work that really matters as this is the proportion that delivers results, as opposed to the other 80% which is peripheral and doesn’t achieve anything other than possibly making you look busy and expending lots of energy…. But you’re unable to put it into practice!
# Most experts believe 25% of the work done by American workers is tedious and boring.
# The job you left wasn’t permanent – there’s a 75% chance of that.
Whilst not wanting to get into the debate around temporary, contract, ‘zero-hours’ jobs being good for employer and employees (those who want it) alike. Consider this, the International Labour Organisation found from a study of about 84% of the global workforce that only around 25% had permanent jobs. The study between 2009 and 2013 found also many without permanent jobs had no pension nor any benefits attached. This inevitably leads to exploitation of workers and very little job security. A key advantage for permanent employees will be on average they enjoy higher levels of income.
# No recognition that having returned to work after having a baby improves your time management and organisation skills. A Microsoft Office 365 survey found 57% of bosses agreed that starting families helps women become better team players.
What a cracking topic!
1 Job Issues
2 People Issues
# The reality that only around 50% of those around, above, below and beside you are actually doing work.
Everyone has moments of frustration with their jobs, but if you’ve been unhappy for months, that’s not normal nor healthy – and it’s a flag that you should be thinking about whether you need to make a change. But sometimes it’s not that simple: You might be convinced you won’t be able to find a job that pays as well, or worry you won’t be qualified for other work, or might simply be having trouble getting the mental energy to launch a job search while you’re still mired in a job making you unhappy.
# A study by J.M. Steinauer, found 45% of hiring experts said firms lost top workers because of being bored with their jobs. A Washington Post survey found 55% of all US employees were found to be ‘not engaged’ in their work and that boredom was the second most commonly suppressed emotion, followed closely by a deep-seated resentments of others. A global Gallup study of 27m employees and 2.5m places of employment over the last two decades showed just 13% of employees felt properly engaged at work. It also estimated managers accounted for around 70% of the study group.
# You’re one of the 70% of employees that are bored. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. employees are bored or disengaged at work, according to a 2015 Gallup study.
Boredom and stress create different types of problems for employees. Studies have shown that feeling bored can lead to disengagement, sabotage, withdrawal, abuse of other team members and intentional failure – all of which can result in decreased productivity. Chronic workplace stress can lead to serious physical and emotional health problems, including heart disease and depression.
Being at work, means you’re not doing something else which would be far more interesting. Here’s a list of ten things city workers came up with as an alternative to going to work:
Visiting the countryside;
Spending time outdoors;
Seeing family and friends;
Reading a book or a newspaper;
Sunbathing in the garden;
Growing herbs, fruit and veg to eat more healthily;
Play more sport;
Visit farmers markets;
Play mobile or online games;
Volunteer for outdoor projects
Your lunch break is something of a tease. Ranging from, in some instances 15 mins to the average 60 minutes, it’s too short to do anything meaningful and just shy of being long enough to become fully immersed in a quality distraction from work. Therein lies the ‘trap’. Should be the perfect escape opportunity, to grab 30-45 or 60 mins of solitude reading a gripping book, or catching up with friends form another department.
#The same sandwich, everyday. Only changing when you’ve run out of the ingredients.
The customer is always right and is king. Yeah, right. Now is the time you can say, do and think all you’ve wanted about the obnoxious, snotty and down right rude set of demanding and ungrateful individuals you’ve had to suck up to all for the sake of a measly pay-check.
Voices not being heard. We've all seen the situation where a company is spending 30% of its outgoings on pointless nonsense, busy work, and idling. Pointing this out is likely to upset people. If you upset people then it's over for you. That only has to happen once before a worker becomes the kind of person who will join the conspiracy of wasteful silence.
The source of one of the biggest annoyances of 21st century working. Where to start?
According to the Radicati Group (circa February 2015), the average office worker sends or receives 121 emails per day and checks their inbox more than 11 times. Say, five minutes per e-mail as a rough estimate, that’s just over 10 hours worth of e-mails. With it comes ‘Inbox anxiety’, drowning in spam and worrying you may miss important messages. Even working away from e-mail, that ping or flash from the bottom right of screen may create an unnecessary distraction from the completion of an urgent task.
‘Thanks for that.’ ‘Ok.’ ‘See you.’ ‘Lol.’ All unnecessary responses. The absolute worst is the person sitting 10ft away from you sending the equivalent of 7 pages of A4 just to see if you’ll finish that report on time.
After a break the biggest decision is probably how to tackle the mountain of e-mails spilling out of the inbox. There are two approaches. Top down and bottom up. Neither offers a guarantee of finding the all important message that must be understood or actioned first before anything else, even this week’s lottery draw. That solitary important message could literally be anywhere, in the last ten receipts or one received fifteen days ago.
Ever wondered why certain individuals always, always:
• Follow up conversations with e-mails outlining the exact conversation which just took place?
• Tell you exactly what they have done in an e-mail?
• Fill emails with descriptions of pieces of work they are waiting on (and from whom)?
• Fill emails with lots of questions (drawing complicit or incriminating answers)?
You should be getting the picture. The composer is laying elaborate traps, gathering evidence should things go pear shape and they be challenged or held accountable. Come time of the ‘trial’, they’ll present bundles of e-mail print outs protesting their innocence or the classic ‘Look. I sent it to Stephen. Here’s the e-mail proof’. Or, ‘I was just following what Mary had asked in her e-mail datestamped 14th December 2015, 14:23’.
#Getting Hassled When Leaving: Whether clocking out for an early weekend or finishing up a fourteen hour day, somebody doesn’t approve of you leaving and they’re going to tell you about it. “Oh, is it 11 PM already? Looks like somebody’s knocking off early.”
An hour after arrival and every hour on the dot thereafter, the desk turns into Madam FiFi’s emporium. Lotions and potions litter the pedestal draw instead of next months financial projections. Wouldn’t be so bad if it were simply a touch of lippy. But oh no. Nothing less than a full pre-cleanse, cleanse-cleanse and trowel application will do.
Ok. We all use jargon every once in a while. But there comes a point when you stop. Think. ‘Did I really just say that?’ Worst still is seeing an otherwise good CV littered with ‘cutting edge’, ‘team player’ or ‘transformational’. Truth is from the very moment following conception, they quickly enter cliché status. In some ways it’s a bit like Multi level marketing schemes. You know by the time you’ve heard about it, its no longer a good thing.
Trouble is it’s really tricky to know when and when not to use them so you don’t look a complete idiot. Conversely you won’t want to be seen out of touch, using last season’s buzzword. Often, you utter the most cringe worthy of corporate speak because it’s the language of your peers (or whoever you feel needs impressing) and when you really break it down, often it’s a cover up.
You haven’t a clue of what’s going on or you realise the piece of work you’ve produced, is nowhere near what was expected. So here’s a look at some jargon, you’re unlikely to miss… and what they might mean. When all is said and done, the intention is actually really good – condensing many words, even sentences sometimes into a short, snappy saying. It’s just that it’s a bit of a release to poke fun at them and better still those who use them, which of course isn’t you? What better way than to take a look at a few:
# ‘Give 110%’ and ‘I’m 101% behind you’.
# ‘Mission Statement’ – somewhere 90% of the workforce have never heard of.
Let’s face it work is a huge part of your life. It can define your social status, standard of living, physical & mental health and general well-being. It is that powerful and ultimately controlling to a point it impacts both physical and psychological state.
