At Work from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 25 Jan 2021 04:31:55 -0800 At Work from Creators Syndicate 3b788f6917ab127ce613159b7279f11f How Old Is Too Old to Start Anew? for 01/21/2021 Thu, 21 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I am in my mid-30s and have been a law firm paralegal for more than 10 years now. I have a bachelor's degree and a paralegal certificate, and I am thinking about going to law school. I am my sole supporter, so I am terrified about the prospect of student loans on top of the financial responsibility of paying my mortgage. I would need to get over that hurdle while maintaining my current full-time job. Is it too late to take the LSAT and apply to law school? </p> <p>A: Age is one small factor in considering law school at this point in your life. Since you are your sole supporter, you would have to obtain a loan for law school while working full time and paying your mortgage. This means you could only consider applying to law schools offering part-time programs. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 21, 2021</p> b3f6b75716b499e161f8f6a9c7a7c3d9 Manager Parties Too Much to Work for 01/14/2021 Thu, 14 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I am part of a small medical team with a basic staff only; if one of the employees is sick, the others must temporarily take on that person's work. Prior to this, I worked in a large, professionally run practice, but I changed locations. </p> <p>We have an office manager who either 1) lacks professional experience or 2) lacks know-how. I understand employees in a small office must work together to help each other, but this manager has another agenda. She tries to get others to do work for which she is responsible; one of the medical professionals told me this manager had the nerve to ask her if she could help take on some of the manager's duties sometimes. She has no boundaries. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 14, 2021</p> 3cab81b91e62944b5903213c350f9e4d Career Change Planning at 40 for 01/07/2021 Thu, 07 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I am married and nearing 40 years old, with one young child and a husband who lives to work. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting, but never went for a master's. I worked at a large financial firm until recently; the work is no longer interesting or enjoyable. I would like to work again, but absolutely not in accounting. I have the option of returning for a graduate degree; I was always a top student, so I thought it would be best to go back for a graduate degree. I just don't know what in.</p> <p>Accounting was practical, and I am good with numbers/math, but I am creative and no longer want to go into a field just because it is practical. My husband will not stand in my way of me pursuing a graduate degree in a new field, but he criticizes all fields that are not practical. We are very different types. I will choose what I want to do, so I am prepared for him not to like whatever it is. All of our friends have graduate degrees but me, so at least he is pro-education. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 07, 2021</p> 7494669a5a530d596644de72844a6ba9 New Job Changes too Soon After Hire for 12/31/2020 Thu, 31 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I went through a formal interviewing process and accepted the job offer soon after. At the interview I was given a complete job description and told to read it carefully so if I were to be chosen for the job, the work and procedures would become second nature. I was fine with that, and studied it when I was hired. As I became more proficient in the job, only four to five months in, my tasks and responsibilities increased tenfold. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">I had taken the job and accepted the salary based on the type and amount of work. As it has changed, my salary has not.</span> I casually mentioned the situation to my boss, who said that would be considered at the yearend. (I would not have taken the job had I been told about the increased workload and changes in job duties. I didn't think a company could make changes that soon after hiring a person.</p> <p>It is the yearend now and not a word has been mentioned to me about a raise, a bonus, or a salary adjustment due to the changes. I've worked for nine months waiting to see what would happen, and I stopped my job search after accepting this job. Is it too soon to start another job search? How long do I have to wait before looking for another job? I don't necessarily want to leave, but I'm not pleased about the situation. I like the company and my co-workers. I just don't like being put off or lied to by my boss (assuming these tactics of false promises are intentional). The trouble is I don't know. We have our annual reviews according to our hire date, not the yearend, so I don't know why the boss said this. Can I remind her of her promise?<p>Updated: Thu Dec 31, 2020</p> 12c356337698310e9811d7d16db840f5 COVID-19 Is Only Part of the Problem for 12/24/2020 Thu, 24 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Facts surrounding a given situation form evidence, and evidence can simplify life. But who collects the unspoken truths and analyzes the circumstantial evidence &#8212; the information people think to be true but do not dare speak because the results will upset their acceptable life views? Everyone who calls a company is all too familiar with the current recorded message that begins every company's mantra: "Due to COVID-19, wait times may be longer than usual." Think of the public's awareness of COVID-19 when news of it hit the media. Generations living now might have learned about pandemics, but they are now experiencing living through one. </p> <p>Companies' recorded messages were prepared and replaced the previous ones, long before the many layoffs took place. It took some companies several months to announce and carry out the layoffs, but the recordings had already become standard messages to all who called. <p>Updated: Thu Dec 24, 2020</p> 989847edc8e7857197f570c1cbc5a2b8 Know Thyself: Credentials Are Your Protection for 12/17/2020 Thu, 17 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>At a time when people don't know who to listen to and who to trust, let credentials lead the way. Credentials establish a path of the past through a person's work history; education; and ability to do a job intelligently, efficiently and with integrity. Credentials are not just a piece of paper bearing a name and a graduation date. The certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate degree may mean much more than what you see on the surface. That piece of paper, depending on the institution issuing it, can also be meaningless.</p> <p>Numerous for-profit schools and trade schools of all kinds have appeared on the scene, but regardless of the names used by the schools, they are far from equal. This is where research into rankings is not only handy but required to understand the value of the school and what it will bring to one's marketability in the workplace. </p> <p>"THE World University Rankings, founded in 2004, provide the definitive list of the world's best universities, with an emphasis on the research mission." Data experts evaluate these world-class universities against 13 separate performance indicators, including teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The list offers subject-specific rankings for more than 1,500 institutions. Nearly every school and its subjects have rankings. A person can search for best colleges, best college football, top national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities, regional colleges, best MBA programs, best reputations and even best-value schools.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 17, 2020</p> fcffcb17e1a3a18da576d2d1d1933724 The Changing Workplace for 12/10/2020 Thu, 10 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>"I've actually been enjoying the isolation; that's my weird psychology," says Cynthia G. Cynthia, who had maintained an 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m., Monday-through-Friday routine for 20 years for a large company, had never entertained pursuing two part-time remote jobs and is now choosing to focus on her interests instead of her wallet. </p> <p>Most people can readily name every sad, frightening and tragic aspect to COVID-19, as today's population has never experienced working and living during a pandemic. There is another side to it, though, so unpopular or perhaps taboo no one speaks of it: <span class="column--highlighted-text">the opportunities and potential that can result from separation from life as people have known it.</span> But there is nothing weird about Cynthia's feelings or her personality type.</p> <p>The workplace seems to thrive on outgoing participants, but 25% to 40% of the population is introverts. Imagine living a life knowing that outgoing, assertive and even bubbly personalities can go to work and naturally enjoy the common cultures that companies create. Imagine working in an environment that outgoing employees happily embrace and introverted employees merely tolerate. They are surrounded by the pressure of people who love to converse and socialize. Compound that emotional pressure with having to perform all work tasks knowing that the extroverts win the praise, the kudos, the attention and often the rewards introverts are too quiet to fight for.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 10, 2020</p> f8b9e9f868dc10843cbe7b1cb955ea43 Is Your Career Your Life? for 12/03/2020 Thu, 03 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I have been married for 30 years to the same man. He recently retired from the informational technology field; I have been a successful artist my entire life. I studied art in college and was able to sell my pieces from the very beginning. Art has provided us with an income, but it is more than that for me. It is who I am. My husband wants me to retire and travel with him. </p> <p>How do I explain to him that although we both have been successful, we are very different types of people who work in different types of fields, and that true artists don't retire? I can understand people wanting to retire from the business world, since most employees spend their lives working their way up, dealing with all sorts of personalities and demands, and have a lot to tolerate when it comes to interacting with others &#8212; co-workers, bosses, even subordinates. He's made a good living in IT, but when he had the chance to retire, he jumped at it. He is healthy and can find something &#8212; anything &#8212; else to do if he so chooses. IT is not his soul. Art is mine.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">The very thought of retiring from art is foreign to me. But how do I explain this him without sounding like I am belittling his career? He made a good income from it. It's just not something a person wants to do forever. </span><p>Updated: Thu Dec 03, 2020</p> b97459c06855092cbd15eb3850794242 Starting Over, Same Job, New Owner for 11/26/2020 Thu, 26 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I started a new job as sales associate this last June and went through extensive training to learn about the product. The company's owners and managers were the most wonderful people I have ever worked for. They went out of their way to offer every type of training available to get me up to speed professionally. I got along with everyone &#8212; my bosses, my co-workers, the office assistants, and the clients. I appreciated everyday at work because of all the guidance I was given. It was unlike any job I had ever been in.