How To Handle Change To A New Boss

Change to a new boss

How To Handle Change To A New Boss

I find it strange that one of the most constant things in life is also one of the things humans resent the most, and that is “change.”

Usually, when we are comfortable with something, we don’t want anything to change that. This is probably why there are a lot of inspirational quotes with messages like “All the success you seek exist outside your comfort zone.” Noted inspirational-quotes-people!

One area where change is inevitable is at work, and especially in your team members. The truth is, no matter how comfortable you get with your team mates, they will change from time to time. People move away, people get better offers, people decide to stop working and travel the world (these people, I envy), etc.

So if you had a boss that you worked really well with, or at least trusted and respected, you may find adjusting hard if this person decides to leave.

But often, this is not because you miss the person (not saying it’d be weird if you did or anything), but because, someone else has to become your boss and you need to learn, anew, how to work with this person.

The problems that can arise in this situation can be grouped along two lines, viz:
– When you find it challenging to adjust and warm up to the new boss. (When you are the problem)
– When the new boss is a pain to work with. (When the Boss is the problem)

When You Find It Hard To Warm Up To The New Boss

I recently read an employee’s complaint about how many of her coworkers resent and criticize their new boss, just because she’s new. From the account, there was no basis for the criticism, but they just found it hard to warm up to her, and this led to a gossip tirade.

Truth is, this is by no means a unique occurrence. Working with a new boss takes some learning, and more importantly, some adjustments – two things that may upset people who are used to a routine.

What can you do if you find it hard to work with your new boss?

1. Realize that things are going to change.
This is the genesis of most complaints about a new manager. Your manager did not get to his/her level by following whatever they see on ground. In fact, they may have been brought in to change the way things are done.

Whether that is so or not, learn to go with the flow, as long as no obviously horrible decisions are being made.

2. Develop a relationship with your new manager.
Keep it in mind that this is a person you’d be working with into the future, and someone who will have much say in your career. It is in your best interest to take steps to develop a relationship with your new manager.

Don’t go overboard though. If you send a gift to a new manager for example, that could be perceived as trying to solicit for extra favor or special treatment.

Instead, try to be really helpful to this person, especially when he/she is in the process of learning how things are done in the company. This is one great way to develop a relationship.

3. Avoid gossiping (like the plague).
If there’s a new manager you’re struggling to warm up to, chances are, many of your colleagues are having the same experience. Many workmates approach this situation by forming gossip rings. And guess who’s up for discussion, everyday!

There are two terrible effects that could result from this. First, it will enforce any negative views you have about the new manager and make it increasingly difficult to work with this person.

Second, you know the fun thing about gossiping (and this is really fun, except of course if you’re the victim, or the perpetrator, or anyone else), it almost always reaches the ears of the victim. And just think how your manager will love working with you, after hearing all the nice things you have to say about them.

Enough said.

4. Discuss duties and expectations with your new boss.
In this article in, an employee complained that she can’t seem to do anything right in the eyes of her new boss. In response, Alison suggested she asks her manager for feedback on her activities. Good advice!

It is however best to be proactive. Do not assume you can continue in your routine and get your boss to like everything you do. Not going to happen.

Instead, fix a meeting with your boss, explain your current activities, and ask your boss if he/she will like to see anything change, and what his/her expectations are from your role.

When The Boss Is The Problem

In some cases, your new boss may just be difficult to work with. For example, while it is normal for a new manager to make changes, it is not expected that they change EVEYRYTHING, even small unimportant details, and that is exactly what some do.

If you find yourself under a new boss who is difficult to deal with, criticizes you relentlessly, treats you badly, etc, here are some steps you can take to preserve your job, and your sanity.

1. Speak to your boss
If for example, your boss is unhappy with your work and you can’t understand why, approach him and politely ask what you are doing wrong.

You could say: “I observed that you are not pleased with my work, I don’t quite understand what I’m doing wrong, could you please point out the things you’d like to see me do better?”

At best, you will get better insight into your boss’s thought process, however skewed, and learn how to adjust to work better with him.

At worst, you can put your mind at rest that you’re not doing anything wrong, but just have to cope with a horrible boss.

2. Cultivate a strong relationship with other colleagues
Alison suggests this step, and the logic behind it is self-evident. When your relationship with your new manager is not good, your relationship with others becomes even more important.

If anything comes up, other colleagues can come to your defense, and if you need references in the future, others can help.

Do not however use these relationships to gossip your manager.

3.Report your boss
If your boss exhibits behavior that is harmful to you, your colleagues, or the company, then you can report your boss to people higher up, or HR.

If HR addresses the issue properly, things may improve. You may also be able to drop in an anonymous report, if the issue is not such that it’s obvious you are the complainant.

Reporting, however, should be your last resort. HR may sweep the issue under the rug (especially when it’s not a very big issue) and you may end up with a boss who dislikes you twice as much.

4. Search for other opportunities
If all else fails, and you conclude having this person as your manager is harmful to your career, bring out your resume. I wouldn’t advice anyone to work in a clearly toxic environment as this can have serious effects on your health and professional life.

Start seeking other opportunities, while being as nice and accommodating to your current manager as you possibly can.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

How To Manage Close Relatives At Work

Relatives at work

How To Manage Close Relatives At Work

A few days ago, I was informed my department would need a new employee, and I was asked to find and introduce this person to the company.

Of course the first people I thought about were my friends and relatives (maybe that’s natural, maybe I need to become more professional, I don’t know).

But after careful thought, I remembered a relative who currently works in a position that would have given him more than enough of the skills we needed for the position, so I contacted him.

However, this got me thinking. I have heard so much of the negatives that come with managing relatives, and as it turns out, I’d be managing the person hired for this position.

And truth be told, there indeed are many negative sides to managing close relatives, most of which are based on the fact that “they’re your family, and you love them”, hopefully anyway.

This otherwise pleasant fact may give rise to all forms of inappropriate office dynamics. You are likely going to show some level of extra favor to your relative than you would others. Or, depending on the kind of relationship you have (let’s be frank here), maybe even criticize them more, or manage them strong-handedly.

Whichever way the pendulum swings though, we can agree that this would not be good for you or your relative’s professional careers.

