Archive for the 'Office Politics' Category

9 Ways To Spot A Sociopath

This is a great article worth reading if you have someone creating havoc in your life at home or at work. Sociopaths are not all the same, but they do have telltale signs: Here are 9 ways to spot a sociopath.

 

 

Unhappy Employees = Unprofitable Business

We understand the logic:

Unhappy employees = unproductive employees = an unprofitable business

The issue begins when we deal with employees as a GROUP – Employees only exist as individuals, just like you EXIST right now, reading this sentence. ONE person at a time is reading this sentence. Even though there might be several or even thousands doing it at the same time, each is doing it in-div-id-u-al-ly.

Too many managers and HR people forget this very important aspect.

This is a “problem” only solved at the personal level with greater initiative, motivation, enthusiasm, encouragement and accountability.

It is a BIG problem, no doubt about it. The first step, in my book, is to have each person on your team or organisation become “purpose driven”, which simply means having their reason for coming into the office aligned with their personal goals, dreams and ambitions. My “My Best Year Ever Program” is one of the first steps I recommend to all my clients, for their own personal planning, but more importantly for their staff to get focused and clear on what they want out of life and consequently their jobs and careers.

the-high-cost-of-unhappy-employees-infographic

Bad Boss: A Case Study

Today’s blog post is from a friend who is ‘stuck’ working for a ‘bad boss’. I thought you would like to listen in to the conversation… I have indented my inserted responses in line.

Hi Marc,

I am looking for some feedback, if you are willing. I’ll do some project to return the value to you.*

It seems things haven’t really changed with my boss, after close to two years.

What are the specific “things” you want to change?

The more specific, the easier it is to solve a “problem”…

But then again – trying to CHANGE someone is the 3rd hardest thing to do…

#1, trying to climb a fence that is leaning TOWARDS you.

#2, trying to kiss someone who is leaning AWAY from you.

#3, trying to change someone who does not want to change.

I feel like he HAS to be in control of everything, every detail, and when he isn’t, his expectation is flipped upside down, and asked why  I /we don’t have an answer.

You have to accept that MOST people can’t and don’t want to change. MOST people would like to look good, but more than 2/3 of people today are FAT or OBESE… Think about it – who WANTS to be fat?

So once you accept this FACT, then you have to CHOOSE to be with the peer group that you want.

Let’s face it – being a manager at your company (in this location) is not the top of the management (success) pyramid. If he could get a “better” job, he would have been promoted or he would have applied to work somewhere else… The longer he has been in this role, the worse it is.

Have you read the book the Peter Principle?

It’s one of my ‘top 100′ recommended books. <— Click on the hyperlink to see it on my bookshelf.

This is an important concept for you to recognise in others and in yourself.

I THOUGHT after going to work working in (__ distant city __) , and virtually driving , leading independently the re-work project and getting RESULTS, we both (my boss and I) moved to next level of respect.

It SEEMS, now , or I feel now, that I was simply taken advantage of  when the company needed something / someone when they got in a tight situation.

First of all, when you take on a project like this, you need to fully document the investment (sacrifices) you made to go, the tasks you undertook and the measurable RESULTS you produced. If you went there to make a point and be noticed, this should have been determined AHEAD of time, so while you were away and upon return you, could have achieved one or more outcomes for yourself: a raise, more responsibility, a promotion, new tasks, etc.

Of course you can do all of the above now. Prepare a report that summarises all of this and present it to your boss, ideally just before your next annual assessment / evaluation.

The other aspect to this is that you learned new skills, developed a better understanding of the company’s needs so even though your immediate boss might now appear to appreciate you, the rest of the organisation KNOWS you did what you did – at least the travel aspect… They might now be aware of the RESULTS which is a tricky situation. You need your boss’ boss to know what you accomplished without ‘going over your boss’ head’… If you have a chance to see him/her, you can always let it slip that you prepared a report on the project or problem ‘solution’. If he/she asks for it… At least it won’t go unnoticed.

Since I have been back, it’s like the first few months when I was a contractor. There was no trust, he was doing our job in front of us, asking for process improvements, feedback and rejecting it, with low expectations.

His micro-management calmed down for most of last year, but has come back again.

People always revert back to their ‘dominant’ management style. Micro managers are insecure, largely incompetent in their role and fearful of being ‘found out’. They (over) compensate with a perfectionist detail-oriented approach that annoys their staff and is counterproductive to organisational goals.

