On The Job
Robert Greene is generally regarded as the first person to use the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” in 1592 as a dismissive reference to the growingly popular William Shakespeare. As far as I’m concerned Greene missed his mark when he offered this “insult.” With a plethora of hilarious Elizabethan insults at his fingertips – seriously people called one another “beetle-headed” and “flap-eared knaves” – he decided to go with one under the guise of an aphorism. Lame. It’s like going into a candy store and buying Raisinettes; the thin layer of chocolate covering the raisins doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a fruit and your judgment could have been better.
Greene’s words carried a different weight in Elizabethan England than they do in the 21st Century, but the implication remains largely the same. Calling someone a “jack of all trades, master of none” suggests that the person’s knowledge has a broad scope but narrow breadth: they know a little about a lot, but not a lot about a little.
I had often wondered whether it was better to be the jack of all trades or a master at one. The reality is that each has its merits and disadvantages. Having knowledge about a variety of things is great, so long as your knowledge goes deeper than the surface and it isn’t deemed as useless. Being a master at anything is always good, but not at the expense of your knowledge of other subject matter.
I’m normally a very decisive person, and I’m guilty of having chastised those who are not. Despite my typical disposition, whenever the “jack of all trades” came up in conversation I would assume the role of the Swiss: I didn’t want to choose lest I alienate the opposition. Besides, I generally agreed with both arguments and didn’t want to make up my mind. That is until I was offered a third choice in the matter.
While speaking to a friend about her job I kept getting the feeling that she played the role of the jack at her company. As an account manager at a marketing firm, she mentioned how her role required her to dip her pen into a variety of inks around the office. When I told her that it seemed like she was a jack-of-all-trades (not as an insult), she responded with one of the most valuable pieces of insight I have henceforth received: it’s not about being the jack or the master, it’s about being the master at being the jack.
I was rendered speechless. Her remark got me thinking: could it be that for centuries people have been looking at the dilemma in the wrong way? I’m not trying to compare my friend to a philosopher, but isn’t it possible that she offered an enlightened perspective much the same as an Aristotle?
After being exposed to this perspective on the jack and the master I can say that I’ve fully subscribed to the notion that both the jack and the master can succeed, but it is the person who becomes a master at being the jack that truly strives – especially in the business world. The person whose expertise is a broad range of capabilities and intelligence will get farther than the master or the jack.
For many, becoming a manager or supervisor is the pinnacle of their career. In most cases, though, the manager is the best at doing a lot of things – not the best at each individual thing, but the best at all the things holistically. They’re the ones who are good enough to be noticed, but even better at getting others noticed. Their knowledge and expertise is in doing many things well, and they make everyone working around and with them better in doing so. These are people who set the bar higher by not settling.
The fact of the matter is that being a jack-of-all-trades or a master at one both have their values. As a jack, dive deeper. As a master, reach wider. My friend opened my eyes to the reality that you don’t have to settle for being the master or the jack. The key is striving to be good at being good; the master at being the jack.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on June 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Mentionings, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
There’s an episode of The Office where Phyllis misspells the word “Launch” on a banner for a party. If you’ve seen the show, you know Angela yells a lot, so Phyllis googles “how to deal with difficult people” when she realizes her mistake.
“So, how do you feel about the fact that the banner says ‘Lunch’?” Phyllis asks.
“I feel angry. Angry at you. Angry at you for doing something stupid. Angry at me for believing you could do something not stupid,” Angela responds.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. That must be awful,” she says.
“It is awful. You’ve made this day awful.”
Angela’s erratic behavior, while exaggerated, is a technique used by people to get what they want (even if it’s subconscious), because it defies prediction. Does your boss yell and throw things? While this may seem unprofessional, this irrationality is getting your boss what he wants.
While you’ve probably never had to deal with someone as patronizing as Angela, you’ve probably come across personality types that don’t mesh well with your own. It’s important to stand up for yourself, but often in delicate situations- such as that with a boss- there is too much on the line for you to fight back. This is when you need to be tactful and rational, choosing thoughtful communication over ways you might deal with someone you know better, such as a family member or close friend.
A quick Google search will present you with a million different ways to deal with difficult people at work, so we’ve narrowed it down to a few simple guidelines. Should you confront a difficult coworker? When is this appropriate?
Consider the following:
Does this person’s performance or behavior at work impede the goals of your company or organization?
Do this person’s actions impede your own success?
Is this problem causing you anxiety or diminishing your quality of life?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it’s probably time for a game plan. But before you put the energy into a confrontation, consider that you may be contributing to the problem too. It’s often hard to see outside ourselves, but the reality is that you may be putting the situation though a distorted lens. Ask yourself what the facts are, and try to figure out why you feel that you are under attack. You may find that the situation isn’t even about your coworker – it’s about you. It’s in our nature to feel defensive when we don’t feel that we are valuable or valued. Make sure you aren’t playing the victim card, or blaming this person for how you are feeling as a way of protecting yourself. Take a moment and try to see where they are coming from.