Here’s a shining example of how close family relationships can lead to bias in the workplace. The following question was submitted to Alison of

I have a daughter who is one of our employees, and I am her manager. She has a seven-month old baby and works part-time from home for our publicly traded company…

She brought her baby to work recently… A coworker – unbeknownst to us – took a picture of my daughter’s baby playing on the floor at work during this short time and sent it to the HR director at corporate – telling HR that my daughter was bringing her baby to work in the office and that she was afraid to say anything because she feared retribution…

The HR director would not tell me who sent the picture…

I am concerned on two levels – first of all, what gives this employee any right to take pictures of another coworker’s child and share them with anyone? Is there recourse here? Secondly, without know[ing] who has done this, my level of trust for all of our employees has been diminished, as I must now suspect all five of the people in this particular office”

Please go back and look at the phrases I bolded. Now pause and think, would this manager have reacted this strongly if this was a report about any other employee? Would she not rather investigate to see if an employee is not acting in the best interest of the company?

Clearly, in an ideal world, work and family relationships should never mix.

But that’s not always the reality, in many cases you cannot help but manage your relatives. However, there are steps you can take to ensure you work with relatives as you would others, and these steps are explained in this post.

Before Recruitment

Let’s say you, like me, got wind of an opening, and decided to bring in a close relative. In this case, it is best to set the tone from the very beginning.

When you inform them of the opportunity, let them know you’d be managing them in this position. Explain what this would mean and how you would hold them accountable like all other employees, and (this is important) explain that you can find another opening for them in the future if they are uncomfortable with you managing them.

For example, here’s an excerpt from the message I sent my relative regarding the job opening:

“I’d be managing you in this position. This means I’d be the one to assign tasks to you and give deadlines, etc. If this seems a conflict for you, then I can instead…”

You understand how the rest of it goes. Once again, always set the tone before recruitment if possible.

When You Are Already Working With The Person

Have a defined job description with goals, expectations, and objectives

If this is not already in place, take time to create one. Ultimately, you want to have all your staff working toward measurable goals that reflect their productivity. This is even more important with relatives because there is the chance that they may not feel as accountable as others, or may even not be motivated to accomplish as much.

A job description which includes goals and expectations from the position can go a long way in preventing (and fixing) such a situation.

Clarify the work process that will be used each day

Is there a chain of command that they are failing to follow? Are they bringing things to your table that should go somewhere else, just because they have access? Is there any confusion about their daily tasks and activities? And most important (in my opinion at least), are they imposing themselves and their opinions on other people’s activities?

If the answer to some of the questions above is “yes”, then there is a problem.

Aside from having a job description which shows an employee’s productivity over a period of time, it is incredibly important that short term goals, daily activities, and work processes are clearly defined.

This is especially so for relatives as there is the possibility that they might feel entitled to do things however they see fit.

Do not give relatives more than usual access

Be it to information, ongoing projects, etc. If a relative makes a request, and you think you would have declined if this was anybody else, decline to your relative as well.

This is one point you have to consider carefully, and frankly, one that is very hard to apply.

Consider this scenario:

Your cousin (who you are very close to) just gave birth and she seriously needs some help for a few weeks. Your younger sister who works under you, and just came back from a vacation 3 months ago, comes up to you with the request to take 2 weeks off to help her out.

Would you grant her this time off?

Would you grant this to another employee who recently returned from a vacation?

For many, the answer to the first will be “yes”, and the second “no”. And this is why you can very often see verifiable claims of bias when family relationship mixes with work.

And then there’s compensation. You want to ensure that this is commensurate with each employee’s performance, and not influenced by anything else. Unfair compensation to relatives can be particularly demoralizing to other employees.

Don’t abuse your relationship

Some managers, in an effort to show that they are upright and ethical, hold family relatives to a higher standard than others.

This is wrong!

Your aim as a manager should be fairness to all. If you are unusually strict with family, you may feel good about yourself, and some may praise you for being upright, but are you really?

There is no difference between a manager who favors family more and another who favors other employees more than family. At the end, they both allowed non-work issues to create a bias.

Do not discuss business after business hours

As much as possible, keep business conversations to the office. Discussing business in personal settings (even when there are issues that directly involve you and your relative) is a sure way to introduce relationship bias into the conversation, and probably end up deciding wrongly.

Some who live in the same house and work together, make the rule that business conversation would not happen after 6pm.

Of course they would need a lot of discipline to adhere to such a rule, but you surely cannot argue with the logic behind it.

Manage by proxy

Sometimes, even after taking all necessary steps, you may still observe bias in your work relationship with your relative. Or your relative may not take you as seriously as is necessary for a business relationship.

If you observe that despite your best of efforts, your relative shows up late, handles tasks shabbily, takes liberties with company resources and time, bosses fellow employees around, etc. The next step should be to manage your relative through someone else.

Make your relative completely accountable to this person, and this should preferably not be someone he/she is already close friends with (we don’t want to end up in the same hole we’re trying to dig out of).

Ensure that this person has the power to review your relative’s activities, make positive or negative recommendations, give warnings and penalties, and even fire, if all else fails.

How Can You Apply This Information

First, as much as you can, avoid managing “very” close relatives. There is almost always going to be a problem with that.

But if you have to, show from the beginning that when you are in the office, what you have is a business relationship, and that it cannot be influenced by family ties.

However, don’t go to the extreme of being too strong handed. The key is to strive as much as possible to manage your relative as you would every other employee, and the steps considered in this post can help you strike the balance.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support


6 Outdated Interview Practices That Make You A Horrible Recruiter

Floppy disks

6 Outdated Interview Practices That Make You A Horrible Recruiter

There was a time when floppy disks were the rage. You could throw a few floppies in your bag and get access to 5 megabytes of storage, and that was great, even high-tech at the time.

But if you hold a floppy in public today, don’t be surprised if passersby scan the area for the cave you emerged from.

Yes everything changes eventually, and those who succeed are those who can keep up with change.

Yet in many areas of recruitment, we find people who are holding on to ancient practices that should have seen their last days years ago.

Many highly talented people lament about the lack-luster interview experiences they’ve had, and from the evidence available, it’s clear that many recruiters are harming their ability to recruit top talent by sticking to interview processes from the 18th century.

And so in our post for this month, I would be shining the light on 6 interview practices that should be scrapped right away, by every recruiter on the planet.

