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I considered putting this in "Performance Management" because I received the feedback following a performance review but it's really more about how I communicate with my peers and superiors.

I've been with this employer for just over 4 yrs.

I spent 3 yrs working on a single account. The account required very little technical knowledge but a high level of organization and time management.

I was promoted twice while on that account, even though my productivity numbers and technical knowledged didn't truly meet the promotion standards. In that role I took on added challenges, took the lead on several projects that greatly enhanced the overall account management and was more-than-a-little responsible for the 30 point average increase in Quality Survey scores from the client (with 3,000+ contacts.)

In January of this year, I took a lateral transfer where I've been able to significantly increase my technical knowledge. I was also tremendously relieved to finally be working for the one manager in the division who's widely known to be "the best to work for."

Due to a recent (and on-going) internal, company wide, national restructuring / realignment, I've lost that boss and have been temporarily reassigned to another guy - who's well known for being a dry, numbers-focused guy who wears blinders and seems to miss most social subltety.

(This is now my 6th manager in 4 yrs, 2 jobs.)

Before departing for good, The Good Boss gave me my performance review. It was exactly as I expected it to be - no surprises. After reading the review through our intranet, I told him "I don't need to review the review with you but if you've got any parting wisdom to help me progress toward management, I'd appreciate that."

So our talk wasn't so much about the performance review itself as much as we talked about what my key focus items should be while working for this Blinders Guy and how best to interact with him. (Trust me, it's a challenge.)

The Good Boss said that one of the key things I need to work on is regulating my emotions and being more even-keeled.

I get it. I do. My problem is the level of intense frustration I have at this company.

I'm wondering if maybe I'm just really still resisting working for this huge-ass company. My whole career was spent at smaller places. The last (best) company I worked at started with 350 ee's and was up to 1,600 when I left just over a year later. Before that, another company was only 75 ee's. Back when I had The Title, the company was like 250 ee's. And before that was like 300 ee's.

Where I work now, there are over 40,000 ee's.

My old jobs -- I was more of a big fish in a little pond whereas here I'm a little fish in a global ocean.

Old jobs -- if something wasn't working right, I had the power to make the changes to fix it. Or I could go directly to those who COULD make the changes and things were small enough that it was a matter of a 3 min conversation while I stood at the door to their office as opposed to a Task Force and monthly meetings and assigning Regional Office Champions (ROCs), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and all the rest of the crap.

I've been on the fence about this job for the entire four years I've been here. I've known all along that I'm much more comfortable at smaller organizations. I've been trying to convince myself that this isn't a bad place to hang out for 15-20 years til retirement.

Within my first year of employment, I took 6 wks off with my Epstein-Barr thing. Then I took 4 wks off for my tonsils coming out. Each time I came back, I came back with the attitude of "I don't give a crap" and things went swimmingly.

It was like I didn't care that things were slow - work would get done in the very timeframe the company's actions said they were good with. Even if management and the clients were hopping up & down to get things done at warp speed, the company iteself is giving me a Model T. That means it's not really the company's priority to get things done efficiently so I should stop freaking myself out over the fact that I can't reach warp speed in an Edsel. I can only do what I can do.

And just saying that -- I can only do what I can do -- makes my skin crawl and I feel disgusted with myself. I feel like a huge slacker, undedicated, just collecting a paycheck, loser for saying that. It goes against the core of who I am.

Anyway ... the point of this really long post (sorry!) is that I'm not quite sure how to reconcile all of these things.

How do I deal with systemic sluggishness when my drive is to go at warp speed without getting frustrated, remaining on an even keel?

I'm a vent-er. I vent. I let it out and it's over with. If I don't let it out, it builds and builds and builds and then there's an explosion with serious shrapnel. I don't want to be an exploder but apparently it's inappropriate to be vent-er.

I don't know that it's really possible to change my core self -- let alone if I'd want to change who I am for a place I work.

I've been trying (started today) to be more lackadaisical but the forced ennui is frustrating me just as much as the system slowness. Argh!

How do ya'll care without caring too much? Without losing the desire to care at all?

WillDuke's picture

There are things you can do, and things you can't. Trust me, there are issues in small companies too. I own mine, and there are things I can't do. Oh, if I only had a huge corporate budget. Oh, if I only were in a bigger town so I had a better labor pool. Oh, if I could only get the expertise to get this vertical market sewn up.

I can hear your D'ness coming out in your post. I hear your frustration. I'm a big believer in being happy. I spend too much time at work to hate what I do. Sure, I need to care for my family. But I believe that the example I set is more important than the cash I bring home. And, as one of the Horstman rules says - You're responsible for how you feel. I doubt anyone at your company wants you to be miserable. It sounds like few of them care if you are, but that's your problem, not theirs.

Your "good" boss told you to keep an even keel. That implies that you're not. What is causing your uneven-keel? Make a list, and make it specific. Don't say "can't get things done."

What kind of things do you want to do?
Why doesn't the company want to do them?
What tools are you lacking?
What personality type is your new "numbers" boss?

Are you seeing a pattern in your answers?
Is there anything illuminating about the pattern?
Is there anything you can do to be more comortable?

Have you listened through the DiSC stuff?

In the end, it sounds to me like you're working in a company that isn't designed for the D personality. It's designed for S and maybe a little C personalities (ROCs, SMEs, and the rest of that crap.)

In the end, you have to decide if you can get what you need there.

skwanch's picture

[quote]How do ya'll care without caring too much? Without losing the desire to care at all?[/quote]

I don't believe this is possible. You either care about your work or you don't. You care about quality or you don't. Your shutdown (ie. 'not caring') is a defense mechanism triggered by your essential self (your creativity) which is being stifled by your environment. I don't think this is good for you, long term.

I've had similar feelings about larger companies throughout my life (big surprise; our DiSC profiles are very similar). I now work at a very small company, and while there are significant challenges relative to that (I'd probably make a lot more at a larger company, for ex.), this job is the best, most fulfilling role I've ever been in. Here, I can have an impact. I can make a difference. Sometimes that gets a little scary ("You mean [b]I'm [/b]the one responsible for XX?") but it's never boring.

For 'Creatives' such as ourselves, this is what is actually most important to us (ok I'm extrapolating from my own motivations but based upon the feelings in your post I'm pretty sure I'm on track) - the ability to create and see our creations in the world. That creation can be a song, a painting, a building, a company or a business process, but the essential motivation is not the economic reward, it's the psychic reward of knowing we've created something, and it now has its own reality/existence. That scratches that little internal itch that we have, that need to create.

