Recognition Is About Me! (OK, Fine, You Too.)

chess-1483735_1280 (1) (1) (1) (1) (1).jpgI’m tired. I know you are too. I’m tired of work. I’m tired of life. I’m tired of reading the same articles on millennials. I’m tired of Bethenny Frankel (Team Carole!). I’m tired of a dumb president. I’m tired of drinking. I’m tired from drinking. I’m tired of seeing that same TV commercial over and over (we all have one). I’m tired of you. I’m tired of me. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired.

Many months ago, I was on a call with someone. We were commiserating about our weariness. Between work, life, more work, and more life, he was telling me how some days left him completely wiped out.

But then he told me something else. He mentioned that no matter how exhausted he is on some nights, he makes sure to spend a few minutes shooting a quick email to recognize someone. He said this to me very quickly, very much in passing.

Good thing I wasn’t too tired to catch what he said.

I’m sure it never occurred to him that his remark would stick in my head immediately, and to this day. Actually, I think about his comment surprisingly often for two reasons:

  1. He has inspired me to do the same. Since our conversation, I strive not to let fatigue or “busyness” get in the way of recognizing people. I don’t always succeed — I admit to prioritizing potato chips over people sometimes. Still, I’ve been trying harder.
  2. You never know whether what you say, even incidentally, will resonate and reverberate. (I have no doubt that each of my friends and colleagues hangs on every one of my syllables.)

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Recognition is the glue that binds a company together. I’ve been a broken record, repeating such brilliance for years. Yet it was a single by-the-way remark that caused that record to scratch for a moment and remind me of the importance of appreciating others.

For starters, recognition makes the other person feel great.

You know who else likes to feel great? I do. Praising other people is as much about them as it is about me. If I tell you how awesome you are, I’m doing it to make me happy, too.

Now let’s keep it even more real: When I make you look good, I make myself look good — because everyone likes someone who appreciates someone else. Does that mean I’m scheming and plotting about how to wield recognition as a ploy to elevate myself? Yes. No. Sort of.

Who cares! My intentions don’t make me a crappy human. They just makes me human. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why you choose to commend others, only that you do. When it comes to recognition, motives are less important than consequences.

The truth is that I recognize people not solely because it makes them feel good, not because it makes me feel good, not because it makes them look good, not because it makes me look good. I do it for every one of those reasons. 

And that’s OK. That’s more than OK. The end result benefits everyone. (And hey, want to read blog posts about recognition that are way more amazing than this one? Check out the musings of Paul Hebert. Great stuff! See what I did there?)

With all that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the person I mentioned earlier, a guy who refuses to let exhaustion get in the way of appreciation. Jonathan Burg, you reminded me of the importance of saying thank you. So thank you.

 

Do You Deserve a Bad Boss?

download.jpgIs your boss a jerk? Good! Thank the creep for being so horrible and consider yourself lucky to work for a bad manager today. Otherwise, how else would you become a good one tomorrow? Or here’s the better question:

Do you need to work for a crappy leader to eventually grow into a great one yourself?

Notice what I’m not asking here. I’m not questioning whether someone can learn from bad managers. Obviously, most of us can recognize positive and negative attributes in other people in ways that might influence our own leadership abilities.  Continue reading

Are You an Email Elitist?

e48a542f0a78d21a636308b05860f6d9 (1) (1).jpgDid you see the recently released groundbreaking study revealing that job candidates with Gmail addresses go on to become high-performers? This group also boasts lower turnover, higher productivity, and higher engagement than people with Hotmail and Yahoo emails. Most importantly, stay away from losers with AOL addresses — 83 percent of them ultimately fail to meet their managers’ expectations.

Did you read this study?

I didn’t think so. Because it doesn’t exist. Yet you’d never know it based on the prejudice that persists against candidates who dare not conform to superficial email snobbery.  Continue reading

Are Perks Ruining Your Company?

dragon-2099840_1280 (1).jpgI have a friend who —

OK, fine. It’s not a friend, It’s me. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud of the kinda-sorta juvenile workplace shenanigans I’m about to describe, but in the interest of making a larger point, here goes.

I once worked for a company that had a chair policy. If you were above a certain pay grade, your reward was a chair with armrests. Peons who didn’t earn enough risked falling off the sides of their seats.

Back then, I knew little about HR. I wasn’t yet versed in the power of phrases like “reasonable workplace accommodation” to annoy Linda from HR into granting certain requests (regardless of whether I technically needed an accommodation.)

So instead of asking for a chair with arms, I took one. I simply strolled into a nearby conference room and wheeled out a chair that allowed me to sit comfortably. Luxuriously. Like I finally made it in corporate America.

Then Chair Nazi came.  Continue reading

Relationships With Ghosts

halloween-1743272_1280 (1)Imagine applying for a job, getting hired for the job, and then not showing up for the job. 

I can only imagine because, you know, I’m a decent(-ish) human being. But apparently, that’s exactly what 20 to 50 percent of applicants are doing, according to a USA Today article. The story explains:

In the hottest job market in decades, workers are holding all the cards. And they’re starting to play dirty. A growing number are ‘ghosting’ their jobs: blowing off scheduled job interviews, accepting offers but not showing up the first day and even vanishing from existing positions — all without giving notice.