If you do decide that you need to talk to the difficult person, remember a few key guidelines to keep the interaction as smooth as possible.
No one can read your mind, so it’s very important that you state how you see the situation. Don’t assume that this person knows what you’re talking about. Say what’s bothering you in a few words, and stick to the point.
Don’t condescend. People will listen better if they feel you aren’t talking down to them. Concentrate on stating the effects this person’s behavior is having on you or your team.
Frame what you are going through in a positive light, and don’t dwell on what this person is doing wrong. Suggesting ways that they can change, instead of blaming them for multiple mistakes, will be a better way for you to get what you want.
In the end, you have to decide for yourself what the best way is to deal with someone who’s giving you trouble at work. Approaching the situation tactfully will usually help you get the results you want.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on March 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
What do you do when you first sit down at your desk in the morning? If you immediately check your emails and put together a list of tasks to be completed by the end of the day, stop.
If you find yourself frazzled when you first walk in the door, you probably need to reassess your priorities: the first hour of work lays the foundation for the rest of your day. Treat the first hour at work as a time to consider your schedule for the day. An inbox with a laundry list of new emails might seem urgent, but in the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of those emails do not need immediate attention. Instead of firing off responses after you’ve just sat down, slow down and take the time to look at the day as a whole. You’ll find that your shoulders will sag much less without all the pressing tasks you’ve given yourself to start your day off with a bang.
In 2005, the late Steve Jobs delivered his notable commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating class. Often referred to as his “Find What You Love” speech, Jobs stressed the importance of loving what you do and offered a handful of anecdotes to bring light to the notion. Jobs shared his personal habit of looking in the mirror each morning and asking if today were his last day on earth, would he want to be doing what he was about to do for the day. Jobs’ message is powerful: do what you love and your work won’t be work. Spend some time each morning considering your career and if you love what you do. If you find yourself saying “No” too frequently, consider making a change. This is not to say that you should drop everything, but consider using your reflection time in the mornings to change your perspective or approach to what you do. Being at ease with your tasks and responsibilities makes work more enjoyable.
After assessing our work, most of us will be stuck with at least a few daunting or unpleasant tasks, no matter how much we love our job. Mark Twain once wrote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If your most demanding task seems as daunting as gobbling down the aforementioned frog, tackle it first thing in the morning. By completing a more sizable item on your to-do list early in the day, all of those small and nagging tasks seem much more manageable without the big one hovering over your head. End your workday by writing down your “frog” for the next day on a sticky note, and leave it on your desk for the following morning. This makes your goal clear and accessible.
The first hour of your work day should serve to reduce stress and increase your productivity. A steady flow catalyzes such productivity, and the best way to generate this flow is by light and self-reflecting activity. Taking the time to get yourself in the right state of mind will be your greatest resource in tackling day-to-day challenges.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on February 27, 2013 at 11:29 am, and is filed under On The Job, Time Management. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Taking on a job or internship during school can be an important step towards getting the career you want, but pair that with a full course load and you might find yourself overwhelmed. Savvy students (like our amazing interns) know how to balance school and work without getting overwhelmed.
When you look for an internship, make sure you are honest and direct about your schedule availability with your employers. Getting four hours of sleep a night is not going to help your grades or your internship performance. Figure out what a realistic work load is for you, and don’t overcommit. According to Collegeboard, “students who work more than fifteen to twenty hours a week are more likely to perform more poorly in school than those who work only fifteen to twenty hours”. Interning two or three days a week is probably a good place to start. You’ll need to set aside extra time to study, and will have to allow space for unexpected assignments or sudden crises at work.
In order to be honest (with yourself and your boss) about your availability, make sure you have a system worked out that helps you stay organized. A physical planner works for some, and iCal or another web-based scheduling system works better for others. There are also apps for the iPhone that help you plan ahead. Make sure you mark all important dates and deadlines on your calendar as soon as they come up. Making some sort of system to measure your progess - such as checking off tasks as they are completed - can help you feel accomplished and will keep you focused on your goals.
Remember to take a moment to breathe. It’s important to find ways to manage stress so that your schedule doesn’t become unbearable. Go to the gym or make a nice dinner with your roommates, and try not to get too bogged down with a list of demands and assignments. Be aware of your limits, and make sure you stop before you burn out. You are taking on a huge challenge, but one that will certainly pay off when it’s time to graduate.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on February 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm, and is filed under On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
You did it! You landed a new job and you couldn’t be happier. Odds are you’re a somewhat nervous though. Well that’s natural. You want to leave a positive first impression on your new boss and colleagues without making any rookie mistakes.
Here are several “don’ts” to avoid when starting a new job:
- Don’t show up late
- Don’t dress unprofessionally
- Don’t expect hand-holding
- Don’t ask co-workers to do your work
- Don’t take too many personal calls
Once you’ve settled into your new job you shouldn’t stop trying to impress. According to a study from Wynhurst Group, ‘22% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment’. Make sure you don’t become too complacent, allowing you to become victim of this statistic.
There are several keys to keeping your new job. Be sure you clarify your goals and learn if there is a training system in place for new employees. It doesn’t hurt to be proactive and ask for a review after a few months of working. This shows initiative and that you’re really interested in the company. Building relationships is crucial. Often times you will find yourself having to collaborate with others for projects and having a solid rapport can prove to be beneficial and make the project run smoothly. Just be yourself and show your commitment. The rest will come naturally.
For additional advice, click here.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on September 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm, and is filed under On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
We all know someone who tends to over share. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or in plain ol’ person, this individual goes overboard with personal information and gossip. Some do it out of nervousness and others just like to hear themselves talk or post.
It’s alright to over share with friends and family, but there is one time, in particular, when you should not share personal information or gossip.
Can you guess when and where that may be?
That’s right – your office.
In an office setting there is a time and a place to talk about personal relationships, shopping, parties, and after work activities. When you start a job sit back and observe the setting of your new office space and co-workers. You’ll figure out when “show and tell” is appropriate.
Try to avoid being that person who is the talker or sharer.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on April 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm, and is filed under On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Happy Friday! As the week comes to an end we reflect on the week and go over what we’ve accomplished. At the end of the day on Friday, we write down what we have planned for next week. We find this makes us productive and more likely to stay on path. However, veering off your everyday work agenda might work in your favor.
Do some brainstorming and present innovative ideas to challenge the responsibilities of your job.
What happens when your ideas get rejected? Move on to the next bright idea and keep going!
Let the criticism motivate you to continue to be inventive and risky in your creativity.
In the end, one idea will work and you will have added new specs to your job. Not only will this keep you challenged in your current role but it will build your resume at the same time.
Do something different next week. Get inspired.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on March 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Office Observations, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
The inspiration for this post comes from Pyramid Consulting Group’s newest move. We just moved our office down the street but this change makes all the difference.
Check out our space!
Some people fear change, but this type of change brings about fresh new ideas, projects, and even a little motivation. The trick here is that just because you feel you are in a slump at your desk, doesn’t mean it’s time to encourage the boss to move locations.
You can make simple changes in your personal workspace to encourage your mind to stay fresh and eager.
Now you’re asking yourself what you can do differently to spice up your space…
- Have you thought about spring cleaning? It’s about that time. Take an hour to go through your junk drawers and files and purge all that you don’t need. Have a feng shui moment and just trash it!
- Rearrange the contents of your desk. You’ll find that this creates a small obstacle for your mind. It’s like switching up a routine – it challenges your mind and keeps you focused and alert.
- Bring some life into your space. Add some small plants.
- Need something inspiring to look at? Print some of your favorite quotes, scenes, and/or pictures and frame them. Find a place for them on your desk and look to them for a smile and motivation.
How do you spice up your office space?
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm, and is filed under Inspiration, Office Observations, On The Job, Out and About. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
In an article posted by Forbes.com, Lisa Quast writes about how to earn respect at work. One of her bullet points made us talk less and listen more.
“Use active listening skills – really listen and hear what people are saying.”
We understand that you may work with people who like to hear themselves speak. On the opposite side of the talking vs. listening spectrum, there are people who tend to zone out when you’re speaking to them.
In a work environment it is important to listen because you:
- May have a boss that doesn’t like to repeat themselves
- Have a strong desire to do it right the first time
- Want to be the person that co-workers trust and confide in
How can you make sure you are really listening?
- As soon as the person starts speaking, turn off your mind and focus
- Ask questions that pertain to what they’re saying. Often times you might have something else on your mind that you’ve been meaning to ask them, hold those questions for later
Do you find that you have trouble focusing while people are talking to you? Do you want to give them your undivided attention? Comment on our Facebook page – we’d be happy to help you!
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on February 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Office Observations, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
Do you find that you’re always running late? Have you come to terms with this or have you tried a number of anecdotes to cure the spell of tardiness?
Unfortunately, all hiring managers and recruiters do not accept late candidates. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, but that is only in rare cases.
In an effort to help you land a job and subtract being late as one of the reasons you bomb the interview, here are some tips to help you in the future.
- An obvious solution would be to set an alarm. Even if you have to set an alarm to remind yourself to set an alarm – do whatever it takes to remind yourself to not be late!
- Stop trying to squeeze in other things. If you scheduled a time to leave, leave at that time. Always factor in obstacles along the way.
- If you’re a visual person, write it down. A schedule and calendar should keep you in check.
- If you are worried about being too early, don’t worry! You can always bring a book, camp out at a coffee shop, or if it’s a nice day, do some laps around the block.
There really is no excuse when it comes to being late. What are some tactics you utilize to make sure you’re always on time? Please post your comments on our Facebook page.
|Print article||This entry was posted by pyramid-admin on February 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm, and is filed under Chronicles For Candidates, Interview, On The Job. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|