Monday, 26 May 2014

Leadership at work

Lately I've been thinking about my career & whether I'd be happy doing what I'm doing for the next twenty years. At the moment, my answer is no.

My two top secret jobs before this were in positions of leadership & I lost most aspects of that coming in to this current job, which was a sacrifice I was willing to make because of the very unique nature of the work. However, I've been thinking that I could fit in well with a future career in a management role.

Before you get any ideas, I want to point out that I feel I am not ready just yet. I'm not interested in the glory or being enabled to be a 'control freak'. So that got me to thinking about what I could bring to the table & for that matter, what qualities I deem important for people in management positions.

In my tenure at 'top secret workplace', I've had two very dynamic managers. They are virtual opposites.

The first I met when I was 19 (god help him). I had just come from a pretty toxic work environment & been burned by managers in the past. To their credit though, I was a teenager & didn't know shit about how the world worked. I've come a long way in 5 years & I hope that most people can relate if they are to look back at what their workplace ethics & ideals were when they were a teenager as compared to a few years down the line... I'd like to think that I started as a naive, insecure, right-fighter & have worked to become more composed, strategic & open minded.

This first manager taught me trust, sound judgement & to take the high road. Whenever I wanted to make a pity party for myself, criminalize my opposition & act in anger, he encouraged & later expected me to not victimize myself, not try to rationalize other people's behavior & 'simmer-down' before I attempted to resolve a problem.

The second dynamic manager reads this blog so I can't go in to great detail about what a pain in the ass he is :)

In just a year I've learned from him that first impressions aren't all-encompassing. We worked together for six months before I noticed he ate lunch by himself & invited myself along to put him out of his misery.
I learned the unfair realities of workplace code. Working with someone two generations apart from your own & with nothing in common taught me about adversity & diversity.
It's actually a pretty amazing thing to be forced to remove yourself from the natural choice of spending your time with someone your own age & gender with similar values & opinions. I often think now about what workplaces could produce if they partnered up men & women, young & old new to the job & with seniority. What a nice contract of expertise & outsider's view, experience with fresh optimism.

In fleshing out my ideology on an ideal manager, I considered the following traits:

Ability to lose control:

I think that as people move up in management, their positions lose the ability to partake in the 'meat & potatoes' of their organization. They become further removed from the actual productions & everyday work. What's more, I think most workers would not expect that type of a manager to become directly involved in what they do. I think its important to surround yourself with a team that you can trust & doesn't need you to micromanage or breath down their back.



A little bit of hypocrisy compared to my first point. Allow me to explain.
Although I'm sure most employees don't want management breathing down their back, it takes a level of humility (and a huge time commitment) to know what it's like to be in your people's shoes.
I've always been one to appreciate when my manager has worked their way in to their position from the ground up. I think its probably common to have more respect for someone who's 'paid their dues' & excelled enough to be promoted, both as a manager & a possible mentor.
It's inevitable though that some companies hire from the outside & some managers lead groups of people who's jobs they haven't done themselves. In cases like this I think employees can still respect their manager by acknowledging their education & experience. Ideally, its great for managers to 'stay connected' by arranging to shadow or 'temp' as their employee for a day. If this can't be accommodated, at least open & honest dialogues with employees on their successes & challenges, their time drains, new tasks, time dilemmas etc. How can you expect your people to be receptive to your advice?expectations/suggestions when you don't understand what it is that they do!

High Standards:

Maybe its just me, but I believe low standards are crippling.
If your boss tolerates half-assed work, crappy attitude, spotty adherence, how are you going to survive in a future career (possibly your dream job) when your new boss doesn't?
I've always had the motto in job interviews that I have higher expectations for myself than any job has had for me. I want my boss to be hard on me for the right reasons & take my work & my future seriously. I want any evaluations/ reviews to not just be seen as mandatory paperwork but to really talk about what we can both contribute to make me for successful at work. To me, someone who has high standards for me is invested in me. Good leaders help others imagine themselves in new ways.

Individual motivation:

A very wise lady once told me that her role as a leader was to be whatever the employee needed in order to be more successful.
Some people need to hear it straight, some need short-comings to be sugar-coated or 'sandwiched'. Some need to be trained verbally, some need to see it take place, some learn by doing. Some really need to know their managers on a personal level & some prefer curt, professional interactions.
It's a lot to ask of someone to alter their primal selves to help someone else, however I think If I was an owner or a CEO, this is what I would want & as an employee, I'd want that too. Win-win.


With the exception of those who want a curt & solely professional relationship with their bosses, I think most people appreciate when their superiors show vulnerability & let you know they are more than just their role.

I have a friend who's manager burst in to tears during a private meeting because she was under a lot of pressure which seemed seemed to change a lot for my friend's outlook on the situation (and mine when I heard it).
I ran storming in to my boss's office recently only to find him pressed up against a wall doing this incredibly feeble rotator stretch as he has injured his shoulder & been instructed by the physical therapist to do this grandma stretch. It made me so sad to think that as I ramble on & on about everything, he was in physical pain. Because I caught him in such a 'vulnerable' position, the tone of the conversation was completely changed.
No matter what people do or how much they make, I think we can all appreciate knowing they put their pants on one leg at a time.

