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Oh, I am. But that’s just my little company so it doesn’t really count. But if I were CEO of a massive mega company then I’d love to try out a few ideas.

Top Ten Things I’d do if I were CEO

  1. Ban all meetings for a month. If you want to talk to people, get up and do it now. Don’t set a date for two weeks hence.
  2. When meetings are reintroduced have no chairs so no one can get too comfortable
  3. Insist that calendars can only be filled to a maximum of 50% of the time – that leaves time for actually doing work
  4. Insist that managers are visible and available on the ‘shop floor’ for 50% of their time
  5. Disable the reply to all button. If you want to copy everyone in, then you’re going to have to add their names manually.
  6. Ban hot desking so at least we can know where people are supposed to be
  7. Introduce ‘Godsends’ who do all the stuff required to oil the wheels and make things happen but always takes longer than you think. So it would be like having lots of shared PAs.
  8. Reintroduce the tea lady who will come round with refreshments’ twice a day and ensure all company gossip is spread between all the different departments
  9. Rip out all the horrible, noisy hot air hand driers and return to towels
  10. Ban eating al desco; insist everyone stops for lunch and sits at communal tables to chat and is given a free basic lunch (that also stops the annoying inequality of high level meetings getting free lunches, but lower echelons still having to buy their own even when asked to work over lunchtime)

Related rants on the pointlessness of meetings, and how to organsie them badly, corporate jargon, and general frustration with office life

General approach

I blogged before about my Prescription for Living and gave you my first few nuggets with a promise of more. So here are some more…

Top Ten Things I Would Want as My Legacy

Obviously this is as much do as I say not do as I did, but I hope you get the drift. It is verging on the vomit-inducing trite sayings you see on cards and stuff, for which I apologise as it therefore makes me sound smug – as if I have the answers. I ceratinly don’t and have got and still get so much wrong all the time. As anyone who knows me will attest to. But if I did have some tips and some insights, things I have sometimes learnt the hard way, then  these are what they would be.

  1. People make the world go round – enjoy them in all their shapes, sizes, views and abilities. The vast majority of people are trustworthy and good. Everybody has strengths and talents – just some are harder to find than others.
  2. Always assume people want the best for you. It is depressing believing people are against you and will become a self-fulfilling prophecy as you become bitter and twisted.
  3. Ask for help when you need it – most people enjoy feeling needed (as long as you are pulling your weight too, not just dumping crap on them).
  4. Praise others freely. It’s not a competition. If you make people feel good about themselves they are more fun to be around.
  5. Have a good time. Enjoy yourself whenever you can. At work, at play, at home.
  6. Most things will work out OK in the end. Don’t anticiapte disaster at every step, but deal with it if and when it arrives. It often just misses. You can waste numerous hours worrying about something that never happens. .

Family Jaegerbombing. The bonding experience.

Our wedding

Our wedding

I can hardly believe it. Today husband and I have been married 25 years. Who’d’ve thought it? It sounds so long. It’s a duration our parents celebrate, not young hipsters like us.
Silver Wedding Anniversary has such an aged ring to it……
Obviously it was a February wedding. By neccessity. I was pregnant and this was exactly three weeks after my decree absolute for my divorce came through, giving us the minimum statutory requirement to read the banns. Well, post them at the Registry Office.
I wore the shittest dress. Brown and black. I was about 5 months pregnant and I think thought I’d be bigger than I was so got a mega maternity number. No bridesmaids but we had a witness each to sign the register. My parents crashed the car on the way so were fairly shaken up as I think Dad had knocked someone off a bicycle. I can’t remember the details, but Mum had made the cake and it had slid off the back seat in the ensuing melee.
So we started off in the wrong order, having very little time to ourselves as a couple before baby number one arrived. Then two. Then a bit of a gap and three. But now of course we are having that time on our own as the children grow up and leave home.

I could give you all that lovey dovey guff about communication being the most important aspect of keeping a relationship together; telling your partner how much you love them every day, giving and taking, complimenting each other, making one night a week a special ‘us time’…. but I don’t hang with all that shit.
So here are my

Top Ten Tips for Staying Married

  1. Marry the right person. I tried the wrong person once and it didn’t last 🙂
  2. Do things that make you happy. If you are not happy yourself, you can’t make anyone else happy because you are being a miserable cow.
  3. Don’t take it personally when I tell you to fuck off. I don’t mean it literally I just want to say it.
  4. Don’t expect perfection. From your spouse or yourself.
  5. Focus on the positive. It is easy to be dragged down by your spouse being an annoying cunt, But wait! Try to remember why you got married in the first place (oh yes, I was pregnant), ok then why you got together in the first place (oh yes, he is so clever and funny and thoughtful and…)
  6. Don’t be a fucking martyr . If you don’t like something, spit it out and sort it out.
  7. Don’t compromise. Compromise means no one is happy. There is no point both of you disagreeing with the final decision so one of you has to give in.
  8. Don’t entertain an argument when one (or both) of you is pissed or knackered. It will go on and on, be much worse than it needs to be and everyone will feel shit in the morning. Whoever is the most sober or tired just hike off to bed.
  9. Realise that your work persona and your home persona may be different. Screaming “I don’t get this kind of shit at work” or ” No one has these kind of problems with me except you!” doesn’t lay the blame fairly and squarely with your spouse. Your work colleagues are not fucking married to you and don’t necessarily get to see quite the same side of you.
  10. Keep friends outside the marriage. In both senses. They can be a fantastic safety net to let off steam, be supportive or simply an alternative to looking at your spouse’s miserable fucking face when times are tough 🙂 But don’t let them steer your thinking on how a marraige should work. Their marriages are not the same as yours.
  11. Have a lot of sex (only with each other though).
  12. Remember that the grass may be greener on the other side, but that’s because it’s Astroturf. Real grass does have holes, and moss and need mowing every week. But it’s your children’s backyard and no other patch of grass is.
  13. Stick it out. Even when the going gets tough.

The real reason we are together 25 years on is that neither of us walked. Even when we could have.

Happy Anniversary Darling! xxx

My Silver Weddding Anniversary card

My Silver Weddding Anniversary card

Fashion no-nos

February 5, 2013

Chatting at work the other morning and before I knew it my mouth was open and my feet headed straight for it. “Oh for fuck’s sake, you can’t possibly buy a fascinator. They are awful.”

Of course, hadn’t thought it through at all. Basing my opinions on my acute sartorial sense (lol) I was then asked to justify my outburst. Actually I do hate them. The little comb and feather combo. Not the striking statment ones that can look pretty awesome. But those twiddly little pathetic ones. I think they are generally chavvy or worn by frumpy women trying to look perky and failing. Anyone over 35 should be banned from even trying them on in shops.

But it set me thinking of my

Top Ten Personal Styling Hates

  1. Fascinators on anyone over 35
  2. Full length puffa jackets with elasticated belts
  3. Shiny or leather-look tight leggings
  4. Thongs (especially grubby) appearing above the trouser
  5. Tracksuit bottoms and high heels.
  6. Matchy matchy outfit. You know, same colour dress, jacket, shoes, hat, necklace, ear rings, lipstick……… so late 20th century it’s like wearing a sell- by date.
  7. Tights with holes in. Just skanky.
  8. Low hanging trousers or jeans on men. Only 15 year old black lads have a remote chance of carrying off that look. And even they struggle. The rest of you just look dirty.
  9. The double bosom effect of a bra with too small a cup.
  10. Bare legs that are so mottled from cold they look like chicken wire has been pressed against them

I know, I know I’ve had some atrocious outfits in my time. No doubt still do. Doesn’t stop me criticising others though!

Management behaviours I like

November 22, 2012

My blog is full of rants. Things that annoy me, things I think are pointless and perhaps that’s partly because it is easy to critcise but also part of the reason I do this blog is to get stuff off my chest. But today someone suggested on my “crap managers” post that actually I try to write about managers I like. So I will.  And I have seen lots and lots of good managers along the way. For me it’s a bit like always remembering the great teacher that inspired you – great managers are the same.

So herewith I give you

My Top Ten Manager Behaviours I like

  1. Confidence. Not arrogance, but the display of a confident leader inspires me. Doesn’t have to be big bold and brassy, can be quiet and self assured. But it needs to be there
  2. Vision. I like the manager to know where he or she is trying to get to – whatever obstacles get put in the way.
  3. Clarity of thought. relates to 2 above –  they need to be able to express clearly what they want and not change their mind every two seconds.
  4. Visibility. Invisible managers – be it off site, at meetings or locked away in their offices are basically abdicating their responsibility. Those who are around, on the office floor, talking to their reports get a real feel of what the issues are, how things are going, how people are feeling and allows people to access them in an informal way. It’s not as  big a deal to make a suggestion when you are used to seeing your boss on a daily basis.
  5. Listening and actively seeking reports’ views. Listening to people who volunteer suggestions and ideas is great, but the managers I  really admire are the ones who also manage to get the quiet, reserved, introverts to tell them how they see how the business could improve.
  6. Being concerned about their reports. Not in a maternal wipe your nose kind of way, but to know what is going on in their lives and how that may impact them.
  7. Understanding the difference between being respected and being liked by their reports. I like managers who are not after winning the popularity contest at all costs, but do want to do a great job and be recognised for that. Thus they focus on the results and getting the best out of everybody rather than trying to make sure everyone likes them.
  8. Responsiveness. Managers who are good at giving both positive and negative feedback (in a timely manner)  help clarify exactly what is required and I think makes everyone more comfortable that they know what they are meant to be doing.
  9. Knowing their reports. Taking time to understand what works for some does not work for all and that’s OK. And therefore being able to manage different people differently. And similarly knowing what each of their reports is actually doing –  who is working hard, who is inefficient, who has a tendency to be lazy, who never volunteers….
  10. Developing their reports. Managers who want all their reports to excel are inspiring. Helping them to develop their potential even though they know it means they will move on.
  11. Being  prepared to do the difficult stuff – telling someone they aren’t pulling their weight can never be easy but it has to be done as otherwise people feel others are getting away with doing poor work which can be very demotivating.
  12. Being prepared to roll their sleeves up and muck in when neccessary.
  13. Not micro managing –  being prepared to trust and support their reports to deliver without continual interference.
  14. Giving credit where credit is due.  This is not always as obvious as it sounds as quite often a middle manager will have presented something as their own work whereas in fact it may have had large input from others. The truly great manager will see through that and be able to recognise the real contributors.
  15. Team building. Great managers work out how best to build their teams and take the time to recognise efforts/achievements in a way that resonates with their team. (A day’s paintballing is not everyone’s idea of morale boosting)
  16. Managers who take no shit. Those who defend their team or department from unfair external criticism
  17. Managers who take the hit. Those who do not immediately point the finger at the underling who got the figures wrong and is able to stand up and say ‘Sorry, I got this one wrong.’

Crap managers

November 19, 2012

Being a freelancer affords me the luxury of being my own boss and spending time in lots of different workplaces with lots of different people. I don’t have bosses, they are my clients. It is not a master-servant relationship, but one of equals (even if they don’t think so!). And it allows me a perfect view of lots and lots of different workplace behaviours.

And sometimes one sees what one imagines is a great person to work for –  or at least I would find them great. No doubt my perfect manager is not neccessarily the same as yours. But the truly perfect would be able to manage both of us well.

Luckily for me and everyone else, I don’t have to manage anyone – which is just as well as I like very light-touch management. I had one client to whom I had been consulting for years. Literally. On and off, different projects, different teams, different issues. All going swimmingly based on my appearing one day a week and clearing a desk full of work.

And then a new manager was appointed and wanted me to spend at least one of my eight hours every week talking to her about how much work I was getting, was there too much, how was I feeling about it, would I like more communication……………. One hour as a one-off perhaps, but every week? One hour where I couldn’t actually do the job they were paying me for so it would pile up and I would be unable to complete it in the remaining seven hours so then people would be pissed off (not surprisingly) and so then the manager suggested I expand the time I spend with them to take in another day as there was obviously too much work…..   Which there hadn’t been until she took an hour off me every week.  Obviously for me that’s very nice – another day’s work thank you very much, but it’s so wasteful, so inefficient it drives me bonkers and I don’t want to be party to it. Plus (and probably more improtantly for me)  I couldn’t bear ‘reporting’ to her.

So I give you my

Top Ten Manager Behaviours That Annoy the Hell out of me

  1. People who simply talk in corporate speak jargon-shite so that no one actually understands what they are trying to say. Including themselves.
  2. Managers who are too busy to manage. They spend all their time getting their very important job done and leave no time in their diaries to actually manage the people they are paid to guide.
  3. Managers who don’t really know what they want. They often know what they don’t want when they see it (see 4)
  4. Managers who only ever crticise. Managers who never give direction on how they want a piece of work done all too often criticise the resulting output as it wasn’t what they had in mind. How the hell was the underling supposed to know what was in the mind of someone who doesn’t explain what they want? Is mind reading a core-competency now?
  5. Managers who never praise. I don’t buy this “I expect people to do the job they are paid for so why on earth should they get praised for it?” as everyone, no matter how confident, experienced, self assured or senior, needs praise. And even if they don’t, it’s still nice to hear.  And improves morale
  6. Managers who micro manage. They get so involved in the job they have allegedly delegated that it would be quicker and less painful for them to do it themselves. What is the point of delegating if you are not going to trust the person to get on and do the job? How are they ever going to learn how to do stuff if they don’t have a go, get it wrong, correct it and learn from there?
  7. Managers who set unrealistic deadlines and are on your case from the moment they set them. Get off my fucking case and give me space to actually do the job!
  8. Managers who pass other people’s work off as their own, or take the best ideas and present them. What the fuck is wrong with them? Can they not see it makes them look weak, insecure and petty? That if they gave credit to the apporpriate team member then in fact this would reflect well on them for managing a team that comes up with great ideas and being big enough NOT to try to hog the limelight?
  9. Managers who don’t deal with a lazyarse colleague. No one likes passengers in their team and if everyone is working their butts off, the last thing you want is to know that someone else is getting the same pay for doing fuck all and no one is doing anything about it.
  10. Managers who enjoy humiliating others. I’m not sure if they think this will make everyone respoect them or simply engender a culture of fear, or maybe they think it is funny. But whatever it is I see it as inappropriate and a form of bullying.
  11. Managers who never admit they are wrong.
  12. Managers who have obvious favourites. Teams are comprised of very different people, but often managers only appear to really like those who are replicas of how they see themselves. They give them the high profile jobs and the chances to be seen within the business, No chance for geek nerd-fests to shine…………
  13. Managers who fall for the pathetic ‘I’m so busys busy busy’ crap put out by those who have enough time to whine whilst those who are ploughing through shedloads of work just suck it up and get on with it.
  14. Managers who constantly move the goalposts or change their minds (see poinst 3 and 4)
  15. Managers who do not support and defend their team when criticised by others. You built the fucking team, you allegedly set the ground rules (and if you didn’t, what the hell were you doing), you should have been managing the work so you are responsible. Don’t take the improved pay and prestige if you can’t take the responsibility for what your team deliver. If they are not up to scratch the buck rests with you.

We have three grown up children, which I find hard to believe as I am still in my late 20s in my head. And as any parent knows, having children is a life-changing event. One you can’t get your head round till it happens. But I have enjoyed parenthood more and more the older they have got. Or perhaps it’s more to do with the fact that I got older too, and perhaps a bit less of a control freak. No, actually thinking about it I am just as much a control freak now as I always was. Perhaps they are just not as needy……….

Obviously there have been lots of times when it hasn’t all been sweetness and light. I’ve made bad decisions, been completely unreasonable, been inconsistent, done a lot of shouting, and even resorted to physical violence. But I still don’t think I’ve been a bad parent over all. Certainly not a perfect parent, but I never expected to be. I just wanted to be good enough. So over the years the children have taught me many things and here’s my

Top Ten Things Our Children Have Taught Me

  1. Children will forgive you nearly anything. They won’t neccessarily forget, but they will forgive.
  2. Despite having the same gene pool, schooling and upbringing the characters of our children are startlingly different. From birth onwards. I am no closer to deciding the nature/nurture debate.
  3. Fifteen minutes of bad behaviour at the end of a good day could make me feel the whole day was awful when it wasn’t. But it sure as hell made that first sip of wine taste fantastic once they were in bed .
  4. Children never wait until you are ‘ready’ to answer those awkward questions. They get sprung on you as you peel potatoes or are in the cinema queue
  5. Children love having their parents around to do stuff with or to watch them perform. Even if they say they don’t mind if you don’t come, they like it if you do. I do not believe the ‘quality time’ theory.
  6. Children will repeat what you say as to others. I never thought I’d hear our 7 year old daughter explain to her teacher that her dad says peach flavoured water tastes like cockroach vomit.
  7. There is no greater joy than seeing your children’s unbridled happiness. It is fantastic when they all get on together. Even if they are ganging up against you.
  8. Children made me realise I know fuck all detail about what’s going on in the world when they asked me to explain the Arab Israeli conflict, Afghanistan, or the break up of the Soviet Union.
  9. Any concept, project, piece of work, disagreement or conversation can be expressed through the medium of interpretive dance to hilarious effect.
  10. As long as they are safe and well, fuck all else really matters

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