Don’t Like Your Job? Then Quit!

I have said this a handful of times in my career to various people whether it be friends, colleagues or even someone directly on my staff. When the complaining reaches an overload point I’ve looked directly at them and said, “stop complaining, quit the job, be done.”

There is nothing worse than an employee who continually shows up to work only to bitch and moan to their counterparts. The negativity is obviously counterintuitive and causes more problems for the entire staff that surrounds them. Employees who hate their jobs are a time suck for everyone involved and they need to weed themselves out of the system gracefully and on their own.

If you hate your job then find a new one. Employees usually go through a six month cycle before finding a new job. They start with complaining, then followed by a few weeks of searching for a new job, by the time the final process is over they spend six months bringing everyone in the workplace down with their negativity and demeaning candor. This is time that could have been spent productively and without problems for the rest of the staff.

Would you stay in a relationship you hated? No, most likely you would get out. Would you keep eating at a restaurant that made you sick? No, you wouldn’t go back. So why do you keep walking in to the same office every single day if you hate it so badly?

I recall a conversation with one employee in which her complaining reached an all time high. After spending a few weeks listening to her and being patient through the process I finally said, “quit.”

I told her that there were many people who would hire her and that if she hated our company so much then she should find a competitor she liked. After I finished my sentence, she said, “ok, I get it, I’ll stop.”

Often times these blunt words have the right effect in which the employee understands that life is pretty great at their current company and they should stop the complaining. Often times it has the opposite effect and people decide the company, the pay, and the people just don’t fit any longer.

If your miserable then quit. Hire a recruiter to find you a new job and stop making the workplace suck for everyone around you!

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How Often Do You Survey Your Customers?

Have you ever asked your customers why they buy from you?

This question was posed to my staff a few years ago and at first it felt so elementary. Of course we know why they buy from us. We provide the best services at the best prices and our product is stellar. Wait, did we ask the question or did we assume? Nine times out of ten, we assumed.

When we really start to dig in and ask the questions of our customers we learn why they buy from us, why they do not buy from us, and what we could do to garner a larger share of the market. We have to ask these questions though. As managers we tend to only speak with customers in two situations. The first being when everything is going right and the second is when everything’s going wrong. It’s easy to call a client to say “thanks.” It is also easy to call a client and say, “we screwed up.”

When we ask the questions we also show that we care. Often times clients think that we just want to make money and the connection with them is secondary. By asking deep questions we can learn insights into their world and how to better serve them. It will also make that next, “we screwed up” phone call a lot easier because you have built a meaningful relationship which proves you care.

Consider surveying your customer base. Build yourself a short survey and send it out to your top 25 customers. Ask questions that invoke thought and that will ultimately challenge your processes and drive better customer service results. This will show that you both care and that you want to be a better partner.

So the question of, “why did you buy me” becomes one of the most important you can ask. I have asked sales people to ask this question and they always think they know the answer but when I ask the client, the sales person is usually wrong. Sales people tend to think it was cost, a client will tell you it was the service and attention they received or the process. If sales people understand this is the most important aspect of the sales process they will keep their prices high and improve their service as opposed to lower prices to move product.

If you already think you know the answers to these questions, then you are well on your way to failing. Ignorance will be bliss for your competition. The sooner you understand, the quicker you can fix any issues.

Look at it this way. Coca-Cola wouldn’t change their recipe without some market research. Consider this your market research.

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Working From Home

Earlier this year Marissa Mayer of Yahoo put an end to all employees working from home. She gave them four months to either figure out a plan to work at the office or quit. While it sparked some serious controversy it also is a top reason why Mayer said the company wasn’t firing on all cylinders and needed office collaboration. Having employees work remotely can be a nice benefit but it pulls apart the fibers that hold together an office. Employee collaboration is built on everyone being together, like a family. With a percentage of that staff out of the office, the culture starts to shift and over time this can be damaging.

I happen to believe that working remotely can be a good and a bad thing, pending what your company culture is already like and who you are choosing to allow work remotely. It also depends on the departments within your organization and how you choose to build your culture. For example, a team of customer service representatives could probably work remotely, as could a team of developers working on specific projects. However, at some point in time you are going to need to bring them back together for collaboration and unity.

A few years ago I had two remote offices in distant parts of our market territory. I had one particular employee who was stellar at his job, however when he was in the office he tended to cause problems. I knew I had to figure out a way to continue to gain productivity out of him without allowing him to ruffle any feathers while in the main office. He had previously shown stellar results while spending some time in a remote office so I decided to make this his more permanent home.

I approached him from a positive angle, letting him know his productivity was through the roof when he was in our remote office. I showed him his efficiency figures that proved when he was able to block everything out and work alone, he was better. He loves this concept and we worked out an agreement in which he would only work in the main office for roughly 10 hours per week. The plan worked great and actually helped the culture internally.

Not all companies warrant this type of flexibility though and in certain situations it can be damaging. If your structure allows then consider this as an option for specific staff members. But keep a short leash on it should things get out of control. Try a 60 day test time an revisit what went wrong and what could be improved. Remember, a remote employee is not a ticket for them to work less hours.

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What If You Were Fired Tomorrow?

As you go to bed tonight you begin to think about your pending Monday. You know you have a 10am staff meeting, a lunch with the one account that you would love to cancel and a 4pm meeting to discuss budgets. Although you would much rather sleep in late, meet a friend for lunch and go to a movie, you know that it is your job to be present for 8 hours at the office tomorrow and help forge business forward.

As you walk into the office you can’t help but feel that something is off. There is an unusual air about the office and there are a few more people rustling the building that usual. In a closed office you see your boss and a corporate person. They don’t greet you the typical way. Something is different.

You begin to play through all the previous days and what has taken place and you start to worry, “could today be the day?”

What would you do if you were fired tomorrow? If not for the smallest reason,what if you lost your job for not reporting to work onetime consistently or mis-use of expenses? Maybe a former employee reported some false information about you? What would you do? What if they found out that you had a meeting with their rival in an attempt to land a job for better pay and title?

I pose these questions because it makes us re-think our network and how we approach our job. Would you stay in the same career field or finally take the plunge into something different? Maybe something more exciting or risk taking. This question has led me to want to network more and build stronger skills outside of my comfort zone. I’ve taken the time to make sure I have a back up plan should that dreaded day ever come.

So I ask again, what would you do if you were fired today?

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Why Failure Is Important

Failure is the number one reason that we are able to find success and grow. Without failure we would never learn from the mistakes we have made and the ideas for better products, faster services and stronger quality control wouldn’t exist. Failure, simply put, propels success.

Failure can be broken down into several capacities. There is epic failure in which your mistake is so large that you lose your job or the largest account to the company. Perhaps your failure is so big that it simply can not be recovered from and the only way to move forward is to learn from the mistake and move on. There are also several instances of failure in our daily lives whether we fail to get to a meeting on time or hit an internal deadline, failure is all around us. Small failures cause us to re think our approach and drive a better route to work to ensure we hit the meeting on time and to spend our time wiser to make those internal deadlines.

Whether the failure is large or small the most important aspect is how we learn from it. Our recovery from failure is not how we cover up for failing its how we learn to never put ourselves in that situation again.

When I watch someone on my staff fail, my first reaction may be one of frustration but I always try to put it into perspective. I ask the following questions to myself, “can they learn from this,” “how often has this happened,” and “will they ever do this again?”

In a recent instance I watched a moment of failure on my own staff. It was one that inevitably cost us a financial loss by someone who rarely makes a mistake. Although my first reaction was one of frustration due to the amount of people it effected, my belief was that this incident of failure would put any halt to future failures of this nature. My belief is that we will inevitably fail at some point, the key is to move forward and never put ourselves in that situation again.

Two years ago I had an epic failure. I was working on a project that had been left to me after the departure of a staff member. Over the course of handling my current duties I needed to allocate significant time to this particular project and unfortunately I neglected the hours needed and the attention, thus causing a six figure plus failure that got the attention of my boss and my boss’s boss. Not the kind of attention I was seeking.

That being said I learned from it. By dealing with my epic failure I now know to never put myself in that situation again and to handle it in a different way. I have since put procedures in place should we end up in this position as a company and I am confident I won’t cause this failure ever again.

The humility that followed my epic failure was tough as well. My peers in the organization knew about my mistake and while in my head it was much worse than it may have been, this caused me to learn even quicker.

Failure is important because without it we will never grow. Take note of your daily failures and epic failures and make sure that you have a growth plan associate with them. What did you learn? How did you change?

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You May Want To Start Doing This

You May Want To Start Doing This

Sometimes I wonder if people set up a delayed email to be sent late at night so we all think they are working. It works though because it always impresses me!

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The Paranoid Employee

When I started this post earlier my initial thoughts were to write about the negative employee on staff.  I realized that as I continued to write, I kept referring to the negative employee as the paranoid employee.  While you can argue that many of their character traits go hand in hand, I believe that it is their paranoia that drives the manager crazier than any negativity trait.

The paranoid employee tends have those negative qualities that we all despise as managers.  They usually can rally the troops into thinking that your reading all of their emails and that the corporate office has a wire tap on their phone.  If you are forced to make structural changes to the company then they will be in the break room letting everyone know that they saw this coming and that there are for sure more changes to be made, so everyone take cover!

The fascinating issue with the paranoid employee is that they usually tend to be very good at their job.  Somehow this paranoia trait drives them into always being into work on time, working hard while they are there and never taking their job for granted.  I’ve seen this paranoia in many forms and it tends to keep them close to the office on vacation days and plugged into their phone should they be out for an extended period of time.

When the paranoia trait begins to overtake them is when this employee goes through a series of bad months on the job.  Maybe they haven’t hit quota in a while or they failed miserably on a recent project management job.  Whatever the case, if the paranoid employee isn’t firing on all cylinders then the downward spiral can be horrendous.

As a manager it is your job to keep the paranoid employee in check.  You have to be the bumper guard rails in the bowling lane and prevent them from ever getting a gutter ball.  You need to be there to make sure this paranoia doesn’t overtake them and that you re-assure them that they are a valuable asset to the staff (if they are).  Without your support, the paranoid employee will find a way to dig themselves into a ditch that they don’t know how to get out and the blame will start to be pointed in every which direction.  Specifically it will be pointed to the person in the office that they think is wanting their job.

One way to avoid allowing the paranoid employee to go on this spiral is to make sure they are in the loop on major changes in the office that will affect them.  If you are planning a major structural change that will have an adverse affect on this individual then bring them into your office and warn them ahead of time.  Talk to the employee about how this change will work for them, and the office, and why you want them to be aware of it.

By embracing the paranoid employee you will keep their mind at ease and keep them on task without allowing them to bring down the rest of the staff.  (or the world, Google search Edward Snowden)

 

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Office Space

If your company is ever going through an odd time, please do yourself a favor and watch Office Space. Every line in this movie will ring true with you and you will have a whole new understanding for TPS Reports, Consultant Interviews, and the guy who seems to keep getting his stapler taken.

Did you remember to put the cover on your TPS reports today?

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Your Talent Pool

If you were forced to hire someone today, would you be able to hire a top level candidate? Assuming money wasn’t the issue, do you have the resumes and contacts to bring in the next best employee to help drive your organization. The question is, what does your talent pool look like? Is it filled with the best and the brightest or would you hire someone else’s liability?

As managers we are constantly hiring. It is the one task that every manager would like to avoid. Posting a job, digging through resumes, spending countless hours on the phone and in person asking questions of candidates, it becomes brutal after a while. All you want is for the perfect candidate to walk in the door.

I know that within minutes, no seconds of interviewing someone if I want to proceed or not. In fact, in my office’s lobby the candidate will be waiting for me on the other side of the room. When I walk in I perform a brief test. If the candidate allows me to get all the way across the floor before reaching out and shaking my hand then it’s already strike 1. However, if they stand up quickly the moment they see me and appear eager to shake my hand and introduce themselves then they win the “office lobby test.” I believe it says a lot about how they will interact with my customers and our current staff if hired.

But I digress, the point of this post is to define the talent pool and the necessity for it. In an ideal world you always have multiple candidates lined up and ready to be hired. Crafting your talent pool takes time but it is a necessity as a manager. You never know when your top employee is going to quit or when your going to have to quickly remove someone from your staff. Being prepared is what a good manger does.

Even though you may not be ready to hire you still need to have a minimum of three candidates ready. These people may be employed by a competitor or come from a different line of business. Sit down and craft a list of talent that you have on hand should you need a candidate immediately.

The importance of the talent pool shines through when you are sifting through dozens of resumes. My fear in the hiring process is always the same. We posted a job and received ten resumes. We then pick from those ten. What if ten of the ten are the wrong candidates but we made a decision only because we knew those ten. If the bar is set at B+ average candidates then you will hire a B+ candidate from this list.

This is why the talent pool becomes important. So when the time comes you can hire Grade A talent, not someone from the stack of mediocrity.

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The Importance of a Mentor

If you were to look up the definition of “Mentor” in the dictionary you would learn the meaning of the word is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

To me a mentor is someone that you can go to for advice in specific situations.  They are a trusted individual that you can lean on and gain direction from.  Mentors are able to understand the position you are in and help guide you one way or the other.

Through years of college I remember people telling me that I should find some mentors to help me with my pending career.  I thought this was a waste of time and just assumed I could do it all on my own.  I was wrong.  It wasn’t until I graduated college and landed a job the hard way that I was able to start really putting some stock in the mentor relationship.

Today I can say that I have multiple people that I can consider my mentors.  They have given me guidance on my career, what to do next, and how to handle specific situations.  I hold these people’s opinions on high and trust them when I need some re-assurance and direction.  Because of a mentor of mine, I was able to head into my career path and without listening to some of that guidance, I’m not sure where I would have ended up.

I also believe in paying this forward by making myself available for those who are seeking advice.  Being a mentor takes time but it also creates a sense of fulfillment for those who are looking for guidance.  I know that I wouldn’t have reached the peaks in my career without guidance and direction from those mentors of mine.  I want to be sure and give this same level of insight to anyone who may seek it on a consistent basis.

The mentor relationship is important inside the office space too.  Consider pairing up a new hire with a peer who can provide guidance on both the inner dealings of the office and how to handle customer situations as need be.  The mentor also will receive fulfillment both from being looked at as a leader but also by developing strong internal relationships.

Never discount the importance of a mentor.  If you think you can do it all without any solid guidance, then odds are you haven’t done anything yet.

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