1. Using a precise, rigid set of questions, every time.

Interview a surgeon, same questions. Interview a programmer, same questions. Everybody has to fit into a specific mold of what is considered an ideal employee.

There are probably a thousand problems with this approach, but let me bring out two. First, you end up hiring people with a set of criteria that ensures they are all alike. This can harm a company because diversity in personality and talent is great for creativity.

The second and most obvious problem is that such cookie cutter criteria are not adequate to determine if individuals are suitable for the particular roles for which they are being considered.

2. Interviewing people you do not plan on hiring.

I read a post recently from a candidate who apparently had a great interview with a company for a clearly advertised position, but who (after discussing a start date with the company) got a call from HR and was informed the position never existed.

Here’s how the candidate felt:

“I am so angry and confused. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this job. I updated my resume, wrote a cover letter, filled out an extensive online application. Then I did an hour-long exam to show I was qualified. Then I did a phone interview, using my vacation time at work. Then I completed a detailed online profile with the company and did a background check that required me to provide the dates and addresses for every job I’ve ever had and every place I’ve lived for the past 10 years (I even had to reach out to previous landlords and roommates to make sure it was accurate). And for the interview itself, I spent countless hours preparing for different questions. All for a job that doesn’t exist.”

Frankly, you can’t read that without feeling sorry for this candidate. A recruiter who is in the habit of performing interviews just to fulfill company policy, or for any similar reason, is quite frankly an unkind person. I can’t put it more pleasantly.

There are however times when a company might perform a few interviews just to see what’s out there, and there’s nothing wrong with this as long as the candidates are duly informed about the purpose of the interview.

3. Letting HR do the entire interview.

Many companies no longer make this mistake. Nowadays you often have to sit with the manager of the department you are applying to, as well as a few team members before you are considered for the job.

And this makes sense. Of course HR should coordinate the interview, and possibly perform the first interview. But when a candidate shows promise, it is time for them to be interviewed by those who know best, what is required for the role. And who better than the department manager, and other potential work mates.

4. Using a long, drawn out interview process.

The suggestion above doesn’t mean the candidate has to be interviewed by the whole company. Some companies perform so many interviews per candidate that their process has appropriately been termed “Death by interview.”

For example, the CEO of one technology firm required that each new candidate goes through “17” interview sessions. Now if I had seen this in a comedy column, it’ll be funny, and I’d laugh, and I’d move on.

But to know that a company actually wants (or wanted) candidates to go through 17 interviews just makes me wonder, because this is inherently a waste of time and resources for the company, and torture for the candidates.

In the past, Google also had the practice of subjecting candidates to double digit interviews.

“Fortunately, its well-earned death-by-interview reputation forced Google to eventually conduct internal research that demonstrated that ‘after four interviews, you get diminishing returns.’” – Eremedia

5. Not following up with a candidate after an interview.

I wrote an article about poor recruitment practices last year (Read it here) and this item also made that list. Maybe I’d start randomly including it in every article I write, just to get people to take note.

The truth is, it is quite awful for a person to spend many hours preparing for an interview, go through the tough interview process, and then sit down and watch their phone and email until they decide to give up.

When people who had this experience were polled, many decided that they would not become customers of the company involved if they needed the goods or services it offers. So aside from being unfair to the candidate, this practice can also make you lose customers.

When candidates do not make the cut, find time to tell them they didn’t. If you are short for time, send out an email blast to them. A simple BCC to all candidates in this category may even do the job. And this should only take 10 minutes of your time.

6. Selecting people based on biased factors (university attended, race, etc.)

The best candidates may not have attended an Ivy League University, so if you tend to give preference to these candidates, you are narrowing your talent pool, and harming your process.

Also, while we want to believe racial bias is completely behind us, the truth is, it isn’t. A recent research concluded that African-Americans are 16% less likely to be called for interviews.

There are many possible kinds of bias in recruitment, some may even be unique to a particular recruiter. However, a good recruiter should be able to get over any bias to ensure employees are selected based on how suitable they are for the role, and nothing else.

How Can You Apply This Information

This list of outdated interview practices is by no means exhaustive. It only brings out some of the major practices that make job applicants reconsider starting a business instead of working with your company.

You can start from this list and weed out these practices from your process if any of them are still being used, and then go on to examine your whole recruitment process to see what else should go, and what should remain.

The fact is, the modern business world evolves at the speed of light. And recruiters stand in the forefront of each company’s effort to keep up (and even lead) by bringing in the right talent. But if your recruitment process is outdated, you may end up being a drain on your company’s success.

Nobody wants to be that.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Solving The 6 Major Challenges Of Managing Remote Teams

Freelancer working in park. Man sitting at rough country wooden desk working on computer drinking coffee business dress code electronic gadgets notepad around green forest sunbeams on background

Solving The 6 Major Challenges Of Managing Remote Teams

Few people could have imagined how much the internet would transform our activities. Probably not even Robert Kahn and Vincent Cerf, the guys who invented the internet.

One area that has seen the most change is the way we work. It didn’t take long for people to realize that they didn’t need to meet in an office to discuss a client, or share a file; it could all be done through the internet.

A few months after I got my bachelor’s degree, I started working. From that time till today, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of teams, but I’ve never stepped in an office. I’m either at home or in a beautiful city mall with my laptop and internet dongle. And yes, remote work is just as great as people describe it.

Nowadays, it’s not hard to see a company that has a team of 10 people, who are spread across every continent on the earth.

Even companies that have all their workers living within a city (or country) now give the option for people to work from home. Yahoo is one such company, but if you have been following the news, you may be aware that in 2013, the CEO tried to end remote work for all employees. Apparently, she wasn’t completely successful, and frankly, it’ll have been quite a surprise if she was.

Many other companies are heavily dependent on remote workers, and the stats favor this choice.

A blog post in the Harvard Business Review website shows that remote workers are actually more productive that in-office workers. These stats make sense when you consider it takes a motivated self-starter to be able to work remotely in the first place.

However, while there are clear advantages to telecommuting, it has also introduced a new set of challenges, many of which revolve around the very fabric of telecommuting: “the workers are not together in the same building.”

This blog post highlights these challenges, why they exist, and how to deal with them.

