Dealing with Irascible Managers or Co-Workers

I have worked with and for quite a few problematic characters throughout my long career. Some are still friends and confidants, and a few continue to be valued as mentors.

Many of these irascible managers or co-workers lack social grace and a sense of control, so they cannot communicate well under stress. They also appear to forget that a timely apology can be a fallback position.

You see them coming from a mile, so the choice becomes whether you rise to and meet the verbal challenge or obfuscate. But, since nobody wins in these confrontations, you seldom try to deal with it.

They are unaware of how their behavior impacts others because they need to elevate themselves above others in a group situation. They do not hesitate to exploit their leadership role by insulting others because they are often insecure and quick to attack to assert their leadership.  

So they seek to maintain their position in the hierarchy through criticism, humiliation, and camouflaged insults, in a kind of unconscious narcissistic way.

The second group of tough characters are those with narrow interests and vapid sympathies. These folks say and do the same cruel things regularly as if on cue. I worked for one manager who lobbed the same petty insults at every group meeting but never in one-to-one meetings.

The worse part is that you feel bad for the manager. And deliberately avoid connecting with the “Oh No, Not Again” apologetic looks directed your way by the other team members. You think, “well, somebody has got to pull up the weeds.” Feeling all the while like the embarrassed parent of a preschooler misbehaving in public!

There is a stunning lack of creativity when someone overuses the same petty insult. If you must be regularly petty, try to be creative and offer variety. Unable to rise to the occasion, then stop it, the exercise of watching a manager or colleague try to diminish a coworker publicly is tiresome and embarrassing for everybody!

Is it time for a Career Self-Assessment?

The reality has set in. You are getting career restless. You are not bored, but Mondays are tough! By Wednesday, you are back in the groove; But for some reason, “thank God it’s Friday” is now the week’s longest, most challenging day. How do you restart your job love-engine?

Don’t start by simply updating your resume. If you do, you will end up with an autobiography masquerading as a resume. Try doing a career self-assessment to help you identify your critical talents, career interests, goals, and needs.

A self-assessment will help you gather valuable content for your new resume and is an excellent prepping tool for interviews. The process will help you uncover expertise and work patterns that illustrate your capabilities.

It will enable you to gauge your employability at this time relative to what is available. Self-assessments highlight and lay bare gaps in your expertise and suggest repair resolutions. It will also prepare you to run an effective job search campaign. How do you go about conducting a career self-assessment?

1.      Review your skills
Do the fun stuff first. What aspects of your current job do you do well, which ones do you like doing, which fall into the “not so much ” category, and which ones do you do poorly. Think about the skills required to do your job effectively. Now think of two or three examples where you excelled in each skill. You may also identify several related skills you utilized to enhance the skills you already accepted are your strengths.

2.      Are you an expert? What do you know?
If you have worked at a company for an extended period, you may underestimate your product knowledge, technical know-how, service sector, or customer type. Did you come up with a deficit during this exercise? Then make this an immediate correction item.

3. Did you add real value?
Did you help your organization generate quantifiable income, reduce costs, solve unique customer problems or improve the quality of its service? Your contribution may have been as an individual or as part of a team. Include it all.   

4.      What do you truly want?
Your wants may include an improved salary, but what else is important to you? How do you want your next job to differ from your current role? Are there things you would like to keep the same? These items will be your decision criteria for future opportunities.

Finally, benchmark your skills and value by reviewing job postings that interest you to see what employers define as needed skills and attributes.

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High Maintenance Job Seeker

The high maintenance jobseeker views the job search process and interviewing as a highly competitive structured process that should run at a clip. Many try to force things and cross over into Jobseeker Uptighterati territory, in an attempt to get an edge over other job seekers.

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Recognizing the High Maintenance Uptighterati Jobseeker in yourself:

1.      In addition to applying to the job online, the high maintenance jobseeker sends their resume or project samples to Human Resources and the Hiring Manager by the next day post.

2.      Many job seekers use colorful paper or ink or graphics in their online resume in an attempt to stand out.  This may render a fair portion of the resume unreadable and look ever so slightly like a craft project gone wrong.

