The Bullseye - August 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Email Etiquette in the Office,
Alumni Update,
How to Say "No" At Work,
Congratulations to this Month's Winner,
Food for Thought: Worker Weight Gain,
Connect With Orion

Email Etiquette in the Office

The Pew Internet and American Life Project, a project of the Pew Research Center, reports that 62% of employed adults use the Internet or email at their job. This is in addition to cell phones and other technology that keep them connected at all times, including when they are not at work. The fact that workers are plugged in at all times can blur the line between what is appropriate and what is not regarding workplace communication. When technology is not used wisely, the sender can get into trouble. This is especially true with email communication which, when used improperly, can be cause for termination.

 

There are cases where foul language, jokes, and offensive remarks have resulted in termination. If the basic rules of email etiquette had been followed, then these cases could have turned out much differently or not existed at all.

 

It is also imperative to know that facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language can’t be relayed through email. So emails can come off as offensive, too harsh, too critical, or not formal enough.


The best thing to do when sending an email is to take the time to sit and think about what you want to say. Even walking away from an email and then coming back to it later can make a big difference. Sending an email while angry, frustrated, or under the influence of alcohol can have dire consequences. It is always best to save emotional topics for face-to-face discussions and ensure that all emails are read twice and given a lot of thought.

 

Here are a few guidelines for sending workplace appropriate emails:

 

- Never send an email while angry or upset; always take the time to cool down.
- Never send an email while under the influence of alcohol or other behavior modifying medications.
- Don’t use work email for personal reasons.
- Don’t use email with lots of slang and incorrect grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Remember that all workplace communication is a reflection of who you are.
- Don’t send vulgar jokes and or materials through email.
- Don’t send emails that are too long or too short. Keep it brief, but not too brief.
- Don’t use acronyms.
- Don’t use email as a way to send cards. Interview thank-yous and congratulatory emails should be sent through traditional snail-mail.

 

Following these basic suggestions can save a lot of trouble for yourself and others. And remember that when in doubt, don’t hit 'Send.'

Alumni Update

Chris Pieczonka
Sale and Marketing Development Program, Siemens Energy
U.S. Navy, Suface Warfare Officer, Lieutenant
United States Naval Academy, 2005

I was commissioned into the US Navy in May 2005 as a Surface Warfare Officer. My first command was the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN. During my two-and-a-half years onboard, I had duties as the Cruise Missile Officer, Force Protection Officer, and Assistant to the Air Defense Officer. While onboard, I also earned my Engineering Officer of the Watch qualification. This allowed me to accept orders to my next command, Destroyer Squadron 23. While attached to that command, I was the Training Officer for five destroyers. This was an incredible job, because the staff was comprised of senior department heads and NCOs. It was a very flat organization and incredibly informal relative to other Navy commands. Additionally, I had four training officers out of the five ships, who were my year group and responsible for reporting their readiness to me. This proved to be an invaluable education on management and support of a team.

My transition from the Navy started two years prior to my last day in the Navy. In August 2009, I PCS’d to Annapolis, Maryland. As soon as I arrived, I enrolled in the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business. It was an accelerated part time program. I essentially went to school full-time at night, so that I could graduate before I was out of the Navy.

In order to apply for business school, you need a resume, so I started crafting this back in January 2009 when I was applying to school. Your resume is an iterative process that requires dozens of revisions. I had friends, friends’ parents who worked in the civilian world, department heads, my commanding officer, and even a buddy’s sister who freelances in resume writing review my resume. And while I was in business school, I was constantly polishing and refining my resume to be directed to different industries and job responsibilities.

While in school, I started attending career fairs a year-and-a-half from my separation. At first, some recruiters at various companies were not keen to talk to me, because I was not a potential hire in three months time. But, as I started to explain that I wanted to get an idea of the type of work they did and what they liked and didn’t like about it, they were typically more receptive. This allowed me to ask more in depth questions later on in the job search process and really focus on the companies I felt I would be really interested in.

