Problems at Work 11: Saying or Writing Too Much

Blah Blah BlahWe share another problem at work that could lose your job or stall your career

Saying or writing too much raises concerns with supervisors. It occupies too much of their time listening to or reading your communications. Co-workers, managers, and others begin to avoid people who monopolize too much of their time. You do not receive prime assignments or invitations to major work teams if people want to avoid you.

Examples of Communicating Too Much and Consequences

Let me share two examples of people who failed to recognize this trait and the consequences:

Liz

Liz managed a division of a nonprofit organization. Her competence and good ideas increased her reputation with management. Unfortunately, Liz frequently sent her ideas to management in 3-6 page emails or memos. Directors and executives initially waded through the exorbitant number of words and pages. She shared a lot of good ideas. However, the length of her messages outweighed their benefit.

As a result, management ignored many of her good ideas. She never received a promotion in 15 years.

Peter

Peter, an architectural draftsman, started a new job with a prestigious firm. They appreciated the quality of his drafting and technical skills with AutoCAD. His supervisor recognized that he finished work ahead of deadlines. The supervisor did not appreciate how much of his time Peter occupied giving answers. Peter tended to talk a lot. He would take 15-20 minutes answering one question or talking to his supervisor, co-workers, and clients. He did not notice how much he talked.

One morning 3 month’s into the job, Peter’s supervisor, a human resource representative, and another member of management met with Peter and terminated his employment.

Tips to Overcome Talking Too Much

You may try several tactics to change your behavior and stop talking too much:

  • Review all written emails, messages or reports and reduce their length by half
  • Resist the urge to comment on every topic in meetings or conversations
  • Ask a colleague to signal you when you talk too long or longer than needed

.Friday we explore how backstabbing and guerilla tactics can cost you your job

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Problems at Work 10: Do Not Criticize Your Supervisors

Four FacesThis is another post examining problems at work that could lose your job or stall your career

Before we begin, let’s review the three key actions you need to do to keep your job and earn the biggest raises and the best promotions: 1) do the job they want done—and more, 2) fit into the team and organization, and 3) prove a good return on investment. Today, I want to explore one aspect that afflicts many workers or employees.

Reasons You May Judge Your Supervisors

You may justify criticizing your supervisors for several reasons:

  • You cannot see the value of the direction they move the company
  • You disagree with how they treat their clients, employees, or others
  • You see a better way to run the company
  • You recognize problems in the company that nobody accepts
  • Other employees draw you into their negative discussions
  • You do not accept strategic or operational changes they propose
  • Personality conflicts just create negative feelings about someone

Perhaps you don’t voice your criticism. You feel you hide your feelings. You think no one knows how you feel. You perceive that your smile and countenance masks that you do not like nor respect them. Unfortunately, your negativity usually communicates. Very few people can conceal their mental criticisms. The people around you will sense your criticism.

Benefits of Judging or Criticizing Your Supervisor

I will admit that you may identify possible benefits to your criticism:

  • Your comments will highlight what needs to change to important people
  • Others will accept your ideas or criticism and accept your ideas
  • You can say “I told you so” when their approach fails
  • Venting clears your feelings, frustrations, and pain

Consequences of Judging or Criticizing Your Supervisor

While the rationalizations listed above may bring temporary satisfaction, they ultimately ruin relationships. Continued bad feelings verify that you:

  • Don’t fit into the team or organization
  • Hesitate to do the job they want done
  • Resist direction and instruction
  • Do not have a future in their organization

Wednesday we will discuss how talking too much can lose your job or stall your career

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Work-Life Balance 9: Balance Does Not Mean Equal

Pie Chart Work Life BalanceThis concludes our series on achieving a balance between your work and your life

This post should have come earlier in the series. We alluded to it in the second part of the series with reference to articles by CBS and Forbes. This post will clarify that balance does not mean equality. You will not equalize time spent in your work, family, personal, and civic life. You cannot, so do not expect it. Balance more closely resembles a pie chart representing time spent areas of life you choose.

You Cannot Achieve Equality

A week consists of seven 24-hour days or 168 hours. Certain activities demand specific amounts of time. You probably need to spend:

  • 40-50 hours for work: Most of us require at least that many to keep up with the bills
  • 42-55 hours for sleep: Some get by with as little as 5 hours a night, most need 7-9
  • 15-20 hours for hygiene and eating: Some take more, others take less
  • 63 hours for everything else: cleaning, commuting, entertainment, social, and private

Sleeping and working dominate our week. You cannot expect equality when just working, sleeping, eating, and showering consume more than two thirds of our time.

Work-life balance does not imply equality. Work-life balance means finding time for the priorities in our life.

You Can Achieve Balance

Balance occurs when certain exertions compensate for others physically, mentally, and emotionally. Luckily some activities rejuvenate more than others. One hour playing racquetball, running, or climbing rocks satisfies much more than the same hour at work. You achieve work-life balance when enough other priorities compensate for the priorities you cannot control as easily.

In Conclusion

While equality will elude you, you find balance using the applications taught in our earlier posts:

  • Recognize the importance of finding balance
  • Accept that you can achieve—and deserve—balance
  • Identify your life priorities
  • Focus on the most important life priorities
  • Prioritize you work
  • Act to find your balance
  • Follow-through on your plan
  • Persist until you excel
  • Realize that some aspects always dominate

Join me Monday to examine the aggravation of finding a new job and losing quickly

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Work-Life Balance 8: Achieve Excellence in Balancing

practiceThis continues our series on how to balance your work and life

You will encounter challenges and obstacles when you try to balance your life. Expect them. Do not despair. You can overcome them. My last post shared some techniques to protect your balance. You will make mistakes the first few times you try to use the techniques.

The more you rehearse certain actions, the better you get. The same applies to achieving balance between your work and life. So, keep practicing in real life.

The More You Balance, The Better You Get

The more you use the techniques the better you will get. The better you get at protecting your work-life balance, the more you will achieve balance. Let me share some examples:

  • Sam and his wife recently had their third childe. Sam took six weeks off work to be with his wife and family
  • Sam takes his children’s birthdays off from work to be with them
  • Sam also takes their anniversary off from work
  • Sam also takes time for himself. Recently he and a colleague went to the opening of the Avengers with a business organization they both belong to.

Sam’s first attempts at work-life balance did not work out well. He did not give up when his boss prevented him from taking off early for a 2-year olds son’s pre-school event. He continued asking to attend certain events until he asked very well.

Do Not Abuse the Situation

You should not abuse balancing your work-life. Recognize that while you protect your life, you also fulfill obligations. Companies expect employees to work the agreed upon hours—and maybe a few more. Work-life balance does not imply you work less than the commitment.

Sam either works additional hours to compensate for taking off, or he claims it as leave. Employers complain about workers who

  • Demand to work fewer hours a week
  • Complain the employer expects them to finish too much work in the remaining hours
  • Expect the employer to hire other employees to do the work they cannot finish

Friday we will analyze how balance does not include equality

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Work-Life Balance 7: Follow-Through on Your Plan

protectThis continues our series exploring how to balance your work-life

You will not achieve balance if you fail to follow-through. Follow-through includes doing what you say will do, protecting the time so that nobody unbalances your life, and knowing when to shift things rather than bombing them.

Do What You Say You Will

You recognize the importance, the integrity, of following through on commitments you make to others. You handle any distraction, interruption, or problem that impose on a meeting with your boss, clients, or other important people in your life.

Yet, how much importance or integrity do you attach to the commitments you make to yourself? You probably feel perfectly comfortable scheduling a meeting or activity on top of one you schedule for yourself. You need to recognize that you deserve as much respect and importance as you give your boss or client.

If you say you will do something for yourself—do it.

Protect Your Time

You need techniques and skills to protect your time. You schedule meetings with your spouse, family or yourself. Then, someone calls and wants that time. What do you do?

Panic if you have not developed the skills to protect the time. Practice some of these techniques:

  • Say “I already have an appointment at that time. Could we schedule it for…”
  • Describe what you are doing on their side of the balance, ask what they want you to stop doing for this additional piece.
  • Negotiate what they will give you in exchange for what you sacrifice for them
  • Learn to feel comfortable protecting your balance

Shift Activities Rather than Bomb Them

Frequently, we eliminate the original scheduled event or activity when someone asks for the time. You can maintain balance if you train yourself to shift rather than eliminate activities. For example, if work really does require you to stay late on the night you were taking your wife out to dinner, then shift dinner into a time that business had occupied, make it lunch instead.

Wednesday will explore how to increase your excellence in balancing your work and your life

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Work-Life Balance 6: You Must Act to Find Balance

Take Action CheerThis continues our series exploring how to balance your work and your life

CBS and Forbes listed several reasons in their articles listed in the second post of this series. Today, we will examine three reasons people do not achieve work-life balance. Joseph Smith explained three principles (v29) that can stop you from doing good in this world (balancing work-life among other good):

  • Don’t do anything
  • Do it with doubt
  • Do it poorly

Don’t Do Anything

Obviously, you will not balance work-life if you do nothing. A lot of people fail to choose what they want to include in their balance. The Cheshire Cat told Alice that it didn’t matter what road she took  if she didn’t care where she was going. You must:

  • Start steering your boat (an act) rather than drifting with the tides
  • Define what you want to include (an act) in your balance to achieve satisfaction
  • Reserve time (an act) in your calendar for the activities that matter most
  • Protect your schedule (an act) to ensure you don’t follow someone else’s agenda

Do it with doubt

Doubt remains the second reason people do not find balance in their lives. People find several things to doubt:

  • Too many people doubt they can achieve balance
  • Another majority doubt that they deserve joy or satisfaction in life
  • Many people doubt the process they need to follow to achieve balance
  • Others people doubt the people who say they found balance
  • A lot of people doubt that their employer will listen to them

Do it poorly

The last big obstacle remains your competence to achieve balance. You need to perform certain tasks excellently to create your balance.:

  • Build the emotional bank account with your company, family, & others so they listen
  • Communicate why you cannot travel for business the week of your child’s birthday
  • Convince others why you need to protect a time you scheduled for me time

You must do something, do it with faith, and do it with excellence to balance work-life.

Monday we will explore another angle to balancing your life with your work—follow through

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Work-Life Balance 5: What to Balance on the Work Side

What do you want to doThis continues my series on balancing your work and your life to achieve peace or satisfaction

Most people focus on what they want to balance their life . People generally feel incapable of controlling their work life. While regimentation increased in the last decade, you can still exercise a great influence on what you do at work. Obviously, taking control of your careers remains a major theme of my blog. I believe we can find satisfaction if we prepare, work hard, and communicate effectively with management . Today’s post reflects those beliefs.

Today’s Demeaning and Domineering Corporate Culture

Today’s global corporate culture generally restricts, dominates, and diminishes individual efforts and contributions. Many companies view employees as expendable expenditures rather than assets that grow the company. Even once nurturing companies changed.

They replaced incentives, generous salary increases, pensions and health benefits with standards of conduct, invasions of privacy, phone conversations, and workplace surveillance. Today’s human resource department concentrates on adherence and compliance rather than career development and enhancement.

You Can Still Find Your Balance in the Workplace

You can do what you want if you know what that is. For example, you can:

  • Identify the skills, abilities, or responsibilities you most want to perform
  • Maneuver your job to spend more time on those things you like
  • Collaborate with others who like doing the skills and activities you dislike the most
  • Identify the projects, assignments, and teams that would please you most
  • Demonstrate you could contribute effectively to those assignments
  • Communicate your contributions, ROI, and desires to management effectively

In addition to taking control of changing what you do at work, you can find more enjoyment in what you are already doing:

  • Determine the meetings, collaborations, and conversations you enjoy
  • Identify people, groups, co-workers, clients, and suppliers you want to be with
  • Find another job (remember they will not be advertised) and walk away from this one

You have to know what you want to do, before you can start spending more time doing it.

Friday we will begin discussions on how you can start doing more of what you want to do

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Work-Life Balance 5: Focus on the Most Important First

calendarThis continues our discussion on effectively balancing your work and your life

Hopefully, you decided what parts of your life and your work you want to include in your balance. Now we will explore ways to achieve the balance you desire. The next few posts will outline actions that you can take to ensure that you include what you want from both life and work. 

Define Your Roles and Goals

I recommend you use Stephen Covey’s Roles and Goals concept to structure what balance you wish to achieve. You define no more than 7 roles you play in life.  For example, I define the following 7 roles:

  1. A Son of God
  2. Me, a human being
  3. My wife’s husband
  4. Father and Grandfather
  5. Son and Sibling
  6. Career Expert
  7. Professional speaker, author, and head of the Larry Stevenson Group

Then set goals for each of the roles. Once again examples:

  • As a husband, I want to spend time with my wife on her birthday, my birthday, our anniversary, each Friday evening, and to go visit our grandchildren
  • As a father I took annual leave for each of my children’s birthday’s, graduations, recitals, games, performances, and special days

I would consider each role, each goal, and then estimated the time for each role and goal.