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it is coming to an end; the company is being sold to new owners. We've been told we will be doing the same thing only for new management, but I know it will not be the same. How can it be with a complete change in ownership and upper management? The new owners don't personally know the sellers, so they can't know about the many incredible things management has done for its employees. I'm also concerned how these new owners and managers will evaluate me at year-end since I just started several months ago. They may say they will take advice from the previous owners, but we know when new owners take over, they have their own ideas about the way things should be run. </p> <p>How do I prepare myself for the transition to make sure they want to keep me, and if they do want me, how will they determine my bonus? If I think their decision is not fair, how do I respond without seeming defensive or entitled?<p>Updated: Thu Nov 26, 2020</p> f50410bf9a0f7c8aee241ff5a9280cd2 Bosses Who Know Nothing About Leadership for 11/19/2020 Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I was hired for my expertise in a particular field. Within the first month, one of the leads (who knew nothing about the field in which I specialized) started telling me how to do the very work that was my focus area. She repeatedly changed everything I turned into her. Because I was new, I said nothing and politely reworked whatever part of the project she wanted redone. She then rejected every redone part of the project. The problem was that she was not only unskilled and untrained in my specialty but also implemented changes that were unprofessional and wrong. Each change she made was at the level of a novice. I wanted to tell everyone in the department that the finished product was not mine because I did not want people to think my work product could be that horrible. </p> <p>Her work product was so poorly done I couldn't take it anymore. I began trying to explain to her why her work was not properly done. I was never openly rude the way she was, but I had felt compelled to take action because I did not want anyone to think I produced such below-standard work. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Her colleagues treated her like a prima donna, and nobody, not even her equals, would say anything to her. I could never figure out why but assumed it was because she would become vehemently defensive, as she was to me. </span>I was miserable in the position, so I decided to politely resign, saying I was going to take time to do other things. I did not want a recommendation from such a person and had no plans of adding that two-month experience to my resume. To put it bluntly, she and the management behaved unprofessionally. I am going to start another job search. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 19, 2020</p> 78aa5b775076f86cdc321c82a079e986 Some People Are More Than Just Difficult: How To Recognize a Personality Disorder for 11/12/2020 Thu, 12 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I develop websites for small businesses. Most of my jobs run from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the site. I just had a client who was the most difficult person I have ever worked with, and the experience has left me reeling and wondering how I should have dealt with such a person. They presented the assignment clearly, so I thought it would be an easy job. I am always polite to clients, but what developed was a nightmare I did not know how to get out of.</p> <p>I started by explaining the process I use, because I don't know what level of technology and design they understand. As I presented ideas, they became picky and critical but unable to communicate what they disliked. The client turned each step in the process into third-degree questioning and telling me how I should proceed. I had to repeat how the process works, to no avail. They became more argumentative and authoritative and refused to listen. </p> <p>I was in a no-win situation, and nothing I explained mattered. They called several times a day demanding attention and accomplished nothing but wasting my time. I became defensive and rude, which is not who I am nor want to be. I wanted to stop working on the job but felt I could not, so I stopped taking their calls and finished the job. I didn't even care at that point if I got paid. Please tell me how to avoid or handle such a person so this doesn't happen again.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 12, 2020</p> 179ed325cc4f147f2308d3ff6a2f724d Veterans' Small Business Week: Veterans Deserve More Than Just Honor for 11/05/2020 Thu, 05 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>"Three thousand miles from home, an American army is fighting for you. Everything you hold worthwhile is at stake. Only the hardest blows can win against the enemy we are fighting. Invoking the spirit of our forefathers, the army asks your unflinching support, to the end that the high ideals for which America stands may endure upon the earth." &#8212; Gen. John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948). </p> <p>"Pershing's nickname, 'Black Jack,' derived from his service with a black regiment early in his career ... his determination and dedication had gained him the respect and admiration of his men." &#8212; Britannica.</p> <p>Regardless of whether a citizen supports past wars, U.S. military presence in a foreign country to maintain peace in that region, or U.S. military interference to stop genocides, Americans should help and respect those who served and currently serve the country &#8212; from veterans to first responders to all in servant leadership and service positions. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 05, 2020</p> 970642022f95a72fad29dd0ba6954d9e No Due Date on Apologies at Work for 10/29/2020 Thu, 29 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I heard through other co-workers that I offended a couple of co-workers I closely work with. I have thought about it for two weeks and think I might owe them an apology. Is it too late to say something about my comments? If a late apology is acceptable and better than no apology, should I explain why I did not say I was sorry sooner?</p> <p>A: A late apology is usually preferable to no apology. Reverse the roles. Think how you would feel if a close co-worker made an offensive comment to you and never acknowledged it was the wrong thing to say. Apologizing for being insensitive to another is a positive action, but don't assume they are automatically correct. </p> <p>Most work involves communicating with others through emails and verbal exchanges. One of the pitfalls of verbal conversation is that it usually requires immediate responses in both business matters and social discourse. <span class="column--highlighted-text">All people make mistakes and misspeak at times. People have also been known to casually utter offensive statements when they harbor prejudices and negative thoughts about certain groups or acquaintances, assuming others share their opinions. </span><p>Updated: Thu Oct 29, 2020</p> 9aaa41213c542f69bd8498dbfc974882 Make Your Brain Work For You for 10/22/2020 Thu, 22 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Radical resilience is the only character trait needed to rebound from stressful situations, and no one who works is stress-free. While physical illnesses may require vaccines to reduce the strength and severity of the illness, and medications are developed to mask the symptoms of various mental illnesses, and talk therapy can temporarily relieve a person's stress, none of these actions offers a 100% cure for whatever problem they are intended to treat. </p> <p>An increasing number of people in the U.S. are suffering from stress, many whom are turning to drugs, albeit legal. In June 2020, a study of adults under 25 years old showed 90% experienced moderate-to-severe depression, and 80% showed moderate-to-severe anxiety. A San Diego State University study found 70% of its sample group in the U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-severe mental distress in April 2020, while 2018 studies resulted in only 22% in distress. During the COVID-19 shelter in place, anti-anxiety medications increased by 11%, and anti-depressants increased by 10%.</p> <p>To heighten the gravity of the situations created by stress, of 150 million overweight and obese adults in the U.S., 1 in 7 meet the criteria for addiction. Deaths by suicide increased by 20% during the pandemic, while work stress alone kills 120,000 people annually. If these numbers don't ring the alarms, the U.S. ranks last in life expectancy among the 12 wealthiest industrial nations. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 22, 2020</p> 8a6567c3a7691abbf1451bfe77d29441 How To Get a Manager To Listen for 10/15/2020 Thu, 15 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: My manager asks many questions regarding every project he assigns me. The problem is that with every question I answer, he cuts me off and begins another question. He never listens to the full answer. I'm afraid he will miss critical information and I will be blamed for leaving out necessary facts. I don't want to be equally rude and interrupt him the way he interrupts me, but I don't know how to get him to listen.</p> <p>A: <span class="column--highlighted-text">Interrupting or loudly talking over a person is generally thought to be rude and ill-mannered. But communication rules and courtesies do not consist of absolutes. You both may have different communication styles and interpretations of what needs to be said.</span> For example, a group of co-workers complained of an employee who was known to overexplain everything. When asked any question, she provided the complete history rather than answering the precise question. Her co-workers dreaded any conversation with her because her answers turned into unwanted lectures. If they tried to say anything, the woman would continue to expound on the topic without a pause or acknowledgement that she was monopolizing the conversation. Eventually, her co-workers changed directions when they saw her walking their way.</p> <p>The first question to ask is whether you are providing the requested information or including every aspect of the project, thinking you are protecting yourself from your manager misunderstanding. Or perhaps you are not prioritizing the information by stating the critical facts first. The same communication rules apply to both writing and speaking. Provide needed information only once, and do not include the obvious. For example, a common error is to begin a written communication with, "I am writing to ... " The reader knows you have written, so delete that opening and get to the point. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 15, 2020</p> 4af3764318bb0b8c6b66a43a64d947d4 What Does It Take To Turn a Hobby Into a Business? for 10/08/2020 Thu, 08 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I recently retired from a job I had for 25 years. I receive retirement benefits that allow me to continue living as I have lived, but I have never lived a fancy life. I have a very small house, the same mismatched furniture I've had for years and inexpensive clothing. I am not materialistic. </p> <p>Since retiring, I have pursued several hobbies I enjoy very much &#8212; making beaded jewelry, painting, reading and gardening. Friends have complimented my jewelry designs, and one friend thinks my pieces are beautiful enough to sell. I told her if I turned my hobby into a business, I would no longer be doing it for fun. She didn't respond, but she has stopped complimenting my jewelry pieces, and I feel she thinks I have an emotional problem that is causing my decision. Does my reason for not turning it into a business make sense, or do you think I have an underlying reason holding me back?</p> <p>A: Going into business means different things to different people. What does seem apparent is that you have made a decision without considering the many options you have for selling items. Many people have held garage sales to clear out unwanted household items and clothing, and they do not see it as a business. On the other hand, people have started businesses managing garage sales for others. A business is whatever a person wants it to be. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 08, 2020</p> 2a526ef1b860e5819911e770447f283c Assessment Testing Makes Best Hires Possible for 10/01/2020 Thu, 01 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>There is no question that accurate assessment testing improves a company's hiring success and leads to greater employee satisfaction. So, why doesn't every company use academically approved, top-level prehiring assessments? According to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at Columbia University, it may be because many human resource professionals lack rigorous training in industrial and organizational psychology or assessment methods &#8212; so if it looks good, they may buy it &#8212; and are not good at measuring performance data.</p> <p>When companies rely on "gold standard" testing, the success rates of the companies and the employees hired could help advance the company's market position. Why? Because assessment testing prior to hiring should save a company on turnover losses caused by poor hiring practices. Two unfortunate situations are hiring employees with the wrong skill emphasis for the job and hiring employees who are ill-suited to the company culture. </p> <p>For example, a rigid corporate environment will be a disaster for an experienced and creative employee who is led by an unyielding and controlling boss. That authoritative behavior will discourage or outright stop the employee's innovative ideas from coming to fruition. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 01, 2020</p> 8353e183675bcbd176b98fbf862bde70 When Sacrifice Becomes the Norm: Is It Ever Too Late To Leave? for 09/17/2020 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I have a paralegal certificate and went back to school for an MBA, but at a second-tier school. I accepted a paralegal position at a law firm, which turned out to be a job I loved. I learn quickly and became well respected. Six years later, I fell in love with a successful businessman. We married, but immediately afterward, he forced me to quit my job and work for him. He promised to pay me what I was made at the law firm, which he did. </p> <p>I quit the job and became his assistant. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 17, 2020</p> 2a36f734511c2df75a22561fc514a5aa How To Turn Your Time Into Money and More Joy for 09/10/2020 Thu, 10 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Businesses are experts at knowing what their employees' time is worth to them, but few individuals know how to correctly analyze the value of their own time. With "Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life" by Ashley Whillans, author and assistant professor at Harvard Business School, there are no longer acceptable excuses for not understanding and practicing the process that has evaded individuals for so long. </p> <p>Whillans has devised a system for discovering "happiness dollars." The initial shift is in changing one's mindset from valuing money to knowing the value of one's time. The most basic example is understood by most and is categorized as outsourcing. </p> <p>Some may think paying others to do one's undesirable chores, such as cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking, is a frivolous entitlement for the privileged, but if outsourcing one's most undesirable chores frees a person's time to engage in more personally beneficial activities, that spending is no longer a frivolous waste of money. Whillans shows readers how spending up to $18,000 per year for outsourcing can be turned into happiness hours. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 10, 2020</p> 76fdfbaa0b2c9cf003751d39837f9ac5 Afraid of Asking for a Raise? for 09/03/2020 Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I work at a small company, so I accept whatever task is asked of me. The company owner is nice and personable. I like the work, too, which is why I put myself out for him. My helpful attitude has enabled me to take on more responsibilities, which means more work. </p> <p>When an employee left, I took on her job in addition to my own so the owner could take the necessary time to find the right person for the position. He has repeatedly thanked me for not having to hire someone quickly, which could lead to a bad hire. I worked on both jobs for about two months because it showed him what I could do and how dependable I am. He trusts me, so he has even asked me to take on some tasks of his so he can focus on growing the business. I gladly accepted the extra responsibility. I am beginning to feel like his assistant, but I now think I deserve a raise. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">I don't know how long I should be performing in this capacity before asking for one; I have never before asked for a raise. I always waited for the yearly increases. The thought of negotiating scares me because I don't want him to think I will leave if I don't get one. What should I do?</span><p>Updated: Thu Sep 03, 2020</p>