I understand I have, and am beginning to recognize, the patterns in my relationships and jobs that I choose, and the bosses  that I work for, and I’m working to come to terms with that.

All patterns reside in underlying ‘psychic wounds’ that need to heal for your career ascension to get back on track. As you know, I don’t ‘do’ personal interventions, but I can recommend you read the books on my bookshelf – The Purpose Of Your Life and Flourish as a starting point. Once you’ve read those, then you MUST read The Rules Of Work.

At the same time, it SEEMS like whichever approach I take, it’s the wrong one, the wrong answer, the wrong thing , the wrong action / in-action.

When you are NOT working as a team, your are working in OPPOSITION.

I Feel like everything I do is for him and how he could look good, and that I’m not really working for (__________), the corporation. It SEEMS like ideas I have proposed are minimalized, or if they have value, he will modify them and call them his own. It’s like walking on eggshells, and it’s been like that from day one. The controlling aspect of his personality is blatant.

It all SEEMS to be starting all over again, and I am at a loss as to why or how to effectively deal with him or this situation other than go to work each day with my earplugs (I need them for the air compressor) and just smile and nod.

This feeling is called helplessness. For it to manifest itself, you need to feel:

  • It’s personal – YOU are the problem
  • It’s pervasive – EVERYTHING you do is wrong.
  • It’s permanent – it will never change.

To get out of this ‘mindset’, you just need to break one of these.

But that is not your real problem or challenge – see below.

I have also started training on (___enterprise software___) as well as a back-up for several procurement/ supply chain positions under another manager. I have also been learning cost analysis, with and from my boss, for the lab. Which is EXACTLY the TASKS I want to do / learn.

This is the tricky part… From the Peter Principle book – you need to make a shift from one function of the organisation to another, for YOUR to ascend UP the ladder. Wanting to work for someone else (a better boss) is part of YOUR career management path. The company WANTS you to grow and develop. You CAN leave your boss behind to languish in mediocrity – he is NOT your responsibility. On the road to success, there will be many obstacles you will have to circumvent, jump over and/or avoid along the way. Just do it in a politically correct manner and accept this as a fact of (work) life.

If you don’t have a career development plan, with a SET timeline, then it’s YOUR fault you’re stagnant and not ‘succeeding’. You should discuss your plan with your boss and the company’s HR department and make the investments necessary. Most large companies will help with the cost of certifications and training / educational costs.

So, my point is.. well… I feel a pattern… and this USUALLY when I would “jump ship”… SABOTAGE.

I am not advising you to ‘jump ship’ – I am advising you to try to move up within your organisation and IF you can’t make any moves from within, then and only then should you seek a solution elsewhere. You know my ‘famous saying”:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll get there.”
– Dr Marc Dussault

I’m not sure if this makes sense or not.

I think the question I am asking is how COULD I stop this pattern, so I can be successful with the NEW training and the additional roles that I am starting?

In summary:

  • You cannot change someone who does not want to change.
  • Your boss’ limitations and behaviours are NOT your problem – deal with your own and overcome them with stellar results that the company HAS TO NOTICE.
  • Knowing what you want is easier said than done. When you are “ON PURPOSE” in your life and career – the ‘game changes’ in your favour.
  • When you know what you want, then all you have to do is get it (certification, training, education, skills, etc.)
  • With the RESULTS, skills and abilities – you will be able to move UP the organisation or offer those skills to another company.
  • This approach is called being an Intrapreneur instead of an “employee”.

Thanks,
“John”

* All my close friends understand the law of reciprocity: Always offer something in return for advice, favours, etc. Paying it forward fuels the power of the Law Of Attraction in mysterious, magical ways so everyone wins – without necessarily ‘keeping score”. Do it generously, authentically and genuinely and see what happens!

 

Vacuums and voids

You may be aware of the scientific theory that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’.  In quantum mechanics, it’s referred to as the vacuum state, which basically means there’s no such thing as a vacuum.

Let’s say, for example, that you created some kind of glass container closed off to all physical particles.  From the outside looking in, it would appear as though it was empty.  But really it’s not.  That space, at the very least, contains electromagnetic waves and particles.  If the slightest piercing were to penetrate the container, it would then be filled with air.  And, depending on where the container was located, a slightly larger opening may see it consumed with water or sand or any other substance.

That’s why philosophers like Aristotle have professed that vacuums don’t exist.  As soon as we think that one is there, something instantly fills it up.

