Friday, August 29, 2008

Do not let a difficult boss hinder your success

Many are afraid on how they are going to cope with the workload and expectations put on them by their superiors at work thus builds stress which damages relationships with their bosses. Managing expectations up front and understanding what drives your boss can help prevent difficult work relationships. There are many reasons why bosses can have difficult relationships with their staff. These include bosses being:

  • vague and imprecise about their expectations
  • inconsistent in their actions
  • critical of staff and slow to praise
  • driven by ego
  • promoted for the wrong reasons (e.g. because they have served the business well, instead of for their people management skills)
  • affected by issues outside of work
  • under stress and pressure
  • just a little soft and not possessing the toughness required in being a boss
  • not on the same page as employees, (e.g. because of a poorly thought-out incentive scheme)

Both bosses and employees need to remember that their relationship is mutually interdependent. Bosses have to be aware of each employee's capacity to do the job and not be overly pushy in that area. Rather than "do unto others as you would have others do unto you", its better to "do unto others as they like being done unto."

Take an active role

While bosses have responsibilities to treat their staff well, subordinates shouldn't take a passive role in their relationships with supervisors. I believes that understanding your bosses management style can go a long way toward preventing difficulties with them.

If your boss is a reader, they'd prefer you came to them with written requests; if a listener they'd rather that employees talk it out with them. Involvers may appear to be involved too much, but employees need to register this and not resist it. With hands-off bosses, their non-availability or just do it attitude is just how they like to interact with staff, it's not an insult.

Set expectations

In a new job it's a good idea to clarify expectations early in the relationship. This can be done informally over a coffee. Say to the boss, 'what does your picture of success look like, in terms of my role? What do you want to see a lot of, or very little of and I'll see if I can match those or do better.' If the relationship is older and experiencing problems, it's not too late to do something about it. Put your hand up and say 'how are we going to best work together? Here are my wants, tell me about yours and let's build a bridge and get to the other side'. Honest, two-way communication is the best way to engage your boss.

Turn a bad situation around

In cases where a difficult boss is causing ongoing problems, it's a good idea to bring in a third party to help discuss the issues. This person needs to focus on the issues, not the personalities, and see if common ground can be reached. The two parties should clarify their goals and make promises that they can honour.

Focus on the issues; don't waste time on trivia.

An employee can give the boss quality information and the boss and employee can check each other's personality out. They might be complete opposites (e.g. a controlling boss who's paranoid about resistance and an ambitious driver personality who feels smothered and not trusted), but it is important to move off personalities and remember why you are there. At the end of the day the employee and the boss are there for much the same reasons. Each wants to come to work to make a difference, to succeed, to be appreciated for a job well done and to be kept in the information loop. If the discussion becomes too heated and difficult then call a time-out and start again the next day with a fresh mind.

Dangerous to go over their head

It is very dangerous to go over your boss's head when you are experiencing problems. There are times when you need to do that but it's a risky career move. If you go over the boss's head, it's likely the boss will want your head in return. Times when it's a good idea to do this are when you're aware of your boss's dishonesty, immoral, fraudulent or deceitful behaviour or (if you have enough evidence) their lack of ability as a manager. Some bosses treat their staffs like rubbish but bad news rises slowly to the surface and your boss's superiors might not be aware. If going to your boss's superior, say: "Here is the real story from where I sit. Here are some examples [of the behaviour] we'd like your help."

Accept some responsibility

It is very easy to blame the boss. Whenever I hear "personality conflict" or "I had a bad boss" in a recruitment interview I conduct, I think to myself, 'well, hang on a minute, most bosses didn't get to where they are by being stupid', so I'm very wary of employees who blame their boss without accepting some responsibility themselves. There are three sides to every one of these stories and staff have to understand that bosses, being the human they are, sometimes get inaccurate informations and they can have good reasons for the behaviour they're showing. Many employees have low emotional intelligence and a low understanding of how things are done which can cause them to interpret reasonable behaviour as unreasonable.

