Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Five Stages of Dealing with Incompetence

Have you ever been in a situation where there is someone not pulling their weight at work? It may be unintentional or intentional, but the outcome is the same. MORE WORK FOR YOU! I’ve been in that situation more than a few times and it sincerely drives me crazy. The picture is how I feel when I have to deal with such a thing. I feel like I go through something parallel to the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), and maybe you can relate.

First, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I am one of those people that is quick to judge, but then changes my initial judgments depending on the more information I get. So, if I think you are worthless, I probably will try to get some more information before I stick to that judgment. I basically deny there is a problem until I’d have to be blind not to see it.

The thing that probably affects me and others the most is the second stage. Personally, I get rather angry at whatever company hired such a moron or worthless individual. Especially when they don’t see the error of their ways and people keep making excuses for such an individual. It makes me not want to work there and really lowers my engagement and commitment. 

I definitely skip the “bargaining” part of the stages as I think that isn’t my style, but I can see that people could start to think in those terms. An example may be “well they can keep the weakest link, as long as I get paid more, etc.” Maybe my style of bargaining is just knowing that I’m the better employee and trying to avoid all contact, etc. with that individual. That only works sometimes, especially when they are on your team, typically on the same shift hours, etc. 

I’m sure no one gets depressed when thinking about annoying and incompetent employees. I think the thing that substitutes in this stage is just feeling sorry for that person, when their incompetence is not due to laziness. It seems like this person is trying to be a good employee and is simply in over their heads. 

The last stage is acceptance that that individual is a bad hire and trying to compensate for the problem. It’s very difficult for me not to try and help that person and I do when I can, but is it really up to everyone else to pull that person’s weight? In addition, if the incompetence is due to laziness, the result is the same; the team will start to pull that person’s weight, begrudgingly. Why is it that the responsibility falls to the team?

This issue is difficult to discuss with leadership, especially when leadership was who hired this individual to begin with. How do you go to your boss and say, “hey, I think Dave was a terrible hire, bad decision on your part.”? In addition, in competitive environments, tackling the problem in a direct way makes it seem as if you view that individual as a threat and that perception could tarnish your overall reputation. Now my answer to most things is being direct and confrontational, but in this instance, I think there is some finesse involved. 

My advice would be to do your absolute best to not pick up the slack and to notify your boss when there are ACTIONS from the incompetent individual. If your boss is complaining about them or if they are asking for help for the millionth time, make it open to your boss that you are willing to help, but be sure that your boss KNOWS that you are helping. Don’t try and cover mistakes by that individual, but also don’t point them out at every chance you get. Pick your battles. That’s really what it is, a battle against the incompetence. Once it is recognized, training or moving that person around may ensue, but for now, it seems that there isn’t a good answer on how to deal with this issue directly.  If anyone has any thoughts or stories about a similar situation, please share in the comment section!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dress Code Violation

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a LONG time, but held off as I wanted to have some clear thoughts about this particular issue and some varying perspective. It gets a little personal, but whatever, I may be the queen of TMI. 

When I got my first internship that required me to dress business casual and it actually mattered what I wore, I was so excited! It sounds ridiculous, but up till then, my work attire consisted of jeans and a nice T-shirt or tank as I waited tables for most of my income. If you were in a sorority in undergrad, you’d know that chapter meetings were the epitome of up-to-date business fashion. Every time I arrived, I would scan my sisters for new ideas and cute shoes! My day to day attire in undergrad was similar to my service industry attire and mixing it up and feeling as if we were moving on to the next step in life for a moment was exciting for me, but I digress. 

Once I got my job, I was excited to wear all of my cute business casual things. There was a level of dress code enforced at chapter that I thought I could use as a jumping off point on what to wear for work. Unfortunately, I WAS SO WRONG! I actually had a mentor when I started my internship that helped with various aspects of my personal development and I was thankful to have someone to help with that. I thought most of my issues revolved around not having a filter and saying things very matter-of-factly. I was shocked to know that my dress had been questioned more than once at work. I mean, I’m reasonably smart and when I looked in the mirror, I felt like I looked good. Nothing was hanging out or too short, but I still was getting the same feedback that something was wrong. 

This issue used to make me very angry! I mean why is it that I get in “trouble” for something I’m not even trying to do? The argument I kept hearing is that my dress could be distracting. Um, distracting to whom?! I wanted to counter with this: “Well a man in a nice shirt and good fitting suit pants distracts me!” (which most girls would agree, haha) and they don’t have to change what they are wearing! I have since come to the conclusion that it isn’t distracting to others as much as distracting from me and my abilities. 

