Archive for June, 2011

Office Mistake #4: Sleeping on the Job

June 28, 2011 2 comments

falling asleep on the job simpons homer simpson office mistake

Do you ever walk by someones desk, cubicle, or office and happen to notice that they are asleep?  We’ve got a couple people where I work that you are almost guaranteed to see them sleeping.  Some of them are actually really good at it.  There’s one person who can actually fall asleep with his hand on the mouse and his face pointing toward the computer screen.  You wouldn’t even know he was sleeping unless you walked up to him and asked him a question.

On the other, we’ve got a person who actually looks dead in his chair.  His chin rests on his chest, his glasses are about to fall off his head, and his arms hang down at his sides.  About a year ago, the company hired a new guy in our department.  About a week into his employment, he walked by this persons cubicle and freaked out.  He came into my coworkers cubicle, who sits next to me, and said, “I think he’s dead!”  My fellow coworker laughed at him and said, “No, he’s just sleeping.”

Yes, it’s quite funny to talk about our coworkers who just can’t help but fall asleep at work.  As long as it’s not you.  And in fact, you probably don’t want to be the one that falls asleep at work, because it could lead to getting yourself fired.

So how can we prevent ourselves from falling asleep on the job?  Consider these six tricks:

1. Get yourself a pair of headphones.

This is my favorite way to avoid falling asleep at work.  First off, you’ll need to make sure it’s okay to listen to music in your work environment.  If it is okay, make sure you listen to music you enjoy though, because music you dislike will just help you fall asleep.

2. Take a break.

For those of you who are workaholics.  First in the door and last to leave.  Take a break!  It’s okay.  You should be allowed to take breaks at work, as long as you don’t abuse them.

3. Take a walk.

Consider taking a walk during your breaks.  Get outside and get some fresh air.  It will help you re-energize and stay awake.

4. Turn your lunch break into a power nap.

Most of us get an hour for lunch and most of us bring our own lunch to work.  How long does it actually take you to eat your lunch?  Maybe 15-20 minutes?  Consider taking a power nap for the remaining 40-45 minutes.

5. Pay attention to your sleep patterns.

Most people need about 7-8 hours of sleep every night to function properly during the day.  I personally need to sleep at least 8 hours every night.  Any less and I’ll be dragging the entire day.

6. Take it easy on the caffeine.

I was once a caffeine addict, so I know how hard it is NOT to have an energy drink or cup of coffee when I’m feeling sleepy.  Caffeine is great when taken in small doses, but excessive caffeine consumption can give you a quick buzz, but can actually leave you sleepier than before?

Do you fall asleep at work?  Do you know people who fall asleep on the job?  What tips, tricks, or other techniques would you suggest?

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Related Articles:

Falling Asleep at Work –

Techniques to Avoid Falling Asleep at Work –

Fired for falling asleep at work – StarTribune

If You Follow Every Dream, You Might Get Lost

June 26, 2011 2 comments

Last Sunday, my Fiance and I were on our way back from a mini weekend vacation and decided to put on the Neil Young Greatest Hits.  I’ll tell you what, if you want to listen to some heartfelt and inspiring songs, listen to Neil Young.  I like just about every Neil Young song.  I haven’t come across one that I haven’t liked as of yet.  But on the way home from our vacation last weekend, one song in particular caught my attention.  The song is called “The Painter.”

The song itself is about a painter, who spent most of her life painting.  She was an ambitious girl, who took up every opportunity that came her way.  Unfortunately, she spent so much time wrapped up in her work that she missed out on all the important things in life.  The song can have multiple meanings, but I found three that really stood out for me.

1. Don’t let your career get in the way of the important things in life.

“I keep my friends eternally.  We leave our tracks in the sound.  Some of them are with me now.  Some of them can’t be found.”  What I think Neil is trying to say is that some of his friends (the painter, in particular) got so involved in their work that they forgot about their friends and family.  The painter was once his friend, but she got lost in her work and she’s nowhere to be found.

2. Don’t let every opportunity get in the way of your ultimate goal.

The main chorus of the song goes like this.  “It’s a long road behind me.  It’s a long road ahead.  If you follow every dream, you might get lost.”  You may have come a long way in your career, but there’s always much more to come in life.  It’s important to remember what your ultimate life goal is and to make sure that nothing gets in the way of that.  If your ultimate goal is to have the opportunity to spend time with your friends and family, you have to be able to find that point where work and life balance out.

3. If you fail in your career, get right back up and try again.

Toward the end of the song, Neil Young says, “She did the work of too many.  But in the end, she fell down before she got up again.”  You can relate this line to the idea of Professional Diversification by saying if you get fired or laid off, don’t get discouraged.  Take it as an opportunity to get back up and try something new.

So listen to the song and tell me what you think the song means.  Like I said, there’s obviously more than one meaning, so share yours in the comments section below.

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Office Mistake #3: Excessive Smoke Breaks

June 21, 2011 1 comment

smoking monkey gorilla cigarette smoke break

I used to work for our local ice rink during the winter as a supervisor. I was about 20 years old at the time and most of the employees that worked for me were between 16 and 18 years old, so smoke breaks weren’t really an issue. I did have one woman who worked for me as a cashier who was obviously addicted to smoking cigarettes. There was one night, while I was driving the Zamboni (yes, I got to drive the Zamboni), that I noticed the line up to the cashier’s window was unusually long and there was nobody in line to get skates. After resurfacing the ice and making my way back into the building, I noticed our cashier around the side of the building, smoking a cigarette. She closed the window and took a smoke break without asking and with no regard to the growing line of customers! I ran inside, opened the window, apologized for the delay and started taking peoples’ money in exchange for admission tickets while my cashier was outside smoking. I’m sure you could imagine what happened to that cashier in the next couple weeks.

Now that I work in a more corporate style environment, we have a break policy in place, yet it’s quite lenient and I don’t have a problem with that. When I started, I was told I could take a 15 minute break before lunch and a 15 minute break after lunch. After a few months, I was invited to start playing hacky sack with some of my coworkers (pretty cool, right?), which takes place from 2:30 to 3:00. So, I stopped taking my 15 minute morning break and opted for the 30 minute “hacky break.”

What I don’t understand is the people who get to take 10 to 15 minute smoke breaks every half hour or so. It adds up to be much more than the 30 minute breaks everyone else takes. It isn’t fair to those who properly follow the break policy. I understand smoking is an addiction and when you need a smoke, you need a smoke, but should smokers be given additional privileges because they’ve forced themselves into a harmful habit? Shouldn’t there be some kind of disciplinary action for those who abuse the break policy, regardless of the reason? From a Corporate Social Responsibility standpoint, should companies put more effort into restricting smoke breaks in an attempt to help employees maintain their health? In fact, some companies actually ban smoking and the use of tobacco, even outside of the workplace.

So, what’s your opinion on this issue? Do you smoke? How often do you take smoke breaks at work? Is it frowned upon? What about those of you who don’t smoke. Have you noticed that smokers typically take more frequent breaks? Should they be permitted to do so? Or should the company step in?

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Webpage Credit:

Break (work) – Wikipedia

Is allowing smoke breaks unfair to non-smokers? – Ask a Manager

Defining Motivation: The 3 Major Social Motives

June 17, 2011 5 comments

motivation definition achievement affiliation influenceMotivation is always one of my favorite topics to discuss. In the past, I’ve written about my top motivating factors, how vacations can re-ignite your motivation, and how playing company softball can teach you a thing or two about motivation. I was recently introduced to an assessment in my leadership class in which a group of 5 people get together and talk about where they’ve come from, where they are now, and where they see themselves going from here. It can be related to school, work, relationships, or anything in between. The idea is for the rest of the group to determine what motivates you based on the things you’ve said. According to this assessment, there are three basic social motives that drive our behavior:

1. Need for Achievement

The goal of achievement motivation is the need to do better and to improve task accomplishment. This concept is typically known as “efficiency drive.” People who are achievement motivated strive to out-perform others, meet or surpass self-imposed standards of excellence, strive for innovative, unique accomplishments, and think about long-term career concerns. Achievement motivated people want personal responsibility and set challenging goals. They tend to be successful in entrepreneurial, small business, sales, technical, and engineering jobs, but are ineffective in managerial roles because they are often too pushy and/or coercive.

2. Need for Affiliation

The goal of affiliation motivation is the need for establishing, maintaining, or repairing friendly relationships. There are two types of affiliation. Affiliation Interest, which is the act of giving affiliation to others because of genuine interest, and affiliation assurance, which is the need to receive affiliation for others. People who are affiliation motivated strive to establish, restore, or maintain close relations with others, are concerned about separation or disruption of relationships, and always characterize group activities as social or friendly. They tend to be good helpers, consultants, and therapists, are effective in management roles that require relationship building, and tend to be more effective at creating participation.

