No Jerks Allowed

Avoid the Bad Boss Blues

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Source: The Courier Express
Avoid the Bad Boss Blues
By Jessica Perkins


When Christopher Sharp began a new position as a supervisor at his workplace, things started off well. The pay was right and the job seemed perfect for his skill set. However, within four months, Sharp realized that the scope of the work was not at all what had been presented to him.

He confronted his boss multiple times, but she always dismissed his concerns. Her unresponsive attitude compounded his frustration, making the job unbearable. Eventually his work stress began to impact his family life. That’s when Sharp decided it was time to move on to something else.

Sharp’s story is familiar to many. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of American workers point to their boss as their biggest stressor.

Whether dealing with an unresponsive, hypercritical, micromanaging or simply incompetent boss, the relationship an employee has with his employer is crucial to job satisfaction and overall wellness.

Interactions with a bad boss can lead to a lack of confidence or poor job performance. They can also cause physical health problems like high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation.

As a therapist specializing in career counseling, Margie McCarty of Rochester, N.Y., sees situations like Sharp’s every day. When a bad situation at work becomes overwhelming, she advises her clients to look for other options, if only to feel better.

“Although there may be practical reasons why you cannot leave your job, having options can be empowering. Without options, we can feel stuck or helpless,” McCarty says.

“Job searching, looking into returning to school or learning a new skill can help increase your ability to deal with your boss.”

The Dos and Don’ts
Commiserating about your boss with other disgruntled employees might beel good in the moment, but McCarty says to avoid gossiping, since it only fans the unhappy flames. Instead, she suggests talking to someone who can be objective, such as a spouse, friend or therapist.

She also suggests focusing on the positive attributes of your boss.

“This is often easier said than done, but it’s likely your boss isn’t completely evil,” she says.

“Knowing that your boss is a loving grandparent or is an amazing golfer, or that he donates time or money to a worthy organization can help temper your negative feelings.”

Focus on You
If you’re dealing with a bad boss, you should take care of yourself outside of the work day.

“Getting good sleep, drinking enough water, eating regularly, exercising and maintaining healthy, supportive relationships can make a big difference in your work day,” McCarty says.

When work is the biggest part of your life, it’s much easier for a bad boss to take over your mental and physical well-being. If your jobs is where you find the majority of your identity, focus on something else—find a hobby, spend time with family or engage in spiritual activities.

Workers cannot control the behavior of their bosses, however they can control the way they respond to those actions. Learning to enjoy simple pleasures outside of work can bring freedom and relief after an exhausting day at the office.

Does Your Boss Pass the Teacher Test?

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Source: PayScale
Does Your Boss Pass the Teacher Test?
By Gina Belli


A boss can make or break a job. An excellent leader inspires the entire team toward a shared vision, listens, and builds trust. A not-so-great boss, on the other hand, is the number one reason people quit their jobs.

Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst, wrote a piece for Psychology Today about what distinguishes a good leader from the rest. In it, he reflected on an idea originally presented by John Lilly, who was the CEO of Mozilla at the time, about how good leaders often think and act like good teachers.

“When I think in terms of helping people learn to be even better, it automatically puts me into an empathetic mode (because teaching, fundamentally, is about understanding where the learner is coming from), and that sets up the interaction really well,” Lilly wrote in an email exchange with Sutton.

There is something to the idea that good bosses act like good teachers, and it’s also quite possible that difficult bosses could remind you of some of the more challenging teachers you had growing up. So, think about your own manager and look over the following list to determine if your boss passes this (totally unscientific but fun) teacher test. Award a point for every item that seems to apply.

1. It’s clear that good teachers are having fun.
Some teachers are funny, others are super enthusiastic about their subject matter. But, one way or another, good teachers show their students that they are genuinely having fun.Emotions are contagious, so the bliss ends up filtering through the whole group.

2. A good teacher knows when the class is lost.
They don’t go on and on talking about something when it’s clear (from words and body language) that the group doesn’t understand the idea on a fundamental level. A good teacher backs up at this point, slows down, and makes sure everyone is on board with the basics before getting into details and complexities.

3. A good teacher doesn’t burden students with their problems, emotions, or personal life.
Leaders are meant to be strong emotionally, or, at least stable. A teacher who comes to work super tired, angry, or full of complaints is abusing the position and not taking the job seriously enough.

4. Good teachers are predictable.
It helps people feel safe when the person in charge is somewhat predictable. Good leaders don’t fly off the handle over nothing one minute and then let something really huge slip through the cracks the next. They are emotionally stable and predictable. You know what you’re going to get when you walk in the door, or up to their desk.

