Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How Your Personality Affects Your Job

Your personality is more than just the way you act. It affects the way you do your job and how you interact with other people. Understanding your personality will help you do your job better, and understanding the personalities of your coworkers and managers will help, too.

So, what type of personality do you have? How about your boss and colleagues?

Introversion and extroversion are the two main types of personalities, and you can tell which you are right away: Introverts get their energy from internal sources—reflection, lots of time alone. Introverts don’t want external stimulus. Extroverts are the opposite; they get their energy from the outside world. The more time extroverts spend with people the more energy they get.

So, an extrovert in a small, quiet office may feel out of place and not be their best self. Extroverts are going to do best when they are in energetic, open settings. They like working in teams, they like dialogue and interaction. Introverts are the opposite. They are not going to like open offices, and they prefer to work alone. Teleworking is great for introverts.

Of course, these are not absolutes. For example, there are lots of extroverts who do not like to work on teams and there are lots of introverts who do. Just because someone is an introvert doesn’t mean they are antisocial.

Most people are a combination of the two, but it is important to understand and appreciate people’s personality preferences. If coworkers don’t understand your personality preferences (and vice versa) your work life may not be as pleasant as possible. For example, extroverts may be bubbly and happy to interact with people while an introvert may prefer to keep to himself. So don’t take it personally if an introverted coworker doesn’t pop over to your desk and ask about your weekend.

If you know James in an introvert the fact that he doesn’t say hello every morning is probably more a function of him being in his own head rather than him not liking you. Similarly, just because an extrovert talks a lot doesn’t necessarily mean she wants attention; she most likely just wants to connect. Remember, people come at their personality traits as honestly as you do, so don’t be judgy. Separate the intent from the impact. Respect the differences.

Now, America loves extroverts. Seventy-one percent of America’s leaders type as extroverts, even if they are not, because they have learned and adapted some of the extrovert’s skill sets, so I always tell introverts to up their game. In the American workplace, extroversion is highly valued, and if you are a leader it is expected.

In order to connect with people you need to be extroverted. You can’t stay in your head and lead or manage. I also counsel extroverts to leave some space for the introvert. Count to five after you finish a sentence; give them a chance to respond. Introverts think first and then speak, while extroverts tend to speak and think at the same time. If you are an extrovert and you are speaking, an introvert may assume you’ve already made up your mind because an introvert probably won’t speak until she had made up her mind.

If you are an extrovert, you may need to cool it a little. Give other people a chance to speak. When you are talking, ask yourself, why am I talking? Learn to be OK with silence.

If you are an introvert learn to jump in sooner. If you wait for your thoughts to be perfect your moment may have passed by. Don’t wait.

If you are a leader it is especially important to understand the personalities on your team. You need to be an ambivert, someone who can display and understand both introversion and extroversion. For example, if you are in a meeting, your job is to ensure that the extroverts don’t take over and that the introverts are encouraged to participate.

(For more info on extroverted leaders, read this: http://careerstonegroup.blogspot.com/2014/03/extroverted-leaders-7-tips-for-success.html)

(For more info on introverted leaders, read this: http://careerstonegroup.blogspot.com/2014/03/introverted-leaders-7-tips-for-success.html)

Your personality is your operating system. Understand your personality preference so you can tell if it’s working against you or for you. At the end of the day, it’s your operating system not your program, so you can change it. And know your colleagues so you can work better together.

Good luck!

To watch my TV segment on personalities with ABC 7’s Bruce DePuyt, click here: http://bit.ly/1HFHXVw

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryabbajay

To watch my “Workplace Guru” TV segments, please visit my media page: http://www.careerstonegroup.com/media.html

For more information on Careerstone, please visit my website: http://www.careerstonegroup.com

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Beat Holiday Stress

Everyone knows the holidays should be a time of joy and togetherness, of peace and love, but it's hard to love the holidays when it just feels like one big to-do list. Here are six tips to make the holidays a happier, less stressful time:

1. Get organized. Think about the things you really need and want to do. Prioritize, make lists, and make a schedule. What gets done gets done, but if you’re organized and have prioritized everything, then you are much more likely to get the really important things done.

2. Simplify and streamline. Adjust your expectations and try to focus on the things that are really important and jettison the rest. Think quality over quantity. Maybe get the same gift for everyone or cut the list back a bit. Do you really need to do everything you think you do? Try to do with less.

3. Delegate. You don’t have to do everything. Get your spouse or family members to share the workload, and then make peace with the results.

