Monday, February 21, 2011

How Not to Get a Promotion at Work

I recently got a promotion at work.  I was going to write an article on how I did it and what you could do at work to get a promotion.  But I thought about it and realized that that would probably be a pretty boring topic so I decided to write about something different.  I am going to write about the things people can do to ensure they will not get promoted.  Perhaps you don't want to get promoted because you are pretty happy doing what you are doing now.  Perhaps you like making less money.  Or perhaps you want to get a promotion but are doing these things and don't even realize it.  Whatever the case may be, I decided to tell you all the things you can do to ensure you stay right where you are.

1.  Don't let anyone know you would like a promotion

Sounds pretty basic huh?  But it is the #1 thing you can do to be sure you never ever get promoted.  I have gotten several promotions in my life . I have asked for every single one.  I know, you want your employer to fall all over themselves and give you the promotion you deserve.  It is so obvious to yourself that you should get a promotion, why isn't it obvious to your boss?  Believe me, it isn't.  Here is one little secret.  Promotions don't often mean you are going to do anything different than what you currently do.  Promotions are give to the stars at work.  If you are a star, you most likely have already picked up the extra work you will have to do when you get a promotion (see #4 below). Why should an employer give you more money and a title bump when you will likely do the same amount of work you have always done?  It may be the "right" thing to do but your job has an incentive to not give you a raise or a promotion.  If they don't know you are unhappy, they won't do anything to fix it.

2.  Let your work suffer because you are not getting a promotion

Your boss wants to give a promotion to someone who does excellent work and who is mature.   Letting your work suffer in some sort of protests because a promotion is not coming or is taking longer than you want is sending the exact wrong message at the most crucial time.  A very common attitude with people who are disgruntled after not getting a promotion is to show them "just how important I really am" by not dong the great work that you think should give you a promotion.  Doing this doesn't prove anything and pretty much will put you in the doghouse with your boss.

3.  Dress provocatively/sloppily

You need to be taken seriously at work.  One of the ways to ensure that will never be taken seriously at work is dressing too provocatively or dressing down.  You want the higher position?  Start looking like you already have it.  It may not seem fair, how you look does not generally affect your work performance, but whoever said life was fair?

4.  Keep doing your job

Here is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about promotions.  Just because you do your current job great does not mean you should get a promotion.  Do you honestly think that writing great code is at all close to being able to manage people?  Completely different skill set.  So if you want to be sure to never get a promotion, just keep doing your job and never reach beyond that.  Don't show any initiative to take on things that are outside your job description.   Do not volunteer to do extra work.  Just keep kicking butt at whatever it is you are supposed to do and you will stay right there.

5.  Don't tell other people about the work that you do

Nobody is going to be a bigger promoter of you than you.  It is important that you let others know of the good work that you do.  This is not to say that you should constantly sing your own praises; nobody likes a braggart.  But you also should not quietly go about doing your job.  The thing is your boss, even if she works with you closely, does not know the full extent of everything that you do.   Your promotion is going to have to be justified by more than just your boss.  It makes your boss' job much easier if he and others can easily recite your accomplishments.  If you are not interested in a promotion, then just keep your accomplishments to yourself.

6.  Do what you are told

Huh?  How the heck can doing what you are told be a bad thing?  The problem is if you ONLY do the things that are being asked of you.  Part of being in management is dealing with ambiguity.  You can't be told what to do in certain circumstances because there is no plan to get there.  If there was a ready-made road map for the business to follow everybody would follow it and there wouldn't be any winners.  So one of the things you are going to have to deal with is not being given explicit instructions on what to do.  If you have never shown the ability or inclination to reach beyond the instructions of your boss, your boss won't be able to trust you with the things that are the most important; these are the things that she can't describe in exacting detail.  So if you want to stay at your current level, juts keep doing what you are told.  Better yet, when given an assignment that you can't figure out, just complain about it.   I guarantee you, you will look like you can't get to the next level.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview Advice - Don't Tell Uncomfortable Stories

I once was in an interview where the potential employee started to tell me a story that made me extremely uncomfortable.  I usually try to engage in a little bit of light conversation when I start an interview to make the candidate at ease.  I normally introduce myself so the candidate has a sense of who I am and the conversation can happen naturally.  When I told this particular candidate about where I had worked in the past, he started on a tirade about why he hated my old company.  This was not a passing comment that he made.  He proceeded to go on for about five minutes about why the place I worked at was pure evil.  He was very adamant about the whole situation an it made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable throughout the whole thing.  Needless to say I did not give him a hire.  Till this day, it is still a story that we talk about when we talk about odd things that happen in interviews.

So here is some really simple advice for people who are about to interview.  You want to be thoughtful and engaging.  You definitely want to be remembered.  You just want to be remembered for the right reason.  Tell a unique story.  Throw in some humor if you can.  But under no circumstance should you make the interviewer become uncomfortable.  That means you should not do the following:

  • rant on about why you hate your current job

  • tell a personally embarrassing story like how drunk you got this one time

  • go into a tirade about how underpaid you have been in the past

  • how cute you think your interviewer is

  • why you hate something about your interviewer

The saddest thing about this list?  I actually know of or have been part of instances like this.  So please, stay on topic.  Be professional.  Even if the place you are going to go to is extremely casual and fun, that does not mean you should feel free to talk about anything I have mentioned.

Do any of you have examples of when you have been uncomfortable because of something someone said during an interview?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who Knew Running Could Be So Expensive?

I recently took up running.  I am training to run in the Los Angeles Marathon in just a few weeks.  Running a marathon is one of those things that I decided I wanted to do at some point in my life.  I wanted to do it earlier rather than later before I got too old and would not be able to run a very competitive time.  I thought I would run one marathon and be done with it but it just so happens that I actually enjoy it. I will probably end up running a few more over the next few years and if I really enjoy it, I could see myself doing a couple a year until I can't run anymore.

That being said, I am ending up spending way more money on this activity than you would think.  Running is one of those things that should be really cheap.  There really is no equipment.  You just put on a short and a shirt, throw on some shoes, and then hit the road.  But over the last six months I have spent the following

  • Fee to register for the Marathon - $150

  • New shoes - $200  (explained later)

  • Arch supports - $30

  • Running gloves when I run at night and it is cold - $15

  • Running Shorts, 4-5 pairs.  $100

  • Running Shirts, 4-5 $100

  • Socks $50 (also explained later)

  • Athletic tape $15

  • Calf Compression Sleeves - $30

  • Running Light for night running - $8.00

  • ArmBand for Iphone + headphones - $30

  • Energy bars and various food items - $50

All said, that is over$750!  That is a lot of money considering most of you can just go right now and go running for free.

Now some of what I have spent is because I have had legs problems since I started running longer distances.  Right when I got to double digits in terms of miles, I have had a few different ailments, mostly shin splints and knee pain.  At first I thought it was due to what I thought were high arches.  I won't get into physiology involved with this (underpronation vs. overpronation) but basically the shape of your feet have a lot to do with the type of shoe you should buy.  At first I just bought an arch support insert thinking it would help.  It actually  made it worse.  I then looked at buying different shoes.  Higher arched people should buy shoes with more cushion so I bought the Nike Air Max+ that you see pictured above.   So I bought the shoes but unfortunately, these shoes fit a little bit small.  This made them uncomfortable to wear so I decided to buy really thin running socks rather than wear my normal thicker cotton socks.  This definitely helped the shoe fit better but I still found that running would cause me to have pain, often severe, in my legs.  This caused me to buy the athletic tape and the calf support.  This definitely helped the situation but it didn't resolve it.

After much searching, and several weeks off form running, I discovered a problem with my thinking.  Although my feet definitely have high arches, I am also quite duck-footed.  That is, my feet then to not line up straight when I either stand or I walk.  they tend to be turned outward by several degrees.  Although my arch would suggest tend to run on the outside portion of my foot, the positioning of my feet suggests I run on the inner portion of my foot.  I have gotten the completely wrong shoe!

I had not really noticed this before because the problem is only slight.  They tell people to check their running shoes to see if they wear unevenly and my shoes normally wear fine.  I believe my problem is very small, but this small problem is magnified when I run long distance.

I ended up buying the ASICS Men's GT-2150 This shoe is much better for people who tend to run on the inside part of their foot which I am apt to do because I am duck-footed. It is probably too early to know if this will actually help me out but preliminary results look pretty good.  I went on a run last night and my legs aren't bothering me that much.  I am hoping this is the end of the money I have to spend on a sport that should otherwise be free.  But I am also looking at getting the CW-X running tights (pictured below) if my knee condition does not improve.   That will be another $80 spent!  I'll let you know soon if I buy it and it helps.