What to do next?

I’ve kind of lost my way with this blog. It has been about cooking and recipes, marketing, working in B2B tech, playing golf and my family. I haven’t blogged for a long time as I had a feeling this was becoming a rather shouty, rant about everything negative.

I read through some of the more ‘focussed’ posts recently and really enjoyed some of the memories that they brought back. So, now’s the time for me to think through what I want to use this blog for.

 

‘I’ve got your back, trust me’

Whether you’re working for a new company and have that nerve racking first day ahead of you, or you’re part of an established team awaiting the arrival of new colleagues – the road ahead can be a minefield. New personalities. Skills. Moods. Contribution. Fit.

How do you work out the dynamic between you? How do you establish working relationships that count?

Teams of people work eight or so hours a day, relationships build quickly and common ground is established. You might even start to build trust between you and those colleagues, giving you a deeper understanding and empathy within the team. But, trust must be earned, as must respect. They are not given lightly, nor are they something to play with.

But, how do you know if trust is mutual? How do you know if someone is genuine? At what point do you ‘relax’, get back to ‘normal’ and do the job at hand, without distraction? Do you simply ‘trust’ your instincts and feelings?

There are people in life who are simply not genuine. People who are centred on themselves. Who think of themselves, before others and about securing their position in business. These are the people who tell you to (face to face) ‘I’ve got your back’. The same people who think nothing of calling with their woes and worries; a review, an issue with the spouse or kids or even a team member. So, what do you do, and how do you handle it when your trust is betrayed? Confront them? Ignore them? Get on with your job regardless? But, what happens when their actions have a serious impact on you, both personally and professionally? Where do you turn when the person you thought you trusted has betrayed that trust?

Karma really is a beautiful thing. The only thing you have to do is wait.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Other ‘Social Networking’

We live in a world that’s changing. Networks are expanding. Lives don’t move on and it’s difficult for people to make a clean break or a fresh start in any area. I’m not saying it’s wrong (or right) but, I do think it gives pause for thought.

Facebook allows us to reconnect with old friends, or those we’ve lost touch with over the years. It gives us licence to chat, post updates about our lives and tell others what’s going on. It allows people to keep up the happenings of far away friends, but at what point does it become a little bit ‘intrusive’? Or voyeuristic? Do you really want your entire friends list knowing what you had for breakfast? Or that you’re a bit drunk and threw up on the train?

And LinkedIn? The ‘professional’ network…? I have noticed recently that my profile gets a lot of attention from ex-colleagues – people that haven’t actually spoken to me in recent months. What do they want? Is it to know what I’m doing and where? Or another reason?

I’ve had a Twitter account for many years, but recently, my use of Twitter has changed. Is what I say interesting enough to warrant a post? Are my followers really interested in my life? What do I enjoy from the people that follow me? And why?

Are we creating tools and environments that allow people to satisfy curiosity or are we giving people windows into our lives that they normally would not have? Is it stalking? If it’s not stalking, at what point does it become stalking?

What’s going on?

To those of you who check in regularly to see what news, you’ll know there’s not been much blogging going on. Not just recently, but, it seems, over the past year or so. I’m in two minds whether to continue or whether to delete this. Over recent months the blog has simply become a place to rant, a place to let off steam and to talk about stuff that really shouldn’t matter.

It has lost it’s way. I shall look for it. If I don’t succeed then I promise to make it disappear.

Temptation is…

…wanting to blog and tell all, but realising that it might not be the best timing, or the best idea right now.

Years ago I sent my Mum a card which simply said ‘Must have courage, faith and chocolate fudge cake’. That’s my ‘mood message’ at the moment, though I’d rather have vodka than cake.

I can’t really sum up what’s going on either. It’s all a big temptation and an even bigger risk.

A culture of fear

That’s what we’ve got where I work. People are always trying to cover their backs and keep their heads down, to stay out of the line of sight. It’s not pleasant at the best of times. For me, I report directly into the ‘c-team’ so there’s no hiding for me. It makes me a little bit cautious when discussing things in a ‘public’ forum. This week I had the less than pleasant task of running a meeting at the request of my c-level boss. It was always going to contain frustrations, strong views and some frayed tempers, but I didn’t quite expect it to get personal the way it did.

With a number of people coming from far away, there was much discussion about improving communications, and getting things done in a more collaborative manner. That’s no issue at all. I think we would all welcome improvements across all of the team, no-one’s denying it. The difficulties arrived when during a heated discussion fingers were pointed at specific people, comments such as ‘you’re to blame’, ‘it’s your fault’ and ‘you should have done more’ were mentioned. It became very personal. Very. Trying to steer things in a neutral way didn’t help either – it seemed to escalate the level of frustration among the attendees.

There’s no denying the facts. Business isn’t what it once was. But it is just that – business. Don’t make it personal. Don’t point fingers. Yes, we have a culture of fear, but don’t try to score points on a personal level. You never know when it might backfire in your direction.

I believe in karma, do you?

To blog or not to blog…

I wrote this a while ago…

 

All change…again

It’s been a turbulent year. I’ve decided that 2011 is turning into one of those years that we’ll need to either grab by the short and curlies or just forget. Which is it to be?

