Search

Let's Talk Work

because there are two sides to every story

Professional Presence

Telling It Like I See It – Observations at a meeting.

As soon as I walked into the room, I immediately recognized who the presenters/speakers were. Not because I knew already knew them. Not because I saw photos in advance. And not just because their attire was the most professional in the room, but because of the way they were poised; they remained standing and smiling and quite approachable. Making eye contact or simply saying good morning as each person checked in. They had shown up, and they shined. Yes, I am referencing a book by my friend, Catherine Johns. (Show Up & Shine)

For the record, I am not a banking-attire kind of girl. I prefer nice clothes that are a step or two above business casual and at times – another step or two beyond that. But I do notice others. I notice because I’m one of those people who may change clothes 2-3 times before leaving for work or to attend a professional event – meetings, seminars, general business gatherings. Granted, if I were going on a job interview or a client presentation, I would certainly up my game. But at the same time, I will choose something to be comfortable enough but still confident. It’s like why I choose more subtle glasses (that I must wear in order to see) so that when I walk into a room – I walk in, not my glasses — though I admire those who can flaunt their funkier frames and wear them well. I just can’t.

Back to this meeting – though not an isolated observation. This was a professional meeting of professionals who work in a profession-specific field among various industries. This is a monthly gathering that provides a platform for speakers from relevant experts or vendors to discuss topics that may be of a general interest to this audience. And at the same time, these speakers may gain a new client in the process, or simply, a new respect for whom they represent.

Anyone who belongs to this organization already knows – a lot of effort goes into their program planning, and they do a really nice job of organizing and communicating for its members. These types of meetings are also opportunities for networking, for collaborating and gaining new knowledge and perspective. If I was a stranger to this group, might not ever guess some worked in their said profession. I wondered about the industry or company they represent. How casual is casual for them? And, would they be scrolling on their cell phones continuously and commenting with notification beeps for all of us to hear, if they were part of a meeting at their own organization? Where have our manners gone?

I work in a profession that is often disrespected or dissed, if not feared, inside an organization. A profession and job that should have a seat at the so-called table, but for some on this day, I wondered if it was a picnic table. Activewear? Sure, if one works in a health club or gym or a physical environment; especially if the clothing had a logo from their company — then totally appropriate. Sloppy or unclean clothes, or flipflops, regardless of weather is simply inappropriate. And while these meetings do take place in the morning, when we show up, we should not look like we just woke up. These are occasions to represent one’s organization or industry, and oneself. These are good opportunities to express one’s own knowledge or expertise or interest during the Q&A portion of any meeting. That’s when all eyes are on YOU. Even for a moment. That moment could be the lasting impression of what may have been a first impression, good or not so good. We never know when we may need to rely on this same network or association to find a new job.

My observation is not only about professional appearances, or the lack of. It includes the fact that sometimes our behaviors are poorly timed, or poorly stated. Becoming argumentative with a speaker is simply ill-mannered, particularly among our peers. Questions that may be too explicit or telling of a scenario in one’s workplace may be best left for after a meeting. Speakers often stay after a scheduled session just for this purpose. We certainly don’t want to disclose a confidential matter during such a meeting. The best questions to pose in an open Q&A are those that you could be more general in nature, or that most of us might have on our minds as well.

People often display behaviors or personality in corporate training sessions or meetings of this sort, that are surprising, and not in a good way. How we behave, treat others, present ourselves in any professional scenario is important, to our careers and our reputation. When one doesn’t care what other people think of them, it often speaks louder than words. We all need to take stock before we leave the house; take a good look in the mirror, be prepared, stay off cell phones, be on time and be civil. Civility. Another subject for another time.  thUM5LGPTF

 

Advertisements

Caring for Customers

What does it take to make a customer simply feel acknowledged? It shouldn’t take much. Occasional customer service training, reinforced through recognition or rewards would certainly help.

keep-calm-and-just-do-your-job-5

Shopping recently in a widely known discount retailer – I left there just as aggravated as I was last time I shopped there; the time I said I would never return. Ha.

Here are a couple of observations while shopping and attempting to check-out. I wonder how many could relate, from one side of the cashier lane or the other.

