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Rough Day at the Office

Work is stressful. There are deadlines to meet, bosses to please, customers to help, and it can feel like people are pulling you from every direction. Before you have a Meltdown and pull the emergency chute — whatever it may be at your workplace — take time to reflect and find ways to survive your worst days at work.

1. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Everyone wants to look like a superhero at work who can get everything done. But there are only 40 hours in a work week, so don’t take on too much or you’ll look worse for not getting it all done. Your boss will be disappointed when you can’t get the job done in time, so it’s best to think ahead on this recommendation and not promise something you can’t complete.

2. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch

 

Just like a child in school, regular meals are important to keep the mind and body working at work. If you’re having a bad day at work and feel stressed, think about whether you skipped a meal on that day. Chances are you did and were too rushed to eat. Mom was right: Breakfast is important.

3. Remind yourself of what’s really important

 

Photos of your family on your desk can help remind you, but if you’re away from your desk, stop and take a breath and remember what’s most important in your life. Your children, for example, are more important than the most stressful work task. Your purpose in life isn’t to get stressed at work. Repeat until your breathing is under control.

4. Get a hobby that make you happy

 

Just like reminding yourself what’s really important when you’re stressed out at work, having a hobby to get to when you get home can make the problems at work less of a headache. This step includes having a life outside of work, meaning you’re not working long hours and have something to talk about other than what’s going on at work. Find a sport, reading group or anything else that relaxes you to keep you occupied with anything other than work when you’re away from work.

5. Learn to manage your boss

 

This is a tough one, but if you can figure out how to manage your boss, your life will be a lot easier. It will take some trial and error, and learning from other employees, but it will keep him or her out of your hair and allow you to do your work to your best abilities. Find out if your boss is a micromanager and wants constant updates; if so, provide them. If your boss is more hands off, then enjoy it and find out how often they want to know what you’re up to. Empathize with your boss to help them become better at what they do.

6. Ask for help when you need it

 

You don’t have to deal by yourself with a problem. If you’re overwhelmed at work, ask for help. You’d be surprised at how many co-workers will come forward to help out. When asking someone to join your project, be sure to remind them that you “owe them one” when they need help.

Respect

Do you wonder why some people naturally gain respect, while others have to command or, worse, demand it?

Earning respect is in direct correlation to treating others with the same. Showing respect sounds like a basic skill, and yet somehow complaints about being disrespected run rampant around coffee rooms and bathrooms in companies around the country.

Are parents and teachers shirking their responsibility for turning everyone into good little citizens that can play well with others? Perhaps, but more likely, cultural norms have changed. Families allow for greater familiarity, and schools are more focused on test scores and class sizes than they are on teaching little Johnny and Susie to stand out as leaders.

But whether you are the leader in charge or a contributing team member, your ability to earn respect will impact your emotional happiness and ultimate career trajectory. Some people in authority believe they are entitled to respect simply due to their position or experience, but this sort of respect diminishes over time and can ultimately hurt your career.

Here are six tips to help you be the person who earns respect rather than just demands it.

1. Be consistent.

If you find you lack credibility, it’s probably because you are saying one thing and doing another. People do pay attention to what you say until you give them reason not to by doing the opposite. You don’t have to be predictable, just don’t be a hypocrite.

2. Be punctual.

Nothing. loses respect for someone than being made to wait. Time is the most valuable commodity for successful people. Missing appointments or being late demonstrates a total disregard for the lives and needs of others. Get control of your calendar.

3. Be responsive.

The challenge today is there are too many ways to communicate. Between Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, text, phone, Skype, and Facetime, people are in a quandary to know what is the best way to reach you. And even with all the channels, some people still don’t respond in a timely manner, leaving colleagues hanging or chasing them. Limit your channels and respond within 24 hours if you want to appear communication worthy.

4. Be right much of the time, but be comfortable being wrong.

The simple way to be right is to do your homework and state facts that are well thought out. Still, you may have to make a best guess now and then even when information is too scarce to know for sure. Take it as a qualified risk, manage expectations, and if you’re wrong, smile and be happy you learned something that day.

5. Forgive others and yourself for mistakes.

If you’re not erring, you’re not trying. Healthy leaders encourage experimentation and create environments of safe failure. Encourage people to take mitigated risks, and set an example for how to shake off a failure and bounce back.

6. Show respect to others when they are wrong and right

Disparaging people who make errors will reflect worse on you than those who err. On the flip side, any jealous tendencies toward those who succeed will surely be noticed by those around. Live as if in a glass body. Assume all can see inside your heart.