The Challenges, The Solutions

1. Communication
Effective communication is important in all settings. For a remote team however, it is “communicate effectively, or close up shop.” Getting people in different locations to achieve a common goal takes being able to master remote communication.

Thankfully, the internet has provided many powerful tools that can make this easy. The key is to take advantage of these tools in harmony with some best practices.

For example, for a team to work effectively together, they need to communicate at least once each day. Even when tasks have been assigned, it makes sense to get the team together via Skype, Gotomeeting, or a similar tool. In these sessions, team members can update others on their progress, challenges encountered, skills learnt in the course of performing duties, etc.

Here’s a power tip you should try: At the start of each workday (say by 9am) get team members together via a conference session. After discussing major issues, encourage team members to remain connected to the line for one more hour. If anyone has any question, or a suggestion for the team, they simply unmute, speak up, and continue communicating.

2. Getting the right people
One of the most important steps in managing a remote team is choosing the right people in the first place. The truth is, not everyone can work effectively from a remote location.

If a person needs much assistance to get the job done, chances are that person is more suitable for an in-office position. When looking for remote team members, find people who can demonstrate (or have demonstrated) their ability to manage time, handle tasks, and deliver results. These people should also be highly motivated.

A good way to recruit suitable people is to hire on trial basis. Within the trial period, you can assess the person’s work and determine if they are a good fit for your team.

3. Keeping track of activities

“Oops, did you already message the customers in that list? I just sent them another email, my bad”

A – “Hi B, are you through with the backend of the report builder, I just rounded up work on the front end and need your code to wrap it up for release tomorrow”
B – “Hello A, I stopped working on the backend to finish work on our competency module. We may have to inform customers that the report builder will not be available till next week.”

You get the point. Within an office, it is sometimes hard to keep track of activities. It is even more difficult in a remote setting.

For a remote team to function together, each team member needs to know exactly what other team members are working on, how much progress they have made, and if and when their attention may be needed as part of another team member’s activities.

It is best to take advantage of collaboration tools like Trello and Slack, to help keep people on top of activities, and in fact, you may need to use both tools. Here’s why.

Trello is a tool for assigning tasks and keeping track of activities, and it does that very well. Slack on the other hand focuses on team communication about activities, and it offers many powerful features and integrations to make this process effective. Most people who have used both tools conclude that you are better off using the two together.

However you can start with one (preferably Trello), and include the other later on.

4. Keeping track of goals and productivity
In an office setting where there are departments and managers and the like, it may be fine for employees to know just what their jobs are and how to get them done. Understanding how it all fits into the goals of the company is more a job for managers and executives.

In most remote settings however, employees often have to wear different hats and manage themselves. Thus, you are much better off keeping team members keenly aware of the company’s short term, and even long term goals.

When employees are kept in the know like this, they are able to contribute their ideas and creativity to seeing these goals attained, and if you have worked in a remote team, you know how important this is.

Also, when goals are met, inform employees of this and explain how the team made it happen, and what new goals you have set if any.

5. Knowing time zones

Consider this: A team member in the US (CST) says to another in the Philippines, “Let’s get together to discuss this by Tuesday 4PM.” If indeed this conversation takes place, although it happened on Tuesday for the person in the US, it actually happened on Wednesday for the team member in the Philippines (yes telecommuting is time travel).

In a remote team I work with, we usually have to get together by 9am CST. At this time, it is already evening for some team members, while others are well into the night. So in exchanging pleasantries, hi, good morning, is quickly followed by hello, good evening to others.

The importance of knowing time zones however goes far beyond pleasantries. It helps you determine when will be the best time for a meeting, or for performing certain tasks.

For tasks that are not time bound, it is best to allow employees perform them within daylight hours in their time zone. Many remote teams allow for wiggle room in this manner, and this leads to productivity.

6. Getting team members to KNOW each other
When you get together to discuss, what do you talk about? Goals, activities, customers? Yes, that should majorly be what you discuss, but not ALL you discuss!

Remember, humans are social beings, and beyond knowing about work, we also usually want to know our team members and keep updated on the happenings in their lives.

I’ve been fortunate to work in teams that value social interactions, and I can tell you, being very social does not reduce work output. Quite contrarily, it keeps employees engaged, happy, and productive.

So the next time you have a group meeting, ask employees about their personal lives (if you have not been doing this), or better yet, start off by telling them something about yours.

If you’ve found a special recipe that you really like, or a place you plan to spend your holiday, share it with team members and have them discuss. To build a strong remote team, you need friends, not minions.

How Can You Apply This To Your Remote Team?

Very likely, you have already been using some of the tips shared in this post. So you can look for areas addressed here in which you are not doing so well.

Do you communicate regularly, but only about business? Spice it up with some social chat.
Do you make all the plans and only tell team members what they need to do? Then you may be wasting valuable brain power that could move your business from A to B.

The truth is, telecommuting is here to stay! The stats even reveal that more and more people will be working remotely in upcoming days.

Although there are some challenges in managing remote teams, these challenges hide under the mat when the advantages pay a visit.

Better yet, these challenges can largely be conquered with a little effort.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Does Anyone Really Benefit From Working With A Bad Boss?

Angry boss shouts at a junior

Does Anyone Really Benefit From Working With A Bad Boss?

A while ago, I walked into a bank hall to perform some transactions. While waiting for my turn, I saw a man walk towards a couple of workers and then start liberally handing out criticisms, right there in front of everyone!

From the look on the faces of the workers, this was a very regular experience, one they had come to expect and loathe. You could have walked into that bank, informed employees that you have another opportunity in a financial institution, but with less pay and a friendlier atmosphere, and have half of the branch employees turn in their resignations right that afternoon.

Despite this natural distaste we all have for working under bad bosses, I recently came across several articles that tried to show how working with bad bosses is good for employees. The claims were many and they ranged from “bad bosses teach you how not to treat others”, to “being treated badly makes you a battle hardened, competent employee.”

I understand where these articles come from. Many people actually have to work under bad bosses, and writers usually look for such common issues to write about, with the aim of providing some relief, and of course, getting more traffic to their website.

However, there are articles and topics that should left alone, including any about how working with a bad boss can be good for you. Such articles may actually help validate the behaviour of toxic bosses.