The only real positive aspect of your current job that you mention is stability . . . recognize that the very barriers that stifle creativity tend to create that stability. In many ways, it's an either/or proposition; creativity vs stability. The creative tends to want to bring order from chaos, but it's often overlooked that s/he [b]needs [/b]chaos (to a degree) in order to do so. Contrarily, stability is generated by minimizing chaos. It's a continuum, and one needs to know where one's own 'sweet spot' on that continuum is. I tend towards the more chaotic. It drives some friends and family nuts ("You're always changing things! How can you [b]live [/b]like that?"), but I'm comfortable with it.

Just my thoughts - obviously not much in the way of practical, MT-style advice in there :roll: . But hopefully it gives you some brain fodder. Articulating this helped me make a few connections in my own head so I owe you some thanks for the stimulus.

[As an aside, I'll just acknowledge that yes, it's incredibly presumptive and arrogant to prescribe advice via the internet to someone I've never really met. My high 'D' is okay with it, though ;-).]

jhack's picture

You have to decide two things:

1. Do you like what you've chosen as your career?
2. Will things really be different somewhere else, or is it you?

It sounds harsh, but you have to face those questions head on.

It's very common to feel "the company is doing things the wrong way. If only I were king, processes around here would be different."

That said, I've seen companies with dysfunctional, even toxic, cultures. Maybe it is them.

Get the interview series. Prepare. Real, serious interview prep is a great introspective exercise that will put your career in perspective.

John

PS: I've had ten different bosses in 5 years at my current employ. It's tough learning a new set of interactions so often.

bflynn's picture

[quote="jhack"]PS: I've had ten different bosses in 5 years at my current employ. It's tough learning a new set of interactions so often.[/quote]

I don't know if that's a common theme, but I went through a period several years back with the same thing; I had seven managers in a four year period, each one accompanying a reorganization.

Considering all the good and bad, is the job overall good? If so, find something to excel at.

If you don't like the job, treat your time there as a learning experience, take your newly updated resume (you've kept it up, right?), get the Interview Series and go to it.

Brian

rthibode's picture

Hey Ash,

I'm sorry to hear the distress in your post. When I've felt frustrated with my managers, I've often tried to say "I can only do what I can do . . . just collect the paycheque" etc. It doesn't work for me; that's not who I am nor who I want to be.

Having said that, the other thing that comes across in your post is the message from your "good manager" that you have to work on controlling your emotions. In my opinion, it's not appropriate to vent at work, no matter how frustrating the setting is. The choice isn't between venting and exploding, as you've written. You can vent outside of work, you can get some exercise when you need to blow off steam, you can adjust your perceptions to better understand the company's slow pace, you can use the extra time to refine processes or build your networks.

Venting doesn't solve problems. When you "let it out" it may be over for you, but it's just started for colleagues who've had to listen. In my experience, it is disruptive, annoying, and upsetting when co-workers express work-related frustrations in anything but the calmest, quietest tones.

If you could get your emotional reactions under control, how likely is it that you would be promoted to a management position? And would you have enough influence in that position to keep you satisfied? It seems like working on emotional control is going to be important for you no matter where you choose to work. I can't think of a workplace that would be okay with a "core self" who needs to vent at work when frustrated. That manager cared enough about you to say something difficult. If you trust his judgement, take it as a gift and an opportunity for growth.

Sorry, this probably seems harsh. Maybe it is; depends how extreme your venting is.

All the best to you.

ashdenver's picture

[u]What kind of things do you want to do?[/u]
* I want GUI rather than DOS systems.
* I want streamlined (one-stop shopping) systems rather than nearly 100 passwords for different systems.
* I want reliable systems that function as expected during peak usage times.
* I want to be held accountable to rules that have been communicated to me beforehand.
* I want more fun in the office instead of having to work with constantly stressed out people (including myself) where "you're not a real employee until you cry" isn't the corporate culture.

[u]Why doesn't the company want to do them?[/u]
* I'm guessing the DOS-to-GUI conversion would be monumental, massively costly and more than a little disruptive.
* If they went GUI/Windows, the 30+ systems would ideally be integrated into the one - hence the expense/effort.
* "It's the company way" is the standard response from anyone employed 5+ years about anything that's remotely FUBARed.
* Maybe it's fun to shame and disgrace people without telling them the expectations first but it's more likely that the company is so flippin' huge and unweildy that communication stinks.
* The job is stressful primarily because the infrastructure is horrible. The training (3 mos) is all book-learning -- for all these systems -- and then when a new person is put on the floor, there is one tech support person to support 25+ people. The rest of us are so slammed with work that it's nearly impossible to take time to help someone else without letting our own work/clients suffer. The nature of the job is such that any one problem can have four different solutions and the corporate culture is "learn by the burn."

[u]What tools are you lacking?[/u]
A work area / setup that doesn't give me tension headaches every day would be nice.

An order tracking system that actually worked as expected would be helpful. (Yesterday in the span of two hours, my projected capacity for the next five weeks went from 100% to 300% and back down to 150% for no apparent reason. This is after it wasn't working at all over the weekend and continually logs me out periodically for no reason.)

More technical support, lesser client load and a better corporate culture would certainly enhance the daily work experience. The "turn and burn" revolving door aspect stinks. I'm not cut out for Client Services by any stretch of the imagination and I do at least get to work with most of my clients for a couple weeks at a time but still, juggling 90+ clients at any given time is very stressful.

[u]What personality type is your new "numbers" boss? [/u]
I honestly don't know. I have the Myers-Briggs info on some of them but I'm missing it on The Numbers Guy. I worked for B who was an ENFP and he was the smarmiest guy I've ever encountered. I worked for G who is an ISTP and can be moody (during PMS) & sometimes micromanaging but generally tolerable. The Good Boss, D, was also an ISTP (but male.) Myself and the former VP/GM are both ISTJ. How that relates to DiSC, not quite sure. (The Numbers Guy is telling me that he has the same profiles I do: D & ISTJ. Ack!)

[u]Are you seeing a pattern in your answers?[/u]
I don't know that I'm seeing a pattern in my answers so much as circling back around to the very thing I've struggled with for four years: I'm not really cut out for this place. I want it to be something it can't be. It wants me to be someone I can't be.

[u]Is there anything illuminating about the pattern?[/u]
I'm not happy.

[u]Is there anything you can do to be more comortable?[/u]
I could find another job at a smaller company. It would remove stability but would allow more creative freedom & flexibility. It would likely lower the paycheck but it would significantly increase the happiness factor.