Effective Work Relationships

You can submarine your career and work relationships by the actions you take and the behaviors you exhibit at work. No matter your education, your experience, or your title, if you can’t play well with others, you will never accomplish your work mission.

Effective work relationships form the cornerstone for success and satisfaction with your job and your career. How important are effective work relationships? They form the basis for promotion, pay increases, goal accomplishment, and job satisfaction.

A supervisor in a several hundred person company quickly earned a reputation for not playing well with others. He collected data and used the data to find fault, place blame, and make other employees look bad. He enjoyed identifying problems but rarely suggested solutions.

He bugged his supervisor weekly for a bigger title and more money so he could tell other employees what to do. When he announced he was job hunting, not a single employee suggested that the company take action to convince him to stay. He had burned his bridges.

These are the top seven ways you can play well with others at work. They form the basis for effective work relationships. These are the actions you want to take to create a positive, empowering, motivational work environment for people.

 

  • Bring suggested solutions with the problems to the meeting table.Some employees spend an inordinate amount of time identifying problems. Honestly? That’s the easy part. Thoughtful solutions are the challenge that will earn respect and admiration from coworkers and bosses

 

  • Don’t ever play the blame game.You alienate coworkers, supervisors, and reporting staff. Yes, you may need to identify who was involved in a problem. You may even ask the Deming question: what about the work system caused the employee to fail? But, not my fault and publicly identifying and blaming others for failures will earn enemies. These enemies will, in turn, help you to fail. You do need allies at work.

 

  • Your verbal and nonverbal.  If you talk down to another employee, use sarcasm, or sound nasty, the other employee hears you. We are all radar machines that constantly scope out our environment.In one organization a high level manager said to me, “I know you don’t think I should scream at my employees. But, sometimes, they make me so mad. When is it appropriate for me to scream at the employees?” Answer? Never, of course, if respect for people is a hallmark of your organization.

 

  • Never blind side a coworker, boss, or reporting staff person.If the first time a coworker hears about a problem is in a staff meeting or from an email sent to his supervisor, you have blindsided the coworker. Always discuss problems, first, with the people directly involved who “own” the work system. Also called lynching or ambushing your coworkers, you will never build effective work alliances unless your coworkers trust you. And, without alliances, you never accomplish the most important goals.

 

  • Keep your commitments. In an organization, work is interconnected. If you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other employees. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, make sure all affected employees know what happened. Provide a new due date and make every possible effort to honor the new deadline.

 

  • Share credit for accomplishments, ideas, and contributions.How often do you accomplish a goal or complete a project with no help from others? If you are a manager, how many of the great ideas you promote were contributed by staff members? Take the time, and expend the energy, to thank, reward, recognize and specify contributions of the people who help you succeed. This is a no-fail approach to building effective work relationships.

 

Help other employees find their greatness. Every employee in your organization has talents, skills, and experience. If you can help fellow employees harness their best abilities, you benefit the organization immeasurably. The growth of individual employees benefits the whole. Compliment, recognize, praise, and notice contributions. You don’t have to be a manager to help create a positive, motivating environment for employees. In this environment, employees do find and contribute their greatness

Five Things You Should Say To Your Colleagues

“That was great how you…” No one receives enough praise. No one. Pick someone who did something well and tell them.

Feel free to go back in time. Saying, “I was just thinking about how you handled that project last year…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (Maybe a little more impact, because you still remember what happened a year later.) Surprise praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient.

“Can you help me…?” One of my biggest regrets is not asking a fellow supervisor for help. I was given the lead on a project he really wanted. To his credit, he swallowed his pride—he was senior to me in tenure and perceived status—and told me he would be happy to help in any way he could.

Even though I could tell he really wanted to participate, I never let him. I decided to show I could handle the project alone. I let my ego be more important than his feelings.

Asking someone for help implicitly recognizes their skills and value. Saying, “Can you help me?” is the same as saying, “You’re great at that.”

And there’s a bonus: You get help.

“I’m sorry I didn’t…” We’ve all screwed up. There are things we need to apologize for: Words. Actions. Omissions. Failing to step up, or step in, or simply be supportive.

Say you’re sorry. And don’t follow up your apology with a disclaimer like, “But I was really upset…” or, “I thought you were…” or any statement that in any way places even the tiniest amount of blame back on the other person.

Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.

“Can I help you…?” Then flip it around. In some organizations, asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness. Many people naturally hesitate to ask. But everyone needs help.

Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will automatically say, “No, I’m all right.” Be specific. Say, “I’ve got a few minutes… can I help you finish that?”

Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous.

And then actually help.

“I’m sorry I let you down.” I was assigned a project in a different department. It was a project I definitely didn’t want. So, to my discredit, I let it slide. I let other people take up my slack and focused on projects I was more interested in.

To his credit, my manager had stuck his neck out to get me the project so I could get broader exposure but I, well, didn’t care. Eventually my manager said, “Everyone knows you’re really busy, so they have decided to handle it themselves.”

I felt bad but I never said, “I know you were trying to help me. I’m sorry I let you down. I promise it will never happen again.” That one statement would have chased a very large elephant from the room.

The biggest elephants are emotional elephants. It’s up to you to chase them away.

Time Management Tricks From the World’s Busiest People

By Chris Gaborit (www.fastcompany.com)

You have the same 1,440 minutes every day as the busiest people in the world. So, what do they do differently than you, what can you learn from them, and how can you improve your time management?

 

  1. MANAGE EVERY MINUTE OF YOUR TIME

 

Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, is successful with his time because he manages every minute of his time every day, even his exercise. Here are just a few ways he’s said he manages his time:

 

I learned to delegate from a young age. Actually removing myself from the office has helped me look for the next big venture. I try to exercise every day–whether it is a swim, a game of tennis or a kite-surf when on Necker Island. Manage the BlackBerry, don’t let it manage you. The key is to do it in bursts and not to let it dominate your day. Speak to people–I do get a lot of emails every day and try to answer as many as I can; but I also believe that you need to speak to people. It can save you and them a lot of time. And write it down–I carry notebooks wherever I go to jot down thoughts and notes. You can’t beat pen and paper.

 

If we read into what Branson was saying here, it was essentially that you need to manage everything: your projects (delegation), your health (exercise), your communication (phone calls, emails, and speaking to people), and your memory (use notes).

 

  1. EVALUATE THE URGENT AND THE IMPORTANT

 

Dwight Eisenhower, former U.S. president, said, “Most things which are urgent are not important, and most things which are important are not urgent.”

 

Eisenhower was a man who was supremely organized at all times. Not only was he the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961, but prior to that he was a five-star general in the U.S. Army during World War II. Among other amazing accomplishments he served as supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, he oversaw the successful invasions of France and Germany from 1944 to 1945 from the Western Front, and in 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.

 

Many people use the Eisenhower Method to manage their time successfully today. In this method, all tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent and put in quadrants accordingly.

 

  1. SAY NO

 

Apple Founder and CEO Steve Jobs believed “Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

 

Jobs was known for simplifying things. When he returned to Apple in 1997, he took their 300 products and reduced them to 10. This saved Apple from bankruptcy.

 

In his personal life, Jobs decided to wear the same outfit daily so he wouldn’t have to spend time thinking about his wardrobe.

 

By learning to delegate more, managing your emails, dealing with the urgent, and learning to say “no,” we can successfully manage our time and still have some time to exercise and enjoy life.

Workplace Values

In addition to relevant skills, employers seek employees who have the personal values, characteristics, and personality traits that spell success. Good personal values are what makes the foundation for employ-ability.

  1. Strong Work Ethic

Employers value employees who understand and possess a willingness to work hard. In addition to working hard it is also important to work smart. This means learning the most efficient way to complete tasks and finding ways to save time while completing daily assignments. It’s also important to care about your job and complete all projects while maintaining a positive attitude. Doing more than is expected on the job is a good way to show management that you utilize good time management.

  1. Dependability and Responsibility

Employers value employees who come to work on time, are there when they are supposed to be, and are responsible for their actions and behavior. It’s important to keep supervisors abreast of changes in your schedule or if you are going to be late for any reason. This also means keeping your supervisor informed on where you are on all projects you have been assigned. Being dependable and responsible as an employee shows your employer that you value your job and that you are responsible in keeping up with projects and keeping them informed of the things that they should know about. 

  1. Possessing a Positive Attitude.

Employers seek employees who take the initiative and have the motivation to get the job done in a reasonable period of time. A positive attitude gets the work done and motivates others to do the same without dwelling on the challenges that inevitably come up in any job. A positive attitude is something that is most valued by supervisors and co-workers and that also makes the job more pleasant and fun to go to each day.

  1. Adaptability

Employers seek employees who are adaptable and maintain flexibility in completing tasks in an ever changing workplace. Being open to change and improvements provides an opportunity to complete work assignments in a more efficient manner while offering additional benefits to the corporation, the customer, and even the employee. While oftentimes employees complain that changes in the workplace don’t make sense or makes their work harder, oftentimes these complaints are due to a lack of flexibility.

  1. Honesty and Integrity

Employers value employees who maintain a sense of honesty and integrity above all else. Good relationships are built on trust. When working for an employer they want to know that they can trust what you say and what you do. Successful businesses work to gain the trust of customers and maintain the attitude that “the customer is always right”. It is the responsibility of each person to use their own individual sense of moral and ethical behavior when working with and serving others within the scope of their job.

  1. Self – Motivated

Employers look for employees who require little supervision and direction to get the work done in a timely and professional manner.

Self-motivated individuals require very little direction from their supervisors. Once a self-motivated employee understands his/her responsibility on the job, they will do it without any prodding from others. Taking the initiative to be self-directive will provide you with a better sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem. 

  1. Motivated to Grow & Learn

In an ever changing workplace, employers seek employees who are interested in keeping up with new developments and knowledge in the field. Learning new skills, techniques, methods, and/or theories through professional development helps keep the organization at the top of its field and makes your job more interesting and exciting. Keeping up with current changes in the field is vital for success and increased job security. 

  1. Professionalism

Employers value employees who exhibit professional behavior at all times. Professional behavior includes learning every aspect of a job and doing it to the best of one’s ability. Professionals look, speak, and dress accordingly to maintain an image of someone who takes pride in their behavior and appearance. Professionals complete projects as soon as possible and avoid letting uncompleted projects pile up. Professionals complete high quality work and are detail oriented. Professional behavior includes all of the behavior above in addition to providing a positive role model for others. Professionals are enthusiastic about their work and optimistic about the organization and its future.

Smart People – Dumb Mistakes

 The 8 Dumbest Career-Ending Mistakes That Smart People Make  (Forbes.com)

 

1. They assume their past success will continue in the future on new projects.  There’s an arrogance that can take hold in really smart people over time.  They’re used to being the stars.  They’re used to having an audience of admirers.  Their whole lives have been a series of one success after another.  Why wouldn’t this pattern continue, they think?  This over-confidence breeds lots of blind spots.

2. They stop paying attention to details.  When you have success early in your career, you get promoted and you get further opportunities to show your skills.  Quite often, you get more responsibility too.  If you’re over-confident that your past success will continue, you can stop paying attention to all the details like you used to during the early times when you had some of your biggest successes.  You can start mailing in your efforts, or you simply delegate the details to others and forget to check up on them later.  Because you’re still so busy, you don’t realize everything that’s slipping through the cracks beneath you.

3. They forget their own strengths and weaknesses.  Let’s face it, none of us is perfect.  No matter our college degree or education.  No matter our latest achievement, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  The most successful people in the long-run never forget their weaknesses when they look in the mirror.  They find a way to surround themselves with people who can cover those weaknesses because others have strengths in those areas.   The smart folks who fail assume they can be experts in areas that they have no business offering opinions on.

4. They banish people from their inner circle who have a different opinion.  Nobody likes to be told they’re wrong.  At the early stages of our careers, if our boss tells us we’re wrong, we have to accept it.  As we grow into positions of authority, someone tells us we’re wrong, we can simply tell them they’re probably not the best fit on our team.  Over time, the smart people who make dumb mistakes surround themselves with “yes” men or women. They assume – based on all their past success – that they can’t be wrong.  And they will drive full-steam ahead on one of their decisions, even if it drives the whole company off a cliff.

5. They forget that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  There’s an old saying: “be nice to the people on your way up, because you’ll also be seeing them on your way down.”  We all have highs and lows in a long career.  At some point, no matter how successful you are in the moment, you will get knocked down by something or someone.  And then you’ll need allies and supporters.  Therefore, don’t alienate people by telling them how brilliant you are and stupid they are — even if it never seems like you’ll need their support in the future.  You never really know who you might have to call on for a favor in the future.

6. They decide to move out of their area of expertise.  Sometimes on business TV, you’ll hear people quoting how so many big mergers or acquisitions have ended up destroying value instead of creating value.  We might be successful because we know the business we’re in but that doesn’t mean we can now know every other business under the sun.

7. They don’t build bridges with all the senior people who will have a say in their fate.  A lot of times, smart people assume that their results will speak for themselves.  But we live in a world where relationships matter.  It’s not just in Game of Thrones where good guys get their heads chopped off out of nowhere thanks to some enemy they never realized they had. It’s again arrogance to think that your brilliance and successes will speak for themselves.  They might have just the opposite effect of annoying some key influencers above you who think you’re full of yourself and not ready for the next big promotion.  You’ve always got to be selling yourself to others to ensure they know your success and abilities (although you have to do it in a way that doesn’t annoy those above you).  It’s got to be sincere, not obsequious.  Who’s going to do your PR if not you?

