Why bad managers will remind you of high school (Blog #24)

high school students in class

One of the worst traits I’ve witnessed with managers is when they were unable to find a middle ground when it came to their style of management.

They were either really, really nice in their approach with a management style that lacked authority and seriousness or they were complete assholes! (A word that I need to thank Ash Ambirge for – Thanks Ash!). Basically, ruthless in their approach with no regard for their colleagues. We were there to be treated how they saw fit depending on their mood at the time, which could’ve changed at the drop of a hat.

And the worst case that I’ve witnessed was in job #9.

And why did this remind me of high school?

Well, both styles shared an immaturity about them that took me back to my high school days. They were either that kind friend that wouldn’t tell you that your hair looked crap even if it did. Or, they were that popular asshole in your class that got away with giving you shit because of their popularity status – their position.

Can you see the similarities?

Just so you have a clear picture of what I’m talking about – here are a couple of scenes to help you take it all in.

Scene #1 – A meeting with the really, really nice manager with very little authority. In high school this would’ve been one of the nice kids in your class eager to remain on good terms with the right people so they too would be considered cool.

One of the first meetings I went to in job #9 I couldn’t believe how disinterested people within the team looked. It was almost like they didn’t take the meeting seriously.

In the meeting there was one person going through the ‘to do’ list and she would read one or two items and them make a remark about how this was hurting her head, laugh and then look to the nice kid in class (the manager) to make a laughing buddy. Once they’d both be laughing, everyone would laugh or force a fake smile to show they were in on it as well. Because if you didn’t do this or looked as if you took it all too seriously, then you, my friend, would be considered uncool! And we couldn’t risk that now, could we?

While the person reading the ‘to do’ list would behave in this way the manager from time to time would shake her head as if to say “She’s silly, take no notice of her” using this as a sign to show how close everyone in the team was. NOT! Scene No. 2 will demonstrate this.

All I saw was bad management. I remember thinking what a waste of everyone’s time. This nice and unserious approach just got on my nerves. I was like, what the hell? Couldn’t the manager see that the person reading the ‘to do’ list wasn’t even interested? But to acknowledge this the manager would then appear to be too hard, or in high school terms, uncool.

And with future meetings that followed if you appeared too interested or too focused you were laughed at and jokes were made. Comments like “Mimoza is reeeeeeeeally focused” and “Mimoza is verrrrrrrrrrrry serious here.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was back in my early high school years, where I had to be careful not to appear to be too interested at doing well or I’d risk being branded a geek. That’s how I felt.

With no middle ground, this style of management went from one extreme to another. And this is what the other extreme looked like.

Scene #2 – A meeting with the popular asshole in class.
I walked into a daily meeting and started to go through the ‘to do’ list. I had a folder that was handed to me by a colleague that had previously left (surprise, surprise). As I handed the folder to my manager her response went like this.

“RIGHT! THAT’S IT!” (At this point she picked up the folder and slammed it on the desk – SMACK!) “I DON’T WANT ANY MORE FOLDERS HANDED TO ME! I WANT THEM ALL TO BE PUT IN MY INTRAY!

One word – ASSHOLE!!!!

And that’s the best way to describe it.

This manager that once laughed at you if you were too serious, now considered it acceptable to shout and swear at team members. Be completely rude and abrupt, slam folders on desks and give shit to people as a response to questions asked.

Is it surprising that this reminds me of the popular assholes in class that randomly gave people shit using his/her position of power to get away with it?

I think not!!

After half the marketing team left in a few weeks and management changed, the whole style of operation reverted back to its nice/unserious mode. And when people asked me, “Is it better now?” I would say, “No. Just a different type of crap.”

This was a sign of very weak management and something you need to look out for.

Blog Tip #24 – To get another take on what I’m talking about, you should check out Ash Ambirge’s blog post “You Don’t Have to Be an Asshole to Be an Authority”.

Ash is a professional writer, business women, smart ass, and founder of the unconventional career and business website, The Middle Finger Project. I’m a big fan of her blog and this blog post will sum up nicely what I’m talking about.

So, what did you think about blog post #24?

Now, have you experienced this before?

If you have, what were the things that stood out to you? Were there other traits that you noticed?

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

See you next week.

Mimoza

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6 character traits of the people I loved working with (Blog #23)

A team at work

As you can imagine after 9 jobs it’s fair to say that I’ve worked with a decent number of people. And, although, I’ve encountered many nice people, there’s only been a handful that I can say have been a pleasure to work with. And I mean an absolute pleasure. These were the people that I looked forward to working with and that made my day knowing they’d be there.

