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Wednesday
Dec312014

AT A LOSS WITH YOUR BOSS? STARTING OVER AT THE SAME JOB

Most of the time, workers have good relationships with their boss. A MSN-Zogby poll showed 58% of employees say they like their boss. But sometimes working relationships can strain and sour, which can make your job harder.

Whether it started with a disagreement, or built up over time because of frustrations with your manager’s constantly changing priorities, having a boss that you feel isn’t listening or respecting you can hinder your productivity and career. Here are some ways you can mend your working relationship with your supervisor and begin a fresh slate at work.

Be the Best You Can be
One of the best ways to repair work relationships is to step up your game. Your boss’ bonuses and performance reviews are based on how you and those you work with perform. If you make the extra effort to provide great results, go the extra mile, or volunteer to work on team projects, the benefits of your hard work will ease the tension and help restore communication and mutual respect.

By showing a willingness to work harder and produce better results, you will have proven success to lean on when you have difficult conversations. You can turn this challenge into an opportunity. Don’t let it stand between you, your boss, and your career. You may have to bite the bullet and be the one offering the hand of peace, but if you are producing good results at work, you are already prepping yourself to succeed.

Follow-up
While it’s important to be the one to instigate the willingness to repair tensions at work, it’s also important to follow up on your efforts. It could be beneficial to meet one-on-one with your manager if you feel like your boss isn’t treating you right. It will give you a chance to discuss what you are looking for and ways you can improve your work. It shows your willingness to learn, and after some good communication, circumstances should improve.

The key to making the dialogue work is to schedule follow-up meetings. After several weeks of working on the suggestions given to you, request a second meeting to see if your boss is satisfied with those changes. It shows managers that you value their opinion and are working hard to meet their requests.

Remember That Two Heads Are Better Than One
It can help to have an outsider’s opinion of the situation. Consider finding a mentor. If you feel like you’re not seeing eye to eye with your boss, talk to your trusted mentor. Hopefully they can give you some advice on how to deal with the conflict.  Having a reliable confidant to vent to will help you learn from their experiences when dealing with difficult managers and keep your thoughts in order before you accidentally say the wrong thing at work.

It’s never too late to start over with your boss. By following these tips, you can learn to understand where the conflict stems from and how to build a better working relationship from it. Who knows, you might even like your boss more after this. What are some ways you have made a fresh start in the workplace?

Friday
Dec192014

TIS THE SEASON TO BE AWARE OF CONVEYOR BELT HAZARDS

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During the holiday season, many products are being sorted and moved around facilities by conveyor belts. Because these machines can cause injury if used incorrectly, it’s a great time to be reminded about the hazards associated with conveyors and how you can stay safe on the job.

Know the Pinch Points
Although the tops of conveyor belts are flat and don’t appear to present extraordinary risks, the areas where the belt meets the rollers are serious pinch points. No matter how much slack a belt may appear to have, it’s always heavy and dangerous. In fact, thousands of hand and other body injuries are attributed to conveyor belts every year.

Dress Appropriately
If you work around conveyor belts, it’s vitally important that you avoid wearing loose clothing, jewelry, or accessories that dangle. Also, remember to keep long hair secured and away from any machinery. If hair or improper clothing items become caught between the rollers of a conveyor belt, the belt can drag the item along and potentially cause serious injury.

Stick to Your Job
Remember to perform the job you have been trained to do, and don’t step outside of those guidelines. Injuries often occur because someone sees a string or another part of the belt dangling and tries to pull the damaged piece off. In doing so, one’s hand can be pulled into the moving parts. Likewise, if a product or package gets caught on the belt, do not grab it to remove it. Instead, leave that to co-workers who are specifically trained in performing lockout and tagout procedures to avoid serious injury.

If you’re simply placing materials on the conveyor belt or removing items from it, your job should be relatively safe. But, taking a small step outside of your duties or wearing the wrong clothing can lead to serious injury.

