All posts by Ivana Bostrom

Bullying in the Workplace: How to Make it Stop

Many of us have experienced being bullied at some point throughout our lives. Perhaps you can remember this happening to you early on during your adolescent years and no matter who you told, nothing would be done to stop it or maybe the person you told didn’t take you seriously.

We all thought that this trend of bullying would cease once we began our adulthood and started our careers but unfortunately, that is not the case. Bullying in the workplace is becoming a “silent epidemic”. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national survey was conducted in which 35% of Americans reported being bullied at work. That comes to a little over 53 million of American workers experiencing some form of harassment in their workplace. Now keep in mind, these are reported cases, therefore if we were to add the non-reported cases this number would significantly be higher.

The definition of bullying is: Persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior, abuse of power, or unfair punishment which upsets, threatens and/or humiliates the recipient(s), undermining their self-confidence, reputation and ability to perform.

How do you know if you’re being bullied at work?

Dr. Helge Hoel, professor of Behavioral Organization from the University of Manchester Business School, has dedicated his career to researching bullying, harassment and violence within the workplace. He defines bullying behavior among the workforce as such;

  1. Threat to professional status (for example, belittling opinion, public professional humiliation, accusation of lack of effort).
  2. Threat to personal standing (for example, name calling, insults, teasing).
  3. Isolation (for example, preventing access to opportunities such as training, withholding information).
  4. Overwork (for example, undue pressure to produce work, impossible deadlines, unnecessary disruptions).
  5. Destabilization (for example, failure to give credit when due, meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, shifting of goal posts).

So what do you do if you are being bullied at work?

Most people think that going to speak with your company’s Human Resource Department will be their saving grace, but it’s quite the opposite. The purpose of HR is to protect the company and to seek the best interest for the organization. You would think that employees would be one of those interests, but from my experience and what I have witnessed, that is not the case. A lot of times, the employee reporting the harassment will be perceived as a “whistle blower”, which can lead to termination. If by chance your company has a Human Relations Department, then you should feel safe speaking to them and addressing the situation. Human Relations differs from Human Resources in the standpoint that their overall objective are the employees and what’s in the best interest of the employee.

You always want to begin by documenting EVERYTHING, (include; date, time, what was said or the circumstances surrounding the bullying or harassment). Once you have enough documented ask to speak to your immediate supervisor or manager and let them know you’ll need about 30 minutes to an hour of their time to speak to him/her privately. This way, you nor they will feel rushed and it will give you the time you need to thoroughly explain the circumstances. Make sure to ask your manager to keep your conversation confidential at the time. This way he/or she will be able to absorb the situation and perhaps pay closer attention to the bullying which is taking place and take some sort of action.

Unfortunately, a lot of bullying is bestowed by managers towards their employees. This can be tough because you begin to feel stuck, as if you have no one to turn to. In this case, you would need to approach their supervisor and address the situation to them, but also ask for the conversation to be confidential. You want to give your managers the opportunity to witness the bullying and to be able to address it.

If you’re finding that you’re beginning to have anxiety, insomnia, depression, feeling of isolation and simply not feeling like your normal self, you should see a doctor and explain to him or her what is going on, so that it’s on record and if you choose to see a psychologist to help you deal with the array of emotions, make sure that all of it is being documented. Keep in mind, your health should always come first. No job is worth the deterioration of your well-being, sanity and even your home life. These factors can have a tremendous impact on your personal life.

Have trust in upper management, that they will facilitate on your behalf to address the “bully” about his or her behavior. If you feel that your managers have overlooked the situation or simply “swept it under the rug”, then you might want to consider finding new employment.

As of today, there are no anti-bullying laws in the workplace, therefore it is up to you to protect yourself. If we all would treat one another the way we want to be treated the rising epidemic of bullying in the workplace would cease.


Why the Job Hoppers: Top Reasons Why Employees Quit

job_hopper_crop380wWith such a pivotal change in the market we’re finding a lot more job hoppers verses employees that hold tenure. In the 80’s and 90’s, the average number of jobs held by an individual during their career span was 1 to 5. Nowadays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those numbers have increased to 10 to 20.

job_hopperWe all know that economic factors play a significant role in the job market but even with the economy improving we haven’t seen a decrease in those numbers.  Two years is the average span for today’s worker to stay with one company.

When talking with my candidates, I have found several common elements on why they are looking to make a change.  You would think that money would be a motivating factor to actively seek employment elsewhere, but that hasn’t exactly been the case from my experience.  Most of the professionals I speak with are unhappy with the leadership, management and/or work environment of their organization.

