TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s What Needs to Go on Your ‘Stop Doing’ List Immediately

To do list
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Just don't even

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

Most business owners think about creating a “start doing” list, with its endless recitations of things they could be doing more of in order for the company to be bigger, better or more profitable.

But there’s just as much value in asking yourself, “What needs to go on my ‘stop doing’ list?” When you create such a list, you detach yourself from the tasks that take up time without improving your bottom line.

For busy entrepreneurs, here are the top four habits that need to go on your “stop doing” list if you want to see more productivity, innovation and success:

Related: The Only 2 Good Reasons to Work for Free

1. Working for free.

It all adds up — those little favors, those “quick” phone calls with a potential client who wants to “pick your brain” without hiring you. Pick and choose when you give of your time, without forgetting that for every item you complete when you say yes to someone else, you’re saying “no” to yourself and your business.

2. Comparing.

The energy that’s taken up by looking at what other businesses are doing and worrying about why your business isn’t further along could be better spent innovating and exploring the issues not being addressed in your industry and how you could provide solutions for them.

3. Letting administrative tasks slide.

Are you forgetting to invoice clients, letting clients to pay late, restocking supplies at the last minute or not answering emails? When these administrative tasks pile up, you’re less likely to want to do them.

Decide on systems that can handle these tasks, outsource them entirely or determine that you’re going to find a way to run your business that doesn’t require them. For example, perhaps you’ll start using auto-delivery from Amazon Prime for critical office supplies or you’ll finally create that frequently asked questions (or FAQ) page that will reduce the number of emails you need to respond to.

Related: How Busy Entrepreneurs Deal With Mundane Tasks

4. Rushing.

When you book sessions back to back or overload your day with things to do, you end up multitasking, becoming sloppy and not putting enough time into self-care. It’s impossible to effectively run a business when you’re rushing. What’s most embarrassing is when the harried nature of your business starts to become noticeable to clients and colleagues.

When a company owner decides what he or she is going to stop doing, the results quickly become apparent. There’s more time and energy for the things that grow the business and inspire workers and leaders and less time spent on those things that are old, stagnant habits. Start with just one thing that you’re going to stop doing and work your way from there to create an even better business in the new year.

Related: Learning to Say No to Interruptions to Foster Creativity in Business

TIME Business

Holiday Party Hookups Are Good for Employees–And None of HR’s Business

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Compassionate Eye Foundation/Noel Hendrickson—Getty Images

Neil McArthur is a philosopher specializing in ethical issues around sex and love. Marina Adshade is the author Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love.

Corporate policies punish employees for having on-the-job romances, but oftentimes these relationships lead to marriage

Eggnog, mistletoe, and a late-night lip sync to that Mariah Carey song. Is there any better way to celebrate the holidays with people that you spend most of your time – your coworkers? It seems many employees, however, are sharing more than just Christmas cheer when they get together this time of the year. According to a survey conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive, 25% of Americans claim that they have had a sexual relationship as the result of a office holiday party. Those numbers are even higher among workers who are the least likely to be married, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34.

People are doing more than just having holiday flings. Forty-three percent of HR personnel report knowledge of current romances between employees at their firm, and 40% of people admit to having been involved in an office romance at some point in time.

Many of these romances lead to marriage. In fact, among couples that married between 2005 and 2012, meeting through work was the second most common way couples met (14%) trumped only by meeting on online dating sites (16%).

Those statistics have left some employers feeling more like Scrooge than Santa. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in corporate policies that punish employees for having on-the-job romances.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the number of firms with restrictions on sexual relationships between employees (not just at holiday parties) has more than doubled over the last decade – from 20% in 2001 to 42% in 2013. And 49% of HR professionals surveyed reported that within the last five years, someone at their organization has been fired, suspended, or formally reprimanded for a workplace romance.

Employers are cracking down on workplace relationships, and in the process are inflicting real costs on themselves and their workers. So there must be some evidence to justify the increasing involvement of firms in the private lives of their employees…right?

Not really. And, in fact, there are some good reasons why employers should be tolerant towards workplace romance.

