Category Archives: People stuff

Meeting Angus. Type A.

We all know him (or her). Let’s call him Angus. He’s Type A. We see him in our rearview mirror, changing lanes and zigzagging his way from far back there on the road to our back bumper in a minute or two. He is stuck behind us and starts swaying right and left in the lane to signal we’re going far too sloooow. We check and see we’re doing about 10 miles over the speed limit. No faster than that, we decide. Now Angus is gesticulating. His arm is out of the window and his index finger goes round and round – hurry up will ya!

Is that Angus in your rear view mirror?

Just before the next intersection he moves into the turning lane on our left. Left turn only, with a white curved arrow on the asphalt. Phew, he’ll be gone. The light turns red. We stop, and he stops too.  There’s a red arrow for his lane. At least he didn’t run the red light. We wait. The light turns green and we start crossing the intersection. And wroooom, he cuts in right in front of us from the turning lane. We stand on the brakes not to hit him. That was too close!  No, that was Angus. He’s in a hurry. Always.

Taxis (Stock image)

Or we may meet Angus on the big city street around lunch time. Running with his briefcase under one arm, and the other waiving for a taxi. Taxi! Prepared to fight for the first taxi that appears around the corner. We resign to the fact that we’ll not be meeting our lunch date on time.

But suddenly he’s down! Holding his chest. Now we need to call 911. It looks like poor Angus is having a heart attack. We’re still there next to him when the ambulance arrives.  We say we don’t really know him, just been meeting him here and there. The paramedics work fast, he’s lifted into the ambulance. And he’s gone. Or is he?

***

 I originally wrote this story about two years ago (now shortened/edited), but was reminded of it today as I had a really close call with Angus. Somehow, miraculously, I was able to avoid a T-bone collision with him.  I’m a bit shaken, but happy that my reflexes are still sharp. I hope I won’t meet him again any time soon. And I hope you’ll stay safe too.

New to Management? Don’t You Worry.

Congratulations! You just got promoted into management. That’s a great achievement, and you’ve worked hard for it. Became the top producer in your technical field. Finally your talents have been recognized. And the promotion comes with a sizeable raise, more green in your wallet. Good for you!

Porsche 2
Your new parking spot…

And there are other perks that suddenly become yours to enjoy. Like your own parking space in the company garage. You can come as early and leave as late as you please! The same spot will always be there waiting for your new company car. Oh, did you say this job didn’t come with one? Then you should consider an upgrade right away. Think about the message you’re sending driving a Morolla. Seriously. You don’t want to be seen as a minimalist now that you are in management.  Consider something smarter, something that sends a message of being in charge. Something that will signify a strong start.  You’ll be watched. The first 90 days will be critical to your success.

Dressed for the occasion… (stock image)

That brings us to the next thing you’ll need to think about. You guessed it, your attire. No more casual. You need to exude confidence. Preferably with a bit of an edge. Shopping you go!  Remember that every occasion, from the Board meeting to the dinner hosted by the President’s wife, has its right attire. And the brand matters. I know, you’d be the first to agree. Brand is everything.

Now, prepared for success, you’ll just need to manage. Plain and simple.  You told me corporate doesn’t think you need training,  coaching, or mentoring. Good for you! They believe you’re ready. You’ve shown them the muscle. Heavy lifting, continuously exceeded targets. A smart specialist always makes a great manager. That’s what they told you, right?

Driving results…(stock image)

Don’t you worry.  Managing is fairly straight forward. Just remember you now have the powers to hire and fire. Go get your own team! What does the current team know anyway? And their loyalty to you is questionable. At the minimum, change some key players.  Shuffle the chessmen. Keep them on their toes. Nobody should become too comfortable.

To sum it up: you just need to hire the right people, instruct them in necessary detail, and manage their performance. That’s all. Hire, Instruct and Manage, HIM. Easy to memorize. You set the targets. They do the work. You monitor the results. And make sure you get the credit. It’s hard out there. Up or out, as they say. There you go. Good luck to you.

Epilogue: Despite my intention not to mix too many lemons into my blog of apples and oranges, I wanted to write this “monologue by a management consultant” after continuously finding far too many people in management jobs without the necessary skills, and seeing first hand what that can do to the teams they manage. And ultimately to the company. So here’s to lemon juice!

Feel It in Your Heart?

I’m always interested in new research findings and recently came across an intriguing research study that I thought I would share with you. This research into emotions, and where we experience them in the body, was conducted by Aalto University in five separate experiments with over 700 participants from two very different cultures. The results were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (US).

Credit: Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
Credit: Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

This picture presents the bodily topography of basic and more complex emotions associated with words. The body maps show regions whose activation increased (warm colors) or decreased (cool colors) when feeling each emotion.

