Congratulations! You submitted your awesome resume, aced the job interview, and now you’ve got the job! Wanna know how to keep your job? Don’t suck at it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Here’s to not sucking at work!
You submitted your cover letter and your resume and you finally got the call; they want to interview you! Now what?? Don’t panic. Here’s what an interview that doesn’t suck looks like from beginning to end:
No matter how stylish, edgy, cool, or awesome the salon, unless there are poles in the floor, a bouncer, velvet ropes, and dollar bills flying through the air, do not dress like a stripper. Before everyone gets offended, being a stripper is a legitimate, money-making job, but there’s this thing in the work world called “dress for the job you want.” That means, if you want to be a super stylish, edgy, cool, awesome stylist, dress like one. If you want to be a stripper, dress like one. It’s pretty simple. “What should I wear, Heather?” Great question. Anything that is clean, unwrinkled, stylish, and doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke or food or anything other than clean clothes. Black is an industry standard and a color you can’t go wrong with (and, p.s., you can buy it in volumes at Kohl’s for dirt cheap in their clearance section). A cute, shrunken jacket paired with a black wife beater or tee shirt, black coated jeans, with black boots or flats is always a cute look. Not into the coated jeans? Pair it with a black pencil skirt and pattered tights. Most important, make sure your hair, makeup, and nails are on point. The salon industry is the fashion industry. Look the part.
Interviewing for a job is like auditioning for a TV show or a movie; go in there and give them your very best. That means smile, give a firm handshake (not a wussy, sucky, dead fish handshake, or that weird, wussy handshake that looks like you expect them to kiss your hand or something – so weird), lots of eye contact, and speak clearly and articulately. Rehearse if you need to. Ask a friend, a parent, or a trusted mentor to ask you some interview questions and then rehearse your answers. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. In fact, there’s everything RIGHT with being prepared. When we’re hiring, if someone comes in prepared, polished, and on-point, we’re interested. Want the job? Be that person.
Come in with a list of your own questions. “What kind of questions, Heather?” Great question. Questions like this: What are the qualities of the ideal assistant (or, whatever position you’re applying for)? Will I be interviewing with other team members? Who makes the final hiring decision? What does a typical day look like? Can you describe it? What made you decide to open your own salon? What keeps you inspired? Do you have a favorite industry icon? If you had to start your career over, what would your now-self tell to your then-self to focus on? By asking questions like that instead of, “How much am I going to make? Am I going to get tipped out? Can I take off the week of Thanksgiving to travel with my parents? Can I leave early? Am I expected to stay even if all the clients are gone and I’m done? When will I get my own chair?” When you ask the salon owner or manager about their career, their inspiration, you’re showing them that you’re not a selfish, suck employee. You’re building rapport, developing trust and relationship, and letting them know that you are a career driven, interested, team member. People enjoy talking about themselves and their successes – especially successful people – but most people don’t want to appear like their bragging. So, by asking someone about their success, you’re giving them permission to brag and to feel good about their accomplishments. #winning
After the interview
Make sure you send a real, handwritten thank you card to whoever you interviewed with that says something like this: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I really enjoyed our conversation, and getting to learn more Salon Blah Blah and how it came to be was truly inspiring. Please keep me in mind if any opportunities become available at Salon Blah Blah. I would love to be a part of your amazing team. Warm regards, Your namn this world of digital, nothing sets a candidate apart like receiving a gorgeous Papyrus card (you can find them at Target) with a handwritten note inside. You’re welcome.
Here’s to getting the job and not sucking at it!
So, how many of you didn’t suck this week at work because of what you learned here last week? Hopefully, all of you. This week we’re gonna go over how to put together a kick ass, un-sucky resume. Ya ready?
Accurate contact information
“What does that mean, Heather?” Accurate contact information means your current telephone number, your current address, and an email address that you actually open and read. “But, Heather, I have like five email addresses that I made when I was like eleven. They’re all filled with spam and I can’t remember the passwords anyway.” I know, I know, so don’t give them those email addresses. Instead, go to www.google.com and create a gmail account that you use only for job searches. It should be your firstname.lastname@example.org, period. If that is taken, do your email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org (that should work). Just make sure it’s profesh, easy for someone else to type, and you check it every day. If you don’t want this email address to go to the email cemetery (the place where all the unused email addresses go after they’re filled to the brim with spam), don’t use it for online shopping, in store shopping, school, friends, or anything other than your job searches.
