Tag: office life

Horrible female boss is still a problem

Horrible female boss is still a problem

Who would you rather work for: a man or a woman?

According to a recent Gallup poll, just over half of Americans say they don’t have a preference, but those who do strongly lean towards men. Forty percent of women and 29% of men say they prefer a male boss to a female one, and the results are even more skewed when broken down by political affiliation – Republicans, unsurprisingly given their socially conservative views, strongly prefer male bosses, while Democrats are about evenly split. That political divide helps to shed some light on why, in 2013, so many people still prefer to have men in charge. It’s a problem of worldview and stereotypes, not of inherent characteristics or lady-boss bitchiness.

The good news is that the preference for female bosses is the highest it’s been since Gallup started polling on this question in the 1950s. Back then, only 5% of respondents preferred a female boss, while 66% wanted to work for a man. But while the radical increase of women in the workforce has shifted views, we’re still not living in a society that sees women and men as equally competent, likeable and authoritative.

Americans don’t prefer male bosses because men carry some sort of boss-gene on their Y chromosome; Americans prefer male bosses because male authority is respected while female authority is unbecoming, and because the expectations are set so high for women in power that it’s nearly impossible for any mere mortal to meet them.

Even among ostensibly liberal, equality-supporting people, “that one horrible female boss I had” is a staple story in the work-and-gender debates. It’s an anecdote that gets trotted out for little discernible reason other than as a suffix to an “I’m-not-sexist-but” grimace; a way to demonstrate the speaker’s supposed honesty about the real problems with women in charge.

And it’s not a story that people are just making up – lots of us have, in fact, had female bosses who are less than stellar. The complaints vary, but are usually some combination of: she was bitchy; she was demanding; she wasn’t nice or understanding; she didn’t engage in enough mentorship of younger women; she worked unreasonable hours and expected everyone else to; she cut out too early to be with her kids; she was scary.

The problem isn’t the fact that some female bosses suck, it’s that if you have a crappy boss and he’s a man, the conclusion is “I had a crappy boss”. If you have a crappy boss and she’s a woman, the conclusion is “I had a crappy female boss, so female bosses are crappy.” No one sees a bad male boss as a reflection on all men everywhere, or emblematic of male leadership capabilities. But bring up women at the head of the table and every bad female co-worker or supervisor suddenly becomes Exhibit A for what’s wrong with female bosses.

I saw this too often when I worked at a large corporate law firm. Younger female associates felt put out when the small number of female partners weren’t there to adequately mentor and guide them, feeling it was the responsibility of the more senior women to take the younger ones under their wings in female solidarity and sisterhood. Of course, many of the female partners and senior associates did mentor the younger women, but women in law firms become fewer as you move up the ranks – we vastly outnumber men in the secretarial staff, are about even with them in the junior associate classes, and then become fewer and fewer up the seniority chain. By the time you reach the tippy-top, fewer than 1 in 6 are women. It’s a gendered seniority structure – pyramidal for women, tower-like for men.

Men, of course, can mentor young women, and many do. But they’re more likely to mentor junior male associates, not out of intentional bias but because they simply see themselves reflected in those young men, and can interact without any hint of impropriety. And the many men in power who don’t offer mentorship aren’t really noticed. But if women aren’t actively helping out other women every step of the way, we’re selfish and failing our gender.

When we do succeed, we’re also considered less likeable, while the inverse is true for men – successful men gain in likability. In one study, students evaluated the story of a successful entrepreneur, half the time described as “Heidi” and the other half as “Howard”. Even though the stories were identical, Howard was perceived as effective and likeable, while Heidi was deemed selfish and a less desirable colleague. In another, the simple change of a name from female to male on application materials led evaluators to judge the male candidate as more competent and hireable; male candidates were also offered higher starting salaries and more mentorship opportunities than female candidates with identical credentials.

From the time we’re little, girls are taught to play nicely, and the opinionated or determined ones are derisively called “bossy” – when was the last time you heard the word “bossy” applied to a little boy?

And even – especially – the most ardently feminist among us pin our hopes on the very few women at the top, and are even more spectacularly disappointed and angry when they don’t meet all of our ideals.

Those facts, widely publicized by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, were ironically illustrated in the response to Sandberg’s book. When male CEOs write best-selling books on how to succeed in business, they’re roundly lauded. When Sandberg does it, she’s not adequately representing all women everywhere, and she’s an out-of-touch rich lady telling the less privileged what to do. She’s a know-it-all goody two-shoes and she doesn’t know my life. She’s bossy.