It's going to be a while before I do that, though. This coming July will be 5 yrs which means I'll be fully vested in my pension and my tuition reimbursement kicks up to $5k/yr. I would like to get my degree at some point (another 5 yrs to go, but it'll be free!) I have a three week vacation to Italy scheduled for next October and I think it would be prudent to stick around at least through that. (I can't imagine a new employer sanctioning a 3 weeker right off the bat.)

Meanwhile, I've been trying to remind myself that actions speak louder than words.

If this place really wanted excellence, they'd invest in an excellence infrastructure.

If this place really wanted to provide World Class Service, they'd ease up on the revolving door requirements.

If this place really wanted 100% effective order forecasting, they'd invest in functional order tracking tools.

I'll still give my best to my clients and the core job (client-facing) but the secondary, internal stuff is going to get a return from me equal to the investment from the company.

[u]Have you listened through the DiSC stuff?[/u]
Not really. Not here. I went through the DiSC stuff when I was first hired and I have my lovely green D pin right here with me at all times. I generally equate D = Demanding. Heh. It's true - both of myself and of others.

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[u]If you don't like the job, treat your time there as a learning experience, take your newly updated resume (you've kept it up, right?), get the Interview Series and go to it.[/u]
My resume is, of course, updated. I've reviewed and reviewed and practiced and practiced the Interview Series. I've gone a number of interviews, employed the skills, asked for the job and here I still am.

My current role is to setup additional business for payroll processing clients. That is, I'll create reports for them, setup the system to accrue PTO for them, setup their associate portal for them, etc. My ideal role is to be the payroll manager of a medium sized company (250 - 1,500 ee's) where I have the ability to build long-term relationships with the employees and management, have a direct impact on the payroll and processes and really build a strong, solid, effective team dedicated to excellence and accuracy.

I'm in the same industry but doing something I really don't like. And I know it. I'm good at it -- I'm good at whatever I do here! I turn & burn like nobody's business. I lead, inspire, focus and streamline. I teach, train and mentor. I do all of these things currently and they're reflected in my performance review. Overall, I'd say I'm fairly well regarded around here. I can be counted on to "take the ball & run with it" and The Good Boss said that I have "the unique ability to analyze a process, break it down, and improve that process."

I'm just not the IBM pinstripe suit kind of person. I'm more the Google kind of person. If that makes sense.

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[u]2. Will things really be different somewhere else, or is it you?[/u]

I think it's both. I will always be me. I've been happy before - doing the actual payroll, at a much smaller company. I was still a vent-er but the need to vent was much less often, I was much more even-keeled in a different environment, with a different corporate culture.

I'm unable (unwilling) to make a job change for less money / increased commute at this time. (If I were offered The Ideal Job six miles from home instead of this Frustrating Job four miles from home for an extra $15k and comparable benefits, I'd be handing in that resignation letter so fast the security camera couldn't keep up with me!)

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[u]In many ways, it's an either/or proposition; creativity vs stability.[/u]

A tiny bit more background on me -- I used to be crazy. Well, not drooling on myself, wearing a straightjacket crazy but definitely a recognized disorder. While I was crazy, my employment track record was just horrible. The longest I'd ever worked at a company was 3 yrs - that's why 4 yrs here is such a big deal to me. I've worked really hard at being more stable overall.

I've come a really long way in the last ten years. I've overcome my craziness. I've written a self-help book on the subject. I head up a well-regarded website and community on the subject. I have a group of 5 "managers" and 8 "supervisors" there to help me with the 1,200+ members. I have good credit again after a bankruptcy. I have minimal debt. I have a solid retirement in place. I have been in stable relationship now for 8 years. I have made a LOT of strides toward stability.

And yet my core self still needs to scratch that internal itch. I still crave the creativity, the control, the power to make an impact.

This is where my paradox lies: I want the stability as a continued display of my evolvment and growth while I crave the creativity and freedom of my crazy heydays.

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[quote="skwanch"]As an aside, I'll just acknowledge that yes, it's incredibly presumptive and arrogant to prescribe advice via the internet to someone I've never really met. My high 'D' is okay with it, though.[/quote]
My high D (why do I feel like yodeling?!) is so okay with it that I didn't even bat an eye or consciously recognize you'd done it! *snort*

Seriously, the whole point of posting is to get that advice from people we've never met. It gives us a chance to get the straight scoop without the filters of past interactions, previous encounters, preconceived notions based on appearance or any of the other crud we lug around with us in the real world.

Your extrapolations were dead-on. In fact, I may copy/paste to Word and keep with me for a long time. Thank you.

ccleveland's picture

Ash,

Everything your saying seems like your building up a case to give yourself permission to leave that company... why are you still there?

I also struggle with many of the things you've expressed, as well. I often try to focus my energy and passion on the things I can change:
[quote]God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.[/quote]

CC

Mark's picture

Ash-

Sorry you're struggling. Life is suffering, and it sounds like you're dealing with more than your fair share (not that shares or fairness are terribly definable or heartening).

There sure does seem to be a lot of strong opinions above about what you should do. I don't know what you "should do", as your problem isn't a management problem, to me.

So, I have no special insights that have any extra weight here. In a 'fellow human' voice, then...

A couple of thoughts:

1. Your environment is unlikely the problem. You don't like it - that's the problem. You're not going to change your company ( a reasonable overstatement), so it boils down to deciding whether you (a) want to accept it (and you could, and it could work, though it would probably take a significant emotional event, or (b) want to decide to leave to find a place where you could decide to feel better about. I think that's a pretty normal place to be: "I don't like it here. and I'm going to leave". Cool.

2. The comments you've made about venting and exploding are illuminating for me. When one works in a social setting (that is to say, with others), one can reasonably be expected to make some adjustments, some accommodations for others' needs. In my experience, venting and exploding, no matter how much one "needs" them, are corrosive and only publicly tolerated (while privately excoriated). All the proclamations that "he's just that way", or, "we tolerate that from HER - she's GOOD" are smoke screens. I would gently suggest that when you vent, no matter your rationale, you are damaging your chances for advancement where you are, as well as your goodwill/emotional bank accounts with others. A surfeit of goodwill is invaluable when one takes one's leave, or when one speaks up or out in a moment of frustration. The short of this long answer is that if you don't believe you can remain where you are without venting publicly, I'd recommend you seriously think about looking around.

3. I do think you can change your core self (I have and know thousands who have as well). But I love your insight that you don't know if you want to for the environment you're in. THAT is good thinking.