Follow these 10 tips for avoiding conflict with the boss:

  1. Make sure your boss knows what you expect
  2. Respect your boss's time. Take the important stuff to them and deal with trivial things yourself
  3. Focus on open and honest communication, whether it's positive or negative, and avoid attributing blame
  4. Maintain a focus on doing your job and check in with your boss to see how you're doing often
  5. Don't surprise your boss - if there's bad news coming let them know early, before it hits them hard
  6. Be a 'can do' person. 'Can do' people - those who look at what can be done and fix situations - find favour with bosses, while 'can not' people - those who affix blame - they are a pain to deal with
  7. Go the extra mile - to a point
  8. Have sense of humour at work and relax
  9. Ask lots of questions and listen to and respect your boss
  10. Go to work for fun and profit. If those things aren't happening, ask yourself why you're there.

Serious issues - get out

If you are aware of your boss's illegal or immoral behaviour, get out as fast as you possibly can. There are no winners in these situations and if you hang around you're condoning their behaviour implicitly.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Global survey finds many Malaysian workers having regrets about their career choices made

Almost two thirds of workers in Malaysia say that if given the chance, they would have studied something totally different after leaving school, while one in eight say that they chose the wrong career, according to a new international workplace survey.

The survey, by global recruitment firm Kelly Services, found that many Malaysian workers have concerns about their education – both at school and post school – and many have regrets about the career choices they made.

The global survey sought the views of 115,000 people in 33 countries including more than 2,000 in Malaysia.
The findings show a high level of concern about career choices and directions.

Many people in the workforce do not believe that their education properly prepared them for working life and quite a few a have regrets about the direction that their job has taken them.

Amongst the key findings of the survey:

75% of people wish that they had studied further.
63% of people wish that they had studied something totally different.
13% say that they definitely chose the wrong career, while 21% are 'not sure'.
45% say that their school education did not prepare them well for working life.
29% say that their post-school education did not prepare them well for working life.

The findings throw light on how those in the workforce feel about the quality of their education. Satisfaction with the quality of Malaysia's school system was moderate by international standards with Malaysia ranking equal 20th with the UK on the list of 33 countries with a 45% satisfaction rate, slightly lower that the global average of 49%.

The highest level of support for school education came from India with 69% saying it prepared them well for working life. It was followed by Puerto Rico (67%), Indonesia and Thailand (65%), Poland (63%), Spain (61%), Canada and Hungary (59%), Japan and Mexico (57%).

The lowest rankings were for Sweden (26%), Norway (27%), Denmark (29%), Turkey (30%), Ukraine (37%), Russia and Italy (39%).

People across the globe were much more satisfied with their post-school education, with a global average of 65% saying it prepared them well for working life. Malaysia ranked equal 25th on the international list with 58% approval.

An overwhelming 83% of people agreed with the proposition that post-school/professional education should be more practical and less theoretical.

In Malaysia, 66% of respondents were happy with their career choice, while 13% said they had made the wrong choice and 21% were 'not sure'. Women were much more likely to have doubts about their career choice than men. It is only natural that people reflect in a positive way on what they have done and the extent to which they have achieved their professional goals.

It is to be expected that many wish they had worked harder while at school, college or university. There are also many who have had second thoughts about the career choices they made.

Regrettably, someone who discovers that they are in the wrong career is probably not as productive as they could be and may be missing out on a more fulfilling professional life.

It's also important that people don't over react or set up false expectations in evaluating their study and career choices.

It is now the norm for most employees to have several career changes in the course of a working life, so it's possible for someone who is dissatisfied with their career to do something positive about it.

Both men and women cited financial considerations as the major obstacle to changing career, followed by time and family.

Source: Kelly Services, Global Survey.

Intel Career Roadshow

Intel Malaysia will be organising a Career Roadshow this weekend. Details as follows;

Date: August 9, 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm
Venue: Arcade Rooms, Renaissance Hotel (click for map)

To view the 282 job postings available, click on link:

All the best!