Posts Tagged 'Communication'

I’m Outta Love

blog heartbreakI can remember the exact moment I fell out of love with each of my ex-boyfriends. I can visualise the instances in my mind as if they happened yesterday. In each instance there was a defining moment where, while the moment itself was certainly not the sole cause of the breakup, a line was crossed and enough was finally enough. Break-ups rarely happen overnight – they are the outcome of a sum of many dissatisfactions, disagreements and incompatibilities. Things build up over time, you feel as though something isn’t quite right, you try to make things better; to turn it all around, but in the end it’s futile and better for both parties if you cut your losses and walk away.

In my experience, jobs are like this as well; with just one exception I remember the moment I fell out of love with each of my jobs. As with breakups, I didn’t fall out of love with them overnight and many factors contributed: There were no career prospects that matched my career plan, the job had become repetitive or unenjoyable, my role was insecure, management had different values to my own, and so on. Many times it had nothing at all to do with the organisation or what it stood for but, instead, that I had grown and developed and that my wants and needs for a role had changed. As with relationships, I wouldn’t go down without a fight – conversations to try change things and improve the way I felt, suggestions for new ideas, learning more about company plans… Sometimes it was a success and I moved internally. Sometimes it wasn’t.

With both jobs and relationships, I personally have a point of no return. That defining moment where all hope is lost and I fall completely and utterly out of love. Once this line has been crossed, no amount of bargaining and incentives can convince me to change my mind – things have gone too far and it’s time to move on. But even though this is perhaps a severe response, I have no regrets or hard feelings about any of my experiences (no matter how unenjoyable they may have been at the time) because they have made me who and what I am today, and I’m glad that they were a part of my life.

Though I haven’t worked properly as a direct line manager for any serious length of time (such is the joy of working in matrix organisations or as a contractor) I have seen many colleagues fall out of love with their jobs over the years, and I often wonder what it looks like from a manager’s viewpoint. I can’t believe that the signs aren’t there to be read, but knowing that something isn’t right doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to to fix it or that you are able to fix it.

So my thought for the day is this: Look around you at your staff and colleagues. Look at them without judgement and ask yourself – are they happy? Are they falling out of love with the job, team, company, management (statistics vary but nearly all research ranks line managers as the number one reason for employees wanting to leave their jobs)? Read between the lines and ask yourself whether there are tell-tale signs that you have failed to recognise before now or have spotted but are trying to ignore. And then ask yourself whether you really want to or can afford to lose that staff member. And if you’re not sure whether they’re getting close to the point of no return then sit down and have a chat with them; find out a bit more about what they’re thinking and feeling at the moment. Do it now. Don’t wait til their appraisal is due in several months time when it might be too late.

Sometimes the best thing for everyone to do is to go their separate ways; after all there’s little more poisonous than a negative and disengaged staff member. But any breakup – job-wise or relationship-wise – is much easier handled when it’s not a complete surprise to one of the parties.

He’s Just Not That Into You

So Mr J and I watched the movie He’s Just Not That Into You the other day. Bit mainstream compared to our usual selection, but I like a chick flick every now and then. I have to say though; I wasn’t impressed with this one! 

Now I’m not much of a feminist, but the women in this movie give women everywhere a bad name, in my opinion. Needy, obsessive, untrusting, etc… Regular bunny boilers, frankly! Not that the men fared much better: Heartless, cheating users the lot of them!

What I did take away from the movie though was a lesson about expectation management and realising you are probably not the exception and are far more likely the rule. The opening sequence covers this well by highlighting how well-meaning friends and family always help us to look on the bright side: If he didn’t call you back it’s probably because he likes you and doesn’t know how to act. Maybe he’s married, but you can’t choose when or who you fall in love with and maybe he’ll leave his wife and you’ll both live happily ever after. Etc etc etc. You can imagine the rest! 

But anyway, I got to thinking: This exact same situation applies to today’s students. I blogged  recently about my expectations of them but what about theirs? There is no one person responsible for managing their expectations: We all play a part. We tell our kids to work hard and they will get a good job. Same with our teachers and lecturers – Get good grades and you will get a good job. Same with peers – ooh you’re so much cleverer than me; you’ll be fine! But plenty of students work really hard, get really good grades and still end up in entry level / retail positions when they graduate. And the reality may not be as depressing as the press implies. And there may be employers still struggling to find candidates of the right calibre for their graduate schemes. But it is tough nonetheless and no-one ever tells them quite HOW tough it might be. No-one tells them they might have to consider starting out in a more junior position and on a lower salary. No-one tells them they’ll probably need to be flexible when they start out and work their way up. No-one tells them.