4. Take time to look around. Literally. Stop what you are doing and look at the decorations and the pretty lights. Listen to holiday music. Window shop. Go to church or temple. Do something holiday-ish, like take the kids for a drive around town to see the lights. Take the time to enjoy the beauty of the season.

5. Keep it simple at work, and remember the rules: don’t buy your boss a gift (unless you pull her name in the Secret Santa), keep the holiday displays at home, don’t get drunk at the office party, etc. Speaking of the office party, remember that even though it is a social event, it is still work, so be on your best behavior. It’s a great opportunity to socialize, network, and develop relationships.

6. Be good to yourself. Remember to take care of yourself this time of year. In addition to the stresses of the season, colds and flu are likely going around too, so be sure to take good care of yourself. And maybe even get yourself a little something. You deserve it!

Good luck, and happy holidays!


Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryabbajay: https://twitter.com/maryabbajay

To watch my “Workplace Guru” TV segments, please visit my media page: http://www.careerstonegroup.com/media.html

For more information on Careerstone, please visit my website: http://www.careerstonegroup.com

Friday, November 28, 2014

Advice for Teleworking: Nine Tips for Workers and Managers

Teleworking, or working from home or a remote location, is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s the new normal. Between 2005 and 2009, teleworking grew by 61 percent. Ten percent of the US workforce telecommutes at least one day a week. By 2016, telecommuters will total over 5 million workers, a 69 percent increase over current levels.

Why is teleworking so popular? Several reasons. For business owners, teleworking can really save you money, since office space tends to be one of the biggest costs associated with a labor force. But workers love it, too. It offers flexibility and independence. In a recent poll, the ability to telework was the number two criteria for those polled and 33 percent said they would prefer the ability to telework over a 10 percent salary increase (all statistics, http://bit.ly/1rjGmKT).

Teleworking also has another great benefit for workers and managers—productivity. Studies show that teleworking actually improves a person’s productivity when the task is creative or thoughtful. The productivity in repetitive jobs, like data entry, proved to be about the same.

If you are a teleworker, either by choice or design, here are some dos and donts:

1. Create the right space. Sitting on the couch is probably not the best place to work. Make sure you have a dedicated workspace with the right tools for the job. You’ll need a good Internet connection, maybe a landline phone, a place for your files and supplies, a place for your computer. Most important, you want a workspace where you will not be distracted. So if you can carve out a home office where you can close the door and not be distracted by laundry that’s ideal.

2. Get childcare. Working from home is not a substitute for childcare. You need to make sure you can work rather than care for the children.

3. Make and keep a routine. Teleworking is not an excuse to sleep in late. Keep the same office hours as your colleagues.

4. Be available. Again, you have to keep the same hours as your colleagues so stay plugged in and available.

5. Respect your personality. Teleworking may not be a good fit for extroverts, who tend to do best in a social setting. So if you are an extrovert don’t stay home by yourself for days on end. Break up your day and try to punctuate it with visits to the office or social engagements. Find a local library or other open space with good wifi. Break up your solitude.

If you are a manager and have teleworkers, here is some advice for you:

1. Make your company's policy and expectations clear. Make sure your employees know your policy and be very clear on expectations about due dates, work loads, hours, availability, etc.

2. Give employees the right support. Think it through: what type of work is conducive to teleworking? What will your employees need support-wise to be successful? Give them the proper work, the proper guidance, and the proper support.

3. Manage by results. You’ve got to learn to manage by result, by the quality of the work, and this is very different than managing someone in person, by butt in the seat. Think it through: what is it you need to see results-wise?

4. Know your people, know their strengths and weaknesses. Who will be successful teleworking and what do you need to give them to be successful? Again, this is a very different type of management.

Teleworking is here to stay and growing fast. It really is the new normal. Make it work people!


If you’d like to watch my segment on teleworking on ABC 7’s Washington Business Report with Rebecca Cooper, just click this link: http://bit.ly/1rjGmKT.

 For more information on Careerstone, please visit my web site: Careerstone Group.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers and Bosses

Difficult bosses and coworkers can make your work life miserable. I recently did a segment on News Channel 8’s News Talk with Bruce DePuyt on how to deal with them. (You can watch the segment here.)

A difficult person is someone whose behavior negatively impacts the way you do your job. Difficult coworkers and bad bosses come in all shapes and sizes, including the bully, the slacker (they do nothing), the shouter, the fraud (they pretend to be busy when they really do nothing), the hypercompetitor, the blowhard, etc.

The key to dealing with difficult people is to recognize that you cannot change how someone else behaves. The only thing you can do is manage your own behavior and learn to interact and work with them on your own terms. You want to be proactive and not reactive.