The take-away from the weight of the social science research on gender and power is that while you might truly believe your female boss was a real bitch or that your male boss was just better at his job, your views are colored by your boss’s gender. Your assessment of him or her might say more about your own unrecognized biases than it does about any objective reality.

In the course of my career, the majority of my most committed mentors, champions and door-openers have been women. I’ve had great female bosses, as well as great male bosses. I’ve also worked for total jerks, and the jerks have been fairly apportioned by gender – I’ve worked for more male jerks than female jerks, but I’ve also worked for more men generally. But even as a professional promoter of gender equality, I’ve caught myself making unfair and gender-influenced assessments of my superiors – the tone of her email was bitchy while his was just direct.

That’s the trouble with battling these forms of insidious, unintentional bias: most of us think we’re fair-minded people who don’t let things like gender, skin color, age or other factors influence our assessment of others’ skills or character, but that’s simply not the case. For the overwhelming majority of us who are not as fair-minded as we think we are, standard anti-discrimination policies and laws aren’t going to get to the root of the problem. What needs to shift is awareness – individual commitments to checking in and taking a step back to assess your own thoughts. It also takes institutional commitments to countering unintentional bias, both by ensuring diversity in hiring and promotion and by effective education about how bias actually works.

It’s heartening to see that more Americans than ever before state no preference for the gender of their boss. Now, we’ve just got to make sure that those stated preferences actually translate into the workplace.

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Secrets of highly successful people

Secrets of highly successful people

It may seem counterintuitive, but going on breaks helps you accomplish more.

While your co-workers start every day enjoying a cup of coffee together in the break room, you’re barely able to find time to call your doctor. While they’re taking lunches, you’re rushing through another meal at your desk. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: This apparent discrepancy may not mean you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker. Instead, it may mean that they’ve mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t-until now. From prioritizing your workload to learning which projects don’t need to be perfect, read on to discover eight workplace habits that’ll boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.

They make it a point to take breaks.

Americans seem to think that constantly working is synonymous with being productive, but unless your brain is functioning at its maximum level, you may not be getting as much work done as you think. “[Taking breaks] is like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your ‘brain cache’ so you have room to refill it,” says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. First and foremost, she recommends taking lunch every day-and leaving your desk to do it. “When you have a ‘working lunch,’ it’s just not very efficient. At some point you’re going to lose attention,” she says.

Ultimately, eating while you work will cause you to suffer on two fronts: you won’t be able to pay attention to your food-a surefire way to overeat-and you won’t be giving your work the proper attention it deserves. In addition to a “real” lunch break, Hohlbaum suggests allotting time for other breaks as well. She recommends taking five minutes in the morning, before starting work, and at least a 10- to 15-minute break in the afternoon.

Whether you take a short walk, read a book or stare out of the window with a cup of tea, it’ll help you recharge and improve your overall productivity. “It’s really important to take time off because otherwise your brain will reach a saturation point,” Hohlbaum says, explaining that when this happens, it becomes hard to focus on even the simplest task. “At that point, you need to push away from your computer and take a break.”

They start their day off on the right foot.

According to a recent study at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, if an employee is in a bad mood when they arrive at work-whether because of familial problems or a stressful commute-it can decrease their productivity by as much as 10% that day. So unless you come in to the office every day in a great mood (and who does?), start your day with 5 to 10 minutes of time dedicated to decompressing. “Create a ritual. Maybe it’s meeting in the coffee break room or going around the office to greet everyone. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you foster a sense of connection [with your coworkers],”

Says Holhbaum. “Swinging by to say ‘hi’ to your colleagues when you walk in gives you a sense of focus. When you feel you’re part of a bigger effort, you feel more connected to why you’re there and that can make all the difference in the world.” Re-focusing your mind at the beginning of the day will also create a sense of calm, helping you to disregard outside stressors and zero in on your daily tasks. “If we’re actually able to start the day centered, then we’ll have a longer tolerance period before we get off track,” Holhbaum says.
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How co-workers can make you fat

How co-workers can make you fat

Peer pressure to indulge in a homemade treat isn’t the only potential diet danger at the office.

It’s one thing to keep an eye on workplace rivals. But another type of sabotage can be much harder to spot. Shawna Biggars’s saboteur would deliver dense, creamy slices of homemade carrot cake to her desk, “wanting affirmation that he was a great cook,” she says. When she politely declined, he would press, saying, “You can’t not have cake for the rest of your life,” she says.