At the same time, there have also been plenty of people that I haven’t enjoyed working with. Now, I can honestly say that I don’t believe the people I disliked working with were bad people. In fact, some were really good people. They were just really bad to work with. It’s like that best friend you had in high school or uni, who you spent most of your time with. And yet, if you had to work together on a project you probably would’ve got on each others nerves quite a bit. That’s what I mean.

Being a nice person and a person that’s great to work with are two different things. And it’s for this reason why finding a great person to work with isn’t as straight forward as what most people think. And to read about how wrong people can get it, and I mean those managers with about 20 to 30 years’ experience, you should check out blog post #8 – The 4 most useless questions I’ve been asked in job interviews.

But for me, when I did come across that great person to work with, it looked like this.

6 character traits of the people I loved working with

1.       You could approach this person 100 times a day and they’d still be happy to see you.

Now no one with half a brain would actually do that. But my point is that they were a pleasure to deal with every time. And you felt comfortable every time. No, “Oh my god I need to speak to her again.” No, “Should I try and avoid it and send an email, cc’ing the whole company into it just to make sure my butts covered?” And trust me, this whole cc’ing business can get so bad that at one point in job #9 I stopped reading my emails. My inbox was inundated with cc’ing emails for the most unimportant actions you could think of. It was ridiculous. You had to decipher through about 10 conversations to get the gist of what the email was about. Frankly, there should be a law against this shit.

But what’s important to understand is that because I knew I could speak to this person whenever I wanted to, it didn’t mean that I did it all the time. But simply knowing that I could, made me feel good.

In job #9 when I was constantly told by a team member/manager not to speak to her, I felt the total opposite. Even when I didn’t have anything to speak to her about, the fact that we were being told not to speak to her aggravated me so much I started to hate the person! I couldn’t stand being around her and she became a person I hated working with!

This trait of being approachable is so rare and hard to find that I, personally, would hire a person to work for me based on this attribute alone. And be more than happy to help him/her out on the other areas if need be.

2.       They were flexible in their style of work.

In other words they were easy to work with. Adapted to other people’s style of work easily. Went with the flow. Another trait that’s hard to find.

I remember in job #5 there was one work colleague for whom I had to change the speed at which I talked, how I worded things, how I presented, etc. whenever I worked with her.

And you know what?

I’m happy to meet other people’s needs, but the fact that she would get annoyed with me if I didn’t do it exactly her way, frustrated me. Shouldn’t I have been annoyed? Why was she so special to have everything tailored to her needs? I know in all my jobs I did my best to adapt to the people I worked with, not have them meet my specific needs.

People that were stuck in their ways tended to be a headache to deal with.

3.       They approached a problem with composure and a smile on their face.

Problems happen. You can plan your ass off and still get it wrong. That’s how we learn. But getting all pissed off about it and being miserable to work with afterwards isn’t going to achieve anything. We’re there to work and working through problems is one of the things you’re going to do. It always amazed me when people would act like the world was going to end. The worst thing that could happen is that you lose your job. Hey, you existed without it before, I’m sure you could handle life after it, if the absolute worst case scenario were to happen.

Live and learn.

4.       They made me smile and laugh.

I’m talking about the people that would tell me stories that would have me in stitches and then telling the story to my family and friends afterwards and still laughing about it. This was usually the case when the person was happy to be at work. Which is also another rare thing. Gee… I wonder if there’s a connection there?!?

What I really started to dislike was when people would start the conversation off with “You know what I hate?”

Alright. We can do it sometimes, but not all the time!

“I hate it when my in-laws buy my kids expensive presents.” (Really??)
“I hate it that my grandmother died now I have to go to a funeral which I don’t have time for.” (Did you really just say that??)
“I hate black pens.” (Yeah, there’s other issues there.)
“I hate it when people walking in front of me just stop in my way.” (Can’t you just walk around them??)

Basically, it’s negativity. And being around it can be a real drain!

5.       They weren’t judgemental.

How could I tell?

Because you’d never hear them talking about others or judging others. And knowing this made you feel comfortable to be yourself 100% as you knew they’d accept you for who you were.

6.       They were confident. Not cocky.

Here’s the difference. Confidence is when you believe in yourself. Cocky is when you think you’re better then everyone around you. Being around someone that’s confident can be a great experience. By seeing it in action, it can help you build your confidence. But being around someone that’s cocky will just annoy the hell out of you.

Blog Tip #23 – Character traits such as these are more important than skills. Skills can be taught whereas character can’t. When trying to find the right people to work with keep this in mind.

What did you think of Blog post #23?

Have you ever experienced any of these?

Is there something else you’d add to the list? I’m interested to know.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

See you next week.