In some cases, the writers have so little to say in support of their topic, that their article ends up being quite confusing. Take for example this Forbes article. The article is about the benefits of working with bad bosses, but 75% of the content actually sites good research that show why working with bad bosses is bad! In fact, I’m going to be referencing this article a lot in support of my topic.

Some of the claimed benefits

1. Bad bosses teach you how not to treat others:
I’d like to believe every balanced person knows how to treat and respect the people they interact with. And if indeed you were going to learn social skills from a boss, you are much better off learning from a good leader.

One basic reason for this is that we tend to behave like those around us; especially if they are in a position of authority. So there is a higher possibility that you may learn to treat people badly, if you have a boss who treats you badly.

2. Bad bosses produce competent, battle-hardened employees:
Since this claim uses military language, I’m going to tow the same line and use a military illustration. Imagine you are in the army and have been sent on a mission. For this mission, you need a team of soldiers, and you have been asked to choose one of two teams.

The first team has a ton of experience fighting in the field against enemy combatants for several years, and with several successful missions in their portfolio; the second team has also seen some action, but they are most notable for having successfully endured “years of bullying and maltreatment” under a commanding officer who is now indicted. Which team will you place your life on? Of course this isn’t a hard decision (for non-suicidal people).

Further evidence against this claim of benefits to employees can be seen in the results of just about every research into this topic.

“Bad bosses don’t just impact the organization, or the team. They impact the individual. A study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology of 1,100 participants from various industries and company sizes revealed that an employee’s perception of their boss can have a major impact on the way a person deals with their family and their physical health (actually increasing your risk of heart disease if you don’t like your boss, and decreasing the quality of relationships you have with loved ones)…

“A survey of about 2,000 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive and career website Glassdoor, revealed that 2 out of 10 people say a bad boss ‘hurt their career.’” Forbes

Clearly, those who claim that bad bosses produce competent employees, do so in spite of a mountain of research evidence that proves just the opposite.

3. Bad bosses make employees more productive
I’m just going to jump into available research evidence here. Consider this:

The leadership training company Zenger Folkman, conducted a study of 2,865 leaders in a large company. This study which was presented in a Harvard Business Review article, revealed that the most engaged, most committed, and happiest employees where under the supervision of those ranked as the best leaders. Conversely, the most miserable employees where being supervised by bad bosses.

Jim Clifton, the CEO of the Gallup organization, observed that bad bosses may invalidate other employee productivity initiatives. “As Clifton points out, none of the other expensive programs a company institutes to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, well-thought-out career paths, stimulating work environments, EAP programs, health insurance, and other perks — will make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.”

Is having a bad boss completely bad?

Sadly, yes it is! No one benefits from constant criticism, bullying, squashing, etc. If you are in the situation, this may not be what you want to hear, but it is the fact.

Of course you can find numerous help articles that show you how to “cope” with bad bosses. But do not be made to believe that you are benefiting somehow.

In a US News article
, Allison Green captured, in simple terms, the effects a bad boss could have on employees. She said: “If you spend too long in a dysfunctional workplace or modifying your behavior to accommodate a bad manager, the experience can recalibrate your ideas of normal in ways that can hurt you personally. For instance, if you work for a manager who always shoots the messenger and punishes dissent, you might get used to keeping your head down, never speaking up and even covering up mistakes when they happen.”

Clearly, if you are in this situation, the best course of action is to learn to cope in the interim, while you frantically search for a job in a different department or company; and do this like your health and career depends on it. Well then again, they do.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

How To Handle A Coworker Who Bosses You Around

Bossy Coworker

How To Handle A Coworker Who Bosses You Around

Have you had to deal with a coworker who somehow got confused, forgot their position in the company, and started bossing you around? Such employees may feel they are more capable than you are, and so they want to check every task you handle, manage all your interactions with others, question every decision you make, and downright wear you out.

I recently came across this complaint sent in by a frustrated employee to

“One of my coworkers in my department is constantly telling me what to do, and it’s driving me crazy! She does not give suggestions, she gives orders. She also disagrees with me on everything and insists on always having her way….. Even the most insignificant thing will set her off. For example, we recently cleaned out some old departmental filing cabinets, and my coworker demanded to know why I wanted to save a file consisting of ten pieces of paper… I explained to her why it was necessary to save these papers, and she disagreed with my reasoning and told me that I had to throw them out.

“In addition to disagreeing with and giving orders to people that she is interacting with, she constantly inserts herself into conversations she overhears…. For example, a client recently came to my office for an appointment with me, and said he would have to reschedule because he forgot to bring money for the parking meter. I asked him if he would like to move his car into our validated parking garage (which he did not know we had), and my coworker, who happened to be standing nearby but was not part of our conversation, came over and told my client that he should reschedule his appointment with me instead of moving his car!”

If you imagined putting such a co-worker in a choke hold and getting them to repeat “you’re not the boss of me” 20 times, or until they turn purple (whichever comes first), I can assure you you’re not the only one with that thought.

Gladly, there are more civil ways to handle such workers and get them to understand their boundaries.

What To Do About Bossy Coworkers

1. Be more assertive
Create clear boundaries and enforce them. If the person attempts to cross these boundaries, push back politely, but firmly.

Consider the following suggestion by Allison Green of Ask a Manager in response to the complaint quoted above:

Coworker: “Why are you saving this file?”

You: “Those are papers that I need. I have my area covered and don’t need help, thank you.”

Coworker: “But why can’t you throw them away?”

You: “Again, I have my area covered and don’t need help.”

2. Explain how you feel without sounding accusatory
A common suggestion is that you express your opinion with “I” messages. For example if your co-worker barrages you with ideas on how to complete your tasks, you could say “I appreciate that you have a lot of ideas about this task, and that you are willing to share them. However, I feel really put down each time you try to tell me how to accomplish my tasks and would appreciate if you treat me as a professional and allow me use my judgement.”

3. Arrange to discuss with the person
If the two steps above don’t resolve the issue, then it is necessary to have an open discussion with the person.

During the discussion explain that their intrusion has really become a problem for you and is affecting your general work experience. Require that that the person leaves your work to you and explain that you value their input, but will ask for it when it’s needed. In summary, explain all your grievances and try to reach a resolution.

