Friday, March 6, 2009

I'm such a good sport (and a good boss)

Ron tagged me with a meme!

It goes like this:
“Your ship has sunk. You have, of course, been stranded on a deserted island. You have salvaged a copy of the King James Version of the Bible and a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. Nothing else. “The very next day you find one of those Arabian Lamps in the sand. Of course, you rub it and, of course, a rather grumpy Genie appears. “‘Let’s get this straight - there is a recession going on. There are restrictions on the three wishes now. I don’t do water or air transport now so no boats, planes or magic carpets. As for electronics, forget it. There isn’t the infrastructure on this island. “‘I can let you have one book and I mean one VOLUME, one essential item and one luxury item. Now hurry up and make your choices, I have to get to those five other islands you are going nominate. ”

Hoo boy, that's a tough one! OK, I'm going to be all Thinking-Outside-the-Box and ask for a blank book. I'd like to be able to record my last thoughts on this earth for posterity. Even if no one else reads them it'll make me feel less lonely.

That means I'd better ask for a pen as my essential item. Not much choice there.

And my luxury item? Lip balm. Dang it, if I'm going to be on a dry island, I don't want to suffer from chapped lips. I would like The Body Shop Coconut lip balm because it's not all fake-fruity and can also function as a salve for minor cuts and scrapes. No, wait - can I change that? I want a tin of Green Wisdom All-Heal Salve by ButterflyWeed Herbals. That stuff is amazing and you get way more of it in one tub than lip balm. And I could use it as lip balm.

And now I have to send on the genie to five others? Get ready:
LL Cool Joe

And would you look at this? LL Cool Joe has also tagged me with a meme! In fact he even wrote the meme himself!

Joe writes, "The boring rules made up by me:"

1. You've got to post a link from the person who tagged you.

2. List 8 things that you know about on your chosen subject. You get to choose the subject.

3. You don't have to tag anyone but you can if you want. If you do, let them know on their blog that they've been tagged.

4. List the rules.

So the idea is to write 8 things about a subject, eg. your job, marriage, sexuality, a hobby, diet, sport etc. that sheds light on the subject from your own personal perspective. So for example if you teach, you list some of the "inside" knowledge that you've gained, making your work more interesting or successful.

As my topic, I chose being a manager. I like to think that I have become the manager I always wished I had. My staff might have a different opinion, but I think that overall they're pretty happy with me. And generally there are a lot of crappy managers out there who can use some guidance. So, listen up!

1. Hiring the right people is half the battle. Set your probationary period to at least 6 months, maybe a year, and don't be afraid to fire someone who's not up to your standards. Firing someone is no fun, but it's better than trying to cope with a troublesome employee for years and years. (Actually sometimes firing someone is a little bit fun, if they really deserve it, but don't tell anyone I work with that I said that.)

2. Hiring tip #1: In the interview look for moderate grooming. The candidate should have put some reasonable effort into their personal hygiene and professional appearance. However, I have hired two women on different occasions who were completely immaculate in their personal appearance, and both turned out to be completely self-absorbed and lazy workers. Beware vanity - it is not a good quality in the workplace.

3. Hiring tip #2: Be a little mean in the interview. I used to be way super-nice in interviews because I felt sorry for the candidates and wanted to put them at ease. A friend of mine, also a manager, pointed out that this was an opportunity to see how they responded to pressure and confrontation. So I stopped being so smiley and stared them down a little, asked some tough questions, and the interviews became much more useful.

4. Hiring tip #3: If you are hiring for an administrative position, look for someone who exhibits some signs of mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They will be careful, methodical, detail-oriented employees who don't need to be micro-managed. And how can you spot an OCD type? Put them at a messy desk and see if they line up all the papers, stapler, etc. at right angles. If yes, you have scored yourself a good one!

5. Use humour. If one of your employees is stressed out, crack a joke, imitate an odd client, do a little clowning, anything to get them to laugh at the situation. This can bring up the energy and morale of your whole department. This will facilitate the happy happy joy joy among your staff.

6. On the other hand, if your department is getting a little too relaxed and chatty, redirect them gently to their work. No one wants to feel like they got yelled at for smiling. Sigh wistfully and say that you're sorry to have to remind them, but there's work to be done and you're calling an end to chat time for the moment. Everyone needs a breather now and then, but there are limits.

7. Make time for your employees to talk with you, in departmental meetings and one-on-one. Even if you are the nicest boss in the world (well, you couldn't be, because I am, but maybe the second nicest) your employees will still be shy about taking the initiative to approach you. Schedule departmental and one-on-one meetings on alternating months. Or if you see that one of your staff is inordinately stressed out, or there's an interpersonal conflict developing, address it in a meeting immediately.

8. Your job as a manager is to help your staff do their jobs better, and in better circumstances. You heard me right. If you think that being a manager means that you get to boss everyone around and be a dink, then... then... well, I don't like you very much. And your staff will give you no end of trouble. The best way to lead is by example. Don't ask your staff to do anything that you wouldn't do, and show them how hard you want them to work. Then they will be loyal and hardworking even on the toughest days.

And those are my tips for managers. I have a lot of fun with my staff, my department runs like a well-oiled machine, and I love my job. In fact, I love my staff like family, and I do believe that they love me a little too.

I'm not going to tag anyone with this meme, but I encourage you to share your Eight Awesome Pieces of Wisdom. You can tag yourselves in the comments if you like.


Scarlet said...

You know I'm googling "Green Wisdom All-Heal Solve" after this, don't you??

Great answers on these memes. I like how you combined the two.

Let me tell you, you make a fine boss. You're not afraid to get your hands dirty and you have compassion...but you know what it takes to get the job done and you push for that (as you should!).

Btw, some of my best friends are OCD types. They're wonderful.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Good answers, even though it seemed like you were basically preparing for death. I would leave eight bits of wisdom about something, but I don't think I have that much to spare.

Sparkling Red said...

Scarlet: I'll be glad if Butterfly Weed Herbals gets some business from this post. They're a small-scale operation, and that green salve is amazing! Also: I'm kind of OCD myself, so I speak with authority! ;-)

Ron: I do believe it's reasonable to assume that I would die in short order if stranded on a desert island. I'm not physically tough in any way, and I have zero survival wisdom. Do you know I've never even been camping outside? Yup, I'm helpless outside of human society. Just give me my lip balm and let me die in peace.

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh boy I've been tagged and I missed it!! Sorry this has been one of those weekends!

Wow it's not an easy one either! I'll get on with it tomorrow.

Thanks for doing my meme too. That's sooo cool. It sounds like you are an excellent boss. I've always been my own boss so it's really interesting to see if from another person's perspective.

They are very thoughtful points too. I'm really impressed. :)

jameil1922 said...

great management tips but what's a dink? i love secretaries w/a bit of OCD. oh MAN!! there is nothing like an admin w/everything under control. sometimes firing someone is a little bit fun, if they really deserve it? HILARIOUS. you know that was my favorite, right? my last job would have been a lot easier and less stressful if they had been less timid about firing people who were subpar.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Naughty Spark. Tagging me! :-)

Well, I done answered the deserted island thingy and it will be posted on my blog tomorrow (Thursday).