5. They’re experts.
It’s not that you can’t stump a good teacher – of course you can. Good teachers are secure enough to admit when they don’t know the answer to something. However, they also have a really excellent understanding of the material they’re presenting. Their expertise helps inspire trust and confidence in their students.

6. Good teachers are flexible and they know their students.
The best teachers are able to present information and instructions in a variety of ways, ensuring that the message is received and understood by a variety of different people. We all have strengths and preferences; a good teacher takes the time to get to know their students and presents information in few ways in order to reach everyone.

7. A good teacher clearly loves their job.
Nothing is worse than a teacher who’s looking over their shoulder at the clock half of the time. Of course students follow suit and can’t wait to leave also. Great teachers clearly love what they do. They lose track of time, get fired up, laugh and smile. It’s clear that good teachers aren’t there for the money, or to have a captive audience; they just simply love what they do.

If five or more of these statements reminded you of your manager, than congratulations, you have a boss who’s passed the teacher test! If they did not, just remember that a lifetime of schooling prepared you for dealing with difficult leaders, too. Just focus on doing your job and try not to get in trouble for goofing off – which is totally more tempting in a bad teacher’s class, by the way.

Jerk Story – The Narcissist

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Reader Submission from Danielle

I’m an HR manager and recently had to deal with a jerk in another department. I noticed there was quite a bit of turnover in our IT department, especially under one supervisor. I originally thought the problem was with the supervisor, but after further investigation, I realized it was actually a narcissistic employee. His behavior was so cruel that many other employees asked to be transferred or found jobs elsewhere. Many of the complaints described him as being “arrogant, manipulative, offensive, controlling” and more.

One of my friends that’s also in HR at another company dealt with a similar situation. She recommended that I continue to keep good records of all the complaints and incidents. We had to alter our approach of giving constructive feedback and present it mildly and kind of like we were praising him. After building a pretty large file of complaints, we recommended that he get some counseling. He’s still attending sessions, but so far there’s been some improvement.

3 Strategies for Turning the Tables on a Workplace Bully

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Source: BullyWhisperer
3 Strategies for Turning the Tables on a Workplace Bully
By Caitlin Remmer


“You sure screwed up,” Wayne snarled.

Marie’s stomach plummeted, as all eyes turned to her. She braced herself for what was coming. Wayne loved to put people on the defensive in front of others.

Bullies like Wayne excel at preemptive attacks that leave their targets defensive, flustered, and tongue-tied. Do you work alongside a bully? Learn to turn the tables and take control.

Ask a question
What happens if I slam you with a putdown and you respond with a question?  Although it may seem like I’m still in charge, you’ve just taken control of our encounter.

Suppose a bully knows you’re sensitive about your appearance, and says to you, “You look like a dog.” You might redden and tighten your jaw in response to this snarky comment. If others are watching, they may pity you. What if you instead ask, “What breed?” By asking a question, you sidestep the attack and take control of the conversation.

Ignore blame and move toward a solution
Suppose you work for a bully boss who regularly yells at you, “Is that all you got done?” If you respond, “You don’t understand how long these things take,” you sound defensive. If, however, you ask “What would you like me to work on next?” you diplomatically move toward a solution.

Call the bully on his game
Bullies often smirk and say, “Just kidding,” after they jab you. If you protest, they blame you for feeling stung, asking, “Why are you making a big deal about this?” Challenge this maneuver. Imagine the bully says, “You’re a fool,” and you say, “that’s not true and it’s rude.” If the bully then says “just kidding,” you can respond “I don’t think so.”

How could Marie have handled Wayne? She could have asked, “Wayne, what would you have done differently?” Chances are, Wayne wouldn’t have had a response.

If Wayne kept attacking, she could have told him to cut it out, by saying, “Wayne, give it a rest.”

Coat Drive for the Homeless

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It’s the season of giving and Connectria’s own, Mike S., organized a coat drive for the homeless. Although this winter has been warmer than most, there have still been some chilly days. Mike was headed to work one day when he saw a homeless individual lying on the ground motionless in a park of downtown St. Louis. After dropping off his things at the office, he headed back to check on the individual and brought food and drink.

This event inspired Mike to sponsor a coat drive for the homeless. The NiNJAs were all more than happy to help. In total, Mike collected around 30 coats, 6 scarves, and a handful of hats and gloves. Thank you, Connectria, for your consideration, and thank you, Mike, for your compassion and thoughtfulness! We look forward to many more coat drives in the years to come.

Have an inspirational story you would like to share of people helping those less fortunate in your community? Share your story today and join the No Jerks Allowed movement.

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7 Leadership Tips to End 2015 on a High Note

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Source: Birmingham Business Journal
7 Leadership Tips to End 2015 on a High Note
By Gayle Lantz


As you head into the home stretch for the year, it’s easy to feel pressure.

You may be in the middle of budgeting. Or you may be trying to accomplish specific goals by the end of the year. Maybe you’re doing year-end reviews. The end of the year has its own unique stressors.

A few leadership tips to keep in mind this time of year:

1. Be realistic about what you can do. You have less time than you think you do. Take some pressure off of yourself so you can enjoy the holiday season. Get clear about what you absolutely must do versus what would be nice to do.

2. Let go of what you didn’t get done. If you have a project you intended to do, or to-do items that have been carried over month-to-month, but you have not taken action, it’s likely they really don’t need to get done. It’s like that sweater you bought, but never wore. Be willing to give it away. Release those expectations without guilt. Start fresh.

3. Expect distractions. It’s a struggle to balance work and family during this time of year. There’s a lot to get done to prepare for the holidays. You’ll need to dash out to get that last minute gift. Your team members will do the same. Work on your patience and flexibility. Your team will appreciate it.

4. Express your gratitude. Gratitude is a gift. Make a list of people you’d like to thank for helping you or your team accomplish what you did. As Zig Ziglar said, “The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Write a quick note or make a few phone calls just to say thanks. So simple. So seldom done.

5. Celebrate success. Take a look at the milestones your team has accomplished. People are motivated when they feel they are making progress. Even if you haven’t hit your target, acknowledge how far you have come and what you’ve learned. Show appreciation for the effort.

6. Set a positive expectation. Begin orienting your team around something exciting you all will work toward in the New Year. What’s your big goal for next year? Find a way to keep that in front of your team. Create a visual aid, metaphor or something tangible to represent that goal. Hold a quick meeting to talk about your vision for the year.

7. Slow down. If you feel pressure to speed up, slow down. It’s counterintuitive. Like an archer, you must be still and focused to hit your target. Aim high. You’ll do better thinking and accomplish what’s most important.

As you turn the page, be proud of what you’ve accomplished and optimistic about what’s ahead. Keep clear perspective. End your year on a high note by remembering what really matters.

How to Avoid Hiring a Jerk

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Reader Submission from Lisa

I’ve been a college recruiter for 5 years and have yet to work with a single jerk! I interview a lot of candidates and had to find a way to weed out the potential jerks. I always start with a few off-the-wall questions because I found that this helps lighten the mood and gives me a good sense of their genuine personality. Other recruiters on my team have adopted this approach and we have been able to dodge all the jerks!

If you work in HR or are involved in the hiring process, I definitely recommend incorporating some of these questions into your interviews. They’re a pretty good indicator of personality, interests & hobbies and whether they’ll fit with your company culture.

  • What superpower would you want and why?
  • What were you doing the last time you looked at a clock and realized you lost track of time?
  • What book do you think everyone should read?
  • If you were a drink, what would you be?

These are just a few, but if you have any suggestions, please comment! My team is always looking for more.

How to Manage a Horrible Boss

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Source: Chartered Management Institute
How to Manage a Horrible Boss
By Jermaine Haughton


Excerpt

MANAGING UP RATHER THAN PACKING UP?

While changing jobs may at times seem like the only option, an uncertain job market and financial responsibilities makes the decision complex.

Therefore, academics and HR experts have advised that under-pressure employees revive their relationship with their manager by rethinking how they can better manage the boss they already have, despite all their flaws and shortcomings; otherwise known as managing up.

As opposed to rebelling a dysfunctional boss, ambitious professionals will attempt to understand their boss’s demands and exceed all their expectations and needs. Management coach and bestselling author Margie Warrell has five key tips for managing your boss:

1. IDENTIFY THEIR PRIME MOTIVATIONS
Find out what your boss cares about in the workplace, and how he/she identifies with success and failure. By putting yourself in your superior’s shoes, you can adjust your work and behaviour to fit better with their core values, concerns and priorities.

2. WORK AROUND THEIR WEAKNESSES
While there may be a temptation to make your boss look bad, it is likely to only result in damaging the results of the team and your reputation. Instead, try to cover for your boss’s weaknesses, allowing him/her to focus on their strengths. For example, help your disorganised managers by helping them keep on top of things. Also don’t be afraid to mirror your boss’s style. How does he/she like to communicate; e-mail or face-to-face? Working with his/her preferences is an obvious way of managing your boss without them ever knowing it.

