How Working Parents Can Survive Back-to-School Season

For working parents with school-age children, this time of year is especially chaotic. But it is possible to manage the (often overwhelming) demands of back-to-school activities while still delivering at work. Start by thinking about what’s realistic for you. Even with a flexible job, it’s unlikely that you can make it to every bake sale, library fundraiser, and field trip.

To do your fair share, try to do it all at once. For example, you can use a personal day entirely for school volunteering: Be the “reading helper” in your daughter’s second-grade class in the morning, walk […]

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Relax and Enjoy!

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Avoid Micromanaging by Setting Clear Targets for Your Direct Reports

Micromanagement isn’t a personality flaw; it’s a breakdown in the fundamentals of delegation. As a manager, you should be able to give someone a task without having to look over their shoulder. The key is to provide clear goals. If you want your direct report to improve customer satisfaction, define by how much and specify which elements of satisfaction are most important. You should also explain the constraints of the project: “stay within this budget” or “follow these policies” or “get my approval on this type of decision.” Without these guardrails you’re likely to leave the person flailing, and […]

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To Balance Work and Family, Make Small Changes to Your Schedule

Now that school is starting back up again, start small to find your balance.

Working parents struggle to balance work and home, they often feel the need to make drastic changes to get the flexibility they want. But finding a new job or going part-time isn’t always necessary (and won’t always solve the problem). Instead, try to make small tweaks to your schedule or working arrangements. For example, you might leave the office early once every other week, duck out for the occasional soccer game, or go straight home from any flight that lands after 2 PM. These measures […]

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During Your Next Presentation, Use Your Hands to Project Confidence

 

When you’re in front of an audience, you want to project confidence. But when you’re nervous, your hands often flit about and fidget. Use one of these positions to keep your hands still. Practice in front of a mirror, then with friends, until it feels natural.

Hold the ball. Gesture as if you are holding a basketball between your hands. This movement, a Steve Jobs favorite, displays confidence and control, as if you have the facts at your fingertips. Palms up. Turning your hands up indicates openness and honesty, and it shows that you’re willing to connect with […]

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Don’t Let a Toxic Peer Take Down Your Team

One toxic person is all it takes to destroy a high-performing team. If you’re the team leader, dealing with a toxic employee is (relatively) straightforward: Acknowledge the effect their behavior is having and hold them to a higher standard.

But what if the person is your peer? First, have a candid conversation with them. Explain the effect the behavior is having on you and on the group. Next, be a role model for how you want the team to act. Make collaboration and open dialogue the standards for the group.

And finally, talk to your […]

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Before Hiring a Friend, Set Some Boundaries

Hiring a friend into your company is risky: Can the personal relationship coexist alongside a professional one?

But if you approach the situation carefully, it’s possible to work with each other while preserving the friendship. First, make sure you’re comfortable saying no to the person. If you do become your friend’s boss, you’ll need to have confidence that their emotional maturity can make the dynamic work. Next, set their expectations about whether they’re likely to get the job. Say something like, “I want to explore the possibility of our working together — but I want to be […]

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Choose to Be Kind to Someone Who Annoys You

When someone you work with annoys you all the time, chances are you assume the worst about them — and that mindset shows up in your behavior. But it’s important to be civil, and even compassionate, to colleagues, both because so much work is collaborative and because that coworker probably isn’t annoying you on purpose. Try to short-circuit your reactions toward them by making yourself do or say something nice. For example, you could compliment them on an idea they raised in a meeting, or offer to help out with a project. Or say your colleague arrives late — […]

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Have One Day a Week When Nothing Can Interrupt You

You can’t do deep, creative work when meetings constantly disrupt your flow and hurt your productivity. To give yourself time and space to focus, have one day a week when nothing can interrupt you — no texts, no emails, no phone calls, and absolutely no meetings. Block this day off on your calendar, and tell colleagues that you’ll be unreachable because you’re working on critical projects. Of course, something urgent may come up anyway, but try your best to keep the day from being compromised. Stick to a simple rule: You can move your unreachable day around during a […]

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Maintain Your Professional Network Over Time

Everyone knows it’s important to build a network. But once you’ve made a connection with someone, how do you maintain it over the long haul so that you can call the person when you need a job reference or a professional favor? The first step is to determine whom you want to stay in touch with based on their professional value and relevance to your career. Look for current and potential clients, influential colleagues, and friends who are superb connectors. Then figure out how often to be in touch. Some experts suggest having 10 people you’re in regular contact […]

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