So this leads me to the question; do employees leave companies or do they leave managers?


Is poor leadership and/or management a cause for this job hopping epidemic that we are seeing today?

I’ve listed the top reasons why employees leave their jobs…     6a017ee949a238970d019b00fd7c58970b-800wi

1. Management – Some people work very well independently and don’t need to be micro-managed, but when you’re an independent thinker, understand what it takes to get the job done, nothing is worse than having a manager hovering over you every 5 minutes and questioning your work.  That basically means that there is no trust between the employee and the manager.  This will cause a decrease in morale for the worker.

As managers, it is very important to be able to identify the areas of strengths and weaknesses among their employees.  This way you can delegate the team accordingly to synthesize and achieve successful end-results, while affirming each member that their strength was an attribute to the project.

2.  Lack of Recognition & Appreciation – Lets’ face it.  We all need to hear positive affirmations from time to time.  It makes us feel good; it gives us a sense of validation, that someone appreciates an aspect about you.  With that being said, it’s the same feeling in the workplace when you hear your boss say, “Good job” or decides to recognize your hard work and effort during a company meeting or awards ceremony.

3. Negative Work Environment – Nothing is worse than dreading to go to work everyday.  When you leave for the day, you feel as if a vampire has literally sucked the life out of you.  The negative impact can have tremendous effects on one’s personal life.

A negative work environment is caused by poor leadership.  Another factor that influences this is poor communication or broken down communication between departments.  Once negativity enters the workplace it begins to shift the culture of the organization and create disgruntle employees, which in return will affect overall production.

4. Work-life Balance – Without balance we fall.  So with that being said, everyone needs to have a work life and personal life balance. If not, you’ll begin to resent your employer and can easily fall into a depression.  Employees that work for a company that allows them flexibility, such as; extra vacation time, flexible work hours, incentives to earn time off and the ability to work from home, have proven to improve morale, increase production and have a low turn-over rate among employees.


5. No Growth Potential – Some people are absolutely okay with being stagnate in a position but others aren’t.  It’s probably safe to say that most workers want to advance and be able to meet their fullest potential.  Those are the individuals that would most likely leave an organization, especially if they feel their growth is stunted. Companies that promote within and offer bonuses have a tendency to retain their employees.  This displays commitment and investment towards their workers.  In addition, a company that offers continuing education, training and development programs have an increase in employee retention.

These compelling factors that I have mention are enough to motivate one to actively seek a new job.  It also should remind us that money isn’t everything but our sanity is. We will spend over half of our lifetime working, so lets’ make it the best possible experience until our last day, when our retirement begins.  Retirement-Ahead





Nonverbal Messages Are Critical To Successful Relationships

NonVerbal465% of the way we convey meaning in our messages is through nonverbal communication. Many of times, what one interprets from your behavior may not be what you intended. Nonverbal cues simultaneously  complement and clarifies the verbal message that you’re conveying, which allows more of an accurate interpretation and understanding to the “listener”.

Here are a list of Nonverbal Communication Codes:

  1. Appearance – Influences perceptions of credibility and attractiveness (clothing such as; baggy pants, baseball caps, distinctive t-shirts; jewelry, tattoos, piercings, makeup, cologne, eyeglasses, etc.)
  2. Kinesics – Body movement, gestures and posture.  This communicates interest in others, attitudes, information, status, credibility, and warmth
  3. Eye Contact – Conveys trustworthiness, sincerity, honesty and interest
  4. Facial Expressions – Reveals thoughts, expresses emotions and attitudes
  5. Touch – Communicates intimacy, affection and rejection
  6. Voice – Communicates emotion and clarifies the meaning of messages through pitch, rate (how fast or slow one speaks) and volume
  7. Environment – Provides context that alters behavior
  8. Space – Provides information about status, power and intimacy
  9. Territory – Provides cues as to ownership and occupancy of space nonverbal3

It can be a challenge to assess your own nonverbal communication behavior and to interpret others’, but this general framework of nonverbal communication codes can help in recognizing what areas call for improvement, as well as becoming more aware of the various forms of nonverbal communication.

How To Dictate Your Salary Expectation

More retro clipart at all know that money plays an important role when it comes to searching for a job. The sole purpose of working is to make money.  Yes, there are those that work for the pure enjoyment of staying busy and not for the money, but I think it’s safe to say, that most of us work because we need to earn an income.  Therefore, knowing where you need to be in salary is crucial, especially when you are working with a recruiter.

