Our friends at Vault put together a fun little survey on your gambling habits at work and, no surprise, nearly 75% of you participate in a March Madness pool. What about the remainder? Well, there are the puritanical types who probably leave Bible verses on your desk, “My office is awash in sinners. Some day a real rain will come and these cubicles will be cleansed.” But then there’s the jerks who are simply all business:
“The next time I see [colleagues using work time to focus on office pools], I’m going to put an anonymous note on all the bosses desks to make them aware” warns one respondent. (Presumably they fall into the 22 percent of respondents who disapprove of workplace betting altogether.)
If you know someone who is capable of this level of dickishness, the temptation to violently pinch them with a stapler remover is great, however we’d ask that you refrain from this until they actually make good on their threat. Of course if you impress upon them that there is a valid purpose for studying a bracket, maybe they’ll let it slide.
Apparently it’s auditor punishment Monday. Or Tuesday, if you’re Down Under:
A lead KPMG auditor who only learnt about a $1.9 billion [about USD $1.88 billion] error in his audit of Allco Finance Group through a report in BusinessDay was benched for nine months by the corporate regulator yesterday.
To be completely fair, it sounds like it may have been a tricky audit:
Christopher Whittingham, a KPMG partner, led a core team of 20 audit staff that signed an unqualified audit report on the notoriously complex accounts for Allco for the year ended June 30, 2007.
Or was it?
The error detected by BusinessDay involved the 2007 accounts classifying $1.9 billion in liabilities owed by Allco as non-current, telling investors they fell due more than a year later. The liabilities were, in fact, current liabilities, meaning they were due within the year. The amount of current liabilities is a significant issue for shareholders when considering whether a company can meet its debts when they fall due.
Whatever the case may be, Mr Whittingham shouldn’t sweat it too much:
[T]he Australian Securities and Investments Commission released an enforceable undertaking with Mr Whittingham, which included a nine-month suspension, a $10,000 fine and 10 hours of professional education.
Well, at least he’s taking responsibility for his mistake and isn’t pointing his finger at anyone else or making excuses, right?
Mr Whittingham said he had relied on managers for aspects of the audit, the error had no bearing on Allco’s collapse and he had reissued its accounts the day after he became aware of the error.
Regulator suspends senior KPMG auditor [Sydney Morning Herald]
You may remember way back in January when we told you about Ernst & Young’s Jericho office putting the clamps down on its water closets. The long/short of it was that the firm made them only accessible by key like some flithy gas station shithouse.
As bad as that is, some businesses in Norway are taking things a bit further:
A boss in Norway has ordered all female staff to wear red bracelets during their periods – to explain why they are using the toilet more often.
The astonishing demand was revealed in report by a workers’ union into ‘tyrannical’ toilet rules in Norwegian companies. The study claimed businesses were becoming obsessed with lost productivity due to employees spending too much time answering the call of nature. It found 66 per cent of managers made staff ask them for an electronic key card to gain access to the toilets so they could monitor breaks. Toilets in one in three companies were placed under video-surveillance, while other firms made staff sign a toilet ‘visitors book’, the report by the Parat union said. It added: ‘But the most extreme action was taken by one manager who made women having their period wear a red bracelet to justify more frequent trips to the loo. ‘Women quite justifiably feel humiliated by being tagged in this way, so that all their colleagues are aware of this intimate detail of their private life.’
Now we don’t know if the key system is still in place in Jericho (residents can let us know) but this should give you pause.
No one at the Gem State’s tax commission wants to shut down a pumpkin stand operated by sibling 4 and 6 year-olds but this is not ‘Nam, THERE ARE RULES:
A representative of the tax commission stopped by the home of Dan and Kami Charais Friday and asked for the stand’s closure. The Charais’ 4- and 6-year-old children are operating the stand to raise money for school sports.
The tax commission representative who stopped by the home said she was not at liberty to talk about the incident when reached by phone this afternoon.
A representative for the tax commission in Coeur d’Alene when reached by phone today said it is not the state’s intention to shut anyone down but to educate them about state policy.
Tax commission threatens to shut down children’s pumpkin stand [Lewiston Tribune]
For the majority of the time you’re at work, what’s your attitude? Gung-ho and get-it-done? Excitement? Just happy to have a job? Get through the day so you can go home?
I started thinking about this after reading self-described Chief Happiness Officer Alexander Kjuerulf’s examination of “What the heck is work anyway?”