4. Reconciling everything is a chimera. The world resists the reconciliation of its components. It's not a zero sum game. It's not even in dynamic balance, if you believe in global warming. Maybe the challenge isn't in reconciling, but in choosing. You'll always have tensions, it's the very nature of us. So pick where you want your joy to be, and accept (there's a big word) that its opposite (so to speak) is where your tension will come from. In my case, I seek service and peace, and in return I have at times been rewarded less richly and ridiculed for softness (go figure). I'd rather be rich (I'm just going to give it away, but still) AND serve others, but it seems that so far my path doesn't give me that. And I've learned that it's not having the both that matters (because the marketplace of life resists that)...it's the choosing and the acceptance that matter. I'm quite driven (it's 130 am now and my alarm will ring at 4), but one of my epiphanies in life is that acceptance is a peaceful feeling. I've tried railing against things...and here I am peacefully, today, doing far more good than all the vibrating I used to do. Maybe now I'm just in harmony...I don't know.

Try to remember that your job is to drain the swamp, even when you're up to your butt in alligators. Seek your joy, and know....KNOW!!!! that your joy will be filled with alligators too. You just have to choose to see the joy and ignore the tension headaches.

Sounds like it comes down to doing what you want to do. You seem pretty smart to me, and talented.

Bet on yourself.

And dear me don't be lackadaisical about it. ;-)

Mark

regas14's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]

Seek your joy, and know....KNOW!!!! that your joy will be filled with alligators too. You just have to choose to see the joy and ignore the tension headaches.

Mark[/quote]

This is extremely wise and simple.

Difficult when it's most important to remember, but true.

ashdenver's picture

On a practical level, in a corporate setting, wishing to be perceived as a viable candidate for management, I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on some of these situations - that all came up today in the last three hours.

[quote]This client is asking me how I can get her employees to remember that their login for ACME Corp is [email protected] instead of jdoe[email protected] ?[/quote]
What response is appropriate? I'm stunned that, first of all, her employees are so terminally stupid that they can't write down the information & tuck it in their wallets or something. Beyond that, I'm speechless that the client is asking me to basically fix her employees for her.

[quote]Another client emailed me at 8:51 to ask me "Can you get these five things fixed on my report today?" At 9:13 she called to ask me "Did you get my email? Those changes look pretty easy, can you get them done today?"[/quote]
Did I miss somewhere that it's appropriate and reasonable to allow only 20 mins for a response to an email? What kind of response is appropriate to back a client off and reset their expectations without saying something like "Do you really think my only goal in life is to wait on you hand and foot, eagerly awaiting the next morsel of work you send my way?" or going another route with "Gee, the quoted setup time was two to four weeks, not two to four days. I will take a look at your change requests after I've handled the ten other client issues in line ahead of yours and I can reasonably predict you'll have your changes by Friday."

[quote]Megan: Talk to Adam about where he wants to put the Union and 401k Eligibility codes for this report.
-------------------------------------------
Adam: I don't know where to put these. You tell me.

Me: I can't do that because it's your payroll; I'm only extracting the information you put in. Here's where Megan's putting hers.

Adam: Okay, I'll go here and here with Y or N.
-------------------------------------------
Megan: For Adam's report, he's going to leave it blank if it should be an N and you need to convert that. And if it should be a Y, he'll put in a 1 or a 2.

Me: So we don't keep covering the same ground and re-working the same issues repeatedly, we need to keep these discussions between you and I. I will report on whatever you tell me but we can't have multiple people giving me direction or we won't get very far.

Megan: Oh, I agree completely. Meanwhile, I'll go talk to Adam about this and have him email you with his ideas and then I'll follow-up with you once you've heard from him.[/quote]
At this point, I'm ready to throttle all contacts at the client-side. How do I say (in a managerial way) "Get your crud together first and then ONE of you call me because I don't have the time or patience to keep re-hashing the same stuff over and over again, nor is it my job to tell your employee how to do his job so ya'll need to leave me the heck out of it"?

[quote]Another client faxed back her report signoff form and wrote all over the bottom "You didn't give me report headers so I have to spend time looking up what each column's data is. Please fix the report so I get headers & don't have to waste my time with this." Meanwhile, well over a month ago, when I first gave her the data, I specifically told her "In order to understand the data in the columns, since our management reporting system does not allow header information in data extract formats, I have attached an Excel spreadsheet that you may use as the template header row."[/quote]
What is The Managerial Way to tell the client "open your frickin' eyes and actually read the information I gave you and get your expectations back into reality - there's only so much that can be done and I've already done all that I can"?

These are my external sources of frustration and I do need to learn better ways of communicating and/or shifting my perception so that terminal stupidity does not frustrate me.

My internal sources of frustration are generally system or coworker related.

* The new VP used to be the Client Services Exec and she's still in there yanking & dispatching cases. Dude, don't you have more important things to worry about than micromanaging who's handling the issue for the client?

* Our new interim boss holds a meeting to tell us "Nothing will change" and then less than a week later, schedules a weekly one-hour team meeting - for Fridays when one of the four of us doesn't work. So much for keeping your word AND sucking an hour a week out of our already jam-packed schedule, putting our client commitments behind.

* We're required to accurately forecast our client starts each month. This would be fine except they are never consistent about when that needs to be completed (one or two weeks before the new month) AND the system arbitrarily, randomly double-assigns orders so when I remove that extra $20k from my list, I look like a nimrod who can't forecast worth a hill of beans.

* Internal communication totally bites. Exec says to Mgr "How's that project coming?" Mgr says "I've never heard of that project?" Exec says "Whoops, I forgot to tell you about that three months ago, here it is, get it done in two weeks." Exec tells me "Here, get this done in 12% of the time other regions had to accomplish less than half the workload." Yeah, I know, doo-doo rolls downhill. But seriously, this sort of thing happens [i]constantly[/i]. It's never a big deal until just before deadline and then we get run into the ground as the result of their piss-poor communication and project management skills. Frustrating, I say.

In the professional setting, expectations are somehow inextricably linked to my level of caring. My brain has it so that "if I expect this to happen in such a manner / timeframe, and it doesn't, I get upset because I care. If I don't get upset, that means I don't care."

I've got no less than 9 reports to get to clients today. I can't. Why? Because the Production system crashed and that's our only conduit between the reporting system and the payroll system. It would be really nice if I could honor the commitments I've made to my clients. I know I can go, hat in hand, to them to advise "We've crashed, there's no ETA on a fix and there's nothing I can in the meantime" but that's where my expectation that I have the tools I need to do my job frustrates the daylights out of me.

