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10 Things Only Bosses Understand

10 Things Only Bosses Understand

“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.” – Robert Frost

Plenty of employees love to hate their boss, but what about you?

Maybe you resent the tasks you’re saddled with. Perhaps you’re fed up of being micro-managed. Maybe you have aspirations to jump in the hot seat yourself.

Despite usually falling into either the “love ’em” or “hate ’em” camp, life is far from straightforward for the boss.

Whether you’re tiring of your own boss, have future ambitions to climb the corporate ladder, or you’re already enjoying the perks power, let’s take a look at some of the things only bosses would understand.

1. You can’t switch off.

Far from being able to clock-out and skip cheerily to the nearest bar without a care in the world, you carry your burdens with you everywhere you go. You’re constantly reminded of tasks that haven’t been done. Always thinking of what tomorrow will bring, never being able to completely let go.

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And then there’s your staff. Are they on your side? Motivated? Happy?

It’s easy to underestimate all the pressure that running a successful business brings.

2. You know they’re talking about you.

Being a boss means making tough decisions. It means keeping your distance. Sometimes, it even means that you’ll have to part company with good people, despite knowing the devastating financial implications that will bring.

On occasion, you’ll need to ruffle a few feathers. In better times, you’ll be patting people on the back and offering words of encouragement.

No matter the situation, though, you’ll always be the focus of attention. Always the talking point. With any luck, you’ll be the subject of kind words and admiring glances. But experience tells me you’re going to have to get used to being the bad guy.

3. You don’t understand why your staff don’t give a flying fig.

I hate to break it to you, but most people really don’t care that much about how well the company is doing. I mean, sure, some will appreciate the overtime and almost everyone is glad to have a job, but they’re definitely not that bothered about hitting sales targets or breaking any productivity records.

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It’s a job. They clock-in, they clock-out. And they want that unfortunate time in-between known as work to be as easy and painless as possible. If they can get away with doing just a little bit less for the same rewards, they will.

Sorry about that.

4. You work more but earn less.

One of the biggest misconceptions about bosses and business owners is that they are swimming in cash. But those fortunate souls who are running a business often work far longer hours, and for less money than they pay their employees. Paid overtime doesn’t exist once you ascend the ranks. If your workload requires you to work long into the night, that is what you must do.

And there’ll be no slap on the back, no gratitude—just the murmurings of your staff, wondering why you’re tired and grouchy today.

5. You don’t have anyone to turn to.

There is a security blanket afforded to employees: Mess up a task and a helping hand is never too far away. Need some advice? You’re co-workers will invariably steer you in the right direction.

As a boss, though, you’re on your own. Mistakes are reflected in the bottom line. Rash judgments are now brutally exposed to all. The buck stops with you.

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6. You’re drowning in bullshit.

Far from being the glamorous gig that many imagine, being a boss means you’ll be dealing with many infuriating, time-sucking tasks. Even with a great team to delegate work to, you’d better get used to dealing with daily mundane queries and tackling an assortment of unexpected issues.

Get used to morphing from trusted confidante, motivator, relationship counselor, bad cop, good cop, life coach and everything in-between: Everyone is going to want a piece of you.

7. You don’t sleep as well

Being the boss takes its toll. The targets, budgets, arguments, appraisals, hiring, firing and selling can leave you a frazzled shell of your former self. Late nights and early starts wear you down and cause you to question every decision and thought. Which then means you start to doubt the outcome. It’s a vicious circle.

No more drifting off into a dreamy, blissful slumber for you—Waking to a cold sweat, fretting about looming deadlines is now the norm.

8. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

You’re not always right. And sometimes, you’ll need to make a decision or take a stance purely on gut instinct. It’s a fine balance.

Your team need to know you’re in control. But now and again, you’re not. The trick, is to never appear flustered; always projecting a sense of calm and control… despite not having the slightest clue how things are going to pan out.

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9. You don’t even know why you’re doing this.

What with the stress, the hours, the pay, the lack of praise and the general disinterest of others, you can be forgiven for doubting your cause, because being a boss is mainly a thankless task.

People expect their wages on-time, every-time. They expect thanks, praise, direction and understanding. The tough decisions, acts of kindness and carefully planned long-term strategies largely go unnoticed.

But that’s fine, because…

10. You wouldn’t have it any other way.

There’s that little something that burns inside of you—a flame that very few possess.

It means that no matter how hard your day, or how difficult the path you tread, you simply couldn’t contemplate settling for mediocrity. Fleeting temptations to jack it all in and take the easy option are just that. They barely last a few moments.

You have to push on. You have to improve. You have to better yourself.

And these are things that only bosses would understand.

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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