Crying at Work

A reader writes…

I burst into tears the other day at work.  I’m worried about what my boss must think. Have I just sabotaged my career… and professional reputation?

Dear “Fears over Tears,”

Crying at work is never recommended… but sometimes it happens (work-related or not) 

 Though I don’t know what your boss or work environment is like, I am fairly certain that you have not “sabotaged” your career or reputation. Come on, you’re only human… things happen.

Needless to say, the last thing the office needs is a baby dressed in a suit.  When you’re feeling overly emotional, try to pull yourself together by stepping outside or gracefully removing yourself from a group setting. 

Here’s a question to consider, “Are you getting enough sleep?”

Sometimes we tend to become overly sensitive when we’re overly tired.  Just a thought.

Every situation is different, but whatever the case, you’re not alone.  Tears in the workplace can happen to the best of us. I stumbled upon an article recently that addresses this very issue.
Click here to read how to prevent future outbursts and how to move on.

Cheer up!

Résumé Advice

A reader writes…

Is it a good idea (or a bad idea) to include an ‘Objective’ at the top of my résumé?

Dear, “Good or Bad,”

This is an excellent question that comes up all the time – To have (an objective)… Or not to have!

Let me tell you, objectives are a bad idea. They are a thing of the past and can actually decrease your chances of getting called for an interview.

Why, you ask?

An objective can either be so vague and generic that it doesn’t have a lot of meaning and basically takes up space on your résumé. On the other hand, it can be so specific that you become pigeonholed into a certain (and very limited) job category.

Plain and simple… I object to the objective. Instead, I propose another idea for the top of your résumé

 Consider a “Summary” or “Profile” statement that consists of a short overview (1-3 sentences) that describes your experience and key strengths. (Even though this will appear at the top, I suggest you write this part AFTER you have completed the rest of your résumé to ensure that it effectively sums up everything.)

Next, within your summary, carefully choose your words. Since keywords are used by hiring managers, recruiters, and in online résumé mining, your wording here is key…. pardon the pun! Here’s a tip, read the job description that’s being posted and incorporate some of the buzz words you see. Be honest, however. In no way am I suggesting that you put so much buzz in your summary that you get stung when you’re caught lying about your background. Keep it honest, but with a nice spin.

 When preparing your summary, imagine that you’re in an elevator and you’re asked what you do. Quick – the elevator doors are about to open! You need a clear and concise answer that highlights your strengths.

For more help with your résumé, the folks at Select Staffinghave a Résumé Writingservice that offers great insight and is sure to make you stand out in the crowd. Take a look!


Policies… What Policies?!?

A reader writes….

Hello Anita,

I’m in a tight spot and need your advice. I work in a shared building, same company but different departments within the same building. I am having a difficult time explaining why company policies apply to my team but aren’t being respected by other departments. Dress code violations… bringing kids to work… loud music – just a sense of lack of work and unprofessionalism.

I am constantly being asked why policies only apply to us and not to the other locations within the same company. My response is always; while I can’t control other teams and other departments I must follow the policies here and ensure we are in regulation. Makes me sound like a jerk, and I feel it hard to compete as the other departments then discuss with my team how I choose the rules I follow. Its my choice to not allow them such liberties.

Its recently become even more difficult to control as the nonsense is getting worse and now affecting my team and the environment as a whole. Ive tried to speak to the management of those specific teams and well I’m being ignored. Basically manage your team and don’t worry about mine, is the response I’m getting. The issue is its affecting us all. Now to further impact the issue I feel a sense of harassment because I am a “different” manager.

What do you suggest I do?
While I hate the thought of taking it higher when is enough, enough?

“Policies… What Policies?!?”


Dear “By the Book,”

So you’re feeling a bit like the “black sheep” on the job, huh?  Here you are trying to lead a team in a productive and professional environment… only to hear kids giggling and Zeppelin rockin’ down the hall!

This is not only creating issues between you and your fellow department managers… but it’s putting a damper on the relationships you are trying to establish with your direct reports.

Should you:

(A) Loosen up?

Loosening up is sometimes necessary – in terms of letting certain things go.  “Loosening up” in terms of throwing your beliefs, work ethic, professionalism, high standards, accountability, and expectations of your team out the window, however… is a big NO.

(B) Call in the “authorities?”

Reporting this issue and your concerns to upper management is, in my opinion, the logical and ONLY ANSWER. Does it put you in an awkward position?  It shouldn’t if handled confidentially.  Who knows, you may learn a few things from the experience.  For one thing, you’ll know, straight from the horse’s mouth, whether or not “company policies” are truly enforced.  They should be.  And they should be across ALL departments.  Individual department managers are in a position to abide by these policies and enforce them with their teams.  This will give you an opportunity to bring the situation to upper management’s attention.  Who knows – maybe they have no idea what’s going on!  And if they do (and are turning a blind eye) then see option C below…

(C) Start looking for a similar job in a work environment that better suits you?

