Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wear This, Not That

"Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?" - By Ellen Gordon Reeves
The Crash Course: Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job

This book is geared toward first-time job seekers but has helpful tips for anybody who's looking for a job. Whether you're fresh out of college or have years of experience and find yourself suddenly back on the market. In this economy, we can all use all the help we can get. Even if you're not looking, pick it up and brush up anyway. Because you never know. And common sense isn't so common after all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Respond to a Bad Performance Review by Marie McIntyre

How to Respond to a Bad Review

All material is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre. All rights reserved.*

Getting a bad performance review can make you feel angry, unappreciated, defeated, and hopeless. But it’s not the end of the world. Remember that the way you respond to this appraisal can make all the difference in the next one. Even if you believe that the review is inaccurate and that your boss is completely wrong, you will benefit by reacting in a mature, adult manner. Here are some suggestions:

1. Assess your boss’s power to affect your life. Getting a good review is essentially about pleasing your boss. Whether it’s important to please your boss depends upon your goals. If you want her to promote you or expand your responsibilities, then pleasing your manager is very important, even if she’s a complete idiot. But if you are planning to quit in the next few months, her opinion may not really matter (and you don’t need to read the rest of this). If your future is at stake, however, then you need to handle this interaction well.

2. Avoid knee-jerk emotional reactions. Your manager probably expects you to become defensive, argumentative, or upset, so surprise him by remaining calm and reasonable. Getting angry or sobbing uncontrollably will accomplish nothing.

3. Listen to the reasons. Even though you may not agree, you need to understand why your performance was viewed negatively. By understanding your manager’s view, you will be in a better position to change her perceptions in the future.

4. Ask questions to clarify. You can't change your boss's opinion unless you understand exactly why he is unhappy. Therefore, you must explore any feedback that is not clear. However, the questions you ask must be phrased positively. Bad question: “How did you come to such a stupid conclusion?” Good question: “What could I have done to prevent the problem?”

5. Focus on the future. Avoid getting sucked into pointless debates about past events. Discussing the past is only useful if it helps to clarify future expectations. Here’s a future-focused question that can short-circuit debates about past problems: “What specifically can I do differently this year to get a better review next year?”

6. Present your views calmly and logically. You do not have to sit back and take criticism that you feel is undeserved. But you should offer dissenting opinions in a calm, adult manner, focusing on facts and observations. Angry, emotional reactions will only reinforce your boss’s negative view.

7. Agree on how success will be achieved. Most importantly, at the end of this discussion you need a clear understanding of your manager’s expectations. Before leaving the meeting, summarize your understanding of what you must do to get a better review next time.

8. Request positive feedback. Some bosses are better at criticizing than expressing appreciation. If you work for one of these discouraging managers, don’t hesitate to politely solicit some positive feedback. After discussing how you might improve, it’s perfectly appropriate to say, “Now that we’ve agreed on my development plan, could you tell me what aspects of my work went well this year?”

9. Set a time to discuss progress. Although the last thing you may want to do is have another discussion, you need to determine whether your manager’s perceptions are actually changing. If so, you’ll know that you’re on the right track. So ask your boss to put a follow-up meeting on the calendar. Continue these discussions until the problem appears to be solved.

10. Ask for a formal mid-year review. If the follow-up meetings go well, consider requesting a formal mid-year review – that is, an official six-month appraisal that will go in your personnel file. That way, your improvement will be on the record before the next annual review cycle. Check with your HR department to see if this is permitted.

11. Assess risks and benefits of protesting. If you deeply disagree with your boss’s assessment, you always have the right to protest. Most simply, you can write your views in the Employee Comments section of the appraisal form. To lodge a more serious protest, you can go to human resources or the next level of management. Before deciding to protest, however, carefully weigh the possible risks and benefits of doing so. It’s a safe bet that your manager won’t be happy about it.

*Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coffee At Work - The Way You Like It! Ready, Set, Joe! (TM)


Make your own great coffee with Melitta's "Ready Set Joe" Single Cup Coffee Brewer.

Why settle for regular joe at the office when you can customize it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Better Than Speed Dating. . .Snapple Big Lunch Table Tour (R)

Cutest thing ever. Move over and let the big dogs eat ;0

Starting today for two weeks The Snapple Big Lunch Table Tour - located at Embarcadero Two in San Francisco (between The Gap and Ann Taylor).

Who says it's hard to meet new people in a big city?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taking the "L" (as in lackluster) out of the Lunch Box

Aladdin Micro Lunch Bowl.

Cute, convenient and compact. I put hot soup in mine. By the time I was ready to eat, about 4 hours later, the soup was only lukewarm, but because the bowl is microwaveable, I popped the whole thing (sans lid) in the microwave for about 30 seconds and it was perfect. It even comes with a slide-in spoon in the lid.

Perfect for kids to use for school or camp.

Easy grip and microwave and dishwasher safe. Also, BPA free.

Check out their other cool products at:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Reading from Your Favorite Paralegal Author

Just in time for your holiday weekend.

"Ghost A La Mode"

from Sue Ann Jaffarian

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Just Throw It In the Bag! Jenny Hurth Designs

Are these cute or what?? Fashion bags made from discarded vinyl trade banners!
(Waste not - want not)

Elbow Grease Designs by Jenny Hurth
(Support Our Local Artists)

Elbow Grease Designs will be participating in the brand new Beehive Market
in West Berkeley on the following Saturdays this summer!
10 am - 2 pm Saturdays: June 12 & 19, July 17, 24 & 31, Aug 7, 14 & 21.
1701 San Pablo Ave (the parking lot at the Berkeley Adult School).

More information: