We know that advocating for yourself at the office is essential, but how you do it determines your success.
I recently had lunch with a C level executive at a public company. She had been promoted to COO and her new role included overseeing a number of additional departments. I listened as she described her first one on one meetings with her new direct reports.
Some walked into this initial meeting explaining that they had always admired her work and had been waiting for a chance to work together. As expected, she talked excitedly about these people.
And then there was one department head who immediately got off on the wrong foot. He was an executive who had until now, been reporting to the CEO, so this recent reorganization, with a new layer between them, felt like a demotion to him.
Upon first hearing that he would no longer be reporting to the CEO, the executive had set a meeting with the CEO to express his concern about no longer reporting to her. The CEO addressed his concerns, was unmoved by his arguments, and made no changes.
The CEO then prepped the COO about this executive’s unhappiness with the new arrangement. On the day of the COO’s first meeting with this executive, he entered the room and began with, “Well, you know I think this is a terrible idea…” He then proceeded to make a case as to why he should continue to report to the CEO.
He spent the entire meeting complaining to his new boss and not surprisingly, launched them into a negative relationship, one that will be hard to recover from in the future. Now he is not only contending with a new layer between him and the CEO, but a new manager that has distaste for him.
His mistake wasn’t in speaking up; it was in how he did it.
If we could have scripted these events for him, he would have changed course after his initial meeting with the CEO. He would have entered the new boss’ office with a positive attitude and explained that even though he initially had some concerns, he now understands the reasoning behind the move. He would then use their initial meeting to discuss how they could work together most successfully. His mistake wasn’t in speaking up, it was in not knowing when to stop.
Here are the seven keys to speaking up smartly:
1. Address the Problem Quickly
When you feel a need to speak up, do it immediately. Decisions in a company are built off of one another. Once one thing is set in motion, it leads to others, and you don’t want the implementing of yet another decision to prevent a change to the first one.
2. Go to the Right Person
In a large company, this means go to your direct boss or human resources. When there is no strict organizational chart, go to the decision maker. Approach this person in a private setting, ideally in a pre-planned one on one meeting.
3. Put Your Attitude On
Regardless of the outcome, this meeting will leave an impression. Make sure you approach this with a positive attitude and in a calm and confident manner.
4. Start with Questions
Begin the meeting by asking questions aimed at understanding the reasoning behind the decision. This might give you new information to help your position.
5. Focus on the Benefits to the Company
When speaking up, come prepared with reasons that benefit the business. These should not include your self-serving reasons like mortgage payments or your sick parent. They need to be for the good of the company. If your argument does not help the company, there is no sense in making it.
6. Avoid Badmouthing
If you need to shed light on a colleague, do it through anecdotes rather than your subjective description.
7. Don’t Mope
If the conversation doesn’t go as planned, adjust quickly. This doesn’t mean you need to drop the battle, it just means you need to snap on an outwardly positive attitude. Moping around the office never yields anything but an unprofessional label that will be hard to shake.
As working moms, we have some unavoidable time constraints which can lead to extreme performance pressure. How we behave at the office can make a world of difference to our success:
1. Limit the Family Photos
Having more than two photos on your desk makes people think that you would rather be somewhere else. (Double standard alert – for men, family photos have the opposite effect.)
2. Don’t Complain About Your Personal Life
Nobody at work needs to hear about your child’s stomachache, the babysitter who called in sick or the play date gone awry. Save it for close friends and make sure the rare personal phone calls are kept at a low volume. When colleagues ask about your family, keep it light and feel free to tell a funny story.
3. Maintain a Neat Desk
People are stereotyping about how busy your life is so don’t give them a visual reason to assume you can’t handle it all.
4. Be a Self-Promoter
When you or a member of your team succeeds, make sure people know. You aren’t going to win the hours game but you can ace the results game.
5. Make Work Friends
Take the time to create and maintain these friendships. They play a dual role of fulfilling you socially and being your eyes and ears within the company.
6. Attend the Office Party
More happens at office social events than we realize. To maintain your relevance and status within the company, treat work social events as anything but optional.
7. Opt Out of Office Gossip
It is a high stakes game and you have too much on the line. Just don’t do it.
8. Maintain a Structured Schedule
Have a consistent in and out time each day. If you aim to leave work by 5:20 and colleagues know that, they are less apt to schedule a 5pm meeting.
9. Network Outside of Your Company
You need to play long ball which means that networking should be a priority. Those industry contacts can be pivotal to your future career security.
Chances are you have never accomplished your New Year’s resolutions. By June, 54% of people have abandoned theirs and by the end of year, just forget about it. So instead of pie-in-the-sky resolutions that require unrealistic leaps, focus on small lifestyle changes with achievable and permanent results.