3. Need for Influence

The goal of influence motivation is the concern with having an impact, with reputation and influence. This concept is often called “power motivation.” People who are influence motivated strive to exercise strong, influential actions, generate strong emotions in others, and express concern for reputation or position in the world. They are usually successful mentors, trainers, or instructors of others. They seek positions of leadership, authority, and status. They are usually effective managers and rise to the top of organizations.

My results

Before we actually started the assessment, I assigned the following weights for each of the three social motives:

Achievement – High
Affiliation – Medium
Influence – Low

I was surprised to find that my peers felt the same way about me. I’ve always said that I’m motivated the most by money (achievement) and that’s probably a true statement. But recently, I had an opportunity to apply for a different position at work that might have paid a little more then what I make now. I found myself not able to apply because I would have to leave the department I currently work for, which means I would have to leave my fellow coworkers and the culture that I’ve become a part of. The tradeoff between a slightly higher salary and relationships I’ve become a part of wasn’t worth it for me to even consider the move. This is when I realized that I’m much more affiliation motivated that I really thought I was.

Now that you know the 3 major social motives, where would you say you rank in each of them? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

NOTE: The descriptions provided in this post came from a handout passed out in my leadership class.  The author of the source is unknown.

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The Perfectionist: A Review of my DISC Test Results

June 14, 2011 1 comment

DISC test assessment Dominance Influence Steadiness conscientiousnessI’m currently taking a summer course in leadership and last week, we took a personality test called the DISC assessment.  The DISC assessment includes 24 four-word groups in which you have to choose which word from each group is most like you and which word is least like you.  See below for an example four-word group.

disc gentle persuasive humble original

Once you’ve chosen a “most” and “least” word from each group, you add up the number of D’s, I’s, S’s, and C’s you’ve marked in each category, most or least, and put your counts into a table to help organize your results.

Here are my numbers for the “most” category:

D – 8
I – 1
S – 6
C – 5

Based on these numbers, I’m clearly a high D, which stand for Dominance.  High D’s have the following characteristics: confident, bold, egocentric, domineering, and forceful.  High D’s are strong in problem solving, decision making, achieving goals, leading, and new ideas.  On the other hand, high D’s are weak in the following areas: lacks caution, overruns people, impulsive, and fear being taken advantage of.  Finally, high D’s have a need for status, power, prestige, authority, and directness.

The number counts in the “least” category define how a person handles stress and how they act under pressure.  Here are my numbers for the “least” category:

D – 3
I – 5
S – 6
C – 6

Since I have a tie between S and C, my stress behavior style is between avoidance and compliance.  I would say my initial reaction to pressure would be to avoid confrontation to reduce frustration and try to figure things out on my own.  If the situation can’t be avoided, I tend to comply, by giving in as an attempt not to engage in conflict.  But if avoidance and compliance don’t work, high S’s tend to verbally attack if the situation can’t be avoided.

Using the “most” and “least” numbers, you can complete your entire profile by subtracting the “least” numbers from the “most” numbers.  This will give you your basic self concept which you can then use to graph your results in order to find a profile pattern.  My profile pattern ended up being the “perfectionist” pattern.

Perfectionists are competent in doing things right.  They are restrained and cautious.  They strive for stability and predictable accomplishments.  They judge others by precise standards and influence others by attention to detail and accuracy.  They are valuable to organizations because they are conscientious and maintain standards.  They overuse procedures and are overdependent on people and processes that have worked in the past.  Under pressure, they become tactful and diplomatic and fear antagonism.  Finally, they would increase effectiveness with role flexibility, independence and interdependence.

I could not believe how accurate the results of this test were.  I found myself saying, “Yep, that’s me…” to almost everything I read.  In my opinion, the DISC test is a great way to get an idea of how you behave, but I wish it included suggestions of which careers would best fit your personality.

Image Credit:
DISC Definition Circle
DISC Example Word Set

Webpage Credit:
DISC Types
Understanding DISC – Career Development

6 Traits You Can Learn From Playing On Your Company Softball Team

June 12, 2011 2 comments

GERP Golden Eagle Regional Park Sparks Nevada SoftballI know what you’re thinking.  Company softball?  Where’s the beer?  Most people play softball to get away from the office, give themselves something to do in their free time, or just to drink lots of beer.  Not me.  I play company softball for a few reasons.  One, being the fact that I grew up playing competitive baseball in Little League, Babe Ruth, and high school starting when I was just five years old.  After high school, I tried out for the University of Nevada, Reno baseball team and didn’t make it (they told me they already had a full roster).  So after that, I gave up on competitive baseball and focused on getting good grades in college.  After graduating with a 3.92 GPA (yes, I’m bragging), I made my way into the corporate world working in operations for a large corporation.  This is where I found myself back on the field.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the baseball diamond I was used to, but the softball field was as close to competitive baseball I was ever going to get.  This is what I’ve learned:

1. Competition

While some people could care less if they win or lose, I carried the competitive nature of baseball over into the game of softball.  I’m there to win, not drink beer or make fun of each other.  When it comes to your career, you have to be competitive, or you’ll never get anywhere.  You have to have the desire to beat out the person next to you to get you where you want to be.

2. Teamwork

Well duh!  You’re playing on a team.  Obviously, teamwork is a huge part of the game.  You can’t win a game by yourself.  In fact, if you don’t have at least nine players, they won’t let you play.  The same goes for your career.  You won’t make it very far playing the “Lone Ranger” role.  You have to get to know people and you have to learn to work together.  Those who work well with others are more desirable as you work your way up the ladder.

3. Communication

“I got it!  I got it!”  “No, I got it!”  *SMASH*  Okay, that was my terrible impression of two outfielders colliding because they couldn’t properly communicate.  It’s one of the most important parts of the game.  Simple outs turn into embarrassing blunders if you don’t communicate.  Don’t let your career turn into a blunder.  Get out there, talk to people, and understand what’s going on.  That way you can adjust your game plan accordingly.

4. Timeliness

Playing company softball gives you the chance to practice your time management skills.  I get off work at 4:30, it takes me 20 minutes to get home, which leaves me about 30 minutes to eat dinner and 10 minutes to change, so I can drive 30 minutes to the field and be there 30 minutes early for warm ups.  Any idea what time the game starts?  I’ll let you figure that out.

5. Dependability

This goes along with timeliness.  When you say you’re going to be there, your teammates are depending on you.  Let’s say you’re the manager.  You have 12 people on the team and you need at least 9 to play.  You’ve confirmed with your players that 3 people won’t make it to the game leaving exactly 9 to show up.  If you don’t show up, the team doesn’t play and they will have to forfeit.  When you tell someone you’re going to do something throughout your career, you do it.  Build a solid, dependable reputation for yourself so that people know exactly what they can expect from you in the future.

6. Motivation

Saved my favorite topic for last!  There are a couple reason why playing company softball is motivating.  For one, it gives you the chance to get away from everything going on at work or at home.  It gives you a couple of hours to just have fun.  It re-energizes you when you get back to work the next morning.  Second, it gives you a chance to bond with your teammates/coworkers in ways you wouldn’t at work.  When you form a tight bond with people from work, you’re more likely to enjoy being there.

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What Does Your Workspace Say About Your Work Ethic?

June 7, 2011 4 comments

messy desk workspace officeIs your desk a complete mess or pristinely organized?  Personally, I like to keep my workspace clean and neat.  In fact, I’ve been told I must have some form of O.C.D. because everything is perfectly in order.  But is a clean desk really a good thing?  Does it signal to your manager that you don’t have enough to do?  Does it leave the impression that you are more concerned with keeping your desk clean than actually being productive?

Last week, my boss walked by my row of cubicles, stopped at my fellow coworker’s cube who sits next to me and said, “Man, you’ve got the cleanest house on the street…”  Of course he had to walk by on a day where I was buried in work and had papers all over my desk, had stuff on the floor, and my workspace really looked like a mess.  It infuriated me that he got the verbal award of cleanliest workspace when I’m the one who actually takes pride in keeping my workspace clean.  So that day, I decided to take 15 minutes out of my day and completely cleaned up my workspace.

Later that day, my coworker (who won the cleanest cube award) came into my cube and said, “What the hell did you do?”  I told him, “I was upset that you had the cleanest house on the street, so I cleaned everything up.”  Then he told me, “Well you’ve got to at least make it look like you live here, because people want to see that you’re actually working on something.”  That’s when I started thinking, what’s better?  A messy workspace, or a clean one?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the correct answer to that question?  I don’t even know if there is one.  I just know that I will continue to keep my workspace as clean as possible.  I don’t think my work ethic should be judged by the way my desk looks, because I’m a very productive worker no matter what my desk looks like.

So, I’m hoping there are some managers out there that can help me answer this question, because I’d really like to know your opinion on this topic.

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Related Articles:

Is a messy desk a good thing?

A messy desk messes with your career.

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