When having this discussion, try to be firm but polite; you want to get this person to understand that they are not your boss, but you do not need to ruin your relationship to get this done.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Why Every Company Should Embrace A Culture of Positive Feedback


Why Every Company Should Embrace A Culture of Positive Feedback

Two weeks ago, I gave a task to my graphic designer. I explained some of the specifications and asked him to come up with a stunning design. After discussing other necessary issues, I reminded him once again that I wanted it to look amazing.

The next day, I received an email about the design and went on to check it out. It looked thrown together, far from what I expected. I was furious because I knew what he was capable of, and in the heat of anger, I was about to contact him and ask why he made such a mess of the design (and that was the kindest question I had in mind, did I mention I was furious?)

But then I decided to hold on for a while. Later that day, I sat down and came up with a more precise description of what I wanted.

When I contacted him, I first of all thanked him for his effort and timely response to my request, and then went on to explain quite honestly that I expected something better. I pointed out some of the awesome jobs he had completed in the past and told him he can do something that good for me too. And finally, I gave him the more precise description I came up with.

The next day, I received the graphic work, and it looked “amazing”, much better than I imagined it would be. I’m not sure I would have gotten the same results if I had not striven to give feedback that reminded him of what a great designer he usually was, and why he can do better than he did initially on this work.

But do I have solid reason to believe that my designer performed better because I tried to remain positive? Absolutely!

A new study published by Harvard Business School proves that employees perform better when they receive positive feedback. The study shows that when people are reminded of times in the past when they had performed excellently, they become more creative, make better decisions, and feel less stress.

“In the study, participants visited the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and were asked to solve problems. Approximately half of the participants were told to ask friends and family members to send them an email just prior to their participation that described a time when the participant was at his or her best. Overwhelmingly, those who read positive statements about their past actions were more creative in their approach, more successful at problem-solving and less stressed out than their counterparts. For instance, participants had three minutes to complete Duncker’s candle problem. Fifty-one percent who had read emails prior to the task were able to successfully complete it; only 19% of those who did not receive ‘best-self activation’ emails were able to solve it. Those who received praise were also significantly less stressed than the control group.” – Forbes

In effect, what this study proves is what we already know: People work better when they are commended for their accomplishments.

For some reason however, many people in management still believe that regularly pointing out flaws and avenues for improvement is the best way to motivate employees. The existence of a management practice that requires each employee to sit through a (mostly negative) critique of their performance every year proves this.

Late last year, I also published the results of a research work that revealed the major reasons why employees experience bad days at work, and the third highest reason is “Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do.” So besides degrading the quality of their work, lack of commendation could also make employees hate their job.

How To Foster A Culture of Commendation

1. Re-engineer your Appraisal Process: Apparently, everyone hates yearly appraisals – employees, managers, and even HR practitioners. This management practice essentially ruins relationships around the workplace. As a result, some companies have dropped yearly appraisals and opted for performance feedback in real-time. Accenture, a global consulting firm, made the headlines last year when they announced their plans to replace yearly appraisals with timely feedback from managers.

2. Help employees focus on the tasks they did well: As my personal experience and the results of the Harvard study have shown, employees perform better when they are reminded of things they did really well in the past. In essence, if you are about to start a task or a project and you want your employees to be at their best, remind them of a time when they were at their best, commend them for their contribution to the success of that past task, and express confidence that they will perform well in current tasks too.

3. Say it: A common belief among people in management is that commendation of employees is not really necessary, or that it should be minimized – how wrong! There is this story of a manager who refrained from commending one of his employees for an awesome job because, well, she had done some very awesome jobs previously that week and the manager thought he had commended her enough. However, what he might have failed to note is that his previous commendations may be the reason she continued to produce stellar results.

Simply put, if you think an employee has done a great job, say it every time!

4. Criticize constructively: There are people who believe constructive criticism has no value in manager-employee relations, I’m not one of them. I generally prefer to give (and receive) constructive criticism.

Which would you prefer to hear after putting effort into a task but falling short:

This is the crappiest job I’ve seen this week. I mean the stats are correct, but your presentation is laughable. Were you half asleep when you wrote this report?


You really put a lot of effort into this report, I appreciate how carefully you worked on the stats, it’s thoroughly researched. You can however improve your explanation of the data in sections 2 and 3. Grab a copy of the report I wrote last month and study my presentation of those sections and try to come up with something great.

In truth, constructive criticism which usually includes tips for improvement works better than outright, sharp cutting criticism.

However, there are times when straightforward criticism is required, such as when an employee repeatedly makes a mistake or falls short despite previous corrections. When this becomes necessary, it should be given out. Employees are adults, they can handle it.

5. Encourage managers to give out spontaneous, honest commendation: Some managers may be good at commending people while many others don’t even know the meaning of the word. It is best to promote a culture of commendation among managers like you promote other formal policies. Simply telling managers to commend others will hardly work though, so it’s best to remind them for a while possibly through an email at the start of each week, until it becomes a part of them.

6. Encourage employees to commend each other: Commendation does not always have to come from superiors to be effective. In the Harvard study considered above, the group that performed a great deal better did so because they received an email from a friend, family member, or coworker. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to honestly commend one another whenever possible. Alexander Kjerulf, the founder of Wohoo Inc, suggests that employees learn to send emails of appreciation to fellow employees. The emails should be short and personalized. A good example would be:

Hi Darla,

I’m just writing to thank you for the well prepared stats you presented during our last meeting. They really gave us all a clearer understanding of the tasks at hand.


What can you learn from this?

Frankly, commending people isn’t easy. It takes effort to tell people around you that you value their input to the success of your activities together. But those who have embraced a culture of commendation only have good things to say about it. It may only take a few words to brighten the day of someone you work with, which, as it turns out, also brightens your day.

As an individual, it is important to learn to commend others. If you are in a management position, take action to promote this culture among employees, managers, and everyone else. It clearly leads to better performance.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

11 HR Blogs That Can Improve Your Career


11 HR Blogs That Can Improve Your Career

In our modern, fast paced business world, few things are more powerful than information. Business trends, processes, activities, and policies are constantly being updated. Those that were the rage before you signed off for the weekend may be seeing their final moments when you resume the next week.

Thus, if you want to be a top performer in your field, you need to keep yourself informed.

