Stop the Bus!

I work with a liaison who, when faced with criticism or complaints about the performance of his team, throws EVERYONE under the bus, myself included. He does not want to take responsibility for the problems, perhaps thinking that if he does he might come closer to being fired due to the cut throat nature of his company’s work culture, so instead he deflects. He will blame the delivery guys, the warehouse guys, the merchandising guys, he will blame the advertising plans and marketing efforts, saying they are either not enough or that they were not targeted. fun fact, he heads the S&M (giggle) team and he approves the very plans he criticises. He is not a team player in tough times and he drives the proverbial bus over everyone. I was upset about it and complained to my co-worker whose response was “get your own bus!” 

I do have my own bus, for this guy and his team are not at all without flaws, however, I don’t think that this parade of buses is the way to go. I don’t want every meeting to feel like we’re playing in traffic and someone is going to get run over any second. I want us to be able to work together and realise that we all want the same thing – more sales. So I’m sticking with the pedestrian route and trying to use Stop signs – I don’t retaliate, I ensure that all my comments have a positive tone even if I have something negative to say and I always say “we” to enforce the fact that we are indeed a team.

How do you deal with being thrown under the bus? Do you get your own and return the favour or do you stay pedestrian? Tell me in the comments.

Look at it this way…

img: google

I deal with a fair amount of artwork and audio ads for our brands and being a creative with lots of ideas, I often write the scripts or come up with the concepts of how work should look or sound. (nb. not knocking the input/importance of advertising agencies, I used to work for one). Now when I come up with my grand ideas and they take shape in my mind’s eye, I get hooked on this one look or sound and it’s hard to accept anything else besides what went on in my head.

However, I never get that precise execution. Sometimes my grand vision gets a little lost in translation, or the service providers take creative license eg. I want square but they think an oblong suits the project more, and other minor details like that. At this point I become anxious and worry as my vision gets modified. It’s like I built a perfect sand castle and then they come and start adding stuff and editing! But like that little kid building a sand castle, we’ve got to learn to play nice and let people in, when you do amazing things can happen! 

I realised that lots of times, the new way can be just as good, just as beautiful, just as grand and awesome as and sometimes better than my original idea. And even more times, the great grand premise is still there, just dressed in different colours than the ones I chose. So I’ve actively begun opening my mind and fighting back that initial annoyance and road blocks I put up when faced with modifications. I relinquish control and tell myself that it’s all going to work out fine. See, besides the general “I had the idea and I really want it to look like inside my head” thing, my control comes from worry that it will go wrong because I didn’t do enough or pay enough attention.

img: google

I know you’ve all got your babies, ideas birthed sometimes painstakingly, that people will attempt to modify. I’m not saying roll over and let them have at it, but I’m saying to let them give their expert, and sometimes not so expert, opinions, let them have oblong and dress it in different colours. As long as the most important base premise doesn’t change, be open to looking at things another way, the view from the other side is still pretty darn awesome.

Happy Tuesday Guys!

Papercut

I'm sorry sir, we'll get to you soon! img: google

I’m sorry sir, we’ll get to you soon!
img: google

I am behind on my dissertation. There. I admitted it. Said it out out loud instead of rushing by that uncomfortable thought and pushing it to the back of my mind like a nurse in the E.R. pushes a papercut to the back of the room screaming “Sit down sir! I’ve got a GSW to take care of, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!”. Except, there is no GSW, the dissertation is the priority that I’m glossing over. It’s just a papercut now but as I push it away, the papercut starts to turn green and smell, gangrene sets in and if I don’t act fast the whole finger will fall off and then the poor patient will die. I will die, of failure. 

But I get somehow paralysed. I overestimate the time I have and when I realise that time has run out, I freeze, not sure where to start. See, I’m GREAT at starting, FABULOUS at plans (my dissertation proposal was approved with not a single correction from my supervisor) but follow through is my weakness. I always think I have more time to chill than I do. I take breaks too early and never get back to my original task on time. Eg. Dissertation proposal finished? Awesome, I can chill for a week. That week turns into 6 and i’m like holy crap, what the hell happened to April?! oh shoot May’s gone too and it ate half of June!

Then that’s exactly where the paralysis hits. All I can see are those lost weeks, the decreased quality of life and work that I have inflicted on myself and I’m not sure how to make up the time. Can I really finish a 5500 word lit review in 2 weeks? I read like a snail! Worry and fear take over, gluing me to the ground and I look for escape, I play World of Warcraft and watch 4 seasons of Drop Dead Diva back to back, clicking next episode with the compulsion of an addict. 