Positive Reinforcement:

We live in a society so quick to criticize & complain but so rarely commends. We're at a point now where if you haven't heard any bad news about a company or a product, its probably the cat's pajamas!
I think we need to acknowledge when we are happy with someone's approach, speed, vision, productivity etc etc. Who doesn't like a little dose of positive in their day? Not only that, but I believe that giving praise is an essential humbling experience for those in power.
It's been suggested to me that company rewards or commendation programs aren't advisable because you will alienate your employees who aren't acknowledged. There are people who half-ass their way through work & are just so naturally talented or dispositioned to the work while others are giving 100% and don't actualize. There's also the argument of popularity contests. That being said I guess the best way to do it is to have private conversation with your people to see if they appreciate reward systems (monetary or otherwise) I think it's fair to say that in general, people appreciate being recognized.

Suck it up:

Management is not the right area for cowards, passive aggressives or the socially awkward. To get right to the nut of my point, I think there are a lot of situations where you just have to 'suck it up', pull up your panties & do what you need to do. Have the hard conversations. Scared leaders build a fort. Bold leaders blaze a trail.
Some employees aren't easy but that doesn't mean they aren't the perfect fit for the job. Employees priorities do not include making your life easier.

Optimism Vs.Realism:

I believe it is managements role to be a champion for change. It's easy to get in a routine of doing the same thing over & over (efficient or not) because that's what we know & that's what we're good at.
A good manager should be able to sell their people on change with their own optimism & knowledge.

On the flip side, & playing in to having good judgement, I think their role also demands that they act as an actuary in assessing risks & preparing for the worst case scenario.
I've been just about laughed out of meetings for attempting to be knowledgeable & 'uber-prepared' for outlandish worse case scenarios only to have those scenarios actualize a week later.
Be the devil's advocate.

Lastly, don't take no for an answer:

Don't go getting yourself in shit with this one!
Although managers are people, they still report to someone.
If you come in to a conversation with that someone educated, willing to compromise, with good intention's & the company's goal at heart, I don't feel the conversation should stop with a 'no' from your superior. Rules are meant to be broken if the suggestion is reasonable & accomodable. I have an annoying amount of experience with managers telling me "no", followed by "I'll think about it", followed by "maybe", followed by "ok just this once".

I'm sure I've missed a lot of traits that I take for granted.A respect for diversity, consistency, promoting a good work-life balance, generally not being an asshole? Any other big ones I've missed?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My post for today is I don't have enough time to post today

But I did want to share what I feel is the single, best blog post I have ever read.

It has had 12 million views & been shared half a million times & this is just not enough.

It is for people who feel they are victims.
It is for men who can't get a date & wonder why women don't want a 'nice guy' like them.
It's for people that immediately seek to discredit anyone that criticizes them.
It's for the keyboard warriors that have opinions on everything without having produced, tried or experienced for themselves.

It is basically Dr. Phil's new Life Code book (which I have read, and loved by the way), all rolled up in to a two page article without the consumer needing to read it in a Texas accent & all the Southern good ol' boy analogies.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sexual harrassment/The LC incident

I hate cat-callers.

For my readers in other countries, Google defines this as "Make a whistle, shout or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by".

I am no longer the insecure little girl that takes the derogatory comments of a complete stranger, usually one that is not my age (or one who would interest me in any way) as a compliment.
I take a lot of pride in how I present myself. I do this for me & for my husband, not for you strange old men/horn dog kids.

I'm not sure why I experience so much of it. It could be because I do a lot of walking, don't live in the suburbs, or because my hair makes me stand out.

I've been cat called by someone who couldn't look older than 12 & had to tell him I eat cocktail weenies his size for breakfast. DREAM BIG!
I've been cat called by a young guy in a group & stood before them to ask if they had balls enough to say to my face what they say to my back
And I've been cat called while walking my dog. IF that gentleman thought there was no risk in making vulgar comments to the girl carrying a dog-poo bag, he was wrong.

Yesterday in the early evening I stopped at the LC (Note to non-Manitoban readers, LC is the Liquor Commission) before heading home.
Per the norm the was a panhandler outside asking for change. Not per the norm, he also must have also felt, 'meh, I'm already being an asshole asking people for money, why don't I just ice the cake & yell derogatory remarks at young women'. So he proceeded to call me honey & yell after me about how my butt looked when I walked (good).

At that point, I had already decided that he should leave based on the pan-handling.
Why should I, as a customer trying to spend money on a business's private property, need to feel pressured to give out money to a serial panhandler? Maybe I over think things too much, but seriously, standing outside the LC is a dick move. You make people feel really bad & obligated to donate to your cause. It's not like we're going in to the LC to buy milky & bread or pampers for our babies. We're there for a 'luxury' item. Also kind of making a mockery of the relation between homelessness & addiction/substance abuse...

In the past I have approached LC security & let them know about panhandlers. They've always responded promptly & courteously & gotten the individuals to leave. I watched the security guard go outside & expected the same results once I saw the guard re-enter as I was in line with my purchases.

Unfortunately I was wrong. Possibly because the guard didn't do anything or possibly because the panhandler has blatant disregard for authority, he was still out there when I left & confronted me for 'telling on him'.

Me: "Of course, that's sexual harassment & it's illegal"
Skeezeball: "I just wanted to tell you that you're a beautiful woman. Why you gotta be like that?"
Me: "You're messing with the wrong girl"
Skeezeball: "Yeah, suck my dick"

I didn't want to suck his dick so I called police non-emergency as I walked away & was called by a constable within 15 minutes to give more detail.

But you know where the crime here really lies? I now feel bad.

I'm going over the scenario in my head analyzing whether I truly felt in danger or not, what that constable would be able to do & if they thought I overreacted. I even thought about the skeezeball & whether he was raised to believe that kind of talk was normal & thinks I am a prude.

I feel like people might wonder what I was wearing. And for the record, it is minus 30 (Celsius) outside & I am covered head to toe. But really, even if I was exposed, what makes this guy think he has the right to speak to me disrespectfully? As if showing skin (what measure of it I don't know) makes me some kind of a prostitute who should be objectified.

This brings up the 'slut shaming' conversation which merits a lot of thought.
As you may have guessed from other posts here, I tend to call a spade a spade & get coined as judgmental because of it (funny that I should be JUDGED as being judgmental).

Well, if forming a personal opinion on someone based on what they say & do is judgmental, then I guess I'm an asshole. Life is short & I value my time too much to spend it around people who disturb, infuriate or depress me. That's what work is for.
For that matter? I have no idea why society is so obsessed with this notion of 'Don't judge me!', In my opinion, the only situations where this is relevant is when you are being judged based on age, appearance, gender, sexuality etc (i.e. things that are out of your control). But everyday I hear more and more of this 'I do irresponsible things, don't judge me!', 'I act disrespectfully towards others, don't judge me!' it's lost it's very valuable message of being unbiased & is now a catchphrase for those that do not want to held accountable. A world without judgement, to me, sounds like a world where people do not have to be responsible for their actions...but I digress.

With this kind of mentality, it's tough to be both a feminist & a realist.
I've always felt that if you act & present yourself as a victim, you'll be treated like one. And although I feel that a woman should be able to wear whatever she wants, be out as late as she wants in whatever neighborhood she wants & that none of these points should ever be a reason for us to accept any sexual harassment (or worse) she endures, I still ask myself what I would teach my own daughter.

When I was in the ninth grade one of my closest friends & I would walk home together until a point when we had to part ways to go to our respective neighborhoods.
One day after we had parted some monster grabbed my friend & sexually assaulted her until she had screamed & fought enough to scare him off.
Its cancer to the soul knowing that we were just blocks away from one another. I cried for hours when I got home that night & my grandma hugged me as if it was me that got violated by some sick pervert.
She said "I can't believe this is what your generation has to deal with. You can't even walk home safely from school". No, apparently we can't.

Unfortunately the answer is that I will teach my daughter to walk in groups. I'll sign her up for martial arts & I"ll teach her to keep a safe distance from people.
I'd like to think that I'll do all of this because my kid's life is too valuable to be used as a statement & her safety is the bottom line.

So that got me to thinking that most other parents probably feel the same way.
So if we continue to teach our daughters to be prepared for this kind of treatment, what is going to prompt a change in this societal norm?

This article spoke to me & is really worth the ten minutes to read it. It's our male children:


"We live in a culture that puts victims on trial with questions like, "well, what were you wearing?" and "how much did you drink?" We live in a culture where a mother, concerned about raising sons who "act honorably," holds young women accountable for the way young men objectify them. We live in a culture where a judge hands down a 30-day sentence to a rapist because his 14-year-old victim was "older than her chronological age." We live in a culture that relegates not getting raped to women and girls instead of expecting and demanding boys and men to be responsible for not raping"

We need to raise better boys & not let this bullshit of 'boys will be boys' slide.
I don't know how easy it would be try to get boys & young men to put themselves in our shoes but I do know that most if not all boys have a woman in their life whom they love. Be it their mom, aunt, grandmother sister, whatever. I think they need to be taught young how they would feel if this were to happen to their sister so they can also grow in to men who take a stand so it doesn't happen to their daughters.

Another option: Spread this message via articles, videos, social media. We have so many platforms to spread messages in a way that really sticks. I feel that the more respected people in a boy's life who share & encourage this ideology, the more likely he'll be to catch on.

Finally, I thought about electing leaders that put women's issues at a forefront. Then I thought, world leaders tend to be men & as you can see with a lot of the republican arguments happening down south right now, they are men with absolutely no fucking concept of women's bodies:

So I think we need to elect women leaders, and become female leaders.

Lastly, when calling the cops doesn't feel right, I think we need to throw more dog shit.