Firstly, there is the question of basic principle. The right of consenting adults to have sex with whomever they want has come to be seen as one of our basic liberties, on par with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, throwing out Texas’ law banning gay sex, reflects a growing recognition by courts and lawmakers that what adults do in private is nobody’s business, unless someone can show there is a direct and tangible harm. That’s part of what it means to live in a free country.

Second, the workplace is one of the few places young, overworked, singles can find love. With more men and women staying single into their 30s than ever before and with employers demanding more and more of their employees time, firms that ban workers from engaging in relationships with one another are either depriving their employees a chance for personal happiness, or are forcing them to choose between happiness and professional success at that firm.

Finally, the evidence suggests that, on balance, office romances can make for happier and more productive workers. Banning workplace romances can also make it difficult to attract good employees and can lead to an atmosphere of paranoia. No one wants to work in an office in which gossip – the most common way in which HR professions learn of workplace romances – can cost you your job.

Of course, any firm that completely ignores the behavior of its employees exposes itself to legal risk, for instance in cases in which a supervisor is dating a subordinate. But even then, is the best solution to terminate one or both of the employees? This is what happens in 41% of cases. But there are plenty of less punitive solutions, such as transferring supervision to another manager.

Employers need to protect employees against harassment. But that is an argument for specific anti-harassment policies, and not an argument for the policies many firms adopt: blanket policies that govern consensual sexual relationships. Rather than trying to ban sex outright, the best solution is educating people on respect and consent in order to prevent complaints, and taking them seriously when complaints do arise.

We’re not telling you to go out and sleep with a co-worker this Christmas. Office romances can be tricky. And if you do succumb to temptation, at least stay off the copier. We all have to use that on Monday.

Neil McArthur is a philosopher specializing in ethical issues around sex and love. He works at the University of Manitoba. Marina Adshade uses research, human insight and economic analysis to unlock the mysteries behind our actions, thoughts and preferences regarding sexual relationships, gender, love and power. She shows that every option, every decision and every outcome in the realm of sex and love is better understood through economics. Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Education

Why Professionals Shouldn’t Be Trained By Academics

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

The case for rethinking how your doctor, lawyer, psychologist, or teacher gets certified

After passing student teaching, it typically takes a public school teacher only two or three years after being hired to get tenure for life. That tenure stands whether they’re energized and helping kids for decades or if they’re burned out and hurting them.

So, when I supervised student teachers at San Jose State University, I gave a passing grade only to students whom I believed would be at least reasonably good for kids. Actually, my criterion was, “Would it be okay if my daughter had this person as a teacher?” As a result, I failed one-third of my students. They were really bad; I couldn’t begin to understand how such people could have made it all the way to student teaching. I recall one student teacher–who knew I’d be visiting—who showed a movie for three-quarters of the period, and when it ended with a few minutes left in the period, played the movie backwards. Instead of being praised for high standards in passing only two-thirds of the students, despite fine student evaluations, I was not asked back.

To be a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, teacher, or accountant, you must be licensed. That’s appropriate, but how licensure is granted is inappropriate. In most fields, a license is usually granted after completing the prescribed university-based education and, often, a written examination. Both do an inadequate job of what we actually want a license to mean: that this professional is likely to help us.

Training

Most university-based training programs are taught heavily by academics, professors who are hired and promoted not mainly on how well they prepare practitioners but on their research. The researcher’s skills and personality are different from the trainer’s. Research demands great intellectual rigor and years-long focus on a narrow area. In contrast, training pre-professionals more requires the ability to explain basic practicalities clearly, create experiences for students that both educate and inspire, and connect interpersonally with students of widely varying intellectual and personal styles.

We’ve ceded far too much power to academia. Professionals should be trained primarily by master practitioners. Indeed, that now is an option for aspiring teachers in California. They can, for example, choose to receive much of their training on the job, hired by a school district as a paid “intern” who teaches a classroom under a supervising mentor and takes a few short, practical courses. Aspiring lawyers in California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington can forgo the three years and six-figure cost of law school by, as The New York Times put it, “studying at the elbow of a seasoned lawyer.”

