Job Interview Feedback – How to Ask

Getting job interview feedback is critical to enhancing your interviewing skills and increasing your chances in getting a great job.  We all have to do many interviews before succeeding in getting an offer.  Not being called back for a second or third round is part of the job search process, but it doesn’t have to…

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How to Say No At Work – 5 Tips

Last week, we talked about Saying No at Work – When and Why to Do it.  This week, I want to discuss how to say no at work.  Being able to say no at work tactfully is an art form. You cannot just be blunt — how you say something is as important as what you want to say if you want to achieve the desired results.  In this case, the desired result is for the requester to accept your no and feel okay with it.  Here are 5 tips on how to say no at work gracefully:

  1. Be decisive – Don’t say yes and then say no.  Nobody likes to be yanked around.  Once you say yes,  you can’t go back on your word.  If you are not sure, say “can I get back to you?  I want to make sure I can deliver what I promise before saying yes.”
  2. Stay positive –  You want to start with something positive to soften the blow.  Some phrases that may work are “I would love to work with you,” or “I am flattered that you asked me to help,” or “I would love to work on this problem with you.”
  3. Be reasonable – Offer a plausible business reason for saying no.  “I am swamped with a xx deadline for a top priority company” is a good reason.  “I don’t like this kind of work,” or “this work is not part of my job description,” are not good reasons.
  4. Be clear and offer alternatives – When saying no, offer alternatives so you help the requester find someone else to help.  Some alternative can be:
    1. Push out the timeline – “Can it wait two weeks after I am done with…”
    2. Negotiate and reprioritze – “here is what I am working on now – can any of these be pushed so I can work on this?”
    3. Suggest someone else to ask for help:  “If you need this done immediately, I can’t do it because of x y z, but perhaps person Y can help instead.”
  5. Circle back later – If your time clears up more next week, circle back with the requester to see if you can still help.   Sometimes they will say yes, and sometimes they will have already found someone.  Either way, this move will give you positive points for being proactive and helpful.

I hope these tips help.  At the end of day, learning how to say no at work takes time and practice.  Over time, you will find your own style of doing it gracefully and to everyone’s benefit.

Your comments:  Share your experience of how to say no at work.  Lesson learned?  Do these tips above help?  I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner. 

Like this post? Share on Linkedin, Email, Twitter, Facebook, Goolge +, etc.

– Lei

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Saying No at Work – When and Why to Do it

Knowing why, when, and how to say no at work is essential to your career success and work life balance.    We may not want to say no at work for fear of not being liked or worse – being fired.  This is simply NOT TRUE especially when you learn how to say no tactfully.  Before we can talk about how to say no, let’s get on the same page about why and when you should be saying no at work and how this can benefit both you and your employer.

Why Say No at Work – Here are 4 key benefits

  1. Protect your work reputation – Saying yes at work is not always good for you.  If you said yes and then did a poor job because you had too much work then not only do you NOT get any credit for saying yes, but your reputation for doing quality work will be damaged.
  2. Maintain high productivity – Once you learn how to say no tactfully, saying no will lower your stress level and keep you balanced and productive for all the work you still have on your plate.
  3. Increase work enjoyment  – It’s hard to enjoy work if you are constantly overwhelmed.  By saying no sometimes, you can maintain a healthy work load and better enjoy the work you do.
  4. Respect for your word  – By judiciously saying yes or no to extra work, you can build a reputation for being your word and avoid easily being dumped on.  When you say yes, the work you return will be stellar.  When you say no, you have a good reason and people will respect you regardless.

When to Say No at Work – While it’s absolutely okay to say no at work, you will have to do it selectively.  It’s not healthy for you to say yes all the time, but it’s also career limiting if you said no all the time.  Here are 6 key considerations to help you decide when you should say no.  Remember there are benefits/consequences to saying yes or saying no.  It’s up to you to decide based on your career aspiration, health condition, and goals in life.

  1. Level of experience – if you are young or have limited experience at your current job, then you may want to error on the side of saying yes most of time.  It’s called paying up front to build a reputation for having a good attitude and willing to take on extra work.
  2. Quality – Can you complete this extra work at a high quality?  Can you still deliver the other work you have at a high quality?  Remember low quality work will affect your reputation even if you said yes.
  3. Stress Level – will taking on this extra work significant increase your stress level?  Are you already overwhelmed at work?  Having you burnt out will not help you or your employer
  4. Business reason – Do you have a good business reason for saying no?  An example of a good business reason is that this work is dependent on another piece of work and that one is not completed yet.   You should never turn down work for the sole reason that you don’t like the work or you don’t like the person requesting it.
  5. Frequency –  Is this a one-time urgent request?  If so, maybe saying yes is okay as it is temporary.  But if this extra work is a frequent request, then consider it carefully and decide
  6. Requester – who is asking you to take on this extra work?  Can their impression of you affect your work reputation?   What is your reputation with this requester already?  If they already think you are a “star” then they are more likely to accept a “no” if you have a good reason.

