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Bedoor Bluemoon

Everyday writing to expose the soul

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work

The First Week on the Job- Bewildered

Bewildered

deer

Congratulations on your first job!  You are fresh in the workplace with many many many assumptions about what goes on.  You’ve been chosen from a list of candidates and impressed the bosses.  You’ve jumped through this hoops and finally got initiated into this wonderful place. Do you think it’s going to get better?  Well, it can’t possibly get worse, right?

Wrong.

Because now the real work starts, and I’m not talking about the tasks on your job description (if you’ve been given one), I’m talking about the merging of yourself with your social surroundings: your colleagues.

Similar to your first day in school, there are people who will accept you and people who wish you never set foot in the company.  There are people who will help you and people who will try to make your life a living hell.  Well, welcome to the real world, it’s a thousand times worse than school, you can’t take a sick day just to run away from a test, and above all that you’ve got your career at stake.

You will feel bewildered, lost, clueless, and will wonder what you are doing there.  You will question yourself, your knowledge and skills, your upbringing, and you will definitely have a little bit of inferiority complex to top it off.  In the end, you can use the “smile and nod” technique, play the “strong and silent” role, or chew gum.
Smile, this too shall pass.

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Synchronization at Work

Synchronize

synchronized swimming

It is well known that companies must work towards a common goal.  The company’s mission statement and vision cascades down into department goals and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) and further into individual employee goals.  Everyone in the company must understand what they are working towards and how they fit in the big picture.

In 1962, John F. Kennedy visited NASA and met a janitor on his tour.  He stopped the tour, introduced himself, and asked him what he was doing.  The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” You see, the janitor knew his role in the organization and was able to articulate it.

How many employees don’t know what they’re doing?  It’s easy for employees who work in non-profit organizations to have a sense of meaning in their job, or employees who work in the medical field and other roles, but what about employees who work in the banking sector, for instance?  What about those working for insurance companies?  What’s their role?  Well, Mr. President, we are here to put some fear into people and make them bet they won’t die in 10 years.”  Doesn’t really fit, does it?

In organizations, it is crucial to communicate the goal (mission/vision) of the organization.  You can’t expect employees to have a sense of meaning without informing them because someone else might inform them something different.  How many times were rumors the only source of information for employees?  When induction training isn’t given importance, new hires are getting their induction training elsewhere and you, as a manager, can’t control what information they are being fed.  Therefore, induction training is needed to start the communication channels.

Open communication during the employment is also important.  Managers must discuss employee’s goals or performance plan in the beginning of every cycle, explain the expected outcomes, follow up during the cycle, and finally discuss the results at the end of the cycle.  This ensures that the employee is kept informed throughout his employment of his expected performance.

It is ideal to be able to measure performance and make sure it is in line with the organizational goals.  It is also important that companies understand that when outsiders contact one person from that company, he/she is representing the company and not him/herself.  The company is seen as a whole entity where individual employees are a part of the bigger picture.  It is important for managers to keep everyone synchronized (in sync) regardless of the many times that they may feel like they will miss a step or even drown.

In the end, it is how you portray yourself as a company.  Should you have the bad swimmers thrown off your team?  Should you be expected to learn new moves and get out of the water smiling?  And should you be able to jump through hoops and perform hand stands to make your customers happy?

And what if you’re a monopoly?  Would any of this matter or should we expect to watch a very bad show?

Synchronize your employees, the show must go on.

 

The Job Interview- Chuckle

Chuckle

job interview

As a fresh graduate, I never knew my true worth in the job market.  I thought that I would be lucky to get a job, any job.  I know that I haven’t been the best student to graduate from college but, come on, at least I graduated with a decent degree and some knowledge that I thought would do me well.

What I didn’t know was that people in the real world aren’t giving out jobs like lollipops, it is a gruesome process to get employed.

So when I got a call for an interview just a few weeks after graduating and applying to every single company I know including google, I was stunned.  Happy, but stunned.  I knew that many people didn’t get a call EVER.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I am 21 years old, somewhat serious given that some kids my age grew up with the Xbox, WII, and playstation, and I have been trying to grow out my pink hair for the past few months.  I am aiming to cut off the last few inches next month if my calculations serve me right and I’ll be a normal blonde.

Like all kids preparing for an interview, I got my friend over and started going through my closet looking for something decent enough to pass as work clothes.  You see, I really just graduated and don’t have the money to splurge on a suit.  So I ended up wearing a short black dress with a red blazer on top.  I put my hair up in a ponytail, put on my black choker for luck, and was ready to go.

