Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Simple Tip for Morale

Employee morale is a tricky beast, or so it seems. If you want to be an exceptional organization, it behooves you to pay attention to the latest and greatest teachings on what to do to keep those employees happy.

However, despite all the best propaganda from many HR organizations, the next step for many organizations is not Exceptional. The next step for most organizations, by definition, is above average, average, and bearable.

The good news for such places is that in order to improve morale, you don't need to invest millions in training your leaders. You need not bestow weeks of vacation time. Don't even burden yourself with the thought of modeling the latest and greatest ways of the latest and greatest exceptional organizations.

Just say Hi.

That's it. If someone is walking by you at work, regardless of your relation to them, and they say hello, say hi back. This gets even more important once you are a leader. The higher up in the food chain you go, the more your acknowledgement, or lack thereof, will impact someone.

Yep, the higher up you go, usually, the greater the stress. The more likely it is you get in your own head as you walk around. After all, a leader lives in the future as they create the vision. Just stay in the present enough to say Hi. Your team will appreciate it, or, at the very least, they're less likely to thing you don't care about them, and every organization has to start somewhere.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Love the Weekends

I love the weekends that bring me no closer to material riches.
I love the weekends where nothing comes off the to do list.
I love the weekends the chores pile up.
I love the weekends the laundry outgrows the bins.
I love the weekends that leave me without leftovers.
I love the weekends where no new trees or shrubs are planted.
I love the weekends the car doesn't leave the driveway.

I love these weekends that fall short of grand ambition because it is quite often these weekends I spend making memories with my children.

Today Layla, 4 years old, and I decided to watch Cosmos. I've greatly anticipated watching this with her, hoping she will at least put up with it long enough so watching it with Dad becomes habit. Her liking it seemed like a bar set too high. So imagine my chagrin when I laugh and she mutters, "Shhh. I'm trying to watch Cosmos."

She asked me all weekends to be "Trainers." "What's that?" "I mean, ENGINEERS!" We went to the basement, where she knows all great engineering takes place. She watched me swap out a hard drive while she created the latest spinning machine for Katinka. We relaxed watching cartoons and I wrote.

Katherine, almost two years old, wandered the kitchen wearing her stethoscope, kissing all the boo boos on Jackie and I. She checked out our hearts "dum dum dum. dum dum." She checked out my knees, which also apparently go "dum dum. dum dum dum."

Weekends of ambition have their place, too, but how fortunate I feel to realize that I love the weekends I slow down long enough for these butterflies to land on me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Both

There’s a popular saying about work that does a great disservice to people. I know it misled me for many years after having been planted there by a teacher in high school. She remarked, “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather work smart than work hard.” 

The saying sounds very appealing. “Yeah, that’s right, I’m not going to be another dumb guy wasting my energy!” I think the sentiment contributes to a culture of people impatient for promotions, desirous of a shortcut to success, and ultimately tempting devious behavior when the shortcuts don’t pan out.

The truth of the matter is this. Working smart over working hard can get you positioned for success, maybe even advance you faster than others, but the person that works smart AND works hard will run right over you.

So yeah, work smart, but don’t forget that nothing work having comes easy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lunch, The Verb

There are many terrible side-effects of the hourly worker mindset, and I try to remain aware of them as I avoid said perspective. Here's one that recently crystallized for me: the hesitance to grab lunch with a good friend.

The money-grubbing side-effect thinking goes something like this, "I gotta get my 40 in, so if I go to lunch, that's one extra hour I have to stay here, one hour later I get home or one hour sooner I have to come in. Plus, if I'm charging overtime, then its not just the cost of lunch, but the extra money I sacrifice for not working that hour."

That's certainly a fair thought process, but I've met too many people for whom that's the daily routine. I was once of that ilk. What's changed?

After 11 years of working at a company, and as an upside to moving among many different departments, I've amassed a list of people who exist in that happy little Venn diagram intersection of coworker and friend. When you've amassed that group of people, getting away for lunch can become a highlight of the day. You might also see the above logic still holds if you make some implicit statements explicit.

The logic above implies that I'd like to get home sooner for some reason that's preferable to being at work. One of those reasons is time with friends and family. When lunch happens with someone that fits into that dear group of people, then I'm not really sacrificing anything. In fact, I can spend a quality hour or so with that person, and getting together requires less overhead than if we were to coordinate two busy evenings or weekends of kid hustling, yard tending, house projecting, Newfie dump scooping, etc. (my weekend is a rich full tapestry)

Taking that perspective, lunch becomes a great change of pace from a busy work day. An opportunity to catch up with a friend and talk about life, shared joys and challenges. Maybe you talk about work, but you take it to a creative new place not dictated by an agenda. And I can't count the number of times I've figured out a technical dilemma while driving to our destination.

And if that lunch happens to involve a great big burger at Iron Hill, a monster salad from Bacio, or something that makes everyone happy at the Grand Compromise that is the Wegman's luncheteria, so much the better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

To New Beginnings

Why blog again?

Why not blog again!

Are people still calling it blogging? Should I be tumbling? Tweeting?

I don't think it matters.

Much good can come of blogging, and that's what I intend. But why now?

I blog now to make something better. A better future, a better self. To crystallize my thoughts, get them out of my head. Turn them around. Look at them. Improve what's good, and toss what isn't. I hope some of you might aid in that mission.

Get ready, cause the periodicity, subjects, and tone will be in constant flux. I intend to go deeper on some topics, which might take some work. I've got more distractions, which will mean less time here. But for all of you that wish, "Jonathan's tweets sure are great, if only he could say the same thing with many more words," call me Genie.

I chose the title Drawn Better because the one constant in these thirty three years is my stubborn insistence that I can be something better than I am and that along the way I might help others find the same upside. So this blog is for me, drawn better.

"The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge." (Bertrand Russell) Seems like as good a philosophy as any to run with. Here we go (again).