3. REMAIN PROFESSIONAL
Never let your boss’s bad behaviour be an excuse for your own. While it may be easy to succumb to resentment or resignation and mentally check out of your job, doing so not only undermines your own integrity but it can put you at risk of being branded as a whiner, a slacker, or both. So if your boss is a shouter, don’t react by shouting back. If they are petty or small-minded, don’t descend to smallness yourself (however tempting)!

4. TALK WITH YOUR BOSS
Urge your bad manager to have a private 15-minute conversation with you. By having the courage to speak up rather than cower in silence, you can make your boss know that you are unhappy about his/her behaviour, as well as allowing for them to provide an explanation – and maybe even an apology.

5. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE JUMPING SHIP
If you feel you have to leave your current job, then take time to research the culture, the leadership and reputation of your new organisation or department. How big are the teams? Any rumours of discrimination? Furthermore, use your contacts and networking to get a sense of both the environment within the team you might be moving to, and those who are creating it.

Connectria Halloween Spooktacular

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Tomorrow is Halloween and we’ve been busy celebrating around the office all week. Take a look at all the events we had!

Pumpkin Decorating Contest:
This contest had 2 winners. Check out their pumpkins!

ChristyPumpkinCornPumpkin

Halloween Dessert Contest:
Check out our first place winner and runner up. Can you guess what these treats are made of?
WalkingDeadSpiders

Candy Corn Count:
We made things a little difficult and added some peanuts. Can you guess how many Candy Corns there are?
Jar2

Mummy Wrapping Contest:
Spooky!
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Costume Contest:
This contest had a lot of participants, but only 3 winners. Next year will be some fierce competition!
DeadpoolJaymieDavid

Pizza Lunch:
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How to Get Ahead When You Have a Bad Boss

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Source: Time Inc.
How to Get Ahead When You Have a Bad Boss
By Donna Rosato


Today is National Boss’s Day—but you may be hard pressed to find workers who want to celebrate it.

Nearly 90% of workers report having had a bad boss, according to a survey out today by LaSalle Network, a staffing firm in Chicago. There’s a corporate cost for that behavior: Half of workers surveyed say they have quit their job because of a bad supervisor.

So, what irks workers about their bosses? The No. 1 complaint: credit mongering. One-quarter of survey respondents said a bad boss is someone who never takes the blame but is the first to take the credit.

Other behaviors cited: A boss who notices only negatives, not positives; is uncaring; doesn’t acknowledge hard work; and is not willing to help workers advance and learn.

Despite the near universal experience, 55% of workers have never complained to higher-ups about having a nasty manager, according to the LaSalle survey. “Employees don’t speak up because they’re scared,” says Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network. They worry that if they try going above their boss’s head, “they fear they’ll be judged or cut from their role,” he says.

There’s no need to suffer in silence. Instead, use the situation as an opportunity to advance your career. “There are people like this in every company,” says Stacey Hawley, founder of Credo, a compensation and talent management firm. “If you complain about your boss to someone else, you just look like you can’t handle the situation. If you want to be in leadership position, you have to know how to deal with people like this.”

First, make it harder for your boss to lie. Copy key people involved in a project on emails or memos on important updates and accomplishments. Offer yourself up as a point person. Ask other team members to submit updates too. “If everyone is in the loop on what’s going on, it’ll be harder for your boss to take credit,” says Hawley.

If a problem crops up and your boss blames you or a team member, don’t get defensive. Talk about what went wrong and how to solve it. “Taking responsibility is good. Coming up with solutions is even better,” says Hawley.

If your boss takes credit for your work in a meeting or in front of other people, chime in. “You need to make it clear you played a role, but be sure to give your boss credit,” says Hawley. “Your boss may be acting this way because he or she perceives you as a threat. Take the threat off the table.” Hawley suggests saying something like, ‘That was a great idea. I like how you did this and we came up with this solution.’ It’s also an opportunity for you to acknowledge other people who contributed to the project.

Finally, align yourself with other people in your organization. Your boss shouldn’t be the only one who knows about your work. “You need to develop relationships with other higher-ups who can advocate for you,” says Hawley. Build your professional relationships by asking senior people for feedback or advice on a project you are working on or inviting them to lunch or coffee to discuss ideas you have.

Advises Hawley: “Turn the situation around and make it a chance to grow your own career.”

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