Let’s move on to your telephone number. Obviously, the number you put on your resume should be a telephone number where you can be reached easily – ie. your cell phone number. Make sure a.) that your voicemail message is a professional one, and b.) that if you don’t recognize the number but you answer it anyway, you answer it like a nice, normal person, not someone who sounds caught off guard, suspicious, or otherwise unfriendly. “What do you mean, Heather?” I’m so glad you asked. Allow me to provide examples of voicemail messages that suck:
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrringgggg: Voicemail picks up (latest pop song playing in the background is the first thing heard) then “Whut up? This is Alexis. Can’t get to the phone. Leave your number and I’ll call you back.”
Brrrrrrrrrrrrringgggg: Voicemail picks up (gritty, low voice) “Yoooo. Can’t talk. Leave them digits and I’ll holla back.”
They are both examples of unprofessional voicemails. I’m not saying you have to sound like your mom or some corporate drone, but sound like you want the job. Now, on to how-to answer the phone when you don’t recognize the number without sounding like you’re trying to screen your calls, avoid a bill collector, or afraid it’s your baby daddy’s new girl: “Hello!” Yup. It’s that simple. Just say hello in a friendly, happy voice. They’ll ask to speak to you and if it’s the job you’ve been waiting to hear from, you’ll sound happy and upbeat, possibly even excited, and they’ll hear that enthusiasm in your voice. And, if it turns out to be the bill collector you’ve been trying to avoid, you can pretend you’re not yourself (“This is her sister, she can’t get to the phone.”) or, if it’s your baby daddy’s new girl, you can go from nice to nasty in a hot second. #problemsolved
Here’s where you can connect all the awesome things you did in school to the job you’re seeking. Oh, wait, you didn’t do anything awesome in school? No worries – we’ll cover that in a later post. When putting together your resume, make sure you put your most recent education first. Now, I’m not talking about recent certifications or non-credit classes. I’m talking about official education; high school, college, beauty school, technical school, etc. Here’s an example:
Pulse Beauty Academy, Downingtown, Pennsylvania 2013 to 2014 Graduated: Diploma (received license from PA State Board of Cosmetology after passing both theory and practical exams in October of 2014)
Bishop Shanahan High School Downingtown, Pennsylvania 2010 to 2013 Graduated: High School Diploma
The most recent education is listed first with the credential received. The education prior to the most recent is listed after with the credential received. “But, Heather, I didn’t finish college. How am I supposed to put that on my resume without looking like I suck?” That’s a great question. If you attended college (or, any other school after high school) put the name and address of the school in the same format I did above but where the word graduated is put studied instead, and list the subjects you studied or the degree you were working toward. Then during your interview you can explain why you didn’t complete your degree. “But where do I put the classes where I received a certification?” Another great question. Certifications can go directly after the education heading and education content under its own heading: Certifications. K? Cool.
Your work experience
Oh, man, this is where a lot of resumes fall apart and really start to suck which really sucks because this is where your resume really needs to shine. “What do you mean, Heather?” Let me give you an example. Most people just list the tasks they were required to do at their job: sweep floors, greet customers, file, answer phones. “But, Heather, I wasn’t the CEO. I was the cashier and the stock person.” I get it, but was that all you were? Think back and answer the following questions: Did you smile? Did you help customers pick out costumes? Did you provide excellent customer service? Did you sweep the store in between customers? Did you Windex the door and windows when it was slow? Did you ask your boss for extra responsibilities? Did you come in when you weren’t scheduled if they asked you? Did you go above and beyond? (P.S. Pay attention here because this is where a superstar will stand out from someone that sucks because this is where a superstar will share all the ambitious, outgoing, kind, helpful, things they did while on their last job.) And, if you didn’t do any of these awesome things at your last job (or, your current one) then a.) you suck, and b.) at least now you’ll know how to shine on the job. You’re welcome.
Formatting your resume
Make it easy to read, don’t make it a cluster, and put it on nice paper (heavy stock). If you’re still not sure about what a great resume should look like, check out some sample resume websites like this one. Remember, you don’t have to be a corporate drone to get a job but, unfortunately, being super creative can sometimes come off as unprofessional. Finding the happy medium is sometimes the toughest part. If you want to know if your resume sucks, feel free to email me a copy of yours and I’ll let you know.
