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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.
For the full list, click here.
On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out to his entire customer base.
In a column for Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook wrote: “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
The Apple chief’s column continued to say while he had wanted to maintain “a basic level of privacy,” he felt that this was holding him back from helping others.
“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook wrote. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Coming out to anyone is a big step. But for many LGBT individuals, informing professional relations of one’s sexuality is just as challenging—if not more so—as telling friends and family.
Despite rising public support for LGBT rights and the increase in state laws recognizing those rights, a majority (53%) of LGBT workers in the U.S. hide this part of their identify at work, according to a study released this year by the Human Rights Campaign.
According to the survey, the reasons for not being open at work range from feelings that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is “nobody’s business,” to fear of being stereotyped, to concern that bias could have a negative effect on one’s career and professional relationships. What many don’t realize, however, is that remaining in the closet can itself have negative effects: Many LGBT workers report feeling exhausted and distracted at work from all the time and energy they spend hiding their identities, according to HRC.
“Often fears are overblown in our minds,” says Sarah Holland, an executive coach who formerly headed the Visibility Project, a national organization that helped corporations address issues of sexual orientation in the workplace. “The world is more receptive to LGBT individuals than it’s ever been before. More often then not your colleagues have already made assumptions about your sexual orientation, especially if you never say anything about your personal life.”
There’s no need to share your orientation if you don’t care to, experts say. But if you decide that it’s finally time to let your guard down—as Cook did—here’s the best way to go about it:
Assess the Risks
Before doing anything, you want to make sure that you won’t put your career or personal security in any kind of jeopardy by saying something.
Start by checking whether your state has a non-discrimination law that would protect you from being fired, harassed, or discriminated against. Currently 21 states have such laws in place regarding sexual orientation, and 17 of those for gender identity as well. (No workplace protections exist in federal law.)
While it’s a reassuring backstop if your state is among those that offer protections, it’s arguably more important to assess your company and department culture to get a sense of how your news will be received, suggests Deena Fidas, director of workplace equality for the Human Rights Campaign.
Does your employer have a written non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation and/or gender identity? The vast majority (91%) of Fortune 500 companies have workplace protections in place on the basis of sexual orientation and 61% on gender identity. Does your company offer domestic partner benefits? Is there a support or affinity group for LBGT individuals, or is anyone in your department openly gay? (If so, you might want to talk to people to learn about their experiences coming out and for their insights.) Is your company ranked highly on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index?
On the other hand, have you heard anyone at work make derogatory comments about LGBT people?
Should you get the sense that it wouldn’t be comfortable to come out, you might want to rethink your corporate affiliation, says Holland. “Consider why you want to be at that company. Do you really want to spend your work life being closeted for fear?”
Start with Your Closest Colleagues
Once you determine that your workplace is LGBT friendly, begin by sharing more details of your personal life with a trusted coworker whom you know is LGBT-supportive, recommends Fidas.
Having an ally will make you feel more comfortable opening up to the rest of the workforce, and can help you deftly handle any conversations that get awkward or too personal.
For the other folks in your social circle, “use the Monday morning coffee talk as a chance to be more forthcoming,” suggests Holland.
Chances are, you’ve been ducking out every time the social chatter turns to relationships or dating—and 80% of straight workers say that these conversations come up weekly or even daily, according to the HRC survey. But now use them to your advantage: “When asked how you spent your weekend, don’t change the gender of your partner,” says Holland. “Say if you went to a function for gay rights.”
By speaking about your LGBT identity casually, you can help coworkers to follow your lead and treat it the same way.
Let Everybody Else Figure it Out
While coming out to family and friends often happens with a discrete announcement, “in the reality of the workplace, coming out is more of a daily process, not an announcing that one is gay,” says Fidas.
In other words, you need not go around to everyone from the IT guy to the mail clerk to formally and awkwardly inform them about your sexual orientation. There are many subtle, discreet ways you can clue in coworkers with whom you’re less likely to talk about these topics.
For example, putting photos of your partner on your desk or having your loved one pick you up at the office allows coworkers to make the discovery themselves without you hiding any aspect of your identity.
Fidas also recommends using an opportunity to correct a coworker’s mistaken assumption as a way to make your sexual orientation or gender identity clear: “If you’re staring a new job, and a coworker asks if you moved from Boston with your husband, you can say you moved with your wife, rather than saying your spouse moved with you.”
Remember most of all that “you do not need your coworkers’ approval,” says Judith Martin, author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business. “You only need them to be respectful of you, which your workplace probably already obligates them to do.”
The same technology enabling us to connect with people and get work done faster than ever before is also making for never-ending work days. Years ago, professionals had the luxury of confining their day’s work to an eight-hour chunk of time. After 5 p.m., they could focus on personal activities — it was time to go home to dinner or out to a movie, uninterrupted. Today, work’s demands are becoming more similar to parenting, in that they never truly “turn off.” If you only work eight set hours, you’ll fall behind, look like a slacker, or both.
One study found that 81% of U.S. employees check their work mail outside of work hours, including 55% who peek at their inboxes after 11 p.m. at night. While many professionals are now “on call” throughout the day, the expectations placed on millennials are especially high. As the first generation of digital natives, millennials are naturally gifted at managing this always-on lifestyle—and in some ways they prefer it, because of the work time flexibility it theoretically affords them—but at the same time they fear it is hurting their personal lives.
To examine how technology and millennials are affecting the modern-day workplace (and vice-versa), my company and Elance-oDesk.com commissioned a study released today called “The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce.” In it, we found that nine out of ten millennials say that they can access information whenever and wherever they are, and that 73% are expected to be contactable at any time of day or night.
We also surveyed HR managers and found that, somewhat unsurprisingly, 82% said millennials are more technology adept than older generations. Because millennials use social media more than all other generations, they are the ones who are most pressured to manage a complete blending of their personal and professional lives. Millennials naturally feel like they have to respond to emails outside of the office in order to keep up with the demands of their jobs.
These expectations aren’t all bad, so long as they come with tradeoffs. Millennials tend to seek flexible work schedules so that they can deliver value to their employers whenever duty calls, while at the same time flex schedules hopefully give them time to fit in personal activities they enjoy. They seek companies that will enable them to work remotely so they can blend personal activities during the day, not just during the night or on weekends. This push for work flexibility and integration creates opportunities for impact and learning, both of which millennials want.
While millennials want flexible work hours so they can have fun even though they are always “on call,” the obvious downside is that they can never truly be away from work. As millennials grow older, and have more responsibilities like raising children, they’re learning that life can get increasingly complicated and overwhelming when the needs of their blurred personal and professional lives collide.
To cope, millennials must take matters into their own hands in the same way that entrepreneurs or freelancers do. They need to make a list of all of their work responsibilities and all the personal activities that they want or need to accomplish, and then focus on those each day. This way, it’s less about when, and where, they complete their work or personal activities and more that they actually complete them.
What’s more, professionals today need to get out of the mindset that they can have balance in an unbalanced world and seek to integrate their personal and professional interests so they are more fulfilled. At companies like Virgin and Netflix, workers get unlimited vacation days not just as a reward to them but to take into account that everyone is busy and needs time off. This open policy enables workers to take random breaks throughout the year when they need it most, yet it also exploits the fact that employees are still thinking about work on vacation.
Research from The White House proves that roughly half of companies offer full-time employees flexible work hours. Companies like Yahoo!, Best Buy and Reddit aren’t embracing flex hours because having employees who worked remotely didn’t work for them in the past. Instead of allowing for some flexibility, they decided completely against it, forcing all workers to be at the office each day. Of course, millennials, who desire to work remotely, are less inclined to work at these types of companies because they don’t support their personal life and work styles.
Technology today means that work no longer needs to be a place. The vast majority of what we do can be done from anywhere. However, many companies still don’t embrace flexible work. This outdated approach lends to millennials choosing alternate career paths — many would choose freelancing, for example. Our study found that 79% of millennials would consider “quitting their regular job” and “working for themselves” in the future, and 82% of millennials believe that technology has made it easier to start a business.