Not knowing how long you have worked for this company, it’s difficult for me to decipher whether this conflict has been the result of new management in other departments (drastically changing the way business was conducted in the past).  Or, if you’re relatively new to this company (and accustomed to a more “traditional” professional work environments), the casual way of operating may not be right for you.  For instance, the work environment at a law firm, financial institution, or aerospace company is going to be very different than that of certain clothing manufacturers, dot-com companies, or businesses in the entertainment niche.

You may have to ask yourself, “Is this the right work environment for me? If this is the way other departments do business, can I roll with that? Or will I continue to feel outnumbered and isolated here?”

Overall, remain truthful to yourself and keep your leadership style and policies consistent. Discuss the situation with upper management (as much as I know you hate to do it), be open minded, and simply see what they say or how they respond.  That will help you determine your next move!

Please keep me posted!  In the meantime, readers… what would YOU recommend – Option A, B, or C above, or something else altogether? 

I’d also like to hear from readers who may find themselves in a similar situation but on the “employee” side of things. Are you in a department whose manager plays by the rules or under a more loosey-goosey supervisor? How do the other teams look from your vantage point?

Can’t wait to hear from you!


Hiring a “Green” Grad

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,
Unlike so many employers that are looking for people with a certain level of experience, I took a gamble and recently hired someone straight out of college (knowing in my gut she would be a good fit). Aside from teaching her the basics about our company, can you suggest ways for me to help her feel comfortable and more acclimated in the business world?

Dear, “Mother Hen,”

I’m sure many of my readers wish more hiring managers would be like you and go with their “gut” in the hiring process. I always say you should follow your instincts, and I think it’s great that you’re giving this person the opportunity. Moreover, I think it’s wonderful that you are actively thinking of ways to help ease her into her work environment.

As a recent college grad, she will certainly be able to apply certain skills right away, such as following directions, learning new things, and staying on schedule. It’s the other “stuff” that will be new to her and that will benefit from your guidance. From meetings and conference calls, to dealing with different management styles and decision-makers, a lot of her learning will simply have to come from experience and a little trial and error.

Here are a few coaching tips that may come in handy:

  • Give her a tour of the office. Aside from pointing out the restroom, break room, and cafeteria, what I mean here is… introduce her to key departments or resources she can turn to for help. If her job requires that she interact with key contacts – then arrange time in her schedule (and in theirs) so they can meet and get to know one another.
  • Make it clear, from the very beginning, that no question is a “dumb question.” It is critical that she feel comfortable as she gets established.
  • Build time into her schedule for any available training. This is your chance to teach her things correctly out the gate while at the same time, give her the tools she needs to develop her own work style and approach.
  • Let her be your shadow for the first few days. Ask her to join you in meetings, listen to phone calls, and participate in group discussions. This involvement will help identify how to handle certain situations, and it will also reveal a lot about the company culture (appropriate phone etiquette, how meetings are run, the overall pace of the office, etc.).
  • Be clear about her job duties. While it’s great that you’re playing the part of “Mother Hen,” as her manager, you need to establish expectations right away, and make sure she understands her accountability.
  • Make her feel empowered. She may initially think of you as her security blanket, but by actively showing encouragement and praise for good work (all while layering on more for her to accomplish), she will gain confidence and feel more and more in control of her responsibilities.

Calling all New Hires! What are some other ways that managers helped guide you along at the beginning of your career?

Managers… Any other techniques you’d like to share?


Team-Building Activities

A reader writes…

I’m planning a department meeting and would love some team-building activities.  Any ideas?

Dear “Crowd Pleaser,”

Department meetings can sometimes be such a drag.  Good for you for trying to spice things up, develop a bond with your group, and set a positive tone.  I’ve been to (and facilitated) many a meeting in my time and have seen everything from “Pictionary” to “Twister” – don’t ask… it was a little awkward in business suits!

Anyhow, there are a ton of ideas on the web, but to save you the trouble, I poked around a little and found five suggestions you might want to try with your group:

Helium Stick – Deceptively fun!

Mine Field – Builds communication and trust among your team

Survival Scenarios – Great for decision making and brainstorming

Have You Ever – Ice-breaker / Get to know your co-workers

Fear in a Hat – Addresses interpersonal skills, empathy, emotions

Have fun at your meeting!


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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