The only on-base resource I used was the mandatory TAP class. This instruction was too late for me, however, as I took the class after I had already accepted a position with Siemens. I highly recommend any service member enroll in TAP class as soon as they have made the decision to transition out of the military. There are some great starting lessons and recommendations that I figured out on my own. If I would have had TAP class earlier, I might not have spun my wheels as much when I first started my planning.

Prior to getting hired by Siemens, I interviewed with several big-name companies. I tried to contact someone who had done the job or knew a lot about each position I interviewed for. If the HR rep gave me a name of someone I was interviewing with, I searched for them on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google to try and glean any information that would be useful in establishing a rapport with the interviewer. I also tried to find any USNA grads that may have had inside knowledge of the position.

In addition to job-hunting on my own, I also worked with Orion and received an offer for a Siemens Energy Sales and Marketing Development Program (SMDP) position. This was actually the most difficult part of the transition for me. When I was offered the Siemens position, I was waiting to hear back from two other companies, both of which were dragging their feet. It would have been nice to wait and see what they would have been willing to offer, if they decided that they wanted to hire me; but, I needed to pull the trigger and accept an offer. Additionally, Siemens was a rather unknown quantity to me relative to the rest of the companies I interviewed with. I knew what they did, but I still wasn’t too familiar with how they did it.

But during my interview with Siemens, I was impressed that they were more concerned with finding the right person who they could train and work with, rather than the most specifically qualified person. About twenty minutes into the interview, it became more of a dialogue regarding personalities and passions, as opposed to a combative talk where they are grilling me on what I could offer Siemens. This was very different than most of my interviews with other companies, and I liked that.

The Sales and Marketing Development Program started in June 2011 while I was on terminal leave. I was one of three JMOs in the pilot program. Typically, the participants are high-talent civilians with engineering backgrounds coming directly from undergraduate programs or some limited working experience. The program has four three-month long rotations through various divisions of Siemens Energy.

The requirements are that you will spend time in a field sales office, a new unit marketing division, a service marketing division, and another “wild card” rotation. In between the rotations, the group meets back up to brief each other on their rotations, as well as attend group trainings that cover such things as presentation skills, fundamentals of all of the major power generation machines that Siemens produces and services, as well as interaction with executive level managers in Siemens Energy.

The program is based out of Orlando, where I currently live, but participants can be rotated into various offices throughout the country. Some of the bigger offices for Siemens Energy are located in Charlotte, Houston, Jackson, Trenton, and San Ramon. The relocation to Orlando and future relocation is not an issue for me, as I am single without any dependents, so I was extremely geo-flexible. My only desire was that I wanted to be near a major metropolitan area.

When it came time to find housing, I found out that a high school friend was attending law school in Orlando through the magic of Facebook. We decided to room together, and he conducted the housing search down in Orlando and sent photos. We had many discussions on our requirements and settled on a place in a few weeks.

My job with Siemens has me working in the energy industry, specifically the power generation and service industry. My military experience helps me in many different ways. One of the most direct ways was the fact that I earned an EOOW on my first command. Siemens Energy’s competitive advantage in energy industry is its leading edge gas turbine technology. Having some intimate knowledge of how a gas turbine plant works was a huge advantage in the interview process.

But the military experience goes well beyond directly transferrable skills. Conflict resolution, team building, change management, ability to speak confidently and directly to subordinates, superiors, and especially contemporaries; as well as experience in developing and executing plans, are all strengths honed in the military. Until I was out working with civilians, I did not fully understand just how important these traits are.

My military experience came into play during one of my first assignments was while I was working for the Wind Group. The Chief Marketing Officer wanted me to provide projections on the need for renewable power generation, per state, in 2015, based on renewable portfolio standards set by each state. There was very little guidance beyond that. Having worked in the Surface Warfare community, I was extremely comfortable taking on a project that had very little direction as to how to accomplish the final goal.