3.      Once contacted for an interview, they need to think about it, research, or look at their schedule. Then bombard the recruiter or manager with a series of “I would like to know emails” or calls before setting up or attending the interview.

4.      Resist your tendency to be a Uptighterati by showing up half an hour early for the interview to see if the manager is available and can meet with you a bit earlier. Adhering to your punctuality principle, then trying to make reality conform to it, can be very annoying to others.

5.      The high maintenance jobseeker brings a series of show-and-tell items, awards, projects, reference letters, etc., to the interview and constantly interrupts the interview to show the items.

6.      Is accompanied to the interview by a friend, who sits glumly in the lobby, or worse, wanders around, peering into the interview room or other offices.

In an attempt to stand out from other candidates, many jobseekers inadvertently commit one or more of these interview mistakes. Qualified for a position, had the first interview you are not asked back for a second interview? Check the items above. Did you commit any of these blunders?  Have you turned into a High Maintenance Uptighterati Jobseeker?

Mediocrity is cunning: it can disguise itself as achievement.

Being second rate is not simply the curse of being an over-promoted underachiever – it’s the default state of the universe

slipperyroadlarge80 In the early years of the last century, Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset proposed a solution to society’s ills that still strikes me as ingenious, in a deranged way. He argued that all public sector workers from the top down (though, come to think of it, why not everyone else, too?) should be demoted to the level beneath their current job.

His reasoning foreshadowed the Peter Principle: in hierarchies, people “rise to their level of incompetence”. Do your job well, and you’re rewarded with promotion, until you reach a job you’re less good at, where you remain.

In a recent book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, the tech investor Ben Horowitz adds a twist: “The Law of Crappy People”. As soon as someone on a given rung at a company gets as good as the worst person the next rung up, he or she may expect a promotion.

Yet, if it’s granted, the firm’s talent levels will gradually slide downhill. No one person need be peculiarly crappy for this to occur; bureaucracies just tend to be crappier than the sum of their parts.

Yet it’s wrong to think of these pitfalls as restricted to organizations. There’s a case to be made that the gravitational pull of the mediocre affects all life – as John Stuart Mill put it, that “the general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind”.

True, it’s most obvious in the workplace (hence the observation that “a meeting moves at the pace of the slowest mind in the room”), but the broader point is that in any domain – work, love, friendship, health – crappy solutions crowd out good ones time after time, so long as they’re not so bad as to destroy the system.

People and organizations hit plateau not because they couldn’t do better, but because a plateau is a tolerable, even comfortable place. Even evolution – life itself! – is all about mediocrity. “Survival of the fittest” isn’t a progression towards greatness; it just means the survival of the sufficiently non-terrible.

And mediocrity is cunning: it can disguise itself as achievement. The cliché of a “mediocre” worker is a Dilbert-esque manager with little to do. But as Greg McKeown notes, in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less the busyness of the go-getter can lead to mediocrity, too.

Throw yourself at every opportunity and you’ll end up doing unimportant stuff – and badly. You can’t fight this with motivational tricks or cheesy mission statements: you need a discipline, a rule you apply daily, to counter the pull of the sub-par.

For a company, that might mean stricter, more objective promotion policies. For the over-busy person, there’s McKeown’s “90% Rule” – when considering an option, ask: does it score at least 9/10 on some relevant criterion? If not, say no. (Ideally, that criterion is: “Is this fulfilling?”, but the rule still works if it’s “Does this pay the bills?”)

Mediocrity is no mere character flaw, but a deep tendency of the universe, to be ceaselessly fought, with no hope of final victory. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

Read entire article by: Oliver Burkeman | Beware the gravitational pull of mediocrity | The Guardian

Happy New Year

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We wish you a new year full of happiness and good fortune.

Last year was an expansion year for us, full of interesting lessons, new business lines and partnerships.

We look forward to 2019 and the success it will bring, and we wish the same to our business partners, friends and customers as well.

May endless joy and happiness be with you throughout the New Year…

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