Put the Big Stones in First

Stephen Covey’s metaphor for Putting 1st Things 1st applies to this section. So I advise you to watch this clip about pitting the big rocks in first:

Take time during an appropriate season (I use the week between Christmas and New Years Day) to schedule priorities into your calendar:

  1. Religious days to worship my God
  2. Special days and dates with my wife
  3. Birthdays, special events, & performance of my children & now grandchildren
  4. Me time
  5. Birthdays, reunions, & important days for my parents and siblings
  6. Important meetings, events, deadlines, and dates for work
  7. Scheduled speeches, deadlines, trips, and meetings for my business

These scheduled events rarely move. I will explain how I protect them in a later post.

Friday we will reveal why people doubt or do not complete this crucial step

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Work-Life Balance 4: What Do You Want to Balance

IMG_1321This continues our series outlining how to balance your work and your life

We have already shown how the definitions of work-life balance differ between the employer’s or the employee’s perceptions. The objectives of balance differ between genders, marital or family status, age, and more. We also shared opinions on whether or not you can achieve balance. We will examine what exactly you want to balance. We will begin with what you want from life. Our next post will explore what about work draws us.

Determine What Life Expectations You Wish to Balance

You cannot balance work and life until you understand what you want to put in the balance on the life side. For example, I crave serving society. I remember when my 8 year tenure as a community leader ended. Someone asked “So what will you do for fun, now that you have the time?” I wanted cry out “They just took away what I do for fun!” That happened in 1994. I’m still trying to find what I do for fun.

You select what you want to place in the life side of the balance scales. Choices may include:

  • Spend more time with family
    • Camping, traveling, skiing, sailing, rock climbing, flying, or skydiving
    • Picnics or walks in the park, mountains, forests, by the river or the sea
    • Movies, theater, museums, concerts, dancing, or galleries
    • Stay at home to play games, learn, laugh, sword fight or do puzzles
    • Talk, dialogue, share, understand, and read
    • Serve in soup kitchens, food banks, hospitals, or community programs
    • Visit or entertain family, neighbors, friends, elderly, shut-ns, or others
  • Spend more time on my personal interests and activities
    • You can also do all of the things I listed above by yourself
    • Read or write books, articles, blogs, poetry, or other literary endeavors
    • Research family, political, national, or world history
    • Take a nap, go to bed early, wake up early, or just stare out a window
    • Meditate, ponder, exercise, practice yoga, tai chi, or just relax

Wednesday we will explore what things you want to do at work that you may not be doing

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Work-Life Balance 3: Can You Achieve Balance in Life?

Balance Work & LifeThis continues our series exploring how to achieve balance between your work and your life

We already explored the different ways people define work-life balance and why we benefit when we find it. Before we continue to discuss how to balance work and life, I want to share some views expressed by CBS and Forbes. These prestigious organizations published several articles on the subject. I want to share their opinions before we go farther.

CBS’s Varying Viewpoints

I must clarify that CBS ran an article on November 22. 2011 called The Best Way to Achieve Healthy Work-Life Balance. On December 14, 2011 they ran another article titled Why Work-Life Balance is a Crock. They ran a third article on January 26, 2012 titled A Different Approach to Work-Life Balance.

I quote the December 14 article. “Business owners constantly struggle to create a clear separation between work and “life.” But how do you do that when your business is an extension of you? You will bring work home. You will get calls at night. You will often be preoccupied. That’s how owning a business works.”

They describe that the issues usually concern the lack of time spent with your family. “Your family resents your business at least partly because they don’t feel like they’re part of something that is a driving force in your life. They may feel neglected, but they also feel left out.”

The article suggest steps to include the family and not exclude them:

  • Hire your family
  • Take them along on business trips
  • Ask for their advice
  • Discuss your failures
  • Reincorporate work and personal interests

Forbes’ Fascination with Work-Life Balance

Forbes Magazine published 7 articles since January 17, 2012. Their titles include:

The articles express several contrasting of work-life balance.

Tuesday we will continue our discussion by defining what you want in your balanced scales

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