5 Teenage Rules That Apply to Work

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.



As a general rule, teenagers are very aware of limits. They know because they test those limits all the time. Some rules, teenagers learn, can be ignored. See: “Clean Up Your Room” or “Do Homework on Friday So the Family Can Enjoy the Weekend”. Certain other rules never change and teenagers learn early that these are the immutable rules not to be tested. If these rules are tested and broken, there are consequences. Most learn this lesson the hard way.

The exact same non-negotiable rules apply to work. The consequences might be different but there are still consequences. These rules are not written down in the Employee Manual or Code of Conduct. Human Resources will not discuss these rules during on boarding but they do exist and they are not complicated, but they are very important.

Here they are: Five simple rules that apply to teenagers and the workplace.

1. For the teenager: Always let someone know where you are. If you don’t, Mom or Dad will hunt you down through friends and that could be embarrassing.

For the workplace: Always let someone know where you are if you are not at work. Are you sick? Working from home? Dealing with kids? Stuck in traffic? Don’t be labeled with “We never know where he/she is.” It will show up in your performance review for sure.

2. For the teenager: Leaving a message or sending a text doesn’t mean you have permission. The text from the teenager is usually something like, “I am spending the night at Pat’s house.” If there is no response, that means No.

For the workplace: Leaving a message that the project is off track or the work is done or that the system is down doesn’t mean it’s ok. Leaving a message means that you left a message and there will be more to discuss later.

3. For the teenager: Be home when you say you will. Period. This seems to be a difficult rule to follow but one that often has the most dire consequences if not followed. Sometimes 911 calls are involved. Going home earlier than promised will win bonus points.

For the workplace: Finish the project when you say you will. Never ever miss deadlines. Being chronically behind in the work plan will haunt you and hurt your career. Under promise and over deliver. It’s like being home early.

4. For the teenager: Know what is absolutely non-negotiable. The phrase “Give me the keys,” almost always falls into this category. When the word non-negotiable is used, it is almost always non-negotiable. Don’t test it.

For the workplace: The non-negotiable ones are always very clear. Any behavior that is racist, sexist, homophobic or in very bad taste is always a non-negotiable rule. Any violation of company policy or the law is in the same category. If you have to ask, it is non-negotiable.

5. For the teenager: If you’re in trouble, don’t negotiate. Trying to negotiate often makes matters worse.

For the workplace: Sometimes it is better to admit a mistake and move on. Making excuses and rationalizations will make matters worse. Learn and develop from mistakes.

Teenagers wouldn’t like it, but there is much to be learned from their behaviors that apply at work. Follow these simple rules and your career will thank you.

DO NOT ERASE! Whiteboards and Work

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.



I’ve noticed almost every workspace now has a whiteboard prominently featured on at least one wall, even in some pretty small cubicles. Some places have whiteboards in the hallways, cafes, and even in the bathrooms. Brilliant ideas know no bounds and we need to jot them down. Today, whiteboards are as much a part of the workplace as headphones and free coffee.

What’s more interesting is what is written on the whiteboards that seem to be everywhere.

Some are adorned with complicated formulas full of math and chemical symbols that we were supposed to learn in Calculus or Chemistry 101. The formulas can be as complicated as a scene from the movie “Good Will Hunting”. I think the formulas are put there by the computer and math majors at night, just to make sure we know there are smart people around.

A lot of whiteboards are full of words like strategic, and priorities, followed by a list. The list always has words like communication and stakeholders on it. Those whiteboards seem to never get erased and no one pays attention to them. Related whiteboard graphics are full of project management scorecards. The word “DONE” is on a lot of these boards.

Every whiteboard seems to have art down low, by the tray that holds the erasers. The art was created by all the bored kids who entertained themselves while mom or dad tried to get some things done – usually on a weekend.

Forget the overpowering smell of the markers. Whiteboards are incredible workplace tools. They allow for creativity expression; thinking out loud; keeping track of agendas; scheduling work; leaving messages for the next occupant of the space; brainstorming and keeping to-do lists.

More importantly, whiteboards are good reminders that sometimes things need to be erased and we need to start all over.

A few tips for using your whiteboard at work:

  • Never put something on your whiteboard that you don’t want your boss to see.
  • Be prepared: all whiteboards will be erased. Even when the DO NOT ERASE plea is prominent.
  • The dry erase markers will be most dry when you need them the most.
  • Take a photo of any of your important work that is displayed on a whiteboard.
  • Whiteboards are like Post-It notes – only bigger. Use them for reminders.
  • Erase your whiteboard at least once a week, put new ideas on it, even if the ideas don’t seem good at the time.
  • Placing any obscene or rude comment or drawing on a whiteboard could get you fired. And should.
  • Whiteboards that feature project plans should be color coded. Beware the red markers
  • What’s on your whiteboard?

Rich Moran is the author of Navigating Tweets, Feats, and Deletes, a book that shares workplace lessons and insights on how to succeed in today’s digitally disrupted workplace.


Coffee is the New Lunch

Posted by Richard Moran & filed under Uncategorized.


It doesn’t matter whether you drink coffee or not, in the workplace, coffee is the new lunch. Coffee doesn’t mean a drink. It means a short meeting outside of the office. It could be social, it could be networking, it could be all about business; but it means ‘not too long’. Or, it could mean “I don’t like you enough in that way” to have lunch.

Not long ago, dinner was too much time and energy to risk spending with someone you didn’t know well. The commitment was daunting. All the dating sites proved the notion that dinner was just too much. Now, it’s lunch’s turn. The alternative? Coffee.

When people invite you to a “coffee”, it means I will spend some time with you and I will probably help you – but not that much. However, the benefits to the new culture of coffee are boundless.

  • It is possible to have five coffees or more in a day. You can only have one lunch.
  • There is often nowhere to sit in coffee places so meetings tend to be short.
  • Coffee is non-fattening, assuming you don’t order a 1000 calorie coffee drink every time. Beware the double chocolate chip Frappuccino and dozen glazed donuts with sprinkles.
  • Coffee frees up lunch to get real work done. You can still have that turkey sandwich at your desk knowing that you already had five coffees.
  • Coffee is cheap, relatively speaking, so there is no wrestling over the check. If you do buy coffee, you can be gracious without going broke.
  • It is easy to sneak out of the office for coffee and you don’t have to get dressed up, even for a quick job interview. Skipping out for lunch is not as easy.

In our constant drive for efficiency and productivity, lunch is being replaced with coffee. Lunch is now reserved for true friends and making deals. In some sectors, a nice business lunch has become a luxury. And I see lots of business lunches where everyone is on his or her phone anyway. That can be done over a coffee.

Since the meeting is now only the length of a Grande Latte, you need to be prepared. If you are looking for a job, you need to have a resume that you can describe in two minutes. If you are trying to raise money, the elevator pitch is more important than ever. In fact, maybe we should change the term elevator pitch to the “medium drip” pitch. You need to know how to gauge how much time you have left in the meeting based on how quickly your partner is sucking down the mocha. And, although some would argue that business cards are so last century, you need to have one ready.

Going for a coffee is here to stay. So the next time someone asks you to have a coffee – GO. It’s not that much of a commitment for either participant. And, although it’s efficient, “coffee” could be the first step to something much bigger. And for the non-coffee drinkers out there – you should probably find something else to order in those coffee hangouts.