An Open Letter to the Work World – It’s Not A Contest

Posted by Richard Moran.



Dear Work World:

Go ahead and boast about your last raise. No worries, brag about how many hours you billed last week. Blow your own horn about how you may have gotten away with a few extra dollars on the expense report. But guess what? Work is not a contest. Work is not a competition among you and your peers, or at least it shouldn’t be. Too often today work has morphed into a never ending series of contests, big and small, that somehow rob the dignity from what we do and erode any sense of camaraderie in the workplace.

It’s too bad because most of us try very hard to like work. I like to work and I like my job but I don’t want to be in contest about who is most successful or who is most miserable. Yet, we all enter the contest at work each and every day.

Don’t believe me? How about a few examples that highlight the contests:

  • Have you ever proclaimed, “ I can’t believe it, I woke up this morning with 300 emails!” You have thrown down the gauntlet on the email contest.
  • Have you ever mentioned that you worked until 2:00am last night? Good for you.
  • I am glad that LinkedIn stops counting connections at five hundred but have you ever mentioned the HUGE number of LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends you have?
  • What about Frequent Flyer Miles? Having the most miles is definitely the contest I do not want to win.
  • How about the number of vacation days you did NOT take?
  • Ever mentioned that while on your way to work you were able to text, listen to a conference call and drink coffee all at the same time?
  • Were you the fastest to hit your monthly/quarterly goal this time? Are you gloating?

Other contests, both implicit and subtle, are part of different careers. In some, the contest is to see who can slack off the most. In others, the contest is to be bigger, faster and richest. In the worst of all contests, work should not be a battle where you are constantly at odds with the boss or co-workers. When the gladiators take positions at work, everyone loses.

Sometimes, the most important contest is with yourself to see if you can accomplish all that you want to during the day. Other days, the contest is with yourself in the hopes you can make it through the day.

Work shouldn’t be a contest. It should be an opportunity to make an impact, to do something good, to enjoy the time spent, to build relationships, to learn, to help other or at the very least, to be pleased in the knowledge that you are supporting yourself or your family.

Why does Bruce Springsteen still go on world-wide tours that are exhausting? Why does Warren Buffet spend his time in financial markets? Why do retirees often miss the workplace? The reasons are many but it’s not about a contest.

Competition at work can sometimes be good and it’s ok to sing your own praises as long as the singing is not at the expense of others.

But World, work is not a contest. It is about showing up and doing something you enjoy and get paid for it.


A Former Contestant

Never Resign Before Landing Another Job

Posted by Richard Moran.


You have had it. The boss is a jerk. The commute is giving you hemorrhoids. The chair in your work space is broken. The coffee that spews out in the office kitchen is toxic. It is time to quit. Wait a minute, don’t do it. Get the next job first, no matter how long it takes.

Several reasons come immediately to mind. The paycheck looms large in this process. As in, if you quit without a new job there will be no pay- check for who knows how long. Another big reason is that it is easier to find a new job when you have a job. Without a current job, future employers want to know what happened and will almost always give the benefit of the doubt to the employer. Were you hard to work with? Were you really fired? What is your problem?

Even in a boom market, you cannot tell how long it will take to find that new job. Could be days, weeks, months, or worse. No matter how much workplace torture, keep the job and ramp up the new job hunt.

Besides, what could be a better feeling than telling the boss you have a great new job and he or she cannot talk you out of it.

© Routledge

The Tyranny of National Boss’s Day

Posted by Richard Moran.



Monday, October 17 is National Boss’s Day in the U.S. It is an annual made up day that no one wants to celebrate. As if we needed a day at work that no one likes. Bosses don’t like the day and neither does anyone who works for a boss. And that is most of us. The “holiday” is awkward and unnecessary and the reasons are legion.

First, good bosses want neither gifts nor this artificial recognition. Good bosses are self aware and organized and don’t need cupcakes in October to be affirmed. Given financial disparities, good bosses don’t want anyone to use hard earned money for a new mouse pad gift.  It’s awkward and embarrassing and puts the boss in a spot where he or she has to say, “Thanks, now get back to work.”

From the subordinates’ perspective, the saw cuts two ways. On the negative side, there’s nothing more miserable than celebrating someone that you don’t like. And then there is the pressure if a collection being taken to get the boss a gift. If you don’t contribute, you’re not a team player.

Pull the saw the other way and it might bring out the real nature of National Boss’s Day. Remember why we like our jobs. Remember what it is that creates job satisfaction. Researchers have been working on this since the Vikings were rowing the boats.  And there are a lot of answers but one stands out. Pay and benefits are up there on the satisfaction list. Free coffee and free lunch and workout facilities are good.  The nature of the work is very important. But the one factor seems to always stand out is your boss. Yes, that boss.

The more you feel supported and mentored by your boss and the more you get along with your boss, the more satisfied you will be at work. Simple as that – the boss is always at the top of the list.

If you are a boss, remember the important role you play in the lives of everyone around you. Be the mentor and leader without having to be celebrated once a year.

If you like your job you might just need to remind your boss of how important he or she is to your job satisfaction. No flowers or candy required.

If you ignore National Boss’s Day altogether, it’s likely that no one will notice and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief – until next year.