Tuesday 21 April 2009

if we worked hard, if we behaved....

When I talk about my job here, it's usually to have a moan. Given that I've just filled out a snapshot 'climate' survey to say that I think that things are generally rubbish and that I've never had so much work with so little support, you could be forgiven for thinking that this situation isn't about to change any time soon and that another moan is imminent. Well, I'm not going to rule that out, but fair's fair, and I've actually got a couple of positive things to say about my job. For once.

I attended one of those team away day things at a local conference centre today. I won't say that I was especially looking forward to it, and my enthusiasm levels only dropped further when I found out tonight that there was going to be some karaoke and there might be some form of dancing involved. I don't mind talking about the company strategy, and at a pinch, I'm even prepared to listen to those talks we sometimes get from HR about how well-thought through their succession planning is and how we really should take our performance and development plans more seriously. Karaoke and dancing? What's that got to do with anything? How will making us feel awkward and embarrassed enhance our performance as a business?

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. There was a rendition of "Islands in the Stream" by one person who seemed to be enjoying themselves just a little too much, but no one else had to do anything, and there was no dancing. At all. What we did get were a number of sessions about different parts of the business and how it all links together in one seamless and well-thought through strategy. And you know what? It was pretty good. Even the session from HR. Credit where it's due, I guess.... and it finished early enough for me to enjoy a run alongside the river in the glorious evening sunshine, so it it's all good.

There's another positive thing I've got to say about work too: I've got a new (interim) boss. He's completely new to the company and I've only had two or three meetings with him as we work on my *sigh* performance and development plan, but in that time he's already managed to breathe a bit of optimism and enthusiasm into me. I know.... he must be good, right? I don't know what he's been told about me, and I haven't decided if he's a really excellent judge of character or simply a skilled people-manager, but he's actually managing to make the whole process of making me map out my targets for the next year - usually incredibly painful - seem like it might actually be something worth shooting for. In the final analysis, I don't think it matters, actually, and I've found myself opening up to him and actually thinking hard about what I want to do. It's early days yet, but that's a good start. He's even got me thinking and talking about things like "behavioural comfort zones". Sounds suspiciously like bullshit to me, but I haven't dismissed it yet.....

I might still have a shit day tomorrow and be back to moaning, but let the record show that I've detected the tiniest spark of optimism within myself. Heaven help us all.


  1. I've always thought the best things about awaydays is that they sometimes involve free food. Ooh, I still remember the training event with the homemade lasagne. That course did have the added benefit of teaching me skills that couldn't conceivably be used in my then job now I think about it.

    (PS I've got a new place, which you're welcome to visit if you want - I forgot to say I was 'back' in more than one way...)

  2. ah, the food. The buffet was acceptable, but the cheesecake was delicious!

    (in this credit crunch era, the event was a bit sawn down -- we used to get taken away and given a whole evening do and everything.... although to be honest, a shorter session worked pretty well too, and I got home at least 2 hours earlier than a normal day, so...)


  3. I was once sat on a train and, through the gap between two seats, I could see the laptop screen of the man in front of me. He was analysing the results of a staff questionnaire which had just been conducted.
    Well, I have never wanted to punch a stranger in the face so much.
    It actually said something like:
    "the majority of people are happy in their work, and those dissenting voices of the minority obviously do not have the right attitude" or something equally repulsive.
    The impression I got from that was that no matter how honest you are in your work-based anonymous questionnaires, even if you try and be constructive with your answers in the vain hope that something will change, some twat doing his work on the train will just decide that if you don't like what's going on in your company then you're a deviant and should be shot.
    Sorry if that's slightly off-topic regarding your post. I don't like kareoke either. Unless it's the Blue Peter cats.

  4. blueskies - we're actually doing a company-wide survey like that at the moment. I loathe it and find it a hopelessly inadequate way of saying how I feel at the moment. Their choice of language is ridiculous too: do I LOVE being part of my team at work? Do I have the the tools I need to do an OUTSTANDING job. They make a rod for their own back picking words like that, if you ask me. They try and have sessions where they tell us how we should interpret the questions, but I ignore all that - if they don't want me to interpret the words they use literally, then they should use other words. End of story.