Such is the case at work – an environment notorious for the vacuums that arise.  When there’s a vacuum of information, it’s filled with gossip.  When there’s a vacuum of training, it’s filled with mistakes.  When there’s a vacuum of opportunity, it’s filled with disengagement.

If we were to look specifically at new teams (or established teams that have been leaderless for a while), there are four vacuums that are especially present:  structure, knowledge, relationships, and authority.

Structure:  This represents the systems that are in place, the ways in which the team is organised, and the rules that determine how and when the work gets done.  A vacuum of structure is often filled with misguided people.

Knowledge:  This reflects the collective expertise of the employees, an awareness of their developmental gaps, and the principles that influence their decision-making.  A vacuum of knowledge is often filled with costly errors.

Relationships:  This includes the level of trust among the team members, the degree to which they understand each other, and the extent to which they like and respect one another.  A vacuum of relationships is often filled with conflict.

Authority:  This is in relation to the informal power that some employees hold, the credibility of the leader to lead the team, and the ability of the leader to inspire change.  A vacuum of authority is often filled with power struggles.

If you’re a leader taking over a new or leaderless team, it’s important to fill those four vacuums before other (unfavourable) elements infiltrate them.  As the American writer Tennessee Williams wrote figuratively: “A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.”

The trouble, though, is that a vacuum doesn’t last very long.  Or at all.

I’d like to thank Mark Mackenzie of The Graffiti Eaters for this week’s submission. If you come across something valuable like this, please forward it in to me and I will share it with our readers and subscribers and reward you with a few valuable backlinks!

Get More Done By Working Less

This is a concept we covered in detail at our latest Exponential Extravaganza. Easier said than done, you have to have a time/life management system to make the concept a reality.

A recent article in Inc Magazine demanded you stop working more than 40 hours a week.

The article revealed that you may think you’re getting more accomplished by working longer hours. But the research shows you’re probably wrong.

There’s been a flurry of recent coverage praising Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, for leaving the office every day at 5:30 p.m. to be with her kids.  Apparently she’s been doing this for years, but only recently “came out of the closet,” as it were.

What’s insane is that Sandberg felt the need to hide the fact, since there’s a century of research establishing the undeniable fact that working more than 40 hours per week actually decreases productivity.

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor ran dozens of tests to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity.  They discovered that the “sweet spot” is 40 hours a week–and that, while adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks, and then turns negative.

Anyone who’s spent time in a corporate environment knows that what was true of factory workers a hundred years ago is true of office workers today.  People who put in a solid 40 hours a week get more done than those who regularly work 60 or more hours.

The key is to realise that unless your an hourly wage worker – you need to realise that you get paid according to PERFORMANCE – NOT EFFORT.

Europe’s Ban on 50-Hour Weeks

However, the facts don’t bear this out.  In six of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom), it’s illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week.  You simply don’t see the 50-, 60-, and 70-hour work weeks that have become de rigeur in some parts of the U.S. business world.

If U.S. managers were smart, they’d end this “if you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming to work on Sunday” idiocy.  If you want employees (salaried or hourly) to get the most done–in the shortest amount of time and on a consistent basis–40 hours a week is just about right.

In other words, nobody should be apologizing for leaving at work at a reasonable hour like 5:30 p.m.  In fact, people should be apologizing if they’re working too long each week–because it’s probably making the team less effective overall.

EXPONENTIAL MINDSET THINKING TIP:

All of this is really “cute”, but if you don’t know HOW to make the most of your 40 hours, you’re scr_____.

You’ll stop working longer hours (to compensate for your inefficiency) and you’ll soon be shown the door.

So where does that leave you?

Stuck – until you learn the strategies of highly effective people who KNOW what to do with their time.

Contact us and we’ll help you transform your business or career by doing what works and stop you from wasting valuable time and effort on things that don’t matter.

The beauty premium is almost a quarter million dollars

I’ve blogged about about the fact that you can’t afford to be ugly and the controversial concept of erotic capital. I’ve even blogged about how being taller means you make more money. Today’s post is just an update on the beauty premium that according to Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh, the premium is now almost a quarter of a million dollars.

That’s a lotta coin just for being ‘cute’.

Here’s the thing – even though they claim you can’t overcome your physical attributes (symmetry and other physiological ratios) – anecdotally, I totally disagree. There are quick, easy and inexpensive things you can do to increase your own ‘unofficial’ beauty premium or discount… For example in my Job Interview Kit, there are a few suggestions.