But responsibility eventually bubbles to the surface like soup in a heated pot and spills over into my escapist reverie like a tsunami tide. I can’t ignore the papercut anymore, things are critical and we have to operate or lose the patient. “Sir! We’re ready for you! This way please and quickly!”

Gowns on and Glove up people, we’ve got work to do!

img: Freedigitalphotos.com (via google)

Yessuh, Nossuh!

(Apologies! I accidentally posted to my personal blog and not this one, so you get both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s post today!)

img: google

img: google

Nobody likes a yes-man who just agrees and does as he is told. Not your boss, not your colleagues, not even your clients. People like to know different perspectives and especially in the client case, it is your duty as the expert hired to give your opinion and ensure that they receive the best possible service or produce the best possible product. Sure they may not always listen to you, but it is paramount that you establish yourself as both knowledgeable and caring/invested in the process. Those qualities get you invited back for other jobs or recommended to others. 

Are you a “yes man”? You don’t have to be, state an opinion today, dont be rude or arrogant, just say what you think the problem is and tactfully suggest a solution – eg. “hey guys, I’m not sure that fluorescent pink and orange are the best colours to decorate the funeral home, charcoal and midnight blue tested better with grieving audiences, perhaps we can try those?”

Speak up today guys and see you on Thursday!

WOOSAH!!!!!!

img: google

Customer Service is a tough and often thankless job. You get yelled at and vilified for pretty much everything, often things that you didn’t do or things that the customers themselves are responsible for.

In my job, I deal with country reps who often tell me things I really don’t want to hear like how they’re ordering less due to sales drops which shouldn’t have occurred had they implemented the suggested marketing activities or monitored the sales more closely. Obviously this impacts my performance so I get pretty upset and I can feel the steam coming from my ears!!!

But I try never to reply in anger. If I am on the telephone, I take a breath and think positive before I answer or I might ask them to hold while I mutter angrily to myself and try to find my peace. If it’s an email, I let it sit for a bit while I browse 9gag.com for a laugh to cheer me up and calm me down. So far these approaches have helped me cool off and give the best service even in vexing circumstances, what are your cooling options in heated situations? Let me know in the comments. 

Also, apologies for no post on Tuesday, days have been flying by!

Have a great Friday / Weekend!

Persevere!

img: google

On Tuesday, we finally got a meeting with a potential new account that it took me TWO YEARS to get. Two years of calls, follow-ups, being passed on to new personnel as they took the job, of waiting while the business restructuring got finalised and we could move forward. Now, if you think that’s bad, hear this: the company’s been trying to get an account in that area for …wait for it… TEN YEARS before I joined! Makes my two look like cake doesn’t it?

Anyways, the meeting went WELL! Once we get legal worked out, we should have our new account by August, our customers are excited and rearing to go! It’s really exciting to see something you work so hard on come out so well. 

No one wants to wait 10 years or even 2, but if you have to anyways, you better start now! Keep at it and it’ll pay off in ways you never dreamed of!

Have a productive Friday and a fab weekend!

Optimise it!

not mom, not my room, but close enough.

My room is clean and tidy. Those words are akin to the last words of any general uttered at the end of any long and arduous battle. Shout out to my main soldier – Mom – who saw the carnage and sought to rescue me. 

Seriously, the chaos of that tiny space was intense! Why? Well two reasons – 1) I am a pack-rat and I have terrible trouble letting go of papers, books, knick knacks etc because I feel like I’ll need them later on.

2) I fix my room in a way that is not conducive to keeping it tidy. I fix my room in the way that it “should” look according to other sane people but i’m crazy and lazy and things like “folding” and “putting on hangers” never get done.

This time, I’m determined to maintain this clean and tidy look (I’ve got space to spread down my yoga mat or to have a solo dance party and I’m not giving that up!). So to ensure continuity, I sat down and thought about how exactly I operate and fixed my room to facilitate these processes. For example, I always fling my jeans/pants onto the little basket that I’m supposed to fold and put them in. I was honest with myself, am I going to start folding? NO! So instead of continuing to facilitate this failing folding process, I instead used a little rack my mom bought me to facilitate said flinging. So when the jeans are flung, the room will still be tidy and this new rack also eliminates wrinkles etc that the jeans and other pants would get when flung on the basket. 

We act like this at work. We set-up our desks and our work processes based on the way we “should” or we work hard trying to make ourselves perhaps tasks in a way that doesnt come easy to us. Perhaps we continue with a method we came and found when we took the job, perhaps we set-up our desk the way our superiors like to see it. Even when Efficiency Specialists are called in, they often look at ways to change employee behaviour to fit the processes that management would like to see, however this seldom achieves maximum productivity. They (and you!) should be looking at how workers naturally go about their tasks and seek to facilitate this as it makes the job easier and faster. (Obviously within the safety / ethical rules and regulations)

So take a few minutes to ponder how YOU work, are those spreadsheets really helping you in their current format, is having the papers on the left side of your desk convenient? If not, move things around to suit you. You may be the weird one in the office for a bit but when your productivity goes up, you’ll be applauded (and probably copied!). 

Have a great Tuesday and see you all on Thursday!

IMPOSTOR!!!!

Yesterday, in a meeting, the sales coordinator for our Guyanese Distributor praised me, telling my General Manager that I was very keen, hard working and “on the ball” and he advocated that I be rewarded with an upgraded blackberry or a tablet for my efforts (tablet coming soon!!!!!). My General Manager agreed that I was indeed a very enthusiastic, hard worker. And for the very first time, I didn’t feel like a fraud. Why? Well, praising myself has never been my strong point, my friends and family will tell you that I hold myself to quite high standards and never feel like I meet them so it’s hard for me to accept praise. Apparently, this behaviour is so common, they named a syndrome after it – Impostor Syndrome.

image from nature.com via google

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome)

I’m not sure how I ended up with it (most likely has something to do with constant comparison to others) however, I can tell you how I got better. 

  1. Hard Work – I pushed myself harder to get closer to my ideal working self so now that I feel I’m closer to something worthy of praise, it’s easier to accept it.
  2. Family/Friends – I’ve got good people in my corner who often point out the good things to me, I’ve also got younger cousins who look up to me. Originally this was part of the problem, i wanted to be someone truly worthy of their adoration, but I realise I already am.
  3. Living in the Now – I came to realise the truth in all those sayings about how it’s about the journey and not the destination. It’s ok to celebrate small victories, you may not have achieved the ultimate goal but something as simple as getting every on your to-do list done  deserves a little pat on the back. 
  4. Stop Comparing – One of the main reasons I feel like an impostor is because of the constant comparison to others who i believe have done better. Listen, everyone’s journey is different and as long as you are giving it your absolute, unadulterated best, you are doing fine!
  5. Good is still good – When I finish a task I often think, I could have done that better and I beat myself up for the undone/unsaid things, even though the job came off well. I’m not asking you to settle but I’m asking you to realise that a “good job” is still good! You can’t go back and change it, so be happy with “good” for now and on the next job, use what you’ve learnt to get to “best”.

Are you suffering from Impostor Syndrome? Take a second to recognise all you’ve accomplished, you may not be the youngest manager or the break-out entrepreneur/best seller of the year but you have done a lot to be proud of. If you can’t see those things, surround yourself with people who do.

Have a productive Friday and great weekend! Also, welcome to the new follows, glad to have you around!

I’m bored…

Image

Image from camaro5.com via google search

You sigh and stare out the window for a bit, then you grab your sandwich and surf 9gag or some other site while you’re eating, you’re just taking a break right? or maybe you’re bored.

You’ve probably already written this one off; you can’t possibly be bored, you’ve got way too much work to do! Your desk is a sea of endless papers and your Outlook inbox is a mess of unanswered red flags (at least mine are) so how could you be bored? Well, “bored” really has nothing to do with the magnitude of work but rather the content of said work. You need to be engaged or at least remotely interested in what you’re doing if you hope to continue doing a good job and survive in the workplace. But, they’re not about to change your job description and you’re not about to change jobs so… what do you do?

You find your own way to make it interesting. Are you competitive? Have a private competition, I bet you can’t make 10 sales today…chicken ;). Are you driven by rewards? Set intermittent goals and reward yourself when you meet them, e.g. if I finish 10 sheets by lunch, I’m going to go buy myself <insert awesome dessert/cost effective item here>. You could also just introduce some more stimulation into the environment, are you allowed to bring a radio or mp3 player to listen to your favorite tunes? For me personally, when I’ve got tedious tasks to do like keying numbers into a spreadsheet (no calculation or analysis yet) I put on a ted talk (ted.com) or other inspirational or innovative vid from youtube.com. (Yes they let us access the web here, I’ve had to download coldturkey, a program designed to not let you use certain programs or browse certain sites for a specified period of time, to keep me on track. Very effective!)

However, if none of that works, maybe you need to look at moving on. Doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for your current job, just means you want to go someplace where you can perform at your best. 

Wishing you a productive and interesting day!

Notes: I’ve got a plan, a plan to update you guys on Tuesdays and Thursdays! But you know what they say about the best laid plans – they often go awry. So, bear with me if this plan sees some delays especially coming down to the end of March when my MBA assignments are due.