Work Atmosphere

…to a remarkable extent, Google’s workers really do take “Don’t Be Evil” to heart. C-suite meetings have been known to grind to a halt if someone asks, “Wait, is this evil?” To many employees, it’s axiomatic: Facebook is craven, Amazon is aggro, Apple is secretive, and Microsoft is staid, but Google genuinely wants to do good.  (Source:  Nitasha Tiku, “Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech.” Wired, 8/13/2019.)

Can you define the atmosphere at your workplace in one word?  Okay, try three words.  If you know what the general attitude of your work environment is then you have taken a big step toward controlling your own attitude about work.  Performing successfully at your regular job or jobs goes a long way toward establishing your emotional health.  Showing up several days a week at a place that you subconsciously fear or loathe is not a good thing, emotionally and eventually physically.  If you truly experience fear at your workplace, it is time to change jobs.  Period.  If you hate your job – a common enough situation – then you should take steps to change.  Change jobs.  Change your attitude.  Change your level of performance.  Any one of these changes, some more challenging than others and none necessarily easy, will change the way you feel.

Take the first example: change your job.  This may seem the logical way out of a job you hate, but it may not be the best.  If you are not qualified or experienced in another field, then getting a different job is going to be tough.  If you get a similar job at another company, you may very likely end up disliking it as well because nothing has really changed except the sign above the door.  Review your analysis of the atmosphere at your current workplace.  Can you tell from the outside if the company you are considering moving to has a different atmosphere than the place you are at?  Job-hopping is not always a good solution to get away from work you don’t enjoy.

Second example: change your attitude.  Go back to your description of the atmosphere at the company where you currently work.  Now, do a little soul-searching and find three words that legitimately describe your current attitude toward life outside of work.  Do the words match up or are they distinctly different?  For instance, is your workplace sad or oppressive? Did you describe yourself as depressed?  There is probably a correlation.  Just as if you described your workplace as exciting and your attitude as optimistic.  The point is if there is an association between the attitudes of your work environment and your own attitude when you are not at work and that association trends toward the negative maybe you should work on the part you can control: your attitude. Make an effort to change your attitude about your job for one month.  Not the month in which you take a vacation or the most stressful work month of the year, like when the books close, the big show is scheduled, a new model is being released, or when the annual report is due – choose a regular depressing month at work.  Decide that you will make one beneficial, worthwhile contribution every day at work whether it is only saying or doing positive things in the break room, putting up some new photos or inspirational posters in your cubicle, helping the new hire navigate the system (whether this is in your job description or not), or even taking a walk at lunch instead of going to the same old deli with the same old co-workers and complaining about the same old things.  At the end of the month, be honest with yourself.  Did you make a valid and consistent effort to change your attitude?   Has your attitude toward your job changed?  If yes, you might try doing it for another month.  If no, you might try looking for another job or try number three.

The third example is similar to but not the same as the second: change your level of performance.  Again, choose a month in which to ascertain your success or lack of it.  Then go over your job duties, hopefully you have a written list of tasks you are supposed to perform.  You may even have scheduled goals for those tasks – daily, weekly, whatever.  If you have a performance checklist that your supervisor keeps, then this will be easy.  See where you get stars and where you get frownie faces.  Work on eliminating the frownie faces.  If you don’t have a performance checklist, then make your own.  Determine what you should accomplish at work each day/week and then keep track.  Obviously, the goal is to do all that is required of you competently and on time.  If you don’t do that, give yourself a frownie face.  The goal is to raise your level of performance as an evaluation tool for yourself.  Assuming you succeed in improving your work efforts, do a reevaluation of your attitude about your job.  Again, there may be a correlation.

Finally, if you have made a deliberate effort toward making one or all of these changes, do another evaluation of your work atmosphere.  What three words come to mind now?

image credit: hrzone.com

Name Day

I named this blog Maturation because it was the only word that I could afford that fit the situation. Maturation is a rather unattractive word for a sometimes unattractive experience but one that comes along regardless. You can’t stop maturation unless you commit suicide, have that Benjamin Button disease, or just stop trying to grow up and then no one will like you.

I wanted to name this blog “growing up.com”, but that name was taken. (*Warning: that site is fake and will probably give your device a serious cold if not an all-out virus along with a free iPhone).

Back to the site name: I also tried to name the site “maturation.com”, however that name is for sale for only 10,000 euros. Didn’t happen. Other synonyms for maturation include blossoming, flowering, ripening…none of which seemed to convey my meaning plus they sounded a bit fruity if not overtly sexual. Not what I was aiming for.

So I ended up with maturationdotblog.wordpress.com. Still not what I want, but I can’t change it until September 30. Bear with me and just sign up for posts to be sent to you because the current name is a pain to remember and to type in.

*You were warned, but you tried it anyway…

photo credit: makemeameme.org

Birds Aren’t Real

Birds aren’t real, but watching the newly-launched drones sitting on the feeders outside the window waiting for calibration while they munch a few sunflower seeds is entertaining and enlightening. The new drones are scruffy, skittish, and clumsy. Right out of the factory, these remote-controlled feathered forms do not have the correct coloration to perform as effective spies. It takes a few weeks in the sun for them to reach the hues for which they were programmed. It also takes them a bit of time to determine the precise settings for their internal GPS systems. Nothing funnier than a drone that can’t quite land on the branch or feeder it targeted. And finally, the drones have to ascertain the locations of all nearby charging stations. Sometimes, they get sidetracked in doing the latter by bird feeders. Apparently, the need for a power source to communicate their surveillance findings gets tangled in their internal wiring with the need to act like a bird in front of unwitting citizens.

The extermination of all birds and their subsequent replacement with robots started in the 1950’s. (You can read the entire history of the secret government project in the link below). The complexity of such a project exacerbated by the extreme secrecy of it has made slow going for the CIA. However, the modern creation of long-distance, self-flying drones promises great leaps in the project in the near future. So, set up a couple of feeders and keep an eye on drone development right out your window. You know they are watching you and as an adult American citizen, it is your responsibility to be aware of government actions in all respects.

https://birdsarentreal.com/pages/the-history

photo credit: Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017

Earwax

Like so many adult problems, there are multiple solutions to the issues of earwax. Having multiple solutions to a given problem is usually a good thing as there is something for everyone, but with earwax the actual problem is the argument over the effectiveness of the various solutions or even the taboo about cleaning out one’s own ears at all.

Everyone has earwax and no one likes it, with the possible exception of Shrek. There is a great debate over what to do with earwax, at least what to do with it while it is still in your ear. There is probably not much debate about what to do with it after you get it out of your ear. Don’t wanna think about options for that.

Earwax was not a problem when you were young. Your mother poked your ears with a cotton swab, washed them out with a washrag and a pointy finger nail, or simply ignored it. But now as an adult, you are faced with dealing with your own earwax. There are many ways to remove ear wax, which is technically called cerumen. Some methods include cotton swabs, ear candling, paper clips, pencils, toothpicks, ear drops and doctors. Only the last two methods are recommended. (See link below to article from Harvard Medical School).

A gambler would bet that 97% of adults have poked an ear swab (let’s just call a Q-tip a Q-tip, okay) or a toothpick or a pencil or a stick in their ear at one time or another to relieve an itch inside their ear or as a part of their grooming ritual. Never mind that your doctor and your mother told you never to do that. The other 3% of adults probably don’t have ears.

Of the recommendations from Harvard for treating ear wax issues, only one is typically affordable: ear drops. However, if you have ever used ear drops for grooming or medication, then you know they don’t feel particularly good and take a lot longer to work than they should. Ear drops tickle at best and cause extreme itching at worst. It takes a lot longer to get the ear drops out of one’s ear than it takes to put them in. Finally, you might wind up with that annoying sensation of water in your ear as if you had been swimming all day.

Maybe it is worth going to the doctor to get rid of earwax? At least, he could anesthetize you so you would not have any of those horrible water-in-the-ear issues and they could patch up the holes in your eardrum from those toothpicks and pencils.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/got-an-ear-full

photo credit: stemd.net

Respect

While having lunch at a local restaurant, I noticed a woman carrying an overflowing briefcase accompanied by a teenage boy who was obviously not her son. I was sitting close enough to overhear some of their conversation (yeah, I know…shame on me). It seems the woman was a social worker of some sort supposedly helping the young man who was new to the area. Another woman, who was also working in the restaurant as I has seen her pecking on her laptop when I entered, approached their table to discuss her free-lance efforts at saving the world. The second woman was apparently having trouble finding the appropriate free services for her non-paying client, so she asked the paid social worker for advice which the first woman promptly dispatched. This advice was followed by a lengthy conversation about website development, mutual acquaintances, mutual praise, and other gossip. On the face of it, this restaurant seems to be a hotbed of public service providers.

After the second woman left to go off and save some other poor soul, the first woman asked her charge how he liked his food and then proceeded to answer a phone call where she discussed at length another case she was working on. Eventually, she asked the young man if he wanted to go to his school to check on his schedule for the upcoming year and they departed. One wonders what the gist of their meeting was intended to be. 

What struck me about this scenario was that neither the professional nor amateur social worker respected the young man’s time enough to devote the lunch meeting to him and whatever his issues were at the time. Nor did they respect the privacy of their other clients whose issues and names they were bandying about in public.

The moral of this story is two-fold. First, if you are meeting with someone give them your full attention, especially if you are getting paid to meet with them (even if it is only taxpayers or non-profits paying you). Second, just because the person you are paid to meet with is a teenager doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect. This goes for small children, elderly persons, handicapped persons, persons of different skin tones, basically everyone. You get the idea. Karma works two ways; don’t tempt her.

photo credit: blog.cognifit.com