8. They take needless risks in their personal lives.  One final word of warning: if you think you can be the top of your game in your work life and have one vice in your personal life that won’t affect it, you’re probably very wrong.  Whether it’s gambling, alcohol, drugs, adultery, or something else, you’re playing with fire if you can’t control yourself in those areas.  Sure the politicians like Anthony Weiner, Gary Hart and John Edwards come to mind, but there are lots of smart and successful engineers and other professionals who succumb to this one as well.

New Benefit – PTO

Accrued Paid Time Off – effective July 1, 2014
Earlier this year, we introduced a new employee benefit program (Education Reimbursement). It has been very well received, with many of you already having taken advantage of it. We now announce a new benefit: Paid-Time-Off (PTO):

Highlights:
•  All NWCS FTEs, after 30 days employment
•  PTO hours accrue each pay period
•  64 hours per year
•  Carryover into new calendar year: up to 64 hours
•  For those eligible, the first accrued hours will appear on your August 5th, 2014 payroll summary.

NWCS believes that employees should have opportunities to enjoy time away from work. We also recognize that employees have diverse needs for time off from work. We have established this paid time off (PTO) policy to help meet those needs. Accrued PTO hours may be used for vacation, personal time, illness or time off to care for dependents. Employees must schedule their PTO and obtain approval from their supervisor in advance, except in cases of illness or emergency. The benefits of PTO are that it promotes a flexible approach to time off. Employees are accountable and responsible for managing their own PTO hours to allow for adequate reserves if there is a need to cover vacation, illness or disability, appointments, emergencies or other needs that require time off from work. Details will be forthcoming in the updated Employee Policy Manual later this month.

Why You Should Make Your Boss Look Good

The typical employee is probably more focused on doing whatever’s necessary to stay employed. Not showing up late, getting all your work done, bringing new ideas to the table and not making any major errors. Basically, not giving your boss a reason to fire you.

As good as those strategies are, they don’t take into account the one person whose opinion really counts: the boss.

Being a good employee is an important part of avoiding layoffs, not just in a recession, but all the time. Plenty of other workers and job seekers can replace you if you’re just doing the bare minimum. Not everyone can be your substitute if the boss has come to rely on you to be a part of his or her success.

Of course, you’re probably thinking: Shouldn’t I be more concerned with making myself look good?

You and the boss are the same … kind of

You’re not the boss, but you are a reflection of your boss, and it behooves you both to project a positive image.

“If you don’t look good, your boss doesn’t look good,” That idea extends beyond having your shirt tucked in and your pants ironed. Make sure anything that represents the team — whether it’s an e-mail or a voice mail coming from you — also reflects you and the boss in a professional, polished way.

Sometimes you know how to project the right image. Walking into a meeting with the high-level bosses and giving everyone a high five probably isn’t the way to score points with anyone. But on other matters, find out what the boss wants. Better to ask now and make a good impression later than to mess up and earn an unfavorable reputation.

“You’re the sidekick”, so delivering good work is really the best thing you can do for [him or her], and therefore, for you. What does it take to deliver good work? Or excellent work? Ask the boss! Try, ‘What can I do to improve this?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do to take some work off your plate?’ for starters.

Making the boss work for you

Improving the boss’s image isn’t just about making his or her life easier and earning pats on the back. The whole process involves better communication between both of you. At the beginning of this process, it might occur through direct questions, but eventually it can become an understanding if you build the relationship. Become invaluable to the boss so that you’re the default go-to person.

“Anticipate needs,” The difference between good employees and great employees is that the latter don’t just comply with requests well, they anticipate needs of their bosses and deliver above and beyond what the boss expects.

To get to that point, you need to be direct, and that means being prepared to ask the right questions.

“When you do something, check in with the boss to ensure that you really helped him or her out — don’t assume you did.”

You and the boss are not the same

At the end of the day, however, your boss is the boss and you are the employee. That doesn’t just mean you take orders; it means you’re an individual worker being judged on your own merits. All of the above tips can help your career, but don’t lose perspective, either. Keep focus on your own path before taking on additional responsibilities.

It may be counterintuitive, but if you really want to help your own career and boost your boss’s reputation, the best thing you can do is to boost your own reputation first. Your boss is ultimately judged not by [his or her] individual performance, but how well [his or her] people perform. Being the most effective employee you can be is therefore the best way to help make your boss look good.

Benefits Review and Pizza Party

Save the date:

June 17th, 2014; 5:30pm – Pizza dinner in Redmond

– Review our Dental/Medical, LTD, Life insurance plans and required re-up documents.

– Please RSVP tasha@nwcontract.com, so we can plan for enough food/drinks for everyone.

Round Table Pizza: 15025 NE 24th St Redmond, WA 98052

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