There are those who ought to (deserve to?) succeed more than others and there are those who succeed against the odds. And sometimes I wonder whether the reason for this is expectations. Maybe sometimes those who should succeed don’t because the reality of the world of work and finding employment has just totally floored them.

But who’s to blame? Well, in my humble opinion, we all are.

Don’t be a Smug Git

So I like to think I’m reasonably tolerant of cold calls from recruiters. They are calls that I myself sometimes have to make and I hate when people give me  the run-around rather than just saying from the word go that they’re not interested. But you know what? If you’re going to cold call any company, then try and retain some form of professionalism and don’t be a smug, arrogant git!

The website of my recruitment-related employer often attracts agency phone calls. We’re very niche and, while we do often recruit in-house, we also recruit for external positions and, if you don’t look at our website properly, it can be an easy mistake to make.

Of course; if you read the website properly it’s screamingly apparent…

So anyway, yesterday I had a phone call from an agency (who shall remain nameless… for now!) touting for business. I didn’t have to, but I took the call. The guy made his pitch, spoke about a specific role we were advertising for, told me how he had looked at our website (looked perhaps, but not read…), and asked whether we’d be interested in utilising his services. Though he had read the job ad, he had clearly done no further research on the company. He didn’t understand what we were or what we did. I explained that we wouldn’t be interested and why. I explained what the company is about how we work. I was, in my humble opinion, perfectly polite, friendly and helpful – if you know me then you’ll know it’s not generally my style not to be.

At the end of the conversation – clearly annoyed by his lack of success – he opted to take the sarcastic, smug approach and closed with “Oh, I see. Well in that case, I suspect the job you’re advertising is for XXX company – thanks for the heads up on that!” [Note: For this to really work, when you imagine him saying it in your head, you have to imagine a really smug, stupid voice and, at the end, a really fake, self-satisfied laugh]

Well there was no need to speak to me like that. And, actually, it wasn’t for XXX company at all…

…But thanks for the lead! 😉

That Little Thing Called Communication

So I have asthma. Not really bad asthma, but bad enough. I have a blue inhalor for attacks and red one for preventative use (I know, I know, they’re usually brown, but the brown ones make me worse for some reason?!) I’m not very good at using the red one – I just can’t seem to integrate it into my daily routine – so more often than not I let it get too bad and end up reaching for the blue one.

I’ve had asthma since I was 15 or 16 (half my life, almost!) and I can’t remember a time when my blue inhalor wasn’t a Ventolin. As the asthma sufferers out there will know, Ventolin is the brand of choice when it comes to reactive inhalors. They’re made by GSK and somehow have taken over the market. There are actually different types of Ventolin inhalor, but Salbutamol is the active ingredient in all of them, and it’s actually also available unbranded as a “generic medicine”, not just as Ventolin.

A couple of months ago I did an anonymous survey about my Ventolin inhalor. The idea was to find out how I’d feel about receiving a generic version instead. I hadn’t really thought about it before – as I say, I can’t actually remember a time when I haven’t been given Ventolin. The survey was quite thought provoking and the long and short of it was that I decided I’d be happy with a generic Salbutamol product, so long as it was identified to me by the Pharmacist.

Well guess what turned up in my collection from the Pharmacist the other week? A generic Salbutamol inhalor! And guess how I feel? Pretty naffed off  to be honest! I’ve gotta say, the fact that neither the Pharmacist or one of their assistants saw fit to take two (count ’em!) minutes out of their day to explain to me that, though it wasn’t a Ventolin, it’ll do the same thing, is really rubbish communication IMO! If it weren’t for the fact I’d done a survey on this very topic the other month, I would genuinely have believed that they’d issued me with the wrong prescription. I’d have taken it back down there and told them as much, and then I’d have been really mad that I’d gone all the way down there to change it when I found out it didn’t need changing.

