Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Mar 15, 2006

Meeting on the Boss' Bad Habits

Instructor, Caroline Bender
Here's an awkward moment for the new professional or new staff member:
Boss says, "Come have a drink/smoke/bone/lap dance with me and we'll talk about it more."

See how the range of activity suddenly reveals your boundaries?

What's a girl to do?
Miss Bender encountered this scene this morning when New Boss invited her for the privilege of standing in the cold and breathing his smoke while he delivered a briefing that was already complete by the time the elevator hit the lobby. "This is a coveted privilege," he said, "because you will have my full attention."

His lungs, one can assume, would be doing the rest of the work.

My advice on this issue is to gauge the importance of taking a stand. What's your issue?

Are you in recovery?
Maybe this really is a struggle for you, to be around the vice you are trying to kick. And most people with vices are trying to kick them. So maybe you could offer, "I'm trying to quit. Let me catch you when you get back." (or before you go, as suits the situation)

Is it a health issue?
Too cold/hot out, can't be around a lot of people, sprained your ankle.... what have you got?

Is this creeping you out?
Are you afraid people will start saying about you what you heard them saying about the last woman he took out smoking and drinking? For after work events, try "I am expected at home." For mid-workday events, try a different kind of lie. Like you're trying to quit. Or have a health issue. You will have to practice this to have it fresh in your mind. I didn't.

Is it just rude?
Here's where I was. Rude...and annoying to be put in this situation. So I took the meeting. In my youth, I would have smoked as well. But I hear it's bad for you. After I've banked some more credibility with New Boss, I'll decline, with something like the recovery answer, without the recovery part. A full year from now, I'll be able to say something like, "That's no fun for me."

Is that your good cashmere sweater?
Take the meeting and be very annoying about where you stand. Wave your hands a lot and stand about 20 feet away, shifting everytime the wind does. Or ask for a wipe-down of the bar, and refuse to sit on the stool. He won't ask you again.

Do you enjoy such vice?
Then do it. Maybe some good will come of it.

To be fair here, the Boss isn't really testing you. He or she enjoys this activity, and doesn't get it that you don't. Rude, obtuse, inappropriate? Perhaps. But not mean-spirited. Decline nicely, as you would a peer and find a quite escape.

Females executives who like to talk in the stalls will be covered in a different post.


Mar 3, 2006

Last Week on the Job

Instructor, Caroline Bender
Congratulations. You're clearing out. Moving on. One hopes, to greener pastures, but then you thought they were, didn't you? One expects that when you walked into this job, you were focused on making a good impression. You want to keep that same focus as you depart.

In these final 5 days, it is tempting to get a jump on the new thing, which is certainly more interesting to you. We at the BWFS(&SC) want to encourage you to work up to the last day. Leave a clean campsite and please douse all your fires.

Ask for deliverables
What do you need to complete before you go, or what needs to be taken to the next milestone for transition? The Boss has trouble with questions like these, because she doesn't really know your job. Think of it like a preplan for a vacation (from which you will never return). Make sure you also find out who is to receive what you are delivering.

Tie up loose ends
Let your counterparts know who they will deal with once you are gone. If the replacement has been hired, indicate the name and start date. If the seat will remain open, try to identify resources who can fill in what you used to provide. This is a good use of email (not everything is).

Provide clean files
If this is not already in your nature, you not achieve this in a week. No one requires typed labels or color coding. But some sense of categorization and order is the minimal requirement.

Thin your folders.
Some historical reference is appreciated, but not every piece of correspondence is required. This goes for electronic folders as well. Watch out for notes of a personal, snide, nature, which you have scrawled in the margins. Or perhaps Miss Bender is only speaking for herself.

Always be working
(or appear to be) The truth is, if you plan it well, you can complete your work 2 or 3 days before your departure. But try to look busy 9-5. Keep going to your scheduled meetings, unless you are asked not to (you traitor).

Participate in calls, represent your role's concerns, just as if you were in for the long haul. Nothing's worse than a project team short-timer.

Don't pack on company time
I'm sorry to say this will mean staying later. Plan on one hour each day of your last week for every year you have been in this job. If it takes longer than that, you are a pack rat.

Leave personal items on the walls until the very end. Their removal saddens your co-workers.

Now you are ready to go. Files clean and meaningful, colleagues prepared to turn to others, projects transitioned or stable.

Do one last nice thing. Wipe down your desk, dust the monitor, Lysol the phone. New people like to feel expected.

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