Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tips on how to deal with your kind of boss

Over the years I've worked for a number of bosses. 

One of the best bosses I ever had was also one of the worst. As a teenager I worked in the kitchen of a curling club. My boss was a renowned chef who once worked as the official chef of the prime minister's residence. He was a fantastic cook and he taught me a great deal about gourmet food including a few of his famous recipes - but he had a bad habit of throwing pots. Not fits, pots. When things were going great he was nicest boss in the world but if someone screwed up - like forgetting to garnish a plate or cut a lobster tail correctly - he would grab a pot and toss it. Then he would smile and carry on. So, it was only a problem for those who didn't duck, no pun intended.

What kind of boss do you have?

There are at least a dozen different kinds, according to Geoffrey James, author of "Business without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets to Shortcuts You Need to Know" (Grand Central Publishing, $27) and just as many ways to get along with them. "Everyone needs a field guide to identify which type of boss they've got and how to get the most out of the experience," said James.
Shown here are a few examples noted by James along with tips on how to get along with each of them:

The Visionary

These bosses are more concerned with the future than what might be happening her and now. They manage by creating or hoping to create a group of team players who believe they can accomplish the impossible.

A visionary boss will provide incentives such as bonuses and while they can be fun to work for they can also be intolerant, overly critical and sometimes throw tantrums when they don't get their way.

If you're working for a Visionary boss James recommends you drink the Kool-Aid. Work the long hours and learn to repeat this mantra: "This product will change the world."


The Climber

What can you do for his or her career is what the climber boss wants to know? A Climber boss spends a great deal of their time and effort working on strategies that will win brownie points with his or her bosses, claim credit and build alliances. They are most worried about their own career and see you only as a help or hindrance.

So, if you're working for a Climber be their helper or the person who has their back when another Climber tries to stab it.

The Bureaucrat

Everything is by the book with this kind of boss. And since the book has already been written and is working just fine -- they are most likely to resist change. The bureaucrat boss usually thrives at a large corporation but tends to falter in smaller firms because the lack of a crowd makes it too obvious when they really aren't doing all that much said James.

If you're working for a Bureaucrat get everything in writing and limit your activities to what has been done in the past or ask before proceeding in a new direction. Since Bureaucrat bosses can squelch your creativity find a way to work on projects outside of the job.

The Propeller Head

"When engineers get into the management chain they bring a technology-oriented worldview with them. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean you'll be judged almost entirely on your technical competence," said James. "The Propeller Head boss prefers employees who are experts in some technical field - the more obscure the better.

If you're working for a Propeller Head become well-versed in nerdy pop culture references.


The Fogey

The Fogey boss is someone who has been around when your business first got started but tends to be out-of-touch with now. "Fogeys who are close to retirement are often quite jovial and easy-going; those who must continue to work because they can't afford to retire can be meaner than dyspeptic weasels," James warns.

"If you're working for a Fogey, don't assume that every duffer is a doofus. Reassure your boss that he's still relevant and then recruit him as a mentor."

The Whippersnapper

Opposite of the Fogey boss is the barely-out-of-college go-getter Whippersnapper boss assigned to manage a group of seasoned employees. "Whippersnappers are energetic, enthusiastic, but secretly afraid that nobody is taking them seriously," James said.

"If you're working for a Whippersnapper, respond enthusiastically to the energy (he or she) brings to their job and never, ever remind them of their relative inexperience," James said.

The Social Director

They are the kind of bosses who consider personal interactions in the workplace as important as the work itself. If you're attending a lot of meetings or having to offer up your opinion and idea on a lot of matters that might not concern you chances are you're working for a Social Director.

If you are James recommends building alliances and garnering support for your ideas or work before letting the boss know what you have planned. Also, be the one who brings the donuts to the meeting said James.

The Dictator

A lot of people might cringe at a boss who uses the adage, my way or the highway" but there are advantages. For one, they make decisions quickly and without over-analyzing things. Having said that they can also be impervious to outside opinion and stubborn when it comes to change. "When they fail, it's usually on an epic scale," James said.

If you're working for a Dictator boss just follow orders and hope for the best. James also recommends having your resume ready in case the Dictator drives your organization over a cliff.


The Lost Lamb

When one boss leaves another person takes their place. In some cases this person is not really a boss but somebody to hold the fort.

The Lost Lamp proceeds as if nothing happen. All polices that were previously followed remain in place and dread doing anything that might lead the herd astray or create problems once they're pushed back into the ranks.

If you're working for a Lost Lamb stick to the plan and do your job as you normally would without forcing your manager to make any difficult decisions.


The Hero Boss

A Hero boss prefers to coach others and has no problem with them getting all the credit. They know their employees and they utilize their skills to achieve things that make the entire company look good. "Heroes always give their teams credit for the wins but take personal responsibility for the losses," James said. These one-of-a-kind bosses still follow the old adage "the buck stops here."

