The Workplace: Happiness vs Money

QUESTION

I dread going to work Monday morning. I’ve been with the same company since college, the pay is good and I’m in line for a promotion would I be crazy to give it up and how do I figure out what job will make me happier?

ANSWER

JILL:
Don’t hand in your resignation just yet; there are a couple of things to consider first. Take the time to do some thinking and some research. Start by writing down the pros and cons of your current job. This will achieve one of two things; you may discover that it is not the company you dislike but maybe the specific work that you are doing there. You might prefer a new department or position. Secondly by listing the things you dislike you will get a clearer picture of what to avoid if you do decide to go somewhere else.

If moving on is indeed the best way to go I would recommend that in these difficult economic times you have something else set up before quitting. Discovering the job that will make you happier will take time. Work with a career coach and (or) research jobs that have peaked your interest. At parties and functions keep an ear open for interesting opportunities. Ask friends and family to be on the look out for you also. Finally, just don’t scan the classifieds, the business section will often write articles about new companies that are opening up or old ones that are looking for fresh talent for new areas that they are developing.

VICKI:
The fact that you’re unhappy with your job is a sign that it’s time to move on. Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith that the job of our dreams is out there waiting for us. You may need to close one door before a new one opens up.

A promotion and, I assume, the pay increase that comes with it won’t bring you joy; you’re actually more apt to resent your work more than you do now. This is about being true to yourself. If you can’t afford to leave your job until you find another then make a move towards discovering your true passion right away.

You need to ask yourself what may seem like a silly question; before I tell you the question I want to urge you to be open minded and accept the first thought that comes to your mind and try to create potential job or career ideas around that thought. The question is – what do I want to be when I grow up?

There is no time like the present to work towards creating a life that you truly desire. What you need most is to believe in yourself and in your dreams.

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The Roles Mother’s Play – Moving Towards Your Goals

QUESTION

I look around me and see all kinds of women who, after having kids and watching them grow into little adults, start to turn their sites on re-inventing themselves and moving on with their life in a new direction, but they lack the confidence to “dive in”. Any advice on what us gals should do to get/keep our self-esteem intact through this process?

ANSWER

JILL:
First, take some time to acknowledge what you have accomplished to date; you have succeeded at (to quote Oprah), “one of the hardest jobs in the world, being a mom”. You may have had no pay, promotions or sick days but being a mom was something that you willingly did 24/7. Add to that maintaining a home, wife, sympathetic sister, caregiver, and friend; your roles and duties have been many.

When being a mom becomes less of a full time job, you are faced with yourself. However, often with all the pressures of the above, you lost that connection with who you are. You need to re-establish a sense of self before you dive in to anything. From there you will be able to start to establish the self-esteem that you will need to face the next chapter in your life head on.

Create a team to help you – coaches, business consultants, mentors or counselors. Don’t feel alone, find ways to connect with like minded women, so that you can support and help one another.

Start to pursue new interests or pick up a long forgotten hobby or passion. Practice self-care with a fresh updated image – hair, clothes and make-up. As you start to feel more yourself look at what you want to do with the future. Brush up on rusty IT skills, prepare a new resume or take courses to help open new opportunities.

VICKI:
I’m going to use the “F” word here – fear. What you say is a lack of confidence really does boil down to fear. It makes perfect sense when you have had a long term routine, especially for stay at home moms. Whether you want to get back to the workforce or start your own business it’s normal to wonder and question if you have the skills to reach your goals.

This is where it’s imperative to know what your strengths are. Moms have more strengths / skills than they ever give themselves credit for; raising another human being is the most difficult and worthwhile job on the planet. The skills used and learned for mothering can be the same ones you use to move towards your dreams – courage, endurance, patience and please don’t underestimate love.

It’s time to reflect on what you have learned being a mom and acknowledge those skills, make a list of those attributes and move forward with them, not in spite of them. Then take Jill’s step-by-step advice.

Ethics In The Workplace

QUESTION

In the company where I work we have monthly sales figures that are submitted to a board. I’ve recently discovered that my supervisor, who submits all our team’s figures, has been playing with the numbers on the report to keep in good standing with the board. I am worried that her actions will create problems for the whole sales team. I don’t know if I should say something to the board or not.

To further complicate things, I’m the person who stands to be promoted if my supervisor is fired and I don’t want to appear as though I’m trying to get ahead immorally. What do you suggest?

ANSWER

VICKI:
I envision that you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can empathize fully with that as it is the same as being in the middle of two people and I certainly know what that’s like. In these moments I rely on two things from myself: discretion in speaking to any parties involved and honesty.

In this case one person’s actions may affect many innocent people and that is what I consider the most important aspect here. The fact of the matter is that your supervisor is not acting responsibly towards her team.