Why would an organization other than a university want to get involved in training, apart from tuition it would receive? Because it builds a pipeline of well-trained talent. A school district, law firm, and health organization such as Kaiser, of course, wants people who are well trained and want to work there. If the organization trains well, it will have accomplished that while gaining revenue. And many individual master practitioners derive pleasure and growth from mentoring an aspirant. If additional incentive were needed to encourage organizations to train aspirants, the trainees would agree to work for that organization for at least a year. If additional incentive were needed to encourage students to select that organization as its trainer, it could guarantee employment to the program’s completers.

Testing

After completing the education component of professional training, certification is usually based on passing a written exam that consists mainly or totally of multiple-choice questions, not a live demonstration of expertise. But we all know people who do well on written tests and badly in the real world. The skills to pass a written exam omit crucialities: Can a physician, in the space of a short patient visit, forge sufficient trust to get that patient to reveal what she’s really experiencing? To actually comply with the physician’s recommendations? Can a lawyer remain ethical in the face of pressures for dishonesty? Does a psychologist get a significant percentage of clients to improve their lives?

Passing a written exam should qualify the professional only for provisional licensure. Full licensure should require passing grades on a report card issued by the provisional licensee’s supervisor and by a random sample of the person’s patients or clients. To maximize integrity, the supervisor, not the candidate, would randomly select those people, emailing them a brief online report card, which need consist only of rating the practitioner A to F on three simple items: effectiveness in meeting your goal, ethics, and overall satisfaction.

A call for pilot testing

The proposed model may be logical but does it actually work? That could be tested: In each profession, traditionally train and test a random half of aspiring professionals, and train and test the other half as proposed here. Then compare the graduates over time on effectiveness and job satisfaction.

For example, to measure effectiveness, do traditionally or innovatively trained and tested teachers end up with students with greater risk-adjusted growth in reading, writing, critical thinking, and math? Which group of physicians has better risk-adjusted patient outcomes? Which group of lawyers has greater risk-adjusted client satisfaction and more lawyers that are given greater responsibility?

Evaluation

Whatever training model is used, training institutions have largely been immune from accountability. Government doesn’t shut down a medical school whose graduates have well-below-average risk-adjusted patient outcomes. No one de-accredits a teacher training program because its graduates do a weak of job improving student learning. That should change.

How come this hasn’t yet come to pass?

Why has university-centric training remained the standard even though it has little accountability for its graduates’ effectiveness, and we all know of well-certified people who do a poor job? My best guess is that we are intimidated by academics—book-smart PhDs. It would seem anti-intellectual to replace those lofty intellects with mere practitioners. But perhaps we would change our approach if we applied the same common sense we’d use in choosing our own practitioners. For example, wouldn’t you choose a surgeon that had done your surgery 100 times rather than someone who wrote a book on the theory of that surgery but had rarely performed it?

Why have written exams remained the standard for licensure? I’m guessing it’s mainly cost. But if the pilot testing recommended here indicates that real-world evaluation adds significantly more validity to licensure, it would mean we’d all have better doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists and accountants. Wouldn’t that be a wiser expenditure of societal dollars than on much of what society already spends?

Making it happen

In whatever profession you’re in, there’s probably a professional association involved in determining how professionals get certified and recertified. Perhaps you might want to share this article with that organization’s education committee.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY workplace etiquette

How to Handle a Co-Worker Who’s a Chronic Complainer

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: One of my co-workers is always complaining about our boss. I have a good relationship with both of them, but I don’t want to seem unsympathetic to my co-worker. What should I do? – Darin, Arlington, Va.

A: Everybody needs to let off steam once in a while. But be careful about getting sucked into a gripe session about your boss. What you say could come back to bite you.

You are probably not the only one to whom your colleague is complaining. So if you join in to say something negative (even if simply in the spirit of sympathy) about your boss, your co-worker may pass on the message to others that you are unhappy, too, says Dana Brownlee, president of Professionalism Matters.

“Make sure whatever you say you would also be comfortable with if someone repeated it to your boss,” says Brownlee.

