4 Tips to Staying Organized as an Office Manager

Be Wise, Organize

Organized

Some people love to organize, while others take a more lackadaisical approach to their home and professional lives. Regardless of your natural organizational skills, however, you can find success as an office manager with the following four organizing tips.

or·gan·ized  [ˈôrɡəˌnīzd]

 ADJECTIVE: Arranged in a systematic way, especially on a large scale.

1) Make Organization Beautiful

As Debbie Fletcher points out on the Nimble blog, you’ll follow your organizational system more faithfully if you use beautiful supplies. Whether you like a colorful pen cup, patterned file folders, or a few mementos scattered around the office, try to make your workspace beautiful. Organization will become more enjoyable thanks to the aesthetic beauty you’ve created.

Some offices lend themselves to color and design more than others, but get creative. For example, select a themed mouse pad or bring a potted plant to sit on top of your file cabinet. Maybe you can get away only with customized stationery, as Fletcher suggests, but at least you’ve put forth the effort.

2) Keep Detailed Records

A paper trail doesn’t merely protect a business — it’s also essential for organization. When you write everything down, you can always find notes again. As the office manager, you can take point on record keeping, setting up your own system for recording information and storing records appropriately.

Most businesses now use digital records instead of hard copies. Put shortcuts to your most-used documents and folders on your computer’s desktop so that you can get to them with one mouse click. Don’t let files languish in generic folders. Move them to the correct storage site on your server or shared drives as soon as you create or receive them.

3) Download Organizational Apps

Your smartphone can do more than help you find creatures on Pokémon GO. Download organizational apps that can help you plan travel, arrange meetings, keep track of emails, and build your calendar. Since you probably carry your smartphone everywhere, you’ll always have an organizational device in your pocket.

If you can sync smartphone apps with other devices, such as your computer or tablet, you’ll get more value from the apps you use. Additionally, consider asking other employees to download the same apps so that you can share information and keep track of each other’s schedules.

4) Take Time to Purge

Similar to bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, offices can become magnets for unused detritus. Obsolete paperwork, depleted pens, unused technological devices, and stacks of sticky notes can pile up on every surface. At least once a week, purge everything you no longer need.

Don’t simply clear off surfaces. Open drawers and cabinets, too, so they don’t stay crammed with unnecessary items. Put away everything you still need so that objects have their own dedicated storage spaces. Leave notes to let other office staff know if they should return items to a certain place or avoid touching specific items.

Keeping an office organized can take work, but honing your organizational skills will help you keep the chaos under control. Use the above strategies to turn your office into a well-oiled machine, and don’t let other staff members throw off your system.

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This article was originally published on CareerBuilder on 10/28/16

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4 Tips for Managing Millennials

Actually, They Don't Suck

Work Life Balance

The millennial generation has an undeservedly bad reputation in the workforce thanks to people who have little experience with this group nevertheless calling out the entire generation as lazy, entitled, and unwilling to pay their dues.

This supposition is just a blatant misrepresentation when the truth is simply that they work differently than the generation before them. The secret to successfully managing millennials is really no secret at all.

It simply involves having a mind that’s open to new ideas and a willingness to listen to new, young employees.

Let Them Ask Questions

One thing that sets millennials apart from other generations, especially Gen X, is their unquenchable thirst for answers. That sounds like hyperbole but think of the millennials in your life as well as your work environment. This is a group that always asks “Why?”

They do not blindly follow orders; they are not yes-people.

Although this need to question the whys and wherefores of their directives may come across as arrogant, disrespectful, or even antagonistic, that’s not the driving force behind the trait. Rather, millennials simply want to understand what they’re doing and why. The previous generation raised millennials to become curious, inquisitive individuals. Let that work for your workplace.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Millennials do not crave praise. They do, however, appreciate feedback on their work and performances. They want to know how they’re doing not because they want their egos stroked, but because they genuinely care about doing a good job. Yes, they absolutely want acknowledgment for their hard work, but they also want to make sure they’re doing things

correctly. They don’t fear evaluations and they don’t get angry when they receive constructive criticism. They get better.