Here’s to another week of not sucking at work!
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine defines denial as this: a primitive ego defense mechanism by which a person unconsciously negates the existence of a disease or other stress-producing reality in his environment by disavowing thoughts, feelings, wishes, needs, or external reality factors that are consciously intolerable. In other words, a person pretends that a situation that is happening in their lives isn’t really happening at all. Oddly enough, however, the very mechanism people in denial use to protect themselves is the very thing that prevents them from actually helping themselves.
Considered one of the most primitive of the defense mechanisms and one of the most frequently used by individuals with an undeveloped, or immature, ability to cope with reality, denial is also usually accompanied by regression (“If I don’t think about it, it’s not real.”) and people existing in a constant state of denial and regression can pay a high price mentally, emotionally, and socially. With such harmful repercussions as a result, why do people choose to exist within these mechanisms? Sigmund Freud, the armchair psychologists psychologist, claimed that in order to reduce feelings of anxiety, human beings are driven towards rationalization. Saul McCloud, a teaching assistant at the University of Manchester, concurred stating that rationalization is the cognitive distortion of “the facts” to make an event or an impulse less threatening, or to protect the person’s self-esteem. It’s the conversation that plays out like this:
“My husband (or wife) does this (or that) behavior (or thing) repeatedly and makes me (or our family, himself, herself) look bad not because he (or she) doesn’t love me (or our family, himself, herself) but because (insert lame, overused excuse here).”
If you, or someone you know, lives in denial, you’ve heard statements similar to that one that may be about the person’s job, their family, their friends, their kid’s friend’s parents; however, most people, when making excuses like that for themselves, rationalize on a fairly conscious level. McCloud had this to say about those individuals, “For many people, with sensitive egos, making excuses comes so easy that they never are truly aware of it. In other words, many of us [they] are quite prepared to believe our [their] lies.” Sounds like a recipe for disaster for the friends and family who aren’t prepared to believe the lies. So, what are they to do when confronted with the denial and rationalization of a loved one or colleague? It’s an area where, according to another mental health professional, they had better tread lightly.
Michelle Aycock, a licensed psychotherapist and contributor for the Savannah Morning News, wrote about the impact of denial on relationships in a recent online article. Highlighting the difficulties of having a relationship with a person in denial because of the inability to confront the individual (due to the fear of repercussions), she had this to say, “Some people enjoy floating down the river of denial.” In other words, you can confront a person living in denial until you’re blue in the face but the only reaction you will most likely get is continued denial (“Your face isn’t blue at all, it’s red.”). She offers the following advice for dealing with a person using denial as a chronic coping mechanism:
Don’t try to take on or fix their problems. As difficult as it may be, let them deal with the consequences of choosing to live in denial however bad.
And for the person living in denial, she offers this:
If people are telling you you have a problem, then you probably have a problem.
Is there any hope for people in relationships with others living in denial? According to veteran psychologist, Dr. Bev Smallwood, there is. Smallwood wrote in an online post that if the person acknowledges and examines the areas in their life where they haven’t been completely honest and then, with that same honesty, reflects on her suggested activities below, there is hope.
Life is not easy and with all of the demands we are faced with in the 21st century, so it’s easy to understand why so many people choose to live in denial. Oftentimes, it’s easier than facing the ugly truth! But if are constantly living in denial because of situations and circumstances in your life that are repeated over and over again, and it’s causing the people around you to a.) not have candid conversations with you about your situations and circumstances because they know you’ll have a melt down, or b.) concur with you and your bullshit because they know you’ll have a meltdown, it might be time to step out of the river of denial and onto dry land.
I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to unemployment and young people without sounding like an old doucher (insert old man voice here: “I remember when I was a youngster and times were tough, we did whatever it took to make a dollar.”) but I just read a post by Herb Engert that put me over the edge. In it, he addresses the frightening statistics of joblessness among young people today. The entrepreneurs in the 30 and under group he researched suggested five key imperatives for action: expand funding alternatives, increase mentoring and broader support, change the culture to tolerate failure, target and speed up incentives, and reduce red tape and excessive taxation. Though compelling, these suggestions from this particular group make me want to blow my top, and here’s why.
