#3: Unrealistic Expectations – My Crazy Office, Season 9

Kathi and Katherine talk about unrealistic expectations on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to someone whose boss makes promises to clients that cause his staff to overwork themselves.

Then we examine what a manager should do if they keep taking on demanding projects to keep the staff employed.

Tricks for Managing Hybrid Work Life: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 9

Kathi and Katherine talk about hybrid work life on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

What are some tricks for managing a hybrid work life?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

The Invisible One: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about being the invisible one at work on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Do you tend to be the invisible one at work?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Managing the Tension in Transitions: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about tension on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How can you manage the tension in transitions?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Career Reinvention: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about career reinvention on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How should you start preparing for a career reinvention?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Negotiating During a Pandemic

What are you negotiating for at work? Is it a promotion? A raise? Working from home full time? A new position? Working less? Changing teams? Retirement?

Whatever aspect of your work life you are currently negotiating, the pandemic makes an already unpredictable task more stressful then usual. Negotiating is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. It can be a sweat-provoking activity that causes many people to freeze and take what they are offered. Many of us don’t negotiate often enough to feel competent at it. So here is a crash course on how to negotiate – even in a pandemic. 

1 –Prepare and Plan. 

Know what you want. Know what you want in a perfect world and what you can live with in a pandemic world. Be realistic. This may require doing research.

2 – Clarify and Justify

Be direct and clear in your ask. Practice (on friends) asking for what you want. Get comfortable saying it. More importantly, come up with solid reasons for your ask. Is your request justifiable because of your market value? Does your promotion or raise make sense based on your accomplishments? Be ready with documents (sales reports, list of accomplishments, industry standards) that clarify and justify your position. 

3 – Ask for more than you want

This can be challenging for those of you who are uncomfortable advocating for yourself. It’s important to ask for more than you want, as you will most likely not get what you initially ask for.

4 – Waiting and silence are important.

Do not speak or write again until you get a response to your initial ask. Quickly speaking or writing to fill in the blank space will show the other person that you are uncomfortable. This is when we inadvertently lower the bar for what we could get. Waiting is where the sweating comes in. If you come off too eager or desperate, you will not get what you want.  

5 – Look for a Win/Win solution.

Both sides will want to win, so it’s okay to compromise. By being accommodating, you will be seen as a collaborator. Your negotiating partner will see you in a better light and will be more likely to strike a deal. 

6 – Get closure in writing

Make sure to close the negotiation with some kind of written agreement. Whatever you are able to negotiate, get it in writing. Verbal agreements are nice but they don’t protect you from possible backsliding or misinterpretation over time.


  • Avoid. Do not use the strategy of avoidance, hoping the situation will resolve itself.  Avoiding never works to your benefit.  It may take the pain of negotiating away, but the result will be less than what you could have received if you’d stepped up and stated what you wanted.
  • Play innocent. Put on your big adult pants and ask for what you want.  No one else will do it for you.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Do You Have Staff Who Are Afraid to Return to the Office?

In just a matter of days, the coronavirus pushed people inside their homes, accelerating a digital transformation around the world.

Getting workers out of their homes and back into offices is going to prove harder. According to a new survey by researchers at India-based workplace services firm Ionotrics and San Diego–based Global Workplace Analytics:

77 percent of the workforce wants to continue to work from home at least part of the time once the pandemic is over. That’s up from 60 percent one month ago. That’s a 132 percent increase from before the coronavirus crisis, according to the Work-from-Home Experience Survey in which more than 2,600 employees from around the world participated.

