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8 ways to stop wasting money at work 

Published: Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 4:56 PM

Telecommuting is on the rise, and can save you big. See if you’re cut out for it, and if so, here’s a way to find work.

Certainly, it's ironic that it costs money to work to make money to pay your bills. But if you haven't considered how much you spend on the expenses of working, from commutes to coffee, you may be missing significant ways to cut back your personal expenses.

These tactics are even more important if you're considering cutting back on your work hours in the near future, or another upcoming event in your life will necessitate saving money in all areas.

»RELATED: 5 surefire ways to get to retire earlier than you thought

Cutting back on work expenses may be far easier than you think, according to frugal bloggers. And there are side benefits like improved health from walking instead of always taking a cab, or packing a lunch instead of eating fast food.

Here are eight quick money-saving ideas to consider:

Consider sharing your ride. If your work involves a lengthy commute, or even a short one, you may be kissing hundreds of dollars a year goodbye in commute expenses. One way to save the big bucks, according to Marie Claire, is simply to find someone to carpool with. If you're feeling adventurous, check out erideshare.com to hitch a ride with a friend you haven't met yet.

Cut gas costs while you're driving. Keep your heater or AC on just long enough to get your car to the right temperature, or roll down your windows to save gas money.

Double check the bus and train fares. Marie Claire suggested re-checking your route and pinpointing the place at which your commuting fare goes up. "If you can save a few bucks a day by getting off two blocks earlier, it might be worth the extra cash," it noted.

Walk on by expensive hosiery. If you're habitually spending $40 a pair for hosiery that adheres to your company's dress code, cut it out, Real Simple recommended. "That $40 pair may take a little longer to ladder, but in winter especially, you're usually better off buying multiple pairs of cheaper tights than one or two pairs of expensive ones, New York-based image consultant Annie Brumbaugh told RS. 

If you're in a white-collar career, buy one really good jacket. Instead of spending lots of time and money coming up with new business outfits each week, buy a quality jacket and base your wardrobe on that. "A very good jacket can do a lot for your overall look," Brumbaugh said. "You could wear just a T-shirt and jeans, but an expensive, fabulous jacket upgrades your outfit." RS advised to look for a jacket that fits the widest part of your body and if your bust is large, buy a jacket that will close over your chest. In any case, have a reputable tailor fit the jacket so you can wear it with several outfits a week.

Protect those expensive work shoes. Instead of buying lots of inexpensive shoes that won't last or continually replacing one high-quality pair, Brumbaugh recommended buying high quality in a style you can wear daily. To protect that investment, have your good work shoes weatherproofed and the soles reinforced with rubber at a shoe repair shop.

A packed lunch will always save money over eating out, but only if you choose items you'll actually eat.(Contributed by Bicycling.com/For the AJC)

Break the fast food lunch habit. Eating lunch from home instead of greasy fast food may be one of the easiest ways to start saving money, according to the Balance. "Food prices are going up, and it is common to spend around $7.00 or $8.00 a meal at a fast food restaurant," it said. "If you add this up for lunches, it would be around $40 a week or $200 a month. This is just for one person for one meal."

To make eating lunch at work easier, the Balance recommended packing a lunch the night before and carrying it to a park to eat if you can't bear to stay at your desk while you eat. "Frozen dinners and soup are a good fallback for the days you didn't have time to prep a lunch," the Balance noted.

Kick the big bucks coffee habit. According to the Good Financial Cents blog, it's easy to spend $4 per cup or up to $80 per week on coffee. To cut the habit, GFC recommended flavoring your own coffee with spices, eating a piece of fruit for an energy boost in the afternoon instead of drinking coffee, and at the very least, looking for gift cards to your favorite cafes on eBay and Craigslist to save money.

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7 ways to avoid talking politics at work

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 7:26 AM

Women are interrupted 30% more than men in the workplace Being constantly interrupted by men, or "manterrupted," quiets women and makes them lose confidence To avoid spiraling into self-doubt, here are some tips to put a stop to interruptions Speak with conviction using words like 'know' instead of 'believe' Use shorter sentences so your breaths in between aren't as long, making it harder to interrupt Lean in and make eye contact Speak authoritatively and don't open remarks with any type of apology Be sur

Remember when the presidential election was over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, thinking we could all go back to talking about sports and kids, not politics?

»RELATED: 9 secrets you should keep to yourself at work

Of course, that's not what happened at all: Contentious political conversations abound everywhere, from Facebook to daycare to the corner bar.

But when they spring up in the workplace, awkward can become inappropriate.

Avoiding political conversations isn't always possible, but knowing how to neutrally navigate them is crucial in the workplace.(Contributed by wnyc.org/For the AJC)

"No good comes from it," Alec Beck, a labor and employment attorney at Ford Harrison in Minneapolis, told Inc. "All it does is make people mad."

But staying away from political talks in the workplace is about as easy as keeping it secret that someone put out doughnuts in the break room.

(Note: If you are the one who thinks you have every right to speak politics in the workplace, hold it right there. Not only are Freedom of Speech rights not protected in the workplace, you may also inadvertently be veering into issues of race, gender, age or religion, which are protected by the federal Civil Rights Act's Title VII. )

Still, trying to steer away from political conversations is a win-win strategy, according to Gregg Ward, author of "The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways To Influence Without Intimidation," told Inc. 

He and other workplace and communication experts suggested these tactics for avoiding or defusing political conversations at work:

Buy time. When co-workers are hanging out and someone asks you if you saw the latest news or something an elected official said about a particular issue, "play dumb," Ward advised. "Someone with a strong opinion will go into teaching mode instead of venting emotionally. This gives you time to listen and respond appropriately."

Look for common ground. To give the impression that you're still involved in the conversation, respond in a way that's completely true but still impartial. Ward recommended saying, "I think we can all agree that's a very controversial (or loaded or difficult or challenging) topic."

Be authentic, not transparent. It's hard to work with someone everyday and not mention [recent political developments], Liane Davey, co-founder of 3COze Inc. told Harvard Business Review. But you don't need to get drawn in just because the topic comes up.

"Being authentic doesn't equal transparent," she said. "Don't be a Clinton supporter in the women's washroom and a Trump supporter with your boss, but you also don't need to be fully candid about everything you think and feel."

Artfully shift the conversation toward a neutral subject, Davey suggested, or focus on related topics that aren't candidate specific, like the lack of nonpartisan media coverage. "Speak about the process, not the candidate," she said.

Employ a bit of humor. You may be able to avoid a lengthy political discussion by poking a little fun at the instigator, according to Ward. "If they're a halfway decent person you can look at them with a big smile and say, 'Tell us what you really think' and they'll realize they've gone over the top," he said.

Disengage. If you find that you can't keep your cool, take responsibility for being frustrated and angry, and exit the conversation, HBR recommended. But if a colleague's incessant political talk is both "grating and distracting," speak directly to your colleague in simple straightforward terms that indicate you don't want to talk and you're getting back to work now.

Ward added that none of these tactics will work with a sociopath. "If somebody's a true sociopath what I generally say is, 'You'll have to excuse me -- I have to use the restroom,' and I will literally walk away," he said. "I'm not going to win with that person. They are going to cause an explosion."

So if we're not talking politics, what will we say instead?

When politics have dominated workplace conversations in the past, you may need inspiration to start focusing your non-business talk on something more appropriate (and enjoyable.) The Balance reported on these potential topics:
  • Talk about dogs. Even people who don't love dogs can usually entertain a few minutes of doggie anecdotes.
  • Talk about vacation plans. Whether you're going somewhere fun, just returned or bemoaning that this time last year you were somewhere much more enchanting, your co-workers may like to hear about it.
  • Share recipes. Everybody's got to eat. Share your own culinary adventures (think of it like Instagram without the photo), or ask your colleagues for a recipe you might use for, say, a date night or to take to a potluck.
  • Recommend a restaurant. Extra points if it's near work or great lunch spots.
  • Talk about books, movies or television shows. Everyone can use news of the entertaining. This suggestion does not extend to politicized choices, though.

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7 mistakes first-time bosses make and how to avoid them

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:18 PM

When you think it's time to leave your job, how do you depart in a way that avoids repercussions? Create a loose transition plan for your boss Envision what you can do to make the transition easier on the team When meeting with your employer, use the "compliment sandwich" method Consider how leaving your job will affect your family Leave under good conditions if at all possible

Kudos! You've moved up the corporate ladder and are on top of your career. That's right: You're now the boss.

However, managing a department, division or corporation doesn't mean it's time to lean back in your office chair and prop up your feet. Yet, this type of lax approach to leadership is often seen in executive positions across various industries and unfortunately ends in employee turnover.

»RELATED: Does birth order affect you in the workplace?

The bigger the title, the bigger the managerial responsibility of ensuring you and your professional posse are meeting company goals and expectations, correct? Not necessarily so. Some bosses are actually better at abusing this crucial role than excelling in it.

Emmanuel Little, director of Georgia’s first and only Call Me MiSTER program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become talented teachers, warns about the following pitfalls of making bad boss moves and how to prevent them.

So new business owners, principals, presidents or directors should avoid these common administrative blunders if the aim is to build a loyal, successful team for years ahead:

 

Not leading by example. If you expect workers to put in overtime and interrupt their personal lives to meet project deadlines, show them you're in it to win it with them. Employees appreciate and respect bosses who show up early and leave late along with them, which sets a tone of togetherness. “It’s about practicing what you preach,” said Little, who launched the high school to higher education mentoring program four years ago at Georgia College in Milledgeville. “The biggest way to do that is to model what you want your team to produce, and they will respect you for that. Showing your team instead of always telling them goes a long way.”

 

Not giving credit where credit is due. If an employee is alleviating responsibilities from your plate and doing a darn good job at it, don't steal their contribution thunder by not acknowledging their efforts to make you look good. Make sure you genuinely express gratitude for their dedication to the task at hand, and if higher-ups brag about the results as well, don't hesitate to recognize the one who covered your back. “It’s important to have different ways of recognizing the ones who are producing exceptional work,” Little said. “Lack of recognition could potentially create negative effects in morale and productivity. You want to make sure your team knows that you care, so figure out how you can uplift and celebrate them when they’ve gone above the call of duty.”

 

Not compensating hard workers. Employees who constantly produce undeniable results that bring award-winning company recognition, new business and significant solutions to business problems should know they're valued. Promotions, bonuses and raises show these hard workers their talent and time spent on projects is appreciated and deserves compensation that matches their skill set. “Most of the time decision makers have power over resources, so if you’re that person in your division or office, really consider opportunities to compensate your hardest workers,” said Little, “and that doesn’t always mean money in the pocket. Maybe its paying for them to attend a national conference for professional development, self-care days, gift cards or office birthday parties. They need to know they’re seen as assets, not just workers.”

 

Not considering diverse discourse. Blocking out team members' options, ideas or views to improve office workflow can potentially decrease productivity and morale. Employees may feel as though they don't have a voice or serve as a true stakeholder within the brand. Ignoring simple suggestions from workers that could benefit daily operations or demanding assignments could lead to top performers leaving for better work environments — or worse — a similar position with the company's competition. “Bosses have to be very intentional with placing diverse team members into positions where each one of their voices can be heard,” he said.

“Encouraging them to participate on boards and committees across the company brings intersections of identity to the table and helps account for blind spots in the organization. Greater diversity and inclusion leads to greater success and efficiency.”

 

Not offering advancement opportunities. The more your team members know, the more they can successfully execute roles and responsibilities. Hindering or failing to make employees aware of career advancement conferences or events that will give them elevation edge only stifles their creativity and ability to become influential change agents within the company. Showing your constant support to their growth motivates them to continue to perform well, according to Entrepreneur.com

“Bosses also have to be proactive with putting their team into positions that will challenge and improve their skills,” Little said. “Opening up opportunities for them to grow only strengthens their talent level and elevates the organizaton by keeping everyone on the path of producing the best results possible. So identify your team’s abilities, cultivate those abilities and watch how the team excels together.”

