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Good Boss, Bad Boss – The 10 commandments of the AWESOME boss

Inspired by the good, the best (and the worst)

By Julie Hubert, President and CEO of Workland

Many of us have had the opportunity to work for some truly amazing bosses… and perhaps some of the worst.  I personally have had the pleasure of living on both sides of the spectrum, and I can now openly say that some of those bosses inspired me to literally quit my job and… hire myself!

We don’t always fully realize the extent to which we, as bosses, affect the present and future of the people that work for us. We have the power to either give our employees wings, or cut them off. More than ever today, anyone managing staff should introspect often and ask: “How do I rate on the boss scale?” Because ultimately, people leave bosses, not companies.

Here are my «10 commandments» of the AWESOME boss to make sure people reporting to you stay motivated, dedicated and inspired to stick through good and bad times:

1.Determine intrinsic motivators: What drives each member of your team to wake up every morning? What is important to them? What needs are they seeking to fulfill through work? What are their personal goals? How do they see their career path? If you can’t answer at least some of these questions for your key employees, it will be very hard to keep them engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Show sincere appreciation: When one of your employees does something great, let them know their work did not go unnoticed! Getting paid for great work is only part of the equation and does not lead to long-term engagement. It costs nothing to show appreciation and gratitude for a job well-done or for outstanding efforts to keep people motivated and continue outdoing themselves.

3. De-dramatize and celebrate: De-dramatize the worst, amplify and celebrate the good. As captain of your boat, if you freak out, they’ll all freak out and chances are your boat won’t get through the storm, no pail will be large enough to get the water out and you won’t be able to prevent your people from…jumping ship.

4.Inspire through communication: Effective communication has always been at the base of all human relationships, work being no exception. It would be unreasonable to expect that all bosses be naturally inspiring in nature and in any case, what employees are really looking for is a connection to a cause and purpose greater than themselves. Make sure your people know on a constant basis WHY their work is important in achieving the overall mission of the company.

5.Support your people: Sounds easy but the lack of support in achieving set objectives is one of the most popular reasons why people leave their job. Once targets are set for your people, make sure they know and feel that you are there to support them, both through good (easy) and tough times (not-so-easy). What would your employees answer to the question: “When you screw up, the thought of telling your boss makes you feel… Anxious? Stressed? Neutral? Reassured? Relieved? Freaked out?

6.Empower your A players:  Find the best racehorses and let them run! In a world where technology is taking over much of the transactional work, human beings are seeking to become and achieve more. A large portion of the human potential is unleashed through empowerment, this being even more the case with A players. So, pull the reins not on your horses, but on your micro-management tendencies, to prevent your horses from running to…another stable.

7.Let your people make mistakes: We all make mistakes and any boss needs to remember that before “throwing stones” at their staff. Worse than making errors, is having staff paralyzed from the fear of making mistakes, something that most people will not endure in the long run. Next time you worry about your staff making mistakes, remember this quote: « Mistakes can always be corrected, but it is inaction that will kill you ».

8.Create and foster trust: Just like marriages, work relationships cannot survive long term without trust. All your people need to know that no matter what happens in both their professional and personal lives, they can always come to you for support, understanding and advice. Trust is built through time, by consistently demonstrating to your employees that you have their best interests at heart.

9.Go the extra mile: We’ve all heard that it is the « little things » that count and this is definitely the case with your employees. Job satisfaction is the direct result of the sum of all your actions as a boss. You have someone in your team that really stands out? Someone that has been working relentlessly for months? Offer to do something extra special for them outside the usual norm of what would be expected. Monetary rewards are necessary to keep the work relationship alive, but it is the impact of all those little things that create true loyalty.

10.Make it fun: As most people still spend more time at work than anywhere else, at minimum, you should make it a point to make it fun to work in your team. This is the place to be extra creative and why not ask your staff to contribute their ideas? As there is a time to work hard, there should also be a time to play hard, so make sure you balance the two.

