Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If my superiors had the opportunity to peruse the following article in greater depth then circle back offline, I'd be subject to disciplinary action

I'm really not a big fan of corporate speak, the morass of words and phrases people in corporate America seem to use when they want to make the nothing they are saying seem really important. When all we hear about is productivity, why waste time trying to craft something that nobody will try to understand?

Every time I hear it at work, I have to stop myself from literally cringing, because having a clearly negative physical reaction when my boss's boss says they're still blue-skying something would probably be bad.

At the same time, I also acknowledge that in a lot of companies, putting this kind of BS together is an important skill to have. It makes you sound smart, and if you manage people you can get away from actually telling them really bad news but clouding it in a haze of run-on sentences and unnecessary bluster (FYI, I completely realize that adding unnecessary bluster to this sentence was, in itself, unnecessary bluster, I just liked how that reads).

I'm bringing this up now because I got an e-mail before I left today that was possibly the Holy Grail of doublespeak. I know exactly what is going on in my company in terms of some major changes happening over the next 6 months, and I'm really not sure what this says. I'm going to delete some things in here that clearly relate to my company, but nothing that would make it harder to understand what was said, plus I'll put a quick description of what I'm blocking out in brackets and maybe a comment or two in parentheses. Here we go:


Just wanted to share additional progress that is being made (passive voice, excellent) as we transition to [operating as similar groups in our parent company do]. As you may have noticed, our partners from [some place in these United States] are here again on site this week to assist with the work needed to move forward with [new initiative].....we are getting closer to completion of the first phase! (um, yay!)

This week [same city as above] is assisting us through formalizing critical skills needed within the path for [my company]. Many of your peers have been asked to assist in this collaborative exercise (I think that was the word meetings extended to 5-6 words) as first hand input is tantamount to our success. These are data gathering sessions only which will assist us in ensuring we are capturing everything we do as a department.

As I had previously mentioned in our June department meeting, we expect to have Phase 1 completed during the 3rd quarter so please stay tuned. This is soon to be a very exciting time for this department with many good changes. There is a lot of work and this will be a transformation over time but anything worthwhile takes work, correct? I ask that you embrace this very positive transformation and understand that our goal is to improve the customer experience and provide you the tools and training to do your jobs as effectively as possible. After all you [awful new tagline that I wouldn't write if I could].

More to come.....please ensure any and all clarifications you may have are directed to me or your direct manager.

[My boss's boss]

It was painful to read that again. Am I missing something or does that pretty much say nothing? I think it's meant to be reassuring about some of the upcoming changes, but when it's written like this, isn't it just going to confuse more people and make things worse?

Either way, sometimes you have to acknowledge greatness, even if it's greatness in something you can't stand. So boss's boss, way to go, you're written something that I can't understand and if I hadn't been writing this blog probably would have deleted within 30 seconds of receiving it. I have an idea that may have been the intended outcome.

Listening To: Dropkick Murphys
About To: Start to maybe think about packing

Friday, July 10, 2009

Profiles in Underemploymentness - Crazy Janey

First of all, if Crazy Janey brings nothing to your mind, you need to stop reading this and go buy some Bruce Springsteen albums.

For everyone that's left, I was trying to think of some kind of recurring post I could write on occasion, mostly for when I'm experiencing a little writer's block and need a crutch. What I came up with were these Profiles in Underemploymentness; where I'll write a post about one of my co-workers. Most of them are decent people, I even like a good number of them. There's really nobody that I can't stand or don't want to be around ...

And that last statement is only true because the coffee throwing dude I talked about in my last post got fired last week. I guess it's not really a surprise. Turns out he was suspended pending a review of the incident and a couple days later he got the boot. This is probably bad for my blog, but good for decreasing my chances of a sociopath co-worker showing up with a weapon.

So back to the point of this, Crazy Janey (obviously not her real name):

First things first, this lady is SHORT. And I mean tiny, maybe even wee. I have a couple of friends who flirt around the 5' mark, and that's not exactly tall. But Janey is 4'8, and she told us this so I'm not guessing. I just about average height, maybe a little below, and I TOWER over this woman. It's an odd feeling, and I'm not quite used to it.

When I first started this blog, I thought one of my first posts would be about Janey because she drove me nuts. I used to sit right near her. Not only is her voice loud (not something I can criticize anyone else for), she's got a pretty heavy Jersey accent and she says THE EXACT SAME THING EVERY TIME SHE ANSWERS THE PHONE. Plus, she emphasizes weird syllables, it's almost like I was sitting next to a misprogrammed robot with a bad accent. Here's her phone spiel, with capital letters showing what she emphasizes:

customer relaTION dePARTment, this is janey (I didn't leave the s off of relations by accident, she doesn't say it)

do you happen to have the acCOUNT numBER we may reFERence in order to beGIN the proPER assisTAnce (if I heard this on the phone, I'd probably hang up and call back to get someone else)

while i am bringing up the information, may I HAVE the SPELling please of YOUR FIRst name (they are supposed to get every one's name, but why ask the spelling of the first name? and does she say it when Joe calls too?)

I would hear this 20-30 times per day on average. One of the best unintended consequences of my move was that I can't really hear her anymore.

I don't want to be too negative though. She's a genuinely nice person, all the time. Almost too nice. When just about anyone walks by her cube, if she's not on the phone she'll say hi and that it's good to see them. Whether it's me the new guy or some very high up corporate guy from the main offices (I saw her do this), she has no fear. That's almost kind of admirable.

While her voice and borderline unbelievable ability to repeat the same thing every day all day has gotten on my nerves at times, she's also a carefree spirit that really likes her job and the people she works with and wants everyone to be happy and have a good time at work. My brain will never work that way, but she's not 100% wrong and I'm sure I'm not 100% right. Maybe there's something I can learn from this woman I"m calling Crazy Janey, it just won't be cadence of speaking, grammar or how to dunk.

Listening To: The Decemberists
About To: Kill some brain cells with MANswers and then sleep

Monday, July 6, 2009

Am I getting bored at work? You betcha!

But before we get to me, a little bit about Sarah Palin.

Do me a favor. Whether you like her or not, whether you don't care about politics or your opinion about Sarah Barracuda has been fully formed or not, watch this.

I know you didn't, so I'm giving you another chance. That video is a portion of Palin's announcement that she was going to resign as governor at the end of the month at some Governor's Picnic (which in and of itself sounds scary and wrong). This is only about minutes of her announcement, I'm not even asking you to watch the whole thing.

Now I know you still haven't watched it, but I have to move on. If you do watch it, and can actually expect that person to be the President of ANYTHING, I don't now how your brain works. At one point in her speech, she said she had been thinking about this for a while. If that's actually true, why didn't she write a speech, or come up with a better sports analogy?

I'm just dumbfounded about everything associated with her. Back in early 2008, I probably would have voted for McCain if the election had been held then. By the summer, I switched to the Libertarian side or maybe (but unlikely) Obama. Once Palin got involved and I heard her say a word or two, I had to vote for Obama. I'm not exactly happy about that, especially after some of the things that have gone on since Obama was sworn in, but I'm not sure I had a choice either. I simply could not be involved in anything that could arguable have somehow led to this woman (you still haven't watched, COME ON!) being in the White House.

And just to show that not everyone who would call themselves a Republican or a Conservative is a total nutcase, check out David Frum and Conor Friesdorf. I especially agree with Frum. I had hoped a Republican blowout loss in 2008 would get them on a path to normal human thought again, but it hasn't quite happened. Maybe a total Palin destruction in 2012 would have done something. Looks like right now, we'll never know.

B to the ORED

As I've said to people who have asked me about how my job has been going so far, I knew from the start that this was going to be a job that I was overqualified for. The name of this random mess of words generally organized into occasionally coherent paragraphs called a blog is pretty much based on that. Now that we're 5+ months in, at times it's getting hard to focus.

In school, I always did my best in classes where I really liked the professor and/or the subject matter. In my work life, I think I've always done my best with projects where I liked the people I was working with and/or was dealing with an interesting subject. That's probably true for most people, but I can really go off the deep end with it. I mean just not doing basic things I know I need to do because I can't find the interest to do what I'm supposed to do kinda stuff. When something is easy and borderline mindless, my mind wanders, and things slip through the cracks. I've started to notice this happening at work in the last week or two, and I need to stop it.

There are a lot of changes going on in my company, and right now I'm in a path to be in a better place when those changes are fully implemented. But I won't be if I let little crap get away from me. Basically, I'm going to have to show that even though I will have only been with the company for 6-7 months and are still learning all the products and processes that make the place work, I should be in a position to be responsible for dealing with big issues and cleaning up other people's messes. If I can't remember stupid crap, it's a harder argument to make.

So for now, it's all about the focus. I'm not sure how long I'll be with this company, but they did give me a job in the middle of a clusterfuck of an economy. At the least I think I owe it to them to keep on top of my crap for at least six months.

Listening To: Arcade Fire - Black Mirror
About To: Listen to more Arcade Fire