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The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier

ISBN: 978-1-118-41368-5
208 pages
April 2013, Jossey-Bass
The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, and Will Make You Happier (1118413687) cover image
The key to understanding how your manager calculates your real value—and how to boost it

More than anything else, you need to understand exactly how your employer evaluates you, and your annual performance review doesn't tell the whole story. In The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, Cy Wakeman shows how to calculate how your true value to your organization by understanding your current and future potential against your "emotional expense"—the toll your actions and attitudes take on the people around you. With Cy's clear, straight-to-the-point advice, you can confront and reduce your emotional costliness, become an invaluable member of your team, and even learn to love your job again.

  • Reveals a formula for measuring your current performance, future potential, and the biggest detractor, your emotional expense
  • Shares real-world advice for quickly boosting your value and becoming a highly-valued, sought after employee and teammate
  • Builds on the lessons in Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman's first book for leaders and managers

The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is the essential guide for boosting your value, owning your career, and becoming the kind of employee no organization can afford to lose.

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INTRODUCTION: The New Rules of the Game 1

Part One THE NEW VALUE EQUATION 15

1 Your Current Performance 17

2 Your Future Potential 37

3 Your Emotional Expensiveness 61

Part Two THE FIVE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE 75

4 Rule #1: Your Level of Accountability Determines Your Level of Happiness, so DON'T HOPE TO BE LUCKY. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. 77

5 Rule #2: Suffering Is Optional, so DITCH THE DRAMA! 97

6 Rule #3: Buy-In Is Not Optional. YOUR ACTION, NOT OPINION, ADDS VALUE. 123

7 Rule #4: Say "Yes" to What's Next. CHANGE IS OPPORTUNITY. 137

8 Rule #5: You Will Always Have Extenuating Circumstances. SUCCEED ANYWAY. 149

Call to Action Put the New Rules to Work 165

NOTES 173

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 175

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 179

INDEX 181

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Cy Wakeman is a dynamic speaker, business consultant, author, and trainer. Her first book, Reality-Based Leadership, is a straightforward and practical guide for leaders who want to reduce office drama and improve personal accountability with their teams. She holds a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers' Association and received the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award from the World HRD Congress in Mumbai.

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#7 New York Times Best Seller (Hardcover Advice, How-To, and Miscellaneous)
#5 New York Times Best Seller (Hardcover Business)
#2 Wall Street Journal Best Seller (Hardcover Business)
#10 Publishers Weekly Best Seller (Hardcover Nonfiction)
#7 USA Today Best Seller (Money)
#10 Chicago Sun-Times Best Seller (Nonfiction)

"The best way to be valued at work is to add a ton of value, and Cy Wakeman shows you exactly how to do it in today's fast-moving, technology-fueled workplace. She'll also guide you to getting your MOJO back as an employee. An invaluable tool for those who want success at work and at home."
—Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times bestselling author, MOJO and What Got You Here Won't Get You There

"I don't know how she topped Reality-Based Leadership, but she did. This is, simply put, a GREAT book! Every business needs to buy every employee a copy of it."
—Larry Winget, New York Times bestselling author, Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get A Life and It's Called Work for a Reason!

"Cy Wakeman's approach and methodology have made a profound difference with myself and my team. If you are interested in taking back control of your personal business success, read The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace. Every person within an organization can reclaim his or her ability to add significant value, and she will show you how."
—John McVeigh, president, O.C. Tanner Recognition Company Limited

"This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt dissatisfied, unappreciated, or fed up with his or her job. In The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, Cy Wakeman delivers (with tough love and humor) an incredibly liberating reality check: you are the cause of your own suffering, and only you have the power to end it. Wakeman compels readers to ditch the excuses, take back control of their happiness at work, and discover that the jobs they've always wanted were there all along."
—Chris Powell, executive vice president, human resources, Scripps Networks Interactive

"It gets more challenging every year to ensure employees are highly engaged, and it's a critical concern for leaders in nearly every organization today. The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace reveals what's been missing from well-intentioned, yet often ineffective, engagement programs: an expectation that employees have significant responsibility for their happiness at work. Once we embrace the reality that engagement is tied to personal accountability, organizations will have a happier, more engaged workforce, and healthier bottom lines."
—Caroline Stockdale, senior vice president, human resources, Medtronic

"In The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, Cy Wakeman challenges us to take a look in the mirror, give up our self-defeating stories, and accept responsibility for our own success. With her quick wit and compelling stories, Wakeman turns doubters into believers who demonstrate their value and find happiness at work. She's the straight-shooting yet empowering mentor you wish you had."
—Philip Wilner, vice president and medical director, behavioral health, New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

"Cy Wakeman's new book is for every member of the workforce who wants to elevate his or her performance to a higher level. The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace provides invaluable tools for converting the energy spent on feelings of frustration, complacency, and hopelessness into fuel for finding happiness and achieving your fullest potential. Cy’s philosophy and tools have been invaluable in helping our leaders learn to embrace accountability, and the positive response from employees has been overwhelming."
—Alyson Guthrie, chief human resources officer, Crowell & Moring

"One of my biggest disappointments as a CEO is the significant number of good employees we have lost because some incident changed their attitude almost overnight. It is great to finally have a book that helps employees understand how management views them and that they can totally control that perception. The greatest benefit to The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is that it teaches us all how to be more accountable in our own careers. Every college student should read this to prepare them for the real world and how to thrive in it."
—Mike Rydin, president and CEO, HCSS

"In The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace, Cy Wakeman reveals that the key ingredient to both high performance and happiness is simple: personal accountability. With a no-holds-barred approach and practical tools, Wakeman helps employees discover a newfound sense of happiness and control in their work."
—Kim Ferrarie, senior vice president, human resources, Air Liquide

"Cy Wakeman's newest book is for every member of the workforce who wants to elevate his or her performance to a higher level of greatness. The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace provides tools for converting any disengagement you are feeling toward your current company into powerful action to re-engage and achieve your fullest potential. We are using Cy’s philosophy and tools in our leadership development programs, and the response has been overwhelming! I highly recommend this book if you are ready to challenge yourself to let go of any blockers that are preventing you from being your best."
—Ken Myers, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Hospira, Inc.

"The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is an essential guide to facing the real challenges you deal with every day and seizing the opportunities they represent, instead of feeling victimized. Cy Wakeman shows how you can adopt a no-nonsense approach to owning your career and becoming the kind of employee no organization would want to lose."
—Ed Bjurstrom, general manager, Gilead Sciences

"The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is spot on! It provides a suite of tangible tools that empower employees to take control of their work life. We all want to determine our own destiny, how we contribute at work, and how we feel about it. This book is key to moving forward! The messages Cy provides are easy to understand and apply across environments."
—Shannon Bell, executive coach and organizational development consultant

"If you are an employee or you have employees, The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is a must-read for thriving in today’s marketplace. Cy provides simple steps to developing a culture where employees are contributors and drivers of your basic operating principles, and she provides tips on how to enhance business results by creating relationships that are meaningful and success-filled for employees, coworkers, and your business."
—Cindy Williams, organizational development specialist, Bayer CropScience

"The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is a gem for anyone holding a job, and for those who evaluate the work of other people. Totally engaging, funny at times, and an easy read. This book is packed with questions to ask yourself and guidance toward the best, most productive answers to drive success for yourself, your coworkers, and your business. Cy has hit this one out of the park!"
—Gordon Whitten, serial entrepreneur and innovation expert

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April 30, 2013
THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE

THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE:

Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, &

Will Make You Happier 

By Cy Wakeman

“The best way to be valued at work is to add a ton of value, and Cy Wakeman shows you exactly how to do it in today's fast-moving, technology-fueled workplace. She'll also guide you to getting your MOJO back as an employee. An invaluable tool for those who want success at work and at home.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, New York Times bestselling author, MOJO and

What Got You Here Won't Get You There

While the American economy sputters along, the workforce is suffering a crisis of its own, with consecutive years of alarmingly high levels of job dissatisfaction. Gallup estimates that 69% of employees are disengaged or actively disengaged, and a recent survey by Right Management revealed that 86% of Americans are so dissatisfied that they plan to look for a new job in 2013. Employees feel overworked, underappreciated, and fed up.

To explain this widespread unhappiness, many have pointed fingers at the lingering cutbacks of the recession and the ill effects of our technology-fueled, always-on work culture. But according to mental health counselor turned workplace consultant Cy Wakeman, neither are to blame.

In her new book THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE: Know What Boosts Your Value, Kills Your Chances, & Will Make You Happier (Jossey-Bass; April 30, 2013), Wakeman delivers a tough reality-check: you are the source of your own misery, and only you have the power to end it. Grounded in the principles of psychology and her experiences as a mental health counselor, Wakeman argues that a person’s unhappiness at work has nothing to do with their circumstances. Rather, it’s a direct result of the drama they create in reaction to those circumstances.

After a successful career as a counselor, Cy went on to spend the next 18 years as a speaker, consultant, and trainer, working with over 200 companies each year to reduce drama in the workplace. Drawing on extensive on-the-ground surveys, research, and one-on-one sessions, THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE reveals that the happiest and most successful people don’t have better opportunities, better bosses, more empowering cultures, or the most extensive benefits; they simply refuse to be victims of their circumstances. Happy workers have high levels of personal accountability, defined as the core belief that you make an impact on your circumstances and can choose your own course. Wakeman calls them “reality-based” workers, and the key difference is that they accept their challenges as the conditions under which they must succeed – and spend less energy complaining about them. And these employees are not only happier at work, but they are drastically more valuable to their organization, as well.

“I conducted a study with more than 50,000 employees, and discovered that the people who were highly accountable were both happier and more successful than others, regardless of their circumstances,” says Wakeman. “The success factor is a no-brainer. When you are a resilient, personally accountable employee who freely gives your talent and is willing to support the organizational direction without drama, you are a great deal to your boss, and you are the one that companies are looking to hire.”

Wakeman acknowledges that the challenges workers face today are real, and they are tough. But rather than seeing those challenges as the things that must change in order to succeed, Wakeman equips readers with the knowledge they need to succeed in spite of them – and become happy, high-performing, reality-based employees who actually look forward to going to work. Chock-full with original research, practical assessments and tools, and real-life stories of people who have followed Wakeman’s advice, THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE lays out the five realities that people must embrace in order to become happy and bulletproof at work (see attached). Along the way, Wakeman also helps readers calculate their true value at work, ditch the (often subconscious) drama, and kick the self-sabotaging behaviors that are making them miserable and holding them back from success.

“For too many people, work is a huge source of stress and unhappiness,” says Wakeman. “I want to help them see that it doesn’t have to be that way. Work isn’t something to dread or survive. It can be a place where you live your passions and truly make a difference. Your circumstances are what they are, but your reaction to them is up to you. In other words, your suffering is optional.”

With Wakeman’s signature tough-love approach, THE REALITY-BASED RULES OF THE WORKPLACE offers an indispensable guide to achieving career happiness and success by empowering readers to ditch the drama, take back control of their happiness, and turn the job they have into the job they’ve always wanted.

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