 

Work has dominated so far this year – predominantly the roller coaster ride that is my company. In October I got a new boss. It took the best part of six months to adjust to his up and down/hot & cold manner. He’s brash, he’s pushy, he’s demanding and more… But in the past few weeks I’ve come to understand just how much he’s fought for the team and to take away all of the road blocks that hamper the day to day running of the department.

 

It’s taken a lot of time for the team to get used to him and to start to buy into what he’s been trying to do, but they were getting there. It was starting to feel like we were achieving an awful lot in a short space of time.

 

And, we had a leader. Someone fighting for us at the highest level. In with the other big cheeses – fighting the politics and shouting about the things we need to get on with an achieve.

 

First, there was the ‘potential acquisition’ notification. Then, the CEO was let go. And, most recently my boss was let go. Ooooomph!

 

It was such a shock to us all. There were many unhappy people discussing how it would mean to them and what would happen next. Our ‘new CEO’ (our Chairman became the Exec Chairman) announced we would all report to sales management. Such a step in the wrong direction.

 

So, the roller coaster starts running even faster than it did before.

Next…?

Work is going from bad to worse at the moment. With questions over brand, CMS, ‘best-of-breed’ agencies and upheaval, it’s no surprise that morale has reached an all time low. We’ve had two resignations in the past week. Correction – I have had two resignations in the past week. Two of my longest serving (longest suffering) team members are stepping down from the role and from the company.

It’s clear they’ve both had enough of the constant change and upheaval and that both are looking for new challenges. It’s clear that everything is different already. But, what of the company? What will be done to rebuild? Anything? Everything? Nothing?

I shall miss my team – as it once was. These changes are as a result of decisions made back to February. Changes were set in motion at that point, and here we are. This week’s news is a direct result. My question (rhetorical): why am I still here? what is there for me? where does this mis-guided sense of loyalty come from? what’s next? will I ever find the elusive ‘work/life balance’? and, losing my team members…what’s next?

Answers on a postcard, please.

In times of stress

It’s tough going at the moment. There’s a lot of stress for me. My other half is stressed too. I just found out that my mum has a back injury. It’s not good at the moment.

I’ve lived in this house for 5 years (nearly) and in the South for 17 years, yet in times of stress I want my home. My Glen. The Glen. (You’ll only get that reference if you’re from the area).

I want to go for a walk after dinner to the waterfall and drink malt whisky from my hip flask – while sitting on a rock in the middle of the river.

I want to listen to the noise of the Glen. The River. The sheep. The cows. The burn. The fox cries. The silence and then, the banter. There’s always banter in the Glen.

OK, so I’m homesick. I’ve been having a glass or two of wine and I’ve been watching Monarch. They’ve been to the cemetery on the hill. We’ve got one of those. I remember my first hike up there (Kindrogan Hill) to the cemetery. I must have been 13 years old. It was a wild walk. Deepest, dark pine forest – the light struggling through the needles to reach you. The smell of the pine. The worn dirt track, rough underfoot. Warm from the hike, I relished the cool air of the sheltered path to the cemetery where the local ‘laird(s)’ and his family are buried.

Last year, I took my step sons to the very same cemetery (with my Mum along for the walk). It was a trek for them, but they quite liked the history lesson, thanks to Mum. We saw deer, listened to the wildlife and watched a Buzzard do its stuff. But, for me, the sight I found was heartbreaking. The walls of the cemetery overgrown, and the graves not easily distinguishable from the weeds. There are no trees any more. There’s no path. There are no fresh flowers. The forest reached its ‘peak’ and so became a deforestation project for the ‘Forestry Commission’. The resulting landscape is just sad. Bare. The cemetery has lost its mystery. It’s neglected. It’s unloved. It’s forgotten.

I do, of course, have happy memories of the trip with J & B. We picked wild raspberries all the way home. The boys don’t like rasps when I buy them at home in Surrey. But, Scottish rasps? Any time, any place, anywhere… That’s how it should be, right??

We need happy times and happy memories to keep us going in times of stress. The Glen is one of mine.

Haste ye back…

The Boss

I use the term the boss to represent the person we report to at work. I’m now on my fifth boss at my current company – the second this year. I like the rest of my team wonder when this person will show us the way forward. When this person will lead. Today, I find myself doubting that that will happen.

We go to work every day. We offer a certain amount of time to our companies in return for a wage. We build relationships with the people we work with. We talk, we discuss, we argue, we debate and we do what’s necessary to get our jobs done. And then, at 5:30 we go home. But it doesn’t actually end there. Often, we work late because we don’t want to let anyone down. Because we want to do a good job. Because there’s a tight deadline and it’s an important task. We don’t get paid to do it. We do it through our good will. On the promise that our company will take care of us, treat us well and show respect.

In recent weeks,  my company has used up the good will of most of my department. It has used up the good will. It has ground people’s humour down. And it’s squashed the life out of some people. Why do companies (or the people running them) think this is good or acceptable?

Today, I took several (blows) pieces of ‘bad’ news about my ‘role’ and what I do for the company. Here we go again. The question is, can I find any tiny bits of good will to see me through? Or…what is the or?