I’ve been working with Gen Y and Millenials for close to a decade, and I have been stunned by the decline in personal responsibility, drive, and motivation each year has brought to each new population of young people I work with. I’ve witnessed a 23+ year old have a public tantrum because his instructor “didn’t respect” him (actually, I’ve lost count of how many students have publicly decried being “disrespected” by an instructor because the instructor didn’t let them off the hook). I’ve had to take countless telephone calls from parents of 20somethings and 30somethings complaining that their child isn’t learning anything and then, when confronted with the fact that their child has a 67% attendance rate, giving excuse after excuse as to why we should allow their (adult) child off the hook (“She’s having a really bad year,” “She just got her 2nd D.U.I. and she’s really depressed,” “He has insomnia and can’t be at school by 9:00. Can’t you make an exception?”) I’ve been saddened by the W.I.F.M. sense of entitlement that is so pervasive among this population, their cutthroat, back-stabbing, reality-TV-esque interactions. The “Even though you may be smarter, stronger, or better than me, I’m going to make sure you lose, or at least look bad, so that I look better; even though I’m not going to do anything to be better, smarter, or stronger. I just don’t want you to win because if you win, we’re not on the same level.” I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. After all, this is the generation where everyone won a trophy, whether they played by the rules or not. Maybe all this nonsense started there.
When I was growing up (again, insert old man voice here), if you played on a team there were winners and there were losers. If you won, you celebrated. If you lost, you licked your wounds for a minute but then you went out and practiced that much harder. No one wanted to suck or be a loser. Fast forward twenty years and at little league and t-ball fields across the nation, kids learned that it didn’t matter if they won or lost, they would still win a trophy anyway. I’m pretty sure that’s when the coaches stopped being allowed to teach kids to win because parents didn’t like it when their kid cried because they sucked – I mean, lost. So, coaches stopped coaching (or, bullying, as some psychotic parents suggested) and started telling the kids that “everyone is a winner,” which we all know is horse shit and the parents all patted their kids’ heads and nodded their own heads in agreement. Or, maybe this phenomenon occurred when parents, guilty because they both had to work long hours at the office to maintain their American Dream – Toll Brothers McMansions, mid-size luxury sedans and SUVs, golf, Abercrombie & Fitch, riding lessons, Uggs, and The Northface for the kids – decided to let their kids off the hook for everything. “I don’t feel like cleaning my room,” “I don’t want to go to practice,” “Amy has the new Uggs. I can’t believe you won’t get them for me,” “What do you mean we can’t go to Great Wolf Lodge for a week? You suck!” Exhausted and over-worked, parents started picking their battles, discipline, dedication, drive, and ass-kicking competitiveness obvious losers, lifeless on enemy soil. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. We’ll make it work,” they replied. “I was going to get you those Uggs for Christmas, honey,” they quickly recovered. “I know your team lost today but you will always be a winner,” they lied. And their kids, smug with a win, nodded in agreement, their Facebook likes, Twitter and Instagram followers, an obvious confirmation of their awesomeness (right?). The fascinating thing about this? These same parents are (gasp) shocked that their adult kids are a.) still living at home or, b.) moving back home after unsuccessful jaunts in the real world due to their unrealistic expectations of how the real world should operate (“What do you mean I’m not getting promoted to vice president of the company after being here for six months?” “They treated me like shit. Like who the fuck are they to ask me to make copies for them?” “I could run that shit a thousand times better than they do.”).
On the flip side, there are some things I admire about this generation (shocking, right?). I love the fact that they are more open to creating their own careers and that they have no fear when it comes to doing just that. I admire their confidence when it comes to self-promotion. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people tout their awesomeness, whether true or not, and the fact that they can build a business off of the spin they generate about themselves is amazing. My generation had to have proof in their pudding before they spouted off about how excellent they were but, as a result, have built long-term success is their careers and the businesses they developed. For example, alongside my husband, I helped grow our business to several million dollars a year in business from the ground up. We had no choice of funding alternatives – we went to a family friend who loaned us money to use as collateral to get more money from the bank. We had no mentors or support – the company we franchised with was brand new to the franchising game so, we in essence, grew up along with them. We would NEVER expect culture to change to accept our failure – failure wasn’t an option, period. We had no government incentives – we had achievement and success and pride as incentives. And, taxation? It is what it is and we made sure our profit margin fit within our tax structure. So, with that said, the five key initiatives I would suggest to young entrepreneurs are this:
1. Stop whining about what you need and wondering who is going to hand it to you. We don’t need to expand funding alternatives so that you can start your business. Like most people that have built successful businesses before you, get up off your ass and go make it happen.