Mimoza

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3 signs you’ve been branded at work and why YOU need to quit – PRONTO! (Blog #22)

dead end sign

I’d finally landed a job where I was the marketing star (job #8 if you’ve been following me from the start). The ball was in my court to determine what marketing we did and as I proved myself to my seniors and peers more opportunities got thrown in my direction and I saw no limits to what I could accomplish.

And then it all went down the drain with a merger and the fantastic job #8 became crappy job #9.

I’d started job #9 after finishing my first stint of maternity leave and returned to work as a part-timer. And I felt it from the start. I was slotted in the middle of an already established team and stamped with a branded mark from the beginning.

Nothing would ever change the category I was placed in – I was branded.

So, when it happens, what does this mean?

Basically, you get labelled. Put in a category. And no matter what you do or how much you accomplish you’ll never move out of that category as long as you stay in your current job. If this isn’t bad enough, what’s even more sad, is when people convince themselves to stay where they are, hoping that something may change. Yep, maybe in 20 years??

So, this doesn’t happen to you, I want you to be aware of what this looks like. So, here are 3 signs you’ll experience if you ever get branded at work.

Sign 1 – You’re constantly frustrated at how long it’s taking you to get to where you want to go in your career. And at times even feel embarrassed with the work you get given to do.

Sign 2 – You’ve gone to the point where you’ve given your blood, sweat and tears for the job and it’s still not good enough. I mean you’ve done that much overtime, without pay, it’s criminal. You’ve done jobs that weren’t even yours to do and taken more than your fair share of shit along the way. And you’ve proven that you can do the job and do it quite well and yet you’re still in the same position you were in years ago. And if there’s been some kind of advancement, it’s been that small that it pretty much counts for nothing anyway.

Sign 3 – You’re constantly overlooked by your seniors when it comes to promotions as in their eyes they’re always needing an expert. And guess what? It’s not you! Nor is it ever going to be, regardless of your qualifications and skills. And, despite, how much you’ve tried to tell them that you’re interested, eager and willing to do what it takes.

When this happens there is one of two choices that you can make.

1. Settle for it. You convince yourself that you have it good because you have a job that’s pretty much a dead-end and fill your head with bullshit reasons why you should stay and find a way to simply cope with it all.

But you know what? Coping mode doesn’t bring out your best work. Not even close. You do what you need to do to get by. You’ll become average and start to fit the category you’ve been placed in.

2. Or, you can quit and find a new job. Not because you can’t take it anymore, but because it doesn’t fit with your long-term plan. No one wants to stay still in their career with no advancements. That’s just depressing. A miserable career, in fact. With a new job comes a fresh start. You get the chance to reinvent yourself and start anew. And there’ve been many times where this has worked for me in the 9 job career I’ve had.

Blog Tip #22 – A really good book that I’ve read regarding this topic is Seth Godin’s “The Dip”. And it talks about knowing when it’s the right time to quit.

Being branded is the right time to quit.

Why?

Because it’s a dead-end. It will set you up for a lifetime of average which is a life wasted. And quitting for this reason is what’s considered a smart quit. If it doesn’t help you become the best at what you want to do, then get out of there.

But how do you know if you’ve given it a fair go?

A really good piece of advice from the book “The Dip” is this:
Our goal in life should be to move forward. So with every job you should clearly outline what your goal is and what your quitting strategy is going to be – what will cause you to quit?

This is a good way to prevent you from quitting for all the wrong reasons, like arguing with a colleague or a boss. Instead, you outline a reason for quitting that is based on your long-term goal. Like not reaching a certain position by a certain stage, etc.

Write it down. Make sure it’s clear and stick with it. And if you ever get to the position that you’ve described in your quitting strategy then you’ll know that it’s the right time to quit.

FYI – And if you’re not big on reading books, “The Dip” is a really short one. I mean it only has two chapters. Within a couple of hours you’ll be done.

What did you think of Blog #22?

Has this happened to you before? It could’ve been outside work, at school or even uni?

How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear your story.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

Talk to you next week.

Mimoza

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Why communication is the most common problem. What this says about your workplace (Blog #21)

a person confused

Whether you’ve already started working in the corporate world or have yet to begin, one of the most common problems you’ll come across is communication.

And when I say common, basically, it’ll be the one that people will more openly complain about. “There’s a lack of communication.” Which pretty much means that no one really knows what’s happening.

And it’s easy and safe to point out. When I say safe, what I mean is that it doesn’t really point the finger at anyone in particular and implies that the problem is company-wide. It’s bigger than all of us combined.

But what does this really point out?

So there’s a lack of communication. And most people that point this out really feel as though they’ve hit the nail on the head with identifying the problem. Yep, they really know what they’re talking about.

And what’s the natural reaction that then follows?

What do management then do to solve this problem?