While writing this, I just got an email saying
[quote]It is extremely important that when we are having systems issues that we conceal as much of this as possible. We are all aware of the impact of our systems not being available to our clients – we should not be “sharing” this internal information with them. Please make sure you are checking to see if the client is indeed impacted by the issue. As an example if [our main product] is not available…. We should then give them something “soft” like “we are updating that functionality at this time – please try again in 30 minutes and please call at that time if you are still unable to get in.” – Please avoid telling them – “[The main product] is down.” [/quote]
I don't do well with lying to clients. (There's a reason I never went into sales!) If it's something I can do, I say so. If it's something I've never done before, I say so. If it's something that's out of my control, I say so.

Is it really "managerial" to say "soft" things that aren't true? (If so, I may very well re-think my life goals. I'm not kidding.)

Overall, on the grander scale, I've given I-don't-know-how-many examples of irritants. Is this par for the course at companies this large (40,000+ ee's)? My experience in smaller companies shows me that it's not like that there but I'd love to hear if these types of things also occur on the smaller scales as well.

I'm trying to figure out if this is a company-specific, size-specific or me-specific issue.

WillDuke's picture

It's company specific and you specific.

You're a high D. You're a perfectionist, and you can't, or more accurately don't want to, let anything go.

Re-read Mark's post; especially number 4. I really thought that was amazing.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that your thoughts / complaints aren't valid. But I would ask you where they're getting you. There are issues, there always will be. If you spend your time and energy focusing on problems, then your life is full of problems.

Remember, every problem is an opportunity. You have the opportunity to rise above. You have the opportunity to gently and cordially remind people of information they need to succeed. You have the opportunity to triumph in a difficult situation.

Life is perception. If you can't perceive something valuable then what's the point?

ashdenver's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]Remember, every problem is an opportunity. You have the opportunity to rise above. You have the opportunity to gently and cordially remind people of information they need to succeed. You have the opportunity to triumph in a difficult situation. [/quote]
Maybe it's the D-to-D thing but this hit home more than anything else, thank you.

I've already chosen to remain here for at least a year. After that, I will be prepared to make another choice -- less money/more happiness, hopefully! Meanwhile, I guess I've really been asking "How do I make the best of this situation that's making me miserable so I am still seen as management material just in case the decision a year from now leads me to remain here longer?"

It's going to be quite the challenge to shift from "the opportunity to show these people how idiotic ___ is" to "rise above, gently remind, help succeed, triumph."

The item below arrived in my inbox yesterday as we're celebrating National Customer Service week. It struck me then but didn't resonate. Things seem to be coalescing for me now.

[quote="The Simple Truths of Service"][b]Great Service Is a Choice[/b]

No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice. Years ago, my friend, Harvey Mackay, told me a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said:

“I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said:

[quote]Wally’s Mission Statement:

To get my customers to their destination in the quickest,

safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.[/quote]

This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.”

My friend said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”

Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.”

Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”

And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wally,” my amazed friend asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rearview mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’”

“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.

“It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting.

Johnny the Bagger and Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. They decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles. How about you?[/quote]

rthibode's picture

Hi Ash,

Your examples of problems/irritants seem like just everyday stuff to me.

If you want one direct to report technical stuff to you, and she comes back with "Oh, I agree completely. Meanwhile, I'll go talk to Adam about this and have him email you with his ideas and then I'll follow-up with you once you've heard from him," then you need to respond, "Oh, I think you misunderstood. I just want you to deal with Adam so I'm only dealing with you on this issue. Thanks."

Similar advice for the customer who calls 20 minutes after sending an email -- "Yes, I received your email and placed it in the service queue. I'd estimate about XX hours/days to solve this for you. Thanks for your patience."

As for the client who wrote all over her report that she was annoyed about having to find headers herself, I think you should apologize. Tell her "I'm sorry, I did send them a month earlier, but I should have reminded you or resent the information closer to the report date." This is your CLIENT, you are supposed to SERVE her. The apology both reminds her that you already provided the information and allows her to save face because you take responsibility for not reminding her about it at a more appropriate time.

For a high D, it seems to me like your reactions are very internal and not very direct. You seem to react to these situations by getting angry and engaging in internal dialogues where you get to say all the sarcastic stuff you'd really like to say. I'd like to say that stuff too, I'm sure lots of us would. But it gets you nowhere. I think you'll get more mileage out of calm and direct.

The only problem you list that I agree is a real problem is that you feel you've been asked to lie to customers. If the product is not functioning and you say "we're working on it now" that wouldn't be a lie, would it? Would that meet the company's requirement that you be more "soft" in telling clients about technical problems?

Be well.

maura's picture

[quote]Your examples of problems/irritants seem like just everyday stuff to me. [/quote]

I agree with this on the surface. However I also know that for me, once I've reached a certain threshhold of stress and frustration, even the little everyday irritants seem like major issues.

The advice from others is spot on - do not vent at work, put on the happy-patient-helpful face, and treat problems as opportunities if you want things to improve.

But what are you going to do with all the stress and frustration that's built up to the point of overflowing? You can't vent to let it out, and you can't just keep it inside. What has really helped me is finding a positive outlet for my negative feelings. Personally, it's kickboxing class at my local gym. Talk about a catharsis... Not only do I get to visualize whoever ticked me off that day in order to get the anger out, but I'm getting healthier, and healthier bodies are better equipped to handle new stress as it comes up. Is there something with positive effects that you could channel your stress or anger into?

ashdenver's picture

[quote="rthibode"]For a high D, it seems to me like your reactions are very internal and not very direct. You seem to react to these situations by getting angry and engaging in internal dialogues where you get to say all the sarcastic stuff you'd really like to say. [/quote]
Actually, that was the whole point of this -- that my reactions and dialogues are very [u]ex[/u]ternal.

I'm a perfectionist with very high expectations, both of myself and others. I want things to work correctly the first time. I want people to be smart enough to understand things when I explain it quite clearly. (90% of my clients have no problem-it's the last 10% that really tick me off.) I want equity, logic and functionality. I want proactive rather than constant reactivity.

Sure I've listed everyday things that may not bother someone else (besides me and other perfectionists like me) but the fact is: they do bother me. They're broken, they 'should' be fixed, that they're not & are laregly ignored at a corporate level really, really bothers me.

[quote="maura"]But what are you going to do with all the stress and frustration that's built up to the point of overflowing? You can't vent to let it out, and you can't just keep it inside.[/quote]
You're right. Back in the day, in a much more flexible, solitary job, I had an unlimited pass for kickboxing classes and I'd go four or five times a week. I got quite fit that way.

Perhaps after vacation, I'll adjust my work schedule so I not only take a lunch break but a longer one and head over to the fitness center, work up a really good sweat for an hour and then head back to the office. (It's free!) There's no law that says I have to keep the same hours as my husband. So what if I work a little later, right?

They say exercise releases endorphins so a mid-day workout might do the trick -- let me vent the morning's frustrations and give me a layer of endorphin protection against the afternoon absurdities.

[quote="maura"]do not vent at work, put on the happy-patient-helpful face, and treat problems as opportunities if you want things to improve. [/quote]
I guess I still don't understand how I could improve things such as "client doesn't understand simple, basic directions" or "corporate office has hobbled us with system failures." My frustration is in the fact that I don't have control over fixing those things. I want to fix and improve those things but I don't work at Corporate and I'm not 'allowed' to develop relationships with the clients to coach them through processes.

I'm told to turn & churn and expected to learn by the burn. I'm expected to be highly productive in an environment where the tools (systems) aren't in place to make that happen and where 10% of the clients gum up the works, dragging my numbers down while I deal with the person who doesn't understand "Put the papers face down on the fax machine instead of face up." (The 10% clients take anywhere from three to seven times the amount of time a 90% client takes.)

I would love to be part of the change process -- to redesign the training structure, the mentoring structure, the workflow structure. To a large degree, that's dictated by corporate. The things controlled locally are currently out of my reach -- which is why I'm aiming for management, so I can get in there and make some positive changes to benefit the associates individually, the team as a group, the region as a whole, the clients themselves and the company overall.

P.S. - the majority of the systems I require to do my job are down [i]again [/i]today. At least I got to do some spring cleaning! Those clients are just going to have to wait & deal with the three day delay.

WillDuke's picture

[quote]I guess I still don't understand how I could improve things such as "client doesn't understand simple, basic directions" or "corporate office has hobbled us with system failures." My frustration is in the fact that I don't have control over fixing those things. I want to fix and improve those things but I don't work at Corporate and I'm not 'allowed' to develop relationships with the clients to coach them through processes.[/quote]
If you did know how, what would it look like?

I see an opportunity to write up some instructions one time. Then, whenever I interact with a person who needs more direction I can email or fax the instructions. If they don't know which way to put the paper in the fax machine, I can laminate the instructions and tape them on the fax machine. I have now made that person's life less frustrating. (And my own as well.)

System failures are simply an opportunity to work on something else. There's always more to do. Like writing up instructions. :)

Story Time:
I have a big client. Big for me anyway. :wink: They brought on a new manager who brought along his assistant. This manager was very sharp and terrific at his job. I thought his assistant was an idiot. She couldn't do anything without messing it up. I'd tell her the same thing 15 times and she still didn't get it. Drove me CRAZY! Then I got down off my high horse and took the opportunity to get to know her. (Plenty of opportunity, I was always working with her.) I soon realized that this woman was a production MACHINE! Nobody could churn out work like her; as long as she stayed in her groove. Whenever something new popped up, she was thrown from her groove and got lost. (Can you say HIGH C!) Once I figured this out, my relationship with her improved a million-fold and she became even more productive and I got to a know a terrific person. Of course, I couldn't see that from way up on my horse. I had to get down and open my mind.

I think that was a soap box, but it is a true story. Not only are they not that stupid, but they're not that useless either. :)

lazerus's picture

Venting AT work ABOUT work is indeed dangerous. Why waste your time? If the systems are broken, perhaps there is a way to creatively affect change higher up. The only risk there, it would seem, is that you'll be promoted or seen as a superstar or have some accomplishment for your resume. I know from personal experience that no changes will be made by the higher-ups, ever, if they see you coming at them with your angry face on. :evil: Sell them the benefit. They don't care if you are a victim of poor planning, or whatever, they made the decision to do it this way, and so, it is the "right" thing to do (their perception may not equal reality). Use the downtime to come up with a creative solution. Present it to them. Show benefits, have a plan for improvement.

There are ways out of your situation, just put your energy into creative problem solving instead of feeling victimized by the stupidity of others, who you can't control anyway, right?

lalam's picture

[quote="ashdenver"]
I guess I still don't understand how I could improve things such as "client doesn't understand simple, basic directions" or "corporate office has hobbled us with system failures."
[/quote]

When people on my team used to rant about “those idiot users who cannot follow simple directions”, my response was that the users should not be expected to be experts on our products; they are expected to be experts in whatever they do in their business. It is our jobs to be experts, this is our product! If the users don’t understand something, it is our fault – we made it too complex, too user-unfriendly, too full of our technical jargon. So until we fix the product, the least we can do is to be patient with users who are perplexed by our product and gently educate them on using it so that they are more successful in their job. I used to say that a lot, but then the team got the message and I even heard people explaining this to the new hires.

bflynn's picture

Thinking in a more DiSC-ish way, I might evaluate these statements as coming from a high-D and explain that it is their failure if the customer doesn't understand. It doesn't matter how brilliantly you think you delivered simple instructions, if the customers didn't understand, then you failed at it...and obviously it wasn't that simple. The result is that others in our company notice these kinds of things and failures like these are not career enhancing. Lets work on how to deliver the information better so that next time the customers are better prepared at the end of the presentation.

Just a thought, seeing this single statement pulled out. I could be way off.

Brian

ashdenver's picture

I agree that I have difficulty communicating with some people at times. I recognize that I sometimes make assumptions I shouldn't about their level of knowledge. The sticking point for me is when they fail to "be experts in whatever they do in [i]their [/i]business"!

** Someone who can't fax me paperwork because they don't know how to use a fax machine they own which they purchased from someone else and I've never seen ...

** Someone who is a Controller, CFO or CPA who doesn't understand basic IRS regulations ...

** Someone who is a Payroll Manager who doesn't difference between pre-tax and post-tax employee benefit deductions ...

** Someone who is a VP of HR who is asking me to explain what "accrual" of paid time off means, is or does ...

** Someone who has signed up to use our internet-based product and cannot attach a document to an email ...

For the most part, when someone doesn't understand how "the Balance field is calculated and can only be adjusted by submitting changes to the Allowed and/or Taken fields first," I know I can do a better job of explaining it because not everyone learns the same way. I can usually restate things to be better understood and 99.9% of the time it works.

I also admit there are times when my brain just doesn't work like a client's brain and I simply do not understand what they're asking me. This one client kept asking me the same thing over and over again. I tried my best to provide (obviously) the same answer in different ways in an attempt to convey the point. The client got upset with me because I was treating her as if she was stupid (by repeating the same answer). Shocked as I was, she apparently phrased her question differently for my boss and when he told me what she'd asked him, I understood the different answer she was seeking. There are just times when I'm not able to use my crystal ball & magically know what someone is really asking me by using the "wrong" words.

Anyway, my point is ... when someone is supposed to be an expert at their own job and is quite obviously [i]seriously [/i]underqualified, I admit extreme aggravation toward the person for their implied expectation that it is my role to be an expert in both my job [i]and [/i]teach them how to do theirs too!

For the last week or so, I have made a conscientious effort to steer clear of the Koffee Klatcsh -- the group of women who cannot make it through the day without non-stop kvetching about how loud this one is, how stupid that one is, what a moronic thing to do that was, how annoying it is that things don't work, etc. My outlook has improved considerably!

While I still notice when things don't work or a coworker is wasting time (15 mins looking for something from the printer instead of taking the 37 seconds to simply reprint it), I've noticed that not commenting on it and distracting myself with work (or MT!) has gotten my mind off the negative.

This morning, I drafted an email to the Training Executive (with a cc to my interim boss) about a suggestion I had for more internal training on two of our "sticky" products so that our clients would have a larger base of support after they'd moved out of my area (initial setup.) [I remained professional and refrained from saying "I need you to train these associates already so these clients will quit bugging me!"]

My boss sent me a note:
[quote]Thanks for being proactive in this area. I do have a recommendation for future emails. I suggest that the last sentence of your 1st paragraph indicate what you want from the person it is addressed to. [/quote]
I bit back the urge to respond "Dood, when you're able to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, I'll think about your suggestion!"

I erased the response of "I figured that repeating my implied request for additional associate training would get the point across."

Instead, I simply said "Fair enough -- will do! Thanks for the feedback." It pained me to do it because I really wanted to scream "You're the only moron who would want or need the request stated unequivocally at the end!" BUT, recognizing he and I share DISc/Myers-Briggs profile traits, I kept it short & non-argumentative.

Sure enough, the Training Exec completely understood my request without a problem and the fact that he copied my interim boss proved my (bitten-back) point for me:
[quote]Thanks for putting together such a detailed and well thought out suggestion/analysis regarding the current state of [product] and [product]knowledge within the region. I think that your background on both sides of the client and internal equation would be very valuable in our ability to more actively provide training support for our associates. With the restructure of [division] Training and [current corporate initiative], the regional associate training function is now directly part of Training and Performance Systems with [the local associate trainer] reporting to the Western Area Learning Services Director in Chicago. I will forward on your email and willingness to provide support to both so that they can reach out to you directly during any planning, development, or delivery phase of upcoming training for either of these two products. [/quote]

Slowly but surely, I think I'm starting to get it. While I may not be 100% comfortable in this Corporate Environment with Monumental Bureaucracy, at least I feel like I'm starting to understand the purpose of more corporate-appropriate professionalism in communications.

Thank you ALL for the opportunity to learn.

[i]Remember, every problem is an opportunity. You have the opportunity to rise above. You have the opportunity to gently and cordially remind people of information they need to succeed. You have the opportunity to triumph in a difficult situation.[/i] ~ WillDuke

lalam's picture

What a great outcome! Congratulations on your progress towards "even-keeledness". And it is very wise to avoid the negative cliques; they feed off each other's negativity and make you feel even worse about everything.

One thing that helped me when I was in a customer-facing role, and what I coach my team to do: if it is clear that the customer doesn't "get" the answer I am giving, sometimes it helps to try to figure what is it that they are trying to get done and find a way to address this need in a different way. For example, if I am a HelpDesk technician and I get a panicked call from a user with “My printer doesn’t work” issue, I could spend 45 minutes troubleshooting his jammed printer and get the issue fixed. Or I can try to understand what is really going on, which is that he has a presentation in 15 minutes and needs these printouts – in which case, I will walk him through connecting to a different printer and get him on his way, and then fix the actual broken printer. Hope this example makes sense.

WillDuke's picture

Ash, you're my new hero! Not just because you gave me that nice quote at the end of your posting, but because you took the time to think about a lot of stuff. You took ownership of your situation and you made a difference. You came here for information. You didn't assume you know everything. You bit your tongue. You tried something new. You removed yourself from a negative, though comfortable, influence. That's a lot of tough stuff to pull off.

I also noticed that you never say you don't want to help them. You might think they ought to know already, but you're constantly going the extra mile to help. This is an admirable trait.

One last thing I'll point out, since it's in line with you being my hero. These people are trusting you to help them. They believe you know how to, and CAN help them. Think about that for a minute. That is such a tremendous compliment. They know they didn't get that fax machine from you. But they respect your skills so much that they just assume you can help them! Wow!

Kill 'em with kindness. Keep smiling. You can't be annoyed by anyone if you're smiling. :D

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]You can't be annoyed by anyone if you're smiling. :D[/quote]

You can if you've been customer services trained!

I've worked in a number of customer facing roles, usually in situations where I was facing customers who are angry or upset. A key factor was that no matter how angry, abusive, rude or profane the customer has been I couldn't lose my temper or allow any anger to show to the customer. I had to keep on smiling no matter what. I had to learn to keep calm and not let my emotions show in front of the customer even when my blood was boiling. After the customer had left/hung up I could let go.

Stephen

terrih's picture

[quote="ashdenver"]I bit back the urge to respond "Dood, when you're able to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, I'll think about your suggestion!"[/quote]

Allow me to indulge in pedantry... :wink:

It's fine to end an English sentence in a preposition. The notion that it's wrong comes from a Latin grammatical rule. There was a time when grammaticists schooled in Latin tried to impose Latin rules onto English, and this is one that a lot of people still think is right. Another one would be splitting infinitives. It's perfectly fine to split an infinitive in English.

Yes, in grammar debates, I come down on the side of descriptivism.

To summarize, in the immortal words of Churchill: "That is the sort of nonsense up with which I shall not put!" :D

ashdenver's picture

[b]Terri[/b], have you by chance read "Eat, Shoots and Leaves"?! LOL

[b]Stephen[/b], some of the folks around here who've been in the trenches longer than I have a small mirror with "Smile, they can hear it in your voice" stenciled on it. I think our company purchased the same training program you've described. Luckily for me, the smile trick actually does a halfway decent job since 100% of my client work is telephonic -- they can't see me pounding the heck out of Silly Putty or read the comments I'm writing. Heh.

