Accentuating the positive in the workplace

Q. I know the importance of social networking, but my company says “no” to going on Facebook and such during the workday. How can I get my boss to see that I’m promoting the company, just in a different way?
A. First of all, let’s be honest – Facebook and Twitter and other social network sites are fun and a huge energy drain. It’s not a surprise that companies are concerned about employees visiting such sites, because it can interfere with getting the job done.But if you’re sincere about wanting to use social media to promote and advance your company, here’s what I suggest: Develop a brief proposal explaining how social media can help your company and give specific suggestions and examples about how other companies are using social media effectively. Then map out a plan for what you’d like to do.Your proposal should be detailed with specific goals, outcomes and time estimates.My guess is that you and your supervisor will learn a few things about social media — she’ll be impressed with your initiative and will gladly help create a path for you and your company to venture into the brave new world of communication.Q. I’m seeking a new job and have interviews scheduled that are during the workday. I hate lying, but don’t want my current company to know I’m looking. What should I do?
A. Oh, the angst of quietly looking for a new job! Let’s face it — lots of people who find new jobs do it quietly, so you’re in good company. I respect you for wanting to conduct your job search ethically and fairly. The simple answer is that you’re an employee, but you also deserve a certain amount of privacy and latitude.I’d suggest simply asking for and taking some personal time so that you can maintain your professionalism and so that you aren’t seeking a new job on company time. Your boss might suspect something is up, but he or she will also respect you for your honesty.Q. What do you do if you are assigned a task for which you feel completely ill-prepared and know nothing about?A. Be honest. Would you rather accept the assignment and do such a poor job that it harms your company or would you rather red-flag the fact that you don’t possess the knowledge base to take on this particular job?A third, more acceptable, option would be to state that while you don’t feel ready to accept the assignment, you would be happy to conduct the research and conduct whatever professional development training is necessary to learn the skills necessary to accept the task. This demonstrates initiative, shows that you are dedicated to improving and also allows your company to develop a backup plan until you are ready.Q. I get the value of teamwork, but what do you do if one member of the team is not pulling their weight?
A. Most teams have strong performers, weak performers and a whole lot of folks in the middle. Most everyone knows who they are, and the weak performers seldom make a difference or move ahead. A member not pulling his or her weight gives you an opportunity to shine. Don’t complain about what they’re not doing – that’s wasted effort and often comes off looking like sour grapes.In actuality, you can’t reasonably affect what others are doing and can only control your own actions. Instead, put all of your energy into doing the best job that you possibly can while encouraging others to raise to your level of productivity. You will be noticed and you will be valued not only for your teamwork but for your demonstration of leadership qualities.Q. Everyone has their pet peeves and mine is people who have to always be in charge and don’t “play well” in the workplace. What suggestions can you offer for dealing with domineering personalities?
A. Laugh! I know that this sounds glib, but I’ve discovered that simply making light of certain behaviors not only redirects your energy, it communicates your frustration in a more lighthearted way. Negativity breeds negativity, and lashing out at a co-worker only ensures that the situation will get more hostile and that workplace productivity will be stunted.However, if you approach the situation in a more positive fashion, even directing humor at the situation, you have a much higher probability of redirecting negative behaviors and lightening the mood so that more effective communication can take place. When in doubt, humor and positive energy is the way to go!

Paul Boynton, president and chief executive of Moore Center Services, Manchester, is also a personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at