I’ll give you an example on the flip side. I recently met a person that was supposed to be in marketing. You know the stereotype for marketing people, gregarious to the point of talking your ear off, creative and hip! This person was awkward, dressed badly and looked drab. My first thought was, wow, you must be a terrible marketer. How ridiculous is that! This person could have been the best thing since Twitter and I wouldn’t have even listened because of their appearance and interaction. 

This is where the whole “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want” comes into play and I think it’s easier said than done. I have no idea how to dress for the next step in my career, and it’s definitely a learning process. But my advice this week, is even though it is ridiculous and makes you angry, put yourself on the other side of the issue. How would you judge you?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You can take the girl out of the small town…

I was deciding what my next entry would be for today on the way to work this morning when this new song came on one of my favorite country station. It’s called “Old Alabama” by Brad Paisley featuring Alabama. Now if any of my Georgia or Tennessee friends are reading this, it plays on the song by Alabama called Mountain Music, which was one of the staple songs of my childhood. If you haven’t known me outside of work or school, I was an avid clogger in my heyday (haha ages 10-16) and that song was played over and over, much like Rocky Top (which most every clogger knows the dance to). I was on an awesome team, Clog’n FX out of Lawrenceville, GA under the direction of the great Scotty Bilz. Bear with me as I am going to make a point!

Now I’m going to give you a short lesson on modern day clogging, whether you want to hear it or not! Modern clogging is fascinating! I always get, oh that’s the dance with wooden shoes. Um, no, that is traditional in Holland and we are in the Southern United States, but thanks for playing! The other misconception is that it is square dancing. Again, no. There are elements that resemble square dancing, but no, I don’t walk in circles, or squares. Clogging is similar to tap, the shoes even look similar. The taps are different because instead of one solid piece of metal, there are two that “jingle” off each other, which are commonly called jingle taps. There are various categories of competition that cover a wide range of styles, from traditional big skirts and heel clicks to the incorporation of elements of hip hop. If you want a taste of the stuff that Clog’n FX and the other awesome clogging teams in the country do, click this link!

I know this seems to be out of left field as compared to my other blogs, but I wanted to explain my background to get to my point. That song that came on the radio thrust me into a wave of nostalgia and longing to do those things that I loved so much again. I turned it up and had a great time (at least as good of a time you can have before 9am) and relived some memories I didn’t even know I had. My point is that I have been living VERY HAPPILY in a metroplex for 6 years now, but there are definitely advantages to having lived in a small town. 

This is my point: I think differing experiences helps you to understand people from that background. I will forever know the perspective of those living in a small town in the south because I have. People who have lived in small towns in the south, I believe will hit a level of understanding with this blog entry more so than those who haven’t because they get where I’m coming from. I will also know the perspective of those living in a large city. In addition, because of my recent traveling adventures, I understand some of the perspectives of various European cultures and especially how that relates to me as an American. Understanding is what I believe makes one truly educated on people. Merely studying them (as I do in psychology) doesn’t really get to that deeper level of understanding. How do you market to these people or attempt to help them in the workplace if you don’t truly understand them? There are ways to get at understanding, but I’ve always believed in the quote “You must have walked the path to give direction.” Differing experiences definitely help with that (whether it be clogging in GA or understanding the complexities of the Dallas social scene). 

So as I am contemplating my big break back into the world of clogging (which is difficult as there aren’t many competitive teams in North Texas, I kept going back to the saying that “You can take the girl out of the small town (shout out to Newnan GA) but you can’t take the small town out of the girl!”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Most Offensive Blog EVER!

On one of my many long drives to school (it’s about an hour) I was thinking about my and others’ interactions with each other. Yeah, I know it’s weird, but seriously, that’s a long time to be alone in the car, especially before 10 am. I was thinking about my tendency to offend people and also my tendency to not be offended easily.  I do my absolute best to think through what I say before I say it, but hey, if you know me, that is NEVER going to happen 100% of the time. I also don’t want others to completely calculate their communications with me. That just seems fake. I got to thinking too, that I struggle most of the time with this, but what about the person that gets offended easily? Do they struggle with seeing past what people say? I decided on this drive that they should, and here is why.

