Holiday Party Career Crushers

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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Wow, the year goes by and everything has changed… except the potential for bad behavior at the company holiday party. So it’s that time of year to remind everyone about holiday party protocol.

The rules are simple:

  • Remember that anything crazy you do will end up on YouTube. Your feats of daring will become part of your permanent record at the company, so to speak.
  • Dress as if you are going to a very festive wedding, not like you are going to a nightclub.
  • Take a taxi or a ride sharing service if you had too much to drink. Arrest records are even less funny come Monday morning.
  • Thank everyone you meet and let them know you are happy to be a part of the team, even if it’s not true.
  • Don’t do any thing that will cost you your job.

There is a long list of boorish behaviors that can happen at the company holiday party. A few drinks and a sense of freedom can embolden even the shyest member of the team. My favorite is when one of my tipsy colleagues did an embarrassing rendition of “Love Shack” with the band. It was an image that was burnt into everyone’s memory.

Emotional outbursts, saying things that one will regret, inappropriate flirtations and all the other activities that reflect poor judgment are always on the list of What Not to Do at the Holiday Party.

But there are two other more subtle actions that can get you into trouble or hurt you.

The first is not too much drinking; it’s too much tweeting. The holiday party is considered a “safe” zone. That is, like Las Vegas, what happens there is supposed to stay there. (Even though it is true neither of the holiday party or Las Vegas.) A “safe” zone might be the last remnant of perceived privacy. A private company event should not be publicly tweeted about to followers. While at times well-intended, other tweets can be snarky – about what someone was wearing, who shows up with who, if the party is boring, and who was drinking too much. All of that may be true but tweeting about it will come back to haunt you. Especially if your Twitter feed is public (companies do monitor those). Leave the tweet engine at home.

Another different, but equally dangerous holiday party trap, is dancing with your boss’s spouse. Do so at your own peril because there is a lot to lose and not much to gain. If you are a great dancer, you will not endear yourself to your boss when the spouse says, “Why can’t you dance like that?” If you are like Elaine from Seinfeld in the dance talent world, you will raise a few eyebrows too. Probably best to just leave the boss’s spouse alone or it could show up in the white space of your performance review.

Oh yeah, one more rule on company holiday parties. Go and have a good time.

Photo Credit: Author

Do Performance Reviews Matter?

Posted by amy & filed under Uncategorized.

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December means more than end of year financial planning and holiday parties. In many organizations the end of the calendar year means it’s time for performance reviews.

To some managers, a review is a cursory way to check one more thing off the list of things to do.

To some who are on the receiving end of the review, it is an exercise in being patient until the numbers are involved. As in, what is the rating and how does that impact my salary?

To most, conducting or receiving a performance review is akin to getting a root canal or waiting in line at the DMV. That’s too bad for all concerned. A performance review can be a time to take stock of one’s career and to consider whether or not you are working in the right place.

For now, let’s forget about the process of how organizations conduct reviews or how individual managers treat them. After dealing with hundreds of organizations I have not found a single review process that is popular or perceived to be effective. Regardless, to the organization, the review does matter. It is the “permanent record” that helps or haunts you.

More importantly, the performance review matters big time to you. Here’s how:

Exceeds Expectations: Getting a great performance review should be everyone’s goal. In most organizations it is a real accomplishment and difficult to achieve. A high rating should be the recognition you deserve for working your butt off.

But the saw cuts many ways on always getting a 4 or 5 (out of 5, with 5 being good) and raises a host of questions. Does everyone always get good reviews? Are there any financial or promotion opportunities derived from getting good reviews? Is a good review an automatic? Is it a true reflection of what I do am I being challenged? Should I go to a place where I will be more challenged?

Meets Expectations: A “Meets” designation means you are in the pack with lots of others. It means too that you should be asking yourself if you are working hard enough. It could mean too that your crazy work hours and big contributions are gong unnoticed. Or, it could mean that the organizational culture is such that no one pays any attention to reviews so everyone gets a 3. A steady diet of 3’s usually means that nothing really good or really bad will probably happen to you – and that could be a good thing.

Needs Improvement: OK, now we are in trouble and really need to do a self-assessment. Low ratings could mean that you are in the wrong career or are so dissatisfied with your job that you don’t care. It could also mean that your boss is a butthead and will never give you your due. Rather than just try harder, a 1 or a 2 on a review might mean more of a heart-to-heart with yourself to see if you need to change jobs, change careers or pay attention.

Do performance reviews matter? The answer is a resounding YES to both the organization and to you. And we should embrace reviews (love might be a strong word) because a review should matter more to you than the organization. The review should be the annual career check up and could be a reaffirmation or a wake up call. Rather than treating a review as a necessary evil that happens once a year; look at it as a reminder that life is short and we should do work that is meaningful and that we enjoy.

So for now, forget how painful the process can be and make the annual performance review process relevant for you.

Have you had a performance review that changed your career?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/iQoncept

Thanksgiving, A Universal Holiday

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.

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Thanksgiving is not just a holiday in the U.S. A holiday like the U.S. version of a day of thanks occurs in most cultures. That special day goes by many names and forms but it is still the day we savor and there is science to back up why.

In a survey conducted earlier this year, people in the U.S. were asked to identify their favorite holiday. Thanksgiving was named way more than any other holiday.

The main reason why people like Thanksgiving is because it really IS a holiday. It is a break. It is a day for family, friends and feast. That’s all. There is not as much pressure as other holidays and it is the one holiday with a crisp beginning and end. Other holidays tend to be filled with anxiety and stress to do something special, or provide gifts.

Other holidays can also drag on forever with an ambiguous beginning and a nebulous ending. Holidays like New Year’s Eve are so fraught with high expectations that the expectations are rarely met. While there are those in service or the safety industries that must work on Thanksgiving, and we appreciate those that do, most are able to take the day off to relax and spend time with their families. Even the craziest workaholic high tech workers will take Thanksgiving off.

There is no competition with coworkers when it comes to Thanksgiving. No one wants to compete on the size of a turkey or how many guests you entertained. No one wants to receive emails from you over the holiday or hear how much you worked.

It is a time for family, friends and feasting no matter the culture or country in which you live. The day may not be this week but be sure to celebrate a day of thanks once a year.

And when it comes to careers, Thanksgiving is a nice time to take stock and appreciate that you have a job you like. Or, maybe to think about changing jobs. But while you’re at it — be with your family and relax.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Mary Jo