2. Stop expecting other people to create what you need. It’s hilarious to me that with allllllll the thousands of “friends and followers” you guys all have via social media, you’re crying that you need us to create business networking groups for you guys to more readily share information. Instead of telling your thousands of friends and followers what you drank last night at happy hour, or what you’re eating for lunch today, why don’t you ask them if they can recommend a mentor? Or, if you want to build a support network for your entrepreneurial aspirations, why don’t you use your social media skills to build one? Or, should we create an association to do that for you, too? I just read something in a John Maxwell book that said something like, “If you want a glass of milk, you don’t go out and sit in a field expecting the cow to walk up to you and put its nipples in your hands.” Sage advice, obviously paraphrased, but sage advice, nonetheless.
3. STOP ACCEPTING FAILURE AS AN OPTION AND STOP EXPECTING US TO ACCEPT YOUR FAILURE AS AN OPTION FOR YOUR FAILURE. It is nauseating to go back and reread the three bullet points: government needs to promote entrepreneurs as crucial job creators (no they don’t if you do what you say you’re going to do), society needs to be more tolerant of failure and recognize entrepreneurs as innovators (“Even if you lost today, you’ll always be a winner to me, sweetheart.” Is that what you need? Then you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur.), schools and universities must help students make the right career choices (oh, that’s right, we need to parent you because your parents were so busy telling you how awesome you are and how you’ll be successful at anything as long as you believe you’re successful, that they forgot to tell you that if you want to be successful you have to work your fucking ass off.)
4. Stop looking to the government to create solutions to your inability to make shit happen. Sure, it would be great if there was a program that could help everyone become an entrepreneur but if you look at programs the government creates to help everyone, there are rarely any self-made success stories. Quite the opposite.
5. Taxation is what it is. If you think the government is going to lower taxes, or make special concessions because you want to start a business and it needs to be easier, then you’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Big businesses that have received special tax loopholes became so successful WITHOUT those loopholes that they can now hire people to go to Washington and create new loopholes for them. Soooooo, in other words, go get super successful and then you, too, can get special tax treatment.
In closing, I’m sure I’m going to receive tons of flack for this post (“You don’t know what it’s like to be young,” “You’re negative,” “You suck,” “You’re a dream killer,” “You’re already successful. Fuck you,” “You don’t understand what these kids are going through,” “Blah, blah, blah”) but I’m reminded of a quote when I think of this, as I, like Herb, do often. It’s from my husband’s grandfather who used to say: “Shit in one hand and wish in the other. See which one fills up faster.” Herb was right when he said that this is a generation that can be great, but it has to start with young folks not wishing but taking action; however, shitting in their hand isn’t necessarily an action I would suggest.
Elevator pitch. You’ve all heard the expression before but may be wondering, what exactly is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch can best be defined as your verbal business card, your sixty seconds of fame, and a great one can mean the difference between getting clients or scaring clients away. Meant to create excitement or, to create desire in a potential client to want to learn more about you or your company, a lot of elevator pitches do the exact opposite simply because the language used was dull or boring. Or, maybe the language was colorful and descriptive but the person’s down-trodden tone of voice and defeated attitude dropped the bottom out of what could have been an awesome elevator pitch. Wondering what a bad one might sound like? Here’s an example of a dull, boring pitch to the question, “What do you do for a living?”:
“I work at Pulse Beauty Academy. It’s a cosmetology school in Downingtown.”
Wow. Underwhelming, right? Pretty sure the person wouldn’t be interested in an amazing career in the beauty industry after that response. An example of a better elevator pitch might be:
“I’m a DayMaker at Pulse Beauty Academy in Downingtown. It’s where people who want to have the most exciting and successful careers in beauty, fashion, and business come to get educated.” Or:
“In the most amazing industry on earth; where people achieve their dreams, have fun, make money, and live beautifully.”
The last two sound a thousand times better than the first response, right? Now, I’m not suggesting that every person you come in contact with will be a potential lead, but you never know who knows who knows who…so, this week, challenge yourself to develop your elevator pitch. And, if you already have one, challenge yourself to develop a better one, head into your local Starbucks and test yours out. Share your successes and fails here – I’d love to hear about them!