The Copper Rule

Some speculate that such crappy behavior simply mirrors the equally crappy behavior of many recruiters. “I learned it by watching you!”

Basically, it’s the Copper Rule, the original golden sheen of which was corroded by incivility: Be as rude to others as they are to you.  Continue reading

Equality Is a Lie

Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 11.04.06 AM (1) (1) (1).pngDo you think that people of different races are born equal? What about people of different genders?

I’m asking this because we’ve been talking a lot about equality lately, especially in the wake of the Google fiasco — you know, where that engineer was fired for writing a manifesto about gender roles. He said that women are biologically less suited for tech roles, and as a result, some of Google’s gender diversity efforts are misguided.

Except, he’s misguided. But not for the reasons you might think.

To understand why he’s wrong, it’s important to ask a larger question: What do we mean when we talk about equality? What should we mean?

Separating Wrong From Reich

To find out, everybody, hop on the bus! We’re going to take a road trip, y’all! We’re heading to Charlottesville, where I’m going to say something that only a “fine person” from Charlottesville would say: Black people are biologically dumber than white people. The most classically racist line there is, right?  Continue reading

Part of the 2 Percent

artworks-000049373797-uapeq3-t500x500 (1) (1) (1).jpgI’m part of the 2 percent. I work for the tiny fraction of U.S. companies that offer unlimited paid time off (PTO). That’s right, I get to watch The Price Is Right live as much as I want! Or something like that.

Are you jealous? Don’t be. You’re probably taking more vacation than I am — because workers under traditional use-it-or-lose-it policies usually take off more time than we 2 percenters.

At every organization, regardless of PTO policy, people feel reluctant to take days off. One study showed that 41 percent of Americans don’t take any vacation days at all. At. All.

Is that you? Are you someone who thinks your company is overpaying you so you choose to reject part of your compensation? (That’s what PTO is, after all.) Or do you fear that work will build up? (Don’t worry. Your plate will be full no matter what you can’t accomplish today, tomorrow, and many tomorrows after.) Or maybe you think your department will collapse if you’re not there for a few weeks? (The whole company, probably. Maybe even the country. The planet.) Or do you simply agonize over the optics of potentially taking off too many days? (Whatever “too many” means.)

The last concern is especially relevant under an unlimited PTO plan. At my company, I’m told that, really, no really, no but for real, really, people may take PTO as they wish. That’s why, after starting my job this past June, I’ll be taking the next six months off.  Continue reading

What If That Google Guy Were a Woman?

quiet-29763_960_720 (1).pngAs if you haven’t read enough opinions about the fiasco that a Google software engineer sparked with his memo about diversity, I’m about to offer viewpoint #67,945 on the matter. Here goes:

It was not what the guy said that offended people. It was that he had the balls to say it. I mean that literally. It was because he was a man.

Before I explain what I mean, here’s a brief recap of what went down. Googler James Damore recently penned an internal memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” in which he posited biology’s role in explaining why women are underrepresented in tech.

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” Damore wrote, citing numerous stereotypes, assumptions, and opinions explaining that chicks don’t want jobs they aren’t inherently good at. (Just stick to nursing and teaching kindergarten, ladies.)

People got offended by what they perceived as sexist remarks. Not offended enough to vote for Damore for President of the United States, but just enough for Google to fire him. The company’s diversity chief, Danielle Brown, explained that Damore’s opinion is “not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.”

Or even discusses, apparently.  Continue reading

The Lion, The Witch, and My Wardrobe

apple watchWhat’s the best part about being out of work?

When you’re no longer out of work. Obviously, getting hired was the highpoint of my recent job search. That aside, throughout my journey from unemployment to becoming Texas’ newest cowboy, I went through a range of experiences, some great, most mediocre, some far from great, and one that shocked me so much—and really, almost nothing surprises me since Nov. 8, 2016—that I can barely talk about it to this day.

Who am I kidding? I love talking about it! 

I love talking about a whole bunch of things that happened to me as I zigzagged through a process that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. (Who am I kidding? Of course I would!)

I could go on and on about the highs and the lows of my unemployment escapade, but instead, let me tell you about a couple of incidents at both extremes.  Continue reading

You Should Be So Lucky!

luck-152048_1280 (1) (1).pngNow this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute. Just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I got a job, with a bit of flair.

But before I begin, I recognize that it’s been seven hours and fifteen days since I blogged last (sorry, couldn’t resist another song reference). I hate myself even more than usual for neglecting my tens of fans for so long, so I promise to try to inform, provoke, and entertain more regularly.

With that half-apology out of the way, you guys, omigod, I got a new job!

Of course, lots of people write about how they landed a new role to encourage job-seekers brag: “Look at me, everybody! My dreams came true! And yours will, too…if you do exactly as I did.”

All this Oprah-fied pseudo-inspirational babble rarely cites the most important skill to score a job—because it isn’t a skill at all. And since it isn’t an actual ability, then everything else this slew of swaggerers spews resembles nothing more than gloating for clicks.

So, what is this essential non-skill skill that you need to win a new job?  Continue reading