Regardless of what career path millennials pursue, the demands of work today and in the future mean it’s essential to get better at managing your day. Take time to consider personal and professionals goals on a daily basis. Figure out how to prioritize throughout your day, and forget about true work-life balance: Those days are over. But take heart that infinite work days bring with them infinite possibilities that weren’t there when we were locked behind a desk 9 to 5.
Dan Schawbel is a workplace expert, keynote speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success and Me 2.0.
Like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself,” the question, “Why are you interested in this position?” is sure to come up in an interview.
And, even if it doesn’t, if you want the job you should get this sentiment across regardless. So, really, there’s no way around figuring out how to string together a coherent thought about why this being in this position makes sense for you (and for the company).
Luckily, there’s actually a pretty simple way to go about answering this question effectively without having to go through every big moment or transition in your life and career that’s brought you to this interview. Here’s a smart framework for how you should structure your answer.
First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.
Say you’re interviewing for a small quantitative asset management company. The start of your answer might sound something like this:
The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the position posted was definitely that it was at EFG Advisers. I know that you build a lot of your tools in-house, the team is small, and you run a variety of long- and short-term strategies in the U.S. equities markets using a quantitative approach.
Especially with smaller companies, it’s always impressive when a candidate knows a thing or two about what goes on at the company. And the best thing about this is you rarely have to go beyond reviewing the company website or having a quick conversation with a current or past employee to learn enough to sound like you’ve been following the company for a while.
Next, you want to sell why, exactly, you’re right for the role. There are two ways you can do this: You can either focus more on your experiences (what you’ve done before that brings you to this point) or your skills (especially helpful if you’re pivoting positions or industries).
Try to pinpoint what the main part of the role entails, plus a couple of the “desired skills” in the job description, and make sure you speak to that. Follow up your introduction to how excited you are about the company with why you’re a good fit:
But the part that really spoke to me about this position was the chance to combine both the programming skills I gained from being a senior software engineer and my knack for quantitative analysis in a position that actively lets me engage with my growing interest in investing and portfolio management.
Keep it short—you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about how you got your skills or relevant stories throughout the interview—and just focus on highlighting a couple key relevant abilities or experiences for the position.
Finally, you want to show that the position makes sense for where you’re going in your career. Ideally, you won’t give the impression that you’re just using the position as a stepping stone. Show that you’ll be around for the long haul, and your interviewer will feel more comfortable investing in you:
I’ve been interested in switching to finance for a while now and have been actively managing my own personal portfolio for a few years. Joining a quant shop makes sense to me because I think it’s one of the few places where I’ll still be able to use my technical skills and spend my day thinking about finance. I’m really excited to learn more and see how I’ll be able to contribute the firm.
Of course, you don’t have to state specifically that you see yourself in the position for a long time. Just show that you’ve given some thought to how the job makes sense for you now and that it continues to make sense for the foreseeable future.
String these three components together, and you have a response that will impress on three fronts: your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company, your relevant skills, and your general fit with the position. Plus, this framework has the added benefit of not stopping the flow of the conversation the way going through your entire life story would.
After reading an early version of a new book, I decided to do a quick survey during a speaking engagement. I asked the audience, “How many of you feel overworked and overwhelmed?”
As far as I could tell, every hand was raised.
That’s what I expected. We all feel overworked. We all feel overwhelmed, at least some of the time. (Even if by other people’s standards we have it easy, we still feel overworked.)
Effectively managing our professional and personal lives is a problem we all struggle with. Maybe that’s because we look outside ourselves for solutions: software, apps, devices, time management systems, etc.
All of those can help, but as Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, says, “The only person who is going to keep you from feeling overworked and overwhelmed is you.”
So how do you pull it off? It starts with making one overriding commitment: You must commit to intentionally managing your time so you have a fighting chance of showing up at your best–your most inspired, your most productive, and your most “in the flow.”
So how do you do that? Here are Scott’s tips:
1. Recognize and overcome the tyranny of the present.
People who are always “in the moment” don’t look ahead and make plans to pursue their goals and dreams. Though there are certainly things you need to do every day, much of what you think you need to do isn’t particularly important–especially where your long-term goals are concerned.