I wonder how many people went back and questioned what they were issued? I wonder how much time they wasted with confused, angry customers when they could have taken just a minute or two to explain the situation?

If you’re a regular sufferer of something (anything) then the chances are you know and understand your medication quite well, so to have it changed on you without explanation is not good customer service. I think this is true of anything – if you have regular customers with expectations then it’s important that you meet them. And if you can’t meet them, or if you have to change a service or product that you offer for whatever reason, then you need to manage your customers’ expectations and communicate the change to them.

I go out of my way to give my custom to an independent Pharmacy because I think it’s important to support independent companies (especially with the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury and other big chains all diversifying and dominating the markets) but I’ve got to say, I’m really unimpressed by the communication in this instance and, if it happens again, I’ll be getting my prescriptions elsewhere…

</rant>

Work related stress

There are people in this world who are always stressed about their job. They moan about it and (genuinely, I believe) get really upset and harassed by the problems and conflict that the role brings about.

Now I’m not unsympathetic to work related stress, and there are some jobs where it pretty much goes without saying: For paramedics, firefighters, social workers, and so on, stress is pretty much a daily occurrence in their lives. But on the whole (and I know this is a sweeping statement), office workers don’t really have much to grumble about. We don’t look death in the eye every day and people’s lives don’t really depend on us (though I concede their livelihoods often do!)

I understand totally that stress in the workplace can be caused by more than the obvious though. I’m not that obtuse – honest! There’s a whole host of things that can have an impact – from trying to do a role you are not trained for, to not receiving support from colleagues and, not least of all, from bullying and harassment. But honestly; this is where I fall down a little…

Annabel Kaye recently posed a question on Twitter about grievances. We exchanged a couple of tweets on the topic and she asked what, if anything, would make me more likely to raise a grievance. I tell you – my mind went blank! Now I’ve worked in jobs I’ve hated and for people who’ve been bullies and I’ve never raised a grievance. I genuinely can not imagine a situation where I would! Maybe (maybe!) if I had a problem with one person or aspect of a role, and it was something I felt was worth trying to resolve, then I would consider it. But only if the good really outweighed the bad overall, and only if resolving it wasn’t going to be like stirring up a hornets nest! Even then though, I sincerely doubt I’d ever make it to grievance level. If I have a problem with someone or something, then I talk about it. I’d like to think that my colleagues and managers are mature enough to do likewise and for me not to have to make matters formal just to have my basic working environment and rights maintained.

I’m a great believer in second chances and I like to think I’d never quit on a role without trying to resolve any problems first, but I would want to do it informally, and if it wasn’t resolved reasonably speedily then I wouldn’t waste my time bringing up the issue again. In my experience, it’s often those at the top of the food chain who are the biggest culprits too and, if this is the case, then who are you meant to turn to?! To me (and this is only my personal opinion) if the problem is major and not likely to be easily resolved, then I won’t stick around. I don’t want to work for a company where the owner is a bully – that kind of behavior seeps down through the management chain and often becomes seen as “acceptable”. Likewise, I don’t want to work for a company that allows whole groups of people to bully and intimidate other members of staff. And, for me at least, this applies on so many levels: Don’t want to train me to do my job properly? Then I don’t want to work for you. Don’t want to support your staff? Then I don’t want to work for you either! I know it’s a very black and white view, but I’m a black and white kinda girl! I either love you or I hate you – there’s not generally many grey areas in my life!

Everyone likes to gripe about work sometimes and I’m all for venting because we all need to do it and it’s part of what makes life bearable! But if your job really has such a negative an impact on your life that it’s causing you to be stressed and is affecting your health and life, then you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it? We work 7, 8, 9 hours a day – that’s the bulk of our waking day. Yes, not many of us can afford to be out of work and I’m not for a moment suggest that you hastily hand your notice in, but do be honest with yourself! Ask yourself what it really is that makes you so stressed at work and try and formulate a plan of action to remedy it. Maybe that involves an informal chat with a manager or colleague; maybe it involves raising an official grievance; or maybe it means recognising that the role just isn’t for you and that it’s time to look at moving on. Whichever: Don’t let work related stress rule your life – it’s just not worth it!


If you’re an employer and want to find out more then you should check out the
ACAS Stress at Work PDF Advisory Booklet.


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About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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