Take Rosanne, For Example…

Posted by amy.

I have written nine books about work and the workplace. One was a best-seller, all of them have garnered an audience because in the books I try to tell the truth and fill in the white space in the Employee Manual. Readers will know that a constant theme in my books is:

Stop Doing Stupid S**t.

The well of material never runs dry. In my first book, written years ago, there is a sentence that reads, “If you tell a racist joke or make a racist comment, you will be fired.”

The following sentence reads: “If you tell a racist joke or make a racist comment you deserve to be fired. “

The advice is not about free speech or dodging the HR police. The counsel is based on doing what is right, at work — or anywhere else. Colleagues are not developed around people who make inappropriate comments. Teams are not formed when one member is not quite right (NQR). The workplace becomes slowly toxic when co-workers are avoided based on attitudes.

Political correctness is not even a part of this conversation. Being a harsh critic is one thing. Being a racist and broadcasting is another and is just not acceptable. The rules for behaviors at work are changing. Social media usage and dogs are part of the work scene now just to name a few. Some rules in the new workplace make you scratch your head and wonder, WHAT? Other rules, like showing up, are constant.

And racism, in any form, should not and cannot be a part of work. When people, famous or not, are fired for racism, it’s a reminder of what is right.

Ask Rosanne.

Don’t Plan To Be Late

Posted by amy.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash 

The text flashed while I was sitting at the coffee shop. “I’m running a little late,” my coffee date said. She was already five minutes late, so that was not a surprise. “No worries,” I texted back. “How late will you be?” The text reply was “@45 minutes.”

Argh, that is really, really late. Late enough that if I waited, my day would be totally disrupted. So we rescheduled for several weeks out. And it was her loss because she was the one who wanted the meeting.

Each of us has dealt with the late person. Sure, it’s annoying, since no one wants to be left at the altar or the blueberry muffin counter. At the moment you realize your business “date” will be late you have two choices.

  1. You can let it ruin your day. You can be out of sorts, kick your metaphorical dog, and be mean to the person who is late, regardless of the excuse.
  2. You can sigh and use the time productively. Enjoy the latte you bought, check out the news, and catch up on those e‑mails you need to get to.

I recommend option two.

Most of us don’t plan to be late and don’t enjoy being late, but it happens. And when it does, the real question becomes, how late is late? Let’s start with this: being late is never a   good thing. Almost always, for the one who is tardy, there is stress, a bursting bladder, and a dead cell phone. Being late is never fun for the offender.

In a day when business casual could mean shorts and ­flip-flops and when dogs hang around at the office, what does late mean? It means not on time. (According to some, not being fifteen minutes early is late.) Five minutes late is within a reasonable range and worthy of the ­good-effort grade. Fifteen minutes late is pushing it on the forgiveness scale. And anything after that is just rude and requires making a big apology and picking up the check. Thirty minutes late will have you wondering why you scheduled the meeting in the first place because it will probably not start out well.

Excuses and reasons why one is late sort of don’t matter. You are still late. Traffic is no longer a good excuse because there is always traffic. You need to bake that into plans and schedules. Good excuses do exist and usually involve blood or children.

Late means the same thing on both ends of the business equation, whether it is a lunch date or a job interview. A late interviewer is just as rude as a late job candidate. A late customer is just as rude as a late sales rep.

For the latecomers, here are some traps to avoid:

  • Don’t overbook yourself. It will guarantee that you are always behind schedule and always late.
  • Don’t be known as the one who is always late. It will brand you in a disorganized and not happy way.
  • Don’t assume that travel will ever go as planned. It never does and you need to bake in lots of time for problems.
  • Don’t arrange a meeting without the cell number of the person you are meeting. If there is a big issue you can contact your date.

Unlike many other rules in business that are morphing and changing, the late rule has not changed. Late is late.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, “better an hour too soon than a minute too late.”

Check out this resignation letter template if you are looking to leave your job.

Can We Collectively Agree to Cancel Meetings?

Posted by amy.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash 

When my son was three years old he would occasionally call for a meeting. He didn’t know what a meeting was but he heard all the adults talking about meetings so he thought they must be something worth exploring. We dissuaded him of the notion.

Some companies are eliminating the performance review process. Why not keep going and eliminate meetings? We like the doughnuts, we don’t like the smell of dry erase markers and questions like, “Can we do a process check?” Would the world end if we eliminated meetings? What would happen if we just stopped meeting?

  • Communication would suffer. Or would it? Between e‑mail, texting, and checking out all the posts on social media, would we communicate less?
  • Colleagues would not work together as well. Maybe. It does help to know one another, but is partnering enhanced through meetings?
  • Coordination between teams would be limited, we might duplicate each other’s activities, and calendars would be a big mess. The alternative could be checking project schedules and checking for intersections. Maybe the projects would get completed earlier.
  • Team building would not exist. I am not sure most people look at meetings as team building activities. Lunch is more likely to be seen as team building time. At a time when lots of people work at home, team building can come when time spent together outside of meetings is scheduled.

The alternatives to meetings now include conference calls and actual one‑to‑one phone calls with people talking. Plus, the daily “coffee” with pals and lunch are now requirements. Things do get resolved in these interactions. People figure out how to get together to solve problems without having a routine meeting.

Think of the money that could be ­saved — whiteboard markers would never dry up. Conference rooms could be rented out for Airbnb use. Think of the weight we could lose by not sitting for hours and eating doughnuts. Wait, keep the doughnuts, just put them in the kitchen.

Meetings are habit forming. We are trained in how to conduct effective meetings, but maybe we should be trained in whether or not we really need to have the meeting.

Big, progressive companies have eliminated the routine performance review. Why not move on to meetings. Can we try it? Should we have a meeting about it?