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Friday, April 30, 2010

Why a Formal Performance Review Isn't Necessary

What should employees do when the company isn’t even performing regular performance reviews in the first place? Note that we’re in an industry which is largely sheltered by the recession, we’re growing and we’ve recently received some huge new clients.

Go over and read why a performance appraisal isn't what you need.

If you like it, recommend it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why Does Your Boss Become a Jerk When You Resign?

Why is it that you can have a perfectly nice boss who goes loopy when you resign? Find out what your boss is thinking over at BNET.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Stealing From My Employer

The IT people in my company are seriously underpaid. If we ever complain about, management says they could always outsource our jobs to India, so we better stop whining. So, a year or so ago a co-worker and I had a great idea: we got permission to buy the old computers that were going to be discarded and then we fix them up and sell them on Ebay.

A few months ago, I took it a step further. When I’m asked to fix someone’s computer, I’ll declare it unfixable instead. The person’s department orders a new computer and I buy the old, “broken” one from the company for $50-$100, fix the minor problem and sell it for huge profit.

I’m afraid I’m going to get busted. What’s going to happen to me if my boss finds out?

Your boss will be really mad. Yes, he/she will. Go to BNET and read my full answer.

Up in the Air

So, I finally saw this movie. If you haven't seen it, it's probably supposed to be this deep movie about life choices and blah, blah, blah. But, what it really was about was firing people.

This is something I know about.

If you want to see it and don't want any spoilers, stop reading. Oh, I'm not going to share the big plot twists, I'm just going to talk about firing.

I liked some of the dialogue used in the firings, but this line
Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's *because* they sat there that they were able to do it.

really grated on my nerves. Yes, many people that have been laid off end up better off in the long run. I've seen it with my own eyes. But, that line will not go over well.

And the whole sending in a consultant to give the news is really lousy. Yes, firing someone is hard. I've done management trainings where we have the managers practice what they are going to say and some of them can't even get the words out of their mouth when it is just practicing. It's a really, really, really hard thing to do. And if you hire a consulting firm to come in and give the news then I'll come over and fire you for doing such a thing. Laying someone off is a manager's job, and if you don't have the guts to do it yourself then you need to go back to being an individual contributor because you don't have what it takes.

Further more, this Evil HR Lady won't do it for you either. Yes, I'll sit in there with you (always have a witness!), and I'll even jump in to rescue you if need be, but the words of "your position has been eliminated and today is your last day," better darn well come out of the direct supervisor's lips. (I'll settle for your boss's boss in a pinch, but it better be someone in the direct chain.)

And (spoiler alert!) I'm glad that they gave up on the internet firing. Talk about an awful idea. I do give Natalie credit though, she was young and dumb and thought it was a great idea. I liked her character.

What are your thoughts on firing?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I make less money than the person I'm training

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Three years ago I single-handedly opened the company’s only office and set everything up. I organized everything and made the company office something everyone in the field could depend on. I am called the Office Manger; but I do everything and basically am the President’s right hand except for the construction part.

Now his wife has brought in her old employee at a lot more than I’m making and she has had to learn everything about our business. I’ve had to teach her, as well as do my job.

I’m told how wonderful I am and get great reviews, yet my raises have amounted to only $50 per week. I’m devastated as well as disappointed that I’ve worked 40-60 hours a week at making this a great office and have gotten nothing in return. Things are tight at the company, but so are they at my house.

I’m at least $10,000 underpaid. How can I get this raise and keep the job I really love too?

Find out what to do over at BNET

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm White and My Racist Boss Fired Me

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I was recently fired. My working environment was hostile at the least. My immediate supervisor, African American, was blatantly racist to me, white. Multiple people in the office, including other African Americans, have complained to HR about this individual’s racism yet the company protects the problem and discharges the problem white employees. How can this sort of thing continue? I don’t think we’ve got a chance in a court of law since we’re white and she’s black. I’m amazed that the administration and HR cover for her. I’m out of there now. Tuesday of last week they terminated another. How can this be stopped?

Read my answer over at BNET.

And is it wrong that I find it highly amusing that the woman depicted in the photo as the firing boss is the same woman in the photo I used for the woman being fired in this post? What goes around comes around, or something, I guess.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Should I Lie About Why I Was Terminated?

I was fired from a major corporation after 3 and a half years of employment. The stated reason was that I violated policy, but I believe it was retaliation for reporting that I was being sexually harassed by a client. This client happens to be good friends with the boss. I have documentation that he was harassing me, but the company ignored it.

Luckily I was able to find another position with a small family owned business. Although I am grateful for the opportunity and income, I am not happy with the work or company. I miss working in a structured and corporate environment with benefits and 401K.

After almost 6 months of working at the family owned company, I posted my resume and have received quite a few responses. There are 3 large companies that I am interviewing with and besides feeling extremely guilty for lying about how I ended in this position, I am afraid that they will check with HR and discover that I was in fact fired. During my time unemployed I was very open about why I was let go and the situation and NO ONE called me back (even though in each position I met all the requirements). So now, I wonder what is the right thing to do? I have a good background and excellent work ethic. I also have to account for almost 6 months of time in between the fired job and my current position. I really dislike lying but I do want to stay in my current position. How can I get another large company give me a chance and hire me?

