Rocking the boat can get you thrown to the sharks

29 11 2016

“The only guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

You’ve been there.  You and your group are in a crunch-time situation (for example, our current business pilot, and the pressure to hit our numbers), and almost everyone on the team has their head down, rowing aggressively (or in this case, smiling & dialing  🙂 ).  At the same time, someone on the team is checking their selfies on the phone, or shopping for holiday gifts.  They’re basically rocking the boat, by making you work harder than them in order for the team to succeed.

Leaders… Those among you who have a leadership title, or just you line workers who have the respect and admiration of your team.  THIS is the time to step up, and confront the person who is rocking the boat instead of rowing with the rest of the team.   Basically, make it more uncomfortable for them to NOT work than for them to work their butt off.  When they do turn around, don’t forget to praise them.  Positive reinforcement and optimism can be a force multiplier, allowing 10 people to accomplish the work of 15!

Speaking of guys…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.


The stress of stretching.

3 10 2016

“We all, in real life, put on these masks – we don’t swear when we’re around certain people… When we come home, when you’re on your own I’m sure you’re really different than when you’re with your boss.” ~ Malin Akerman

I’ve had conversations over the last few weeks with co-workers who have taken the DISC analysis, and the results showed that their natural style (i.e. who they are at home) and their adapted (work) style were a bit of a stretch.  If you’re one of these people, it’s important to understand that long stretch can cause stress if you don’t understand it, and deal with it.  That means putting on your “work face” on your commute in, and then slowly leaving it in the car/bus/sidewalk as you return home to your natural setting.

Leaders, please understand that you very likely have people working with you who have to “stretch” (and stress) to fit into the mold that their job responsibilities require.  For the very best of your workers, if you see this stretch, then work to help them find an opportunity in the company that is closer to their natural style.  If they excel while stressed, just imagine how much they can rock if you find them a job that is closer to their natural style!


Speaking of swearing…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

Talking them off the ledge – then asking the same of your leader.

31 08 2016

“The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs.  You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it.  There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Some days, I’d laugh in the face of this quote, and other days, I might throw something at the screen.  If this is one of those days for you, keep in mind the words of wisdom of our fearless CEO – “Did anyone die?”.  This question is asked of me when he can tell that I’m stressed out about something that went wrong, or worrying that something bad was looking like it might happen.  It always snaps me back instantly to a relatively calm state.  Systems are down?  “Did anyone die?”  Oh, yeah… systems go down sometimes – we’ll get through it.

Leaders, keep this in mind when your team members are buggin’ out.  It’s your job to say “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.  Everything will be OK.”  You, as a leader, have to show your team that you’ve got it under control.  There’s nothing that can turn minor concern into a running-onto-the-runway panic (see LAX news story from earlier this week) than a wild-eyed leader screaming “What are we gonna do?!?!?!?”.  Leaders – Never let ‘em see you sweat.  Then, if necessary, go to your leader, and explain your concerns, so they can talk YOU off the ledge, too.  🙂

Speaking of anxiety…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

The weapon that kills stress

13 05 2016

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James

(Wow.  There was a supreme lack of weapon quotes, and even fewer about Reverse-Engineering… So I’ll do my best this lovely Friday morning, even if it is still dark outside.)  I think the quote means that you often can’t change the circumstances that could be perceived to create stress, but you CAN choose to interpret those circumstances as creating something else… Opportunity.

Leaders, the nature of leadership is that you’re going to eventually be in a position where “stuff happens”.  When it does, you’re going to notice the eyes of your team turning to you to see how you react to it.  Yep, stuff goes wrong, and we have to deal with it.  Boom!  Something didn’t go the way you planned it.  Well, you can curl into a ball and cry, or you can seize the opportunity by the throat (Carpe Jugulum!), and turn it into a good story that you can tell your own new leaders down the road.  Choose door number 2:  Come up with a plan to deal with the “opportunity”, and turn that frown upside down, Sunshine!  As long as you’re thinking about it, and moving in SOME direction to try to solve it, you’re likely to have the support of both your team, and your own leaders.

Speaking of weapons…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

The thing you do to pay for the stuff you do

8 03 2016

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.” ~Ellen Goodman

I hope this is an older quote, or a quote from someone who makes millions and millions at work.  How much is home life worth?  Weekends with the family, dinners around the table in the evening talking about how the day was.  That’s my kind of life.  Those who can telecommute occasionally, or even work out of the home have it even better!

Leaders, help your team members find that work-life balance.  I know we have some departments experimenting with telecommuting, so we’re making real progress.  Even if they have to be in the office every day to get the job done, don’t let them get so wrapped up in the job that they’re “working” (or stressing about work) even when they’re home.  Work is something that we do to pay for the stuff we do when we’re not working.  Maybe you’re even lucky enough to love your job.  But give perspective when you see that it’s needed.

Speaking of traffic…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

The fifty-seven dollar worm

16 02 2016

“A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.” ~Bill Vaughan

Finding your inner child will help you take pleasure from the simple things.  I, personally, still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  I try to get as much out of every day as I can, and really like the pleasure that comes when you help someone who didn’t ask for your help.  Whether that’s giving advice, a present, or otherwise helping someone’s day get a little better, the rewards are worth way more than the effort put into it.
Leaders, if you find yourself trudging through your day, un-motivated, and just looking at the clock, get up, walk around, and try to make someone smile.  Stop by the desk of that person who looks stressed, or perplexed, and ask what you can do to help.  If you find a nifty shortcut on something to do with your PC, share the idea, to help others save time.  Giving a little bit of un-solicited help will lift both your spirits and theirs, too.

Speaking of worm(holes)…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.

Sometimes shift happens

20 01 2016

“It’s just a job.  Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand.  I beat people up.” ~Muhammad Ali

I’ve often told people “it’s just a job”, only to have them look at me like I was saying it’s OK to be a slacker.  That’s incorrect context, though.  I love my job, and work to help my team members enjoy their job as much as I can.  Whenever I drop the “It’s just a job” bomb, it’s usually because someone is working themselves sick, or worrying to the point that their health is in danger.  People who work 12 hours are shorting their families, and that’s where I drop the bomb.  Families, friends, and other real life events should come before work, when it comes to your emotions.

Don’t let your ego get so close to your job that when something inevitably fails at work, your ego fails, too.  (I’m paraphrasing Colin Powell).  Come in, do your best, understand that you’re not perfect, and understand that sometimes, as economics professors say, “Shift happens”.  Things outside your control can create drops in supply or consumer demand, missed budget numbers, etc.  Don’t stand there like a cow chewing your cud.  React appropriately, but don’t let it get so deep into you that you have an ulcer, because yes, dear reader… It’s just a job!

Speaking of grass…

grazing grass

Rubes cartoons used with permission.