Understanding the Important Distinction Between Community Association Managers and Property Managers

By John Ganoe, CAE, CAMICB Executive Director

A common mistake in state legislatures considering community association manager licensing – and among the general public – is to lump community association managers and property managers into the same bucket. While both are very important roles, they are distinctly different professions with functions, skill sets and responsibilities specific to each.

A community association manager can manage every type of community: condominium associations, homeowner associations, resort communities and commercial tenant associations.  A community association manager works directly with prcommunity-property-managementoperty owners and homeowners.

Property managers oversee individual rental units or a group of rental units, such as an apartment complex. They’re responsible for managing the entire property while community association managers are responsible for common areas – not individually owned properties.

“From a legislative standpoint, this incorrect categorization occurs because state legislators misunderstand the nature of community association management,” said Matthew Green, Director, State Affairs for the Community Associations Institute (CAI).  “They believe that community association management skills are identical to those of a property manager without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities of these two positions.”

This misunderstanding of the two professions often bleeds into more general conversations occurring in this space. Compounding this is the reality that there’s a slight overlap in a couple of the duties performed. For example, both property managers and community association managers supervise certain maintenance activities, such as swimming pool upkeep and trash removal. But it’s important to understand that community association managers oversee and direct all aspects of running the business operation. This means, they authorize payment for association services; develop budgets and present association financial reports to Board members; direct the enforcement of restrictive covenants; perform site inspections; solicit, evaluate and assist in insurance purchases; and, even supervise the design and delivery of association recreational programs.

Property managers are responsible for managing the actual property and therefore handle the physical assets of the unit at the owner’s request. Property managers generally oversee rental units and leases. Their responsibilities might include finding or evicting tenants, collecting rent and responding to tenant complaints or specific requests. If a property manager is responsible for a vacation or second home, he or she may arrange for services such as house sitting or local sub-contracting necessary to maintain that property.  Alternatively, an owner may opt to delegate specific tasks to a property manager and choose to handle other duties directly.

Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS, who is the Director of Community Management at River Landing, a private gated golf course community in Wallace, NC, views the distinction this way,

“While property managers are generally charged with overseeing physical structures that are used by people who are not the owners of the property, association managers represent the property owners themselves and are involved in just about every aspect of the overall community. For instance, if a garage door is broken at a rental house, the tenant would call a property manager or owner/landlord. But if there’s a pothole that needs repair or if a neighbor’s dog is running loose through the neighborhood, that’s a task for the community association manager who both maintains the common areas and upholds the governing rules. To me, community association management is a more holistic approach that contributes to the overall quality of life for all the owners in a community.”

Green emphasized, “While some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. It’s critical that community association management be recognized as distinct from property management, because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills.”

“Because of this, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) offers and maintains the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential, the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives,” added Sara Duginske, MS, CAMICB’s Director of Credentialing Services. “Earning the CMCA credential means an individual has taken and passed the rigorous CMCA examination, proving they have a solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager.”

For community association managers, the bottom line is they understand and are experienced and knowledgeable in the many facets of running a business operation, assuring they provide the best possible service to the associations for which they are responsible.

CAMICB was established in 1995 to develop and administer the CMCA program. CAMICB insists on high ethical standards for community association managers because it not only strengthens the CMCA program, but protects consumers and associations that hire community association managers.

Bored with your job? Don’t quit! Tips for overcoming dissatisfaction

I was recently talking to a very senior executive working for a major multinational corporation who said he was feeling “underwhelmed” in his job. The job he had a few years earlier was as a commercial leader and market-facing CEO for a smaller, but still substantial business. He left that company for what he believed would be a bigger opportunity.
When I asked him why he was feeling underwhelmed, he said he didn’t feel challenged or utilized up to the level of his experience and capabilities. It wasn’t about his title or his compensation; he said those were in line with his expectations. What he had a problem with was his role, his leverage within the company, and the lack of intellectual challenge. He said, “They’re underutilizing me. I am capable of so much more. I can deliver mountains. But they have me shoveling small piles.”