Here at skills db pro, we are always seeking ways to improve as individuals and as a company, and one major way we achieve this is by reading, a lot of it. We even have a few blogs we follow, and we can honestly say that we have benefited in many ways from the insights shared by these bloggers.

Each day you work, you have to pull resources from your mental storehouse and use them to accomplish tasks and projects. It only makes sense that you constantly update and increase the information in your storehouse, and you can do this by reading online.

So for our blog post this week, I have put together a list of 11 HR blogs in which articles that are always worth a read are regularly published.

1. Success In HR: Alan Collins, a former HR Vice President at Pepsi Co. is the founder and chief editor of this blog. He has had a long career in HR and his advice and career tips are top notch. Besides what he writes on this blog, he has written 8 books for HR professionals.

2. TLNT: TLNT provides news, analysis, and opinions that can help you come to grips with current trends in HR. The blog has several contributors and multiple articles are published each day. One thing you quickly notice when you view this site is how engaging it is. The writers address issues that grab at the heart and they present them in a way that makes you want to read through each article.

3. Positive Sharing: Positive sharing is a blog by Alexander Kjerulf, otherwise known as the chief happiness officer. True to this title, his blog is all about finding happiness, and making employees happy at work. Alexander is also the founder of Woohoo Inc, and is one of the world’s leading experts in happiness at work. Notably, he has done a good amount of study and research on workplace happiness and he presents his findings on his blog in a conversational, interesting way.

4. TalentCulture: This blog publishes regular articles on topics about finding and developing top talent, being a great leader, understanding changes in HR, and other similar areas. The authors on this blog usually employ a light, social approach to their blog posts, making them interesting to read and yet packed full with value.

5. HR Bartender: I was taken aback by the name of this blog, but the founder, Sheryl Lauby, does give an explanation for the name. Something in the line of she being the friendly person HRMs want to communicate with or hear from about work related issues, just as workers love to see the face of a bartender after a stressful workday, and with that I agree. Sheryl’s blog posts are centered on career advice, leadership and management, and office politics. Somehow she manages to produce several articles each week on her own, each written in a casual and informative way that makes you look forward to the next.

6. Ask A Manager: The moment you open this site and see the complete title (Ask a Manager and if you don’t, I’d tell you anyway), you get the feeling you are going to have a good read. At least I did, and boy did it turn out to be true. Ask A Manager is a site where people can ask questions about HR, their career, and a host of other topics. Each question is responded to by Alison Green, a former chief of staff, and her responses are always simple, straightforward, and down to earth. You hardly see an “I don’t know what you should do in this situation” kind of response, and simply reading through previous questions and answers provides you with information that can improve your career.

7. HR Morning: HR morning is a news blog for HR professionals. It provides the latest news on trends and events that are shaping the field of personnel management. Writers at HR Morning present the news as what they term “actionable insight.” In essence, you get to find out what’s new, and also what it means for you and for your business.

8. HR Examiner: This is a magazine blog that focuses on the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital. They have quite a few authors who publish articles, and multiple articles are published each week. The authors often come together to form a panel that takes an in-depth look into important issues and trends in HR. Their blogs are usually presented as audio files, but a transcript is produced for those who prefer to read.

9. Skills Competency Blog (Skills DB Pro): Here at Skills DB Pro, we regularly publish blog posts centered on improving the careers of our readers, and helping them become better recruiters, skill managers, and succession planners. We also look into current trends every now and then to help keep readers fully informed on what’s new and groundbreaking in HR.

10. Fist Full of Talent: This is one of the most diverse and informative hr blogs on the internet. They have a group of about 30 writers who produce regular articles on a range of hr and people management topics, ranging from leadership and employee relations to recruiting, career paths, and succession. Besides articles, they also publish podcasts and videos that feature a program called the CYA Report, which they define as a “free flowing, sometimes mature discussion of HR and talent issues.”

11. HR Zone: This is another site that covers a diverse range of interesting and practical hr topics. Notably, an entire section of this blog is dedicated to predicting HR trends. All articles in this section are prefixed with the phrase “Future of HR.” The major links at the top also make it clear that the articles published are meant to help HRMs become better leaders, fully engage their employees, hire and utilize top talent, etc.

How Can You Use This Information?

As I mentioned at the outset, at Skills DB Pro, we read and follow a few blogs that publish information related to our individual skills and our business. You can and should do the same, and this article helps you identify some great blogs you can follow. Of course you are only expected to choose a few that resonate with you and that publish career tips that you find most fitting. Hopefully you, like us, will quickly see the value of being fully informed of the news, trends, and career advice that blogs provide to their readers.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

5 Things That Make Employees Hate Coming To Work

Sad Employee

5 Things That Make Employees Hate Coming To Work

Jokes about bad days at works are abundant on the internet. Time and again, employees complain about how they watch the time go by as they pray for the day to run out. Many also joke about their hatred for Monday mornings, and how much they resent the sound of their wake-up alarms.

However, behind these jokes, there’s a fact that is no laughing matter. Many employees repeatedly experience bad days at work, the result of which is lowered performance.

I stumbled on a research by Woohoo inc that x-rayed this problem and showed the extent to which this has become an issue.

Of the 719 respondents, 19% said every day or almost every day is a bad workday. 29% said more than one day a week, and 16% said about one day a week is a bad day.

In all, almost 2 out of 3 respondents have at least one bad day each week.

Chart showing occurrence of bad work days

Data from Wohoo inc | Chart Created with amCharts

The study also revealed some demographic information. For example, more Americans experience at least one bad day each week (68%) than Europeans (56%). Also, workers in the private sector reported more bad days (65%) than those in the public sector (61%). And apparently, no gender is less prone to bad days as men and women reported about the same amount of bad work days.

Many may be quick to attribute bad days at work to problems in the employee’s personal life, but this report proves otherwise.

In response to the question “The last time you had a bad day at work, was it bad because of factors at work or factors outside of work?”, 74.7% said it was factors at work, and 20.7% said it was a mix of both. Just 2.8% blamed external factors for their bad work days.

So while it is true that personal issues and attitude toward work could affect work experience, more often than not, when an employee has many bad work days, factors at works are responsible.