  1. Employees apparently assigned to do stocking — instead socializing and taking their sweet time to do the job. Revisiting a couple of aisles for my missed selections – I noticed this with 2 different groups  — both working in pairs; both socializing with each other; and both still having unpacked or shelved the products.
  2.  Cashier light is on, which would make you think the lane is open. But – when the cashier is seemingly hiding out, leaning back while scrolling on her cellphone where she can’t be seen unless you try hard to, just didn’t seem like she was ready to check anyone out.
  3.  When a colleague is called to help with a price check and I watch as they slowly stroll towards our lane to ask ”what’s the problem” and then disappears for the longest time. I decide to close my purchase and not wait any longer. Just as I am checking out, the cashier notices the floor person far in the distance, who is chatting with two other people (coworkers) with my product just hanging over her shoulder. Absolutely no urgency to return to the cashier lane; completely ignorant of the line accumulating behind me and that an already prolonged wait was long enough.
  4. Never any eye contact, never any thank you. Just a low-battery robotic stance.

Needless to say, I left without the product and walked by this floor-person still in her chat circle with my product still over her shoulder.

I will not disclose the retailer here. You might guess. I will share my complaint directly with a store manager. But my point is – why is there no expediency in anything? Obviously, there doesn’t appear to be any true customer service/care training, and why isn’t good service a mandated expectation of employees? Is everyone watching everyone else’s back? Are all such staffers of the same “I don’t give a damn” attitude so no one even watches out for one another? What is their mindset? Seems to be only for a paycheck, in my view. I wonder, so I vent. Please chime in if you’re willing.

 

 

 

Workplace Violence

Shooting in Aurora, Illinois
Photo Credit: time.com

The tragedy that plagued an organization and the families it employs has been front-page news since Friday. These workplace shootings are far too common, as are those in schools and other places.

What steps has your organization put in place (or are they at least planning to) in order to prepare for such an unexpected event
At the very least, it should start with comprehensive pre-employment screening that should include background checks that reach beyond your current county or state.
A zero-tolerance policy should be developed that accompanies appropriate disciplinary and grievance procedures.
What about violence prevention training, for all employees?
We have fire drills, of course. However, such a traumatic event such as active shooting in or around a workplace, will cause confusion and chaos and potentially lead to more tragic consequences when no one is prepared.

Workplace violence is not just about a shooting. From vandalism to product contamination, from stalking to domestic violence, from arson to attempted homicide, or worse – homicide – as we are all witnessing too close to home. An incident could be a personal attack on an entire organization or just on one person, and not always from inside the organization, but also from outside the organization. Consider what happened at Mercy Hospital only months ago; still traumatizing staff to this day.

So, we are addressing employers today. How are you preparing your organization? If such an event were to occur — do your employees know where they should go? Is there a safe place to hide? How does one take personal protection from your position in the building? How should someone respond if coming face to face with the aggressor? Is your organization prepared appropriately when conducting a termination, from security staff to a secured area?

There are many measures that employers can take, and of course – they will depend upon the type of industry involved; whether accessed by the public or only vendors. There are so many factors. We are interested in your thoughts on this matter, one staring us all in the face.

Heads Up – on Your Job Search

First things first. Attitude speaks volumes. It can be present in the way you write, of course the way you speak by phone, your social media interactions, and especially how you present yourself to an employer. This starts with your resume, your cover letter, and even how you apply to a job. Keep these points in mind from experienced corporate recruiters – perspectives from their side of the desk.