Underwhelmed can be overwhelming

That specific flavor of dissatisfaction is incredibly common in executives at big corporations. I’ve heard that same sentiment hundreds of times during my career as a senior leader. I learned to spot it a mile away. An executive would be hired in from the outside, and during their first year or two, they would begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. They missed the feeling of moving mountains at their previous firm. Now they felt underutilized and underwhelmed. Some thought they were hired to do certain very high-level tasks, but the work that actually fell on them was much less important.

The way most successful executives I’ve known have tried to fight that underwhelm was by really digging into their role. They would summon a great burst of energy, bring an impressive amount of commercial intensity to their work, and get fully engrossed in it. As a result, they would deliver tasks assigned to them quickly. But as soon as the high of accomplishment wore off, they’d be back to feeling underwhelmed.

The worst way to react to corporate underwhelm is to let it affect your work and your attitude in the office. Getting depressed, moping around the halls, showing up late, losing your drive — these are things that can kill your reputation. Don’t fall into that trap.

Left unchecked, underwhelm often ends with the executive applying for a transfer or leaving the company entirely. I’ve heard more than a few colleagues say, “This isn’t worth it. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and do this anymore. I’m not having fun.”

I believe corporates should form support groups or mentorship programs for their senior teams to share, collaborate, and learn from one another’s experiences. At the time of this writing, there is a popular television series on Showtime titled Billions. It’s about a group of high achievers who run a hedge fund in New York. In the show, lead character Bobby Axelrod understands the need to constantly reprogram his high performers, so he has a full-time, in-house shrink on staff to keep them functioning at the highest level. I am not suggesting corporates rush to hire a full-time therapist, but I am suggesting that staff need someone to chat with and learn from in a safe, collaborative environment.

Pause and step back

If you find yourself suffering from corporate underwhelm, there is a strategy to combat it. That strategy is rooted in something my father used to say to me. “In any bad situation,” he would say, “you can only change yourself. You can’t count on changing the situation or the people around you.” In other words, each of us holds the power to overcome any obstacle by looking inward, not outward.

If you are experiencing underwhelm, the first thing to do is, pause and step back. Do not make rash decisions, such as blaming the employer. I’ve heard too many executives say things like, “It’s the company’s fault this isn’t working out. They’re to blame for my skills being underutilized. They should never have hired me.”

After you pause and step back, go back and review your playbook. Did you set goals for yourself that are too low? Maybe that’s why you don’t feel challenged. Can you increase your goals to make them more difficult to reach? Up your aspirations?

Study your playbook and look for hidden opportunities you may have missed. Is there an opportunity for a pivot? Can you recalibrate the playbook and get creative about reaching new or existing goals? That’s what leaders do; they constantly reassess and look for new ways forward. Consider new strategies. Brainstorm innovations. Just the exercise of reexamining your playbook with some of these steps will start to lift the underwhelm.

Remember that you were hired because of your talents and abilities. Just because you’re feeling underwhelmed doesn’t change that. Always carry yourself with regality and confidence — like the lion, no matter how much you may feel like a goat. Your team looks up to you, so always act and behave like someone who deserves their admiration and respect. You have to act like a king if you want to be treated like one.

By Vishal Agarwal bestselling author of “Give to Get.” As a Senior Leader, he has navigated corporate life for the past 24 years. He has served as a Top Global Executive for General Electric and as a senior leader at Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC).

6 work opportunities that can hurt your career

A constant forward trajectory is an ideal path for your career. Unfortunately, career paths are rarely a straight line, often involving experiences that can end up being a step backward rather than forward. Even a salary increase or promotion, for example, could be considered a step back if it takes you away from your passions and talents.

Maintaining a forward path is easier if you’re able to recognize opportunities that, despite some advantages, are ultimately a step backward in your career. Here are six examples.

1. Receiving a promotion that detaches you from your passion and skills

It’s hard turning down a promotion. Many of us need a steady income to cover the bills, so turning down a promotion seems counterintuitive to living life.

In an ideal situation, you’ll earn a promotion to a position that utilizes your skills and passions, though that’s not always the case. A promotion that shifts you to a department or task that doesn’t use your strengths can result in reduced work results down the line, transforming your position from secure to on the hot seat. Beyond that, an additional workload involving tasks you have no passion for can lead to increased workplace stress.

2. Accepting a speaking opportunity for an unfamiliar topic

Public speaking presents an excellent opportunity for establishing new connections and leads. Showing your expertise via public speaking helps to build your brand and enhance your integrity. However, being tasked to speak about a topic you have no interest or experience with can do the opposite, devaluing your brand and potentially showing you as unprepared and not passionate.

There’s nothing wrong with learning about a new topic to appear competent, though investing too much time and public attention on a subject beyond your specialty can detract from your actual goals and skills. If your brand exists in too many niches, others may be skeptical if you may spread yourself too thin.

3. Taking on a workload that presents no time for side projects

A promotion typically involves a heavier workload, though a job that removes any time whatsoever from your downtime is unhealthy. Side projects from some entrepreneurs, conducted away from or in the office, tend to evolve into successes. You can anticipate a heavier workload, though if it’s derailing a lucrative side project of yours, the workload may be doing more long-term harm than good.

4. Working in an industry that doesn’t align with your long-term goals

Receiving a better role at work is technically a step forward in that industry, though if you were previously considering switching industries due to passion and interest, it could be a step backward. Despite a higher salary and glowing new title, you may spend ample time deliberating what could have been if you followed your passions. Ask yourself about the potential of your current position, asking if being the CEO of your present company would satisfy you more than starting your endeavor with your passions and talents in mind. If not, the promotion may not be a positive thing, after all.

5. Staying in a job that no longer presents learning opportunities

Despite a higher salary and new title, your time spent at work can feel pointless if you’re learning nothing at all. Every industry is continually evolving, so even the highly experienced and knowledgeable in a specific niche should be learning at work on a daily basis.

However, if your new promotion puts you in a position where you do the same thing day after day or are monitoring those who are similarly disinterested, the promotion can be a step back. You could be spending your time on a creative venture with greater potential instead.

6. Having an increased role with more travel

If you love to travel and enjoy your job, then a promotion that involves ample travel can be a great thing. However, if traveling stresses you out, the new role may not be a good fit, even if you don’t mind the actual work. Traveling abroad has numerouspsychological impacts involving fatigue and lack of focus for some. Having to travel, on top of a more significant workload, can present a recipe for disaster and inefficient work results.

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a leading career advice blog. Her career development advice has been featured on Forbes, Levo, The Muse, Business Insider and other top publications. She had the honor of participating in Mashable’s #BizChats with the biggest names in the career world and was honored to have been listed as one of the top career websites and career experts to follow.

This post was originally published on Punched Clocks.

5 things you should include in a killer, post-interview thank you (template included)

Any time we interview someone, we wait to see whether they’ll write a thank you note or not. You’d be surprised how often they don’t — and that’s right about when we decide not to hire them.
Sending a post-interview thank you note can really set you apart from other candidates because it signals your continued interest and solidifies a positive impression with the interviewer. Do not underestimate the follow-up! I’ve actually had hiring managers tell me to wait to schedule a second interview until we receive a thank-you note. Yup, it’s that important.
Avoid just going through the motions, because employers will see right through a generic note. Instead, tailor your message to the specific interviewer and company by including the following:

  1. Your appreciation for the meeting (the “thank you” part!)
  2. Something specific about the interview or items discussed
  3. Why you are excited about this opportunity
  4. A brief explanation of why you’d be a good fit for the job
  5. Next steps and your contact information

Make sure to send the note (via email) within 24 hours — and be sure to send one to everyone you interviewed with, not just the hiring manager.

Still not sure what to write? Here’s an example:

Dear [interviewer name],

Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me about the [job title] position. I really enjoyed learning more about the position and your description of the day-to-day duties really helped me gain a better understanding of the responsibilities. Our conversation confirmed my extreme interest and I would be thrilled to bring my editorial experience, specifically my interview expertise, to benefit the company goals.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you again for the opportunity to interview. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have additional questions!

Best regards,

[Email address]
[Phone number]

Something thoughtful and concise like that will usually do the trick — although we’ve got some other great thank you note templates right here. Now eliminate unnecessary distractions and get to writing!

By Lauren McGoodwin  This article originally appeared on Career Contessa.

This US city has the highest percentage of ‘burned out’ workers

Photo: Christian K. via Flickr

You probably think your city has a more burned out workforce than anywhere else, but you might be fooled. New research from compensation, culture and career monitoring platform Comparably, found that D.C. takes the cake for the most “burnout” among its employees.

What’s making people so stressed out? The findings — released during National Stress Awareness Month — show that “unclear goals” are the top source of stress, at 41% of those surveyed — also the top reason as last year.

Survey results were from workers at different American companies of different sizes, mostly in the tech field. So, which cities were feeling it most? Here’s the list:

  • Washington, D.C.: 63%
  • San Francisco: 60%
  • Houston: 60%
  • Seattle: 59%
  • Los Angeles: 58%
  • Boston: 58%
  • Atlanta: 58%
  • San Diego: 58%
  • New York: 57%
  • Chicago: 57%
  • Dallas: 57%
  • Phoenix: 57%
  • Denver: 56%
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida: 55%

More men than women feel burned out in the office

The numbers show that 60% of men say they feel this way, compared to 57% of women. In relation to age, 60% of those ages 51-55 felt burned out – the most of any age bracket — with ages 18-25 coming in a surprisingly close second.

In terms of burned-out departments, 70% of those at the Executive level are experiencing the feeling, followed by HR (69%), Communications (65%) and Engineering (61%). Departments filling out the last three slots were IT (56%), Operations (55%) and Design (54%).

What workers are stressed about on the job

There are more sources of stress than “unclear goals,” although it was also found to be the most popular factor among both men (44%) and women (37%) and was the most popular response across every gender, department and age group.

Overall respondents selected both “bad manager” and “commute” as their second source of stress, (each at 16%), “difficult co-worker” at 14% and “too long hours” at 13%. Within the 18-25 age group, “unclear goals” came in first place at 41%, then “commute” (18%), followed by “too long hours” (14%), “bad manager” (14%) and “difficult co-worker” (13%).

“Research shows that decompressing daily also makes a huge difference,” Comparably CEO Jason Nazar told Ladders. “I always encourage my team to spend 15 minutes every morning starting the day with intention or meditation, and to take a 20-30 minute walk in the afternoon so that the daily stresses of the day don’t build up.”

Jane Burnett By Jane Burnett for http://www.theladders.com

Making the Tough Calls

(DNY59/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Bosses often have to make hard decisions, and delaying doing so can hurt your team and your organization.

One of the responsibilities of leadership is making the hard decisions, but all too often, leaders avoid doing so. In the short term, avoiding the tough call can prevent conflict, but in the long term, the decision can have negative repercussions on your group.

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review states that there are three reasons bosses defer tough decisions: they’re afraid of disappointing employees, they struggle with ambiguity, and they want to be seen as fair.

“Under the guise of fairness, leaders often avoid hard decisions that would separate out stronger performers from average performers, and, even more painfully, they fail to remove poor performers,” writes Ron Carucci.

He goes on to explain how failing to manage low performers can damage a team. “Differentiating levels of performance is a leader’s job,” Carucci says. “When you avoid decisions that do so, you dilute meritocracy and redefine contribution as merely one’s efforts, regardless of outcome.”

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

The single piece of advice that changed the course of my career

When I started my last corporate job, I asked experienced co-workers for advice and best-practices, and most of them told me something like: “Try to get in front of important people.”