The first week of April 2014 saw freak atmospheric conditions in the South/South Eastern are of the UK. A combination of local emissions, light winds and significantly higher pollution and dust blown over from the Sahara caused uncomfortable to potentially life threatening conditions. Those travelling to and around the most congested areas e.g. centre of London experienced something from fine particular irritants in the eyes to laboured breathing – there are approximately 5.4 million Asthma sufferers in the UK. The advice from official sources was to stay indoors – as if the millions travelling for work in the affected zones had any choice. Aside from this episode, the general level of pollution continues to rise unabated. Surely something from which one could escape is something to be rejoiced?
An ongoing joint US-Canada study has found that workplaces are generally unhealthy emotional environments.
The cross border survey of 2,000 respondents by Mental Health America (MHA) and the Canadian Association for Mental Health (CAMH) reveals a majority of employees feel very insecure in the workplace:
• 67% reported that they feel their company might fire them at any time
• 83% reported that their company is overly focused on trivial activities
• Because of unhelpful or hostile work environments, 80% report that they tend to work alone
Despite the difficulties they face, 41% of people in unhealthy work environments report they rarely or never miss work due to work related stress. The report does not indicate if this latter finding is related to the fact that they feel insecure in their jobs, and taking sick leave might further jeopardize their employment.
According to a poll by ‘Post-it’ as part of their Make It Happen campaign (circa. Feb. 2015), you need to have a job working 27 hours a week and bringing in £80,840. If you’re reading this in 2016, quadruple that figure. Ninth most popular ingredient for happiness? Giving up work.
As a male worker, a “badge of honour” being able to cope and perform unaffected with large amounts of work related stress. Such is the desire to abide by the code, any form of mental health problem tends to be hidden from colleagues and managers. In May 2014 research by a private health insurer suggested 70% of city workers suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and the like were likely to attempt to hide or camouflage the symptoms.
On average, more than 100,000 hours are spent at work. That’s a lot of drinking time. Human resource firm Randstad suggest at any given time as many as 34% of workers are unhappy. Think of it this way. Next time you’re at lunch with your two regular ‘lunchies’ , look to the left, look to the right then look centre. One in the group is unhappy. It’s as though the lack of autonomy and purpose grinds and grates on that melancholy trigger. The sinking feeling on a Sunday evening knowing the following day brings more of the same – inability to self direct, learn / use knowledge and create meaning from what you do.
With nine out of ten saying their job is important to their happiness [monster.co.uk survey September 2014], around a third say it’s impossible to be happy if there is dissatisfaction with their job. Like an earthquake, the tremors and after-shock are far reaching, spilling over into enjoyment of evenings, weekends and holidays.
# Over your working life, you will on average spend close to 100,000 hours at work. That equates roughly to between 21% and 35% of your entire life
(based on the average person). Shocking, huh?
When through a particular bad experience, usually related to your boss, you develop very low self worth and confidence issues to the point you have panic attacks when demonstrating your skills or experience. Imposter syndrome manifests itself when you eventually move on developing a serious case of nervousness that you don’t posses the skillsets necessary to perform. It may last a while until you regain your mojo. Or put another way it is the damaging consequences or effect of capable people being plagued with self doubt. This is a point of discussion for the phenomenal successful ‘Lean In’ movement, aimed at female empowerment, founded on the back of Facebook executive Sheryl Sanberg’s book of the same name.
A well known brand of cordials (think of a character from an infamous and early Dustin Hoffman flick), carried out a survey which suggests office staff work four and a half days extra over winter because it’s too cold to go outside. Around 90% of staff admitted to this. That’s around 21 minutes more a day or 109 hours over all of the winter.
According to the annual CIPD Absence Management Survey (2015) in conjunction with Simplyhealth, over two-fifths (41%) of organisations have seen an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) over the last twelve months. This compares to 24% in 2009 and reflects a growing and continuing problem – 2015 was the sixth year in a row the figure remained over 40%. Those most at risk appear to be large and medium sized organisations and those working long hours.
The same report found in the private sector,
- 28% admitted they weren’t taking any action to support employees.
- Just 32% currently offer a counselling service, compared to 70% of public sector organisations.
- Only 21% said they were increasing awareness of mental health issues across the workforce as a whole, compared to over double that (47%) in the public sector.
Most people have fallen into the habit of eating at their desk, a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Females are the biggest desk-eating culprits, with 74% of women eating at their desks compared to 68% of men.
#Suspicion of taking a sickie
Relax. There’s no such thing. It’s all a myth. According to recruiter Office Angels, a poll of 1,000 workers suggested half of workers go back to the workplace too soon after illness – risking infecting colleagues. Why? Because they don’t want to fall behind with work. About 25% rush back to work while still ill for fear of being accused of pulling a sickie. This level of anxiety can be counter productive as not only are sick workers less productive and risk passing on infections, it creates a culture of fear.
Interior and fashion designers
Health and Fitness Workers
….and the rather shorter odds you’re in one of the unhealthiest:
Call Centre Operators
Source: Wellbeing at Work by Brita (circa May 2014)
Another study suggests the following occupations (or situations) have a propensity for making you obese. No prizes for detecting the two consistent themes, sedentary working and access to food.
- Shift workers (especially night shift)
- Taxi drivers
- Long distance lorry drivers
- Takeaway delivery personnel
- Office workers, such as secretaries and those in IT
- Staff working in nursing or care homes
- Supermarket employees
- Business executives
- The unemployed (the sedentary lifestyle works here)
An annual study of more than 6,000 people, ‘The Way We Are Now 2015’ from Relate, Relationships Scotland and Marriage Care revealed over a quarter (28%) of workers aged under 35 believe the ideal employee is available 24 hours a day compared to 22% of over 60s.
Although 71% of people enjoy good relationships with their colleagues (of those who have this relationship), the survey indicates that stress at work is affecting people’s relationships at home, and that family responsibilities can be difficult to juggle with work. A key concern is the 22% of those in work who said they work more hours than they want to and this damages their health.
The study also indicated clear differences between women’s and men’s experiences of work and their attitudes towards it. When asked whether they agree with the view that work should be the primary priority in someone’s life, 61% of women disagreed, compared to only 51% of men. Women were also more likely to agree that taking care of family responsibilities is frowned upon - with 30% saying this compared to 23% of men.
Worryingly, women were also more likely to agree that they feel pressured by their manager to work even if they are ill - 36% said this compared to 28% of men and 32% overall.