Finally, Ms. Biggars, a human-resources director in Wichita, Kan., “had to sit him down and say, ‘If I were an alcoholic, you wouldn’t say, ‘Just take one drink.’ ” Over 2½ years, Ms. Biggars lost 120 pounds.

Some 29% of people on diets say colleagues pressure them to eat more, make fun of their diets or order them restaurant food they know isn’t on their diets, according to a recent survey of 325 dieters by Survey Sampling International for Medi-Weightloss Clinics, a Tampa, Fla., franchiser of physician-supervised weight-loss clinics.

The approach can seem innocuous, but can result in weight gain over time. A colleague brings in home-baked cookies to celebrate a promotion, a birthday or to rally the team, and who wants to look like they don’t appreciate the work of others if they decline?

Patrice Gibson, a sales representative for a medical-supply company, often sparred with her co-worker Michelle Nunemaker while they ate lunch at their desks. As Ms. Gibson laid out small, measured portions, Ms. Nunemaker “would make fun of what I was eating,” Ms. Gibson says. She predicted failure, saying, “I know people who did that and the minute they went off it, they gained it all back,” says Ms. Gibson, of Tampa, Fla. She let the criticisms “bounce off” her.

Ms. Nunemaker says she regarded Ms. Gibson’s strictly controlled diet as unhealthy and prefers “exercise and watching what you’re eating.” While she and Ms. Gibson kept the conversation light and friendly, “I was saying serious things that I really believed,” she says.

When Ms. Gibson shed 35 pounds, Ms. Nunemaker congratulated her. But “it didn’t change my opinion,” she says. Peers’ attitudes and behavior are linked to success in weight loss, according to a study published last month in the journal Obesity. Among 3,330 participants in a team-based weight-loss competition, including many teams of co-workers, those who reported having positive influence from teammates lost a larger percentage of their body weight than others.

“Social contacts can be extremely powerful,” says Tricia Leahey, the study’s lead author. While peers’ encouragement helps, dieting failures or negative attitudes among colleagues can discourage people from sticking to their own weight-loss plans, says Dr. Leahey, an assistant professor of research on obesity at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. “It cuts both ways.”

At the annual “chili and dessert cook-off” competition Ms. Biggars helps organize at her company, co-workers asked again and again, “Why aren’t you eating?” she says. “It’s a dieter’s nightmare.”

Deep down, some co-workers may feel abandoned by a dieter who no longer joins them for big lunches or happy hour, says Chelsey Millstone, corporate dietitian for Medi-Weightloss Clinics. Some feel jealous because they aren’t losing weight. Or they see a trimmer colleague as a career threat, Ms. Millstone says. Consciously or not, these co-workers may pressure a dieter by “calling them out” with embarrassing personal questions or comments, she says.

Pushing back can cause some “very touchy” conversations, however, says Becky Hand, a registered dietitian with the weight-loss and fitness website SparkPeople, based in Cincinnati. Colleagues often think they’re showing appreciation by bringing in food or building harmony in a department, and they can get annoyed or hurt. In her work as a hospital nutritionist, Ms. Hand coaches weight-loss patients to script a response in their heads and practice in front of the mirror, saying such lines as, “I’ve had your food in the past and it’s always delicious. But I’m sorry, at this time in my life, eating those extra whatever isn’t benefiting my health.”

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Ten ways your job may be hurting you

Ten ways your job may be hurting you

Your office, colleagues, and the air of the office, even may be hazardous to your health.

Employees calling sick normally get most responsible for the loss of productivity, a phenomenon known as “presenteeism” won a notice, as well. Defined as the act of coming to work when you are sick and do work of the third order, therefore, business costs of presenteeism billion a year in lost productivity.

If presenteeism is damaging to business, then it would be logical to think that the work would be better if sick workers stayed at home until they have improved. When the disease is a byproduct of the work itself, however, that the worker will just get sick again and continue to work apathetic and unproductive.

Whether or psychological environment, many places have conditions that can make employees sick. These factors have a domino effect that is ultimately bad for business as for the employee.

What are 10 ways that your work can kill you and your employer?

Lack of Sleep

Doctors recommend having eight hours of sleep a night, but a glance around the office means reveals that, for many it is simply not occur. Bags under the eyes of each and coffee cups drained tell the story, with a recent survey of over 7,000 people, 23 percent of them reported experiencing insomnia.

What causes insomnia? One of the main causes of insomnia is stress, particularly stress encountered in the workplace, according to the Mayo Clinic. Lack of sleep is often not given their fatigue as a reason to call in sick, however, they go to work and in turn, lethargic, sluggish performances that will cost employers $ 63 billion annually in lost productivity, according to a Harvard Medical School study.