How best to handle the situation depends on what your co-worker is complaining about, says Brownlee. If you agree with the complaint – maybe your boss is a micromanager—and you want to help, talk about how you deal with the issue. You might say something like, “I know John can be controlling. But I made sure I was very proactive about giving him updates on the project, and he eased up.”

If there’s a serious issue that should be addressed, encourage your colleague to raise the problem with the boss directly—and suggest a tactful way to do it. “It’s not going to solve your colleague’s problem just talking to you about it,” says Brownlee.

On the other hand, if your colleague is a chronic complainer who is more interested in moaning about things than fixing problems, it’s time to short circuit that aspect of your relationship.

Constant complaining wears you down and distracts you from your work. Plus, turning a sympathetic ear will only encourage your colleague to come back to with a subsequent rant. “Complaining is like a fire, it needs oxygen,” says Brownlee. “And complainers seek out people who will feed that fire.”

When you see a bitch session forming, steer the conversation in a different direction. Say something like “I’m tired of talking about work. Let’s talk about something else.”

If your colleague launches in anyway, listen, nod but don’t comment, and then change the subject. Or, play the work card, and just say you don’t have time to chat.

Do this enough times and your complaining colleague will go elsewhere to vent, says Brownlee.

Got a workplace etiquette question you need answered? Send it to drosato@moneymail.com!

TIME Business

The Biggest Mistakes I See on Resumes, and How to Correct Them

Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Neilson Barnard—Getty Images

Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google.

"Read your resume from bottom to top: reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation"

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Laszlo Bock and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes over my career, applying for just about every kind of job. I’ve personally reviewed more than 20,000 resumes. And at Google we sometimes get more than 50,000 resumes in a single week.

I have seen A LOT of resumes.

Some are brilliant, most are just ok, many are disasters. The toughest part is that for 15 years, I’ve continued to see the same mistakes made again and again by candidates, any one of which can eliminate them from consideration for a job. What’s most depressing is that I can tell from the resumes that many of these are good, even great, people. But in a fiercely competitive labor market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.

I know this is well-worn ground on LinkedIn, but I’m starting here because — I promise you — more than half of you have at least one of these mistakes on your resume. And I’d much rather see folks win jobs than get passed over.

In the interest of helping more candidates make it past that first resume screen, here are the five biggest mistakes I see on resumes.

Mistake 1: Typos. This one seems obvious, but it happens again and again. A 2013 CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of resumes have typos.

In fact, people who tweak their resumes the most carefully can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error, because they often result from going back again and again to fine tune their resumes just one last time. And in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly don’t match up, or a period is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment. I see this in MBA resumes all the time. Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality. The fix?

Read your resume from bottom to top: reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation. Or have someone else proofread closely for you.

Mistake 2: Length. A good rule of thumb is one page of resume for every ten years of work experience. Hard to fit it all in, right? But a three or four or ten page resume simply won’t get read closely. As Blaise Pascal wrote, “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” A crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you. Think about it this way: the *sole* purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. That’s it. It’s not to convince a hiring manager to say “yes” to you (that’s what the interview is for) or to tell your life’s story (that’s what a patient spouse is for). Your resume is a tool that gets you to that first interview. Once you’re in the room, the resume doesn’t matter much. So cut back your resume. It’s too long.

Mistake 3: Formatting. Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume clean and legible. At least ten point font. At least half-inch margins. White paper, black ink. Consistent spacing between lines, columns aligned, your name and contact information on every page. If you can, look at it in both Google Docs and Word, and then attach it to an email and open it as a preview. Formatting can get garbled when moving across platforms. Saving it as a PDF is a good way to go.

Mistake 4: Confidential information. I once received a resume from an applicant working at a top-three consulting firm. This firm had a strict confidentiality policy: client names were never to be shared. On the resume, the candidate wrote: “Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.” Rejected! There’s an inherent conflict between your employer’s needs (keep business secrets confidential) and your needs (show how awesome I am so I can get a better job). So candidates often find ways to honor the letter of their confidentiality agreements but not the spirit. It’s a mistake. While this candidate didn’t mention Microsoft specifically, any reviewer knew that’s what he meant. In a very rough audit, we found that at least 5-10% of resumes reveal confidential information. Which tells me, as an employer, that I should never hire those candidates … unless I want my own trade secrets emailed to my competitors.