“I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”
I’m talking about goals, you dirty rascal.
Don’t be intimidated by other people’s big &%$#^. Here are 3 easy steps to help YOU get bigger #@%$! starting today:
“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
So, go out and get some big $#%@^ of your own, and make sure you tell us about it here. We love big @#$%&.
The story is as old as time.
You’ve always dreamed of starting a business. You and a friend decide to strike out on your own. You form a partnership and, boom, you’re on your way to making your dreams come true. The partnership starts out (like most do) crazy fun. During the early days there’s a heady excitement that makes long hours, no money, and little to show for all the work you’re putting in, a “We’re-gonna-look-back-on-this-one-day-and-laugh,” experience. The stress level is high, your partner’s and your patience is worn thin, but you both suck it up and keep plowing forward. Moodiness, elation, depression – it’s par for the course, right?
Fast forward a decade and all the start-up giddiness is gone. The frenetic day-to-day roller coaster craziness? It’s been replaced with steady, business-as-usual work days. And, your business partner’s mood swings, negative attitude, and manipulative survival-of-the-fittest mentality exhibited during the start-up days? They’re all still there.
Your business is established now! Your partner’s still acting like he’s too stressed, too exhausted, too overworked? I thought times were good? You both enjoy a flexible, relaxed schedule and (finally) cushy paychecks are de rigueur. So, why is your partner still miserable? Why is he still acting like the sky is falling? Is something going on that you don’t know about? Concerned, you start digging into your company financials; who knows – maybe your partner is feeling the year-end pinch? That’s when you realize the impact your partner’s decade old eat-or-be-eaten mentality has had on the organization as a whole and now, not only are you wondering what kind of weirdo you’re shacked up with, you’re actually beginning to question the survivability of your partnership.
But wait – slow down here – everyone has a bad day, right? I mean, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to have a series of bad days, right? Starting a company is tough! And, for Pete’s sake, we’ve all snapped at a colleague at one time or another, or sulked behind our monitor for a day (or two), ignoring our office mates, mumbling about how much we hate our fucking job. Is that a reason to suddenly want to part ways? In most cases, probably not, but according to studies, If the bad days your partner is having have turned into years? Then it may be time to determine if the negative behaviors that you and your staff have brushed off as, “You better stay away from him,” “He’s in a bad mood today,” Ugh. His team lost last night,” are actually negative behaviors at all, or if your partner’s bad days are merely his dysfunctional management style in disguise.
Dictionary.com defines dysfunction as not performing normally, having a malfunctioning part or element, and behaving or acting outside social norms, and defines management as the person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business. So, then, it would probably be safe to say that the definition of dysfunctional management could be the malfunctioning person or persons controlling and directing the affairs of a business while not performing normally and/or behaving or acting outside social norms. I’m pretty sure we’ve all reported to a dysfunctional manager at some point in our careers – the sales manager who always got a bit too tipsy at happy hour sales meetings and then spent hours spilling the beans to her subordinates about her affair with the company’s VP and how it ended badly – or, the department manager who blatantly favored the guys on his team over the women and would take them to strip clubs and golf outings for meetings while leaving female subordinates at the office with a casual, “We’ll download tomorrow,” as he left the office. Dysfunctional managers are everywhere but (surprisingly) some people wouldn’t recognize one if that dysfunctional manager was their business partner. Huh? I sit right next to the guy, you may be saying. Ever hear the expression, “Can’t see the forest through the trees?” It’s based on the ancient expression, “Can’t see the psycho partner through the door.” Now you know why.
So, to determine if you have a dysfunctional business partner, take a minute to read the bullet points I gathered from Med Yones’ amazing article, and then answer the questions I added to each of the bullet points. The comprehensive article, written for the International Institute of Management’s Executive Journal, outlines with laser accuracy the characteristics of a dysfunctional workplace (which, by default, highlights the characteristics of a dysfunctional manager).
• Dictatorial Leadership: Management that does not allow disagreements out of insecurity or arrogance [How does your partner lead?]
• No 360 Degrees Feedback: There is limited or no leadership performance feedback [Does your partner allow subordinates to give him or her feedback?]
• Personal Agendas: Recruitment, selections and promotions are based on internal political agenda [Who is your partner promoting, and why?]