Oddly enough, there are thousands of courses available on pretty much any topic, but unfortunately, none are there to teach us right from the start how to be a good boss. So we end up learning directly in the field, from the good, the best and the worst. Being a great boss on a continuous basis is no easy task but all in all, if your intentions are honorable, if you sincerely care about your employees and if you make sure to incorporate at least some of the above recommendations in your Boss DNA, you are certain to increase the likelihood of retaining, motivating and inspiring your key talents.

Do you have other AWESOME boss ideas that could have made it on this list? Don’t hesitate to let me know!

How I quit my job on Valentine’s day!

A Gift from the Heart, from Me to Me

by Julie Hubert, President & CEO of Workland

A few years ago on February 14th, I woke up, went to work, packed my stuff & walked out the door. As a Valentine’s day gift from me to me, I set myself free from a job I loved, but in a company that could not have been more of a misfit for who I was. On that day, I chose myself over money, over job security, over prestige, over expense accounts and beautiful office furniture. On that day, I chose to do what was right over doing the right thing.

On Valentine’s day, I took all of my courage, my drive and my guts and decided that never again would I force myself to work in conditions where happiness and fulfillment were not part of my everyday life. That I would work for and with people that inspired me daily, in a company that would be aligned with my personality and values, where I could have fun, be myself and do work that I loved.

Was I stressed? Of course! The “Oh my god…I quit my job!!” feeling lasted several months and just like the end of a long-term love relationship, it took some time for me to get over it.  However, instead of focusing on the stress generated by change, uncertainty, the unknown, and the shift in my work-life identity, I decided to focus on finding ways of helping people like me find happiness and fulfillment at work.

Ultimately, you can say that I once went job hunting and decided to hire myself on Valentine’s day. And ever since then, I never, ever looked back.

So on this Valentine’s day, in addition to showing your loved ones that you care, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of taking a couple of minutes to reflect on whether or not you LOVE your job and the work that you do.

Life is too short. Spend it doing something you LOVE in a company you LOVE and you’ll never work a day in your life again…

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

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About me: My company Workland has developed an intelligent talent acquisition platform that automates job search & recruitment.  Compatibility between parties is calculated to pre-qualify relationships and evaluate potential fit right from the start. Welcome to the future of recruitment!   

Want to find out more? Check out this video!

PEOPLE LEAVE BOSSES, NOT COMPANIES

During our careers, many of us have the opportunity to work for some great individuals and some…not-so-great ones. All these individuals help teach us about ourselves and develop our preferences through the years, in terms of what we look for (and avoid) in bosses. Healthy boss-employee relationships are critical as more often than not, people end up leaving their job not due to the company per say, but rather due to an unsatisfactory relationship with their boss.

Naturally, some people tend to endure negative work relationships and situations as long as they possibly can, by trying to convince themselves that it will pass or that it isn’t worth leaving a job just because of someone else. Unfortunately, it sometimes is “that bad” and it can become increasingly easy to lose sight of our personal limits as we deal with difficult individuals & situations on a daily basis.

Indeed, spending most of the week with someone we don’t get along with, will eventually lead to a series of negative repercussions, both personally and professionally. Not being able to foster a healthy work-relationship with the person in authority will never allow you to build the proper foundation for productivity and growth in the workplace. This being said, you need to ask yourself whether your level of frustration with your boss is acceptable or not. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether or not it’s time for you to start considering leaving your boss:

