10 most unusual workplace gifts this season

Soft Skills

Now that the (holiday) dust has settled, what did you get for Christmas? CareerBuilder asked more than 5,300 managers and employees to name the most unusual gifts they've received from a co-worker. Here are the 10 most unusual workplace gifts (if you can call them that): A box of Hot Pockets. A chess piece (that’s right, one chess piece). A fire extinguisher (maybe they are trying to tell you something). A voucher for a free lawn game the gifter invented. A leather vest (in turquoise no less). Zombie action figures (zombies never go out of fashion). A Ziploc bag with just enough coffee to make one. A “gun of the day” calendar. A bag of chips. A Christmas ornament with a photo of the gifter and significant other. Which obviously explains why it is better to … [Read More...]

Anyone can complain – but anyone can innovate, too


Anyone can complain. And for the most part, they do. But anyone can innovate, too. Good managers strive to create the environment - and the opportunities - so that any employee in most any position can play the role of a problem-solving innovator. It's far more doable than you might think. Here are some thoughts on how to make that happen. Things don’t always happen for a (good) reason Most day-to-day routines can look the same on the surface. But employees closest to those routines, when they are encouraged to open their eyes and observe a “normal” process, will see things they may not have seen before. On a typical day, they’ll complain that something was left hanging, or is always breaking down. That’s called opportunity. Watch for stopped traffic Slowdowns are a clear … [Read More...]

Resolve to engage your staff in 2015


If you want to give your career  and your employer (or your own business) a major boost in 2015, then you might resolve to engage your staff in 2015. It really can do wonders. Employee engagement at its simplest is the extent to which people feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and make their best discretionary efforts time after time. What’s not to like about that? You may have heard this old joke, but it’s still worth repeating. Consultant: “How many people work here?” CEO: “About half.” Sound familiar? Price to be paid for lack of engagement There is no shortage of great info available on engagement strategies managers can use every day to improve productivity, morale and results. But it also helps to realize the price of failing … [Read More...]

The Danes love their jobs! Why is that?


There is a reason why Denmark usually wins the honor of  "happiest country on the planet," says writer Alexander Kjerulf. Danes aren't just happy at home. They love their jobs, too! It a mostly different story in the U.S. A Gallup poll found that 1 in 5 Americans feel emotionally disconnected from work and 70% said they were not reaching their full potential. Home life? We won’t even get into that. So, why do  Danish workers love their jobs so much more than their American counterparts? 5 fundamental differences Work hours: Do Danes ever work? Yes, in moderation. Not only do Danes tend to leave work at a reasonable hour, they also get six weeks of vacation. Here we celebrate overwork as a sign of commitment. Management style: Here, if your boss gives you an order, you … [Read More...]

Respect: The leadership quality that rises above the rest


Is there one leadership quality that rises above the rest? A fascinating examination of that very question, done by the Harvard Business Review, answers with an unequivocal “yes!” Respect. Or, to quote a phrase, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. No other leadership quality had a bigger effect on employees than respect. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — even opportunities for learning, growth, and development. Here’s a quick breakdown: Those who get respect from their leaders reported: 56% better health and well-being 1.72 times more trust and safety 89% greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs 92% greater focus and prioritization 1.26 times more … [Read More...]

Stop hiring stupid people — in one easy step


Hiring people may be the most important a manager does. Every new hire changes an organization. If the new employee is better than – or has the potential to be better than – half the people already doing this job, your organization just got better. Yet organizations repeatedly hire people who are in the bottom 50% of employees the minute they walk in the door. That brings everything down.  Change the process Very often, a hiring “process” will continue to give you the same results. The only way to fix it is to change how things are done. Here is one way to achieve an immediate improvement in how you hire. It’s called “watching the movie backwards,” which is probably how 80% or more of most job interviews go. In the typical interview, the first thing most of us ask about … [Read More...]

Managing talented people: Why being smart isn’t enough


One of the best things that can happen to a manager is having the opportunity to hire someone smarter, more talented and more accomplished than you. Now, why does managing talented people seem so terrifying? Successful leaders know - or should know - that hiring talented people is like winning the lottery. You gain an employee whose abilities could be that proverbial high tide, raising all boats, including yours. What could possibly be wrong with that? Wise manager Since the best organizations are driven by great ideas and know how,  having great talent is a must. But attracting talented people is only half the battle. Properly managing them matters most. Which is where the wise manager comes in. How in the world do you even evaluate someone who is more talent than … [Read More...]

When is being a jerk a legally protected activity?


Let’s concede right off the bat that any of us can be guilty of being a jerk at one point or another. In a moment of frustration, you descend to the cellar of human nature and flip the switch to jerk-dom. (Think morning traffic commute.) It happens, if ever so briefly. So you recognize it, fix it, and move on. But then there are those who seem committed to staying a jerk forever. Perhaps you have someone in mind?? Not surprisingly, this being the land of lawyers, the courts have finally weighed in on whether employees have the legally protected right of being a jerk at work. It is not a sweeping High Court ruling, but it is the next best thing, and managers of jerks should take heart. Cantankerous The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that being … [Read More...]

Top 5 reasons new hires say they quit their jobs


A study by software company BambooHR found that one in three people have quit a job within the first six months. The firm surveyed 1,005 U.S. employees over the age of 24 to learn if they’d quit a job, why they quit, and what which onboarding efforts might have kept them around longer. Here are the top five reasons U.S. workers gave for leaving new jobs: Bad career move: They were deciding on a career, and didn't like the one they’d chosen. Not as advertised: The job description didn't accurately reflect the position. Boss was a jerk: Doesn't require further explanation. Insufficient training: Employee felt they were put to work without adequate tools. Job was zero fun:  Work was never amusing, engaging, uplifting, inspiring - or even remotely fun.  Onboarding … [Read More...]

How long must you keep a red grouper fish? Ask your CPA


It’s good advice for companies to keep tax records for 7 years, internal audits for 6 and bank deposit slips for 3. So then, how long do you keep a red grouper fish? Hint: It's species Epinephelus morio? That may seem amusing, but it's no joke to small-time commercial fisherman John L. Yates, who may one day set the record for the most arcane, real-life, record-keeping-and-retention violation. Yates tossed a small crate of allegedly undersized red grouper overboard -- and wound up in front of the United States Supreme Court for doing so! It’s been said that a bad day fishing beats a good day at work. It’s a safe bet Yates doesn't feel that way - not after what happened to him. You think you have it bad? Here’s the perplexing (and short) story of federal record-keeping rules … [Read More...]