This is why it’s so essential to understand the causes behind millennial behavior in the workforce. It pays to look beyond the surface. To run a successful business and to get a return on your investment in your millennial employees, you have to understand this generation.

Maintain the Work/Life Balance

The work/life balance is of utmost importance to millennials. They’ve learned from previous generations that a life sustained only by work is no life at all. They know the risk of burning out and becoming demotivated.

Although this might seem counter-intuitive to a manager, understand that helping your employees balance their lives will ultimately improve their productivity and motivate them to work harder because they have the energy to do so.

Always Be Transparent

Millennials respect transparency. If something’s going wrong in the company, they want to know. If something needs improvement, they want to know. If layoffs are afoot, they want to know. Sneaky practices and subterfuge will not cut it with this generation.

Although there are certain things you cannot tell your employees, try to keep things as clear, honest, and open as possible. The payoff is worth it.

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Ryan Tyson | CopyPress Writers
ryan@copypresswriters.com

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Leading Your Business With Style

Looking Into Professional Website Design

Website Design

Leading people is one of the most challenging, yet profitable areas of growing your business. And a well designed website is the mark of a professional business.

Do you know the features that people look for in a business website? You can be sure that professional hosting and web design are qualities that even the most inexperienced web user can spot in an instant.

Leading The Pack

People who visit your business online now expect the best from your web presence. This is because people have gotten used to a very high standard of quality in the past few years. Advances in web design technology have enabled site builders to establish true works of digital art.

If you don’t have the expertise in leading your online presence, now is an excellent time for you to hire the services of a professional website designer in order to build your own home on the web.

Growing Your Business Online

No business can afford to do without a professional e-commerce website because a professional e-commerce website is no longer a luxury.

In the space of a very few short years, it has become an absolute necessity.

If you’re going to do business on the world wide web, you’ll need a headquarters to do it from. Once you have established your official site, you’ll need to install a web store from which to sell goods directly to the public. Without this essential e-commerce software in place, your website won’t be taken seriously as the home of a credible business.

Leading With Design

The design of your website is far more important than you might think. Perception is reality with many people. If you don’t have a website that is equipped with all of the latest bells and whistles, you can’t expect to engage the attention of a mass audience.

To avoid being overlooked, you need to adapt. The design of your website needs to be as attractive and modern as possible. Beyond the mere design, it also needs to be easy to load on every possible browser and easy for a visitor to navigate once they get there. Finally, it needs to be equipped with e-commerce features that enable them to use their credit card or Paypal account in order to purchase goods from your site.

Building the Right Team

If you want to build a great team, you need to cover all of your bases. So what should you look for in a web hosting service?

It’s never a good idea to sign on the dotted line for a service package that you don’t fully understand the contents of. There are a number of important qualities that you should look for in a web hosting services provider.

To begin with, you should make sure that all of the services and perks that your provider described to you in conversation are included in writing in the actual agreement.

Don’t sign a contract based on any promises you may have received orally.

If it isn’t set in stone in the contract you sign, your provider is under no obligation to actually deliver on anything you discussed.

Inspect What You Expect

You’ll also need to make sure that you can receive 24/7 customer service from your provider. This is an extremely important component of any deal. Armed with a solid contract, you can put up your site on the web and proceed to business. A good deal is the prelude to a profitable future.

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5 Professional Development Opportunities Businesses Should Offer

Professional Development

Offering useful and meaningful professional development opportunities to your staff members is one of the keys to a more effective company.

Investing in professional development may help your company avoid costly mistakes and keep your best employees motivated and increase their knowledge.

This way, it may be more likely that you’ll retain your best workers and spend less in hiring and training new staff.

5 Professional Development Tools

Here are five ways you can offer professional development choices to your staff members.

1) Collaborative Workshops

One way to help keep your employees’ skills sharp and their engagement level high is with a collaborative workshop approach to professional development. Rather than bringing in an expert to lecture for employee training sessions, try implementing a more interactive approach that allows your staff to build their skills through team sharing activities.

You can utilize your resources by helping your company’s different departments share expertise with topics like computer technology, management strategies, customer service skills, and more. You can also help foster community within the workplace by using this method.

2) Leadership Development

Next, be on the lookout for budding leaders who show promising skills that could benefit your organization’s corporate structure. Spending time on developing leaders within your company is a great way to build up your team’s supervisory skills and their own expertise in the job.

You can also look to your own backyard when recruiting for new managers instead of hiring from outside sources. Many companies find that staff members with credentials from top graduate programs, like the University of Maryland business school, demonstrate many of these leadership qualities.

3) Intern Mentoring

Another way to help get more out of your employees is with an internship program. You can partner with a university in your community, like UAB Online, and help find qualified interns who may be able to be recruited as new hires for the future.

Additionally, you can help your current staff take on new leadership duties by tapping them as intern mentors for the new class of students.

4) Online Coursework

Strong businesses also look to online coursework opportunities for employee professional development. There are many ways to bring online coursework to your staff, or you can simply encourage career growth by sharing graduate and other online classes through email or a staff bulletin board.

Some companies partner with local colleges and create low-cost courses of study that allow employees to develop new skills on the job.

5) Growth Incentives

The last method of offering professional development to your workers is through an incentive program. The most popular incentive you could give your employees for professional development is tuition reimbursement. Some companies allow workers to take a certain number of credits each year or semester and get reimbursed upon successful course completion.

Another great incentive to offer is a pay raise for employees who earn additional degrees while employed with your company.

Developing your current staff members into tomorrow’s company leaders takes some time and investment. Eventually, your time, effort, and investment dollar amount could pay off with new talent and new company ideas to help boost your organization’s profit and productivity.

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4 Ways Leadership Can Prepare Facilities for Weather Disruptions

Bad Weather Ahead

It’s essential for leadership to take incoming weather threats seriously. If not, there is the very real risk for huge revenue losses, crippling facility damage, staff and operational turmoil, and compromised customer service, all of which could put the company’s future at risk.

The question isn’t so much, “Will my facility be disrupted by weather?” as, “When will my facility be disrupted by weather?” Even in areas with mild climates, the unexpected is a regular occurrence.

Why put your bottom line in such danger when you can be proactive and put your business in an advantageous position? Leadership is supremely important when dealing with weather-related outages — as it goes, so will your business’ status during an unplanned disruption.

How to Captain Your Ship Through Its Next Storm

Despite improvements in weather forecasting in the past decade, there is still risk when storms happen. Rather than being caught off guard, use these four strategies to prepare your facility for what’s coming:

1. Draw Up a Blueprint

Every enterprise needs to prepare a thorough disaster plan that establishes protocols for staff, operations, supplies, and services. This plan should be comprehensive enough to apply to any kind of business interruption, be it weather, power loss, evacuation, road closures, missed shipments, etc.

It should also be focused enough to provide real guidance and direction in the event of chaos. Make sure this plan is widely shared, practiced, and available even if your primary location is inaccessible.

2. Talk To Your Team

Communication is essential before, during, and after a severe weather event. Unfortunately, making calls, sending emails, or even meeting face-to-face may all be impossible during a disaster.

Explain to your staff when, where, and how to exchange information, and have multiple backup communication plans in place. You should also establish clear hierarchies and contact trees so nobody in your organization gets left in the dark.

3. Get the Gear and Service You Need

The supplies you need and the service you require to endure a weather event may not be available once that event is on the horizon or underway.

Supplies can be something as small as a snow shovel and rock salt, or as significant as boards and tools to cover your windows and doors, or a generator to provide backup power. Have as many of these items nearby as possible, including food, water, or extra fuel for your generator.

If the “gear” you need is service, make sure vendors are available to support you during an emergency.

4. Be a Good Neighbor

If your business is disrupted, it’s quite likely surrounding shops and residents are, too. Rather than adopting an “every person for himself” mentality, look for ways to use your facilities, resources, staff, and expertise to help with the disaster effort.

This is a welcome demonstration of corporate citizenship that can not only help build goodwill for your business, but can also keep your company in the public’s mind for patronization when the weather clears up.

Your goal whenever weather affects facilities, operations, staff, or supply chain is to maintain business continuity. If you must close, your aim should be to stay closed only until it’s safe to resume working. You don’t want to invite unnecessary risks, but you also don’t want to be overly cautious and damage your reputation or growth potential as a result of an unexpected storm.

The only way to marshal the suitable response is to act early and appropriately based on extensive plans and protocols. If any aspect of your business is unprepared for the next blizzard, hurricane, flood, or fire, now is the time to shore up your defenses. Organizations that embrace a culture of preparedness can keep any disruption, no matter its form, from turning into a disaster.

No matter when or where the next storm happens, forethought, technology, and tenacity in preparation eliminates the need to guess if or when. This way, when it happens, despite timing or location, leaders can operate from a position of strength in a time of vulnerability.

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——————–
Dave Gorham

Dave Gorham is Senior Meteorologist at StormGeo
He is a former U.S. Air Force meteorologist with expertise in aviation meteorology and severe weather.
Email | LinkedIn | Website

Image Sources: savainsurance.com

 

Leadership Lessons Learned From the Playing Fields

by Leah Fygetakis

Girls Rugby

When I was in college, I played on a women’s recreational touch football team.  We were known as the Iron Ovaries. Those were the days of women claiming our rightful place in being able to do whatever men could do. 

Yes, the times were changing… but have they really?

Ask yourself this question:

Are women today seen as men’s equals in their credibility and effectiveness as problem-solvers and as leaders?

You Throw Like a Girl

When this is said to a man, it is a powerful accusation that can send him back to a place of childhood shame in no time flat.  For a boy to be like a girl is to be weak.

So I ask you, how many men do you know who can easily exercise compassion in the course of their leadership?  Do examples of such behavior come to mind in equal numbers among the men and women  leaders within your network?

There is no one right answer, of course.  Likely, it is variable among fields of businessorganizational cultures, and individual differences.  But, I am curious over how we play out or preferably, move on from life’s early lessons so we can lead with a full toolbox of options.

The best toolbox is one that has a “yin” for every “yang” of behavior.  There is a time and a place when all good leaders must be able to display a “steely resolve”, and one where they must be able to exercise “gracious acceptance.”

Subtle Rebuttal

As parents, we would like to think that we are raising our sons and daughters to value who they are and to not get stuck in the traditional sex roles of yesteryear.  I am coming to recognize that this is a taller order than I thought.  It plays out in the most subtle of ways.  I have three short vignettes that show the stubborn, unconscious hold that sex role stereotypes have in how we think and act.

We are all “guilty” of stereotyping roles to specific genders. Both men and women do this even though that cognitively most of us agree that these stereotypes should have no place in business. We generally agree it is best to simply make the best use of our human capital without regard to gender. But this always doesn’t play out in a gender-neutral way.

What does this mean for the workplace when so many of us wear these blinders?  Are we unable to recognize the talent and the resources that are plainly right in front of us?

Vignette 1

I am on the soccer field and it is a very hot day.  The coach motions my 8-year-old son to the sidelines and I ask him if he would like some water.  He takes the bottle of water, but struggles to loosen the cap.  “Here, let me help you,” I say.  He ignores me and walks over to his coach, hands him the bottle and accepts his help.  Apparently, cap-loosening is a “man’s job.”

Vignette 2

I was almost always present for my sons’ baseball practices.  Often, the coaches solicited extra help from among the dads who were there.  One day, my sons and I were early and I was hitting balls on the diamond for them.  I played ball in high school.  More kids arrived and joined in.  The first coach arrived and I started to hand the bat over to him.

“Oh no,” he said, “you are doing just fine.  Keep going.”

” Why didn’t you tell me you could help?” he added.

“I guess I didn’t want to insert myself in the middle of all that good male bonding going on” I replied.

“That’s silly,” he said, “we need the help.”

I wanted to say, “Well all you had to do was ask, just like you’ve asked every dad who has been out here” (some of whom had chatted about how they had never played organized baseball). Uhhhhh…

However, rather than adding my comment I thought this would be an excellent time to exercise my gracious acceptance and say nothing.

Vignette 3

Early in my career, I taught psychology and women’s studies courses for undergraduates.  I was extremely well versed on sex role stereotyping.  During this time, I got my first pet, a weeks-old stray kitten.  Having never had pets before, I accepted the vet’s pronouncement that the kitten was male.  It was a bundle of energy and I took to rough-housing with it a lot.  It wasn’t until the kitten went into its first heat that I realized it was female.

Soon after, in the middle of a rough-housing session, I suddenly stopped.  Slowly it seeped into my consciousness that I had thought I was being too rough.  But I wasn’t being any rougher than I had been before.  The only thing that had changed was my knowledge that this was a female kitten.

It was an “Aha, I gotcha” moment in realizing that even though I was an expert on sex role stereotyping, their power still had a hold on my unconscious.  What a lesson!

Looking in the Mirror

I return to my point that even though most of us “know better,” sex role socialization and stereotypes are hard to erase in our unconscious thoughts and actions.  To counter this, for myself, this has meant building in some regular self-reflection check-ins.

I ask myself, “Would my impressions be any different if this person were the other sex?  Would I be acting any differently?”

What are your thoughts and experiences around gender, sex roles, and leadership?  How do you keep yourself aware and honest? What has stuck in your mind about sex roles that might need to be reconsidered? I’d love to hear what is going on between your ears!

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Leah Fygetakis is Founder and Principal of Directed Success
She can be reached at leahfygetakis@comcast.net

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Billionaire Birthday

A Global Leader Turns 66

Infographic Courtesy of Frame Your TV

 

On Leadership and Optimistic Fearlessness

How Your Small Business Can Beat the Goliaths

Small Guy vs. Big Guy

If you have an idea for a small business or startup, but feel discouraged because you feel you can’t hope to compete with the big guys, you need not give up on your dreams.

Hamburgers were around before McDonald’s got its start, and the same is true with athletic shoes before the advent of Nike or Reebok. The secret sauce to being competitive in a crowded area or one that has a dominant player is a combination of brand development and customer loyalty.

There have been many stories about smaller companies won out against the larger competitors because they came up with the products, a brand, or even a lifestyle that became iconic.

Offer Something New

You may have a passion for selling anything from women’s clothing to mayonnaise, but the first question to consider is what makes your product different from what’s already on the market. The fact that you have an idea implies that there is something lacking among the available choices, and your product may fill in the gap.

What you offer does not need to be entirely new, since as the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun, but it can be a fresh spin on a tired concept. Some people have notions of an attitude or feeling their products will convey that sets it apart from the company that makes ordinary widgets.

A good branding strategy is to show that there is an aura or vibe conveyed by your product.

Beat Them at Their Own Game

Don’t be afraid to go directly for the customers of that big box retailer or that winning website. You should also not be shy about directing comments about a competitor.

In addition to just trying to beat them at their own game, you can say outright that you are trying to prevail against the big guys if you offer deep discounts or a truly one-of-a-kind product.

At the same time, you have to create an idea of your own target customer who may be slightly different from the target customer of a huge competitor. Since your operation is smaller, you have the advantage of creating a more specific niche market, since the typical customer of Amazon is just about anybody, and this customer can be harder to pinpoint.

Use Negative Publicity to Your Advantage

Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and wit once said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. This is not necessarily true of companies, since an E. coli breakout or a major corporate scandal can send stock prices plunging and customers fleeing.

However, there are ways you can use not only negative publicity to your advantage, but unsavory headlines for publicity.

There are likely to be very few cases where this can be done, but some companies have made their name on what seemed at first blush like negative press. One of a company’s worst nightmares, particularly small a small company, is being hit with a lawsuit from a larger competitor.

Going Against Goliath

Hampton Creek, makers of the Just Mayo product that is free of eggs, was sued by Unilever, the owner of the Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand. Unilever filed a lawsuit because it believed the use of the term “mayo” by Hampton Creek was false advertising, since the product contains no eggs.

Unilever ended up dropping the lawsuit and sales of Just Mayo increased astronomically because of the news the lawsuit, and regular supermarkets stocked the products. People flocked to this brand because the lawsuit the lawsuit made it seem like the more established company was frightened of competition from the new, healthy alternative.

Since many people are interested in healthy eating, they enthusiastically got behind the Just Mayo brand.

Creating the Right Balance

Even if your small business is an area that seems crowded or has a dominant force to contend with, by creating a balance of making it new and beating the competition at his own game, you can achieve success and market share.

Go for the typical customer while zeroing in on your fans.

Also, develop a brand that sets your products apart from other offerings on the shelves or the Internet.

Jump at the opportunity to use publicity about your company or the industry to your advantage. Once you’ve earned attention you can monetize it by marketing directly to potential customers on social media or advertising.

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Leading Your New Venture

3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Customer Services

You Have Customers, Now What?: 3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Once your small business starts picking up speed, you will want to be sure that you have the capacity to handle your growth. So, how do you continue to grow once you have gotten over the initial hurdle of attracting your first customers?

This depends on your specific business model, but it may mean hiring extra team members, outsourcing, or implementing systems that increase your efficiency. At the end of the day, it is difficult to grow and run your business at the same time.

As the head of the company, you will want to keep one hand in the day-to-day operations of your business, but spend most of your time focusing on big picture strategy in order to keep it growing.

Here are three ways that you can ensure smart, sustainable growth for your small business.

Optimize Your Website for Better Customer Service

Customer service is key to success as your small business begins to grow. Having a website that makes it easy to find out information about your products or services and contact you with inquiries will lead to better engagement with customers and more sales.

There is nothing worse than a website which has little useful product information and no way to contact the business owner.

First, the obvious: include a “Contact” section on your website, which includes a phone number, e-mail address, contact form, or any combination of the three. You may also consider including a “Get a Quote” form. This allows you to go ahead and gather useful information from a customer in order to quickly and efficiently get them a price quote.

Another great option is to add a live chat function to your website that allows customers to talk to your company directly from the web.

Outsource Your Customer Service

Once you have optimized your website to provide outstanding customer service, you will want to make sure that you have the manpower to handle the questions and quote requests that come in. Being able to answer every e-mail or phone call in a timely and friendly way is how small businesses set themselves apart from the competition.

Rather than staying up all night answering e-mails and returning phone calls, it may be more efficient to outsource your customer service. Many companies, such as Register.com, now offer what they refer to as call center plus services.

This service, unlike traditional call centers, helps small companies grow their businesses by providing customer service infrastructure for:

  • Answering e-mail
  • Conducting live chats
  • Handling quote requests
  • Handling phone calls

By letting somebody else handle customer inquiries, you will free up time to focus on further company growth.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

Finally, once your business has taken off, you will need to have someone who can take care of basic administrative tasks for you. This includes data entry, basic accounting, scheduling meetings and calls, and so on.

While you may hire someone to come work in your physical office, another great option is to hire a virtual assistant.

This type of employee comes with little to no overhead as he or she will work from a home office on a personal computer or phone. You may provide a small stipend for office supplies, but this is negligible compared to an employee who you need to set up in an office.

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On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Mega Shark

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

As time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
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Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
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