You have two choices as I see it:

1. Approach the board and just let them know that you have noticed a discrepancy in the numbers. Don’t point fingers at your supervisor. Let them know that you are concerned for your team as a whole.
2. Tell your supervisor that you have noticed a discrepancy in the numbers. Approach it as if it is an error not something that was done purposefully. Tell her your concern for the team.

I’d choose the option that feels best to you, the one in which you feel you are being true to your moral values.

JILL:
The business coach in me feels compelled to take this to the next level. Which ever approach you take, there are issues around the real figures that will have to be addressed. The board is going to want to see a valid set of sales figures and to know how they can be turned around. Or your supervisor is also going to have to address how to bring up the sales figures legitimately.

However you decide to deal with this, it is business and you need to see further than the discrepancies; you need to be a contributing part of the solution.

More Than A Business Dinner?

QUESTION

My female boss has invited me out for dinner. She says that it is to thank me for landing a big client. I’m a single guy and she has kind of flirted with me in the past. How can I make sure that the dinner is all business, as I don’t want to be dessert?

ANSWER

JILL:
It is important that you approach the evening with the attitude that it is just a thank you for a job well done. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be on your guard it just means that you will be professional in your behavior. Dress as you normally would for a business dinner. Avoid colors or materials that might appear casual or sensual.

Watch your alcohol consumption.It is difficult to talk about business for an entire evening. However, choose other topics carefully. Stay away from discussing relationships. Talk about trips, hobbies, books, music; anything that is neutral.

You bring the evening to an end at the restaurant. Be gracious; thank her for the dinner and leave. Don’t do the ‘let’s go for a nightcap routine’. The invitation was only for dinner and you cannot be blamed for staying within those boundaries.

If you are really uncomfortable with the whole dinner idea you could suggest a lunch instead and ask if certain members of your team who helped you in land the client be invited. This will also help to illustrate your leadership qualities.

VICKI:
You didn’t mention your boss is in a relationship or not. There is a chance that the flirting she did was meant to be innocent and fun and you have nothing to worry about. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Be the one to steer the conversation. If your boss is already thanking you for landing a big one then this can be an opportunity for you to score points by offering her up some new business ideas. If you landed a new big account then you can sell. Use those skills to pitch your ideas to your boss. If she listens intently then she is interested in business. If she tells you that the evening isn’t for work then you know exactly where you stand.

If by chance it should come right down to it and she propositions you don’t hesitate to tell her that you enjoy working for her and how much you respect her as an employer and that you don’t believe in inter-office dating as you’ve seen others who have done so and found it to interfere with the company’s bottom line. This way she sees you have loyalty to the company and she doesn’t feel rejected.

Gossip After Office Romance Gone Wrong

QUESTION

I work in a law office and made the mistake of sleeping with one of the junior partners. I quickly broke it off when one of the secretaries told me that I wasn’t his first office fling. Problem is one of the female junior partners is telling everyone that I slept with this guy and is giving the impression that we are still together. What should I do, I am only a paralegal, which kinda makes her my boss? Do I wait for it to blow over or do I confront her?

ANSWER

JILL:
You should talk to her but there is a right way of going about this. The office may not give you the privacy that you need. Invite (don’t confront) her for coffee, if she is reluctant ask her to meet at the office in a room where you can close the door.

Frame your words carefully and be clear in your mind as to the outcome that you desire from this meeting.
Make the words your own, but there are some guidelines

“I have made a mistake, but it is over. (Insert her name here) it has come to my attention that you have been talking about my actions. I would appreciate it if you would stop.”
Don’t be defensive or explain yourself.
Use her name it puts you on an equal footing
Don’t accuse her of gossiping it will make her defensive and you will find it hard to reach a conclusion from that view point
Bring it to a polite end. This is not high school you are both professional women, who want to get ahead and be respected.

If she argues or blusters, say again ‘It’s over what you are saying to people is untrue.” If you are concerned that she will continue to gossip tell her that you will go to the Human Resources Department. You will have the upper hand in that you have tried to quietly deal with the situation yourself.

VICKI:
Yes you should talk to this woman which is much different than confronting someone, especially in an office situation.

You must always be careful whom you tell personal things at work as office gossip abounds. From the secretary to the female junior partner – how many people did you talk to this about? If only one then you need to talk to that original one person as that is how it all got started. Or possibly the junior partner you slept with started the talking in that case talk to him about his indiscretion.

One more thing, you are not “only a paralegal”, you are a vital part of that office and should be treated with respect at all times. If you were not vital your position in the office would not exist. Every position in every company is needed. How long would your office be able to operate if no one cleaned it? Not long I promise. Everyone contributes and deserves to be respected.