As the country is opening up, employees are faced with a decision – do they go back to the office or not? Many of my clients are telling me that members of their staff are fearful about returning. Compassion still reigns. You may have to consider each person, and the factors that they are grappling with. If you have a staff member who fits into any of the following categories, their return will most likely be delayed:

  • They have kids at home who need home schooling
  • They have underlying health concerns
  • They are over the age of 60
  • They live in a metro city and use public transportation

In some states, employees who fit into one of these categories may qualify for unemployment – if they must return to the office and are not able to. Other employees most likely need reassurance and to be listened to. It’s important to calm nerves and listen to staff concerns. Here are some guiding principles:

  • Ask your staff what they need in order to return to the office safely.
  • Plan and communicate how you are preparing the office for their return
    • Cleaning – Describe your ongoing plan for keeping the office clean from Covid 19
    • Spacing – Follow the CDC’s guidelines for distance in the office
    • Wearing facemasks and gloves – Will you be supplying them or do they need to bring their own?
    • Rotating schedules – 2 days in, 2 days at home. Think low capacity
      commuting before or after rush hours.
    • Change in dress code – I’m going to predict that the workplace is about to get really casual
  • Take it slow. 

Coming out of the cave after a long winter, a bear needs time to acclimate. You may want to start with visiting the office ahead of opening, and encouraging your staff to do the same. Then try two days the first week and see how it goes.

  • Offer emotional support if possible. 

Professional coaches, therapists and clergy can talk to your staff about their mental health. It will pay off in the long run.

  • Be transparent about possible layoffs, furloughs or job eliminations. No surprises please, let them prepare.
  • Have real communication about diversity.  

Create guidelines for behavior in these conversations, and have a moderator who keeps the conversation constructive. Offer books and movies as resources. Have conversations that allow staff to express their fear, pain, and anger. This kind of sharing can be extremely emotional, so make sure you to have professional support around it.

  • Practice People Over Profit  

Sure, we are working to earn money, and companies must be profitable to hire people, and I know that in some industries robots will replace people. Given this reality, how can you make the workplace a desirable and safe place so that people want to work for you? 

Please let us know how the transition back to the office works for you and your company.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Anxious About Re-entry to the Office?

Re-entry anxiety, it’s a real phenomenon. While one part of you may be eager to get back into the world to experience a semi-normal life, another part of you may be petrified. Going back to the office, venturing outdoors, visiting with friends – all of these activities that used to be automatic can now spark waves of fear and anxiety. 

Why? Because your mind has gotten used to a certain way of living during the pandemic that feels safe and under your control.  Sheltering in place may be confining, but it is predictable. You know exactly what is coming into and what is going out of your environment. You know how to safely manage your life.

Re-entry adds a range of new ingredients – especially other people – that can literally feel hazardous to your health.

So how do we handle our fear of re-entering?

  • Acknowledge that re-entry anxiety is understandable and real. It’s the outcome of sheltering in place in a safe environment that you can control. Going outside of that environment will naturally spark some fear.
  • Identify your specific fears. If you are someone who is physically vulnerable to the virus, you may fear contracting it because of more exposure to more people. If you are someone who is generally anxious, your anxiety may be heightened due to anticipatory anxiety. Are you afraid of large crowds? Confined spaces? Returning to work in general? Public transportation? Identify the specifics so that you can address them.
  • Once you know the fears, talk about them with others. Better to voice your anxiety than to hold it in. You can do this with a sympathetic friend, a family member, or a hired professional. You may want to consult a physician if you have specific medical concerns or psychological counselor if the anxiety feels debilitating. 
  • Construct a plan to re-enter that is cautious and gradual. The treatment for anxiety is not to stay locked in. It is to slowly, carefully expose yourself to more experiences so that you can find a way to re-enter your former life. You want to respect the anxiety without letting it hold you hostage.
  • If your re-entry anxiety involves work, talk it over with your employer. Many companies are eager to discuss re-entry with their staff and to construct a plan that can help them feel safe. Perhaps you can create a reduced schedule or minimal commuting for the time being.
  • Keep doing the activities and routines that you find nourishing. While sheltering in place, have you enjoyed cooking? Do you have an exercise routine that gives you energy? Is there a creative pastime (drawing, singing, dancing) that you’ve put into practice? Those activities can be grounding and soothing to you as you begin to re-enter your former life.

One more thing, if part of what you fear involves returning to a competitive workplace or working endless hours, you may want to consider some longer-range changes. Do you need to re-design your job? Do you need to look for a different work situation altogether? You may not be ready to make any immediate changes, but you can begin to contemplate the kind of work life and home life that will ultimately work for you.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.