Stayed tuned for the next article on How to Say No at Work – 5 Tips.

Your comments:  Do you agree that it’s wise to sometimes say no at work? I look forward to your comments.

– Lei

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What Makes a Good Manager – 7 Qualities

What makes a good manager?  This is an excellent question to ask as you are getting promoted to manage others or have already been managing for awhile.  There are many managers out there but few are good ones.   The goal of a good manager is to achieve stellar results (results you cannot achieve alone) through inspiring, leading, and developing your team.

Developing skills to become a good people manager is not easy.  Just because you were a good team member does not automatically make you a good manager.  The good news is you can learn and develop your manager skills over time.  The fact you are reading this post means you are aware you need to know what makes a good manager before you can develop skills to become one.     Based on 8 years of experience in managing people, I recommend 7 qualities of what makes a good manager.

  1. Have confidence and provide clear direction – One of my favorite quote at work is “Vision without action is a daydream.  Action without vision is a nightmare”  This first manager quality speaks to the latter part of this quote.  You will lead the team in a set of efforts.  It’s important to set and communicate clear direction to your team on what needs to be accomplished and how it can be accomplished at a high level.   There are many ways to get things done.  Choose the best one based on your experience and stick with it.  If you lack the confident to set direction, your team can easily get overworked and it can turn into a nightmare for everyone.
  2. Delegate issues not tasks – This second manager quality speaks to the first part of the quote above.  Make sure you delegate well in order to accomplish greatness with a team.  If you delegate only tasks, then you are restricting your team from helping you solve the larger problem.  Assess your team members’ skills early and delegate issues accordingly based on what you think they can handle.   Your job is to own a large issue, break them down into smaller ones and then let each team member help you solve the smaller ones.  If you hold on too tight and only delegate tasks, then you will end up doing most of the work and your team members can also be de-motivated from not being challenged.
  3. Support open communication – Even if you are already good at #1 and 2 above, it’s important to realize that you can never be 100% clear to your team.  This is why this 3rd manager quality is ultra important.  Find a way to encourage your team members to ask clarification questions and get feedback on their work progress.  This will make your job easier in the long run as you cannot easily guess where someone may be confused or stuck.  By encouraging communication, you can create a safe environment for your team to ask questions, get feedback and escalate concerns.
  4. Invest time in people development – Being  a manager is not just about getting more things done.  You also need to invest time to develop your team.  This means understanding each person’s skill level, career goals, and creating opportunities for them to learn new skills while at the same time accomplishing what the company need this team to accomplish.  This may sound like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it.   When you care about the success of each of your team members, they will in turn care about your success and go above and beyond to perform.   This 4th manager quality also set the foundation for you to become a great leader.
  5. Provide constructive feedback – In conjunction with a mindset to develop others, as a manager, it is critical to know how to provide constructive feedback.  No one is perfect and all will have strengths and development areas.   It is your job as a manager to let each of your team members know how to leverage their strengths and provide good examples of where and how to develop.
  6. Give credit to team – This may sound simple but if you worked hard to get something done with your team, your ego may instinctively want to claim the credit since you are the team lead.  Resist!  Nothing demotivates a team more quickly than a manager who claim all the credit.  My advice is to always give the credit to your team.   Your team will appreciate it and frankly leadership is smart and will naturally credit you even if you don’t claim it and will also think you are a great manager.
  7. Define your own management style – At the end of the day, the qualities of what make a good manager may be the same but the style you will use to manifest these qualities depends on your personality.  Don’t try to copy someone else’s style exactly just because you admire them as a good manager.   Find a few role models in management and incorporate a little bit of each into your own management style.  Only when you take time to develop your own style, can these manager qualities be manifested consistently and genuinely.

All these qualities are easier said than done.  Becoming a good manager is a process.  These 7 qualities of what makes a good manager is only the beginning to help you set a vision of how a good manager should behave.  If you invest time, you will become a good manager over time.  Best wishes on your journey.

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Your comments:  is there a quality of what makes a good manager that I missed?  Which of these 7 qualities do you think is the most difficult to develop and why?  I look forward to your comments.  I am always in your corner.


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How to Network for a Job

To succeed like an executive, you not only need to know how to excel at your current job, but also need to know when it’s time to leave and how to best find your next job.   Most people has at least 8 to 10 jobs in their lifetime.  Don’t wait until you know you want to leave…

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