Lack of Exercise

One factor often implicated in the current epidemic of obesity is the sedentary nature of many jobs. The unanimous consensus of the medical community is that a passage of 40 hours per week at a desk is a major contributor to weight gain. As the U.S. labor market has shifted from manufacturing to work clerical jobs, the problem has only worsened.

A 2010 study in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed that obese people were less productive at work than their average weight. The study found that rates of presenteeism went to the body mass index (BMI) was the staff to women with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 6.3 days lost ‘value productivity per year, while men with a BMI over 40 have lost more than three weeks worth of productivity. Taken together, the study estimates that obesity among full-time employees in costs U.S. employers more than $ 73 billion per year.
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Things you should never share with HR

Things you should never share with HR

Avoid confusing staff as substitutes for friends and work on building trust slowly, experts say.

Your human resources team can help you be a better manager, get promoted, and even deal with a lawsuit. But there are a few things that you should never share with HR.

The key is to be mindful: “You need to be sure you are communicating what you want your management to know,” says Clinical Professor of Management John Millikin, Ph.D. of the W.P. Carey School of Business.

If you’re concerned but still think HR should know something, ask for discretion: “It is up to you to communicate what you want to be kept confidential. Like any relationship, you should build trust slowly,” suggests Millikin.

Here are 4 things that experts say HR should never be privy to:

1. Things You Wouldn’t Share with Your Direct Manager

HR is there to help you deal with your manager, but they’re also there to help your manager deal with you, so don’t count on privacy.

“HR works in that difficult space between employees and management, and must act on serious issues they learn about, whether you want them to act or not. Go to HR for help in solving problems, but not as a substitute for a best friend or neighbor,” says Bruce Clarke, president and CEO of CAI, a human resource management firm.

2. Your Medical or Financial Issues

Your HR staff is tasked with keeping your work life well and functioning — your home life isn’t usually their business.

This includes “medical conditions, whether it be personal or family ongoing or past physical or mental issues… or financial issues like foreclosure,” notes Lauren MacArthur, CPC and partner at Winter, Wyman & Co., a northeastern U.S. staffing firm.

The reason? HR wants stable performers and may be concerned if aspects of your home life seem unstable. Of course, if you need their help in order to do your job because of these issues, then you may need to discuss them, but do so cautiously.

3. Your Online Profile (if It’s Not Professional)

At some point during hiring or after, your HR rep may check out your online profile just to make sure you’re not bashing the company online or acting in a way that reflects them poorly.

So it goes without saying to never post inappropriate or potentially offensive photos, videos, wall posts, updates, or other content on Facebook or other social networks.

“Even when your privacy settings are tight, you never know who might see your profile,” says Holly Paul, the U.S. Recruiting Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

4. How Great Your Parental Leave Was

If your company gave you maternity or paternity leave, mention how much you appreciated it to HR — but show them that you’ve integrated back in and are glad to be back. The same goes when discussing a past leave in a job interview.

“You don’t want to dwell on why you took any leave (parental or otherwise) because it’s not relevant, and you want to move on to what’s relevant” — like your current skills and experience, says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, partner in Six-Figure Start and co-author of How the Fierce Handle Fear; Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times.

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Skills that are always in-demand

Skills that are always in-demand

For workers with these skills, switching careers could be an easier proposition.

Are you thinking of switching careers? When making your plans, don’t discount the power of transferrable skills and additional schooling.

“Everyone needs to be open to the idea of updating their skills through classes or getting a degree,” says Andrea Kay, a Cincinnati-based career expert. To help you figure out where to start, we put together a list of transferrable skills and matched them with popular career tracks.

Organizational Skills

Are you able to stay focused while juggling multiple responsibilities at work? Is your cubicle or desk neat and organized, even during the busiest part of your day? If so, you may be more ready than you think to move into a new career that values organizational skills…

Medical Assistant

Organizational skills could come in handy when juggling administrative and clinical tasks as a medical assistant. Often working in a busy hospital or doctor’s office, medical assistants might help with complete paperwork, take a patient’s vital signs, and assist physicians during exams.

Education: Earning a certificate in medical assisting or an associate’s degree in medical assisting is a great step towards pursuing this career and can generally be completed in two years or less, depending on school, program, and course load.

Average Earnings: $29,760

Paralegal

The “ability to organize” is cited by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations on its website as a key skill that paralegals need. As a paralegal you would help lawyers research and prepare documents and legal strategies. Transitioning into this career may make sense for organized-types who can demonstrate that they are detail-oriented and work well under pressure.