 

Not holding oneself, unproductive employees accountable. Slackers always rub diligent workers the wrong way, according to a piece on how to be an effective team by Fast Company. When the boss and colleagues habitually communicate that meeting deadlines and achieving goals is not a big deal, it only says to those who take their position seriously that the organization is counterproductive to career and company growth. “Bosses need to outline and articulate clear expectations,” said Little. “If you can’t hold yourself accountable, how can you expect any type of accountability from your team? So set straightforward expectations for everyone and eliminate gray areas. That’s why assessments like annual employee evaluations are critical to track the team’s progress.”

 

Not operating with a humble heart. Employees lose interest in know-it-all bosses quickly. Let's face it: Information and the way companies do business changes every day. Some bosses welcome novel strategies to reach brand objectives; others deflect it and would rather stick with what they know — even if it's not working. From the newest employees to veterans, it doesn't hurt to pick their business brains to learn modern or unconventional approaches to increase output and improve the company culture. “Bosses have to remember: It’s not about you,” Little said. “The mission of the organization is bigger than you. The best leaders want to create teams that help sustain organizations and initiatives long after they’re gone. You want to stay connected to the mission/vision of the business, advancing it and not your ego. So if the team has solutions to make the organization better, listen to them.” 

 

 

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Character traits you wouldn't believe give you an edge in your career

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:41 AM

Consider these seven strengths of introverts at work Introverts are insightful and empathetic Introverts are self-motivated Introverts are team-oriented Introverts speak with intention Introverts are writers by nature Introverts aim to please Introverts are quiet, but effective, leaders

Are you one of those anal-retentive employees? It's OK. Be honest with your professional self.

»RELATED: How to recover when you’ve majorly messed up at work

Maybe you constantly bug co-workers about due dates as if they didn't already know or are a super stickler for how team members use company supplies. And that's not always a bad thing, right? 

Believe it or not, some perceivably annoying on-the-job characteristics can become more effective and gain approving reviews from higher-ups, according to psychology and career experts.

Here are a few character traits that might be giving you an edge in your career:

The crisis communicator. This personality always freaks out about office events like deadlines, new hires, resignations or company shifts. This person doesn't like assignment surprises or getting out of his comfort zone.

If you're this type of worker: Whenever real emergency situations arise, you're the perfect person to panic for the entire team. The other good thing is that employers will always know how you genuinely feel — instantly gaining your gut reaction to tackle and execute the tasks at hand. 

In a Psychology Today article, emotions expert and author Alice Boyes shared that these worry wart ways are at times advantageous because anxious workers usually have Plan B and C prepared. 

The polite pushover. This personality is never combative and will work no matter the chaotic office conditions.

If you're this type of worker: Employers can trust that you will consider everyone's feelings, backgrounds and rationales. You’re always respectful of others, which often leads to transformative benefits for the entire team.  

The negative Nancy. This personality finds loom and doom in every move the company makes or when collaborating with certain co-workers on team assignments.

If you're this type of worker: At least your boss and/or colleagues know what you're thinking. And bluntly bringing awareness to company cons can help improve morale and productivity. And when projects don’t turn out as expected, you’re less likely to become upset, according to social psychologist Kate Sweeny, who was cited in a Society for Personality and Social Psychology article.

The office overachiever. This personality will go above and beyond the call of duty time again and typically doesn't take "can't" attitudes lightly. 

If you're this type of worker: Employers can definitely count on you to pick up the slack of procrastinators and keep senior leadership in the know about inefficient, time-wasting workers not worthy of their positions.

Tim Eisenhauer, co-founder of Axero Solutions and the first company intranet software, Communifire, told Inc. Magazine that these are usually your “big idea” folks who push production to new heights. 

The manic micromanager. This personality nags and helicopter parents the daily activities of people and projects within their direct supervision.

If you're this type of worker: Yes, this overbearing demeanor is irritating, but employers appreciate your unwavering devotion to meeting goals, conserving resources and paying attention to operational details. 

How do you think tech expert the late Steve Jobs built Apple into a powerhouse? 

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How to recover when you’ve majorly messed up at work

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 1:24 PM

We like saying yes to our superiors, but agreeing to do too many things leaves us overstressed and overworked Saying no will provide you with the time and energy to focus on the work that will move your career forward Say no at work when you are assigned a task that does not fall under your job description Be straightforward and not dance around the subject Say no when it is going to set a precedent that you aren't comfortable with Anticipate the other side's tactics and consider saying no in private Whe

To err is human and every human's workday is full of the easily-corrected, quickly forgotten type of mistakes. But when you screw up big time on the job, you're facing a much more difficult challenge.

»RELATED: ‘no’ could be your magic word at work

"If we make mistakes in our personal lives, we can cope by working through it with the people closest to us," noted LinkedIn influencer Ilya Pozin, founder of Ciplex. "But if we make a mistake at work, we often jeopardize our professional reputation. And your professional reputation is essentially the foundation upon which your personal brand rests."

No one's saying you meant to lose the client, forget the materials in a city far from the presentation, wreck the tow truck or accidentally send a blistering email about your boss to the whole office. And if everyone quit immediately after making a big mistake at work, most people probably wouldn't have jobs for long.

The better option: bounce back. "It is in your best interest to limit the damage from a mistake and, most importantly, learn all you can from it," noted John Caddell, analytic services leader at Nexidia, posting at 99u. 

After a blunder at work, employ these seven tactics from Caddell, Pozin and other management and workplace experts to rebound from your screw up.

Step back and breathe.

This first step is essential, according to Pozin.

"It can be easy to get worked up over our own failings, but we can't internalize self-hate when we make mistakes. Don't take action until you assess the situation and take a moment to clear your head. "Even if the problem is big, being overly stressed or anxious impedes your ability to think clearly and bounce back quickly," Pozin added.

Assess.

Once you've settled down a bit, take the time to map out what went down during your mistake, University of Minnesota management professor Alfred Marcus told Entrepreneur. Think about what went wrong and why. "Don't rationalize it away," Marcus said. He also suggested asking a mentor or friend with an outside perspective to keep you accountable.

»RELATED: 5 of the most toxic co-workers and how to deal with them

Foster a sense of urgency.

Don't let your mistakes simmer, however much you'd like the whole situation to disappear without any effort from you. "Work mistakes aren't the end of the world," Pozin stated. "Still, healing mistakes does require action on your part. Own up to your mistakes sooner rather than later if you want continued trust from your higher-ups and fellow employees."

Own your mistake.

So you feel like circumstances were against you, or somebody you were counting on failed you, or you were having a bad day? Too bad, Caddell said. "According to Justin Menkes' wonderful book Better Under Pressure, truly great leaders don't blame others when things go wrong," he noted. "They instead have a high 'sense of agency,' which is 'the degree to which people attribute their circumstances and the outcomes they experience to being within their own control.'"

Put aside any urges to place blame on others, even if it's convenient and might go over with the rest of your work group, Pozin advised. "This will only worsen your situation, and can lead others to distrust you in the future."

Offer a fix.

"Healing work mistakes means being proactive about coming up with a solution," Pozin advised. "Offer a few solutions to your boss, manager, or co-worker, but be open to their feedback, too. If you've gotten yourself into a mess, you may need help to get out of it."

Avoid the temptation to be a "quiet fixer," added Caddell. "Mistakes often have side effects, and pretending that it didn't happen is dangerous."

Take a lesson from former Toyota chairman Katsuaki Watanabe. "If problems are revealed for everyone to see, I will feel reassured," he told Harvard Business Review. "Once problems have been visualized, even if our people didn't notice them earlier, they will rack their brains to find solutions to them."

Apologize.

Make it a real apology, Caddell advised, like, "I'm sorry I caused your group all that downtime." Avoid apologies that sound "lame and self-protective," he added. Don't say, "I wish it hadn't happened," for example.

Address the root cause.

Make it a habit to systematically reflect on your mistakes and you'll soon see patterns in your performance that contribute to the errors, Caddell advised. "And once you realize that, you are well on the way to fixing that pattern."

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