The New York Times test is helpful here: if you wouldn’t want to see it on the home page of the NYT with your name attached (or if your boss wouldn’t!), don’t put it on your resume.

Mistake 5: Lies. This breaks my heart. Putting a lie on your resume is never, ever, ever, worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, gets fired for this. (Google “CEO fired for lying on resume” and see.) People lie about their degrees (three credits shy of a college degree is not a degree), GPAs (I’ve seen hundreds of people “accidentally” round their GPAs up, but never have I seen one accidentally rounded down — never), and where they went to school (sorry, but employers don’t view a degree granted online for “life experience” as the same as UCLA or Seton Hall). People lie about how long they were at companies, how big their teams were, and their sales results, always goofing in their favor.

There are three big problems with lying: (1) You can easily get busted. The Internet, reference checks, and people who worked at your company in the past can all reveal your fraud. (2) Lies follow you forever. Fib on your resume and 15 years later get a big promotion and are discovered? Fired. And try explaining that in your next interview. (3) Our Moms taught us better. Seriously.

So this is how to mess up your resume. Don’t do it! Hiring managers are looking for the best people they can find, but the majority of us all but guarantee that we’ll get rejected.

The good news is that — precisely because most resumes have these kinds of mistakes — avoiding them makes you stand out.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY job search

How to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Man on phone interview
Simone Becchetti—Getty Images

Make sure you're not eliminated before your candidacy has even begun. Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine offers four strategies to wow a hiring manager when you're not face to face.

Phone interviews are becoming an increasingly common first step in the hiring process.

For hiring managers, they’re a more expedient way to narrow the applicant pool.

When I was working as a recruiter, I would often ask for a brief call to discuss the résumé, and from that short interaction determine who I would invite for a longer, in-person interview. That way I didn’t waste valuable time on applicants I’d otherwise nix five minutes into an hour-long in-person interview

While a time-saver for people like me, the phoner is yet another hurdle for candidates to overcome on the road to getting a job. To pass the bar with flying colors, you’ll want to do the following:

1. Focus on the words you’ll use.

In a live interview, you have your presence, your hand gestures, your smile, and eye contact. And all those non-verbal cues can be used to establish credibility and develop rapport. Communication is 80% or more about these non-verbals.

But on a phone call, all of this is taken away; you have only 20% of your power. You are left with the words you choose, the pace at which you speak, the inflections you give, and the clarity of your articulation.

It is that much more important that you focus on these verbal communication skills as you prepare for the interview (see steps #2 and #3).

2. Do a practice run

Don’t just wing a phone interview. Practice in advance.

A great way to do this: Leave a voicemail message for yourself with an interview response—talk about yourself or explain why you’re interested in the job.

Then assess how you come across by phone.

Do you sound enthusiastic? Do you speak clearly? Do you have the right volume—not too loud, not too soft? Do you speak at a good pace? Are you concise?

3. Align yourself to the job description

No one gets hired on the strength of the phone interview so you’re not trying to close the deal right away. You’re simply trying to get to the next round, and establish that you are strong potential match for the job at hand.

Therefore, plan what you will say based on how it matches to this job.

When you give an overview of what you’re doing, highlight where your current skills and expertise overlap with the job requirements. When you talk about why you would consider leaving, mention things that this new job offers, thereby confirming your interest in this very job.

4. Remember that it’s a conversation.

In a live interview, you can see that you need to wrap up your answer and move on if the interviewer’s eyes are glazing over, he glances at his watch, or he leans forward to interrupt you.

In a phone interview, you won’t get any such clues.