That’s why you should…
2. Ask, “Is this really necessary?”
Challenge your basic assumptions about your regular habits. Do you need to have that meeting? Do you need to create that report? Do you need to respond to that email? In many cases you don’t, but you do anyway simply because that’s what you’ve always done.
Eliminate as many “nice to do” tasks as possible–not only will you have more time, you’ll also have more time to be effective where it really matters.
3. Push reset on your calendar.
Sometimes the answer to “Is this really necessary?” is “Yes, but not right now.” What is the most important thing you need to do today? What tasks will keep you from getting that done?
The same is true if something important pops up: Immediately reset your calendar and reprioritize. Getting stuff done is fine, but getting the right stuff done is what really matters.
4. Understand and set your operating rhythm.
We all work differently. Some like to hit the ground running. Others like to start the day by reflecting, meditating, and thinking. Some like to work into the night.
The key is to understand not just how you like to work but also how you work best. You might like to work late at night, but if you’re tired or frazzled by a long day, you won’t perform at your best.
Do some experiments to figure out what works best for you. While you won’t always be able to stick to your plan, you will always have a plan to return to.
5. Schedule the most important tasks first.
What are your priorities for the month? The week? Today? Determine what they are and do those things first.
Why would you work on less important tasks when the truly important items are where you create the most value–whether for your business or your life?
6. Give yourself time for unconscious thought.
Giving yourself time for unconscious thought is key to making smart decisions when you face complex problems. Research shows people tend to make their best decisions when they have an opportunity to review the data and facts and then focus their thought on something else for a while.
How? Take a walk. Do a mindless chore. Exercise. Do something where your body goes on autopilot and your mind does too. You’ll be surprised by the solutions you can dream up when you aren’t purposely trying to be creative.
7. Set boundaries.
No one can or should be on 24/7. Yet you probably feel you are–because you allow yourself to be.
Set some boundaries: the time you’ll stop working, certain times you’ll do things with your family, certain times you won’t take calls, etc. Then let people know those boundaries.
Other people won’t respect your time unless you respect your time first.
8. Be strategic with “yes” and “no.”
You can’t say yes to everything. (Well, you can, but you won’t get everything you say yes to done–so in effect you’re still saying no.)
Sometimes you simply need to say no. Other times you can say, “No, unless…” and add stipulations. The same is true with yes: Saying, “Yes, but only if…” creates guidelines.
Always consider the effect of a request on your most important goals. An automatic yes also automatically takes time away from what you need to get done.
9. Tame your distractions.
Most people are distracted over 30 times an hour: phone calls, emails, texts, office drop-ins… The list is endless.
Schedule blocks of time when you’ll turn off alerts. The only way to stay on schedule is to work on your own schedule–not on that of other people.
10. Remember your impact on other people.
If you’re a leader–and since you run a business, you definitely are–you naturally impact other people. You set a direction. You set a standard.
You’re a role model.
Be a great role model: a person who gets important tasks done, who stays on point, who focuses on achieving goals and dreams … and who helps other people achieve their goals and dreams.
That’s reason enough to manage your time so you’re consistently at your best.
Before bashing bosses on their big day—Boss Day, one of a bajillion faux holidays now on the calendar—let’s point out that not every manager is a bad boss. In fact, in a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, 63% of workers said their bosses deserved an A or B grade for their performance on the job, while only 14% gave the boss a D or an F.
If you’re in that majority, let’s hope that you’re never subjected to the managerial styles of the D- and F-worthy bosses like these.
Probably the best thing you can say about the hapless Michael Scott-type managers of the world is that they’re not intentionally mean (assuming you’re not the office Toby Flenderson). Rather, they’re simply clueless. Or at least that’s what employees think of them: In one poll, one third of workers described their bosses as “somewhat” or “completely incompetent.”
Best embodied by Miranda Priestly, the iconic character played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, the abusive boss seems to take pleasure in torturing his or her underlings. Presumably, the purpose of treating one’s employees harshly is to shape them into better workers and help the company, but the strategy can backfire. More than 13% of employees say they’ve worked under hostile and abusive supervisors, and the frequent result, according to some research, is that when people are ridiculed by managers on the job, they’re more likely to engage in deviant behavior that’s counterproductive to company goals.
