I was really proud of my team at work today. My wider team, that is....the part of the business that I work within, rather than just the guys who work directly for me. My company is very proud of the work that they do with charities, and last year, my team decided to get organised to try and raise some money for one of those charities.
I don't know what it's like where you work, and I'm fairly sure I've mentioned it here before, but at our place, they like to tie you up with various personal performance targets, and the end of year review process is full of consistency forums and forced distributions and things like that. This was an absolute shambles when I worked in IT, but my new team are much better at this. I'm at a senior enough level that I get involved in discussions about how we are going to make this system work, and because I have a team, I attend these people forums and do my best to make sure the whole thing is as fair as it can be. Anyway. When we got our heads together a few months ago as a management team, we decided that no one could "exceed" in their performance unless they showed evidence that they were stepping outside their day job and doing something over and above what we would expect them to do on a day to day basis. In other words, it's not enough to be excellent at your job, you need to contribute something else as well.
Bear with me: I realise that all of this sounds like insufferable bullshit, I really do.
One of the things that people can do to "step outside" their day job is to get involved in our charity work. We asked some of the more junior members of the team to manage our wider team's fundraising efforts and then stepped away to largely leave them to it.
Well, today I was present when we handed over a cheque for just over £6,000 to our chosen charity. It's a national charity, but instead of just donating money to the main charity, they found a local palliative care ward that the charity fund, and they raised the money for the ward directly. We had cake sales, a lottery on the bonus ball every week, a sponsored walk and quiz, a silent auction.... and they raised £6,000, which is a splendid sum of money.
Today, the charity came into the office to receive the cheque and to give us a presentation about the work that they do. Some of their work has directly touched various colleagues in our office, and they came along too to share their stories and to show their appreciation. I was busy in a workshop, but I was able to pop along to see enough to be quite moved by the work that they do to make people's last few weeks as comfortable as possible, and to try to look after the families almost as much as the patients. Big charities can sometimes seem a bit ruthless and efficient (I describe this one as being like the Tesco of cancer charities).... but to see such a local manifestation of their work was quite humbling and inspiring. You can really see how they money we raised is going to make a difference.
Why was I there? Well, I've volunteered to be the department's charity champion this year, and I had a role to play standing at the back for the photos as the big cheque was handed over*. If you didn't know me better, you might say that this is me trying to "step outside" my role. Well, I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I'm not really interested in any of that nonsense and I'm not really fussed where people put me in the consistency forums. Although they're technically the boss of me, they're very much not the boss of me.....if you follow. I've finally realised that the main reason I go to work is the people, and I find it inspiring to help people in our team realise their potential and to see how they can harness their talent and enthusiasm to do something that is properly useful to the world -- in this case, to the local community -- rather than the corporate, small-cogs-in-a-big-wheel corporate nonsense we normally deal with.
Cheesy, but true.
Speaking of worthiness, we're running the London Marathon to raise money for the MS Trust, a charity that is particularly close to my heart... well, it's a self-interest charity really, isn't it? Anyway. We've started fundraising, and you can sponsor us HERE.
I'm a lover, not a fighter.
* It was an actual giant cheque too. Sadly the charity won't be allowed to keep it and to try to cash it in at a bank... we wipe it down and use it again. Our company has raised £10m for the bigger charity over the last few years, so it gets quite a bit of use!
I want choices and I want them now
13 hours ago