Category Archives: Leadership

The timesuck of random management

Due to the complexity of my leave year and my inability to actually take leave, I have been of work for the majority of the last four weeks and I am not sure it’s done me the world of good you might think it should. In short I hate the sucky management stuff more today than I was before I had a holiday.

I try really hard to disconnect from work when I am on leave and for the first week; when I was on the Isle of Wight, this was made easier by the complete lack of internet connectivity where we were staying. The second longer break at home with my wealth of internet connectivity hasn’t gone as well.

I admit the guilt of being off for so long has caused me to peak a few times at my work email, and that it transpires is all it takes. One look at a random email and your day is ruined. Some stupid so-and-so has asked for such-and-such, are they the stupidest person on earth? Often it’s the most innocuous comment that does it.

I am particularly wound up by the random emails of admin – you know the type, please for the sake of the company tick this box, or fill this out in triplicate to confirm that the coffee cups are all lined up. In the fog of work those emails just get a minor grunt and are chucked back with the lack of thought they deserve (or indeed require), but when you have been removed from the actual grind for any amount of time these emails just become the focus of my “everything that’s wrong with the world rants”

I know these emails exist in most if not all companies and this isn’t really a rant against my current job or employer, but really are there not better ways for people to be spending their time?

Over the last few weeks, I have allowed myself to think about work and the many ways in which it is getting me down and how and what I spend my time on is the key theme that keeps coming back

  • The amount of meetings with no end or no aim – Yes I know what the books say, but that’s bull, “excuse me director X but I am not coming because you don’t have a clear agenda and aims”… doesn’t work
  • The amount of documents to say the same thing to someone else, the amount of stat chasing (and i mean management information, not you know the useful ones that tell you if customers are happy).
  • The endless emails asking for stuff that really no-one would care about if they honestly just stopped and thought about it for longer than a second.
  • The amount of time I spend just doing stuff, when really someone else should be doing it, but either through my own incompetence, lack of trust in them or the unreasonableness of the demand they can’t.

Now I don’t directly control all of this – which is something else that sends me into the work/hate spiral. I can’t stop most of the management stuff, and when I do not hate it for existing I hate myself for not doing it quickly enough and moving on.

So with only three days until I have to actually go back to work, I’ve been formulating what I can do… and now I might go off and write that down somewhere, because otherwise I will be distracted and forget only to remember I hate it again on Monday morning.

work work…

I spent most of yesterday in what we affectionately use to call a stable door meeting, and almost all of today writing a email about another website. but really i need to spend at least a day writing about a website that doesn’t exist yet so I’m working from home tomorrow. What I’m doing now.. is putting off working from home tonight.

I am so close to becoming one of ‘those’ people, it’s scary – I have lots to do and somebody stole a day out of my week, and that was before somebody trapped me in a room for three hours and then somebody else required a 2 hour email response.

The problem is I want to lead by example, and working stupid hours all night isn’t the example i want to set.  Yes I want people to do work, but I also want them to have a life, and not get burned out and all stressed on me, in the long run that’s much much harder to deal with, then a missed deadline or two.

anyway procrastination rules, lets just search flickr for photos and maybe play a bit of scrabulous.

Maybe it’s finnaly all gotten to me..

but I like doing PDRs*, Performance & Development reviews – appraisals to you and me.

In my last job. PDRs where seen as a chore, the boss didn’t like doing them, and he let you know it. some of them would go on for hours and you could see through his office window, he was squirming. you would go in, talk about the same things as you did last time, and get the same responses, often with a sense of resignation. once i got.

“well after being here five years I would expect you to leave” (i did)

they weren’t exactly inspiring.

Looking at them as I do know from the other side. I wonder if he ever did get anything from them? because I get lots.

It has to be said I do them quite differently, for a start they are in a coffee shop (get out the office, people will talk!), and I ask people how they are, what they think, just what is happening… We ramble off subject and talk about tea, children, football, philosophy, art, the west wing, and occasionally work. Yes sometimes they last for two hours – but I get to know people more (i like to think i do talk to people outside of these and I do know them a bit already), and genuine ideas come out of them.

From the last set of PDRs I went away and restructured the team, thats worked really well, from this set it looks like we are going to sort out our strategic direction (I had one, it just needed fine tuning and then we’re going to run with it). It all reinforces my getting to where you want to be by not looking directly at it thing. Which is why I sent all the designers of to an art gallery, and when i get the bottle to do it. all the developers will be off somewhere getting inspiration too.

I don’t know what my staff think, I hope they see them as useful to, I am careful to try and remember what it was like… tell people they are valuable to the team (fortunately they all are!), give people hope.. and try to inspire. It all sounds terribly fluffy doesn’t it.. maybe I am a bit of a floaty in the clouds manager.

*one point I am confused on is PDR or PR&D. It turns out I have no idea which one it is anymore…

One year today – ish

It’s been a whole year since I officially started this management lark. I mean i started doing the job more than a year ago, but the 1st feb was when they started paying me.

It’s been quite a ride, 2 months in my boss left, so 5 months in I was acting head of service then we had a baby, and then I came back restructured the entire team, and started changing how we work. Last week we got a new office, and tomorrow (well today). we are having an away day, where I am considering delivering quite a radical* vision for the team.

but i tell you what.. it’s fun 🙂

* radical for public sector born things anyway.