Of course there is a line you should never cross, as Michael Jackson proved…

Michael Jackson, Jacko, Cosmetic Surgery

MIchael Jackson Before & After Cosmetic Surgery

Death By Powerpoint Video

As a reader or subscriber to this blog, you know that I teach public speaking skills to business owners and executives as well a Persuasion Presentation Principles that Unleash The Speaker Within You.

One of the most popular presentation tools is Powerpoint. That being said, Powerpoint can often KILL rather than improve a presentation.

Watch this short video to make sure you’re not killing your presentation attendees!

DEATH BY POWERPOINT

The Top 5 Traits of Toxic Teams

Toxic Teams, Toxic People, Low Performance Teams, TeamworkAt one time or another chances are you’ve worked in a Toxic Team

You know what I’m talking about don’t you?

One of those teams where the week feels like this:

MOANday
TEARSday
WASTEday
THIRSTday
FIGHTday

Seriously though, there are some common traits that are alive and well to some degree in all Toxic Teams and the reason I’m giving them to you is because sometimes you’re in a Toxic Team and you don’t even know it!

As human beings we are very good at adapting to our environment so what this means is, we can sometimes not only endure highly stressful or demoralising situations BUT actually trick ourselves into thinking what’s happening is ‘okay’ or ‘normal’.

So here are The Top 5 traits of Toxic Teams you need to know about:

  1. Favouritism – It is very clear to you that there are some people who have somehow been anointed and are part of the ‘in’ group.  These ‘special’ people get preferential treatment, the best performance reviews, the biggest bonuses, taken to lunch with the boss and when they underperform the manager looks the other way.
  2. Snakes in Suits – The manager hardly ever acknowledges you or anyone else in the team for that matter for the great work they do because they’re too busy taking credit for everyone else’s hard work.  You sometimes wonder if the boss even knows your name… The bottom line is, these managers have no time for anyone that cannot further their OWN career and when things go well they’re right there to accept the kudos and when they go badly they’re Missing in Action.
  3. Mind Numbing Meetings – You dread the meetings and will do anything to get out of them because they’re disorganised, start late, always run over time, are dominated by grandstanders, no one ever follows through on agreed action items and last but not least… They’re BOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!!!!!!
  4. The Mirror Treatment – “We’ll look into it.”  You know this one don’t you?  Every time you need something fixed, need some action taken or waiting to hear the outcome of an important decision you get that famous throwaway line, “We’ll look into it.”  Funnily enough these are the same managers that invite your suggestions or feedback for improvement only to ignore them!  Sometimes there’s even a nice little box where you can put your comments… Just to give you a bit of false hope that things may change.
  5. The YES Man (or woman) – If you’re working for a YES Man it’s excruciatingly frustrating!  They won’t make a decision, they’re always REACTIVE because of poor planning, you don’t know if you’re coming or going due to constantly changing priorities and you end up with work from other departments because your boss CAN’T SAY NO.

Now the good news…

If you’re stuck in a Toxic Team, there is a way out – outperform and outproduce your way out of it!

Seriously.

I mean that – if you can totally outperform your toxic team members, someone who come and snatch you away – either another department of better yet – a headhunter (recruiter)!

The key is to document what you’re doing so you have PROOF of your PERFORMANCE and results and making sure it’s as public and noticeable as possible – so the interested parties who are searching for talent can find you.

Some bad news…

Chances are if your team’s toxic, there’s not much you can do to change it – you want to LEAVE it as quickly as possible, either within the same organisation or another company.

Toxic Teams are like cancer – once they infiltrate their way in, there’s almost no chemotherapy available to eradicate it.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

How Much Do You Hate Your Job? Quick Test

What is your favourite excuse you use for not showing up at work the next day?

A.   I only call out when I’m really sick
B.    I have a flat tire
C.    I have food poisoning
D.   The dog ate my car keys

How often do you hit your snooze button in the morning before work?

A. Once – All my clocks are set half an hour ahead to trick myself
B.    Less than 5 – I’m not a morning person
C.    More than 5 – My boss usually has to call me

How often do you stare at the clock while at work?

A.   I can hardly keep track of time – I am extremely busy and lose track easily
B.    There are days when I watch the second hand tick away the day mesmerised I’m in this dead-end job.
C.    Everyday, time moves slower than the day before

How many snacks do you keep in your desk drawer?