I was nervous as hell!  I walked into the office and was ushered to a long corridor with chairs.  I could see that there were three other kids there waiting for their turns and gave the one closest to me a smile.  He smiled back barely.  I could see that he was wearing a suit and started questioning my choice of clothes.  I looked over to the other girl in the row and saw she was wearing a suit too.  It’s not that I looked unprofessional, it’s just that I looked less professional.  Plus, the company is going to give us all a chance based on our qualifications, right?

Wrong.

Amy?

My heart started racing as I nodded and stood up.  The guy who went out of the room was smiling I felt my heart plummet thinking that they’ll choose him over me and it’s a waste of time going in.  I walked in the room.  It was a big room with an elder man sitting on one side.  He looked up and I could have sworn that he cringed.  I wasn’t sure what was the deal but he just added on to my nervousness.

Have a seat, Amy.  He said

I did as I was told.

  • How old are you
  • 21 years old
  • Why do you think we should employ you?
  • because I feel like I would be able to give so much to the organization
  • Do you know anything about the organization?
  • Yes, I read about the latest development of…
  • Yes it was in the news, everyone heard about it.  What about your skills?  Are you able to work long hours?
  • I am willing to work all day if needed
  • Yes yes, that’s what they all say.  What about when you get married and get pregnant, do you think you will be able to work?
  • umm, I haven’t thought that far, sir.  You see, I just graduated a few weeks ago…
  • do you have someone you are in a relationship with?  Wait, scratch that I’m not supposed to ask this.  But you can tell me if you want (he looks at me like he was pushing me to answer)
  • No I am currently single and want to focus on my work
  • So you’d be free to work extra hours for the next, let’s say, two or three years.  Any other special talents you have up your sleeves?
  • I am fluent in French.
  • Is that right?  Well, now we’re talking.  How long have you studied it?
  • Around 12 years
  • Impressive.  Anything else you want to add?  Any questions?
  • Just one, and I ask you because this is my first interview, sir.  How did I do?
  • He sneered, chuckled, and look up at me. Not well enough.

 

Lesson #1 at Work

welcome

We’ve all been there.  Our puppy eyes wide open and looking forward to our first day in our job.  We were finally able to convince someone working in the HR department of some company that we actually know what we’re doing and, surprisingly, they take our word for it.  The excitement, the anxiousness,, the butterflies in our stomach, the sleepless night, and the many outfits we tried are all witnesses to our new step.  We don’t just panic, we ARE panic.  We don’t have breakfast that morning and have a coffee instead.  Everything seems to be surreal and amazing.  We walk up to the office and meet the sweet HR lady who, for what we believe, is our only support in the new found land.  We listen intently to every word she says.  Induction… break time… new employee… parking… refrigerator… telephone… the list goes on.  You hear some words and miss out much more. And if your workplace is big, you fear getting lost.

“meet your colleague, XYZ, he is assigned to be your ‘buddy’ and show you around.  For the first two days, just be his shadow.”

And you look in the face of your new friend.  Your only friend in this unknown land and you smile, thinking that this is going to get better, that this is not so bad after all.  So you put all your trust in that one person and think that you have grown from being the newborn holding onto your HR mother to a toddler, happy to go a bit further and spread your wings.

Now, you took it as a given that XYZ is a good person.  A person who will tell you the truth and give you insights as to how to conduct yourself in the workplace.  Little did you know that many times XYZ turns out to be something else.  Let’s take different scenarios:

XYZ is a

1- Loser.  So you end up being stamped as a loser from day 1, thereby losing all your chances in ever being a part pf  the in group

2-Disgruntled employee.  So you end up hearing what a bad place your work is and you question your decision regarding taking the job

3- Lunatic.  So you end up questioning everything including your sanity and you may also turn into a lunatic yourself (remember, this is your first job so you’re fairly young)

4- Optimist.  So you see flowers everywhere you go and will end up falling flat on your face when reality strikes

5- Pessimist.  Similar to disgruntled employee, a pessimist at work will show you how bad your work is.  You leave your job and end up with somewhere worse, thereby wishing time would go back.

6- Mafia king.  You can be taken under his wing if you are lucky and will feel like a part of the family until someone ends up sleeping with the fishes and you question your “luck”

7-Mean girl.  You throw all caution (and your values) to the wind and be part of the group.  You only question yourself if (and only if) something wrong happens because being a mean girl is just fun

giphy

8- Nerd.  And thereby dig a grave for your social life.

But you could also end up meeting a friend.  Someone who would always be there and who would always give you great advice.

Be careful who you hang out with once you go somewhere new, it could make or break you.  Take things slowly, understand that the person introducing you is just doing his job and you can always find the circle you are most comfortable with.

