How to Deal With the Office Debbie Downer

February 27th, 2019


The everyday process of going to work is hard enough. Getting up early. Fighting traffic or the crowds on public transportation. Standing in line for your morning coffee.

Everything gets worse if you’ve got a Debbie Downer waiting for you once you get to work.

The drudgery of a commute is quickly quashed if your workplace buzzes with positive energy and an upbeat vibe. The trip into work may be a nightmare, but once you’re at your desk, coffee in hand, you can get down to business with verve, enthusiasm and maybe even a little delight.

That is, unless you sit within earshot of the office killjoy.

A constant complainer can turn the atmosphere of the whole office toxic. The unrelenting negativity poses a distraction. And it can sap productivity.

There are some steps you can take to counteract the impact of a negative co-worker. Here are three maneuvers you can try to restore some joy to the work environment:

Talk to Them

Some people bond through complaining. It’s a way to build up friendships, an easy topic of conversation. Obviously, it’s not a particularly positive way to reach out to people (and it can get aggressively annoying if used too much), but we all do it from time to time.

Often, people don’t know when they’ve gone too far. You can go a long way to fixing the problem simply by letting people know the negative impact they are having.

Try talking to the negative employee. Take a tactful approach and present your case in a constructive way. Come on too strong, and the Debbie Downer is liable to get defensive.

But an encouraging, honest approach might solve the issue in one conversation.

Keep Your Distance

You had a heart-to-heart with Debbie Downer. No change. It’s time to start looking out for yourself.

Don’t let the office Eeyore sour your attitude. Bad vibes can become infectious and listening to constant complaining can sap your positive outlook. Pretty soon, you’re saying to yourself, “You know, they coffee here really IS terrible. Maybe management doesn’t really care about us?”

Physically distancing yourself from a defeatist co-worker represents the easiest way to avoid a cynical-attitude contagion.

Start by moving your workstation (as subtly as possible – you don’t want to hurt feelings unnecessarily). If this isn’t possible, you may want to consider more drastic steps, like switching to a different team.

Concentrate on the Positive

Maybe you aren’t able to distance yourself from the office’s Black Hole of Doom. Maybe you made a move and it didn’t help – somehow, you’re still receiving the bad vibes from across the office.

Don’t let it bring you down. Counteract the impact of their bad attitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your workplace.

If need be, make a list of the things you like about your job and review it when things get gloomy. Or fight back with a little positive chatter of your own. Try to spread a little good cheer to counteract the impact of negative vibes coming from Debbie Downer.

Working in a supportive, inviting atmosphere turns a job into a vocation. Loving what you do allows you to maximize your career prospects.

Finding those opportunities gets easier when you work with a top-flight recruiter. SmartTalent can help you discover the perfect fit for your skills and personality. Contact them today to find out more.

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How to Find Candidates When Talent Is in Short Supply

March 14th, 2017

Unemployment levels have finally fallen after the great recession, which is wonderful news for the economy. There’s one problem, though. Your company may want to expand its workforce because of increased demand driven by an improved economy … but you may have a hard time finding qualified candidates for employment.

A low unemployment rate can result in a talent shortage, especially in industries where workers are the most in-demand. If your company is having a hard time hiring because talent is in short supply, these tips can help:

  • Work with a staffing agency. Working with a staffing agency is one of the best ways to deal with a talent shortage and find skilled workers in a tight labor market. Staffing professionals who work in employment agencies have a big network of candidates, including many talented workers who are seeking out positions. A staffing service will connect you to candidates with the proven skills you are looking for and can help you to reach a talent base that might not otherwise apply for a position with your company.
  • Approach hiring with an open mind. If you are having a hard time finding the perfect candidate, it could be because your criterion is too specific. You should consider the core skills an employee needs to have, and then open your mind to hiring someone who has those skills but who might not otherwise be the perfect candidate on paper. You may just find that staffing professionals are able to help you find the perfect unconventional candidate that exceeds your expectations.
  • Make sure you are offering a competitive salary and benefits. When unemployment rates fall, it becomes especially important to offer benefits and a salary that are in line with what is appropriate for your industry. If you are underpaying your staff, you aren’t going to attract the best and brightest.

SmartTalent is a trusted staffing agency with a large pool of talented candidates who are just waiting to get hired. If you want to find great workers who will be an asset to your company, even in the midst of this talent shortage, reach out to our staffing professionals today. We will help you to find job candidates in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynnwood, Everett and surrounding areas, so give us a call today to find out about the hiring assistance we offer.

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Did I Get the Job?

March 7th, 2017

When you ace a job interview and are feeling really good about your interactions with the hiring manager, it is natural to be excited about your job prospects. In fact, you may be so confident that getting hired is a sure thing you are tempted to ask if you got the job.

Don’t ask this question. This is unprofessional, it puts the hiring manager in a difficult spot and it is unlikely to help advance your candidacy. A hiring manager is rarely going to be ready to share an immediate yes or no as soon as the interview is over. Even if they are planning to hire you, they need time to work out logistics first.

So, what should you do instead of asking if you got the job?

  • Ask what the next steps are. Instead of asking if you got the job at the end of the interview, it is far better to ask about the next steps in the hiring process. A simple question about what comes next will give the hiring manager the chance to offer the job if he wants to … and will also give you insight into when you can expect to hear back about the position.
  • Stay in touch. After you leave an interview, you should keep in contact so you can find out what is happening with the hiring process. Keeping in touch also keeps you top-of-mind with the hiring manager so they’re more likely to take the leap into offering you a position. Send a polite thank-you note after your interview, and follow up after a few days with an email or phone call to check the status of your candidacy.
  • Continue your job search as you wait for an answer. Until you actually get an offer, don’t give up your job search. There is no reason to waste time waiting for an offer and potentially losing out on a few days of looking for work. You can give up the search once an offer of employment is official.

