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Management The career classroom: Burnout, managing up, marketing and more

Step into the Careers Classroom, summer school edition. Today’s lessons run the gamut from burnout to managing up to marketing to interviews:

Burnout: We assume burnout comes from being overwhelmed, or working flat out for too long with accompanying stress. But productivity expert Elizabeth Grace Saunders offers a more granular portrait, pointing to six causes of burnout in Harvard Business Review: Workload, lack of control, a mismatch between rewards you receive (psychic and monetary) with the effort you put in, unsupportive colleagues and clients, unfair treatment, and a values clash with the organization. “Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multi-faceted issue that requires a multi-faceted solution,” she writes.

Burnout part two: Remedies for burnout often start with talking to your boss or colleague, or seeking a different working context. But advertising consultant Paul Suggett recommends an alternate course. “Write a letter to the person, or people, who are adding to your burnout – the boss, a co-worker, or a client. Put down everything you want to say. Do not send it to them. This is merely an exercise to get some of those things off your chest,” he writes on The Balance Careers site.

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Time management: Entrepreneur Jim Estill recommends “the power of while” – doing two complementary things at once. For example, walking is good for your health. Meetings are a necessity. Combine them for walking meetings – most days, he manages two or three and some days he squeezes in five or six. Driving is often a necessity. Audiobooks help him use the time productively. “I surprise myself how many books I can get through even though most of my driving is short local hops,” he writes on his blog. His standing desk involved the power of while: He can now stand and be a bit healthier while doing computer work. How can you leverage the power of while?

Managing up: If you have a micromanaging boss, you need to anticipate what they want, getting ahead of the curve, advises executive coach Scott Eblin. But you also have to train your boss in how not to micromanage, creating an operating rhythm that works for the both of you. “Ask your boss specific questions about how they like to receive and process information and how often they like to get updated. Are the updates expected on a time line driven by the calendar, by milestones accomplished, by problems that come up, some combination of all of that or by other factors? Come to an agreement on how and when information is going to be shared and then stick to it. If you’re consistent in following your operating rhythm and get ahead of unpleasant surprises, then you’ll likely train your boss into asking for less and less that’s outside the rhythm,” he says on his blog.

Marketing: You may like to design web pop-ups but it may be blowing up in your face. The Nielsen Norman Group reports that most overlays appear at the wrong time, interrupt users during critical tasks, use poor language and contribute to user disorientation. Rule 1: Never show a pop-up before users can glean value from your website or application. “This trend is highly intrusive because the users’ task is interrupted before they even land on the page. People have grown accustomed to seeing premature pop-ups on websites and usually ignore them or immediately look for the fastest means by which to close the pop-up to return to their task. Pop-ups that appear before the page loads make the site look desperate and the user experience feel frantic,” advises user experience specialist Anna Kaley.

Interview Questions: In a job interview, don’t leave all the questions to the company. Cube Rules recommends using the interview like a detective to delve into these important issues: Is this job the right fit for your talents? Is the manager the right fit for the way you work? Is the corporate culture one that fits your needs? How much chaos are you walking into? What will be your unique contribution to the team?

And more …

  • E-mails: Stop soliciting unnecessary questions in e-mails. Instead of closing with “Does this make sense to you?”, career coach Lea McLeod recommends: “Let me know if you have questions.” Another ending: “Let me know if we are not aligned on this,” or “Let me know if you want to talk about this further.”
  • Job interviews: Guard against continually saying “we” in interviews to refer to what you accomplished jointly with colleagues, since the interviewer wants to know about your skills. Executive recruiter Gerald Walsh says you need a balance between “we” and “I,” as too many stories about your individual exploits can inadvertently signal you’re a lone wolf.
  • Writing: Don’t do this!!!!!! at work. Using multiple exclamation points is unprofessional, says freelance writer Jane Burnett.
  • Tech Tip: You can add a toolbar to your Windows taskbar by right clicking on the taskbar and selecting from the options offered when you further click on “toolbars.” For example, you can add links to favourite websites or easy access to the programs on your desktop.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.

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