In the 1980s, Dabney Coleman served as the prototypical arrogant, sexist boss who was constantly hitting on attractive workers in movies such as Nine to Five and Tootsie. More recently, this creep has been played, surprisingly enough, by Jennifer Aniston in two Horrible Bosses movies, in which her character is a dentist who crudely and memorably sexually harasses a dental assistant played by Charlie Day. In real life, the majority of restaurant workers have reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job, and that’s no joke.
The writings of psychologist Kevin Dutton have shed light on how many of the characteristics found in psychopaths—confidence, charisma, ruthlessness, focus—are also common among leaders in the business world. And the underworld too, of course, embodied by Tony Soprano. In studies of corporate professionals, psychopathic traits are more prevalent than they are in the general population, and Dutton’s research indicates that the profession with the most psychopaths (in terms of percentage) is … CEO.
The stingy, money-hungry Montgomery Burns is “The Simpsons’” Ebenezer Scrooge (before the ghost visits), known for giving out raises, well, never. Perhaps he’d get better production out of Homer and the rest of the nuclear power plant crew if he showed them a little more appreciation. According to a 2013 Glassdoor survey, 81% of employees say they work harder when the feel appreciated by their bosses, and workers say that money is by far the best way to motivate and show them appreciation.
Nearly 9 out of 10 employees polled by StaffBay.com said they don’t trust their bosses. In another Glassdoor poll, two-thirds of employees said that a direct manager has had an impact on their careers—and of those, 20% said the impact was negative. Apparently, the Sigourney Weaver character in “Working Girl” isn’t the only sneaky, backstabbing boss out there. (By the way, there are some smart strategies for coping with bosses who take credit for your work.)
What’s … happening? If you’re a fan of the cult favorite “Office Space,” you’ll get that reference. And if you’ve got a boss like Bill Lumbergh in the movie, then you’re guaranteed to be uninspired on the job, at least partially because your manager is inept in terms of interpersonal skills, expects more of his workers than he does of himself, and lacks vision, energy, and enthusiasm. All of those characteristics just so happen to be listed among the top 10 fatal flaws held by bad bosses in a 2012 Harvard Business Review study.
Now, all you bad bosses, if you could just lose all of these negative traits and allow your workers to handle their jobs in peace? To quote Lumbergh, “That would be great.”
But until that happens, check out these posts for some tips on how to cope. Oh, and Happy Boss Day!
The tech sector is still sexy — and has an abundance of dreamy jobs. These companies have perfected balancing tough, technical work with fun and friendly cultures.
There’s no shortage of perks at the world’s best tech employers — free food, massages, on site medical centers — the industry is jam-packed with employers who offer lucrative pay and enviable extras. A new study from the culture experts at Great Rated!, the workplace review site from Great Place to Work, names some of the best-in-class employers in and out of Silicon Valley. Here are 20 companies that are attracting and retaining today’s top talent in tech.
*Revenue figures are from the most recent fiscal year and headcount figures are the latest supplied by the company. Visit the Great Rated! links for full workplace reviews.
Q: What should I say to a colleague who has just been fired?
A: People often don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all, says Judith Martin, the Miss Manners etiquette columnist and author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business.
No doubt it’s awkward, but by not acknowledging the situation you’re actually making it more awkward. “Getting fired is a traumatic experience but it’s even worse if your colleagues suddenly shun you,” says Martin.
Instead, offer your support with a simple “I’m sorry” or “Let me know how I can help.”
Don’t try to make light of the situation. Gratuitous statements such as ‘you’ll find something terrific’ or ‘you’re better off—we have to stay and now we’ll all have extra work’ aren’t helpful, says Martin.
You should also refrain from bad-mouthing the person who fired your co-worker or gossiping in the office about what happened. That won’t help your ex-colleague – or you. There may be a very good reason the person was fired, and you’ll only hear one side of the story.
If you had a good relationship with your former colleague, make plans to take her out to lunch and give her an opportunity to vent. If you feel confident in her work, offer to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation. Share names of contacts or recruiters who may be helpful.
“Who knows,” says Martin, “maybe the person will land a fabulous job and be able to help you down the road.”