The study concluded that emotional feelings are associated with discrete, but partially overlapping (maps of) bodily sensations, which could be at the core of the emotional experience. Unraveling of the subjective bodily sensations associated with human emotions may help us to better understand emotional processing, including emotional disorders.

Definitely interesting findings. You can read the entire report of the study here (the pdf takes a while to load).

The Empire of Time

Sitting at the foot of the pyramid

I turn my face toward the afternoon sun

like so many have done before me

its rays warm my body

enlighten my thoughts

and bring me some perspective

of life as a continuum

the past merging with the now

and the future stretching

to the eternal empire of time.

Dancing to Your Own Tune?

That’s Brilliant! Wouldn’t you like to hear this enthusiastic proclamation? Particularly if it was made about you, lets say after you gave a speech at a reputable non-profit’s fundraising dinner or spoke at your old friend’s wedding? Or perhaps if it was uttered by critics about your first novel or your second exhibition showing acrylics on canvas? Or shouted by the clapping crowd after you sang “stand by me blue suede shoes” at a karaoke bar in Nashville or maybe in the Bahamas?  I bet many of us would. And lucky you if you actually did. Great to be recognized, kind of confirmed as somebody. Brilliant definitely sounds good.

But life can be tough, praise can be hard to come by. We may hear something that sounds a bit like a compliment when our teenager wants to borrow the car or a co-worker needs us to cover for him on a Saturday night, but we may never really get recognized as brilliant. Most of us just have to live with it. Be happy doing half-brilliant things. Wear the half Carat, so to say.

From time to time, some of us may also need to wrestle with our hardest critic, moi (or mwaa). He has become very good at giving a quick punch. Surprise us when we least expect it. Pull us down on the carpet, hard fall, there you go, I told  you! What made you think you could do it? That’s hard speak, difficult to take. But pause. Before we get up for the next round, we need to recall who trained him. At the minimum, we drove him to his practice sessions for years, paid for them! And now what do we get? It’s clear that we need to re-evaluate the situation, rebalance the relationship. Exercise some authority. Moi, you will go to training again, dance lessons. Smooth and close, no more wrestling.

Having moi retrained, it’s likely to be easier to take feedback or criticism from others constructively.  Like if someone in the karaoke crowd shouts “they are two different songs”, we’ll just smile and say “they might be, but that was my version of it”. And we may finally have the courage to write that first book, create that piece of art or give the piano concert we always dreamed of. Once we do get on with it, we may hear a tiny whisper that’s brilliant! I told you! That’s when we know we are finally dancing to our own tune and following the path that’s opening in front of us.

(based on one of my earliest posts, art work courtesy of my hubby)

Meeting Angus

We all know him (or her). Let’s call him Angus. We’ll see him in our rearview mirror, changing lanes and zigzagging his way from far back there on the road to our back bumper in a minute or two. He is stuck behind us and starts swaying from right to left in the lane to signal we’re going far too sloooow. We check and see we’re going almost 10 miles over the speed limit. No faster than that, we decide. Now Angus is gesticulating we don’t know how to use the gas pedal. His arm is out of the window and his finger goes round and round – hurry up will ya!

Next he moves into the turning lane – right turn only, with an arrow. Phew, he’ll be gone. The light turns red. We stop, and he stops too. Oh, at least he’s yielding to the traffic before turning right.  We wait. The light turns green and we start crossing the intersection. And wroooom, he cuts in right in front of us from the turning lane. We stand on the brakes not to hit him. That was close!  No, that was Angus. He’s in a hurry. Always.

Or we may meet Angus in the office. He’s booked back-to-back, has a demanding job. He’s always running. In meetings he talks fast, cuts us off and completes our sentences. Talk faster, moron, come to the point. One day we may see him running to the photocopiers on his way out of the office. His assistant has forgotten to copy something he will need for his next string of meetings.

But the big copier is busy, collating 25 copies of a 100 page report. And the small one is out-of-order. A white paper taped to it tells the story. And he loses it! Yells and screams #&%@ to his assistant and the whole office. This is everybody’s fault. Why is nothing working in this place?! His jaw is clenched and sweat drips from his upper lip. Angus is an overachiever, due for promotion next month. What would the company do without him? But he hasn’t learned to manage his stress, and he doesn’t have any patience to talk of. He definitely doesn’t like problems. Ever.

Or we may meet Angus on the big city street around lunch time. Running with his briefcase under one arm, and the other waiving for a taxi. Taxi! Prepared to fight for the first taxi that appears around the corner. Seeing him approaching, we have already given up the hope to meet our lunch date on time.

But suddenly he’s down! Holding his chest. Now we need to call 911. It looks like poor Angus is having a heart attack. We’re still there next to him when the ambulance arrives.  We say we don’t really know him, just been meeting him here and there. The paramedics work fast, he’s lifted into the ambulance. And he’s gone.

Or is he?