Monday, October 26, 2015

Kids, Bless 'em: Complaining to my bosses rather than me.

Twice in the past few months I've had this. Somebody has something to bring up with me - a "problem with Cullen" perhaps.

I'd asked them:

"I'm under pressure here and might not be hitting my marks as well as you like. If we get into that place I need you to be onto me quickly so that I can fix it. Is that OK?" 

And rather than bring it up with me, a boss gets the complaints and then the boss brings it up with me. It's strange - for sure I can be cranky but in both cases I had signaled that we needed to work together as a team on this, and that they were my front line.

I have to just put it down to immaturity. I seem to recall when I first entered the spiders web of business with email, a few of my noob moves was to blanket email everyone who might be interested when I had a problem with one of my counterparts. Somewhere along the track I learnt that teamwork trumps grandstanding - or at least it's the "me I want to be".

Bless 'em, perhaps in 20 years they'll reflect on these days in the same way as I am now. Or not.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Students who don't give a crap: Steve Cain I understand you now

In the 1980s I did an apprenticeship in radio/electronics at the Defence Technology and Science Organisation (something like that - DSTO) in Salisbury. It was a godsend for me, but I didn't like it much at the time.

So I wasn't much of a catch when I went out on placements in my second year of the apprenticeship. I was too interested in reading Jason Bourne books (yes - books back then), training martial arts four times a week and the regular - girls. I suppose I have always had a survival technique that my heart lies elsewhere - and the "elsewhere" sure as hell wasn't the Communications workshop at DSTO.

So as I wound up my placement in the Comms workshop I remember the foreman debriefing me:

"You didn't really try, did you? You did enough to get by, but nothing too much more. You weren't here early, you weren't committed to any job we gave you. Based on that I'm just gonna tick the middle row of boxes. You could've done better but you can't really complain about what you've got here, right?"

Steve Cain, my respect for you grew ten feet on that day. And I began to develop an inkling of self awareness - the smart arsed 19 year old I was.

Uncanny that I am using Steve Cain's line - word for word. And I have a bunch of "participation" marks to award soon. I'm not angry - I don't care that you don't give a shit about the courses I'm paid to teach you. I'm just a little tired. I know you're clever and that you have better things to do. And to to good ones - I am so grateful that you can at least pretend to engage that you'll probably get a 10.

To all - you will raise my ire if you've just been "phoning it in" all semester and you're harshly demanding special meetings and extra consideration. Life just doesn't work that way. I've never told a student to "bite me" but there's still time.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Self serve terminals need service

Ok we're at the point now where we have one staff member on ELEVEN scanning terminals. That means that when a customer (who's scanning, packing and paying all by themself) gets a red light because of a system bug, then that customer should expect that a staff member gets in, fixes the bug, and fixes it properly.

Sure it's an important job and it might be stressful so put a second person on the job! What have you got to lose? You've already managed to shut down a half dozen terminals because the "self serve" system is working so well.

So make it work well.

Cullenofadelaid classic: The Wolf and the Lamb: Some fights just won't be won

"Cullenofadelaid classics" is a set of blogs from the vault. I have a bunch of posts I made about five years ago but pulled them down - my political environment had got a little heated. But there's some handy content there so here it is. This is from December 2015.

The Wolf and the Lamb at by Aesop

A WOLF, meeting with a lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea, which should justify to the lamb himself, his right to eat him. He then addressed him: Sirrah, last year you grossly insulted me. Indeed, bleated the lamb in a mournful tone of voice: I was not then born. Then said the wolf: You feed in my pasture. No, good sir, replied the lamb: I have not yet tasted grass. Again said the wolf: You drink of my well. No, exclaimed the lamb: I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother's milk is both food and drink to me. Upon which the wolf seized him and ate him up, saying: Well! I won't remain supper-less, even though you refute every one of my imputations.

Moral: The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny, and it is useless for the innocent to try by reasoning to get justice, when the oppressor intends to be unjust.

Source: Aesop's Fables Copyright 1881 Translator: unknown WM. L. Allison, New York Illustrator: Harrison Weir, John Tenniel, Ernest Griset,
Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Empowering myself: Life's too short to stay in a bad situation

About six weeks ago I was (unwittingly) running a field experiment about some new people I was working with. We had walked - shoulder to shoulder - into the fray and things had gotten ugly.

I knew the finger pointing would start and that this was to be a test of the quality of the people I was working with. I was disappointed that my new friends were so quick to throw me under the bus, but I could live with it.

However in what seems to be some bizarre form of dissonance reduction strategy, my new ex-friends are trying to back fit the story that I was the cause of the problem. That's a little yucky.

I've spoken before about how dangerous it can be to wade into a mess and try to clear it up - lest you be blamed for creating the mess.

Life is too short. In a conversation I'll never have, my words would be:

"There are four things that keep me at something. One is when I'm paid extremely well, another is when I get to do work that I totally, totally love. Another thing that keeps me in a place is when I'm treated with respect and yet another is where I get to work with fantastic people. The situation here fails on all four counts, so I guess it's goodbye."

I won't have that conversation because I'm not quite dumb enough to burn my bridges that hard, but if I slowly drift into the whole "Where's Cullen? We used to see him a lot more in the past" you'll know what's going on. I'm just accepting better offers.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Don't. Lie. Good advice for business and for life.

I'm sure Karma will take care of his, but I've been blindsided by some blatant lies recently. Blindsided because the lies were unnecessary. The lies were used to achieve trivial things for their perpetrators, but they branded the perpetrator - in my mind - as a person who can't be trusted.

I understand the little half truths that grease the wheels of social life. Telling a person that their meatloaf wasn't disgusting or that their singing voice doesn't hurt your ears - pretty harmless. Although gently inserting some truth seems to gain me more respect: "I like the passion in your writing but I had trouble understanding the point you were making".

But bare-arsed lies for minimal gain? I've encountered two, recently.

"Your deadline is October 5 because the business deadlines mandate this"
No - you're going on leave and wanted the work out of the way, for your reasons. I found the business deadlines were weeks later. You're a liar.

"We deliberately reduced the number of clients we booked because you didn't have the teams to do the job"
No - you lost one of the clients a week into the project. You were as surprised as we were. You're a liar.

To a person with weak personal standards, telling a bare-faced lie is something of a secret weapon - in the short term. But in the long term you gain a reputation for being a bullshit artist - at best - and possibly worse.

A reputation for honesty and forthrightness is a great asset, and it's important not to trash yours.