But you have to remember that what’s difficult for you may not be difficult for someone else, so you have to understand how the difficult behavior impacts you. You have to understand your own triggers and how the behavior impacts you so you can find ways to manage it.

When you have a difficult person you only have three choices: Confront, cope, or quit.

1. You can confront the behavior. You want to confront the behavior and not the person. Be very clear to separate the person from the behavior, and be very clear about what you want. Confronting requires a difficult conversation in which you discuss the behavior and not the intention behind it. You want to discuss how the behavior has impacted you and/or your team and request something different. Here’s a sample for someone who takes credit for a team project:

"Sally, I understand that it is important for you to be recognized for your work, and it's important for us too. When you take solo credit for the team’s efforts it impacts us negatively. It’s demoralizing and we feel we are not being recognized properly. We’d prefer if you mentioned us too when you talk about our team’s successes."

Also, remember that there is strength in numbers. If other people feel the same way you do then bring them with you. Just don’t gang up on someone or back them into a corner. Be polite.

2. You can learn to cope with the person and the behavior. This is the "just deal with it" choice. Don’t take the behavior personally. Try to deflect it, ignore it, and find ways to operate around that it: Coping mechanisms include:
  • Avoiding the person as much as possible.
  • Keeping conversations and interactions short.
  • Sticking to a certain time limit or mandating limits on meetings or projects.
  • Working remotely or electronically.
  • Asking to be placed on someone else's team.
3. You can quit and walk away. Unless you have to, simply stop engaging with the person. Don’t interact with them at all. Just walk away. Quit the job if you have to.

Now, when the difficult person is your boss it’s considerably harder. You can always quit your job, but that’s not a good option for most people. Sadly, your options are limited.

Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about them, so find ways to work around or with them. If your boss is a bully, find ways to confront that. Self-promote like crazy. Be vocal about your accomplishments and what you can do.

Bosses and managers are the number one reason people stay or leave a job, and the number two reason is office climate. The way people behave and interact with each other on the job is critical. Just remember that you can’t change the way difficult people behave. You can only change how you deal with them. Good luck.

For more on dealing with difficult people, please see:

The Boss from Hell: How to Deal with Bad Bosses

Coworkers from Hell: How to Deal with Difficult Coworkers

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Dangers of Workplace Gossip

Work is a social environment. It’s very important to maintain good relationships with your coworkers, to be friendly, and to engage them in conversation. But work can also be a hotbed of drama. Conversations can easily turn to gossip, and that is a dangerous place to go.

How do you know the difference between harmless conversation and gossip? Simple: Consider the impact of what is being said.
  • Does it cast negative aspersions?
  • Does it create rifts?
  • Does it exult in the misfortune of others?
  • Does it have a negative emotional charge?
  • Does it serve to perpetuate conflict or negativity?
  • Is it hurtful or damaging?
  • Would you say it in front of the person you’re talking about?
Technically, any sharing of trivial or unsubstantiated information can be considered gossip. But you have to consider the sentiment. For example, if it were rumored that a coworker is being promoted, and you discuss it with another coworker, is that gossip?

Well, if the discussion is hurtful, damaging, or negative, then yes, it's gossip. If the story is told with negativity and without good will, then it's gossip. Light conversation is value neutral, while gossip is negative, inflammatory, and/or embarrassing to the person being spoken of.

How gossip hurts

Gossip can increase conflict and decrease morale. It results in strained relationships. It breaks down the trust level within groups. Gossip is the death of teamwork, as the group breaks up into small cliques, and employees start refusing to work with others.

Offices are rife with gossip, but that doesn't make it ok.

Gossip results in the supervisor spending an enormous amount of time trying to figure out who said what to whom. Or, worse, the supervisor struggles to explain to the manager that the on-going conflicts and communication problems within the workgroup are the reason work doesn't get done. Productivity is lost, as are good employees who do not want to work in toxic environments.

Breaking the gossip cycle

Here’s how to get out of the gossip pipeline:

1. Be busy. Gossipmongers want attention. If you're preoccupied with your work, you can't be available to listen to their latest story.

2. Don’t participate. Walk away from the story. Don’t give visual clues that you are interested in listening. If someone passes a juicy story on to you, don't pass it any further. Take personal responsibility to act with integrity.

3. Turn it around by saying something positive. It isn't nearly as much fun to spread negative news if it's spoiled by a complimentary phrase about the person being attacked.

4. Avoid the gossiper. If you notice one person who consistently makes trouble, take the necessary actions to have as little interaction with that person as possible. Avoid him.

5. Keep your private life private. Don't share personal information with coworkers. Remember, it's a two-way street: if they are gossiping about others, they will gossip about you, too. Don't give them ammunition.