While last minute shopping orders are going out and post-holiday sales begin, these machines will experience heavy use. Remember to dress safely, stick to your job, and keep yourself and your co-workers safe.

Wednesday
Dec172014

GIFT-GIVING GUIDE FOR YOUR CO-WORKERS

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Tis the season! With the holidays upon us, it’s the time of year when office parties and gift giving abound. It can be stressful trying to decide how to approach gift giving with your co-workers, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six simple tips to ensure the celebrations stay merry.

1. If you decide to give gifts, know you’re doing it voluntarily.

Your decision to give gifts to your fellow co-workers is 100% a voluntary decision. Most people do like to celebrate the holidays, but you may come across someone who doesn’t want to participate in gift exchanges. It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe their budget is tight and they can’t afford it. So, don’t get upset if everyone you give a gift to doesn’t give you one back. Instead, embrace the idea of giving without expecting anything in return.

2. If you plan to give one co-worker a gift, you may have to give them all a gift. 

The simple rule to remember here is that no one likes to be left out. If you give a gift to one co-worker and not another, that person may feel excluded. And you don’t want that to happen. Inclusion is the name of the game. Also, if one of your best friends works with you and you’ve bought that person a more elaborate gift than everyone else, wait until after work hours to give the gift so you can keep all workplace gifts fair.

3. Use kind words. 

Sometimes it means more to a person to hear kind words than receive a gift. Consider giving a holiday card to each of your co-workers with a message about why you enjoy working with them or that you hope they have a great holiday season and you wish them a great new year. Remember to keep it professional and sincere.

4. Avoid giving cash and keep gift spending to a minimum. 

Sure, sometimes it’s nice when your family gives you money for the holidays, because it allows you to purchase what you really want. But, when it comes to work, choose to give a gift instead. It’s more thoughtful and shows heart. And speaking of thoughtful, you don’t have to spend a lavish amount on co-worker gifts. In a 2013 holiday survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 78% of respondents said they expected to spend $25 or less on a gift, 36% said $10 or less, and 10% said $5 or less. For example, does everyone on your team like Starbucks? If so, consider a gift card with a nice message for them.

5. Suggest a department-wide secret Santa gift exchange. 

Why not suggest drawing names and buying a gift for that co-worker? If your department leader will allow, everyone could gather together for lunch or snacks at the end of the day and exchange gifts. This will ensure that everyone gets a gift (at least those who want to participate), and you don’t overspend on the celebration.

Many departments also play dirty Santa, a game where participants bring a wrapped gift and then on each person’s turn they can either choose an unopened gift or steal an opened gift from a co-worker. If your gift gets stolen, you can steal from someone else or pick a new, unopened gift. Just remember with any gift exchange, you are still in a professional environment. Avoid gag gifts or anything inappropriate.

6. Approach a gift for the boss with caution. 

The holidays are not an avenue for you to earn brownie points with management. If you’re considering buying a gift for your boss, it’s best to ask your co-workers if they would like to contribute. Make it a gift from your department rather than just you. While you may have a gift idea in mind and want to volunteer to get it, just remember the importance of including all of your co-workers.

The holidays should be a fun time full of cheer. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt about your company’s gift-exchange policy, always consult your manager first. Happy gifting!

How do you show appreciation to your co-workers this time of year? Let us know in the comments section below!

Wednesday
Dec172014

Peak Performer’s Life: What Do You Desire?

This week on Peak Performer’s Life, Walter Bond talks about successful people and the driving force behind the actions that led to their success.

According to Walter:

“I’ve been around all types of successful people, and I’ve experienced some success myself. One thing I know, if we want to be successful, we have to desire to improve. Some people have this misnomer that successful people just wake up and they’re successful. That’s not true. Success is a process and the only way you can become successful, the only way I can become successful, the only way anyone can become successful is to have the desire to improve.”

How do you maintain your desire to improve? How do you build the desire to improve among the people you lead? Let us know in the comments section below.

New messages each week!
Walter Bond and Peak Performer’s Life is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals. Don’t forget to check back each Wednesday for a new message from Walter Bond! If you missed an episode of Peak Performer’s Life, visit the archive to catch up.

About Walter Bond
A former American professional basketball player, Walter Bond’s NBA career included 153 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. Now, Walter takes what he learned from his life on the court and translates it into motivational and educational messages for thriving businesses and careers. For more information, visit WalterBond.com.

Monday
Dec152014

AVOID CULTURAL GAFFES WHEN DEALING IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

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With technology at our fingertips, studying international business, taking internships abroad, and learning about today’s global marketplace is easier than ever. Ensuring you know how to recognize and respect business dealings of other countries is an important part of the process, so check out this post from guest blogger Heide Brandes.

Knowing business etiquette for foreign meetings can help make you a job search star.

When the Executive Director of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan presented his business card to me, I took it with both hands, studying the feel of the paper, the type of font, and the spelling of his name.

When I passed my card to him, he did the same. In Taiwan, and many Asian countries, the presentation of one’s business card is a serious event. It deserves respect and the time it takes to really look at the card and study it. Why?

It’s just considered good business. In America, we tend to slide our cards in a casual way across a board room table to everyone present, but that habit would be considered rude and even insulting in other countries.

Luckily, I looked up the business etiquette standards for Taiwan before my trip, so when the opportunity arose, I was able to honor my business associate by behaving appropriately.

In international business, first impressions are vital. To put a foreign partner at ease, you must avoid cultural gaffes, build trust, and know the customs concerning business wear, body language, handshakes, and more.

Clients thousands of miles away are easily reached in today’s society through video messaging, the internet, and email. So, knowing how to conduct yourself in other cultures is vital to having business success. Not only do you have the chance to impress foreign clients and your boss, you can also make yourself stand out on a global scale.

Do Your Homework
In some Asian countries, holding eye contact for too long is considered impolite or aggressive. On the other hand, Canadian businessmen emphasize eye contact as a way of showing respect and interest in what the other person is saying.

The best way to know what’s acceptable and what’s not is by doing your homework.

The acceptable business etiquette for any country can be found on the internet and in travel books, so it’s easy to educate yourself on the common practices. For example, if you are traveling to India, it’s good to know that ordering beef at a business lunch is considered rude since cows are sacred animals in that country.

Never be late to a meeting with Canadian business executives, as they value punctuality. And when dealing with the Japanese, let them initiate a handshake first because sometimes handshakes are not acceptable.

Set Your Ego Aside
In the U.S., Americans take pride in our strengths and our individuality. Holding heads high and portraying confident body language shows one is a capable and successful business person.

But in Japan, for instance, it is common practice to divert your eyes when dealing with a business partner in a higher position than you are. In business dealings, showing respect can mean the difference between a contract or a failure.

Admit Ignorance or “The Power of Apology”
If you do commit a cultural gaffe while dealing with foreign clients, apologize quickly and make it clear that you were unaware of your mistake.

Like you, foreign clients are on unfamiliar ground when doing business outside their home country. Apologize quickly and sincerely if you make a mistake and ask your client what the proper etiquette is, giving him or her the chance to explain.

The Importance of Food
In many societies, food is a ritual. With business dealings, the same theory applies. If you are invited to a lunch or formal dinner with foreign colleagues, brush up on the local dinner table manners. For instance, never put your chopsticks upright in rice, as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burned at a funeral in many Asian countries.

While eating with your hands is acceptable in India, it’s strictly taboo in other cultures. In France, politeness dictates that you rest your hands on the table instead of your lap.

Never Assume
Every society has its rules and quirks. It’s important to know or at least attempt to know the different customs of the clients you deal with in order to maintain a level of professionalism in your career.

How about you? Share your stories – both good and embarrassing – about dealing with foreign clients in the comments section below.