Major Causes Of Bad Work Days

1. Lack of help and support from bosses
This is the most highly reported reason (40%) for bad workdays. Of course it is the duty of a boss to call the shots (they certainly would not be called bosses otherwise), but a good boss can and should help out every now and then when a deadline needs to be met, or when it’s apparent that the workload is too much on employees, possibly due to some temporary spike in activity.

2. Negative Coworkers
One problematic coworker can seriously affect the relationships and interactions in the workplace. Since employees are expected to work as part of teams, they have to interact with coworkers on a regular basis, and if a few coworkers turn out to be toxic, others may begin to hate team meetings and discussions, and hate coming to work. In the survey, 39% of the respondents blamed negative workers for bad work days.

3. Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do
Let’s face it, we all like being appreciated, being told our input matters, being recognized and rewarded. Children glow when they are praised by their parents. Parents feel deep warmth when they are openly appreciated by their children. Similarly, employees thrive, grow, and work better when they are told they were instrumental to the completion of this job and that project, and that their work is greatly appreciated. Conversely, an employee who works really hard but receives zero credit may lose morale, and when morale goes, it usually takes everything else along.

4. Uncertainty about the workplace’s vision and strategy
Essentially, people need to know exactly why they are leaving their houses each day, what the company wants to accomplish, and the part they play in getting these things done. Understandably, company requirements and strategy will change from time to time, and in fact this is necessary for any company that wants to stay in business. However, if a company very frequently abandons work processes, tasks, projects, and policies half way through, employees may begin to lose interest in the job.

5. High workload
With the current state of things, a strict 8 hour workday is utopian for a lot of workers. Many people have to work extra hours in the office and at home to meet up with deadlines. Those who are able to avoid overtime may yet be loaded with so many tasks, sometimes of varying nature, and they have to perform maximally or risk losing their jobs. The negative effects of such high workload can hardly be overstated. I know because I’ve been there.

I was once so flooded with tasks that I had to work while commuting to work. As soon as I was settled in a vehicle, work began; I simply could not waste the 40-minute commute. On the way back, I worked just as much. And when I arrived home, I often worked into the night. I was able to keep this going for a while, but pretty soon, I was thoroughly exhausted.

So while overloading employees with tasks can yield momentary benefits, in the long run it will impair employee performance, and possibly even make them hate coming to work.

How Important Is Employee Happiness?

A research conducted by the University of Warwick proved that happy employees are 12 percent more productive, and this is just one of many similar research works that have yielded the same conclusion.

Dr Proto, one of the faculty members who led the research stated: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Poor Recruitment Practices You Should Absolutely Avoid

Candidate emotions

Poor Recruitment Practices You Should Absolutely Avoid

Recruitment candidates are customers too.

A poor recruitment process could thus mean loss of customers in the form of candidates who are pissed off, and friends and relatives of such candidates who learn to avoid your brand in sympathy.

Just as you wouldn’t want to go back to a shop if you were treated badly, a candidate who has had a bad experience during recruitment may avoid further contact with the company involved.

David Leigh, chief executive of the psychometric testing firm SHL, put it this way: “A bad recruitment experience is at least as damaging as a bad consumer experience in store.”

And SHL does have the data to back this statement. A survey they conducted among some 1600 UK adults revealed that poor recruitment practices could cost your company quite a lot.

Close to a quarter of the respondents had suffered 2 or 3 bad recruitment experiences, and some 6% had suffered 5 or 6.

Of these, some 18% chose not to do any further business with the company at fault. This value is even higher (28%) for people between the ages of 25 – 34.

A mammoth 77% said that if a friend or family member has had a poor recruitment experience, it will deter them from being or remaining customers of that business.

A person who has never passed through a poor recruitment process may not be able to identify with the people polled in this study, but I can because I have.

I was once shortlisted for a job, contacted by the hiring manager and informed of the “many things” I needed to prepare, and then completely forgotten about.

Now I wouldn’t use this company’s products or services, not because I’m resentful, but because this experience has ingrained in me the belief that their customer service will be no better than their recruitment experience, whether this is true or not.

It is quite clear then that poor recruitment practices can harm a business, and according to the study quoted above, the top four of such practices indicated by respondents are:

1. Not being told they had been unsuccessful (46%).
2. Lack of feedback about their application (39%).
3. Not acknowledging receipt of their application (39%), and
4. Not receiving feedback even after completing an interview (37%).

Candidate staring at phone
Poor communication with candidates may affect their view of your company.

SHL however performed another survey, this time from the perspective of recruiters.

Of the 500 professional recruiters surveyed, 25% felt overstretched due to the rise in the number of people applying for jobs.

Of these, 1 in 5 could not find the time to inform candidates that their applications had been received, and some 15% were too busy to inform candidates that their applications were unsuccessful.

Clearly, recruiters have not simply decided to abandon courtesy. In some instances, it is the current increase in job applications that has brought recruitment practices to this nadir.

Nonetheless, if 1 in 5 could not find time to inform candidates, this means the other 4 who were also overstretched, found the time to dignify candidates with a response.

So, although the workload on recruiters is appreciated, the fact remains that those who are not doing so well as per the four complaints above may need to give more attention to the recruitment process, and how well candidates are kept in the loop.

This is actually more important than many realize. A short while before the experience I mentioned above occurred, I entered into a week-long recruitment process with a different company. But due to some unforeseen events at the start of the week, I wasn’t able to meet their deadlines (but still had a chance to get the job).

At the end however, I received a kind email informing me that I didn’t make the cut. After this experience, I would still gladly use, and recommend this company’s products to others, and the difference between this experience and the one above is (would you believe it) a nice email.

In our world of templates and mass emailing, keeping candidates informed really isn’t so hard. A candidate doesn’t necessarily need their name mentioned in a rejection email to get the point.

Thus you can create a simple email template that says “Dear Applicant, We are sorry to inform you that………” and then mass email this template to those who didn’t make the cut. This way, you will only need a few minutes to reach out to candidates each time.

Of course, if you can personalize the email, all the better. The underlying point remains that candidates should not be left in the dark.

As Angela Baron of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development puts it: “A nice e-mail doesn’t cost much…… People really get upset when they invest a lot of time and energy in an application and hear nothing.”

Worse yet, although “a nice e-mail doesn’t cost much”, the lack thereof could cost your company tremendously in lost customers.

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support