Don't give office gossips any attention or ammunition.

6. Choose your friends wisely at work. You spend a good deal of time at work so it's natural for friendships to develop. Share information sparingly until you are sure that you have built up a level of trust.

7. Be direct. If you confront the gossiper and confidently tell him or her that such behavior is making it uncomfortable for you and other coworkers, it's likely to stop.

8. Don't be afraid to go to a superior. Gossiping wastes a lot of company time and hurts morale. A company interested in a healthy work environment will value the opportunity to correct this type of situation.

If you are the target of gossip, learn to let it go.

Now, if you are the target of gossip you have two choices. You can confront the source or make a public statement. Thankfully, gossip has a very short life span. Sometimes, the best thing to do is let it run its (hopefully) short course. Creating a stink sometimes causes more drama than just letting it go.

Put simply: Don’t be a gossip and don’t listen to gossip. Work smart. Keep your focus on the positive and don’t engage.


For more information on Careerstone visit our website: Careerstone Group

To watch my television appearances, please visit: Careerstone Media-TV

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

About To Be Fired? Here's What To Do

Oftentimes, when people get fired or laid off, they saw it coming. They may have heard rumors or rumblings, felt a change in the atmosphere, or simply read the writing on the wall. And, in hindsight, they always wish they’d better prepared themselves.

So, if you see or sense a layoff or termination coming, take action and prepare yourself. Here are five things to do the minute you feel it coming:

1. Get your resume together. You will need it right away to get back on the market.

2. Make a list of your key accomplishments at the organization. You never know--if you can wow them with everything you've accomplished and show them how important you have been to the bottom line, you may be able to sell yourself back to the company or convince them not to let you go. In any event, it’ll help get you focused on your work and what you can offer.

3. Make a list of everything in your pay and benefits package. Think through your insurance, vacation time, etc. so you are ready to ask about it. The person doing the firing or layoffs will probably be as nervous as you, so being prepared is key.

4. Be nice. I know it may be hard to even consider being pleasant to the people who may be firing you, but you want to preserve the relationship as much as possible. They may hire you back. They may recommend you for another job or steer you in the direction of another company. Don’t burn bridges.

5. Keep it to yourself. You could be dead wrong, and you don’t want to rile people up or anger management. Just keep calm, carry on, and prepare for the worst.

Good luck!


For more information on Careerstone Group, visit www.careerstonegroup.com

For more from Mary Abbajay, visit www.careerstonegroup/media

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Interview Tips: 10 Tips to Help You Hire the Right Person

Studies show that 40 percent of all hires fail. Indeed, hiring the wrong person is a huge waste of both time and money. Here are 10 tips to help you interview and hire the right person:

1. Do your homework. Think the position through thoroughly. Make a list of the skills, talents, and abilities you want for this job. We call this a competency matrix, but it’s really just a list of all the things you want. Prioritize the list, and craft questions based on what you want and need the most. And read their resumes thoroughly, check references, and do a Google search on the candidate.

2. Establish a rapport. Strike a friendly tone and use open body language. Make the interview a conversation not an interrogation. Explain the job, explain your hiring process, and be sure to thank the candidate.

3. Mind your biases. People tend to like people like themselves, so be careful you’re not just hiring yourself. Studies show that most interviewers make up their minds about a candidate in the first two minutes of the interview, so try to be open to people who are different than you.

4. Be consistent. Make sure you ask each candidate the same questions. At the end, you want to compare apples to apples, and you can’t do that if you haven’t been consistent.

5. Use behavioral-based interview questions. Past performance is indicative of future performance, so ask about real experience instead of hypotheticals. For example: “Mary, tell me about a time when you handled an irate customer” or “Steve, “tell me about a time when you lead a team.”

6. Take notes. This seems obvious but few people do it. Be sure to take notes during the interview so you can remember things later. And if you’ve made your list of competencies you can check them off or apply a rating scale.

7. Listen well and ask follow up questions. Remember, make the interview a conversation, not an interrogation.

8. Don’t forget to sell. Chances are, the candidate has other options, so the interview is an opportunity for you to sell them on the position. The candidate is also interviewing you and your company.

9. Ask the reception staff about the candidate. How did they treat your reception staff when they came in? How did they behave? This is important!

10. Follow up with the candidate as soon as possible. You are a brand, so make sure your interview process is positive. Don’t leave them hanging; it reflects poorly on your company.

Good luck!


For more information about Careerstone Group, visit careerstonegroup.com.

For more workplace tips, visit careerstonegroup.blogspot.com.