If you're working for a Hero boss take notes so you can be this kind of boss. Also, enjoy the time you have with this boss because chances are he or she will be promoted upward or be recruited to work elsewhere.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Make 2015 your best year yet with a 'one word' resolution

A student at Hudsonville High School displays her one word resolution (photo courtesy of getoneword.com).

New Year’s resolutions could become a thing of the past. 

That is, if the 88 percent of Americans who failed to achieve their goals in 2014 find a better approach for 2015.

“This year, choose a single word that will give mean, focus, and purpose to your life,” said Dan Britton, coauthor along with Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon of the popular self-help book, “One Word That Will Change Your Life,” ($20, Wiley/getoneword.com). “No matter how busy or stressed you are, or how many distractions and obligations are fighting for your attention, it’s easy to remember one word. Believe it or not one word has the power to impact your life so much more than a laundry list of resolutions.”
The three authors have been practicing the “one word” strategy for almost 20 years and as motivational speakers have shared their process with numerous audiences, companies, professional sports teams and schools with great success. A visit to their website reveals numerous photos of sports teams and students expressing their one word resolution and success stories.

“Your one word represents the essence of what you want to accomplish during the year, but instead of burdening you with a list of tasks to do, it keeps you focused on an overarching concept of how to be,” said Jon Gordon. “No matter what slings and arrows life throws your way, your one word can endure and adapt.”
Gordon’s one word for 2014 for example was “serve.”

“(This) inspired him to approach his work and family with a servant’s heart and to put others’ needs before his own,” explained Britton. “And mine was ‘one.’ Unfortunately, leaders often focus on how many they are impacting instead of on how they are impacting each individual. My word reminded me that great leaders, care about each person and invest in one relationship at a time.”
A Hudsonville High School student (getoneword.com).
So what one word will you choose?

As Britton explained the key to picking the right word is to make time for reflection, introspection, meditation and prayer when considering what you want your one word to be. “Think about the positive changes you’d like to see in your life, bad habits you’d like to break, and goals you have for yourself. Look inward and ask important questions like, ‘What do I need? What do I want?’ Then see if any common values or themes or specific words bubble up.”

The authors also suggest listening to your intuition when picking your one word for 2015.

Sometimes we tend to overthink things. While it’s a serious commitment the point is not to make your “one word” impressive or extraordinary but rather influential and impactful for you.

“A few years ago, I absolutely couldn’t decide whether I wanted my one word to be ‘surrender' or 'enjoy'” said Gordon. “While jumping into the ocean on New Year’s Day, which I do every year, I felt a sharp pain in my knee and had trouble walking out of the surf. I thought to myself, not a great way to start the year – maybe I’m pushing myself too hard. As I reached the shore, I heard the word ‘surrender’ loud and clear. My intuition had spoken and I listened. I knew it was my word.

It’s also important to figure out what your one word looks like in real life. Think beyond the word’s obvious definition and what it might look like when applied to your life.

“While you may have intended your one word to apply to a specific area of your life, chances are, its sphere of positive influence is much wider,” explained Page. “For example if your one word is invest, it might prompt you not only to be a good steward of your money but to invest more emotional capital in your family and to invest some time in your professional growth.”

Your one word should be visible on a daily basis. Consider posting your one word on the refrigerator or a bedroom mirror. Your reminder could be as simple as a sticky note or as elaborate as a decorative poster.

“Over the years, my coauthors and I have seen people get really creative with depicting their one words,” said Britton. “Some people have depicted their word in jewelry. We know of corporate teams who each write their word on wooden spoons that they take back to their desks. And every New Year’s Eve, my family and I paint our words on small canvases and hang them on a wall of our home.”

A collection of one word examples from Hidden Lakes Elementary (photo courtesy getoneword.com).

Encourage others to join you.

“Imagine the impact if everyone in your family or team helped each other live their words,” Gordon said. “My wife, son, daughter and I share our words with each other every year. It’s inspiring to see the word everyone chooses and how it shapes their lives throughout the year.”

It’s not necessary but keeping a record or journal of your one word progress can be a great way to reflect back a few years from now. 

“At the end of the year it’s helpful to perform a one word review,” notes Page. “Consider the past 365 days and ask yourself, ‘How has my life changed because of my one word? What lessons did it teach me this year? What blessings did it bring to my life?’ Even though I’ve been living the one word process for almost two decades, I’m always surprised by how much my word has impacted my life when I look back on the previous year. And it’s nice to have a record of how my words have helped me grow, achieve and learn.”

“One Word That Will Change Your Life, Expanded Edition” authors Dan Britton, Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon offer the following list of potential “one words” to inspire you in 2015: