Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lazy Sunday morning

Ah, Sunday.

Not sure why it sounds like Hips Don't Lie is coming out of my iPod, but never mind. It's Sunday and I slept until 10 and made soft boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast and have finished my second cup of coffee, so all is right with the world.

Sorry I haven't been around much this week. It had nothing to do with my head bang and more to do with the fact that I was simply too busy and tired, and preferred surfing to writing when I was online. Work has exploded...we have something like 30 active proposals on my team of 3 full time and 3 part time people, and since our capacity at full staff is 20 and we have one person on holiday you can imagine my consternation. That, combined with my final three weeks of MBA work and trying to find my stuff amid my still packed boxes and a genuine desire to get some rest so any minor damage from my tumble could heal have made this a less than pleasant week.

I had two big accomplishments this week.

1) I turned in my Globalisation report on Cuba. As I've mentioned in the past, I was supposed to go to Cuba for a week on a study tour back in June, and then the individual assignment in that class was to write a 1500 word personal reflection on that experience. But instead of going to Cuba, I came home to the states and spent three weeks with my family while my father was dying...certainly the right decision, but it put me in a spot because I then had to figure out what to do to meet the assignment requirements. Everyone was very accommodating...they made it all very open ended and didn't give me a deadline and were very supportive. I decided to basically follow the assignment and do a personal reflection on Cuba as an America who'd never been there. But I didn't write the report. I couldn't. I'd try, but I would find a thousand other things I had to do instead. I'd even clean to avoid writing the thing, for pete's sake. I DID NOT want to write this report. When I DID try, I'd start crying. It was like some sort of grief trigger...there has been so much to deal with in my normal life since I got back from the funeral, and for the most part I've dealt with grief by setting it aside because I simply don't have time right now. I think my report somehow opened that door, so I kept avoiding it so I could keep going.

But to get my MBA I have to get the damn thing done. A few weeks ago, my co-coach, Simon, gave me a kind but pointed talking to about this and starting holding me to deadlines, which helped. And he was nice enough to check in regularly to be sure I was on track, so I was able to treat it like a task, compartmentalizing it, as well. Tears were running out of my eyes pretty much the whole time I was writing, like some sort of faucet that was dripping, but the report is done, it's turned in. It is not my best work. It could have been a whole lot better with more word count and research time. But is is done, it will pass, and I can move on.

2) I have been growing increasingly frustrated with workload at the office....there is somehow this perception that my team has too many people on it, and I get lots of pressure to be working more efficiently. That's a fair request, and I'm happy to do that. But there is also this very subtle message that we should actually be reducing head count by achieving these efficiencies. This annoys me, partly because it takes a different strategy to prepare a team for optimal efficiency than it does for reducing headcount, and partly because this is all based upon gut feeling and not on tangible performance matrices...in fact, my offers to try to do some numbers analysis on productivity per head have been squelched because my manager thinks that's all just open to interpretation. (Whereas gut feeling...now THAT'S a science, but never mind) We've agreed to disagree, and I do things his way.

Unfortunately, when I flag the possibility that we can't take more work without breaking morale and possibly under-delivering and losing business, it either falls completely on deaf ears or I actually get reprimanded. The reprimand is for being negative...my supervisors believe one can never say anything negative and should only state solutions, whereas I believe that one can only come up with solutions when one has articulated a problem. Therefore I articulate a problem prepared to discuss solutions with my supervisors to gain consensus before proceeding, and my managers get angry because I haven't just stated a solution. I find this incredibly frustrating, especially since I've also been reprimanded for taking the wrong approach by stating a solution they disagree with, and I'm often having to manage situations with only 50% of the information, as there are often significant unspoken agendas at play higher up the food chain.

So this week I decided the rules were changing. I threw politics to the wind and sat both of my managers down to discuss problems on my team. I was completely unemotional...something that I have only recently learned to be when I'm passionate about something. I stated facts, my interpretation of them, and what I was doing as a result. I articulated areas where I felt I was not receiving appropriate managerial support and pointed out that, in the same way that I am accountable to my team and must adjust my style get their willing support of the goals I have in place, they are accountable to me and are currently not doing a good job at gaining MY support.

I'm not sure they were so pleased with my feedback, but I feel much better now, and will therefore be more effective at my job. I can say, though, that I delivered my message in a manner that will get me better results than my old tactics...I didn't rant and rave, but instead matched my style to theirs, and I have the best chance I can of getting through to them. We all know that I'll be moving on to something new now that my MBA is completed, so it's an odd situation. I am now extremely over-qualified for my current position, and while it makes it harder to manage me because they know I have opinions I am not stating unless asked, I am willing to do my job well until I find another job and right now they can't really afford to lose a set of hands.

I also got a new haircut...the stylist is an older gentleman who used to work at Vidal Sassoon in London and now he is semi-retired with his own shop in a nearby village. A friend recommended him, and he gave me a very good cut. It is a precision one...you can see the layered segments within it, and they all swing together nicely to release the curls. But I wasn't done with the shaggy crop cut I got in August, and now I'm back to a bob with heavy bangs. It looks nice, but it wasn't what I wanted. I am conflicted.

The head is fine. Bruises are almost gone now, and I still have had very few side effects. And I figured out that the toast-buttering problem was the knife, not me. I've since used that knife again and realised it is just plain awkward for spreading things...the weight is off or something. A relief to know. I've done a little research, and as I'm sure the Bethanizer and El Doctor Ben and will verify, if you're going to bang your head the best place to do it is squarely on the forehead, as it is the least vulnerable part of your skull. I was very lucky.

I am now going over to my old house to meet my landlord, who says there are things there that are mine (two things are because I couldn't get in the house when the prospective buyers changed the locks on me, even though they don't actually own the house yet,) and then I'm going to the gym, and then I'm going to crank out a paper and do some research on another. Lazy Sunday is over. And I'll try to get online more often so you don't have just one giant post to read once a week.

Oh. And though one deadline has shifted slightly, in two weeks I'll be done with classes and in three I'll be done with my MBA. I then get my life back. HOORAY!!!!!!!

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