No Jerks Allowed

Annual Connectria Family Picnic

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We had a blast at our 5th annual Connectria Family Picnic! This year’s event was on September 19th and filled with a ton of fun activities – magic show, face painting, balloon animals, Bingo, photo booth, and more. We enjoyed some delicious hot dogs, hamburgers, cookies, and sno cones. We (including all our little NinJAs) are looking forward to next year’s picnic. In the meantime, check out some of these pictures:

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How to Deal with a Bad Boss

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Source: GoGirl Finance
How to Deal with a Bad Boss
By Sarah Chang

Got a bad boss? The good news is you’re not alone. Up to 65 million Americans have been impacted by bullying in the workplace at some point — and most of the time the boss is to blame. The bad news is you still need to show up to work every morning and survive (at the very least). What’s a girl to do?

Although it’s tempting to try and avoid your boss (who wants a confrontation, after all), licensed therapist, coach and behavior change expert Melody Wilding says by doing so you’re only hurting yourself. “Going home and venting about what a jerk your boss may feel good,” she cautions, “but it does nothing to constructively improve the situation.” And eventually those bad feelings will start impacting other areas of your life, even leading to depression and anxiety.

So instead of sinking into despair, make a plan. Preparation is power, and we’ve got the tips that will help you manage a difficult situation.

1. Find an Outlet and Manage Your Frustration
In any difficult work situation (heck, in any difficult situation) it’s important to manage your own frustration. This is no exception — especially if you need to stay in your job (at least for the short term). Career Coach Elena Konstant suggests meditation, breathing exercises, a quick walk or break — whatever it takes to keep your cool.

This may also be a good time to look inward — and assess how your own emotions may impact the steps you take moving forward. “Do you tend to take criticism as a personal attack? Does your boss trigger memories of someone else who mistreated you in your life? This self-awareness exercise helps you understand and gain control over emotional reactions like anger, frustration, or defeat that come up,” Wilding says.

2. Take the Professional High Road
It’s easy to run to HR with your complaints — but be prepared. You don’t want to be seen as the employee who cried wolf. Instead, you may want to meet with your boss prior to escalating anything. A face-to-face meeting may be productive if (and only if) you’re able to manage your emotions (here’s where those meditation exercises will come in handy).

Wilding cautions against “confronting” your boss, instead focus on “discussing” your concerns. “Bullying bosses often use personal attacks as a way to bait you into an emotional reaction, so be aware of that,” she says. “If you act defensive, you’ll just be rewarding their bad behavior and perpetuating the cycle. Instead, take the professional high-road. Approach it as a problem solving conversation, from the perspective of ‘here are my concerns, now how can we make this work?'”

3. Document, Document, Document
Even if you’re planning on meeting with your boss it’s best to document every incident as soon as you start noticing a problem — and be detailed. “Keep track of assignments, accomplishments, exchanges, and any other information relevant to demonstrate a detrimental pattern of behavior,” Konstant says. By maintaining a paper trail you’ll be able to provide the right type of evidence to the higher-ups if necessary.

If you can, Wilding suggests even trying to identify how your boss’s behavior may be impacting the company. “Document data that backs up how your boss’ bad behavior detracts from business results,” she says. “If you can point to a loss in clients or a drop in productivity, you have a factual business case to support why it’s imperative that things change.”

4. Consult HR
Let’s say you’ve tried meeting with your boss and nothing’s changed — or the situation is becoming increasingly toxic. This would be the right time to collect your notes and arrange a meeting with HR.

If some added pressure on your boss doesn’t make things better it’s probably time to consider leaving your position. “No one should tolerate abuse,” Wilding says. “Sometimes valuing your self-respect has to come before having a job.”

Jerk Story – The Finger Pointer

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Reader Submission from Elena

We have all dealt with a finger pointer at least once in our lives. Unfortunately, I dealt with one for nearly a year. After college, I took a job as an analyst for a small company. I was fresh out of college, so I was still learning quite a bit and making some mistakes. This one guy seemed to take advantage of the fact that I was a recent college grad and always put the blame on me for his problems. Even though some of the mistakes were mine, it wasn’t right that he was pointing a finger at me for everything. After working there for 10 months, I got sick of it.

I never retaliated by pointing my fingers back at him because I found that to be unprofessional. Instead, I tried looking at the situation from his point of view and understand why he felt the way he did so I can help diffuse and solve the problem. During this process of finding a solution, I noticed that I sometimes participate in finger pointing as well. Since then, I’ve tried taking my own blame in certain situations rather than pointing out other’s flaws or misdoings. Even though I know that sometimes it isn’t my fault, it helps preventing the other person from feeling ashamed.

Ultimately, even if something isn’t your fault, it’s best to avoid finger pointing!

5 Simple Scientific Ways to Be a Better Boss

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Source: Business News Daily
5 Simple Scientific Ways to Be a Better Boss
By Brittney Helmrich

So, you want to become a better leader? If you’re willing to invest your time and effort into becoming a better boss, you might just find that your employees will perform better and will be more satisfied with their jobs.