Here are the top five New Year’s Resolutions and how to replace them:
1. Lose Weight
The number one New Year’s resolution is losing weight yet 95% of dieters regain the weight they lose. So why torture yourself? As a would-be dieter, if you make small lifestyle changes instead of dramatic deprivations, you will achieve greater success. According to Dr. James Beckerman, cardiologist and author of The Flex Diet, “The two most effective behaviors are easy and free: weigh yourself daily (and write it down), and keep a food diary. It’s about making mindfulness part of your routine. Both behaviors are proven to help people lose more weight than dieting.”
2. Get Organized
If your grand plan is to get organized, you might have dreams of filing every last piece of paperwork, putting all of our online photos into albums, and more. Instead, organizational expert Julie Morgenstern recommends changing your ways for the future: “When you finish using something, place it back in it’s home immediately. Instead of thinking of it as ‘putting it away,’ think of it as ‘setting it up for it’s next use.’”
3. Spend Less, Save More
To bring this grand statement back to reality, two finance experts weigh in. Farnoosh Torabi recommends that you: “Check your bank balance daily. You need to know where you stand so you can make healthier choices.” Daily Worth founder Amanda Steinberg offers this: “Make sure you’re moving your savings into an actual savings account. Money moved to a separate savings account is less likely to be spent. So much of fluidity comes from proactively saving for things like summer camp months and months in advance.”
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Resolving to enjoy life to the fullest because it is January 1 is a little bit like waiting for a tragedy to appreciate your life. To not live a full life with what you already have is like buying a new car and only using 20% of its features. Therapist Robi Ludwig suggests you incorporate your dreams into your daily life. “First write down what your dream is. If your goal is to be in a satisfying relationship, break down your goal into small and manageable steps: i.e. Let your friends know you’re interested in being matched up and join an online dating site.”
5. Stay Fit and Healthy
As much as we would love to start working out tomorrow (and five times a week!), it doesn’t usually happen that way. 60% of gym memberships go unused despite the optimism resolution makers feel in January. So this year, why not take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk your child to school instead of driving him. Fitness guru Gunnar Peterson lets us in on a magic wellness tip: ”Make sleep your priority for one month, get as close to eight hours every night and see how you feel/look/perform in the gym, at work, as a parent and a spouse. You’ll be amazed.”
So scratch those resolutions and turn to these small lifestyle changes to yield the giant 2013 results you seek.
by Samantha Ettus
Public speaking is an essential skill — not just for CEOs and Oscar winners — but for each and every one of us. Whether you are asked to give a toast at a wedding, say a few words at a birthday dinner, nail a sales presentation, or speak to the student body, might as well shoot for the stars.
Here are 21 steps to mastery:
1. Dress to Stand Out
When spotted in the crowd, don’t blend in. Be a touch dressier than the audience and wear a bright color or at least a bold accessory.
2. Be Aware of Your Body
Stand tall with your shoulders back, unclench your fists and take a deep breath. Great posture more on Forbes…
When Marissa Mayer was announced as the new Yahoo! CEO yesterday, there was a collective wow. A 37 year old woman! An engineer! Another role model – in Silicon Valley, a place in dire need of more women in top positions. And then a little part of me got greedy and thought, can you imagine if she were a mom too? We could watch as she juggled and managed her inevitably hectic life.
But then last night news broke that Marissa Mayer is six months pregnant. This is too good to be true! Why should we care? Because women all over this country who seek employment while pregnant worry, obsess and hide their growing stomachs with the valid fear that they will be discriminated against. And now Yahoo! has hired a six months pregnant woman to run their 20 Billion dollar company.
One Yahoo! employee I spoke with more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Last week was the end of year Parent’s Day at pre-school. The teachers playfully interviewed each four year old with a few questions including: “What does your Mommy do while you are at school?” and “What does your Daddy do while you are at school?” I had a work event so my husband attended for both of us and he called me when it was over. He was disturbed.
He reported that the answers for what the dads do were almost unanimously: “Goes to work” and the answers for what the moms do during school were: “Goes to yoga. Meets her friend for lunch. Shops.”
One day later my oldest daughter’s Kindergarten yearbook arrived in the mail. It is a beautiful book with a page devoted to more on Forbes…
Hilary Rosen should be apologizing for what she didn’t say – not for what she did.
I once met Mitt Romney at a fundraiser I was invited to by a friend of mine who has always been involved in his campaigns. I had attended many political events but this one was unlike any I had been to before. The difference? I was one of four women in a room full of more than 200 people. It was startling. When more than 50% of voters are women, why was his campaign ignoring them?
And now here we are, years later, in a debate about Mitt’s wife, Ann Romney, and Democrats are tripping over themselves to apologize and make amends for a misworded statement made by one more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Jennifer Lopez’ scantily clad body wasn’t the only brand faux pas she made the night of the 2011 American Music Awards. It is her trouble laden Fiat ad that has brand watchers talking.
Until now, the criticism has been centered on whether Jenny from the Block drove the Fiat herself – she didn’t. (They used a body double.) And whether they shot on the Bronx streets where she grew up – they didn’t. (It was shot on an LA set.)
Yet the production choices are not the problems. Plenty of ads have been shot with body doubles and on movie sets. After all, Jennifer Lopez is an actress and Hollywood replaces cities with more production-friendly locations all the time.
The more disturbing aspect of this ad is its lack of authenticity. Do you believe that Jennifer Lopez drives a Fiat? Does anyone? The ad is ridiculous because it pairs a larger than life movie star, known for her expensive more on Forbes…
by Samantha Ettus
Let’s review Charlie Sheen’s personal brand: TV star, drug addict, repeat domestic violence offender, and father of five with a penchant for prostitutes.
Put this way, isn’t it weird that you are following him on Twitter and spending your precious evenings watching him on ABC’s 20/20?
If you are enjoying this moment, you are being bamboozled by the new brand of Charlie Sheen. Jeff Jarvis makes a strong case for why the media shouldn’t interview Charlie: “Nuts aren’t news.” And now I too implore you to stop watching, following and quoting Sheen in the same way you recite lines from Spinal Tap. With Charlie Sheen reaching one million Twitter followers in record time, it is no longer just the media enabling Sheen; we are enabling him too.
In the early days, Sheen enjoyed a James Dean-ish red carpet image, but he gradually began to take on the persona of Ozzy Osbourne during his bad boy heyday. And now he has gone completely dark – hitting unprecedented lows even for the notoriously forgiving more on Forbes…
by Liz Pulliam Weston
The nesting instinct can cause expecting parents to embark on all kinds of expensive preparations. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself blowing thousands of dollars on furniture, clothing, equipment, and other purchases before the tot even arrives.
The key to surviving this period with your financial health intact is to have a plan and stick to it. Otherwise, the $4 billion baby products industry and your own oscillating emotions will lure you into overspending.
Here’s your plan of attack:
Factor in your fixed costs. Talk to your insurer or hospital about how much of the delivery costs you’ll be expected to shoulder. Find out how much it will cost to add your new child to your health insurance. Explore child-care options and costs if you’ll be returning to work Adjust your budget to reflect these expenses. If you decide to stay home, you can determine how your forgone salary will impact your financial situation. You may discover that you aren’t missing out on as much income as you thought, once taxes, commuting costs, and child-care expenses are factored in.
Figure out what items you really need–and what you don’t. Talk to experienced parents, consult some guidebooks, and use the Internet to compile your must-have list, along with the expected price of each item. Don’t assume that if a baby store stocks a product you have to have it; many parents discover the money they spent on a coordinated linen set or a deluxe wipes warmer would have been better invested in a college fund.
Accept donations. Your friends and family may start offering their hand-me-down baby gear as soon as you announce that you’re pregnant; take them up on their offers after making sure the stuff meets current safety standards. Go easy on buying clothes and stuffed animals. You’ll probably get plenty of both. Your loved ones will likely want to throw you a shower, and you can ask for whatever items haven’t already been donated.
Don’t disdain yard sales and consignment shops. You’ll find a wealth of gently used or even never-used items at a fraction of their retail prices. To sanitize plastic items, use a weak bleach solution or disposable cleaning wipes; clothing and most stuffed toys can be sent through the washing machine.
Consider breastfeeding. The La Leche League estimates the average mother can save $2,000 in her child’s first year by breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not possible, you can reduce formula costs by using coupons, asking your pediatrician for samples, and seeing if you qualify for insurance coverage if your child requires a specialized formula because of allergies.
Diaper defensively. The average child will go through more than 5,000 diapers before potty training is complete, according to Ohio State University estimates. You can save hundreds of dollars by buying generic diapers, using coupons, and taking advantage of sales. Using cloth diapers can also save you money, although some of the savings will be offset by increased laundering costs.
Shop judiciously to fill in the gaps. Bring your list with you on any shopping trips and consider doing research in advance to make sure you’re getting the best prices. Don’t get ahead of yourself; buy only the items you’re sure you’ll use in the first few months after your baby arrives. The tricycle, the videos, and the basketball hoop can wait.
Pay cash. Don’t get in the habit of using credit cards to absorb the extra expenses of a baby or you may find yourself on the road to bankruptcy. Paying cash can provide you with the discipline to stay within your budget and avoid disastrous splurges.
Keep receipts. Maintain a separate folder just for baby-related receipts. You will likely end up raiding it to return unused items.
How about ongoing costs after the child is born? Those will depend on numerous factors, including your lifestyle and the type and amount of child care you might need. Most people should expect their living expenses to rise about 10 percent with every child added to the family. With careful planning you can keep those extra costs from busting your budget.
Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of two books, including Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve, and Protect the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future. She is a personal finance columnist for MSN Money and author of the question-and-answer column “Money Talk,” which appears in newspapers throughout the country. She was formerly a personal finance writer for the Los Angeles Times.