14207-Jim-Rohn-Quote-Work-harder-on-yourself-than-you-do-on-your-job

  1. Pay serious attention to any direction within the job posting. This could be hidden within the body of the description – sometimes to gauge who is paying attention to the direction, and who is not. When an employer anticipates a high level of interest, this could be one way they elect to weed out candidates at the onset. Why? If the candidate isn’t following a simple direction of ‘how to apply’ then how will they be paying attention to the details of the job? This is where ‘attention to detail’ comes into play right away.
  2. Proofread and re-proofread your cover letter and resume. We all can spend a lot of time working on it, get buried in it, and blinded by our own light! A fresh set of eyes can be helpful. Sending a resume with spelling errors, grammar inconsistencies can rule you out before you’ve had the chance to interview.
  3. If there are gaps in your resume that are 6 months or longer, be sure to explain them at least in your cover letter. If you happen to get laid off after a decade or two at a company and are fortunate enough to get a severance package, maybe you decide to use a couple of months to regroup. No one should hold that against you. Not everyone has such an opportunity to do so, along with the financial security blanket that may allow for such. For the most part, any prospective employer wants to know what are you doing with your time – productive, educational, caregiving, whatever.
  4. List and discuss your accomplishments in a job, not just a bullet list of duties. You may have been ‘responsible’ for some things, but aren’t we all? What makes you stand out in the roles you’ve had that could make you shine in an interview? How might you contributed to improvements, efficiencies or more?
  5. And a final note – be sure that you carefully review any cover letter, document or email. Do not send such an introduction by simply editing a letter from another. Too often, a different job is mentioned or even worse, a different employer. Dear  ABC Company, when you thought you were sending it to XYZ, and you didn’t save and re-read or re-proof that letter. When this is the case, your resume getting even a once-over is unlikely.

Question Your Profession

A question for you. Do you ever wonder why you do what you do? Did your career pick you or did you make the choice? Do you ever consider what you might do next?

Working Caregiver Male

Curious. Have you ever questioned your career? It’s value to others, is it challenging  or meaningful enough; or is it thankless?

Some people can come to a crossroad early in their career. Maybe they’ve been enlightened through academics and found a different path along the way, then changed direction and ran with it. Or maybe they realized they were not a good fit. They weren’t being taken seriously, that no matter how hard they worked or even with the best of work ethics, a career path just didn’t seem to make sense anymore.

Have you found yourself in such a predicament? Maybe changing careers early because a unique opportunity presented itself, or just maybe, you were part of a workforce reduction…and you realized that there is less room at the top now, or that technology has eliminated too many jobs. If so, was this early in your career, or maybe much later – and possibly too late to turn back the hands of time?

What could be next for you? What might you do to prepare or have you already been dreaming about something? Please reply and share if you are willing.

 

 

Bipartisan-ish

Friends, it has been far too long since this blog was updated. Aimed at a weekly update early on, but work (and life) can get in the way. Sorry about that!

Bipartisan agreement 1

This “let’s talk work” concept/name was selected after realizing that this blog is intended for both employers and employees — managers and subordinates; people with a seat at the table and those who construct the tables; those who broke a glass ceiling and those who clean the glass; workplaces and virtual workers; those who teach and those who are taught; top of the chain and lowest on the totem pole. You get the idea.

I wonder, is there something you would like to hear (read) more about? Are there legal issues or new ordinances you have concerns about? Are there career interruptions or career crisis that you need to address?

Would appreciate hearing back from you on what you might like to learn about on occasion. Let us know, and maybe we can address those needs.

All the best on this rainy President’s Day here in Chicago.

whole paycheck

Did you guess right away where I was going with this? I’ll cut to the chase:

Whole Foods Market. While attending a Halloween-themed class on cheese and wine pairings, of course – I was observing the employees hard at work.

Those who attend culinary schools more than likely imagine themselves in a fine dining environment, and maybe not so much in retail of a food market. However, it can be a good match. A trained palate can serve very well in a variety of arenas.

Combine food knowledge with personality, people skills and high energy! A winning combination for such marketing events (i.e. classes) to welcome attendees, recognize them, invite questions and make it all fun, while positioned in the department that features all the accompaniments such as the featured cheeses (and then some) the crackers and other delicacies. We taste. We like. We may buy.

That was just the cheese. Partner that with a skilled beverage pro that can select wines (and ciders) to pair with the cheeses and fruits; create mulled drinks and other cocktails, and all not too far away from the liquor department.

Pass around the yet-to-be opened packages of all to-be-tasted treats to let us see what they look like, hear the price, the specials, and other options while this fun learning opportunity (holidays are coming) is turning us into ‘customers.’ A team-based activity and effort that is inherent to the culture at Whole Foods Market.

Jackie_Maloney_Wine_and_Cheese_sm

Brilliant marketing!

But let’s talk working there…”I’ve heard” that the pay is not so great and it may be difficult to transfer from one department to another, or especially another location.