After all, isn’t work just like school at a bigger scale?  And isn’t life just the same?

Try to play by your own rules and be comfortable with who you are.

Good luck

Folder Dividers- Simple Instructions

dividers.jpg

Stationery items are crucial for the day to day operations at work and therefore stationery shops excel at providing different and unique ways to organize work.  Walking into a stationery shop or the stationery section of any store expands the horizons of any obsessively compulsive person.  The different types of papers, pens, book ends, posters, calendars, and so forth are just a few.  You end up buying things you never thought you needed and, surprisingly, end up using them (unlike clothes which usually reside in the cupboard for a few years before being discarded recklessly.)  The beauty of organization can only be seen with color coding, neatly binding, and beautifully filing paperwork in box files using the correct dividers.

Dividers.

There is a vast array of dividers and, as you all know, each serves a purpose.  We are introduced to dividers early in our school years and it becomes second nature to us how and what we can use them for.  The horror of meeting someone who doesn’t know exceeds all horrors and the horrifying experience is intensified when the person uses them WRONG.

The story:  we are organizing customer files at our workplace and want to introduce dividers in each to distinguish different pages from one another.  Simple?  It should be.  I delegate the matter (this is probably where I went wrong) and expect the file to come back perfect.  A few days later, I look at a file with a divider – 15 sections- and a list of silly useless headers.  So I scratch the useless, merge the similar, and end up with 6 sections.  I left the issue at that and expected (my second mistake) that the 15 section divider will be carefully removed and stored away for another upcoming folder that needs 15 parts.

Are you still following me?  So I changed the 15 divider to 6 and asked for the file back.  I get this:

2017-03-05-21-51-55

Do you see 1-6?  Now do you see where 7-15 should have been?  Where are the 7-15?  How and why and in what sense can they be used at a later stage?  Would we have another file with 7-15 dividers?  What is that?  Can that even be called organizing?  And to top it all off, I had to explain that this is not the way to use dividers.  Because of the carelessness that accompanied where the 7-15 dividers would go, I chose to answer in a not-so-polite way that this is not right.

To sum up, how to use dividers:

1- Identify the papers you want to file.  How will you arrange and organize them?  Take note of the number.  Would it make sense to file the papers chronologically?  If so, buy a monthly divider, it not, buy the one with numbers.  You could even get dividers color coded only.

2-  Add 1-2 more dividers just in case

3- File the papers and write the sections

Do not remove half the numbers.  If you are mistaken, you can always buy a new set and store the wrong one for use at a later stage.  Do not divide dividers, they are like a family.

Over-communication

dilbert-over-communicate

Effective communication in the workplace is very important.  Employees usually work within teams and thus it is very critical for them to be able to communicate their ideas to their colleagues clearly and effectively.  Any shortcomings could lead to vast losses in organizations; thus training centers are glad to provide companies with great effective communication and team building workshops.  An ideal workplace with effective communication leads to one clear of misunderstandings, problems, and issues that could have been avoided.

How many times did you look someone and ask, “why didn’t you just TELL me?”

That was  the issue.

Lack of communication.  The inability to find the recipient.  The inability to find the method to communicate.  The inability to formulate and articulate the words to be sent.  Messages in bottles thrown at sea, a woman waiting for a telegram from her fiance, a mother not knowing her daughter is giving birth because no-one was there to run out and tell her, dates arranged weeks in advance, and letters written and sent out by messengers on horses.

In effective communication is not just an issue at work, it is also an issue at a social level; be it between spouses, friends, a parent and her child, and so forth.

So with the introduction of Emails, companies embraced Blackberries and were glad to invest in a device for each employee to ensure that they can be reached at all times.  That was the end of work-life-balance for a lot of people.  Managers took for granted the sacred home of employees and thought themselves entitled to time away from work.  The whole idea of leaving work’s issues at the doorstep of your home ceased to exist.

Enter the smart phone and social networking apps.

The line between work and home got so blurred there is no line!  Work gets taken home, the employee’s mind keeps thinking of issues at work while he’s on the dinner table with his family, checking his email because, come on, China’s market just opened and the middle east work on Sundays.  Globalization going viral, pressing pause is no longer an option.

Or is it?

The amount of words coming at us from our device is astounding!  The emails, the messages, the social chats, the game requests (aaargh!!), the friend requests, the Youtube subscriptions, the podcasts, birthday notifications, meeting notifications, any notifications!!  Where…did…my…time…go?

We no longer work an eight hour day, we don’t even have a continuous hour at work without being interrupted.  We no longer focus at work, we no longer focus at home, we no longer have vacations without checking our mail because our spouses are being “unreasonable” for asking us to be out of sync with the world.