So keep your answers concise, and leave space to ensure that your interviewer can get in a word and ask the next question. This ensures you’re covering everything the interviewer needs to move you to the next round.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column appears weekly.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

TIME career

The Best (and Worst) Advice From Bosses

businesswomen
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Sometimes managers spout words of wisdom and other times, you'd rather take their knowledge with a grain of salt

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

Many of us are lucky enough to work under intelligent leaders we can learn from. Other times, bosses say the darndest things. We asked our Facebook followers for the best and worst advice their bosses ever gave them. These are a few of the highlights.

The Best Advice…

“Dress [for] where you want to be, not where you are.” —April C.

“I was talking to my boss about how I’d like to go college, but by the time I graduated, going just part time, I’d be 30. She said, ‘Well, aren’t you going to be 30 in a few years anyway?’ It woke me up! I got my degree when I was 30 and now I’m 50. Thanks, Carmen!” —Janie M.

(MORE: New Poll Shows Parents Are Really Stressed… And Really Happy)

“Some days you’re the bug. Some days you’re the windshield.” —Kelly Z.

“My boss told me never to make coffee for my supervisors unless I wanted coffee myself. That said so much.” —Karen D.

“Take HALF of [the net amount of] any raise and apply it toward your mortgage. [I] paid off my mortgage before I was 35.” —Lynn S.

(MORE: One Sneaky Trick to Boost Your Mood)

“[It’s] not exactly advice, but I had a general manager who would come up with a unique, not often used word of the day. It helped expand our vocabularies, was fun, and I now practice this with my children.” —Charlene C.

“For me it’s been more [about] how I am treated. An ideal boss supports your work, has your back, allows you to grow, and does not micromanage your work. Mine happens to also have a great personality.” —Lisa C.

(MORE: Why Your Sibling is Good for Your Health (According to Science))

The Worst Advice…

“You’ll have to ask someone else; that’s beneath my pay grade.” —MJ H.

“If someone asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, just make up something. They’ll never know the difference.” —Becky W.

“If work was meant to be fun, it wouldn’t be called work.” —Beth G.

(MORE: Why Dogs Are Good for More Than Just Snuggling)

“And I quote, ‘You think too much. We aren’t paying you to think about it, just read the script.'” —Heather R.

“‘You will never make it…’ Guess what… I MADE IT BIG TIME.” —Nerina H.

(MORE: Is Your Dog Smarter Than a Five-Year-Old?)

MONEY workplace etiquette

When It Is—and Isn’t—Okay to Text Your Boss

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Is it okay to text my boss?

A: The answer depends the signals you’ve received in the past from your supervisor and on the information you’re trying to convey.

With the rapid rise in smartphone usage and the huge number of millennials now in the workforce, texting is indeed becoming more acceptable as a professional way to communicate, says Praful Shah, senior vice president of strategy at Ring Central, which makes business communication products.

“There’s been a huge shift toward businesses using texting for communicating with customers, partners and employees,” he notes. “For the younger generation of workers, it’s a natural part of their life and they are bringing behavior from their personal life into business.”

Still, it’s not right for every situation.

How to Tell if Your Boss Is Open to Receiving Texts

While surveys show that Gen Y is more attached to their mobile devices than older folks, across all generations more than 90% of people who own a smartphone text regularly. So age shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether to contact your boss in this manner.

Rather, look out for one of these two clues that your boss would be okay with hearing from you by text:

1) He or she has texted you in the past.

OR

2) He or she has provided his or her cell number on the staff directory or in an email signature.

How to Tell if a Text is the Right Way to Communicate

A text is best reserved for situations in which you need an immediate response or want to provide a quick important piece of information, says Shah. But if you need more than a few brief sentences, an email is more appropriate.

Also, when the information is sensitive—such as a project being cancelled—it’s usually better to talk in person or by phone (though you could request the person’s time by text).

Timing is important, too. If it’s late at night or you know your boss in is in a meeting, a text can be intrusive and disruptive, says Shah. “For information that can wait, use email so your boss can decide when to respond.”

Accurate, real-time salaries for thousands of careers.

You should also limit frequency. You may text back and forth a lot with friends. But you don’t want to annoy the person who decides your raises.

