Friday, August 22, 2008

Take this job and...

Meant to post this here last Friday:

A great big giant shit-ton of suck just got removed from my week. Let's recap, shall we:

1. Wednesday: 100 on my mid-term. Professor had no comments. I've decided that I would have made one hell of an artillery officer: when something pops up on my radar that I deem to be a threat, annoyance or otherwise gets my attention in a bad way, my knee-jerk response is to shell the everlasting crap out of it. This was an online test and I had to type in my responses into a small text box. I have discovered that there is an 8000 character maximum that no one knew about before.

2. Thursday: 99 on my case analysis. Professor's only comment: "You really should switch to decaf." To date, this is my lowest grade for this class. Decaf? Like hell I'm switching. This is working for me!

3. The job I was interviewing for finally came through. I have officially signed the paperwork and told my boss. New job is a huge move up in my career. Can't frickin' wait!!

This weekend is all about the Scotch: 18yr Glenmorangie single malt. No pants required.

As mentioned before, I don't usually talk about work. For the most part, it goes well, and I don't want to be one of those whiny little bitches who piss and moan about having to put some effort into earning my day's pay. I don't mind working hard, and for the most part I prefer to be really busy and accomplishing something than bored shitless on the sidelines. But there comes a point when even my patience wears out for the relentless one-two punch fest of stupid management decisions about long term team goals and day-after-day abuse and neglect from armchair quarterbacks and bullshit artists.

My immediate boss and I get along great. We've pulled together and accomplished a lot with this team.
I have the highest respect for him. Above him, however, there are lots of managers, but not a single leader among them. Policy-mongers and paper-pushers too chickenshit to man-up and make an intelligent decision. They talk a big game but if they catch a whiff of a brewing fight, they will run away like French tanks facing off against German pocket knives.

My new job will be my first real foray into management. I've been team lead and assumed management functions in the past, but now the rubber hits the road. This is for real. Again, company names withheld to protect the guilty. So don't bother asking. But I've learned a lot at this job about how NOT to manage people, as well as taking some good positive lessons away with me as a smartly wrapped parting gift:

1. Look after your team. If you don't, they will throw your sorry ass under the bus first chance they get. And you'll deserve it. You sorry bastard.

2. Share the credit, hoard the blame. Gee, does this really need explaining? If so, you are too fucking retarded to be in a leadership position.

3. Listening is an activity, not downtime. By this, I mean when you are listening, don't just sit there letting the words wash over you like a rotten log in a river, or perch restlessly on the edge of your seat waiting for your turn to speak. Active listening is a mental exercise where you really take in what's being said by the other person, assimilate it to what you know or have learned and then ask more questions about what was said to ensure you heard it right. It takes practice.

4. Talk to your team. Don't hover over them, just find out how they are, how things are going, and most importantly, can you help out in any way. Most people prefer to be left alone to do their job, but it's good to know that the cavalry is waiting nearby if they need it.

5. Micromanagement is worse than obnoxious, it's a productivity killer. And it will decimate your team faster than tossing a grenade into the break room.

6. Trust your team to do their job. If they need you, they should have enough confidence in you to holler for help, otherwise, let them find the best way to get the job done. The corollary to this is, as one Veep I highly respect put it, "If someone messes up, understand that they are human and let them learn from it. If it's a stupid mistake and they should have known better, then yes by all means steamroll 'em if you have to. But afterwards, take them aside and let them know it's not personal."

7. Communication is a two-way street. Part of this goes back to the listening skills. But there's more to it than that. Don't waste people's time talking about nothing that's important to them or relevant to their work. Don't assume that silence equals consent, happiness or the absence of trouble. And above all, sometimes the best management decision is to ask a question and then shut up and listen to the answers.

8. An open door policy requires you to keep the goddamn door open. Don't just throw this out to the team as an empty platitude. It's just like any other promise; you have to deliver on it or else your credibility will suffer. Conversely, don't expect people to beat a path to your door; you have to earn their trust and prove you can communicate effectively before anyone will feel confident enough to take you up on it.

9. Integrity matters. Honesty matters. Ethics matter. These shouldn't just be a train of bullshit catchphrases from a bunch of smarmy "motivation" posters. It's a way of life. It's not easy walking the straight and narrow, but it's worth the effort. If anything, you'll sleep better at night. And who couldn't use a good night's sleep?

10. Don't expect your team to do anything you yourself won't do. That doesn't mean you have to be there right next to them at 3am, 25 hours into a 48-hour project (unless you can contribute something useful) but it does mean that if you expect heroic efforts, then you'd damn well better lead that charge from the front!

Meanwhile, back at the office, mass panic ensued this past Monday when word of my departure leaked out. It's good to feel wanted, even if it is too late. Being the mischievous devil I am, I couldn't help myself but to fan the flames further by packing up all my personal belongings and making sure to be seen walking out with them. Really, I just needed the box, and the stuff was gonna need to be hauled out sooner or later...

1 comment:

The Taco Prophet said...

Said it before, but it bears repeating: you're my hero :) Congratulations, dude!