But are we in-sync when we go for our devices or are we in-sync when we ignore them?

Over communicating.  Don’t accept it and stop doing it.

I do not need to see your every meal.  I do not need to see what decision you need to make when it comes to your nail polish.  I do not need to know what you did last week at work and what you will be doing this week, I am not even in your department.  I do not need to see your children run up the beach, YOU need to see your children run up the beach.  You need to be focusing on the project.  You need to be focusing on the numbers.  You need to be ignoring spam emails.  We need to uninstall these wonderfully time-consuming instant messaging apps.  We need to keep the phone in the car and go out with our friends.  We need to filter over communication and keep the place quiet.  Our minds are not used to being wound up all the time, we need some time to think, to meditate (which is why meditation is so popular nowadays), we need some time to breathe.  To speak to people who we need to only.

Please stop over communicating.  This is going out of control and we are allowing it.

I-robot???

You Are Not Your Job

batman

TV shows have a large impact on social life especially when it runs for more than a few years.  Hanging out in coffee shops became popular after the TV show Friends and ladies jumped into Rachel’s (Jennifer Anniston) haircut from season two.  Recently, many TV shows are related to doctors and so instead of Rachel’s beautiful shag we see men and women wearing their lab coats out in public.

The first question I would like to ask is why are you wearing the lab coat?  Don’t hospitals offer you lockers?  Do you go out of the house wearing them and keep them on?  It is such a predicament to me that I cannot accept it.  Now this was my opinion when I saw the doctors (residents, trainees, I’m not sure if someone just bought a lab coat to fit in) in Starbucks.  Fine, doctors need coffee too and I would really appreciate a doctor high on caffeine; plus it’s a great place to sit and chat and study.  The thing is, a few days ago I saw three women in lab coats walking in the mall!  Now that is a new level of crazy.

Trying to think as a person working in HR and not a cynic, I thought that maybe these women were proud to be doctors and are ready to jump in whenever needed.  Similarly, Bat Man walks around in his cape too.  Therefore, they identify themselves as heroes and have high employee engagement.  Now going back to TV, I’ve seen many movies when an accident occurs (specifically in air planes), the stewardess would shout “Is there a doctor here?” and a man a few seats back would say, “yes, I’m a doctor, give me some space.”  And the action would continue.  This man is usually not wearing a lab coat.  Thus, lesson number one: you do not need to wear your lab coat to be a doctor.

When we are introduced to someone, a common question that comes up is “what do you do for a living?”  Sometimes the question isn’t asked and we immediately think of informing the new acquaintance of our profession.  Why is that?  This is where I’d like to say you are not your job.  The need to be identified with a career is making people concentrate on titles more than their actual growth in life.  Children don’t need to inform each other what they do, we don’t see a child say that he is a student because it doesn’t matter.  Does it really matter what you do for a living?  Yes. But is it the only thing that identifies who you are?  It shouldn’t be.

It’s true that we spend a big chunk of our adult life at work but we need to be reminded time and again that life is not work.  The concept “work-life balance” needs to be renamed since they are not different, it’s just a matter of time management.  Yes a part of who we are today is made up from what we do but it’s not the only thing.  For example, a working mother understands the importance of juggling the different aspects in her life and so her role in life is more varied and she can “log off” when she leaves work because there are other pressing matters to tackle.  The urge and desire to grow in our careers sometimes take our eyes away from the beauty of life, we are so preoccupied with the race that we are missing the scenery.

Life goes on, you don’t want to wake up and realize that you spent it at work.

There are Work life balance assessment tools that can be found on-line, this is the wheel of life with its different areas.  Even without taking the assessment, you can immediately see what you are dismissing, whether knowingly or not.

wheel-of-life-300x300 *Example of Wheel of Life

Another thing to consider when trying to manage your time is your priorities.  Identify your priorities in the Wheel and come to peace with your choices.  If you end up with Family and Friends having a low number and you are ok with that, then it’s fine.  There is no correct answer to how the wheel should look for it to function.  It should just work for you.  In addition, priorities change over time and you need to pay attention to these changes and change your life (and wheel) accordingly.

An interesting clip I found is Steven Covey’s First things first Youtube Clip which portrays time as a bowl.  The woman in this clip is asked to fill the bowl with business related issues but imagine trying to fit your bowl with all life aspects.  Time is limited and it’s what you do with your time that matters.  Follow your dreams, look where you are going, and be thankful for what you have.  You are not your job, you do not need to wear your lab coat everywhere because you are more than just what you do.  Find out what you like and pursue it, you only live once.

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