• If work is simply what you do because you have to, then happiness at work is almost impossible by definition.
• If work is only what you do for money, it eliminates all volunteer work.
• If work is only what you do for a purpose, then all aspects of your job that are not productive are no longer work.
I’m not claiming to have the answer yet, but as I see it, here are some elements of a definition of work that is conducive to happiness:
• Work is something you choose to do. You may not have a choice of whether or not to work, but you have choice in what work you do.
• Work is something you’re valued for. Either someone pays you for your work or someone takes the time and resources to organize your work.
• Work is an activity where you make a positive difference for someone else.
Whether or not you agree with where Kjuerulf is going with this, he is absolutely correct that work is a choice. You can choose not to work (and face the consequences on your lifestyle), and you can choose the work you do.
But there is a critical element that Kjuerulf leaves out – you also can choose your attitude. If the work you do every day is not something you love, you can choose to do it with an attitude that expresses your desire to do a good job, deliver an excellent end product, and respect those around you.
Even if you tend to love the work you do, but occasionally get an assignment you don’t enjoy or teammates who rub you the wrong way, you can still choose your attitude.
It’s that ability to choose that sets us apart. Those around us (bosses and colleagues, alike) make it easier to choose a positive attitude by appreciating our efforts and the attitude we demonstrate in accomplishing our goals.
What attitude will you choose today?
About the author:
Derek Irvine is a seasoned, internationally-minded management professional with more than 20 years of experience working across a diverse range of industries. An authority on the topics of employee engagement and recognition, he is a regular speaker at indus try and professional group conferences worldwide and is frequently published in leading media. He is coauthor of Winning with a Culture of Recognition.
Reprinted with permission from HR.com.
Probably one of the worst aspects of being in practice – or indeed of any working environment – is having to deal with difficult people. Sole practitioners who operate without staff and who are very choosy about their clients may only encounter difficult people in HMRC. At the other extreme, a manager in a larger firm might encounter difficult colleagues, junior staff, partnwell as fellow professionals in other firms and employees at all levels in HMRC.
Most of us have to deal with difficult people at work. How difficult a person is to deal with depends on our self-esteem, self-confidence and our professional courage. Dealing with difficult people is easier when the person is just generally obnoxious or when the behavior affects more than one person. The task becomes much tougher when they are attacking you personally or undermining your professional contribution.
Your basic options
One way or another you have to decide whether to ignore the difficult behavior (perhaps you will rise above it); to confront the person; delegate your dealings with them (whether to a colleague, a junior person or a more senior one); or remove the need for interactions (whether by you or them leaving the position that gives rise to the difficult interactions).
Ignore the behavior
This is easier said than done, and may come across as submissive or non-assertive. It is rarely the best solution except on those occasions where you will not need to interact with the person again. In such cases you may get what you need or resolve matters simply by ignoring their challenging behavior.
Confront the person
This requires you to be assertive and to avoid the temptation to be aggressive. This means you must accept that however difficult the other person may be, they still have rights and so do you. When you are assertive you recognize that you are entitled to information, clarification or a reply but that your entitlement is no greater (or less) than the other person’s entitlement to respect, politeness and honesty. When you act aggressively, you deny the other person their rights.
The other option is to act submissively or non-assertively, which means you deny your own rights. If this is your default position then you would probably benefit from some assertiveness training. It’s hard to respect non-assertive professional advisers.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Many of us have worked for an aggressive boss who we think revels in their ability to bully us. This may force us into a non-assertive stance. It will rarely enable us to get the best outcome.
Assertiveness is a skill. It’s not natural for everyone and can take practice to strike the right balance so that you do not come across as aggressive. Being naturally assertive is a skill worth developing.
Delegate or share
I’m a firm believer in keeping the end in mind, by which I mean focusing on the desired outcome.
Let’s say you are having difficulty securing the desired (fair) outcome in negotiations with an inspector at HMRC. Might someone else in the firm have ideas that could help resolve things? Is it more important that you be seen to have resolved things alone or that you/the firm secures the best possible outcome?
If a difficult client is taking too long to produce the necessary papers or to respond to your enquiries, perhaps someone else could go to meet them face to face or simply to collect things?
The drastic solution is to resign and move on, arrange for the difficult junior staff member to be moved on (following due process of course), or to tell the client that you no longer want to act for them (yes you can!).