I always tell my candidates that it is very important to have a salary range in mind.  Don’t just throw out a number.  By throwing out a number, you limit yourself and your recruiter the ability to negotiate an offer with the client.

Your salary range should start from low, to medium, to high.  Meaning, the number you choose to start with will be at the bottom of the range.  By doing this, you and your recruiter will have a mental note that no offers will be entertained below this number.  The ultimate goal is to receive an offer anywhere from your medium to high point range.

For example; lets’ say you’re currently making $72,000 in annual salary.  To be reasonable, your annual salary range for your job search should be in the range of $77,000 to $87,000. Your medium point range is $80,000, so any number from $80,000 to $87,000 would be your ideal target number in terms of annual salary.

Keep in mind that if an offer comes your way that includes bonuses and a superb benefit blue-guy-hiredpackage, then you should consider some flexibility on your annual salary.  You don’t want to make yourself appear greedy or have self-entitlement ideals, because an offer can easily be retracted. The key is to be reasonable and realistic on your overall compensation package.

The “Pinocchio” Candidate

We all know the popular novel about the cute wooden puppet, who was infamous for embellishing the truth.  His name was Pinocchio.  Every time Pinocchio would tell a lie or fib to someone, his nose grew.  Eventually his nose got so big that he created a reputation for himself as a dishonest puppet. Pinocchio

No one likes a “Pinocchio”, therefore when working with a recruiter you have to be completely forthcoming with them.  A recruiter is your advocate.  They’re on your side but as soon as you throw a curve ball their way, it creates a sense of doubt, to a point that they’ll question themselves on whether or not they should continue to represent you.

cool_dollar_signWhen a recruiter asks you about your current salary, it’s not because they are nosy or want to one-up you.  Knowing a candidate’s salary and overall compensation package, such as; bonuses, over-time, on-call and benefits, gives the recruiter leverage to negotiate on your behalf when it comes time for a client to present an offer to you.  Also, just as much as you don’t like your time to be wasted, they don’t either.  Once you have disclosed your current salary, your recruiter will be able to narrow their job search in terms of compensation.  In addition, they’ll be able to facilitate the clients offer to you by letting them know, “Yes, my candidate will most likely entertain this offer” or “No, my candidate is currently making that in salary and most likely will not accept the offer”.  This is where your recruiter can begin the negotiating process.  Nothing is worse when a client asks the recruiter what their candidate is currently making and they can’t give them an answer.  The recruiter loses credibility and so do you.

Keep in mind, that so many companies these days are using third party vendors for their on-boarding screening process.  This means that they will confirm your salary with each employer, as well as ask for tax returns. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen candidates blow an amazing opportunity for telling a white lie.

I call these candidates, “Pinocchio’s”.  Most recruiters believe that if they lie about their salary, education, certifications, skills or reason why they were either terminated from a company or left at their free will, what else will they lie about?  It’s very hard for a recruiter to be your “evangelist “, when they themselves are doubting you.

If you have any gaps in your resume, it is very important to explain why you were not working during those times.  We all understand that things happen in life which can cause one to have to cease from working or perhaps a change in the job market, such as, lay-off’s.  Whatever the reason may be, your recruiter must know about it so that they can relay it immediately to the client when asked.

People-Shaking-HandsBeing in the midst of a job search can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you have an open and trusting relationship with your recruiter and vice versa.  Remember, no one likes a “Pinocchio” in fiction or in real life, and when it comes to partnering up with a recruiter to assist you in your job search, honesty will always get you further.





What Is Your Motivating Factor?

Throughout my professional career I have seen countless of times active job seekers looking for the “next best thing”.  I always say, the grass may look greener on the other side, but keep in mind, it’s the pesticides that makes the grass look so green.  In other words, what you see or what you hear isn’t necessarily ‘real’ when you’re in the midst of your job search.

One question I always ask my candidates is, “What is your motivating factor”? This question is crucial in order for a recruiter to thoroughly understand why a candidate is even beginning to entertain the possibility of a new employment.  Yet, it surprises me, when so many can’t seem to come up with an answer.

Below is a list of motivating factors that I have heard during my tenure as a recruiter. Starting from the most common to least common:

1) Money – We all want to make more money, that’s a no brainier!  Questions you need to ask yourself are; Do my qualifications warrant a pay increase?  What about my degrees and/or certifications?  Does the tenure I hold at my current job influence a higher salary?

If your answer is ‘yes’ to at least two out of the three questions, then most likely an increase in salary is justifiable.