Ever tried all sorts of approaches to achieve the perfect result? Leaving exactly at 5.30 pm on a Thursday no matter what. Never discussing work at home. Switching off the mobile whilst on holiday. Compressed/condensed hours. Still, nothing quite gets you there. Could simply be you’re in the wrong job. Website Glassdoor.co.uk in October 2015 published the top twenty jobs, which according to their users, provided the best work life balance. Here goes:
1. Web Developer
2. Commercial Manager
3. Research Assistant
4. Senior Business Analyst
5. Product Manager
6. Marketing Executive
7. Human Resources Manager
8. Human Resources Specialist
9. Research Associate
10. Marketing Manager
11. Personal Assistant
12. Data Analyst
14. Business Analyst
15. Senior Associate
16. Software Engineer
17. Senior Software Engineer
18. Managing Consultant
19. Design Engineer
20. Financial Analyst
This is what Julie Humphryes, a leading architect was accused of by her boss during her employment hearing tribunal. Julie had claimed she was subjected to sexist bullying after returning to work following the birth of her second child. She also said she felt marginalised by her company during the pregnancy and whilst on maternity leave. Ms Humphryes was found to be ‘wrongly and unfairly dismissed’, but was also ruled to have contributed to her exit so her award was reduced by ten percent to £246,000.
Birthday / Leaving Parties and the Bosses’ Barbecue
#The one who insists splitting the bill absolutely equally.
#The one who wants to pay only for what they ate.
The charity Lifeblood carried out research into the effect commuting has on increased risks of developing blood clots. Sitting on a train for 90 minutes or longer decreases blood flow in the veins behind the knees by around 50 per cent. Are you one of those whose commute has increased by almost 20 per cent since 2001?
Researchers from the University of Düsseldorf, the University of Amsterdam and Massey University in New Zealand suggest for each 25% increase in job related stress, there is a similar – 24% increase – in the risk of developing asthma. The survey a study of 7,000 working adults in Germany during the economic recession between the years 2009 to 2011, also suggested those expressing a strong likelihood of losing their job tended to be slightly younger, with less education and earning less money.
# Management consultancy Deloitte’s survey of 2,500 business leaders found two thirds of employees were feeling "overwhelmed" with 80% wanting to work fewer hours
Ever feel restless and unable to sleep on a Sunday night? Well you’re not alone. Apparently around 56% experience this the night before the traditional start to the working week. It’s the anxiety brought on by the impeding week ahead making stress levels rise.
At its most acute, somewhere in the graveyard slot (2-4 pm), the absolute panic that is all consuming at the thought of those delicious sun-rays diminishing and sinking below the horizon. It’s an incredible draw and all you can possibly think of is rushing like a maniac once the system updates finally finish freeing you to occupy your reserved spot at that popular tapas bar hang out in town, or the ever so trendy lounge bar near to home. Because of course the quicker you can get there, better the chance of perfecting that reddening glow of evidence you’ve been out until at least sun down lapping it all up. Knowing full well without, you’re going to look a bit lame come Monday morning without the support of your Instagram pictures and your sun kissed glow, saying what a bangin’ time you had.
# Work is a main contributory cause as to why, on average, more and more working people are getting less and less sleep. During May 2015, it was reported in the UK that approximately 45% of the working population were getting by on less than 6 hrs sleep each night.
#Suffering ‘Baby Shame’
Depending on your work environment, new and not so new parents can feel stigmatised. If you happen to be a minority by being a parent, running off each and every day may not go down well with the drinking set and may lose you your clique membership. Kiddie photos maybe a no-no and god forbid should there be a childcare emergency you may well be forced to invent a medical appointment for yourself rather than tell the truth.
This could have been placed under other topics such as HR, but it is the general effect this has on an individual which makes this the right home for it.
If you tend to operate on the other side of the moral compass to most other people, this may be a timely reminder of your former and perilous existence, constantly covering your tracks and creating elaborate trails to keep whistle-blowers off your scent.
Money paid to informants by the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs jumped by 50 percent in 2014/15, to £605,000, as thousands called the fraud hotline. Whistle-blowers in the US receive up to 30 percent of monies recovered, whereas in the UK a maximum £1,000 discretionary reward can be offered. Better do the dirty in the UK as lower rewards maybe preventing fraudsters being called out.
Unsurprisingly eight out of ten whistle-blowers claim to have been victimised – with half being fired or losing their jobs. In more than half of these cases, employer’s responses were to deny or ignore the problem (research by the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work found). Other findings from this survey of 1,000 whist blowers show:
• 83% of workers blow the whistle at least twice, usually internally.
• 15% of whistle-blowers raise a concern externally.
• 74% of whistle-blowers say nothing is done about the wrongdoing.
• 60% of whistle-blowers receive no response from management, either negative or positive.
• The most likely response is formal action (disciplinary or demotion) (19%).
• 15% of whistle-blowers are dismissed.
• Senior whistle-blowers are more likely to be dismissed.
• Newer employees are most likely to blow the whistle (39% have less than two years' service).
It’s cost minimisation vs. safety and comfort, with ‘value for money’ always coming out on top.
Running on survival energy. Nervous system on overdrive and feeling pretty shattered mid afternoon means possibly running on adrenalin, noradrenalin or cortisol. Signals of becoming a dopamine junkie-the brain chemical associated with pleasure that’s released when we are stimulated, whether by food, sex, excitement… or screen time. This type of fatigue, you may well suggest, is just a typical and common by product of a busy modern life – work, children, hobbies etc. Maybe, but many sufferers of fatigue cycle have one thing in common. Sitting in front of a screen for long periods at a time.
A phenomenon associated with people having certain personality traits. “Are you a perfectionist?” “Are you a control freak?” “Grind your teeth at night?” This is an A-type personality. They are driven, competitive, aggressive, run on imperative – must do, have to, should do. Unable to switch off, can’t relax and if they do they inevitably crash into exhaustion. A deep rooted desire to multi-task lies at the heart, driven by a fear of being out of control. Exposure to an excessive multi tasking, tech intensive environment could see burnout heading your way sooner than later.
Everything about staff forums are wrong. There is nothing actually wrong about a group of individuals important to the success of an organisation coming together and having a say and influence on how things are done. What makes them wrong is you normally end up something, so badly organised and supported that it becomes, misunderstood and ineffectual. Reasons why they become ineffectual:
- They end up merely as talking shops
- Membership can be forced, with an almost three line whip approach
- Issues high on the agenda are often menial – milk, coffee clubs
- Management ‘invite’ themselves to ‘observe’
- Management veto what can and can’t be discussed
- Much talk, but ultimately no teeth
- Dominated by a select few individuals
- Organisations way of being a responsible employer – tokenism
#The Working from Home excuse
A blatant excuse of one rule for some and another for others. The some, generally fall into bone idol, redundant manager types who when WFH sleep in until 12, spending the majority of the day doing housework,, book reading, etc. and perfect the art of answering e-mails at regular moments during the day, giving the impression of providing a full days work.
What is really annoying is when no-one other than the person’s line manager is notified they are WFH. So you sit around delaying the start of meetings, or training only to find out some two hours later they’d never be arriving despite having accepted an invite!. As if the occasional subterfuge WFH wasn’t bad enough, some practice this deceitful act up to two or three times on any given week.
There are two quite opposing versions of what ‘managing up’ really means. There’s the one which opinions it is a method of career development based on consciously working for the mutual benefit of you and your boss. Anticipating and ‘jumping in’ when emergencies arise is an example favoured by life coaches and employment specialists. The other school of thought believes, firmly that managing up is nothing more than covering the bosses ass, so their deficiencies aren’t exposed! If this all amounts to more than an occasional or choice-based part of the job, surely its time to leave?
In the bible, the first thing God said to Adam and Eve upon kicking them out of Eden was “You’re going to have to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow”.
They’ll do it at meetings. Like, asking when the meeting will be over, because….I’m so hungry. Or, at the same meeting packing their things up on the lap, moving away from the table and whispering (loudly) … I’m so hungry. A bit unprofessional and usually the behaviour of green, wet behind the ears employees.
Truly embarrassing this one! Everyone makes mistakes. That enough is true. It’s the impact which is the key as you’ll recover in you own way if it is only harmful to you. When others are involved, it becomes hard to face them. The temptation may be to duck responsibility, but this strategy doesn’t work as you’re labelled as someone not willing to own their actions. Too often you will have skirted the issue, digging a deeper and deeper hole for yourself. You knew the right career move was to raise the issue quickly, show you understand what a big mistake you made and proactively planning to mitigate the damage and crucially how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. That would have shown how you’ve learned from the experience and how much trust individuals believe they can afford you in moving forward.
The crass, benign being of things done because they’re perceived as funny, a sense of belonging or some other meaningless aim.
You may not know it, or even have thought about it but subconsciously your decision to sign/contribute or not is based on the size of the card. Small cards. Person not deemed important or respected enough for you to contribute. Large cards equate to well liked and their departure will be missed. Then there’s the embarrassing moment just as you take it out having hidden it for three days and nights, only to find them fast approaching your desk. As you followed to the letter, the clear desk policy, there are no files to cover the card and envelope. Awkward. You wish the leaver’s card were for you, don’t you? Admit it. There really needs to be a Take Me With You card.
No more shaking the envelope making out you’ve dropped a couple of quid in. Or it being repeatedly sent around because you haven’t signed it. No I haven’t signed it because I’ve been waiting for the trollop to leave ever since critiscing me in that e-mail eight months ago.
Ah, yes. The good old asinine team building events which only serve purpose to whoever organises them or is in charge to embarrass you forever more. Just a small selection of some of the fabled bizarre offerings:
Horse Whispering – Instead of learning about effective communication, you’re trampled to death by a nervous and highly strung horse.
Workplace Animals – What’s it best to be described as? Lion? Tiger? Swan? Beaver? Well actually monkey might not be too bad. Why? Because no-one can demand you tidy your desk in fear of stifling your simian creativity! Well that’s what the awayday facilitator said.
Bathing Together – The idea being when you’re naked, everyone’s equal so you’ll develop more trust and be more open than you would in the office. All well and good so long as everyone looks straight ahead.
The Trust Game – One person falls backways in to the others outstretched arms . Doesn’t work so well when the 4’11” catcher is paired with their 6’5” co-worker.
Two Truths and a Lie – Each person makes three statements two being true and the third a lie. Every one wants to ‘win’ with the best lie, which unwittingly creates for an unwanted aftermath. So convincing are the lies, back in the workplace everyone becomes a bit sceptical of each other based on the expert ability to lie.
If you are fortunate enough that your organisation provided one, you may be all too familiar how quickly these become places to avoid. The acerbic smell and outright malevolent abandon of damp towels, cycling gear and other mould infested articles makes this worse than a nuclear fall out area. No-one takes responsibility for its hygiene, particularly as a fair population of users are not that way inclined. Young, single bachelor types.
#Weird Office Smells – Three month old pasta, burnt popcorn, and tuna fish. Yes, nothing promotes a solid work environment like a horrible aroma. But, we can all take solace in listening to a groaning Matt from accounting taking a dump in the one and only bathroom on the floor.
You will be told such working styles lead to openness and cohesion between colleagues. Trouble is the problem they’re aimed at fixing, doesn’t exist. A June 2015 survey by the University of Sydney indicated less than a tenth of workers considered “ease of interaction” with co-workers to be a problem in any type of work setting. The research also found those with private offices are the least likely to be worried about their ability to communicate with others in their office.
Open layouts can be visually and aurally distracting, affecting the ability to do simple tasks like mental arithmetic, made more difficult by ambient background noise and chatter.
Depriving employees of their own fixed space can lead to a loss of control and definition of identity.
Largely dependant on which side of the spectrum you lay, introvert or extrovert your reaction to noise will contrast. Introverts, or deep thinkers will hate the constant chatter of conversations around them as it is counter productive as a stimulus to working. Extroverts, pretty much the opposite. This group thrives on the stimulus of interaction and contact, happiest when there is a large boisterous group with lots of sensory interaction. If it were oh that simple. Let me guess? You’re an introvert stuck in the middle of a large open plan office? Correct?
You must have heard of this before? No? Ever been a time when say you’ve relocated to a new office or work location and after say a few weeks or months, you start to inexplicably feel ill. It may be just feeling a little more tired than usual, or could be headaches, poor concentration, or respiratory problems e.g. catching colds. There is a chance that maybe, just maybe Sick Building Syndrome is to blame. It’s not something that can be scientifically proven, but the mere fact more than a handful of sometimes healthy people are suddenly feeling ‘unwell’ suggests the environment is not what it should be. While the symptoms are normally fairly evident, the cause is so very hard to prove although dodgy ventilation systems are often the culprit. It may not even be associated with climatic factors, it could be desk design, office layout, etc. There are suggestions linking SBS with the increasing demand for energy efficient buildings. Some are claiming SBS is found in 30 to 50 percent of new or refurbished buildings. Why? Green buildings are notorious for being susceptible to trapping humid air in corners and crevices where mould spores can develop and grow – mould is a particular hazard and potential irritant for anyone with an existing respiratory condition.
This can be driven and motivated by two separate desires or forces. There is the being at work to give an illusion of being indispensable, passionate, committed when actually it is no more than faking being good at a job. The second and arguably more serious phenomenon is attending work whilst unfit (ill). It is of growing concern as more and more surveys reveal growth amongst workers feeling the need to ignore ill health, and attend work rather than taking time out to recuperate. Why? Well, surveys suggests organisations with long working hours are amongst the worst – staff feel if their tally of hours doesn’t match the company norm it will somehow be frowned upon. Even without a culture of long hours, the threat of losing ones job is cited as a great motivator or ‘threat’ to battle in and infect others with your communicable illness. With the later it’s a no win situation. Report for work, you’re accused of biological warfare by spreading airborne nasties. Stay at home to recover and avoid widespread infection and you’ll be accused of leaving others to cover in your absence. Note to employers…. that’s what you get when jobs are cut but workloads remain the same. Presenteeism is said, from a survey by Dr Mariella Miraglia at University of East Anglia, to cost the UK economy £15.1 billion through its links to lower performance, errors and generally making health problems worse.
Linked to presenteeism, there is what’s known as 6 o’clock Last Man Standing. Picture this. The clock strikes six o’clock. Office culture is one of to be seen at your desk for long periods of time. Who will crack first? Who will be the first to leave? As soon as the first one goes, others follow quickly thereafter.
Some employers are of the view that if you’re able to venture outside, even just to get some fresh air, you’re perfectly able to attend work.
· 31% of Britons have gone into work with an infectious illness
· 61% cited ‘Too much work’ as the biggest reason
· 21% believe they work in an unhealthy office
· 72% putting themselves at risk of infection from eating at their desk
C’mon, we’ve all done it. Just can’t face the commute or the big game’s starting earlier today. So what are the most common reasons for forced coughing and spluttering down the phone line to your boss?
• Hangovers (32%),
• Boredom with job (26%),
• Interviews (26%),
• Mondays (11%),
• Good weather (10%),
• To watch a sporting event (8%)
Add to this some of the more, let’s say apocryphal and outlandish excuses:
- Showing up at the wrong hotel (two with similar names in the area) so went back home (from where you never left 3 hours ago)
- Food poisoning (typically gone in 24 hours and never needing a doctors note)
- Death in the family (although you’ll soon run out of family members to use)
Regardless how fair a system is supposed to be, there’s always someone or something that’s guaranteed to cause a problem. Those who have childcare responsibilities will seek to take leave during school breaks and most of the time it’s manageable. But then you have the one person, that perhaps has some sort of grudge or disliking to a colleague with childcare responsibilities, who then deems it a personal mission to be as obstructive as possible. Not nice.
And then you have the rule someone needs to be present from the team, ‘just in case’ something should but never materialises! How many times have you truly needed to be there as the sole representative of the team? Exactly.
Of course, with the amount of forms you might need to request leave, your records and personnel records never match. You spend needless time going through both sets of records to find out the day you had off sick 8 months ago was recorded as annual leave and not as it should have been, sick leave. A total waste of time.
Men struggle with this. Whilst there is a legal right, men tend not to exercise the right for fear of being treated less favourable and damaging their career prospects.
You’ve had a fantastic break. On the last day you realise you ‘have’ to find something really tacky and very commercial to represent where you’ve been. It’s the workplace tradition.
After a long bank holiday weekend or two week break, it’s the inevitable return to work that can cause a shock to the system worse than the Monday blues. You see there’s sadness to contend with and then there’s the fear. Reminiscing a glorious cocktail fuelled afternoon is quickly followed by the peculiar feeling of not remembering what to do and even not remembering colleagues names! Everyone will seem to be talking very quickly, you’ve forgotten what you do every day and all 10 of your log-ins. It’s reckoned that 70 per cent or more of the working population need more than two weeks to recover from a post holiday downer. Half of these will go through holiday snaps endlessly trying g to recapture that feel good factor.
It's no great secret that the USA workforce on average doesn’t receive as much holiday time as their European counterparts. Studies show 25% of Americans do not receive any paid leave at all. But what may be surprising is that US workers are also less likely to use the holiday time they do receive.
In early part of 2015, four out of 10 Americans did not intend to take all of their holiday time. Fear of losing their job or because it wasn’t encouraged by their employer was cited as the main cause.
For most holidaying is a pleasurable experience, taking off without a care in the world. For the rest, the divide between work and life is less impermeable.
Holiday worry. That’s what it is.
Question? Ever seen a job advertisement offering, subsidised or free workplace restaurant, free gym membership, discounted shopping schemes, etc.? In tandem possibly with the latest employment craze of ‘unlimited vacation’ (read Silicon Valley). Sounds too good to be true, huh? In practice, it’s just that … too good. Those experiencing this new age working proposition, suggest all is not what it may seem.
True enough, unlimited vacation time is offered. In practice however, the non-stop work culture doesn’t permit extended spells of freedom, lounging on sun kissed beaches in some exclusive island getaway. The pervasive culture makes anyone contemplating an extended break or accumulating eyebrow raising leave days, very uncomfortable. Although direct comments are never made, they will be made to feel lazy, not caring enough and very uncomfortable for not ‘putting in the same hours’ or ‘not being a team player’.
Not all, but some employers will be aware of this reverse psychological approach when adopting such policies. You have been warned.
The best analogy for this is when driving on a three or four lane motorway. The accepted wisdom, and law of the road is if you want to move ahead you take the outside lane i.e. the vehicle you’re passing is on your left hand side (or the other side for those who drive the wrong way around). So given this is the ‘way’, motorists behave the expectation is for passing traffic to be on the right. Occasionally, someone decides to buck the trend and overtake on the left or the inside. If as a motorist this has ever happened to you – and I’m sure it has- you’ll know it generally takes you by surprise and often causes near misses or indeed ends in a collision of sorts. Now, take this and apply it to work situations.
The ‘promotion’ route, is generally a worn and understood track. Whilst it may be based on gaining qualifications, being in a position for a certain amount of time, a temporary move as part of development or a short term measure to cover a gap, the path is generally an understood and fairly worn groove. So here’s the thing. When an outcome doesn’t follow that path, everyone scratches their head trying to figure out why and how? You’ve just been overtaken on the inside is what’s happened! Someone’s just joined the organisation in the last 3 months and is being lined up to take over when the boss leaves. I’ve been here two and a half years and not getting a mention? How does that happen? They’ve been promoted five grades above where they are at the moment. How does that happen? Surely, being in marketing isn’t the right background to be promoted higher in the field of finance? How does that happen? Just a few examples but you get the drift. Those inexplicable rises to the top which just don’t make sense. What you’re not privy to is the politics and back scratching, but the impact often comes your way as does the feelings of unfairness. Just as bad as these inside passes are the lack of promotional opportunities, full stop. Having to do a job which you can do with your eyes closed and being paid way below your potential and worth sucks and you see nothing on the horizon by which to hang some element of hope.
A sad fact but getting on or being promoted has nothing to do with the ability to do a job, skills or experience but more who you know, who you drink or play five-a-side with or who you socialise with. Your 18 years of managerial experience and an LLB and an LPC will get you nowhere unless your golf handicap is an impressive 9. Not only is it who you know but what you know about them too?
# Hard work accounting for no more than 5% of what you need to get promotion. It’s all about contacts, networking and plain old luck
The backlash. Whilst there may be an element of graciousness in defeat, that may be short lived or indeed non-existent. If there was a real desire to obtain the position or a sense of entitlement, the repercussions could be quite serious particularly if you now line manger the individual. So, it has not been unheard of as an example for this person to talk over you at meetings. Even taking it upon themselves to openly challenge and undermine your decisions. Like e-mailing following a meeting to re-assign actions you as the meeting chair had already assigned. Not necessarily personally, and more a display of frustration with themselves or the decision to appoint you. However, it makes it all a bit uncomfortable.
Someone, normally your manager or another in elevated positions in comparison to your own, seem to be effectively grooming you up. What’s grooming up mean and to what end you may ask. You know. Being given the right opportunities to put you in the frame for doing greater things than what you may be currently doing. That’s great if someone’s got your back in that way paving the way for vertical moves, ensuring you get on leadership classes, etc. But what if you’re happy being a team player and don’t want the fuss and stress of taking on more responsibility and an increasingly busy work life? Then it becomes difficult. How do you turn down those offers without it being perceived as lack of ambition or being ungrateful someone is going out of their way for your benefit?
Not promoting your own work. Fantastic work means nothing if no-one knows about it. The ones to impress are your manager directly, or indirectly through their peers – especially the hard to please ones. Clients are even better. Change from shrinking violet to roaring lion.
Getting defensive. Being defensive is a sure way to stop meaningful interactions with co-workers. It may also result in your manager withholding advice giving on ways for you to improve. The relationships you need to advance your career will be destroyed, denying you the information you need to grow professionally.
Impulsive decisions. These have no place in your career. Period. Tame that hot head if you want to hang around. The damage can be far reaching hitting your wallet (hard), your reputation and quality of life. So next time you’re tempted to walk off a job, count to ten and think again.
