How to thrive in a broken corporate system

“You should be earning, learning and having fun. And if you’re only doing one of these things, that’s not good.”

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There are a plethora of so called workplace norms that I feel really need to be set straight. Joining the rat race, earning, learning and having fun doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard too. It is possible to be nice and still succeed and to have a great work-life balance and be able to still do the best job. Often from the get go, it will be drummed into you that in order to do X you have to put up with Y, in order to progress you’ll have to wait X years and in order to get a job you have to jump through multiple hoops.

No.

Not always the case and in fact it’s often the complete opposite. Here are, in my humble opinion, some misconceptions of the corporate world and how to survive in an outdated system:

You have to stay late and work hard to get ahead

Arriving early, working through a lunch break and staying late to show the boss your ‘working hard’ when you’re hardly working isn’t fooling anyone. Unless it’s vital, you shouldn’t make a habit of working extra hours unnecessarily as, unfortunately, once you start the process, you’ll likely be taken advantage of. It soon becomes the norm and therefore hard to backtrack once you’ve made the habit of putting in those extra hours. Focus more on quality of work outcomes not time spent. How efficiently are you working and how much value 9-5 do you provide for the company? Thinking and doing everything to improve your workplace, investing in yourself and making yourself indispensable is a sure-fire way to move up the ranks.

You have to work X amount of years to be promoted

Earning a promotion should solely be based on your work ethic, passion, ability to do the job and how capable you are to progress and get to the next level. It’s a somewhat naive attitude to have to progress people using these types of parameters and only serves to clip your wings. Working under a manager with this mindset will dim your flame. You can be a CEO at 25 or 50, age doesn’t affect your ability to do a great job!

You should follow the money

This is true to an extent. Let’s face it we all need money right? We need money for rent, holidays, food, nights out etc. but research shows it’s only a motivator up to a certain point. I for one know that money is a major contributing factor to my motivation, but it’s not the main focus and prioritising learning, career progression and company culture should be just as important. Sacrificing a slight pay drop can be a good risk to take if in the long run you can increase your salary, along with adding a wider skill set and more experience to your CV.

Being thrown in at the deep end is a great way to learn

I fear when this is mentioned in interviews it’s often code for we just wing it, don’t have a training process in place nor have the time or resources. Being thrown in at the deep end makes you learn fast, sure, but often there’s a lot of unnecessary trail and error involved and especially with a lack of support and guidance, can knock confidence and result in major mistakes. I have learnt the most through this method but employees should make it their mission to invest in their staff with proper on-boarding, training opportunities, mentor sessions and exposure you to opportunities when you are capable.

You must eat your lunch at your desk

I think now more than ever this type of culture where you’ve got to be seen to be busy and therefore eat at your desk is silly and outdated. Practise mindfulness at work. Take your lunch-break as a break! Go for a walk, eat your lunch in a different environment and take your mind off work. Nothing that game-changing can happen in 45 mins so you might as well make the most of your time out the office. You’ll find you’ll come back much more refreshed, energised and be more productive!

What irks you most about the corporate world?

Let me know in the comments,

Love Career Girl xo

What you should consider in your career

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I recently conducted a poll on my Twitter, not the best sample size but interesting non the less, so thank you to all my followers who participated. It’s fascinating to see the results on what people prioritise when job hunting or deciding if a job is beneficial.

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It’s important to follow your heart, but listen to your head too. Your friends may think money is paramount in a new job or career, yet, you may value having a great boss as being just as important. Based on my experiences I like to look at the big picture and see what would benefit me now, and in 5 years time…

Money

Money is incredibly important and unfortunately, it kinda does make the world go around.

It’s important to know your market value. Cost and worth are very different things. All managers and boards want a return on investment, spending the least possible on a new hire. Therefore, if you offer your services too low, it can be harder to get a raise later. When you go job-hunting, it’s vital to do your research on the average salary your role usually pays. Look at the likes of Glassdoor and ask around, as this will establish where you are in terms of salary expectations. Pay can fluctuate based on a multitude of scenarios, such as, location, size of company and other work benefits.