• Political Compensation: [raises], bonuses and perks are not fairly linked to performance [What criteria is your partner using to determine raises?]
• Unequal Workload Distribution: You’ll find some departments are underutilized while other departments are overloaded [Does your partner favor one department over another? Why?]
• Fragmented Organization Efforts: Interdepartmental competition and turf wars between rival [departments] lead to the emergence of silos, which results in communication gaps. [Does your partner create or allow turf wars? Do you find departments unwilling to work with one another?]
• Too Much Talk: Plans are heavy on talk but light on action. In a political corporate culture, image management becomes far more important than actions [Or, A.T.N.A. Does your partner talk out his or her ass but never delivers?]
• Ineffective Meetings: Argumentative and heated cross-divisions meetings with discussion and language focusing on point scoring and buck-passing rather than sharing responsibility and collaborating to solve the problem [Observe your partner in meetings – body language, posture, eye contact, tone of voice. Observe if staff members object or disagree with the partner or do they yes him or her to death for fear of backlash?]
• Lack of Collaboration: Every person for himself/herself. Low sense of unity or camaraderie on the team. The key criterion for decision-making is What is in it for me? [Does your partner encourage a W.I.F.M. culture? How has it negatively impacted your business?]
• Low Productivity: Management wastes more time and energy on internal attack and defense strategies instead of executing the work, innovating and overcoming challenges. Critical projects fall behind on deadlines, budgets and performance targets (e.g. sales, market share, quality and other operational targets) [What controls do you have in place to ensure your partner’s dysfunctional management style isn’t, or hasn’t, negatively impacted your business? Would you know if they were?]
• Constant Crisis Mode: Management team spends most of their time on fire fighting instead of proactive planning for next-generation products and services [Dysfunctional managers love to “put out fires.” In fact, you may even hear your partner using that expression all the time as in, “I’ve ben putting out fires all day.” Sound familiar?]
• Morale Deterioration: Muted level of commitment and enthusiasm by other teams. Even successful results cannot be shared and celebrated due to animosity and internal negative competition [You may have noticed the decline in morale and could have, possibly, shared your concern with your partner whose reply may have been, “Fuck ‘em,” followed by laughter to put you at ease.]
• Backstabbing: Backbiting among the [staff] becomes common and public [Perhaps your partner engages in the same behavior WITH the staff.]
• Highly Stressful Workplace: There is a high rate of absenteeism and a high employee turnover rate [Or, even worse, your employees quit but don’t leave, their work a clear indicator of their mental “I-already-quit” status.]
Still not sure if your partner is dysfunctional? Consider the greater impact your dysfunctional business partner may be having on your business. In an article written for MIT Sloan Management Review, authors Cialdini, Petrova, and Goldstein, revealed some of the additional, not so obvious, side effects of dysfunctional management that contribute to “ruinous fiscal outcomes.” They included reputation degradation [people don’t want to buy from a company that sucks], lower job satisfaction [people don’t want to work for a company that sucks], and fewer candidates in the employment pool [because people don’t want to work for a company that sucks]. Yikes. Starting to see why determining whether or not the years long depression your business partner has been in is, in fact, just depression and not dysfunctional management is critically important to the overall health of your business and, possibly, the survivability of your business? Yones’ research revealed that employees in an environment where they feel disrespected, taken advantage of, or abused, will oftentimes resort to passive aggressive behaviors like intentional sabotage, excessive absenteeism, or purposely produced substandard results in their work. “But I give them pep talks all the time,” you may be saying. I hate to disappoint you (your partner probably does that to you enough) but your positive attitude can’t make up for your partner’s shitty attitude. Yones’ study also revealed that employees view positive company initiatives with skepticism [and, oftentimes, intentionally undermine them] because buy-in no longer exists for them. Add to that the studies that have revealed that in environments where dysfunctional management is the norm, employee theft and shrinkage are exceedingly high.
The long and short of it? Having a dysfunctional business partner can not only be an aggravating energy suck (hello), it can cost your company a lot of money and, quite possibly, annihilate the dream you started the partnership with. So, is there hope for people with a dysfunctional business partner? Can dysfunctional partners be fixed? Next time, we’ll explore partnerships what happens when a dysfunctional partner is confronted and why you shouldn’t expect a healthy, normal response from an unhealthy, abnormal person.
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