  • Do you get along with your boss? On a day-to-day basis, do you sense an obvious personality clash? No matter who we are, there will always be people we won’t like and with whom we are less likely to get along with. However, without being BFF with your boss, the problem comes when you are forced to interact and report daily to someone who you really don’t get along with. When asked about your boss, are you faster at listing what you hate rather than what you like about this person? If so, there’s definitely a problem worth looking into.
  • Are your work styles similar or at least complimentary? You like to take risks, manage high level and move fast, but your boss likes to take it down a notch, do 360° risk assessments and evaluate all action plans in their most minute details. Does this type of contrast sound familiar? As long as your boss gives you the flexibility and the latitude to be yourself even if you have a different style, you’ll be fine. Research actually shows that it’s preferable to have differently work styles for teams to be effective. But the day that you have to massively alter your work style to adjust it to your boss’s preferred style, know that trouble lies ahead.
  • Do you have clear guidelines and support in your work? Ultimately we all want to succeed in our work, no matter what it is that we do. However without guidelines, clear expectations and daily support in the accomplishment of set objectives, it becomes almost impossible to succeed. Do you know every day what you should be doing? Do you feel supported both through good and bad? Do you feel comfortable to walk into your boss’s office and ask for help or support for a particular situation? Remember that being aligned properly and receiving support on a daily basis from the person to whom you report, especially throughout challenging situation, are key drivers of overall job satisfaction.
  • Does your boss appreciate your work and provide you with feedback? Everyone appreciates a nice pat of the back once in a while and it does wonders to motivation levels and overall job satisfaction. Additionally, constructive feedback is imperative for growth, development and the achievement of objectives. Do you remember the last time your boss made you feel great about something you did at work? Appreciation and feedback are to healthy boss-employee relationships as air and water are to all living things. There’s just no way around it.
  • Is respect and trust built into the core of your work relationship? Respect and trust are at the foundation of all human relationships, no exceptions. Without them, constructive & productive relationships cannot exist and harmony and happiness at work become impossible to achieve. Why would someone in their right mind be happy to work 40-50 hours a week for someone they don’t respect or trust, or vice-versa? Why would you? Always keep a firm grasp on your limits and never put yourself in a prolonged situation where respect and trust are not present in your relationship with your boss.

So how to know if you should be considering leaving your boss? If you and your boss’s personalities and work styles clash, if you have no clear guidelines and support in your work, if you can’t develop yourself due to a lack of constructive feedback, and there is no trust or mutually respect; sadly, it’s probably time to seriously start thinking about leaving him or her. Whether it is through actions leading to reporting to a new boss within your existing company, or through efforts in seeking a new job and company, you probably need to start considering a move…sooner rather than later.

Don’t let the natural stress and discomfort of change make you over stay in a problematic work relationship, as whether you realize it or not, negative repercussions of growing proportions will be felt throughout all spheres of you life.  We spend a large portion of our life at work, sometimes even larger than the time we spend at home, so happiness at work is not a luxury. It’s a basic human need and everyone should be entitled to it. So if you see growing red lights in this area, take time to introspect and listen to life’s message telling you to grab your courage by the collar, get out there and start looking for your perfect boss match!

WHEN TO STICK AROUND AND WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS

6 SIGNS THAT IT’S TIME TO CHANGE JOBS

The “funny/not so funny” article on career transition

by Julie Hubert, President & CEO of Workland

Being unhappy at work is no laughing matter. We’ve all been there at some points in our careers, experiencing it at different levels of intensity. Delivered with a little side of humour (because after all, the situation is already serious enough), here are 6 signs that you should be considering a career change:

  1. Time stops, but not in a good way: You give it your all not to look at the clock, but you just cannot seem to stop yourself. It’s only 9:15AM… When you go get your coffee, you tell yourself that it will be 9:30 before you know it and then only two and a half more hours before lunch. You sit with your back to the clock in the meeting room so that you don’t get obsessed with the hands moving ever-so-slowly. When your boss leaves for the afternoon, you are tempted to call it a day at 4:30PM instead of 5PM… Are you increasingly catching yourself counting time?
  2. You have more BAD days than GOOD ones: You dread Sunday nights and you hate Mondays. Can’t say you’re a big fan of Tuesdays either. You’re okay with Wednesday; after lunch, that is, the true halfway mark.  Thursday things start to look better but you know deep down in your heart that you are a true Friday fan (TGIF!). You even bought a funny T-shirt that says “I hate Mondays” and just wearing it kind of makes you feel better for some reason. Sound familiar?
  3. The thought of something embarrassing happening to your boss makes you smile. Okay, not too many people will openly admit it, but we have all had our Ally McBeal moments (funny 90s show) when we let our imagination run wild with funny scenarios involving our boss.  If your boss treats you like a five-year-old child, why wouldn’t the thought of him or her tripping on the stairs on their way up the stage during a national sales meeting, in front of the entire company, not make you want to really laugh?
  4. Excessively happy people annoy you more than usual: So Cassandra from Accounting is starting to get on your nerves with her cheerfulness and ultra-zen answers to simple questions like “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?” Do you purposely try to avoid conversations with certain people that you know LOVE to talk about how fantastic their jobs are or the recurring question from your brother-in-law asking you: “So…how’s work?” If you can’t be happy, then NO ONE can be that happy, right? 
  5. Your performance and concentration levels are off: Do you catch yourself sometimes staring at your computer screen on autopilot? Spending a little bit too much time planning for that next vacation in 6 months or researching that Asian cooking class you always wanted to take? You know you have a ton of work to do. You tell yourself you want to perform and give your best because it is who you are, but somehow everything’s getting in the way and your usual “motivational drive” has gone missing. You are most definitely ready for a change!
  6. You find yourself daydreaming of a better place: You catch yourself dreaming about what it would be like to pick up your stuff and leave everything behind to go work in a café on a tropical island in the Caribbean. You don’t need that big house and all that stuff after all, right? No need to leave the kids or consider other crazy extremes when just finding a better work fit will be much less damaging to your finances and career. However, since the first step to any transition is to acknowledge that there is a better place out there…Dream on!

All jokes aside, being unhappy at work is definitely no laughing matter, especially when you are the one living that reality. Oddly enough, it’s the kind of thing that seems to slowly creep up on you, taking bites out of your happiness one day at a time and before you know it, it becomes seemingly unbearable and affects all spheres of your life. What’s most important is to always be able to make the distinction between a really bad work week and a really bad job fit. A career has a fixed time frame and there is no need to waste any of your good years doing work that doesn’t fulfill you completely.

Are you beginning to see an increasing number of red lights and warning signs?If you are experiencing some or all of the aforementioned warning signs, here’s a couple of recommendations:

  1. Take some time on your own, ideally in a quiet zen place, to introspect and determine what’s important to you and what passions you at work (or use to);
  2. Determine a list of work “critical factors”, your job, company & boss “MUSTS” and objectively evaluate if any or all of these factors are missing in your current job. Is it your perception of the current situation that has to change or your procedures?
  3. Based on the results of your little introspecting session, make a firm decision to either stick or call it quits and follow-up immediately with concrete action in the direction you have committed yourself to.

Need help? If you are in a very serious situation where your wellbeing and health are on the line, never hesitate one moment to seek outside advice and counselling with a professional who can objectively guide you towards the right plan of action.

Ultimately, when work stops being fun, chances are that it is probably time to consider a career transition. Even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise, no matter how stressful changing jobs can be, it is far more stressful to overstay in a job that makes you unhappy. You deserve to find that perfect match and a company that will bring you the happiness and the job satisfaction you deserve.

Remember, it could be just a few courageous clicks away…

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About me: My company Workland has developed an intelligent talent acquisition platform that automates job search & recruitment.  Compatibility between parties is calculated to pre-qualify relationships and evaluate potential fit right from the start. Welcome to the future of recruitment!   

Want to find out more? Check out this video!