In fact, science is on your side: Implementing a few research-backed changes can help you engage your employees, reduce workplace stress and turnover, and build a stronger, better team.

Here are five simple, proven ways to be a better boss.

Be Nice, Not Tough
It’s a common misconception that being a tough, distant boss is the best way to get respect from your employees, but research shows that being nice can be far better for business.

According to the Harvard Business Review, tough bosses often put pressure on employees, thinking that it will lead to an increase in performance, but the reality is that this pressure actually increases stress, not productivity. Increased stress can affect your employees and your business more than you might realize. For example, a study in the journal BioMed Central found that health care expenditures for employees with high stress levels were 46 percent greater than those for employees without high stress levels. And a study from the Institute of Naval Medicine found that high work-related stress can also result in increased turnover. Putting less pressure on your employees and being a more caring, understanding boss can help prevent issues like this.

Research also shows that acts of altruism can earn you a higher status among your team, and that leaders who project warmth are more effective because employees are more likely to trust them, the Harvard Business Review reported.

Of course, you need to make sure your employees don’t take advantage of your niceness, so you’ll want to keep some boundaries in place. But overall, it looks like the old adage may be right — you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Allow Employees to Unplug
With gadgets like smartphones, tablets and smartwatches becoming the norm, it’s really easy to get caught up in checking emails and doing work-related tasks outside the office. Studies show that this inability to unplug can harm a person’s mental health.

A study from Bowling Green State University in Ohio examined work-life balance and the use of communication technology at home. The researchers found that psychological detachment from work during nonwork times was important for employee recovery and health. Not taking time to unplug can make it harder for employees to relax and recharge for work the next day. However, many employees continue to work and stay connected outside their office hours in order to get ahead.

“People may worry about job security, want to increase their salary or advance in their career, so they feel they have to be more dedicated to their work,” YoungAh Park, a researcher from the study, said in a statement. “They show that by being available outside of normal work hours through communication and information technologies.”

So, what does all of this have to do with your role as a leader? If you want to be a better boss and manage a happier, healthier and more productive team, encourage your employees to unplug after work. Otherwise, your employees won’t be able to destress and do their best work.

Encourage Feedback and Ideas
It seems obvious, but one of the most important things you can do as a boss is to make your employees feel valued. In fact, showing your employees that they’re valuable to the company can have a positive impact on their mental and physical health, which can, in turn, increase performance and job satisfaction and decrease turnover, according to research from the American Psychological Association.

Ninety-three percent of employees who said they felt valued reported feeling more motivated to do their best work, whereas only 33 percent of employees who did not feel valued said they felt the same motivation, according to the study. And only 21 percent of employees who felt valued said they intend to look for a new job in the next year, compared to 50 percent of employees who did not report feeling valued by their employers.

An easy way to make your employees feel valued is to be open to feedback and encourage your team to share ideas on how to work smarter and improve company culture. If employees know they can come to you with questions, concerns and suggestions and feel heard, they’ll likely feel more positive about coming to work every day.

Plan Team-Building Activities
Hosting team-building activities both in and out of the office is important: Research shows that having friendships at work can help employees perform better and decrease turnover, according to the Harvard Business Review. Making it a point to facilitate team building at your company can help to encourage and foster those important office friendships.

The problem is, many employees don’t like team-building activities — almost a third of employees are not fans of them, according to a 2012 study by Wakefield Research, U.S. News reported. This is probably because of the nature of traditional team-building activities, which is why you need to change things up at your company, experts say. David Ballard, head of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, told U.S. News that proper team-building activities should provide employees with a genuine opportunity to relax and unwind, as well as respect their boundaries and their obligations outside of work.

To make sure you don’t make your team feel uncomfortable or alienated, Ballard suggested avoiding traditional icebreakers and instead opting for activities like group volunteering, team sports, and shared meals to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.

Let Go of Bad Apples
No matter how great your team is, one or two bad employees can ruin the work experience for everyone. A good boss will recognize that disrespectful and lazy employees can bring down morale and drag productivity and performance right down with it.

A study entitled “How, When, and Why Bad Apples Spoil the Barrel,” which looked at the impact different team members had in the workplace, found that having one slacker or jerk in a group of employees can decrease performance by 30 to 40 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported. If you want to keep your good employees happy and productive, you’ll need to identify your problem employees and work with them to help them improve — and if the issues are severe and not fixable, it may be time to let them go.

But more important than fixing or firing your problem employees is that bosses need to be able to recognize these harmful employees during the hiring process to avoid problems in the first place. Once you’ve taken care of all your problem employees, make sure you take a look at your hiring process and make changes to keep out any future bad apples. Your employees will thank you for it.

Jerk Story – The Pessimist

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Reader Submission by Louis

One of my coworkers is a huge pessimist. He always sees the bad in every situation. Last month I went on vacation for a week and when I returned, the office atmosphere was completely different because his negative attitude started to rub off on the rest of the office. I felt like there was a giant gloomy cloud stuck above the building. I came back to find not much work was done, there was little communication among the team, and everyone seemed stressed as a result. I think it’s safe to say that this jerk’s pessimism was the cause for this disaster.