Many people become blind-sighted by London or other cities as they pay more, but fail to realise that the cost of living often increases too! Sometimes roles outside of the bigger cities in reality pay more, with higher chances of better career progression. Always weigh your options against your prioritises now and in the future. Be careful not to sell yourself too short by accepting a salary lower than the going rate, just because you are desperate to be hired. But, go easy on demanding 30k before you’ve walked into the interview, as this can deter employers from hiring you. If you are already in a role, this research and knowledge can help you in negotiating a promotion or raise.

Your Boss

“When analysing the monster, be sure not to become the monster. And, when looking into the abyss, the abyss looks back at you”

I read this quote in “Talking with Psychopaths” by Christopher Berry Dee, but relevant here also. When your future boss interviews you, you should also interview them. You’re going to be working for them for approx. 8 hours everyday. Ask questions, query their intentions, seek their knowledge, insight and grill them. Find out what makes them tick, their goals and expectations of you now and in 6 months time. Find out how they treat their existing staff too, as this speaks volumes.

You must determine if they want to coach you or boss and work you to the bone. Will they mentor and develop you, treat you as an equal, or a piece of shit on the bottom of their shoe. A boss should value you, push you, help you, support you and train you. If they don’t? Leave.

Company Culture

This essentially covers the values, attitudes, support network, ethos and mantra of a company as a whole. It’s often insidious and hard to pin down, but can seriously take a toll on well-being and health. Is there a blame-culture? Do people socialise outside of office hours, collaborate, praise and support one another? Or or they back-stabbing and bitchy?

The list can go on but depending on the boss’s management style, training practises and overall attitude, it can often lead to high staff turnover. Being thrown in at the deep end instead of being properly trained, lack of career progression and no support network can be checked by observing how content the existing staff are. How can you spot this? By asking what their take on holidays, days off and dealing with staff complaints is. What training and career progression opportunities are on offer, to name but a few. But it’s usually a gut feeling more than anything.

Career Progression

It’s great if you can hit the ground running on your first day, but it can be a challenging and stressful period starting a new job. Nerves can play havoc, so it’s essential to have a support network, the opportunity to learn and grow at your own pace and to be able to make mistakes and learn from them. If you are expected to do a job that is outside of your remittance, don’t be afraid to ask for help, training or to go on a course to improve your knowledge and experience. If you are over-worked or dying to take on more work and responsibility, only you can voice it. Push for improvement and appraisals to see what areas you need to develop. Not investing in you, can in the long run be extremely costly for the company. Not promoting you and keeping you in the same role isn’t beneficial to you, your boss or the company either.

Often, the reason people leave a job or career is because of the same old line, feeling overworked and undervalued.

What do you think is most important? I’ve love to hear in the comments below…

Love Career Girl

 

How to deal with an Office Bully

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The Office Bully comes in many different forms. From the slimy snake that steals your sales, to the office gossip who creates rumours behind your back, to the jealous, incompetent one, who’ll do everything in their power to get you fired. And, if you are a new graduate and naïve to the game, or an experienced soul, at some point in your life, whether you like it or not, you’ll come across at least one of the above.  No matter if you’re dealing with subtle Sandy or backstabbing, bitchy, Becky, there are things you can do to protect yourself and succeed despite the surrounding negative vibes.

If you think you are dealing with an Office Bully there are a multitude of options to stay ahead of the game.

Speak Up

Hopefully, there is someone in the organisation you work for who you feel comfortable enough to divulge details of your office bully’s actions. It could be a fellow co-worker, or, preferably HR. Think hard about what the office bully has done, or said, or even what they haven’t said. Have they purposely left you out of an important email? Have they taken credit for your hard work? Have they talked down to you or purposely tried to intimidate you? All these little things can accumulate easily and quickly, and, if you are not careful, can spiral out of control. It’s important to try and spot it and be aware of it in the early stages. Once you have started the process of verbally documenting the issues, it will be easier to voice a formal complaint later down the line, if you so wish.

Log It

Unless you have evidence, it’s often just your word against theirs; which is why it is so important to build a network of trust and communication. It’s no doubt a tricky, awkward situation, but it’s paramount to try and gain as much evidence as possible. Keep a log. Every backhanded comment, passive aggressive attitude or general patronising that’s come your way needs to be noted and logged. Who said it? When? How? Did anyone else hear it? If the above is committed via emails or texts, take screenshots. Try and be as neutral as possible.

Rise above it

Aggravating the situation doesn’t help and can often make things worse. You may want to give as good as you get, but try and stay calm, neutral and above all, professional. At the end of the day, you are there to work. So work your arse off and focus on doing well. Use that negative energy and turn into positive energy to propel you forward. Work harder then you’ve worked. Things do get better. Rise above it. Be mature. People want to see you do well, never better than them. Pay close attention to those who don’t praise you or congratulate you on your achievements; who instead will try and undermine and stifle your accomplishments. You are so much better. So succeed.

Success is the best revenge, right?

I hope you enjoyed this post, if you have ever experienced an Office Bully, either a co-worker or boss do, let me know. How did you cope? And what advice would you give?

Good Luck!

 

Love Career Girl xo

Bitchy Bosses & Manipulative Managers

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We’ve all had that boss from hell, right?

Many of the horrible bosses I’m about to describe are from personal experience! These individuals have taught me so much – mainly, how not to manage people! The individuals described below have had serious complaints made about them, resulting in eventual dismissal. Rightfully so! However, it is staggering just how many are still in a position of power. Having studied Occupational Psychology & covering aspects of it within my dissertation, I find it interesting, but also slightly depressing!

People may hate their jobs, but hate managers more

I think it’s so true that individuals don’t leave a workforce as such, they leave because of their manager! The results from my own research were alarming, 100% of my participants HATED their job!

In the past I have definitely hated some jobs because of a manager! Sometimes it’s not really their fault as such. Some individuals unfortunately just aren’t born leaders. Incompetent managers seem to be pretty common. Some don’t seem to have a clue how to do their job, others are unable to make a rota a week in advance. Few just don’t command respect, and view work as play and muck about in front of customers, which is incredibly childish, embarrassing and unprofessional. Some managers are plain detrimental to your career and personal well-being!

Bitchy Bosses

I once had a boss called Betty*…. who was a BITCH! Why? In Occupational Psychology we touched on this aptly named concept, coined the ‘Queen Bee’ boss. Having a female boss is probably worse than having a horrible male boss. Possibly (from my experience anyway) because girls are a lot more subtle, shall we say. This particular boss was very charming to individuals, almost too nice, whilst later, gossiping and spreading nasty rumours. Other traits of the ‘Queen Bee’ bitchy boss include being dishonest, micro-managing, manipulative and two-faced.

I have had female bosses shout and scream at individuals for making minor mistakes, which is ironic, considering just how incompetent some managers are. From relying on other staff members to carry out the bulk of the work and later taking credit for it, to manipulating situations to her, or a favoured co-worker’s advantage, all created a toxic atmosphere. This kind of game play and favouritism is unbelievably unhealthy for everyone involved and makes for a very unhappy working environment.

The Machiavellian Manager

Possibly my worst manager, let’s call him Mick* made me cry a number of times! On first impressions this guy was funny, charming and incredible nice. However, as time got on, his mask started to slip. This guy was not only verbally incredibly aggressive, but would swear, shout and publicly mock and humiliate staff members for making minor mistakes. Providing unachievable targets and tasks, and belittling comments can seriously take its toll! At the time I was 17 and incredibly naïve with regards to working life. It sounds silly, but I had no idea you could say ‘no’ to a manager. Whilst still at college I was expected to work shifts at a drop of a hat, although I was already working about 30 + hours a week! This really stressed me out. I remember at one point being called a ‘F@$king Idiot’… amongst other things! A barrage of insults and accumulating incidents eventually plunged my self-esteem to rock bottom. Turn outs this manager got fired with immediate effect.

Karma’s a Bitch.

If you have ever encountered similar treatment, I would love to hear from you. This kind of behaviour doesn’t happen everywhere, there are good people out there. I have met and worked for the most charismatic, honest, trustworthy, hardworking, capable and inspirational managers too. If you can get out of toxic environments, I urge you to do so. The stress, pressure and borderline depression which can occur from nasty bosses and situations can take a toll on health and well-being and it’s really not worth it. From now on, I vow never to tolerate a bitchy, manipulative toxic manager!

 

*These names have been altered to protect the individuals concerned. Many of these names are an accumulation of attributes from several different bosses. Also check out journal articles on ‘queen bee’ bosses!