SmartTalent can help you to find open positions in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas. Let our staffing professionals match you with employers who are looking for people with your skills so you can maximize the chances of a successful job search. Call today to find out how we can help.

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The 25th Hour Day!

October 22nd, 2013

SmartTalent - The 25 Hour Day

Could you use an extra hour in your day?

This slide show will help you find more time for the things you really want to do.

View the slide show here – http://resources.smarttalent.net/i/46390036l2

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What’s Going On? – Part 10 in a Series on Handling Common Employee Performance Issues

March 20th, 2013

Most people at work are good employees.  They do what’s expected most of the time.  They work hard, come to work every day and play well with others.  Some employees go above and beyond the normal expectations.  They arrive early, stay late and are nice to have around.  But then there are those few employees and occasionally good employees, when they do it wrong or not at all.

We have all asked ourselves at some point, “What’s going on?  Why can’t they just do what I asked them to do?”

Here in this series, we will highlight 13 reasons that can affect a person’s performance and provide some ideas on how to handle them when they arise.  Many managers feel that they are just not motivated, which leads to non-specific answers to the problem.  In contrast, knowing what the problems are changes the question from, “How do I motivate them?” to “How do I improve their performance?”  Understanding this concept leads to specific actions that can be taken.

They Anticipate a Negative Consequence for Doing It

Here the problem is that the employees think there will be a negative consequence for performing appropriately:

  • I was afraid to ask you because I thought it might be a dumb question.
  • I was afraid to tell you I don’t know how to do it because you might think I was stupid.
  • I didn’t disagree with the rest of the executives because they might think I was not a team player.
  • I didn’t try what I thought was better because if it didn’t work, I would really be in trouble.

Employees may not express their real fears to you.  Not only might they not speak to you, when they do, they may not tell you the truth or give you any ideas.  The problem of fear usually appears with new situations or doing new things.  It is reasonable for people to be concerned about their performance, but when people believe they will not be able to perform successfully, or they think the consequence of failure is important, they will perform badly or not at all.

What Can You Do?

Explain early in their employment that there are no consequences for the things you want your employees to do.

  • It is okay to argue with the manager.
  • No question is a dumb question.
  • Rather than do the job wrong, it is okay to ask for input or directions several times.
  • To improve things, employees should try to be innovative, as long as ideas are cleared with you ahead of time.
  • The next step is to prove that you will respond in the fashion in which you have indicated by controlling how you will respond.

Learn more about handling employee problems.

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What’s Going On? – Part 8 in a Series on Handling Common Employee Performance Issues

February 7th, 2013

Most people at work are good employees.  They do what’s expected most of the time.  They work hard, come to work every day and play well with others.  Some employees go above and beyond the normal expectations.  They arrive early, stay late and are nice to have around.  But then there are those few employees and occasionally good employees, when they do it wrong or not at all.

We have all asked ourselves at some point, “What’s going on?  Why can’t they just do what I asked them to do?”

Here in this series, we will highlight 13 reasons that can affect a person’s performance and provide some ideas on how to handle them when they arise.  Many managers feel that they are just not motivated, which leads to non-specific answers to the problem.  In contrast, knowing what the problems are changes the question from, “How do I motivate them?” to “How do I improve their performance?”  Understanding this concept leads to specific actions that can be taken.

They Think They Are Doing It

Have you ever held a poor performance review and they were surprised to hear they had not been meeting your expectations?

Ask your employees, “How do you know when you are doing a good job?” If their answer is one of the following, they are not getting enough feedback about their work and have no reason to change:

1.”When you leave me alone.”

2.”When there have been no speeches about quality lately.”

3.”You only tell me when I make too many mistakes.”

4.”When you don’t send my reports back.”

5.”When I feel comfortable doing it, I know I’m doing a good job.”

Managers understand their own need for feedback; how they are per­forming against budget, goals, etc. Unfortunately, managers sometimes don’t give employees feedback until weeks or months later, or only when a problem occurs. By then it is too late to change their performance. Feedback is one of the most critical requirements for sustaining high-level performance.

Telling an employee that a mistake was made is not as helpful as tell­ing an employee a mistake is about to be made. In the second instance the deed can be modified to be done correctly. Follow-up and check the employee’s work before the report is finished. Feedback that will modify the work while it is in progress will prevent the report from being com­pleted incorrectly. Have you ever said any of the following?

“That’s not what I want.”

“This work is unacceptable.”

“You are falling behind.”

“You have too much data.”

“You have not enough data.”

Nonspecific feedback, whether positive or negative, is another big feed­back problem. Telling a person you are not “cutting the mustard” is not specific enough to improve performance. Telling employees, “Your per­formance is dynamite” is positive, but too general and not helpful. And if you are relying on an annual review to communicate a years’ worth of feedback and expect a lasting effect on employee performance, then you are probably wondering why the results are only temporary.

What Can You Do?

  • A good example of how to use feedback effectively is during an employ­ee fund-raising drive.
  • They always communicate the progress of the goals day-by-day.
  • Feedback can be positive, negative, neutral, general or specific.
  • Providing feedback in work situations increases productivity dramati­cally without making any other change.
  • Record achievement rates, not failure rates. Sometimes changing what you measure can have a big impact. Instead of a 10% failure rate look to improve upon the 90% success rate.
  • Post results in work areas where performance quality and quantity can be displayed.
  • If you have to give feedback to an employee about poor per­formance, make it specific and neutral. Talk about the perfor­mance and not the person.

Learn more about handling employee problems.

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