There’s not much I can do to change his attitude, so I tried changing mine instead. I was the ultimate optimist. I remained extremely positive in every situation, hoping to counter-balance his negativity. I think it actually worked because the office seemed more productive than usual and everyone was always pretty cheery. Pretty sure I even saw him smile for once.

Connectria Monthly Lunches

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Connectria provides lunch for all employees one day out of every month. These special lunches celebrate birthdays, employment anniversaries, and other special occasions. We open up the conference rooms so our employees can mingle and have a good time while enjoying a delicious meal.

Check out some pictures below from our last 2 lunches – pizza and gyros!

June:

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July:

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Jerk Story – The Backstabber

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Reader Submission by Don

The only thing worse than an office backstabber is the backstabber who stabs over and over again. I work in product development and my team is always pitching new ideas. There’s this one woman on the team who gets very excited about the new ideas we produce. Any time our superiors aren’t feeling it, she does a complete 180 and acts like she thought it was a bad idea from the beginning.

My team was getting pretty frustrated after all these fake reactions. I read an article that suggested to calmly confront backstabbers in a public forum. At our next pitch, the same thing happened. We presented our idea and the boss wasn’t sold (but I admit, it wasn’t the best idea). She flipped on us, but instead of letting her continue, I interrupted and said “I’m surprised you don’t like this idea anymore. Just last week you were the most excited about the pitch and heavily supported it.” She turned red and fumbled over her words. I think she finally learned her lesson because she hasn’t flipped on us since.

4 Daily Habits of a Good Boss

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Source: Fast Company
4 Daily Habits of a Good Boss
By Barry S. Saltzman

Consistency is key, and a strong leader stands firm in what they practice. Each day, great people wake up and follow a specific personal routine that pushes them to be the best entrepreneur possible. Not only do these habits establish regularity in a world that can be tumultuous and ever-changing, but they work wonders in placing leaders in a great frame of mind.

1. THEY TAKE TIME FOR THEMSELVES EVERY MORNING
Every great business leader has a morning routine that they absolutely have to do in order to set the pace for the rest of their day. Some exercise, some write, some quietly meditate—whatever it may be, they do something they enjoy that puts them in a good frame of mind. Leaders start their day fresh, rather than dwelling on whatever else may be happening around them, and taking time each morning to wipe that mental slate sets an invaluable precedent for the day.

2. THEY EAT BREAKFAST
It’s no secret that eating breakfast works wonders for getting the day going, but I can’t stress it enough—the benefits of breakfast go far beyond basic dietary regularity. Think of your mind as a motor. Without proper fuel, it sputters and never really gets running strong, and leaders can’t be lethargic or languid. By nature, they’re the head of the team and they’re ready for anything; they have no time to be out of the zone. Even if you’re rushed and don’t have time for a massive meal, at least grab a banana as you go out the door. It’s a small change, and it’s shocking how much of a difference it makes.

3. THEY TAKE TIME TO CATCH UP WITH THEIR TEAM
Having the opportunity to sync up with your team each day not only gets everyone on the same page, but it boosts productivity thanks to an increase in motivation. Leaders are responsible for staying aware of progress, and because of this, they absolutely must keep in close contact with their team.

Reaching out each day to touch base satisfies this necessity, and it maintains high standards for remaining a cohesive, single team unit rather than a disjointed collection of employees whose hearts aren’t in their work in any way. Beyond this, leaders have an obligation to understand their team, and by catching up with them daily, they become a tight-knit group that’s excited to move forward.

4. THEY ASK WHAT CAN BE DONE BETTER
Any leader worth their salt sees entrepreneurship as an ongoing learning process. Not a single person holds the answer to every business question, and assuming one does is indicative of entrepreneurial immaturity. The ability to regularly step back and ask, “Can I do a better job?” naturally leads to growth as a leader, and it eliminates stagnancies that can be toxic to a bottom line. A good leader never beats themselves up over anything, but taking time to learn from mistakes and curveballs is paramount to their success in that role.

Jerk Story – The Crazy Driver

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Reader Submission by Michelle

My office shares the building with a few other companies, so we have to share the parking lot, too. There’s this one chump who drives like a maniac every single day. On top of that, he drives a real showy car with all the bells and whistles. One time, he was driving too fast around the corner and almost hit one of my coworkers!

The majority of us in the building have had near-death experiences with this jerk and are scared to even walk through the parking lot. To get back at him, we wanted to create a “For Sale” ad for his car. We decided against it and instead confronted his boss about the problem. Come to find out, his boss completely agreed with us and planned on speaking to the guy about the situation that day. Since then, the parking lot has been a little safer but we still take precautionary measures.

Connectria Summer Fridays Part 2

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The rain didn’t stop Connectria employees from getting their sweet treat during our Summer Friday series. Check out more pictures – this time with snow cones! Our friends at Tropical Sno stopped by with 8 of their popular flavors and shaved the ice on the spot. What’s your favorite snow cone flavor? Leave a comment below and tell us how you stay cool during the summer.

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