Not being assertive. You may think being compliant is the way forward and to get noticed. Be careful as this strategy can back fire when put to use in the wrong place. Taking the softly, softly approach rarely gets you noticed and is more likely to hurt in the long run. Assertiveness is useful when used to flag a wrong decision, warning where a project is heading for disaster or negotiating a pay rise. Careful though not to stray into obnoxious and pushy territory as that’s not an image you want to be associated with.
Being too negative. Constantly complaining, justified or not, about IT fixing the network, or company policies will create something of an atmosphere for people around you. Negative humour has the same effect – regular snipes at the expense of the boss or the new guy will earn you a reputation for being bitter and having a bad attitude.
Lying. Even a small white lie is hard to recover from. If proven, no matter if for the next three years you’re ‘scouts honour’ honest, you’ll still be remembered as the person who can’t be trusted..
Not delivering. Promising and not delivering earns the tag of unreliability, whether it be forwarding a document or meeting a project deadline. Stick to your promises and you build confidence and earn respect.
Technophobe. At your peril, let the wave of change pass over you. You’ll soon be left behind by colleagues and likely to be overlooked by employers in favour of the more tech savvy competition.
CTD (we’ll call it that), is where someone spends so long in a job or the same organisation (we’re talking 10 or more years here), they inevitably rise. By virtue of time spent they carve out a career, as if it is the default route. But when analysed, it is not of itself time served that offers a career, but the perceptions that are built, particularly by internal hiring managers. You see, this manager will adopt rose tinted glasses toward this person. No doubt persuaded by the individuals current manager (often because they want rid of the person).They’re seen as a safe bet – ever wondered why so many jobs are ‘internal appointments’? This person may not be able to do a risk management assessment, but we have it on good authority they do nice colourful grids in Excel, and on time too. An external candidate doesn’t have that ‘internal’ endorsement which overrides any serious competency deficiencies.
Unfortunately career defaulters are completely deluded by the status, salary and actual worth having progressed under the default radar. They will also fiercely defend any challenge to how they obtained their position, saying they were the best qualified. Err, what qualification is it you actual posses? Many are pretty obnoxious with it and rather than quietly thank their lucky stars, they’re demanding respect for having ‘earned’ their position.
Any guesses? Well apparently it’s that metaphorical summit you need aim for during Monday and Tuesday, when the will is week after a great blow out weekend. If you manage through to Wednesday, then it’s all down hill from there with only two days remaining until the gloriously anticipated weekend.
Friday seems to be the day chosen to do something different, out of the ordinary. Not sure of its origins, but don’t be surprised if they’re the bastard offspring of some kooky management theorist wanting to be radical, spice things up, be a bit leftfield if you will, and ….. sell a few books on the back of it all.
Fruit Friday, Thoughtful Friday, Casual Friday, Dress down Friday …
When the alarm goes, why does everyone look around at everyone else to see if they’re moving? It’s a fire alarm people, meaning get the hell outta here! When they do decide to go everyone ambles and shuffles along like the march of the penguins – all heading toward the same fire exit despite there being three others to choice from. Outside the building no-one is ever sure of where the muster point is? Once it’s over, there is the 45 minute wait for the elevator to get back up to the twelfth floor.
# No eating at desks – A study of 2,000 workers by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in 2014, suggested one in five worked through their lunch break and those who did take a lunch break, one in five went outside and 3% went to the gym.
Company policy that dictates you have to give up those premium box of chocolates to charity while your boss can claim being wined and dined under ‘business expenses’.
Amazing. A few screen swipes, the click of a button followed by the insertion of a 4-digit PIN and VOILA! A new pair of shoes, a clutch bag, 6-pack exotic beers or the latest boxed superfood selection is on its way. Even better is delivery to ones place of work – no more trips to the local post office or begrudgingly knocking the door of the neighbour you barely speak to waving the ‘While you were out’ card as the invitation. Savour the experience, as it seems employers have had enough.
Major players like HSBC, Citigroup and JP Morgan (with others looking set to follow suit – American Express and Lloyds Bank) have banned staff from receiving personal deliveries at work. On this occasion siding with the employer is the noble thing to do. Just think of the administrative headache due to recipients being on leave, multiple large items arriving on the same day, etc. Still, with the phenomenal and unstoppable growth of internet shopping, it would be something of a spoiler not having this as an option.
1 Bad mouthing your boss
As much as they’re no fun to live with, it’s never advisable as you never know when it will leak and get back to them causing harmful repercussions. It would also create a lot of negativity and quite easily turn into a “them and us” situation, for those around you. Sometimes you just want to say something and get it off your chest, but whilst still at work is never the right time nor place to do it. May not have the same effect, but wait till you’re well away from that environment and there are no professional or otherwise ties to trip you up. Sometimes the fallout can make you appear difficult to work with damaging career prospects.
2 Making sure not to do anything that will mean burning your bridges
Whatever you do and wherever you do it, working with and developing relationships with others is the cornerstone of advancing in a work setting. That’s what’s being called ‘soft skills’ these days. The old adage rings true here “be nice to people on your way up because you’re bound to meet them on your way down”. Just think of all those people either now or previously you had to maintain a professional working relationship with, even though secretly you (and perhaps others) loathed their pretentious, narcissistic ways. And how you need(ed) to be wary letting it be known who you dislike as you never know who their closest allies may be?
3 Not going the extra mile
There are times when everyone has to work late to meet a deadline or launch an important project. While constant unpaid overtime shouldn’t be accepted as a feature of the job, if you’re the only one unwilling to help out, you’re putting a strain on the rest of the team.
Being flexible is especially important when you’re new to a position. If you’re unavailable all the time, even for an important project, you need to give your manager a good reason why – otherwise it suggests you’re not committed to the job.
4 You grab the credit for yourself
It’s not just bad managers who are guilty of taking all the credit. A bit of competition at work can be a good thing, especially in sales environments, but being a good team player means congratulating others on a job well done – and being willing to share the credit with others.
When being promoted, winning a new client or achieving the month’s best sales figures, those who helped should be recognised and thanked.
According to a 2014 piece of research by 1st Central Car Insurance, these are the top 10 occupations with the worst driving records:
Hospital Worker (non medical)
Unless you’re a permanent homeworker, that daily trip to the place of work stresses you out apparently within around 10 minutes of leaving the front door. These are some of the most common worries people have when out of the house:
-Someone breaking in
- Leaving pets home alone
- Forgetting to lock the door
- Leaving a window open
- Forgetting to turn the oven off
- Forgetting to turn straighteners off
- Being late for the children coming home from school
- Forgetting to let the cat out
- Forgetting to turn the iron off
- Pets getting up to mischief
Source : BT Smart Home Cam 100 (circa June 2014)
A study into staff tardiness by hotel booking site LateRooms.com has found that Britons are more likely to turn up late for work than personal social events. There’s a surprise!
The survey reveals that:
• 10% of Brits have turned up late for a job interview
• Men are more likely to be late for a business meeting than women
• And a quarter of people believe it’s more acceptable to be late now than in previous decades.
A third of those surveyed also admitted to being late for work at least once a month and, nearly 4 in 10 (37%) run late at least once a week.
The Welsh appear to be the most punctual employees, with only 4% saying they'd arrived late for an interview in the past three years and only 7% for a business meeting. Meanwhile, those from East Anglia are the tardiest at 12% being late for meetings.
Younger workers are the worst offenders. Nearly 40% of the 18-24s surveyed said they often turn up late to work. Comparatively, only a fifth of the over 55s quizzed said tardiness is something they’re guilty of.
Long gone are the days when your private life could be as reckless, carefree and wanton as you dare without even so much as a second thought to ‘Could my employer find out?. Well, that all changed with the advent of social media. As social media is now an accepted forum for work communication too, workplace rants (and to an extent social spats and questionable banter) are potential suicide traps. Reprimands and sackings have taken place over social media postings and comments castigating the organisation or the people working there.
Nothing to do with the country’s most famous export, Abba. No, it is this Scandinavian country’s business culture and approach to work that has it top of the class. Here are a few examples:
Flat organisations – less hierarchical giving all employees opportunity to have more regular dialogue with senior team members. Employees can take questions direct to the boss and their opinions are generally valued, regardless of their level.
Lunchtime exercise – Ok. Some of you may pass on this one. Whilst UK employers are the absolute masters of eating at the desk and spending the lunch break sitting down, Sweden has a strong culture of using the lunch break for exercise. Lunchtime dance clubs are not uncommon.
Sit-Stand – The more astute will have noticed publicity around standing at work. Sweden is embracing this movement with ‘sit-stand’ workstations enabling staff to spend part of their day siting and part of it standing. Research has shown spending too much time seated increases the risk of developing serious health conditions and standing at work some of the time can lead to increased productivity and positive attitudes.
Parental Leave – Fathers receive 10 paid days away from work. Parents are then entitled to a total of 480 days of leave, paid at up to 80% of their salary. Each parent can take up to 60 days of this allowance with the remainder being split however the parents wish.
In a sense the final destination. And when you think over all that has just been critiqued, there is still a 3 month, two month, two week, one day countdown until you are finally escorted off the premises. From the moment you are committed to leave, there is a whole range of scenarios, emotions and situations that make you want to scream…… I’M A SOON TO BE AN EX-EMPLOYEE….GET ME OUT OF HERE!! Both leavers and those remaining behind, have differing reasons to be a little anxious.
The Final Days
The Leaving ‘Do’
- Discard all company rules and policies like not sending e-mails to all in the address book.
- Convincing and taking key employers with you.
- Hitting “shift+delete” on the file containing more than 5 terrabytes of key records.
- Contaminating the hot drinks sugar bowl with salt.
The Leaving E-mail
So, the 15 minutes farewell party is over and it’s back to your desk for one last clear up. For the last three weeks you’ve been drafting the perfect farewell e-mail. How you really feel and what you really want to say are more than likely definite bridge burners, so a sanitized version is the order of the day. You feel robbed of that one cathartic experience to publicly unleash your pent up frustrations. What you’d love to compose is not a farewell e-mail but a ‘fare-ill’ e-mail, without burning of said bridges you may well need to rely on at some later date. Disguising a fare-ill email requires thought and consideration:
- Don’t use rough language – it is all too easy to drift and start abusing your employer and anyway who will read beyond two lines of hurtful words.
- Lift your missive above ‘hate-mail.
- Express your true feelings through wit, sarcasm, double-meaning and mock humility – plenty of ammunition can be found in select quotes from your employer.
- Remind the organisation of the effort they went to employ and train you. Remind them of this and that you were their choice, yet they still ‘wasted’ talent, as well as their own time, money and effort.
- Let it be known your pre-employment expectations were never matched by the sad reality, a succession of disappointments, broken promises (but make sure the focus is on the employer and not resulting in the ‘joke’ being you).
- The tone can be:
o Slightly humorous – the organisation is amusing and ridiculous
o Incredulous – shaking your head in disbelief
o Embarrassed – having to explain an association with the organisation
o Sarcastic – slightly bitter, but having with humour (at their expense).
- Some great one liners :
o ‘My goal was to one day leave this company, and without your unending lack of support I wouldn’t have reached this goal’
o To ______________ , you consistently impressed me with your ignorance and intolerance of true talent’
o Still can’t believe after following your instructions Mr X, I was still written up. Wow. Thanks for the experience. Lesson learnt.
aided by the exploration nd since As this book has taken shapeImposed Change.
An abundance of advice exists for dealing with change. Recognize you are in change; face your fears; take stock of resources; manage the stress; setting goals; getting past anger, pity and blame and so on, and so on. Surprisingly, none of these life coaches and change consultants encourage a good old ‘Yee-hah! Get thee rid, finally riding oneself of emotional and physical shackles. And what after all, is wrong with that. I the most realist sense, it is the most immediate and natural reaction to imposed change. How many times have you heard of a relationship break-up, where the dropped/dumped partner xxxxxxxxxxxx. How many pop starlets have made a career from singing hit songs about kicking him to the kerb, or getting rid of baggage? It’s natural and, is unflavoured by professionals in their search of a ‘positive’.
If you’re in search of a scholarly thesis turned into a best seller, this isn’t it. Go find that elsewhere. Yes, there is some critiquing going on and reference to studies, empirical data and the like. But in the main, it is an exploration and recount of real life stories. Situations and experiences being described and observed.
it never set
After a particularly brutal and painful redundancy, my immediate thoughts were ‘Well at least I won’t have to deal with that anymore.’ Or, ‘Finally being able to air my views on matters I was bound, by corporate gag, not to speak against’. And so began a long list of these things. Things I wouldn’t miss when I left the job.
What do the water cooler, the ’meeting’ after the meeting, leaver conversations, dinner conversations, etc. Have in common, they’re all individual outlets for what this book has brought under one roof. Those intensely infuriating, annoyingly trivial and life-changing ‘things’ we won’t miss when we leave our jobs. Not for a minute is it being suggested work is bad, No, far from it. It provides wealth, etcxxxxxxx. If only there weren’t these annoying ‘things’ and so many of them to boot!
Life is full of change. Moving house. Going to university. Having children. An endless list in fact. Capacity to absorb or embrace change differs between individuals, as does the impact and magnitude of change itself. from indivi
Who will read this? –
Those in a job thinking about moving on – the book will re-inforce the need to move on. Those who have been forced to leave their job – escaping the negative aspects of that job acts as a coping mechanism. the negative sidetrying to move on
Who will buy this?
Ex-work colleagues, family and friendseaving present from work colleagues.
Why will it be bought?
As a leaving present. To lift the individuals spirits (if ad about leaving). To recognise fulfilment for those wanting to leave the job.
The mark of success will be the nod factor. How many times in reading this book will you nod along recognising you’ve seen that same situation played out hundreds of times before.
What benefit will it provide to the reader? –
Closure on a difficult chapter. The sense of freedom/liberation.
First things first. Let’s get one thing straight. This book is not about work bashing. There are many, many positives to work whether it be the reward of learning new skills, Ok? You’ll probably find this just as therapeutic and a hell of a lot cheaper it has to be said, as signing up for weekly sessions with a life coach, personal awareness, ambient strategist, [and more] (hoping by now you’ll get the drift.
What problem will it solve for the reader?
The inability to move on.
Where will it be bought –
Through book people, traditional book stores and on-line (Amazon, etc.)
When will it be bought?-
When someone is about to or is leaving their job. When someone is inbetween jobs. When someone is thinking about leaving their job.
Life coaches, physcologists, change theorists et al, often advise ‘moving forward’ and’ bundling and leaving issues of the past, right there. In the past. To an extent that is sage advice. But there has to be something intrinsically valuable in reflecting on those bad, annoying, frustrations . In some way it is self help. Venting and grumbling nd just getting it out of your system or sensing solidarity through the words of others, gives a sense of not being the only one. of intrinsic value will advise I guarantee in reading this you will form an opinion that a lot of the content isn’t relevant to you. That’s intentional. It was never the approach to appeal to a single group of former employees because people leave jobs for different reasons and crucial the forward path may mean not ever having another job. So whilst the book, from cover to cover can easily be accused of being contradictory in sentences, paragraphs and chunks it present valid observations and points of view that will concord with your situation, views and feelings at a particular moment in time. Take for example smoking. The non-smokers will be concerned that so much ‘break time’ is allowed to take a drag. Smokers, obviously not so enamoured with the scrutiny. Just one of numerous examples where legitimately opposing views sit side by side. There is no logical start and end point. This is neither a novel nor a biography. So feel free to randomly dive in or see which of the chapter descriptions takes your fancy. t a novel or The ‘bite-size’ presentation style and views in its entirety In reading this book you might easily from a view of it being contradictory in places. And yes, to a point it is. That’s because it’s intended to represent observations and views from a number of differing standpoints. For example, one section of the audience may concur with cigarette breaks being abused. While smokers will obviously contend they won’t miss the disparaging remarks from non-smokers. It is to give balance and if you like, have a unique perspective of being devils advocate.
This is not about being anti-work. It is certainly a privileged and very flattering that someone considers you possess a set of skills or experience they need to achieve their organisations aims. To be clear also, work is a wonderful place to meet life-long friends , sometimes even long lasting relationships spawn from paid employment. A boss that has your back, supporting you through all of your mistakes, personal triumphs and shortcomings – truly they are hard to find and reason alone for the antithesis to this book. It was a clear, sunny day. Wednesday 13th February 2012. I strode through the main entrance and not once was I tempted to take a backward glance. A short walk and I was sitting in my car. The exit barrier rose slowly as if to scupper my plans for a speedy departure. The drive home took only 20 mins. It was mid afternoon so I was the only one there. An opportune moment to exhale. I had been made redundant. Lightning had struck twice for me – my first ever job resulted in redundancy (I didn’t even know what the word meant back in 1982!)
Twenty five years. Yes, twenty five years spent in the organisation. I had seen through about four CEO’s, countless ‘restructures’ that promised a better way of working only for reversal in three years back to where we were.
Leaving a job, is let’s face it either a euphoric release or a bitter, sorrowful parting. No fanfare exit for me. In fact, my supposed ‘line manager’ asked me when I was leaving – on the day I left. I had been shafted in every way and it left me very bitter. I ended up being managed by someone who had attended the same school, in the same year and the same class. A long story, but they had managed to conveniently disguise the truth make false and xxxxx claims They had managed to I had actually gone to schoolback to where we were thprolongdidn’t so much as take a backward glance
This collection of facts, anecdotes and thought provokers will prompt different reactions and serve a variety of needs be they the cathartic process of being able to ‘move on’, looking not to fall into the same trap in future roles, being able to reflect with some humour and sense of knowing to avoid the same mistakes the ‘I must make -
This book gives you the unique ability of looking at negatives and negative situations in a positive way – you were subjected to it before but no longer as you’ve moved on. Or, you imagined it was so quirky or irrelevant that only your pettiness noticed it, yet here it is being read and shared by others!
My overly critical mind, observing and pontificating on all manner of scenarios and situations seeking to understand the ‘why’ of things and ‘wouldn’t it be better if?’
It is in its simplest form a piece of escapism to somewhere in either the near or distant future where believe it or not a large part of your life is not controlled by having to go to work and having once experienced the many things you won’t miss……….far, far away to a place where you aspire to
In reading you may find this book soothing to the soul. A reflection of to be forgotten
When I say “laugh out loud”, I’m not trying to sound LOL cute. I really did, because I know the same people Jen knows and have been in the same situations Jen has found herself in. What she wrote, I have thought. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as outspoken as Jen, so things never turned out as funny for me.
Thanks, Jen, for putting humour back into my life. If you’re not the author of this book, then be the reader. Have a laugh at whoever annoyed you or annoys you now. It’s okay. They’ll never know.
It’s kind of like falling in love on the first date, but I’m pretty sure this is a good catch. No worries. I won’t get jealous if you fall in love with her writing, too.
I can’t… This was hilarical!! I live in NYC (though I have family in Kansas, so I can relate to all the Midwestern craziness!) and was reading on the subway and literally could not stop myself from laughing. Loudly. Despite numerous stares and nasty looks, I pressed on and am so glad I did. Some of the funniest stuff I’ve read in forever – made the commute fly by! I didn’t even mind all the pushing and shoving and floated into work on a gale of laughter. Keep ‘em coming Jen!!
LOVED IT!!! So funny my husband wanted to take it away from me because I was reading it in bed and keeping him up as I was laughing so hard the entire time. Quick read, finished it in like 20 mins and will absolutely be buying the longer, book version. Jen, you are a hysterical genius! Keep ‘em coming!
I chose this book, simply because the title was funny, and it was an emotion I was feeling at the time.
The book however was an easy read. It passed the time while I waited in the school “child pick up” line.
I would recommend to those who want a quick laugh.
I think reading this counts as exercise since I may have developed abs by laughing! Jenn hits the mark every time with hilarious stories and observations of life. My only complaint is that her books never last long enough!
Funny and Relatable
I read this having read and loved People I Want to Punch in The Throat. I was not disappointed, at one point I was laughing so hard I was crying. I can’t wait for more volumes!
it was nice to have just enough free time to read something funny & with just the right amount of material to make me laugh out
Enjoyed this book! I will definitely subscribe to your blog. your stories are so true to life & I love that you have just enough filter in you to make any situation laughable.
Sarcastic and witty, love this lady’s writing!
Many good moments here, made me laugh and remember not to sweat the small stuff.
I like how one scenario turned embarrassment and mortification into humor. I really liked the part where she has a sibling on the way.
Heraclitus of Ephesos (c. 500 BC) “The only thing that is constant is change” Change is indeed all around and one such change, typically resulting in significant consequences or outcomes is when leaving a job. A collective examination of the workplace, from an everyday real-life viewpoint, this books’ focus on events, observations and statistics is the perfect backdrop for sharing and highlighting the numerous reasons for a large and growing trend of dissatisfaction in the workplace. Satire is abundantly evident as an expressive form for lighter moments, whilst a reverential stance is adopted for the more somewhat serious elements. This is however, not about work bashing. Productive, enjoyable working has its place in society. But arguable for everything good work has to offer, it is not without those little (and big) things we find ourselves constantly moaning about on the commute home, around the water cooler, in clandestine e-mails and texts or dominating conversations at a leavers lunch.