10 things that impede your success in the workplace

Do you want to get ahead at work? You probably think there’s a formula for being noticed and getting ahead. Well, you are correct. One important aspect of the advancement equation is eliminating habits that are holding you back. These are the same habits that are holding everyone back and hurting the collective productivity of your office.

  1. Arriving late. Even if your office has flexible time, those around you notice if you are the last one to arrive each day. That looks like laziness. Whether or not it is does not really matter if your co-workers are thinking that it is.
  2. Allowing your meeting to run late. If you are the meeting organizer, it is your obligation to ensure it starts and ends on time. This shows respect for your co-workers’ schedules.
  3. Joining a meeting late. If you are invited to a meeting that begins at 10:00 a.m., then you should be ready to start at 10:00 a.m. Do not plan on leaving your desk and walking up three flights of stairs to arrive at 10:04 a.m. That shows disrespect to the organizer.
  4. Not replying to a meeting request. If you are invited to a meeting, you should indicate your status by accepting or declining. If you are not certain you will be able to attend, reply as tentative and explain. It’s okay to say “no”. Your schedule is sacred. But so are the schedules of your co-workers.
  5. Not providing an agenda for a meeting. If you are the meeting organizer it is your responsibility to send an agenda that explains the purpose of and goals for the meeting. After the meeting you should provide notes summarizing the action items, outcomes or other important business accomplished during the meeting and provide that in a timely manner.
  6. Scheduling a meeting during the lunch hour, or at the very end of the day. These are bad habits and demonstrate a disregard for the schedules of others — unless of course, you are providing lunch or ensuring that (for end of the day meetings) it will end on time to allow the attendees to get back to their respective offices to finish up whatever it is that they need to finish or close down.
  7. Not acknowledging correspondence in a timely manner. Blowing off emails from co-workers is disrespectful. If you do not have an answer, take 20 seconds and reply that you need more time to provide one. If you know you are going to be unavailable for a set period of time, consider putting up an auto response.
  8. Being loud. In an open workplace, this is one of the fastest and surest ways to become known as “the obnoxious one”. Loud, disruptive co-workers develop reputations for being lazy and unproductive because people only remember the disruption they cause.
  9. Stinky food. Okay, you can have your tuna fish and broccoli sandwich that you just heated in the microwave. But consider that you may be now associated as the one with the stinky food.
  10. Printing personal documents. When you send personal documents to the public printer, other people are likely to see them if you are not able to retrieve them immediately. Invariably, you will get distracted at some point after printing such an email and your mortgage statement or tax return will be sitting out far longer than you would like.

Chances are, you’ve done a few of these on the list — we all have. But, being respectful of your co-workers and their schedules will take you very far in your organization. The fact is, your co-workers see everything and talk about everything they see. So remember this the next time you show up late to a meeting that you had not rsvp’d to with a tuna fish sandwich in hand.

Mark Twain on “brevity” and why your marketing copy probably stinks

Mark Twain

Image source: http://www.smcm.edu/twain/

Earlier this year I wrote a piece on office productivity, “My 5 tips for success in the office” for OnlineLearningTips.com. The cornerstone to the article was my admiration of Mark Twain’s take on getting the hard stuff done.

This week I want to share another one of Twain’s quotes that I admire greatly:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

How on point is this quote when applied to today’s agile marketing organizations?

How many times have we ended up creating long winded marketing pieces or blog posts because we’ve struggled to truly and eloquently communicate our points? So we babble on and on with the hope that eventually we’ll get to where we need to go, or we’ll include enough buzz words to cover every possible angle?

Being long winded is a bad habit. Don’t confused that with being chatty or an extrovert though. Being long winded is a result of being unable to effectively communicate in a succinct manner. In other words, marketers often have a hard time of getting to the damn point.

Hopefully you understand my point by now. BREVITY!

The more eloquently and succinctly you can convey your marketing message, the more likely your audience will engage with you and understand your message. But striking the balance between being too succinct and too long is a challenge most marketers have yet to master.

The same goes for presentations, emails and conference calls. Be brief instead of long-winded. It’s more difficult to communicate in this manner and takes a great deal of focus. The end result is that you will come across as more eloquent.

In Ocean’s Eleven (one of my favorite movies), Russ (played by Brad Pitt) is prepping Linus (Matt Damon) for a con. Rus says, “Don’t use seven words when four will do.” in explaining to Linus that he needs to be brief.

I use this modern adaptation of Twain’s quote regularly when working with my marketing group to eloquently communicate how important it is to be brief.

So, next time you find  yourself writing marketing copy, a presentation or even conducting a meeting. Think of Mark Twain and focus on delivering your message succinctly. Your audience will thank you.