The arduous and sometimes Spartan lifestyle of deploying during my time in the Navy allowed me to focus on work, while some of my colleagues were distracted by what they considered “unworkable conditions.” This ability to adapt to working conditions and make decisions with imperfect information is what sets veterans apart. In a company full of engineers who like to polish the answer until they believe it’s perfect, this is a very sought after trait.

I just moved back to Orlando to finish the program in my final placement in the Service Fossil group. In my new position, I am going to support the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic sales regions for complex bids to provide service for power plants that are scheduled for maintenance. As a first position, it’s a great place to be. I will have to interface with all of the service business divisions—non-destructive examination, manpower, parts, upgrades, technical field assistance, and operations.

This position will give me a great knowledge base on how Siemens conducts business on the service side, as well as how its internal decision making and business processes and run. Additionally, for any bids for work that require special approval, I will have to brief the executives of the service group. At Siemens, networking is highly valued in order to promote, so having the opportunity to display your work to executives is extremely valuable for career progression.

I have been very fortunate to have been hired into a development program where my first priority is to learn about the company and how it works. The daily highlight is that I am excited to go to work knowing that I am part of an organization that provides one of the fundamental infrastructure needs of the country. Additionally, much like when I was in Navy and had the inside information on military events, I now read the headlines about the energy industry and feel like I have the inside story.

As far as practical considerations, the salary, when adjusted for cost of living, is on par with what I was earning as an O-3 in Maryland. The benefits at Siemens are great, too. They match up to 6% in a 401K, have a stock-purchase program where they give you a share for every three that you purchase (three year vestment), and a significant portion of health care insurance is paid for by the company.

Another consideration is that, at Siemens, there are no ranks on anyone’s collar. When you see someone walking down the hall, they could be an individual contributor or a high level executive. That definitely took some getting used to, along with the habit of calling anyone of positional authority over you ‘sir’. Most people will tire of this very quickly and expect you to address them by their first name.

If I had to advise fellow veterans on how to execute a successful transition, I would say to make finding your next career a part-time job. To find a truly fulfilling and worthwhile second career, you are doing yourself and everything you accomplished in the military a disservice if you don’t focus on your career search. As a veteran, you understand hard work, team-first mentality, competence, and most importantly - integrity. With these attributes, and some specific training, you can do some incredible things for an organization. And you can learn and ramp up at a much faster rate and provide additional value added sooner. If you do things the proper way, with discipline and thoroughness, it may be challenging and difficult, but the reward on the other side is that you get to start another career that you will truly enjoy.

Do you have an update to share with us?  Did you get promoted, have a new addition to your family or any other news you’d like to share?  Click here to tell us about it!

How to Say "No" At Work

Let’s face it, in today’s tough economy those of us that are fortunate enough to be employed are doing everything to keep their jobs. This is sometimes at the expense of our health, relationships, and family. When we are asked to work late, we do. When we are asked to take on extra roles and projects, we say yes! We sacrifice now more than ever, and the reasons are totally understandable. But, at what point should we say no before we eventually suffer burnout?

 

We are facing workloads that require longer hours and more effort. We are trying to kill two birds with one stone, and, at some point, we end up sacrificing quality work and our personal lives. So what can be done? Let’s start with basic time management. Be sure to arrange priorities into groups of importance. Take time each day to review your most important tasks and give yourself a period of silent time where phones and e-mail are out of reach. Last, leave a few minutes in your calendar for any extra “crises”. These easy time management steps can go a long way to avoiding burnout.

 

But these days what we are being asked to do goes beyond time management. So if you’ve followed all of these suggestions and are still struggling to stay afloat, perhaps it is time to say “no”. The first thing to ensure is that management and your co-workers see you as diligent and hardworking. So, if you say no to something, they can’t say you aren’t a dedicated employee who works hard and contributes to the bottom line. Then be sure to accept extra challenges and projects when time allows. When it comes time to say “no”, it can’t be said that you never take on extra work. At this point, you’ve established a solid reputation as a hardworking contributor.