I don’t think being offended for things comes naturally. I think that it is learned in a lot of cases. If an individual is in an environment in which people are constantly mean and degrading, yeah they will be more sensitive to “offensive” comments. In addition, if they are taught that they should be upset when certain things are said, of course they will be more likely to be offended. Now, my “offensiveness” comes from being taught to be honest with people and attempt to explain your position, growing up in an environment where people are more supportive of each other, and to look past what a person is saying to understand their intention. I think that being easily offended and easily offending definitely depends on what is learned over time. 

That being said, and as I mentioned before, I work very hard to understand the people around me and to still maintain my honesty while being sensitive to them. I also work very hard to look past what people are actually saying to understand what they mean. That also takes a lot of work, but both of these things really helps to enhance my relationships and makes me more easygoing, and less hostile (because we all know I need to be, haha). I think if people at least attempt to come to mutual understandings and don’t immediately assume the worst of intentions that many conflicts, in the workplace or otherwise, can be avoided or alleviated rather quickly.
I want to be sure to point out that I do not support or engage in things that are meant to be offensive or demeaning to other people. There are times where I have said things that are taken that way, but I never mean it that way. I would go on further that if someone is really being ridiculous, everyone has the right to be upset in the situation. 

That being said, I would say to be open with that person, at first at least. I have been in situations where people have said things that I either am unsure of their intentions or I know that they are being rude. In those situations, I just say, hey why do you feel the need to upset me or are you meaning it this way? Even if they are, you called them out. In almost every instance of this behavior, that small confrontation stops it immediately. It really puts that person in a situation of they can 1. Say they meant to upset you (no one is going to do this) or 2. Say oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean it that way! (always happens). Then you don’t get offended and they don’t get the satisfaction.

What I hope people get from this blog is that I believe there needs to be an attempt to mutually understand each other before flying off the handle about something. I also think that both sides of the “offense” (haha, get it?) should work really hard to understand each other. That means if you tend to be easily offended, attempting to see the intention and if you are offensive, attempting to understand the feelings of others.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Think I Can....

Lately, I have been so excited about my upcoming graduation and thoughts about not having to worry about school and school related frustrations that I have been losing motivation. It’s not like I had a lot of motivation this semester to begin with, so it’s gotten to an all-time low. Many things affect my motivation overall and this is one obstacle that I have not fully learned how to overcome. When faced with the choice to spend a day doing schoolwork or simply laying around watching “Hey, Arnold” (I’m telling you, Netflix is awesome) I almost always will choose the latter. But then there are times where I WANT to do work and just sit down and do it. I find that these times are where I get my best work done, and that forcing myself to do work results in mediocre results. This picture is an illustration of how I feel when I am not motivated.

What affects my motivation? As mentioned in previous posts, I do really badly with the loss of anything and the loss of a good friend has sent me into a subtle lack of motivation. Because her time was cut short, I have this overwhelming feeling to do what I want when I want because if I spend a gorgeous Saturday forcing myself to do mediocre schoolwork, what happens if Sunday is a bad day, or I don’t get a Sunday at all? Now I know that there is a balance to this, and I don’t want any of you to think that I have completely given up doing things that aren’t fun right this instant. I have been doing a pretty good job in keeping up with my school as I’m so looking forward to the next step. Previously, I was balanced in the other way that work is more important, but now I’m in a struggle to find the right balance for me, which I would argue is individually different for each of us.  

So to cope with a lack of motivation, I normally have to psych myself up for a few days to really get things done. If I know I have homework due on Tuesday, I’ll start thinking about doing it on Friday to ensure that I’ll do it Monday. I very much operate on deadlines; if I don’t have a deadline, I just have A LOT of trouble doing it. I don’t even need a hard deadline, just one in general that someone else sets. Yeah, SOMEONE ELSE. I am much less forgiving of myself if I miss someone else’s deadline rather than my own. Not sure why that is, but I feel like I’m letting them down in some way, whereas if it is my own deadline, I just don’t get mad at myself. There are many other ways to cope, but this one has been working best for me!

I’ll let you know how this is progressing, but I feel more and more at ease and balanced as time goes on. BUT THAT, my friends, is also necessary. TIME to figure that out. I had to try a few different things to see what balance of work, school, life, etc. was going to be 1. Most practical and 2. Most appropriate for me. I have been trying things a little differently to learn the coping mechanism I mentioned above. I am also trying to develop other ways to get over this obstacle that I create for myself. Hopefully some of you can relate! So have a good week and STAY MOTIVATED!