Making the leap from Corporate to Start-up entrepreneur

 

Questions you need to ask yourself before leaving your job

by Julie Hubert, President & CEO of Workland

At some point in their careers, many people will ask themselves THE question: Corporate or Entrepreneurship? If you have recurring thoughts of being your own boss, avoid any regrets down the road and at least seriously consider and evaluate the possibility of making the big shift. If you are made to be an entrepreneur, not following your instincts will inevitably follow you throughout your career. The contradictions you will live in the traditional Corporate job model will have you too often feeling like a round peg in a square hole, slowly eating away at your job satisfaction and overall work-happiness. Many have successfully completed the shift from Corporate to Start-up entrepreneur and found that the benefits on the other side of the fence are numerous and extremely rewarding. However, there are some very important questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge that is sure to have you feeling like Alice in Wonderland.

Points to consider before leaving your Corporate job:

Are you willing to pay the price of Freedom? A Corporate job is a lot like being a horse in a stable. Some stables are better than others but in general it’s a pretty comfortable formula. Horses are trained to perform and give results within a discipline for which they show great potential. They have good shelter provided, feel safe and secured, are well fed, admired and have a good idea of what’s ahead of them. In exchange, they must respect and follow the rules of their owners and do what they have been trained to do, or risking having to find another stable. On the other hand, becoming an entrepreneur after having been in Corporate can be compared to a horse being set free into the wild after spending many years in the comfort of a stable. The horse is free to go as he wishes, no saddles, no bridles, no whips or rules but…no food. Predators everywhere. No shelter. No security. No fancy accessories. It’s definitely a shocker in the beginning. But the horse must and will learn to adapt in this new environment where he now benefits from being able to do as he wishes, run and play on his own agenda, create his future and reap the benefits. However, the price of freedom is that he must fend for himself constantly and be stressed as hell as he continually faces dangers and the unknown, especially in the beginning as everything is new. Is your need for Freedom more important than your need for Security?

Could you live without the great Corporate perks? In Corporate we seem to forget how great some of the benefits are, that is until we lose them. Nice offices, luxurious furniture, laptops and cell phones, higher cube walls as you move up the ladder, or if you are lucky, your very own office. Beautiful conference rooms with nice views, expense reports, nice restaurants, assistants, vacations, fancy conferences; all things you will fully or partially need to give up for some time. Jumping from Corporate to being on your own is much like going back to live in a small 1-bedroom apartment after having lived in a beautiful Westmount home. You’ll most likely start working from home in your university jogging pants or jeans and once you progress enough, shared offices is the next big upgrade. For a few years your offices will be small, modest and simple and IKEA will be your new go-to place. In exchange for what? For the opportunity to go get bigger and better perks without having to wait 20 years for them and the shot at becoming a “perk creator” for the people who will work for you. Could you trade in your fancy suit for your joggings or jeans in exchange for the express-route to that large corner office with view?

Can you live without structure? If you are an entrepreneur at heart, you probably often get frustrated with heavy structures and processes. Established companies have time-tested procedures that create direction, security and which limit the impact of errors. As an entrepreneur, nothing is structured and there are no processes, rules or pre-set objective and strategies. You’re the boss now! Finally, you are able to do things your way and implement your ideas without anyone breathing down your neck and being able to over-ride you. But since guidelines and supporting departments and services are inexistent, you’ll often be flying blind with no one to tell you the correct answer. Now that you are in charge of ALL aspects of the business instead of your functional specialty, you’ll be sure to make mistakes along the way, something kind of hard to accept for A-players… And A-players are often the ones who start businesses. However, as you test, experiment, iterate and learn through your successes and errors, you will very quickly acquire the equivalent of a hands-on MBA and the equivalent of 10+ years of experience. Can you navigate sanely without structure, outside of your field of expertise, in exchange for CEO-level training experience?

Can you live without your pay-check? Obviously the biggest risk associated with leaving your Corporate job to become an entrepreneur is the financial one. By deciding to go off on your own you’ll need to say goodbye not only to some of that hard earned money you set aside but also to your pay check. Even the simple thought of not having that steady flow of income is often the one and only thing that keeps people in jobs they hate. Letting go of that constant stream of income is probably what will hurt the most and create high levels of uncertainty, depending on your situation. You will bet your career (aka: pay-check), your reputation, probably some or all your investments and if you don’t succeed, you may be stuck with debt that you will need to pay back over a few years. Big risks = big potential paybacks but how far financially are you willing or are you able to go to follow your dream? Unless you are already well off financially, if you make the jump you’ll need to make some radical financial adjustments in your life. Can you say goodbye to your daily Starbucks latte for a while for the possibility of one day being able to earn in one month what would currently take you 10 years?

Can you handle (lots and lots of) pressure? : There is a great deal of pressure in Corporate, especially depending on your job, but when you are the leader of a Start-up, suddenly the heat is up 1000%. When you think you’ve seen it all, a bigger challenge comes out, a bigger deception that throws you off your feet or a seemingly impossible problem to resolve that has you up all night. As part of a department in Corporate, there is pressure, however, it is scattered over a team of people and further diluted through the organization. In a Start-up, even the new intern can feel the heat so imagine if you are leading it. As an entrepreneur, it’s also no longer only about yourself but also about the crazy people that followed you in your mission. What’s the ROI on all this pressure? Pressure means that you are in charge and if you are a real entrepreneur at heart, its what you have been missing all throughout your career in Corporate. Pressure is coming at you because of the challenges associate with accomplishing something great, something big, something which can have major impact in a field, in an industry and maybe even in the world…? Can you handle being responsible for people’s futures in exchange for the opportunity to become a world-class leader?

Are you ready to work 24/7? In most Corporate jobs, there is a schedule to be respected, people work hard, go home, may work a little overtime but they are entitled to “unplug” and have a life outside of work. As an entrepreneur, forget about having a normal life for a few years. The line between or holidays, vacations, week-ends and evenings will often be blurred and even if your not working, some part of your brain will be hard at work trying to resolve an issue related to your business. Actually, if you don’t watch yourself carefully, your health can take a serious beating. What do you get in return? Well at minimum, the word boredom will never be part of your vocabulary again that’s for sure. However, the real return is that it won’t ever feel like “work”. Because you are in a role that fits your profile and personality, because you are chasing a dream that you are passionate about, you’ll never “work” another day in your life. Are you ready to work hard like never before in exchange for the opportunity to never have to “work” again?

Starting and leading a business is hard. It’s not made for everyone and no books or articles can really prepare you for what’s ahead. But if you are made to be your own boss and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, you will have the time of your life and never look back and regret your decision. In exchange for some incredible “lows” you will feel unbelievable “highs” and feel alive day after day surrounded by inspiring like-minded people who share your passion for a common mission. If you know you have what it takes and you’ve found a project you are passionate about, by all means GO FOR IT! As bad as it can look from the outside, there are always solutions to the seemingly impossible hurdles that lie between you and your entrepreneurial dream. As you make your decision of whether or not to leave the comfort of your current stable, remember that what you will need to give up is no match for all the gifts, growth and incredible experience you will live in return for having been brave enough to make the jump.

Still unsure about leaving your job?

You have the entrepreneurial personality that makes you unhappy in Corporate yet you are not sure to want to face the tougher sides and risks of starting a business? Or you just haven’t found THE idea that will inspire you to give it all up and take the big leap? Why not work in a Start-up?! Your entrepreneurial side will definitely be more at peace and you can enjoy many of the perks while avoiding the major downsides of a full jump. You will definitely learn and grow at rates you could never think possible, have opportunities that would take you 10+ years to get in Corporate and acquire a certain level of entrepreneurial experience before deciding to jump. Working in a Start-up is probably the best place to live a more comfortable middle point between both worlds and their extremes, and you’ll have front row seats and actively contribute to one of the world’s most incredible and rewarding journeys.

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About me: My company Workland has developed an intelligent talent acquisition platform that automates job search & recruitment.  Compatibility between parties is calculated to pre-qualify relationships and evaluate potential fit right from the start. Welcome to the future of recruitment!   

Want to find out more? Check out this video!