Archive for August, 2010

Jabberwocky in the workplace

We’ve all heard them – workplace clichés and annoying phrases that turn normally articulate people into pabulum-spewing corporate robots. Many of us have even used the buzzwords that permeate office culture and rob language of meaning and clarity.

Have you ever gotten an e-mail that sounds like this? “At the end of the day, this project has plenty of moving parts and we need to think outside the box so we can achieve the synergy required to reach our vertical metrics.”

How about this? “Do you have the bandwidth to discuss this issue now or do we need to take it offline and interface when we can get some face-time and circle back?”

Does anyone speak this way when they leave the office? It’s as if ladder-climbers are convinced they have to take some phrase they heard at a seminar and repeat it as often as possible so their manager is impressed with their business acumen.

Some former colleagues created a game called Buzzword Bingo, in which they counted how many times their boss …

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Dealing with rush-hour traffic: What’s your solution?

With most students back in school, the summertime break from peak rush-hour traffic is over. As the roads fill with school buses and parents driving their kids to school, drivers in metro Atlanta must once again endure the traffic nightmare that comes with living here.

All that time spent in a car as it crawls along in bumper-to-bumper traffic is enough to make many commuters consider other options. Despite metro Atlanta’s reputation as a city in love with its cars, there are other ways to get to work. MARTA provides services to about 142,000 passengers every day and keeps thousands of cars off the roads. Cobb Community Transit, Gwinnett County Transit, car pools and even folks who ride bicycles to work also help alleviate traffic.

Then there are the environmental benefits. The more cars that are off the road, the less smog and pollution we all have to breathe in. Organizations like the Clean Air Campaign provide services, information and resources to help people do their …

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Raising a glass to classy departures

Count the Blog Break crew among those who think former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater could have handled his self-promotion to customer with a little more dignity.

In case you missed it, Slater quit his job on Monday – via the aircraft’s public address system and inflatable exit slide – after a dustup with an uncooperative passenger. He even managed to swipe some beer from the plane’s galley along the way.

The meltdown earned him immediate hero status among many people, particularly fellow flight attendants and those who have fantasized about quitting their job with a bang. Others though wisely caution would-be copycats from pulling off their own great escape. Criminal charges aside, employment experts suggest that Slater’s infamous stunt might land him on many companies’ no-hire list.

What do you think about Steven Slater? Is he a hero or an agitator? Would you want to work with him?

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Do you have a cure for boring meetings?

For some people, the work day begins with a ritual. Pour a hot cup of coffee, turn on the computer and check the day’s calendar. Once the caffeine kicks in and the morning cobwebs clear, a daunting slate of meetings hits you in the face.

A 10 a.m. staff meeting. An 11 a.m. budget meeting. A noon lunch-and-learn meeting. A 1 p.m. scheduling meeting. A 2 p.m. project meeting. A 3 p.m. meeting to plan the next meeting.

Where did the day go? It dragged on in an endless series of mind-numbing meetings.

Some meetings are necessary and even productive. Complex projects that involve several departments and an extensive task list require planning and regular meetings to keep up with everything.

But what about those meetings that quickly become an exercise in trying to stay awake as someone drones on and reads a PowerPoint presentation? How about a meeting that serves as a chance for showboats to regurgitate what they just read in a book about the principles of management? Or better …

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Searching for your dream job? Try the ‘Office Space’ approach

In the classic workplace movie, “Office Space,” Peter Gibbons is in a rut. He hates his job at a computer company and can’t stand it anymore. Mind-numbing days of staring at endless lines of computer code and filling out TPS reports has left him at wit’s end.

As he stands next to the printer from hell, he tells two co-workers about an exercise that didn’t help him when he chose a career. I’ll let Peter tell the story:

“Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you’d do if you had a million dollars and you didn’t have to work. And invariably what you’d say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic.”

Peter’s problem was that he didn’t have an answer to that question. What about you? If you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work, what job would you do? Don’t limit yourself; the sky’s the limit.

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