 

When you are asked to take on a project that is too much or your expertise really isn’t needed, talk your priorities through with your boss. Mention the three priorities you have for that particular day or time period and ask where the other project would fit in. This gives an opportunity for your boss to help you re-establish your workload. He or she can arrive at their own conclusion about the heavy workload you are carrying.

 

Next, if they aren’t picking up on the fact that you have too much to do, offer a suggestion. You can casually say that you would like to contribute to the project, but you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the work. Then suggest how you could be involved, but not be responsible for the entire project or extra workload.

 

Remember to say “no” in person. If you use e-mail, it is difficult to infer if a person is angry or frustrated. Finally, don’t be afraid to say “no”. All employees have to at one point in their career, and the things that are important to us in life cannot suffer as a result of our inability to say “no”.

Congratulations to this Month's Winner

 

Ikaika Paio won the Job Seeker Referral monthly drawing and is the winner of a $50 gift card.  
 
Ready for your chance to win a $50 gift card? You’ll receive an entry into our monthly drawings for Client and Job Seeker referrals for each referral that you submit – good luck and thank you for the referral!

Food for Thought: Worker Weight Gain

For those who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle or lose a few pounds, the corporate workplace is the biggest battleground. With office birthdays, fresh desserts, and special occasions such as “Bagel Fridays,” it is no wonder that workers are complaining of expanding waistlines. According to a survey of over 5,000 employees conducted by Harris Interactive, 44 percent of workers admit they’ve gained weight at their current job, while almost half blame their weight gain to food in the office. These findings correlate with last year’s findings, revealing that the situation is not improving.

Exactly how much weight are we gaining? Twenty-six percent of workers say they’ve gained more than ten pounds at their current job, while 14 percent admit to gaining more than 20 pounds. However, 16 percent have said that they’ve actually lost weight since they started at their current job, revealing that some are resisting the cookies, doughnuts, and sodas that are readily available.

Some occupations categorized as sedentary or higher-stress work environments see a higher incidence of employee weight gain. Careers for high-risk weight gain are travel agents, attorneys/judges, teachers, administrative assistants, and physicians, to name a few.

If you or your employees work through lunch or barely take breaks even for a drink of water, you have company: more than half of workers blamed their weight gain to sitting at their desk a majority of the day, also admitting they eat their lunch there, too.

Alternatively, 53 percent of workers say they eat out for lunch at least once a week, 23 percent at least three times a week and 11 percent at least five times a week, which results in unhealthy choices. Snacking is also a jean-tightening culprit – 10 percent of workers say they eat lunch out of the vending machine at least once a week, and 71 percent say they snack during the workday. Also contributing to expanding waistlines is stress, skipping meals, and workplace celebrations.

To combat weight gain, exercise is the obvious solution. However, while 59 percent of workers say they exercise regularly, one in ten workers say they don’t exercise at all. To reinforce healthy habits and help make exercise more convenient to workers, companies are implementing healthy living initiatives in the workplace, including gym passes, workout facilities, or wellness benefits for their employees.

It is wise to have resources or advice for employees regarding their health in the office, especially if they reach out to you. Practice the following tips and encourage your employees to do the same for a healthier workplace.

1. Take more steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or stop by a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email. If you use public transportation, get off at an earlier train stop or bus stop to walk part of the way to the office.
2. Snack healthy. Make sure you are eating the right kind of snacks. Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand so you have a healthy option when the hunger pangs start.
3. Pack your lunch. Not only does bringing your lunch save you money, it also helps you control your portions.
4. Drink water. Instead of caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda, drink water. This will help you feel full and satisfy your thirst better, cutting down on calories.
5. Exercise. You don’t have to hit the gym for hours for some exercise – take a daily walk with a co-worker, replace your chair with an exercise ball for part of the day, or keep weights at your desk.

A healthy lifestyle is important for happy, productive employees. Become involved in your employee’s health and be aware of any concerns to ensure a healthy workplace.

Click here for full article.

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