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.

Dec 13, 2009

Take This Book to Work (book review)

I stumbled onto this book accidentally, looking for a different Tory Johnson reference for an article we are working on about slary negotiations (coming soon).  The library did not have Johnson's newest work, Fired to Hired, but this volume was available, so I took a look.

Take this Book to Work: How to Ask For (and Get) Money, Fulfillment, and Advancement, was co-written with Robyn Freedman Spizman, known for her advice on creative gift-giving (Giftionary and Make it Memorable).  What began as a poll of working women to discover the "hot-button" issues they face revealed a pattern of reluctance on the part of respondents in all industries, at all levels and ages, to simply ask for the things they want to change.  So much of the frustration underlying workplace issues pointed back to the respondent's silence, or struggle to be understood and respected, and her regret over being unable to solve the problem at hand when she knew exactly what she wanted the outcome to be.

Johnson and Spizman categorize those issues and provide practical, actionable advice, Finishing School style, for issues of
 Getting Hired and On the Job
Professional Adnacement
  Onward and Upward, Successful Networking, Office Etiquette
Personal Fulfillment
  Time Management, Flexibility, Personal Issues

The authors use the title Take this Book to Work, and in fact this is more a desk reference than a straight read -- like some of us used to keep the Secretary's Manual next to the Selectric.  Most of the sections are short, and begin with "How to ask..."  such as "How to ask for a meeting with the CEO,"  "How to ask to transfer to a new city,"  "How to ask for a mentor." The simple outline approach breaks down teh request activity, with suggested wording and talking points.  The authors acknowledge that some situations vary the approach, and include that as well.  For example, when asking to view your personnel file:

If you work for a small business, you may be more direct about your intent.  Say, "I have some concerns over what may be included in my file...."  In some states, you are not allowed to remove any items from the file -- even if you believe errors exist.  But in some states, you aer allowed to amend the information by submitting your own explanation and specifically asking that it be placed in your permanent file... You may have the right to copy the contents of your file, although your employer may charge you a copying fee...

The example shows why you would not necessarily read this book straight through, as many items will not apply at all times.  On the other hand, if you are the type who enjoys reading desk references and fact books for the trvia of it, this will also serve.  If you don't want to actually take it to work, keep it where you keep your go-to casual reads, (whichever room of the house that happens to be for you).

What makes Take this Book to Work a less threatening book to take to work than, say, Bad Bosses, Crazy Co-Workers and Other Office Idiots, or Toxic Workplace is that is signals you are serious without insulting other people.  Chances are, the Boss would like money, fulfillment and advancement also -- she may even ask to borrow your copy.

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