Friday, June 20, 2008

Polyanna shut your trapper... Abe had it right!

I was sent this craigstlist posting by an old coworker (as in I don't work with him anymore... not referencing his age folks) and was truly inspired by it's honesty. To sum it up for those too lazy to click the link: an owner of a cat has realized they are no longer benefiting from the cat/owner relationship and they want to give it away. Instead of posting misleading content like a photo of the cat cooking breakfast, or an exerpt from the Sign Language for Cats book inspired by Mr. Wiskerson himself, the owner tells it like it is.

In today's society we use terms like "prior owned" when referring to a USED late model Datsun and line our check out stands with airbrushed actresses on gossip magazines all in the name of "putting our best foot forward." I think that's why this posting was so refreshing. It makes me wonder how brutal honesty might change my profession if embraced by candidates and employers...

Candidate with the following skills and qualities seeks new opportunity:
- Makes it a point to round down when clocking in and round up when clocking out to the nearest half hour
- Considered forgetful by past employers, and posseses the ability to formulate an excuses at the drop of a hat.
- Habitually steals food out of the common frig, but always leaves one bite left as to not be rude.
- Quick to take credit for other's work. Put me in left-field when Barry Bonds is up to the plate and I'll be the reason he walks back to the dug out. (For those who don't follow baseball Barry Bonds always pulls the ball so the left fielder can pretty much sit down when he comes up to the plate)

Company seeks candidate with the following qualities and skills:
- Willing to take on additional work in the event of layed offs or reorgs with no expectation of salary increase.
- Embraces after hours calls from manager for "special projects."
- Considers the phrase "not in the budget" underutilized and completely satisfying
- Enjoys morning runs to local donut shop and fetching coffee

I might give some serious thought to my brutally honest "strengths and weaknesses" on my commute home in the typical friday parking lot our department of transportation deems a "highway." I am thankful for the opportunity my commute gives me to reflect on the day and just spend some quality time by myself. WHO AM I KIDDING?!?! I am going to leave the sugar coating for my breakfast cereal and call the commute what it is. A slow and painful battle between patience and rage and if I hear that "Bleeding Love" song more than once on the ride home I might just hiss. That reminds me... I've got to see a man about a cat!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Work my fingers to the bone..."

"What do you get? Boney fingers!" I know this old country song for one reason and one reason only. As a child my father would sing it over and over and when he got to "Boney Fingers!" he would take his knuckles and attempt to tickle me the only way a father knows how to tickle... painfully.

Those words repeated over and over in my head recently as my inspiration for my next blog post hit me like the treadmill greets the pecks of the guy in the new Voice Activated Ford Sync Commercial. It's okay that you laughed at that!

Onto the blog... you hear the phrase "work-life balance" thrown around a lot these days in the corporate environment. Company websites boast flex schedules and work from home to help their employees achieve this idea. I read an article last week about an advertising firm that allowed new moms to bring their newborns to work for the first six months. How many technological devices have been invented to help employees organized their lives and attain this harmony that so few can accomplish? Try googling "work life balance training" and see the links to company after company willing to take your money in exchange for insight into their 7 step process to total work-life domination.

I personally think companies and employees are making this too difficult. Companies are taking on the responsibility of helping employees manage their lives when if they would simply give them an appropriate work load the employees might find themselves empowered to handle it themselves. I listen as employees recount their 1AM email sessions, or their 45 minute phone interview conducted while driving their kids to school and I question if VPN and hands free are truly the work-life balance godsends our corporate websites are claiming them to be. I wonder if our spouses and kids are thrilled to have us at every soccer game and awards banquet with our little blue lights in our ear providing the pyrotechnics for the event, or if they wouldn't rather us just be fully there for half of them. Maybe to show up and leave the blackberry in the car and not be quizzed on if the venue has free wireless access.

It seems the more we dump on our employees the less likely they are to connect at home regardless of what device we give them. As a company we try to caution them from doing too much from home and even go so far as to dictate they are to take a day off. Isn't it a bit contradictory to expect them to stop working for 24 hours knowing good and well if they do they are simply postponing the workload and stress. Afterall, we trained them fully on procrastination just last month!

Too much work can also lead to and increased probability of erroneous output. I know when my "to do cup" is running over the last thing I need to be tasked with is something immenant and important... like brain surgery. So we are setting these employees up for failure and when they fail and are reprimanded who hears about it? Their spouse! It is packaged up, taken home and presented at the dinner table over a bed of mixed greens and balsalmic vinegarette. Don't worry spouses... you won't have to hear about it long because you will disrupted by a familiar buzz and your broken husband or wife excusing themselves from the table to take the call. Ahhhh work-life balance!

So in this day and age if you overwork yourself day in and day out what do you get? More money and more stress! A love of either could leave you happy with your results so you choose. Afterall, it's your work-life.