Monday, January 25, 2010

Q&A: Office Gossip

Dear Ms. R
I’m having serious co-worker issues. My department has its own break room. I used to enjoy eating with my co-workers. We’d dish on our favorite TV shows and our lives in general. But as of late, the daily dish has turned into mostly in-house gossip. They’ve started discussing other employee’s business, bad mouthing our bosses and just voicing their dissatisfaction with their jobs. Complain, complain! So many different people come in and out of that break room, including our bosses. The last thing I want is to get caught up in some mess. Plus, did I mention that whispering is not their strong suit. Instead of telling them how inappropriate and embarrassing it is to sit with them, I decided to just do my own thing and started leaving the office for lunch. Sure enough, they accused me of being anti-social. How can I enjoy lunch with my friends without being attached to their office drama? Should I tell them how I feel or go it alone for lunch? Sincerely, No More Drama

Dear No More Drama,
Thank you for your question. You have to love workplace gossip. Company break rooms/cafeterias can be a tricky thing. After all, lunch time is where you unwind and escape from the job’s pressures. It seems like your co-workers would very much like to keep the job alive while they’re at lunch. Let’s face it…office gossip is simply human nature. On some level, I think it’s safe to say that everyone participates in it at some point. Yet, some cases are more extreme than others. I don’t blame you for not wanting to get mixed up in your friends’ office gossip – especially when it’s being done so publicly. I also don’t blame you for not wanting to lose your lunch buddies. The best way to handle this dilemma is to be up front and honest with your friends. This way, you can enjoy a harmonious lunch with friends without the threat of being labeled the “office gossip” and offending others around you. Be gentle when expressing your opinions to your friends as you do not want to alienate them in any way. Let them know that you’re also looking out for them. It’s possible that they might be completely oblivious of the traffic in and out of the break room as they are so engrossed in dishing they’re scoop If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand and appreciate your concern. So try this. And, if this doesn’t work…lunch for one it is
Sincerely, Ms. R

Q&A: Internal Movement

Dear Ms. R,
Thx so much for creating this blog. I’ve been searching for an outlet like this for some time now. Here’s my issue. I’ve been stuck in the same job at my company for 8 years. I really enjoy my company but I’m ready for a change in my job role. I’ve applied to several jobs within my dept. as well as outside my dept. I’ve gotten interviews for some, but can’t seem to land any of these jobs. After my loyalty to the company for 8 years, it’s really disappointing that they keep overlooking me for these opportunities. I don’t want to leave the company, especially w/ the economic downturn; and they offer a good retirement plan. Who should I talk with in the company to voice my concerns?
Please Help, Stuck in a Rut

Dear Stuck in a Rut,
First of all, thank you for question, and congratulations on being the first to post to my blog! I will certainly do my best to advise you. Over the years, I have encountered many people in your situation. Working for a company you enjoy; but not entirely enjoying the same day to day routine. First let me say that I applaud you for having the desire to try something new after 8 years. It is very easy for one to become comfortable in a job, never having the desire or courage to try something new. Change can be a scary thing.
I understand after eight years your desire to assume a new role within your company. In order to make a smooth transition, you need to have a strategic plan. The last thing that you want to do is make a move within your company and become dissatisfied in the end.
Depending on the company that you work for, internal movement may be fairly easy or very difficult. In your case, it sounds like you have been having some difficulty. It’s important that you be wise about the jobs in which you apply. Keep a few of these questions in mind: is this job going to offer you an increase in pay? level of responsibility? satisfaction? It is best to only apply for the jobs in which you meet the qualifications and those that will truly offer you the new challenge that you are seeking. If you are eyeing a job within your current department, it may be a good idea to sit with your current supervisor to discuss some ways to advance yourself. He or she may encourage you to learn about the other areas of the department or give you an opportunity to cross-train in some other areas. Sometimes a casual conversation may be all it takes to get the ball rolling. Since you’re an internal candidate, your ability to get the scoop on other departments might be fairly easy. Investigate the new opportunity. In a subtle approach, get to know the department supervisors. It is also a good idea to talk with the existing staff who works in the department or within the same job role that you are seeking. You would be amazed on what you can learn about a job or the nuances of a department just by talking to the existing staff. It is your responsibility, however, to filter through all those tidbits as fact or fictions These steps will show the potential supervisor or department that you are a serious candidate and have genuine interests in the work that they do. Your ability to drop a few lines on what you learned during the interview, should you be granted one, will score your points as well!
If you’re looking for a promotion or advancement opportunity, you may need to enhance your skill set. Explore any in-house training that may be applicable to the type of job that you are seeking. If offered, take advantage of your company’s tuition assistance program. Continuing education or an advanced degree may just be what you need to make your next career move. These actions will also demonstrate your willingness to assert yourself for this new opportunity.
In the end, if you have taken some of these steps and you still don’t get the nod, it is wise to maintain your composure and be an excellent employee. You never know what the future may hold. There is certainly nothing to gain by becoming a disgruntled employee. A wise person once told me, “Dress and perform for the job that you want next; not the job that you have now.” Prove your company wrong. Go above and beyond the call of duty. In the end, at least you can feel good about yourself and the work that you have done. Good luck!
Sincerely, Ms. R

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Welcome to my Blog!

There are numerous resources designed to help employer's resolve their many workplace issues - so I dare not repeat. This blog's for you!

This Q&A blog is intended to offer you- the employee- advice and suggestions on how to resolve those pesky workplace issues. It's also a place for you to simply just vent - in confidence-. All you have to do is submit your questions or comments to me via email at I will post your question as well as my response on my blog so that you along with others who may be experiencing a similar issue can read or comment on the topic as well.

My responses are only intended to offer advice or alternative solutions to consider when resolving your issues.

In the real-world of Human Resources, many issues are considered to be in the "gray" because there is no 1 way to resolve these matters. Here - I plan to give it to you straight...HR Black & White - No Gray!

So, tell me...what's on your mind today?