How to break up with your boss

One of the college students I work with has the opportunity for a fantastic, paid internship this semester. While great, that means she needs to quit her current part time waitressing job, which she loves and she might want back when her internship ends or at least get a good reference from in the future. I pointed her in the direction of my original post on the topic, Giving Your Two Weeks Notice, but she wanted more and suggestions for leaving on extra good terms.

This article from the May 2011 issue of Shape Magazine section featured tips on how to break up with your hairdresser, your friend and your employer and offers some great advice.

“Start off with a compliment, telling your manager how much you’ve learned from him or her, then explain that you’re ready for a new challenge (this is not the time to air your grievances, be overly emotional, or insult your bosses—you’ll hurt your reputation, and you never know who you may end up working for again),” states the Career Expert, Nicole Williams, in the article. Williams continues with a suggestion to recommend your replacement.

In my collegian’s case, a compliment on the manager’s style is completely appropriate. Then explaining how this internship will help her get a foot in the door at a company she really wants to work for and will give her the experience she knows future employers require will help her in the conversation with her current boss. However, especially since she may want to work there again, she needs to reiterate how much she appreciated working at the restaurant and enjoyed the atmosphere. Also, she may want to tell the manager when the internship ends and ask if she can heck back with him around then to see if he needs additional help or if he has another opening. She can also suggest a responsible and reliable friend who could start immediately.

Ideally, whether you are a collegian who may want to waitress at the same restaurant again or a professional looking to make a change, honesty and transparency are your best bet when making a change.

How have you broken up with your employer?

Butternut Squash with Gruyère

You might have noticed I’ve been on quite a squash kick lately. I’m trying all kinds of different squash types and squash recipes and recently fell in love with this side dish from with a few modifications. It’s super easy to make.

1 large butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Gruyère (our grater was in the dishwasher so I just sliced it. Trust me, it’s better grated!)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the squash: Cut off and discard the stem of squash. Divide squash into two pieces by slicing through it horizontally (use a really sharp knife. It makes it easier). Peel each half with a peeler. Using a spoon (if you have a grapefruit spoon use that), scoop out seeds. Then cut squash into ¾-inch pieces. Place squash slices in a large saucepan, cover them with chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, then drain. Pour a thin layer of chicken stock on the bottom of a 9″ x 12″ baking dish and alternate layers of squash and Gruyère, saving some cheese for the top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining chicken stock and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and add remaining cheese. Continue baking until cheese melts and slightly browns, about 10 minutes.

My opinion:
So yummy! I’ve made this several times and each time it gets better.

Resource: Self Magazine, Think You’ve Got Horrible Bosses?

I’ve mentioned before that Women’s Lifestyle magazines (see this post inspired by Shape Magazine) are beginning to include how to have a healthy career right next to the latest workout and eating trends. The advice isn’t just for women.

Self Magazine is no exception. They recently featured an article on bad bosses and how to stay on their good side.

Their go-to expert is Anita Bruzzese, author of 45 Things That Drive Your Boss Crazy. She suggests enlisting co-workers for help and to watch your back. This is excellent advice, but you must choose your confidants carefully. You should choose to include those who have taken an interest in you already. Ones you have already gone to lunch with or taken a brief break. They don’t need to be your best friend, but you need to know you can trust them.

Bruzzese next encourages you to find a mentor. This person can be in your company or outside it, your age or older. Don’t discount those in the same organizational place as you. They have a different perspective. Find out what professional publications your mentor reads and how they stay current on trends that affect your position or industry.

For more excellent tips on working with various kinds of bosses, read the full article from Self Magazine here.

How have you handled less than wonderful working conditions or bosses?

Resource: Stop saying these phrases

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The March issue of Shape Magazine (an unexpected work resource!)  included a tiny article with phrases that life and career coach, Anna Goldstein, wants you to stop saying, especially at work.

  • I hate: Goldstein says this phrase it too harsh. This phrase should never be uttered in context of a work related plan. Instead, she suggests describing the specific parts of the plan you don’t like.
  • It’s not my fault: This phrase is super defensive. Even if it’s not your fault, this won’t help your coworkers or boss value you.
  • I’m an idiot: Women, and those further down the career ladder, often put themselves down when they are embarrassed about not understanding something, Goldstein says in the article. If you use this phrase too often, your coworkers and boss (and maybe even you!) might start to believe it.
  • I’m confused: This implies the person did a terrible job of explaining. Instead ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid of the phrase, let me make sure we’re clear or let me make sure we’re on the same page or just to clarify.
  • You should have: Again, this phrase is negative and will automatically put people on the defensive. Instead try saying, next time could you.
  • I’ll try: This is a cop-out and similar to the “I’m sorry you were offended” of getting work done. This leaves the door open for failure, Goldstein says. Even if your supervisor wasn’t thinking about you failing at the project, you’ve now added a seed of doubt.

Other words to avoid? Whatever. Maybe. I don’t know (if it’s something Google-able, then Google FIRST). We’ll see. I guess.

What additional phrases would you add?

Resource: Email Etiquette

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The advice of Peggy Duncan, author of Conquer E-mail Overload With Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook, was recently featured in Shape Magazine (see you never know where you’ll find words of work related wisdom!).

The short article lists 5 of the most common email questions.

  1. When Do I need to use the CC line?
    To separate the people who need to respond from those you just want to share the information with. To is for response or action required. CC is for keeping people in the loop.
  2. What should go in the subject line?
    Be specific, Duncan advices. If you are writing to let someone know the time for a meeting has changed, write Today’s meeting is now at 2 p.m. in the subject. Think of a subject like a newspaper headline. The most crucial piece of information.
  3. Is it ok to use emoticons?
    Smiley faces are not acceptable. “If you wouldn’t put it on company letterhead, don’t put it in an email,” according to Duncan. Now, once you know your office culture, it might be ok to use a smiley face in a semi-personal email to your coworker, but never ever to a client.
  4. When do you hit reply all?
    Rarely. Duncan advises, “almost never.” Reply all just gunks up everyone’s inbox. Refer to CC above and only reply to those who need the answer or need to be kept in the loop.
  5. When do I send a follow-up email?
    Give 24 to 48 hours for a response advises Duncan. If it’s urgent and requires an answer before then, don’t be shy about calling the person.

There are even more tips in Duncan’s book. Now if only everyone in the office would read it and take her advice!