A Post in which I Ramble a Bit About Work

One of the things I set out when writing this blog was that I wasn’t going to focus on the small details of my life.  This post isn’t going to go into the small details of my work, but the broad themes that influence my level of satisfaction at my job.  My husband and I have been reviewing financial and career goals lately and it’s spawned a few thoughts and truths I thought I’d share here.

Working for family is different.  I’ve got experience working with my blood family (sister) and my in-law family (a whole bunch of ’em).  It can be a huge asset or a huge liability, but it is definitely not the same as working for strangers.  I’ve learned a few things about working with family that can make it a lot easier.

  • Rules and guidelines are important.  It’s important to treat everyone as a professional and make sure each person understands and acknowledges their roles.
  • There are times when it’s important to just be family and not bring work into it at all.
  • Don’t make people pay for professional mistakes during your personal time, and vice versa.
  • It doesn’t work for everyone.  If you think it isn’t for yourself, don’t let yourself be pressured into it.

There are many different ways to interact with people – stick with the one(s) that work for you.  I’ve reinforced a valuable lesson working at this current job: I do NOT like customer service positions.  It isn’t that I don’t like, need and appreciate customers as they are what makes the business continue, but my strengths lie in other areas.  I think I’d much rather have an internal management position than a front line sales position.  That’s just me though.  Figure out what works for you and try to play up your strengths.

Don’t be afraid to ask the outrageous question.  When I asked for three weeks off to tour Japan, it wasn’t so outrageous since I do work for family members.  But, in my job with customers, I’ve seen some pretty outrageous questions, and sometimes the answer surprised me.  This happened just the other day with a file that I was sure was going to get sent back to me.  There are a few things that can help your results when asking for the outrageous (though following these guidelines do not guarantee success by any means!)

  • Ask the right person.  If you ask someone who doesn’t have the power to do or get what you want, you aren’t going to be able to get it.  Plain and simple.  Plus, if that person thinks it is outrageous and relays the question on your behalf, there’s a chance that they will influence the outcome (could be good or bad).
  • Be blunt.  Give the person in authority enough information to understand where you are coming from, but don’t give more information than is necessary.  Be honest that you might be stretching a bit.  Don’t try to hide the nature of your request.  This just adds a layer of deceit to what you’re trying to do.  Be bold and ask for what you want.
  • Deal with the answer, whatever it ends up being.  Don’t whine or try to win over the person you are asking.  The outrageous question is not a negotiation.  Negotiations have their time and place and different rules apply.  If you are successful be grateful and acknowledge whomever granted your request.  If you are rejected, accept it, acknowledge that it was worth the try, and move on.
  • Don’t abuse it.  If you come up with something new and outrageous every day of the week, you are just going to annoy the heck out of people.  When a person who normally makes reasonable requests occasionally goes out on a limb they are more likely to get away with it than a person who routinely tries to push the envelope.
  • Have a ‘Plan B.’  Be ready for a rejection and have a contingency plan in place for if/when it happens.  Putting all your hopes on a favourable answer can have disastrous consequences if you aren’t prepared.

I am a ‘big picture’ kind of person.  Know what you are and don’t be afraid to ‘guide’ your own training.  If you just go through the motions of how to do something, without telling me why, it probably won’t stick.  If you tell me why, I still might forget until you tell me a couple of times, but I can’t fully wrap my head around it until I get the big picture.  Perhaps it’s my English Literature background – I thrive on theme!  All the little details that come up, don’t really mean much until you see it as part of the whole piece.  But, other people don’t need to see the big picture and need to be shown the little steps, one at a time.  Know what works for you and ask appropriate questions to guide the person you are working with into helping yourself out.  We aren’t in Elementary School anymore folks.  The only person responsible for your success or failure at future learning is YOU.

I’m finally getting fired up at work so that I might just start making some things happen.  I won’t bore you with details, but hopefully it will not only make me a bit happier at work, but it’ll help the business do a little better as well.  I’ve got co-conspirators whom I will be working with, which will help me to be brave and take the steps that are necessary.

I also stumbled across a management certificate program offered through one of the local university’s continuing education programs.  I’m seriously considering enrolling in it.  I am very lucky to have any education opportunities paid for by my company (so long as it relates to our business somehow) and some of the courses sound kind of appealing.  It would be in the same vien as a CGA program but without the intensity or 5 year minimum commitment (and it looks a bit lighter on actual math skills as well – I did mention I was an ENGLISH LITERATURE student, right?).  I’ve given myself a fall deadline for picking and enrolling in something and this would definitely be something my boss would spring for.  I just need to decide if it’s the best thing for me.

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