Education: An associate’s degree in paralegal studies is a common way to pursue this career, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. For those who already have a degree, earning a certificate in paralegal studies is another option. Certificate and associate’s degrees could be completed in two years or less, depending on school, program, and course load.

Average Earnings: $49,640

People Skills

Do you work well with others and enjoy meeting new people? If you find it easy to strike up a conversation, you might want to consider transitioning to a career that will put your people skills to work.

Human Resources Specialist

The ability to work well with different personalities can be an asset for HR specialists, who help companies recruit and retain the best and brightest workers. Talented people with strong communication skills may find it easier than others to transition into an HR position.

Education: Getting a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration is a helpful stepping stone for those interested in a career in HR, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Average Earnings: $57,830

Sales Representative

People skills are crucial for sales representatives, who need to be able to communicate how their product will benefit potential clients. If you have a winning smile and an engaging personality, you may already possess assets that could help you transition into sales.

Education: There is no specific degree that sales representatives typically have, though communication skills are “essential,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Therefore studying communications, marketing, or business might give you the kinds of skills you need to pursue this career track. An associate’s degree, which generally takes two years to complete, depending on school and course load, could help one transition into this field.

Average Earnings: $62,720

Creative Skills

Do you love brainstorming? Are you able to see potential where others see problems? If you are a creative person who is looking for a new career, these exciting options may pique your interest.

Graphic Designer

Coming up with creative ideas on behalf of clients is a part of many graphic design gigs. A sense of style and knowledge of the latest graphic design computer software can offer a boost for anyone looking for a swift transition into this career.

Education: Aspiring graphic designers, take note: a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is usually required for both entry-level and advanced positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area, consider completing a shorter certificate program that can help bring you up to speed on technical requirements typical of this career track.

Average Earnings: $48,140

Marketing Specialist

Marketing is a career that requires a blend of business and creative skills. As a marketing specialist, you’ll likely be brainstorming ways to market products to the public while also helping set price points and monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

Education: For marketing positions, employers often prefer a bachelor’s degree in business administration or MBA with an emphasis in marketing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department adds that any sales experience you have can also be useful preparation when transitioning into marketing.

Average Earnings: $66,850

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How to get your boss to notice you

How to get your boss to notice you

Speaking at least three times in each meeting can help you get a promotion.

Fortunately, you are not under the illusion that if you are talented and hardworking, kind people will notice and you will get your just reward.

Many people are still there waiting for a promotion or increase future, more disillusioned and depressed with each passing day. Getting promoted means getting noticed, which is not something that happens on its own. But you can do it using the four strategies as often as possible.

Volunteer for assignments

Stay alert for opportunities that allow you to do any or all of the following:

Submit your best skills

Stretch sort

Align your efforts with the main interests of your boss.

You must remain vigilant and monitor the situations to occur. Make sure your hand goes back before the others in the class to realize that there is an opportunity.

Speak Up at least three times at each meeting

If you are an introvert, this might be a stretch for you, but there are ways to train and prepare. It is a world dominated by extroverted, where people who take more time to formulate their thoughts often find that the conversation has ridden in a different direction before they have a chance to respond.

Here’s a simple solution: Get the agenda ahead of time, and read the script (writing for yourself so you can check your notes during the meeting) some of the ideas you have developed. Then a glance at your notes during the debate moving fast will help give some ideas of dynamite into the fray. When you are calm, one can think that nothing happens in your head. Do not let people, especially your boss, you think about this.

Stay informed and let it show

Read, surf the Web or chat with colleagues in your field, and keep in touch with what’s happening in your profession. Then be sure to drop nuggets of what you learned and your conclusions on the information you have gathered in conversations, memos or other material relevant work. Take time to have some interesting and useful ideas, and make sure other people know about them.

In today’s organizations, being informed of what’s happening this week is only half the battle, who will be rewarded with raises and promotions are those who prove that they think ahead to be strategic rather than reactive.

Document Your Success

Let people know what is happening as a matter of course. When you have a brief encounter with someone and a plan is set, send an email confirming who does what and copy those involved. When you receive a positive comment or a thank you for someone to forward it to your boss, assuming she’ll want to see good news coming in about the work unit, its control. After all, your success is ultimately its success.

So many people complain that they are simply not appreciated and their colleagues and bosses take them for granted. Remember that you have to act so that your efforts are rewarded and your work is noticed. And if the rewards are not forthcoming, start a job search so you can find a better opportunity.

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