Read my answer over at BNET

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learn How to Give Feedback

I love TED. I listen to the talks there all the time. My next career goal is to present at TED some day. If any TED organizers read this, I'm a good speaker. Honest. Contact me. I promise to come up with something innovative for your next conference.

But, this is not about me, this is about Feedback. Natalie Merchant, formerly of 10,000 Maniacs gave a performance at the 2010 TED conference. Ted attracts, shall we say, not the most musically inclined audience and they don't quite get how to clap along to her song.

So, rather than suffer through with the audience provided beat slightly off, she stops and gives feedback. And she does it well. The feedback is at the end, it is with the song that starts at 21 minutes in, but the whole video is worth watching. If you're not familiar with Natalie Merchant you should be. She sings so well.

Now, note how she gives them feedback and they follow. She teaches them how to be an audience at a concert, and they learn. She'd make an excellent manager.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great Advice from Women Bloggers

One of my BNET colleagues wrote about how women give the worst career advice. Ummm, no. Some of my favorite bloggers are women who give great career advice. I wrote my response here.

I included advice from Susan at About Human Resources, Alison at Ask a Manager, Lisa at Simply Lisa and Shauna at HR Minion. All great advice givers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What I learned on my Romanian Vacation

I just spent a week in Romania. I know it's not the typical vacation spot, but we're trying to take advantage of our few years in Europe by seeing everything we can. While there, we ate great food (really great, I gained 4 pounds), saw interesting sights and, of course, picked up a few career lessons. Here are a few of the things I learned on my vacation.

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. In Bucharest we visited the People's Palace, which was the massive, expensive, and over-sized last project of Communist Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceau┼čescu. Our tour guide took us into a massive ballroom and noted that Ceau┼čescu wanted the ceiling to open up so that he could escape by helicopter, if need be. He also did not want central air conditioning for fear that his enemies would try to poison him that way. See, paranoid? Of course, he had good reason to be paranoid and he was, shortly thereafter, toppled and executed by his enemies.

I'd like to tell you that any paranoia you may have is craziness, but this is one of those cases where there were many people out to get him. There may be people intent on bringing you down, or at least keeping you below them. You do need to keep an eye out for those types of people and make sure you don't get caught off guard. And if you are the boss, don't be dictatorial and your chances of being caught in a Human Resources led coup are much smaller.

Sometimes the most important requirement for the job is not the one you would think. We spent three days in a rural area of Transylvania and stayed at an inn run by an actual Romanian Count and took a couple of tours with Monica. She was smart and funny and knowledgeable and put up with our incessant questions. (We like to learn while on vacation.) We found out that when she was hired she spoke very little English. This is a problem when 90% of your clients are from the UK or USA. But, she jumped in with both feet and learned English. She had the other requisite skills (knowledge of the area and a degree in European and Art History), but not this one critical skill. Fortunately her employer had the foresight to hire her.

I'm sure many places would have rejected her because she lacked that one critical skill. Be careful not to reject the person who would do the best at the job overall, just because she happens to lack one skill. If she has the desire and capability to learn this missing piece, you may want to give her the chance.

Thinking outside the coffin box really works. While Vlad the Impaler, the loose inspiration for Dracula, wasn't a real vampire, he certainly killed enough people to be an honorary one. There is a story that he managed to escape pursuers by having his horse's shoes placed on backwards. Now, I don't know how comfortable it was for the horse, but it worked. His would-be attackers couldn't see where Vlad had gone because they didn't think that these tracks leading "towards" them would indicate his path.

Sometimes we try to solve our problems the same way everyone else has. And for good reason--it works to run away from your enemies. But, sometimes, thinking a little bit differently can help us solve these problems in better way. Make sure you come up with some varied and unusual ideas for your problems. You may be surprised at how effective they can be.

I'm too good at my job

I have been working for a large corporation for about 4 years. My relationship with the vice president is great; I feel he is smart and respectable. My relationship with my supervisor however, is a little rocky. She is a flake, routinely calling in to work, crying over the slightest criticism, complaining incessantly, and the quality of her work is terrible.

In January I applied for a new position in the company, I interviewed for the position twice and both interviews went well. After a couple of weeks I was called by the vice president in the new department and told that they selected another candidate because they had more experience. I was disappointed, but not heart broken. The vice president in my current group took me out to breakfast as a morale boost and I appreciated it greatly.

Now several months later the supervisor in the group I had applied to work in approached me confidentially and told me that I was the candidate they originally wanted, but my current vice president would not allow me to move. He told me they have another position opening up and they want to fill it with me, but are concerned about whether or not it will be possible.

I am not sure how to feel about this. I am frustrated because my vice president held me back without even giving me an explanation. I am worried that I will not be able to move anywhere within the company because my supervisor is a flake and my vice president relies on me too much. What should I do?

You can read my answer over at BNET.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What was your worst "additional assignment?"

"Additional Duties as assigned" pops up in almost every job description. Can your boss really make you do something outside your job description?

Of course. Go read about additional assignments as required and then tell me about your strangest additional assignment--either here or at BNET.

And, yes, unfortunately BNET does require registration, but they don't send annoying stuff out unless you request it and you can use the same name you use over at blogger and if you can't remember your real address, well, who can blame you when you're struggling to get all these tasks done that aren't related to your core work responsibilities?