They take steps to then put more information out there. And 9 times out of 10 this results in more meetings and more emails, which then equals to more time wasted.

And has this approach ever been effective in improving communication, if that, in fact, was the problem?

Well, this is what my experience has taught me.

When I’ve worked in places where communication was identified as a major issue, as an employee there, what that meant for me was that I felt left out and was never really sure on what was happening. And at times, it was almost like I wasn’t even there. I felt like a very insignificant part of the organisation.

But what is also very important to note is that all those emails and meetings that happened in an attempt to improve communication, didn’t make a difference. Yeah, more information came our way but in our day-to-day jobs nothing changed. All those same feels of not knowing what was going on were still present. Nothing changed in that aspect.

So was communication really the problem?

Based on my experience, the times when communication was identified as a major problem was when micromanagement ruled like there was no tomorrow.

When you were given the responsibility to do something, but really had no control over it. When you were given something to do and only knew about 10% of the reason behind it. That was when I experienced confusion myself and witnessed it with the people around me. That’s when people will carry out an action and when asked “Why?” will just say, “It’s what my manager wants me to do.” It may already sound familiar to you.

The only time when communication wasn’t a problem in anyway, was when micromanagement didn’t exist.

Everyone was made accountable for the tasks given to them and were fully responsible for them. They knew every reason behind what they were doing because they were in charge of it. They created it. They made the decisions. Because they didn’t know every reason behind what the person next to them was doing didn’t matter. As long as there was no confusion on what you needed to do, you didn’t need to know everything everyone else was working on.

Blog #21 Tip – Don’t ever feel as though to be good at your job you need to know everything your company is working on. The only thing you need to be 100% certain of is the job that you need to do.

And I mean 100%. Not 70% or 80%, but 100%. And I know that you may think, well of course, how else can you do your job? Trust me, out of the 9 jobs I’ve had, there is only one place where I’ve worked where I’ve known 100% what I needed to do and witnessed it around me with others. In almost all other places that I’ve worked a very common answer to the question “Why are you doing this?” was “Because my manager told me to.” In other words, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

100% clarity on what you need to do is a good sign that you’re in a good job.

What did you think of blog post #21? Have you come across this problem yet? Have you had moments of feeling lost when you weren’t clear on what you needed to do? Share your experience on my blog in the comments section at the bottom of this blog post. I’d love to hear about it and others would to.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

See you next week.

Mimoza

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Why aiming to get a permanent job shouldn’t be your main focus (Blog #20)

While doing my grocery shopping today with my two beautiful girls at my local Foodland (Yes, I’m a Foodland girl. Go the South Aussies!) I started talking with the checkout boy. He was in his final year at uni and felt quick optimistic about finding work in his field. Although, he did say that, “Finding permanent work would be quite hard.”

And my advice to him was this…

The only time when permanent work actually meant something to me was when I loved my job. When I was happy to be there. When you love your job it’s an added bonus. But, when I hated my job it counted for NOTHING!!!

In fact, it felt like nothing more than a trap!

Like this thing that kept you tied to a job you hated and convinced you that you should be lucky to have it because it was p-e-r-m-a-n-e-n-t.

Great!

Just what you need. To hate your freakin job every freakin day of your life permanently. Eliminating any hope of this changing.

But even before experiencing this, finding a permanent job was never important to me. My emphasis was always aimed at getting the right experience. It had to be marketing and it had to be in an industry that I thought I’d get some value out of.

Why?

Well, I always thought that if I’m sensible with my money and save for those rainy days when I may be unemployed, I’d be OK. I didn’t see why I had to seek for permanency like it meant my life.

The other main reason was because I’d been witness to too many cases where people worked in horrific environments and choose to stay at their current jobs just because it was permanent. Even when it got to the point where it made them physically ill. They convinced themselves that they were lucky to have a job that sucked the life out of them because it was permanent.

As I was wrapping up job #6, which was my second stint with the government, and one of my worst experiences ever, one of their permanent employees turned around to me and said, “I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost this permanent job.” I, on the other hand, was facing unemployment and after being there for only 4 months, was so happy to be leaving.

I remember thinking I don’t know what I’d do if I worked for 6 years in a job that made me, let’s see, not want to speak to anyone, dodge work, feel sick at the thought of just entering the building, see my own health deteriorate every day, not move forward in anyway whatsoever, kill any signs that show I’m alive – need I say more?

As I left job #6 that day, there was no question in my mind who the lucky one was.

Blog #20 Tip: Your main focus should always be to find a job you love. Only when this happens will permanency actually count for something.

What did you think of blog post #20? Is this something you’ve been worried about? What has been your focus when looking for work?

If you know someone that will benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

See you next week.

Mimoza

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