Finally, your texts shouldn’t be as casual as the ones you send in your personal life. Use emoticons and abbreviations sparingly. “An occasional thumbs up symbol is fine,” says Shah.

You’re probably not writing full sentences, so grammar isn’t that important. But spelling is. “No matter what form of communication you’re using is at work, you look sloppy if you have misspellings,” says Shah. Read a text before you send it so that you won’t have to blame autocorrect.

Do you have a question about workplace etiquette for our experts? Write to Career@moneymail.com.

 

TIME Business

How Do I Know If It’s Time for Me to Change Jobs?

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Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/Caiaimage

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is a career and personal coach.

Instead of a pros-and-cons list, try this

Should you change jobs? Even make a radical career change? Most articles on the subject offer a checklist or pros-and-cons list. Here I offer a different approach: an internal debate.

Person: I’m sick of my job. I’m ready for something new and there’s too little opportunity here.

Alter ego: But I don’t have the time or energy to look for another job when I’m working 45 hours a week already. It can take months, sometimes longer to find a good job, especially if I try to change careers. And I doubt anyone wants to hire a newbie at anywhere near my salary.

Person: But, God, I don’t want to stay at Western Widget Works, Inc. forever.

Alter ego: No, but I worry that after all that job hunting, I won’t even like my new job or career any better.

Person: I need to remember that I don’t have to take that new job. I just need to take a little time to see if I can find something better. If not, I’ll stay put. I’ll just start networking.

Alter ego: But I hate networking and I’m lousy at it. I just don’t make a good first impression, no matter how much I practice. I’m better off spending the time improving my skills: tech stuff, public speaking.

Person: Okay, maybe I should do that, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be looking for a job. If I don’t want to network, I’ll just answer some on-target ads, one a week.

Alter ego: But if that’s all I do, a year or two from now, I’ll probably still be at Western Widget. Ugh.

Person: So, fine. I’ll apply to three jobs a week.

Alter ego: But every job opening gets so many applications.

Person: I really have to make mine better—Write a cover letter that, point by point, explains how I meet the job’s requirements.

Alter ego: But if I’m changing careers, I won’t be meeting most of the requirements.

Person: Okay, then I’ll include a white paper, like a term paper, on a topic related to the new job that would interest that employer. That will show current chops and interest, and a concrete work sample.

Alter ego: But that will take a ton of time.

Person: No it won’t. A few-page white paper is like one of those papers I wrote in college. One day I knew nothing about the topic and two days later, I knew a lot and cranked out a good paper.I need to stop complaining. It’s better than staying at Western Widget. Right?

Alter ego: Maybe. What if the problem isn’t the job but me? If I’m honest with myself, as I look back on all my jobs, I’ve always struggled.

Person: Do I have to face that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed?

Alter ego: That may be part of it. I know that I can’t seem to make myself consistently care enough about work. I do my job but I can’t seem to maintain the fire in my belly. I’m not sure I can change that.

Person: So maybe I need to downscale my job aspirations. Up isn’t the only way. I fought my way to be a manager, but maybe I’d be happier and more successful if I did something less demanding.

Alter ego: Am I the poster boy for the Peter Principle, rising to my level of incompetence?

Person: Maybe. I’ve always tried to compete with my high-achieving friends. Isn’t that silly? Maybe by trying to be what I’m not, I’m making myself miserable and ensuring I don’t succeed.

Alter ego: But what should I do?

Person: Maybe I should go back to being an individual contributor or a support person. I’m organized and good at details. Maybe I should go back to being a coordinator, a marketing coordinator. Maybe I should talk with my boss or HR about getting that kind of job at Western Widget?

Alter ego: Actually, I don’t give a crap about marketing widgets.

Person: I need to remember that as long as the widget is worth marketing, it’s worth doing.

Alter ego: Stop with the pious preaching.

Person: How sure am I that I’ll care more about work if I were doing something else? I say I care about gifted kids being ignored in today’s elementary schools but would I really, after a honeymoon period, be that much more motivated to work hard on some job related to that, or will my laziness come along with me wherever I go?