They are highly competitive, internally.  They are very much team-based. So, if one is more of a loner, or prefers more solitary work, then WFM may not be a fit. Being open and trustworthy are other characteristics of the work culture, and of course, whom they hire.

Granted, this is a retail environment, but reasonable hours – not a 24/7 operation so that works well for many. It is a people and community focused workplace.

So, I attended to experience their efforts on promoting wine and cheeses, and ideas – and all was good; even great! Yet, at the same time, I was observing what is most likely a marketing business model and the employees in action who make it a seemingly great place to work!

Is the grass always greener?

Do you want a career change, or just a job change? What might make someone leave a job, a company – that has been quite good to them from day one? Are you seeking a work and life balance that you’re not getting? What about income or benefits? What are you risking by leaving a company that has been stable and good for you so far?

Choice.htm
or PLAN B?

First, it simply may be for a change of pace and tasks. Maybe something more creative. Or, it could be because you can’t get comfortable in the workplace culture or with the leadership you report to. Often, it’s when one has had enough, of something.

However, leaving on good terms – on really good terms, is always the best no matter what your reason. Will that door be open for you again, if you need it?

Many companies have a ‘no rehire’ policy in place. Sometimes that policy has been mandated because of management being burned by one employee or another. Yes, managers get burned, too. To protect themselves from all kinds of risks, to avoid a recurrence of nepotism, or to simply not welcome back someone who thought the grass might be greener.

Be sure to know your company’s rehire policy (if they even have one) so that you can make an educated decision should another opportunity come your way. Be as honest as possible about your resignation and if there is even the slightest chance the grass may not be so green on the other side, don’t burn bridges. Make nice. Let your current employer know how grateful you were for the opportunity you were given, and that you would hoped to be able to reapply in the future if desired. And if you really want to keep that door ajar, keep in touch. Call your former boss or co-workers. Let them know how things are going. There’s always a honeymoon period with a new job. “I love my new boss; my commute is so much better; people are so nice here; there is so much to learn.” Yes, I’ve said that all myself. After spending a full month with one side of a corporation and then being catapulted into an entirely different mindset and culture and environment. While I knew where I was headed, I hadn’t realized the difference between corporate and actual workplace. And what a difference it was.

So the grass is not always greener. It may have been presented to you that way. Or it may just turn out that way. Any new job can turn upside down for unanticipated reasons. Just don’t be blindsided and don’t let the doors hit you on the way out. Keep them open.

 

 

observations at a job fair

imagesCADGQIVA

It’s been just over a year since SGi hosted a job fair in Orland Park. Attending one today on behalf of a client with only a few current openings – all part-time.

Today’s event – more highly attended by both employers and job seekers. Maybe because it was free. Maybe because it was hosted by a politician who facilitates a few of these annually in area suburbs.

“Part-time is better than no time” was the best response I heard today. Good attitude.

Others – not so upbeat. Many educators being laid off due to budget cuts; other industries downsizing as they are doing more business on the cloud. Some people may not have had to endure unemployment until now; upbeat and motivated or scared. The feelings expressed can be raw – with emotions rising to the surface in even a brief encounter.

As an employer however, it is my obligation to try to maintain conversation with those who may be serious contenders for a current opening, or maybe a good prospect for a future one. However, when I ask someone what type of work they are looking for…and the response is ‘anything’, well, that isn’t too impressive. However, some older adults with a wide range of experiences may be looking for just that – anything. They may want part-time, due to early retirement, forced or otherwise. Or, simply a career change with more balance in their lives. Some are getting accustomed to being under employed.

What I have observed as that a majority of those attending were quite well dressed/groomed. They are prepared. Then there’s always the few who show up to look for a job and meet an employer face-to-face wearing shorts, or a midriff blouse, or both.  Most people have been quite pleasant, greeting employers with pleasantries and a nice smile.

And the resumes. It seems the longer employed, the smaller the fonts. Some try so hard to cram all experiences on to a page or two. Others, taking misguided advise from a friend. Resumes that have no companies listed. Still don’t get that mindset. In any case, if I was there to promote my services in resume development, etc. I would be busy for some time. But I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: