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Unemployed Clients - Teaching Job Seeking Skills
Unemployed Clients - Teaching Job Seeking Skills

Section 15
Catalysts of Employment Success

Question 15 | Test | Table of Contents |
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

In the last section we discussed how your client who is looking for a job can use the side door approach of follow-up contact to get an interview with a potential employer. The entire course so far has talked about how to get hired. I felt it important to include information regarding once your client gets hired some strategies for keeping their job.

In this section, we will discuss the eleven keys your client can use to build his or her workplace power once they get hired. By workplace power, I mean positioning themselves so that should downsizing occur, his or her employer will consider then last to be let go.

Key 1: Learn to Like the People In the Office

I am sure you will agree, that it is ideal if your client learns to like the people he or she works with. Liking people one works with can help create harmony with your client and his or her coworkers. For example, if Marisa sends of signals she does not like the people she works with, the coworkers will probably know it and they may begin to not like her as well. Marisa found it difficult to connect with Chad who she felt was staring at her chest. So, I encouraged her to find something about Chad that she can respect and continue to think of that aspect of him whenever she finds herself getting annoyed by Chad. Marisa said "I admire the fact that Chad is really quick at calculating numbers and is able to get his paperwork done accurately before anyone else." I encouraged Marisa to think of this positive attribute when his staring becomes annoying. Thus she sends positive energy to a coworker that could become hostile towards her.

Key 2: Communicate Often with the Supervisor, If Appropriate
As Marisa developed a communication pattern with her supervisor, Melanie, she was better able to understand what Melanie’s needs were. I stated to Marisa, "Also, since you are a manager, you can use this information to understand where the people you supervise are coming from. If you make an effort to be available to them, your work relationship will more than likely strengthen."

Key 3: Try to Never Turn Down a Social Invitation
I stated to Marisa, "You may be asked by your supervisor or the group to join them for some social event like lunch. This is the perfect time to connect with coworkers and declining invitations like this may send the sign that you think that you have some negative feelings towards them." When Marisa was too busy to accept an invitation, I encouraged her to reschedule and to gauge what other co-workers do to socialize.

Key 4: Is it Appropriate to Socialize with the Supervisor?
There are a few things I wanted Marisa to keep in mind about extending an invitation to her boss. I stated to Marisa, "Just as it is important to accept offers from others in the office, it is important for you to extend invitations to socialize with your supervisor. I asked Marisa "If you decide to invite your supervisor to lunch, should you pay? Or would Melanie be offended? Remember that even if she rejects your invitation, she most probably will appreciate the offer. Socializing with supervisors, as you are aware, is a very complicated social dynamic on many levels. For example, how is the socializing viewed by other workers?

They may become jealous and feel that you are talking about them during the luncheon. Rumors may even be started that you are in the LGBT community if your supervisor is of the same sex. So socializing with supervisors needs to be considered from not only the supervisor’s point of view but your coworker’s point of view and the social impact it will have. Use your gut when deciding what is appropriate with your boss."

Key 5: Make Co-Workers Feel Good about Themselves

This may sound obvious, but one good way to develop a good working relationship with co-workers is to make them feel good about themselves. I reminded Marisa that everyone in her office contributes something of value to the department. In most cases, if they didn’t help the company, they wouldn’t stay around. I encouraged Marisa to identify and acknowledge the key contributions of each of her coworkers by giving a compliment to each of her coworkers. I asked Marisa, "Do you feel that the compliments could be best given publicly or privately based on office social protocol?"

In order for compliments to not come across as hollow flattery, they need to be specific. For example, I suggested to Marisa rather than stating to Wendy, who was in her department, "You did a great job today." Instead, put time into thinking about what she means by "great". Thus Marisa transformed her hollow flattery into the statement, "Wendy, I noticed on form B of the insurance statement you’re putting the que code into the correct ID box now."

Key 6: Do Not Forget Who Hired You
Another person that is important for your clients to acknowledge is the person that brought them to the company. Do you agree this is true in most cases? I suggested to Marisa, "Keep in communication with the officer or manager that hired you to the company. Are invitations to lunch or dinner or remembering special occasions such as birthdays appropriate to keep that line of communication open with this person?" Are you currently treating a client who might benefit from a friendly hello in the hall to the HR person who hired them? As you know, these small gestures of friendship may make a difference for promotions and downsizing lists.

Key 7: Never Violate a Confidence
I stated to Marisa, "It is important to refrain from passing on information to others that is of a confidential nature." Do you need to underline the importance of confidentiality with a client you are currently treating?

Key 8: Don’t Refuse a Work Assignment if You Can Help It
Marisa stated in another session, a bit overwhelmed , "Melanie seems to be giving me extra work. What should I do?" I stated, "As you are aware, for many reasons, the assignments that are included in your job may shift. If you refuse a request to take on more work, especially when others are asked to take on more work as well, you may be seen as a person of limited usefulness to Melanie’s department and not be seen as a team contributor." Are you currently treating a client who needs to weigh and measure carefully work assignments that he or she is rejecting or taking on?

I actually had a friend who struggled for months to acquire a job in her field of marketing. Unwittingly, her first week of work she reported a supervisor in another department to his boss, because she felt setting up chairs for a big sessional meeting was not part of her job description. I am sure she came across as not being a team player. And no one wants to look back to his or her boss. You guessed it, within eight weeks she was no longer employed at that company. I really feel her acting as a non team player and reporting another supervisor to his boss could have led to her dismissal. What do you think?

Key 9: Know the Supervisor’s Expectations
I have found that some supervisors are more obvious about what they want while others are habitually vague. However, I remind my clients that it is their responsibility to do the work and it is always a good idea when they are given a task, to confirm what it is they are being asked to do and by what date. I asked Marisa "What is the best way for you and Melanie to communicate the expectations of the tasks she expects you to do?" It has been my experience that often times my male clients need more coaching in a counseling session to ask for additional direction. Have you found this to be true?

Key 10: Never Speak Ill of the Company

Marisa expressed to me, "It’s just that in my other job I really hated some of the policies and procedures implemented. I haven’t been in this position long but what if something similar comes up at this job?"

I replied, "It is true that no company is perfect and there will always be something to complain about. Remember, as we discussed before, your main goal is to stay employed and avoid the discomfort you have just experienced with unemployment. So, I feel, it is important that you do not be seen as approving or supporting any negative comments that come from your coworkers and do not engage in negative comments yourself. What are some channels established at your company that you can go through if you have a legitimate complaint?"

Key 11: If You Are Unhappy, Do Not Broadcast it at Work
I have found that many of my clients are worried about voicing their complaints about their job and their possible desire to leave. I discuss with my clients that it is best to pick and choose the time of your departure from your job if it comes to that. Marisa asked, "But what if I really can’t stand it in my new job and want to leave? I don’t expect this to happen but I also know that no job is a perfect one."

I stated, "While you are still figuring out if you want to leave, I encourage you to not let it be known to your employer until you are ready to give an official notice. No company wants to retain someone who is open about his or her desire to leave." Are you currently treating a client who needs to be coached about their open complaints concerning the company they work for? Do you need to help them create a plan for departure, if it would come to that?

I once utilized a print company who had a male preparation employee, Travis, who did an excellent job of processing my address labels. However, by the tone of his voice he clearly had some disagreements with his employer. He made the mistake on a Friday of mentioning that he and his wife were thinking of moving from Indiana to Alabama. On Monday and Tuesday, he called off sick. When he returned to work on Wednesday, his employer had hired a replacement and he was jobless. I am wondering if Travis had not been such a disgruntled employee, if his employer would not have ceased upon the first opportunity to replace him, even though his work performance was excellent.

In this section, we discussed the eleven keys your client can use to build his or her workplace power once they get hired, In order to retain their employment. The eleven keys to build workplace power are: learn to like the people in the office; communicate often with the supervisor; try not to turn down an invitation; socializing with the boss; socialize with co-workers; making co-workers feel good about themselves; do not forget who hired you; try not to violate a confidence; don’t refuse an assignment if you can help it; know the supervisor’s expectations; try not to speak ill of the company; and if you are unhappy, do not broadcast it at work.

Busse 195- 201.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
van Hooft, E. A. J., Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Wanberg, C. R., Kanfer, R., & Basbug, G. (2020). Job search and employment success: A quantitative review and future research agenda. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication.

Lord, S. E., McGurk, S. R., Nicholson, J., Carpenter-Song, E. A., Tauscher, J. S., Becker, D. R., Swanson, S. J., Drake, R. E., & Bond, G. R. (2014). The potential of technology for enhancing individual placement and support supported employment. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 37(2), 99–106.

Schonebaum, A., & Boyd, J. (2012). Work-ordered day as a catalyst of competitive employment success. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 35(5), 391–395.

What are the 11 keys that your client can use to build his or her workplace power?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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