Alter ego: I don’t want to think I’m doomed to mediocrity. I can’t be sure whether I’ll be any happier on behalf of gifted kids but maybe I should try.

Person: That’s probably right. I should volunteer a few hours a week at some school with a lot of bright kids or maybe even for a school district’s director of programs for the gifted. I should do a little networking, make the case that my skills in marketing and being organized and detail oriented would be valuable there. I should apply to jobs anywhere I might be willing to live that excite me. If I get hired, fine. And if not, I’ll feel better for having tried. And who knows? In spending time around those people quite different from those at Western Widget, I may learn about something or about myself that I wouldn’t know if I just kept on keeping on with my same-old routine.

Alter ego: I’ll think about it.

Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in education evaluation from U.C. Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is the author of seven books and an award-winning career coach, writer, speaker and public radio host specializing in career/workplace issues and education reform. His writings and radio programs are archived on www.martynemko.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY managing

4 Ways to Make Millennials Happier at Work

Workplace Birthday
Colleagues celebrating birthday in office Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz—Getty Images

A new survey from Payscale and branding expert Dan Schawbel offers insights into what managers can do to retain Gen Y employees.

Managers, get ready: By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And a new survey from Payscale, led by Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding, finds this generation to be more ambitious than those who came before them. Nearly three quarters of Millennials say that an ideal job would offer some career advancement, more than Gen X and boomers. The report also pinpoints the specific types of conditions and leadership Gen Y’ers crave at work.

Play to those needs and your business may also be able to boost retention, Schawbel says.

His report finds that 26% of Gen Y workers believe employees should only be expected to stay in a job for a year or less before seeking a new role elsewhere. As an employer, that kind of turnover can be pricey. “It costs about $20,000 to replace each Millennial,” says Schawbel.

And considering the time it takes to fill that position and the stress workers take on to cover for the job in that time, it’s worth keeping a talented Millennial happy at work, he says.

As managers, here are four ways to give in to this demographic—while still getting what you need out of them.

1. Lead with the Positive

Remember, this is the generation that still got trophies when they lost a little league game. Their parents flashed bumper stickers stating that “Junior Made the Honor Roll.”

For this cohort, it’s more effective to give constructive feedback that points out what they’re doing right ahead of what they’re doing wrong. “Millennials want feedback, but they don’t want criticism,” says Schawbel.

An effective manager sets up expectations from the beginning, and offers compliments before giving negative feedback. “The tone is really important,” he says.

2. Treat them like Family

Gen Y thinks of their boss as their “work parent” and coworkers as “work relatives,” notes Schawbel.

In fact 72% want a manager who’s friendly and inviting. That compares to 63% of Gen Xers and 61% of Baby Boomers.

Reciprocate and play to those needs via team-building exercises, office happy-hour outings, volunteering opportunities and mentorship programs. The goal is to make it so there’s a real cost to them for quitting, says Schawbel. “They lose that family and they lose that culture for leaving.”

3. Promote from Within

Millennials want to lead. Therefore, demonstrating to your staff—particularly the 20-something set—that there’s a strong chance for upward mobility is imperative. If you constantly hire externally for advanced positions, how can you expect them to want to stay?

Besides engendering loyalty, raising up someone internally is a lot cheaper. Bringing in an outsider is “1.7 times the cost of internal hiring,” says Schawbel.

4. Give Them Ownership

This is not to say that you should give them a fat equity stake or a seat on the board.

The majority of Millennials say they want the opportunity to learn new skills and freedom from their managers. They want to own their projects from start to finish. To that end, an “intapreneurship” program—where you encourage workers to develop ideas for new products and services in an in-house incubator—can go a long way in keeping Millennials happy.

LinkedIn, Google and Lockheed Martin have their own versions of this kind of program.

How it works: Employees to come up with a business plan and pitch it to executives. For Millennials such projects offer the best of both worlds—they get to experiment freely like entrepreneurs but within the comforting structure of a 9 to 5 (dental included).

Farnoosh Torabi is a contributing editor at MONEY and the author of the book When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. More of her columns and videos for MONEY.com:

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