2) Positive Work Environment – Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.  I always ask my candidates what their current work environment is like, especially if I know they hold solid tenure with their current organization.  Also, what has kept them there for so long?  This is where I become completely transparent with them.  If I know that the reason they have longevity is because they like the people they work with, that tells me it’s a positive work environment and the company adhere’s to a culture that keeps the employee turn-around low.  So in this case, should an increase of $10,000 dollars be worth jumping ship, when in fact you enjoy waking up and going to work to be a part of a “healthy”, “non-toxic” team?

I always say that work environment should be everyone’s number one motivating factor. Think about it…  You can be making 30% higher in salary but when you’re dreading going to work and leave for the day feeling as if a vampire has literally sucked the life out of you, is the 30% increase worth your sanity?

3) Company That Offers Room For Advancement & Growth – Some people are perfectly content going to work, knowing what their responsibilities are and to perform the same tasks on daily basis.  But there are others that seek self-improvement, that want to challenge themselves and work their way up within the organization.  They’re not satisfied being stagnate.

If this is you, you need to ask yourself; How long have I been in the same role?  Are there any internal job openings that I know I’d be a great fit for?  Does my manager understand that I’m ready to take on more responsibility?

Once again, if you answer two out of the three questions with ‘yes’; which means you have applied internally as well as spoken to management and/or HR but feel you got no where, then most likely it’s time for you to find the opportunity that will give you the advancement you deserve.

4) Looking To Relocate – Many reasons why someone is looking to relocate are; their spouse needs to relocate for a job, warmer or colder climate, to be near family, children are in college and would like to be closer to them, or perhaps a change of school district.   Whatever the reason may be, I always suggest to write them down in numeric order with the first being their top reason.  This way your recruiter will be able to assist you better by narrowing down their job search on your behalf, based on geographic region and your top factors in order to relocate.

Prior to beginning your job search, know what your motivating factors are.  You always want your decision to be a win-win situation for you, your family and the company.


Start Your Monday with a S.M.A.R.T Goal

Smart GoalCan’t seem to get motivated this Monday morning?  Think of a goal you would like to obtain by the end of the week.  It can be as simple as, going to the gym three nights this week, solidifying a deal with a client or completing a project a week earlier than it was originally slated for.  Whatever goal you decide to achieve this week, or even this month, try using this S.M.A.R.T goal template to help you systematically obtain it. download



SPECIFIC – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished? To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • When: Establish a time frame.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

MEASURABLE – How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached? Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.  arrow-bullseye-large

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continue your efforts to reach your goal.  To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as;

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

ATTAINABLE – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.  By listing your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

  • Is this goal attainable?
  • Have others done it successfully?
  • Do I have the necessary knowledge,
    skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal?
  • Will meeting this goal be of a challenge to me?

REALISTIC – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

  • What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing this goal?
  • What results would you like to see with this goal?

TIMELY – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it clockthere’s no sense of urgency.  Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

  • What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?

T can also stand for TANGIBLE – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is; taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.  When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable, in return thus attainable.

Now get started on your S.M.A.R.T Goal!

Happy Monday from The Executive Corner team!

6 Strategies For Improving Self-Esteem

We all know the damages of having low self-esteem and how it can limit one’s ability to develop and maintain relationships; personally and professionally.  Our feelings of self-worth and how we perceive ourselves can greatly impact us throughout our lives.

Here are 6 strategies for improving our self-esteem… only_positive_thoughts-219205

  1. Engage in Positive Self-Talk – If you want positive results, talk positively to yourself.  If you are self-critical and negative, you may set yourself up for failure.  Replace doubts and negative thoughts with positive, uplifting and encouraging thoughts.
  2. Visualize – Picture what you want in life.  Visualize the success you want to achieve.  Remove your feelings of anxiousness, nervousness and failure.  Keep visualizing until your vision becomes tangible.
  3. Reframe – Try to look at experiences and events, especially those that can cause you to lose self-esteem, from a different point of view.  Keep the larger picture in mind, rather than focusing on one isolated negative incident.
  4. Develop Honest Relationships – Cultivate friends in whom you can confide and who will give you honest feedback for improving your skills and abilities.  Accept the feedback given in the spirit of enhancing your self-esteem and making yourself a wiser, better person.
  5. Surround Yourself with Positive People – Associating with people with high self-esteem can help you boost your own self-esteem and develop a more positive outlook.
  6. Lose Your Baggage – Dump your psychological and experiential baggage from the past.  Work to move beyond the negatives of your past, so that you can focus on the present and relieve your self-esteem of the burden of things you cannot change.

Now it is your turn to turn these 6 strategies into 6 habits!