Vera: As a workplace author, what are the top critical issues that your work helps organizations with and why are those challenges so prominent and persistent?
Anita: I think what I strive to do is to educate workers and managers about how their actions impact not only their own careers, but the success of an organization. People tend to get “comfortable” in their jobs and don’t really think about how they can make an organization more competitive or innovative. But they need to realize that when they help make an organization stand out, then their own careers will benefit.
Vera: Your first book ‘’Take this job and thrive’’ hit the heart of what every professional wants but how does one turn any job up so to speak?
Anita: If we’ve learned anything from the downturn of the economy it should be that we’re all responsible for our own success. In other words, you have to treat yourself as a business and a brand and constantly be looking for ways to improve your skills or network more. If you do that, then you’ll continue to grow and be successful – and be able to land a job no matter what’s happening in the economy.
Vera: One of your stated goals is to ‘’have your writing become a source of lively discussion on workplace people’’ Why are constructive conversations in workplace always put in the background by organizational leaders/managers?
Anita: Because these kinds of discussions are difficult. Managers are trained to offer feedback/criticism at the yearly performance review and nothing more. But research shows that doesn’t work. What works are ongoing discussions and feedback between a manager and an employee about what’s going right and wrong, and how to improve.
Vera: Your other book “45 things you do that drives your boss crazy’’ won awards and was described by a renowned author as a “book that might triple one’s chances of being promoted”. Out of your 45, which 3 would you single out as key to one becoming promotable?
Anita: I think developing your communication skills is critical. You can’t sit behind your computer or only send emails or texts and expect to get ahead. You’ve got to have one-on-one conversations with peers, colleagues in other departments and your bosses. Otherwise, you’re going to be overlooked. I also think that if you fail to grow in your job – to learn new skills, volunteer for new assignments or ask to cross-train – then you’re not going to be considered for big projects or promotions because you’re seen as just going through the motions. Finally, sometimes it’s the little things that can trip you up the most, so use your manners! Being polite and professional makes it easy to be around you, and that’s critical for working well with others as you move up.
Vera: You’ve interviewed employers and employees alike in your work, what have you heard from each block that has surprised you and why?
Anita: That some things never change! I’ve been writing about the workplace for more than two decades, and I still hear the same complaints about bosses who are jerks or employees who goof off and don’t appreciate their jobs. Despite all the new technology and “new way” of working, we can’t seem to get past some of the petty problems that are just part of the human race!
Vera: Job dissatisfaction / uninspired employees is a challenge in many workplaces – what can managers do to make workplaces more attractive and what might individuals do to make their job more fulfilling?
Anita: The big push these days is for career development. No employee expects to have the same job for 30 years, so they want to grow in their jobs and have a boss who supports learning new skills so that they will remain viable in the job market. Managers who are willing to help coach workers in new skills or provide them with learning opportunities will find their workers are much more engaged. At the same time, employees should always invest in their own careers. There are lots of podcasts, classes, seminars, etc. that allow employees to continue to learn about their jobs or their industry. So maybe you have a job that doesn’t challenge you right now – but you could challenge yourself by taking a business management class or listening to podcasts on marketing. Don’t expect someone to do this for you – take charge of your own career and you will be much happier.
Vera: When you’ve been a manager/employee in your own career, what are some of the impactful ways you’ve been able to use your own advice?
Anita: I think the No. 1 thing I’ve learned is to take a deep breath before I respond to an email in anger or irritation. It’s much more productive to walk away and revisit the issue later. I never put anything in writing that I would come to regret later.
Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning freelance journalist, specializing in career and workplace issues. She is the author of two career advice books, and has been on the Today show and quoted in such publications as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour and USA Today. More on Anita’s work from www.45things.com
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.