That’s corporate code for sucking up.

It wasn’t my first time working for a large company. I’d seen a lot of suck ups get promotions in the past, and in a moment of weakness, I decided to listen to those idiots.

You “get in front of important people” by scheduling unnecessary meetings with random people, always saying something during meetings, pretending you’re working while you’re watching YouTube videos, and staying at the office until late when you’re not productive at all.

But sucking up didn’t feel right — I just couldn’t do it. It’s not my style. But it’s so tempting to do it because people get rewarded for that.

And who doesn’t want to get promoted? So you get lured in. That’s why I understand why people who start at corporations decide to play politics—you think it’s normal.

But “get in front of important people,” is horrible advice. Anything that is close to that, like “fake it till you make it,” or “just network your way up,” is also bad. It’s all based on appearances.

Thank god there’s another way to get rewarded.

I was lucky enough to finally meet a stand-up guy. He was a new VP in another department. We met at the elevator, talked a bit, hit it off, and decided to schedule some time to properly meet.

I thought he was very honest and confident, so I told him about the “getting in front of people” thing, and asked his opinion.

He said: “Stay out of the chit-chat. Do your work. Let your results speak for you.”

He said that he never played politics and he never applied for a manager role. He worked hard, people recognized his results, and THEY came to him with opportunities.

That’s the best piece of career advice I’ve ever received. It’s good because it’s simple. And it works for every single industry.

“Big ideas are usually simple ideas.” — David Ogilvy

But it’s also tough advice for people to take. It’s uncertain: Do your job and hope for the best. You get rewarded when you work hard.

It’s like when people say: “Good things will come in due time.”

“Yeah, right! I want to see instant results.”

Yes, and the kid wants his candy NOW. Calm down, honestly.

I get it: We’re obsessed with quick results and blueprints. We want people to tell us: Do X, and you will get Y.

But unfortunately, things are not that simple. Over the past few months, thousands of people joined my newsletter, more than a million read my articles — and from that exposure, I got new opportunities.

Want to know my exact blueprint? I HAVE NO IDEA.

I just do my work and I don’t procrastinate. I’m also not a magician. I can’t trick people to read my stuff or work with me.

No matter how many marketing hacks you use, A/B tests you run, meetings you schedule with important people, or meetups you visit — if you keep wasting time, you never get better at what you do.

Instead of always trying new things, or doing things that are not essential, try to keep things simple. Focus on your core competencies, and improve that. No gimmicks, just real work.

“Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” — Seth Godin

In the end, this is the best and simplest career advice I ever got: Do your job well (you don’t even have to be the best in the world, to start; be better than average people). That’s the ONLY career advice you need. And the results will come.

If they don’t, let me know, so we can go back to sucking up. But I’m pretty sure that will never happen. For now, let’s get back to work.

This article originally appeared on DariusForoux.com.

7 fitness tips for road warriors

Business trips can be jam-packed with presentations, meetings, buffet lunches and lots of sitting around. Even though the days begin early and you have a full workload, don’t neglect your commitment to fitness. Not only will you physically feel better, you will be more mentally focused.woman-exercsing-at-home

If you’ve been on a fitness plan at home, there’s no reason not to keep with it while you’re out of town.

“Continuing your wellness regimen including exercise and nutrition during business trips is critical for maintaining healthy habits you’ve developed,” says Andrea Levine, an ACE-certified group fitness instructor and Mayo Clinic-trained wellness coach, who teach classes at Equinox and New York Health & Racquet Club in New York City. “Often the biggest pitfall in losing or maintaining weight is stopping and then trying to start again; the more second nature a behavior is, the easier it is to stick with it. Further, if you travel frequently for work, unhealthy behaviors, particularly with nutrition, can sabotage the great work you’re doing at home to improve your health.”

We’ve rounded up tips for from fitness gurus who share how you can put a jump in your step with a little bit of effort the next time you’re on a business trip.

Make sure you pack what you need

Plan ahead and pack sneakers, work-out clothing, some portable, lightweight equipment or a yoga mat. Even though you’re probably packing by carry-on, these items are important to keep your commitment to fitness.

Run if you’re a runner

Levine suggests asking the concierge for a map of the area and recommended running routes. “This is a great way to see the city before or after meetings while doing something good for yourself,” she says. Be sure to be careful where you are going and to bring a cell phone for emergencies. Even better, bring a work friend to run with.

Book a hotel with a gym or pool

Most hotels have a fitness center. The center doesn’t have to be fancy, and will usually have some cardio equipment to get you through a basic work-out. Consider going early in the morning or if you get a chance to get back to the hotel mid-day, take a swim to burn the carbs from lunch.

Bring your own small gear for an in-room workout

Levine says to consider purchasing resistance bands or booty bands for a lightweight, compact piece of equipment you can carry anywhere. Opt for high-intensity interval training to get that heart rate up and boost your metabolic rate for the remainder of the day, she says. To do this, work for short periods of time at 75-85% of your maximum heart rate (or what feels like an 8 out of 10 on a scale of difficulty) followed by recovery.

“My go-to circuit is eight exercises, working 40 seconds on followed by 20 seconds of recovery,” she says. Another option is to perform Tabata intervals, working 20 seconds on with 10 seconds of recovery for 4 minutes.

“These circuits can be done with any combination of plyometric exercises e.g., jump squats, burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers) and strength exercises e.g., push-ups, kettlebell swings, shoulder presses,” she adds.

Keep moving

If nothing else, follow the sage advice of adding in more steps however you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further from the entrance of everywhere you go, pace the room while on the phone or even during an in-person meeting, if that’s an option, says Levine.

Take a walk around the place you’re visiting if the weather permits or if there’s an indoor mall nearby consider a stroll not only to exercise but to clear your head.

Use anything you can in your hotel room

Tadeo Arnold, a celebrity fitness trainer in Los Angeles, says don’t fret if you don’t have gym supplies in your luggage or a gym at your reach. Use what you do have at your disposal and multitask.

“You can also watch the morning news or listen to the radio while you’re getting in your exercises,” he says. And the best part all equipment free in your hotel room. Here are some ideas for a generic desk chair.

Start with dips. “Place both hands on the seat of the chair (facing away from the chair) and dip your body down and up to work your triceps,” he says. Next, try split squats. “Put one leg on the chair (facing the chair) and do a split squat down and up to work your upper legs,” he says. Follow those with push-ups. “Prop both feet on top of a chair (or a couch for easier resistance) and push up and down working your full upper body,” Arnold explains.

Go one step further and do chair squats. “Squat down until your bum hits the chair, then jump up,” he adds. This mini work-out can do done in minutes before breakfast packed with healthy protein for energy to tackle your day of meetings.

Try a flexible gym subscription service

One idea is ClassPass, a monthly subscription service providing access to a large network of small fitness studios and gyms. Class options include dance, yoga, indoor cycling and Pilates and others. With thousands of classes at more than 8,500 locations in 40 major cities in the United States, it’s easy to catch a class while on a business trip. An app makes sign-up for classes quick and convenient. They are also user reviews to help you choose a class.

“This usually results in lower costs than purchasing individual classes or services directly. While it is a monthly subscription plan, members can cancel any time before the next cycle is charged,” says Levine.

By Erica Lamberg for theladders.com

This is the personality type most annoyed by grammar mistakes

By Julie Boland and Robin Queen

I’m a cognitive psychologist who studies language comprehension. If I see an ad for a vacation rental that says “Your going to Hollywood!” it really bugs me. But my collaborator, Robin Queen, a sociolinguist, who studies how language use varies across social groups, is not annoyed by those errors at all.

We were curious: what makes our reactions so different?

We didn’t think the difference was due to our professional specialties. So we did some research to find out what makes some people more sensitive to writing mistakes than others.

What prior research tells us

Writing errors often appear in text messages, emails, web posts and other types of informal electronic communication. In fact, these errors have interested other scholars as well.

Several years before our study, Jane Vignovic and Lori Foster Thompson, who are psychologists at North Carolina State University, conducted an experiment about vetting a potential new colleague, based only on an email message.

College students who read the email messages perceived the writer to be less conscientious, intelligent and trustworthy when the message contained many grammatical errors, compared to the same message without any errors.

And at our own University of Michigan, Randall J. Hucks, a doctoral student in business administration, was studying how spelling errors in online peer-to-peer loan requests at LendingTree.com affected the likelihood of funding. He found that spelling errors led to worse outcomes on multiple dimensions.

In both of these studies, readers judged strangers harshly simply because of writing errors.

Typos vs. grammos

Over the last several years, we conducted a series of experiments to investigate how written errors change a reader’s interpretation of the message, including the inferences that the reader makes about the writer.

For our original experiments, we recruited college students to be our readers, and for our most recent experiment, we recruited people from across the country who differed widely in terms of age and level of education.

In all of our experiments, we asked our participants for information about themselves (e.g., age, gender), literacy behaviors (e.g., time spent pleasure reading, texts per day), and attitudes (e.g., How important is good grammar?). In the most recent experiment, we also gave participants a personality test.

In each experiment, we told our participants to pretend that they had posted an ad for a housemate and gotten 12 email responses. After reading each email, the participants rated the writer as a potential housemate, and on other factors like intelligence, friendliness, laziness, etc.

In fact, we had created three versions of each email. One version had no mistakes. One version included a few typos, e.g. abuot for about. Another version had errors involving words that people often mix up, such as there for their (we called these grammos).

Everyone read four normal messages, four with “typos,” and four with “grammos.” Different people read the other versions of each message, so that we could separate responses to the errors from responses to the message content.

Errors matter – but to whom?

In all of our experiments, readers rated the writers as less desirable if the emails included either typos or grammos. We expected this based on the earlier research, described above. In addition, people differed in their sensitivity to the two types of errors.

For example, college students who reported higher use of electronic media were less sensitive to the errors, though time spent pleasure reading had no effect. Prior research on writing errors had not compared types of errors, nor collected information about the readers, in order to see which reader characteristics influenced interpretation.

Both of these strategies for understanding how errors impact interpretation are unique to our research.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is from the experiment in which we gave participants the personality test. It measured the five traits considered to be important in personality research: extraversion (i.e. how outgoing or social a person is), agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness and neuroticism (prone to anxiety, fear, moodiness).

This experiment involved adults who varied a lot in age and education, but those differences didn’t affect their interpretation of the writing errors.

Unlike the initial study with college students, use of electronic media had no effect. What mattered were the personality traits: people responded to the writing errors based on their personality type.

People who scored high in conscientiousness or low on the “open-to-experience” trait were more bothered by the typos. People who scored low on agreeability were more bothered by the grammos. And people who scored low on “extraversion” were more bothered by both types of errors. In contrast, how people scored on neuroticism did not alter the impact of either type of error.

Remember, by being bothered we mean that the reader gave lower ratings on the housemate questionnaire to writers who made that type of error.

Why a short email could matter

Our findings – that our personality influences our interpretation of a message – complement other research that has found that our personality influences what we say and how we say it.

In 2015, Gregory Park and other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Cambridge analyzed Facebook posts from more than 66,000 users who had also completed a personality test based on the same five personality traits that we measured in our study. They found the use of words like love, party and amazing are correlated with extraversion, while the words sick, hate and anymore are correlated with neuroticism.

This research built upon earlier work by researchers Tal Yarkoni and James W. Pennebaker.

While reading our research, two key points need to be kept in mind. First, we think that errors influenced readers’ perception of the writer mainly because the writer was otherwise unknown – the short email was the only basis for judgment. Second, we didn’t ask the readers how likely they were to point out errors to the people who make them.

So, it doesn’t necessarily follow from our study that your friends will view you more negatively if you don’t proofread your email messages, or that you can predict which people will call you on it based on their personality.

But, you might want to keep these findings in mind when you write for an unknown audience or when you read something from someone you don’t know.

 This article was originally published on TheConversation.com.

7 clues you’re about to be fired — and what you can do about it

If you’re feeling that Monday morning dread every day of the week — you may be onto something. While it’s not always a great idea to trust your gut about every single work issue, here’s when it may be worth wondering if your job’s in danger.

1. You’re not that busy

Ryan Naylor, Founder of LocalWork.com, offered a few hints to keep an eye out for if you think you might be fired for performance reasons: “You might notice that you aren’t getting handed as many projects as you were before. Something might have happened, or maybe there was a series of events that caused these concerns to arise.”

2. You’re given loads of days off

Believe it or not, sometimes good things disguise really crummy things. If your boss is thinking about firing you, it’s entirely possible you’ll suddenly find yourself with a lot of vacation days. “Maybe they readily grant you days off so they don’t have to face you as they plan for your termination,” Naylor said.

3. They’re cooling off

If your boss or manager sense that you’ll soon be on the way out, you may suddenly find yourself “Being excluded from important department meetings that you are customarily included in,” according to Scott Samuels of Horizon Hospitality. You might be receiving fewer lunch invitations or group emails, and Naylor says “There could be a lack of eye contact and a disconnection that feels dismissive.”

4. Your company is downsizing

“If you think the company is downsizing and your position may be eliminated, look for worried managers, a lot of executive meetings and listen for break room rumors,” Naylor says.

Ask yourself if what your department produces is still in need, or whether there’s a slow-down in demand for your services in general. And while you’re at it, Naylor says, think about whether your department is “bloated during a time of financial distress for the company.”

If any of these signs ring true, Naylor says you have to consider the tough fact that you may be let go. “There isn’t much you can do if downsizing is imminent,” he says. What you should do though, is start planning. “Your layoff may include a severance package, but this doesn’t mean you should take a vacation,” Naylor says. “The longer you are unemployed, the less appealing you will be to recruiters and hiring managers.”

5. They’re playing the field

Samuels said a sure sign you’re about to be fired is finding a listing on an internet job board of your job (or one that’s really similar) posted by your company. Even worse though, is when you find a posting of your job in your city listed as “confidential.”

6. There’s a new kid in town

Samuels said a sure sign you’re probably going to be fired is when “other individuals start becoming overly involved in your department and/or with your responsibilities,” specifically ones they’d never been previously involved in.

7. You’re on probation

Finding out that you’ve been put on a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) by your direct supervisor and given a specific time frame to correct deficiencies, is never a great sign, according to Samuels.

What you can do

So, should you give up entirely and hand in your resignation? Not just yet.

Be proactive: As painful as it feels, Samuels said you should “be proactive in sitting down with your immediate supervisor and discussing/resolving issues that could result in termination.”

Step up your game: Samuels also advises putting in extra time and hours to “go above and beyond to show your commitment to the company.

Consult with HR: If at all possible, Samuels thinks it’s a good idea to “Sit down with your Human Resource Manager/Director and advise them about your observations. Ask them if there is anything that you need to be concerned about. Be tactful and careful when doing this so you don’t come across as being overly paranoid.”

Make nice: Naylor says: “If you want to keep your job, there are some things you can do. The fact that you weren’t fired out of hand might mean that they are hesitating, considering whether you are still a value-add. Show them that you are. Apologize for the incidents that led to this precarious position you are in. Show humility. Offer to show them improvement over a specific period of time. Be specific and, once again, be humble.”

Get moving: And if the inevitable is just around the corner, start planning now. Naylor says: “Your layoff may include a severance package, but this doesn’t mean you should take a vacation. The longer you are unemployed, the less appealing you will be to recruiters and hiring managers.”

By Rachel Weingarten for www.theladders.com