[b]lalam[/b], you're absolutely right. I think that one client caught me on a bad day because as soon as I read your words, it dawned on me that I generally do things like that fairly often. I guess everyone has "brain cramps" once in a while, eh? Maybe I'll add "What is the end result you're trying to achieve?" or something similar to my Wall of Inspiration.

[b]Will[/b], oh pshaw! :oops: Surely everyone does these things, no? :wink:

WillDuke's picture

Ash, no they don't. Sorry, you're going to have to accept the compliment. :)

terrih's picture

[quote="ashdenver"][b]Terri[/b], have you by chance read "Eat, Shoots and Leaves"?! LOL[/quote]

No, but it looks interesting. :wink:

I used to participate in an online writers' group... we got to where we would warn each other we were about to go into pedant mode...

like this

CalKen's picture

Maura;

You bring up a great point in that stress relief is crucial in these instances. I am a very emotional person myself and I find that I am almost overflowing with emotion, and there are times where I have to catch myself before I "lose it". It makes things harder because there are people who come to me to "vent" and as a manager I have to provide a good example and let them vent. I want them to vent to me behind closed doors as it helps them get things off their chest, but then I look for a root cause of all of the frustration. I find that venting is only useful if you use the venting to find out the true reason and take care of it or it will happen again.

What I have found useful (besides my meditation and the long walks and exercise) is to keep a diary where you just write things down as the feelings come out. I find that it helps a lot in getting these feelings off my chest, and then once the emotion is gone I look back at what I wrote to see what it was I was angry about in the first place. Be forewarned about the obvious: you cannot just keep this diary in any place as the repercussions of this being found by the wrong people would be dire.

Ash;

I sympathize with you, but I agree with the underlying point of most if not all of these posts. Losing your temper or "venting" is never a good thing, and that you need to find an outlet to get those feelings out of your head or you may have to look for another place to hang your hat. Good luck, my prayers go out to you.

skwanch's picture

I'm a 'big' emotion person as well, and have learned that if I find myself feeling the need to 'vent', it's time for me to get a workout in. Funny how many things that seem so huge in the moment seem so trivial when all the excess adrenaline is burned off. And it's a virtuous cycle too; our relationships [b]and [/b]our physical being are improved by redirecting the energy into physical activity.

This feeds into a personal belief/theory/whatever of mine that much of our modern 'stress' is driven by a lack of physical activity. IOW, our desk-driving jobs run counter to thousands of years of evolution, and this creates dissonance at a very basic level of existence. I believe a human being requires a certain amount of physical activity to remain balanced/sane/healthy (in the larger sense of 'well adjusted, happy, etc', not just physically).

I'm an amateur/dabbler triathlete, and have found that in the weeks immediately after a big event, I have an increased capacity for patience, tolerance and am generally much more able to be my better self. I describe it as being 'a door through which love enters the world'. It's a great feeling.

Just my data point . . . (and one that reminds me I need to get an event on my calendar!)

James Gutherson's picture

Is it something in the 'Creative' profile? I am also one who can struggle with 'big emotions' (I'm going to steal that :wink:, thanks Ron ). As a teenager/young adult I used to argue with my parents all the time about my temper - I knew I didn't have a bad temper but I tended to come across that way.
I have also noticed that if I have a physical release then I have less emotional blowouts. I just need to find the time these days, working two jobs and having 2 kids under 4. I'm about to start playing softball again this season though after a 10 year break.

corinag's picture

AshDenver's story is an amazing insight into dealing with less than perfect situations, and I thank her for sharing it. Too often in management training (not MT, tho :-) people assume that you will be dealing with ideal situation and introduce all sorts of models that would work, if the company had goodwill, or the staff were competent, or folk were honest. And then you're stuck in a bad situation, and you don't know how to handle it. I think the advice you all gave AshDenver is the perfect example of responding to real, rather than ideal situations, and its amazing.

That being said, I wanted to comment on a similar experience I had, a couple of years back. I was in a company that consistently expected results without allocating any resources. I was literally in situations where I'd had to spend my own money to get a project done on the deadline given by the top brass, because the financial department couldn't be bothered to disburse the cash for three whole weeks. The second time around, I did not have any personal money available (I had my MBA installment to pay) and couldn't complete the project on time, and was actually berated and humiliated for not having it done, despite obvious and averred reasons. I didn't leave because it was my first corporate job, after the non-profit sector, and I didn't want it to look as if I couldn't cope, and because I'd been there for less than 6 months, and didn't want to be perceived as a job hopper. It wasn't a good experience. I couldn't vent at work, not only because it was inadvisable, but because part of my job was to improve the climate and communication within the organization, but I was unhappy, and vented at home, which obviously affected my family life. To cut a long story short (er... shorter) I stayed for a year, worked with some great people to achieve good results with no resources (a 60,000 USD project spending only 2,000, the rest bartered for and begged for and achieved through innovative, free means), and left. Six months later, my phone was ringing off the hook with former coworkers, who also left because of the bad conditions, and who now were calling to offer me opportunities with their new companies.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you don't have to give in, to give less because the company is giving less, that you have to be true to your own standards of performance and behavior, because you will eventually be repaid, by other people's regard and trust in you.

It sounds like AshDenver, who already is going above and beyond the call of duty, is learning to see the new, even-keeled behavior, as an investment in herself, and I wish her luck and continued determination. Results will follow.

CalKen's picture

I completely agree with your assessment and I sympathize with your experiences. I left my previous company due to similar issues and I remember that at the time I had a high level of loyalty to my employer because I had eight years with them and they invested a lot of money in my education. But, what did it for me was the fact that after this huge investment in education they were unable to let me use it. This was not a company issue, it was that the managers I worked for would not let me use my new skills to foster them and they would block all efforts within the company for me to move into positions where I could. Looking back it may have been my delivery (although I was as polite as I could consciously be) but I ended up being headhunted by a co-worker from another company who knew what I was going through. Now, with this new company, I have gotetn to use my skills I learned with my previous company but now I traded a poor manager for a company with an inherent lack of cohesive management. I am now being considered by several people in other companies who used to work in this company who want me to go work for them. Although I have not "pulled the trigger" yet, I am networking the various options and am considering another move.

In summary, I would say that the biggest benefit to me has been my networking (and as I have a very good name among people I worked with in the past they are eager to recommend me). This has given me the option of lookinbg for greener pastures and being able to have the flexibility with my career. This is not to say that the next company will be perfect (which I doubt) but at least I can be in control of my career.