A.   None – I’m a health nut
B.    Several – snacking keeps me busy
C.    More than 5 – I’m snacking right now!

Where does your job rate on the boring scale?

A.   1-3 – Not boring at all
B.    4-6 – Mostly boring
C.    7-10 – Coma inducing

How often do you use the Internet for personal use?

A.   Rarely – I keep my professional life separate from my personal life
B.    Every now and then I correspond with family and friends
C.    Have you not heard of Facebook?

How many times have you watched The Office?

A.   Never – it sounds boring
B.    Several times – I can totally relate
C.    I know all of the lines by heart and may even know someone who can create great computer sabotage viruses

Do you sneak in naps at work?

A.   I’m not the napping type
B.    Occasionally – I feel it’s important to lead a balanced life
C.    I keep a sleeping bag under my desk

How do you spend your lunch hour?

A.   Catching up from work leftover from yesterday
B.    I get away from work and find a secluded place to get some peace and food at the same time
C.    Sleeping – snacking makes me sleepy

How many breaks do you take during the day?

A.   Very rarely
B.    As and when needed
C.    I’ve run out of fingers to count on

What does Friday mean to you?

A.   Time to get things completed before the weekend
B.    I made it this far, one more day to endure
C.    Rest up for the weekend – P-A-R-T-Y!

What time do you leave the office?

A.   I stay as long as I have to prepare for the next day
B.    Packed and ready to fly out the door 5 minutes before it’s time to leave
C.    I didn’t know we had to come back after lunch

Give yourself the following points:

A = 3 points
B = 2 points
C= 0 points
D= -1 point

If you scored 30 – You’re totally exponential and frankly, you might be a freak!

If you scored 20-29, you’re like most employees, content to be told what to do, obeying orders by relinquishing your true passions and purpose in life.

If you scored 10-19, you’re on your way out the door, you need a change, you’ve had your fill and if anyone pushes your buttons, you’ll surely explode!

If you scored less than 9, you have completely switched off and the fact that you haven’t been fired means you’ve pulled the wool over his/her eyes and he/she deserves to pay you for doing nothing. Enjoy it while it lasts, because when you get found out, you’ll be out the door in no time!

You need courage to be the boss

You might have noticed a theme in the last few blog posts – toxic staff… You might think I am anti “employees”, but you’d be wrong. The problem does not lie solely with staff, but with who hired them in the first place.

Once someone has been hired, it’s increasingly harder to get rid of them, which is why you need to get rid of them as soon as you realise it’s the right decision. I see it over and over again – toxic staff destroying small businesses.

  • Case #1: A software company had an unproductive ‘receptionist’ who didn’t want to handle a 50% increase in sales. Instead of moving her aside (and possibly getting rid of her), the owner CHOSE to keep her on. Within 12 months, sales went from a robust +50% crashing to an unprofitable -20%. The secretary was then happily doing less and getting paid more with her annual CPI-based raise. How does that make sense?
  • Case #2: Service business needs to have field staff convert sales as part of their job description. Several field-based sales strategies and dedicated tools are developed tested and refined to maximise ROI on client call-outs. Over 6 months, these are  dropped by staff because they unilaterally decide they don’t want to be “in sales”. Sales plummet 40% and field staff go from full-time work to part-time schedules. Everyone loses.
  • Case #3: Consulting company gets online strategies humming with more leads and contracts than ever, tripling sales. Now comes the challenge of delivery… No one steps up to take the lead. Consultant now working 80+ hours/week because she can’t find anyone willing to take up the slack and increase their salary by $50,000+ because they either have no drive or no time availability (external commitments she knew about when she hired them). Because she never hired for future growth, eventually sales slip back down to essentially a salary with marginal tax benefits. She should have kept her “real job” – at least then she wouldn’t be burdened with the administrative headaches!

Leadership, Making Tough DecisionsWhat are the lessons to be learned from this?

  • Hire the best who will get you from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Once you hire them, train and develop them as much and as quickly as you can. Get their buy-in, don’t just give them FREE training, seminars and programs.
  • Pay them according to their RESULTS, not the time and effort they put in, because that reinforces and rewards unproductive behaviour.
  • Get rid of unproductive staff as soon as you can and hire BETTER replacements based on lessons learned.
  • Have the courage to make the tough decisions – NOT making a decision is a decision made by someone else.

The saddest part of having poor (or terrible) staff is that they eventually leave and that’s when it hits home… How much damage they’ve done – by then it’s too late.