Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In case your new year's resolution involves finding a new job

It just wouldn't be Christmas around here without my son getting The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. As resolutions are pondered, bringing many of you to the realization that it's time to find a new job, I thought you should know the warning signs of a horrible workplace. As Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht point out, here are some ways to identify a terrible company.
1. Interview at the beginning or end of the day. This way you can see how people really act at work. Are they slow getting to work, or working late into the night?
2. Examine the bathrooms. The overall cleanliness of a company can say a lot about how they treat their employees.
3. Monitor the air quality. I always survey a company's site to see if hazards are kept to a minimum, safety equipment is provided and in use, and that things look safe for the employees. If it doesn't, you won't be safe there. Your job or your life, you decide.
4. Look for signs of a troubled workplace. If you notice everyone is glum at the company, morale is probably pretty low. If you notice the secretary is trying to find a pawnshop for the owner's diamond ring, payroll might be an issue. Keep an eye out for how people act, and how the environment is. Little clues could help you avoid a bad company early on.
5. Evaluate. Does this place look like a good place to work?

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays from WineTalent

WineTalent wishes you a happy holiday and a prosperous new year.
Thank you to everyone for your support throughout the years. In a spirit of giving this year, I have made charitable donations to Sonoma Paradiso, National Wildlife Federation and UC Davis. Sonoma Paradiso is a Sonoma County based charitable organization that is lending a helping hand to children in need. National Wildlife Federation is a leader in protecting our nation's wildlife through education and conservation efforts. Finally, UC Davis has been in the forefront of providing education and research to the wine industry. Charities have been hard hit during these troubling economic times. I hope my donations can be put to good use.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Performance Reviews: Make them Count

Last week I presented at the Women for Winesense's Winemakers Roundtable on salary negotiations. I hope it was a worthwhile presentation, and felt that it was well received. One topic we discussed was performance reviews. Going into the end of the year, many companies conduct their annual reviews now. I suggest that you make them a positive experience for yourself. Here are some steps to take to do that.

Go over your last review: If you have a performance review from last year, take a look at it. Often companies list areas for improvement. What were your's? What did you do in the last year to address that? Also, advancement opportunities or goals may have been addressed. How have these been implemented, and where have you gotten on these.

Do a self assessment: Objectively look at your work performance. Although it can be hard to see the forest from the trees, take a step back and think about how you did. Were you a major contributor? Was their a personality conflict that caused you to perform below your abilities? There are plenty of other things that you might see if you take the time to look. Now how would you grade yourself.

Know your accomplishments: Now is the time you want to know what you accomplished in the last year. If you don't bring them up, they may never be talked about. If your reviewer is a distant supervisor, she may not know much about your contributions. You want to have this information readily available when you are in your review.

Brag: As I've said before, you need to be able to talk about your accomplishments. Make them known, so you can be adequately rewarded with a salary increase, a promotion, or a new role with the company.

Find out how to excel: Aside from the "report card" aspect of a review, this is also a time when you have the undivided attention of one of your superiors. You can use this time to find out future opportunities with the company, areas that your boss might need help with, and possibly get some good grooming for upper level positions.

Prepare a career wish list: When you are getting ready for your review, think of some areas within the company that you might be interested in working. You also can take some time to reflect on how close of a match your position, and your company are with your own goals and values. By taking the time to dream about your career, you might open your eyes to some great new opportunities.

(a note: Sarah Needleman first ran an article in the Wall Street Journal on November 4, 2008 exploring this topic. Her points were very good, and I have included them in the above article. Please link to her article for the full version)