Category Archives: coworkers

Happy Independence Segue!

While the rest of the country is celebrating declaring their independence from Great Britain, I am celebrating declaring my independence from a mediocre job.

If my life were a movie, this part would have a nice little segue, possibly with a montage. There would probably be some really awesome music. Possibly “Higher and Higher” like in Wet Hot American Summer. In which case Gene would definitely be with me the entire time.

Montage scene 1: I’m on the phone getting the job offer. This definitely includes slow-motion fist-pumping and quite possibly the hugging of a stranger (or two).
Reality scene 1: An unofficial offer hovers and finally leads to an official offer weeks later, which leads to many hoops and barriers to jump through/over to hopefully get to The Contract. Must have the precious… Continue reading

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A staff retreat? Watch me retreat.

Staff retreats. Some places you’ve worked may have had them. Generally they involve similar kinds of activities and similar moments of enjoyment and… discomfort. Here are a 10 tips for What to expect when you’re expecting… to go on a staff retreat based on my experience.

1. Assigned teams.
If you are particularly unlucky, this means you will be put on a team with the head of your organization and an older woman who works in finance and turns out to be surprisingly good at volleyball but cannot for the life of her remember a basic pattern. While teams are being assigned, the head of the organization will insist that everyone restrict phone usage to a minimum during the activities, but he will wander off periodically from your group to stare at his phone with a very serious and important expression on his face. Everything he does will make you angry.

2. A guy with a microphone.
He is incredibly enthusiastic. He probably has a Masters degree in Recreation. (I learned that such a degree existed from a really terrible boss I had at a summer camp job during college. He really enjoyed asking questions he knew the answer to just to “make a point.” And by make a point I mean make people feel stupid.) He has jokes lined up that he knows from experience will make the majority of the group laugh. He has done this so many times that he already knows what mistakes your team will make and what roles your team will fall into before you begin. He is the leader of the activity leaders. He is simultaneously obnoxious and endearing. You will not be able to help thinking he is totally awesome. But you may also be certain you would never be friends with him if you met outside of the staff retreat environment. (I should note that I have had a few women lead these things, but most of the time the main person with the microphone is a dude.)

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When I am someone’s supervisor…

As a teenager, I once told my mom that I was going to make a list of all the things she was doing wrong so I would remember not to do those things when I became a mother. I have since lost the list and forgotten what it said. Given the positive view I have of my mother, I would guess the list was an exaggerated reaction to a particular moment of frustration, but what do you expect from a teenage girl yelling at talking to her mom?

Sensationalism or not, I remember the list as a great coping mechanism, so I’ve decided to make a similar list now based on positive and negative experiences I’ve had (and my colleagues and social work school peers have had) with supervisors. Given that I am somewhat older and wiser and relatively less melodramatic than I was as a teenager, perhaps this list will even prove helpful to me one day. Please note that I will also be taking this opportunity to lightly mock terrible supervisors, including one at my current job (thankfully not my own).

Okay future self, put down that More magazine Dos and Don’ts list and read this…

DOs and DON’Ts for when I am someone’s (social work) supervisor:

  • DO be consistent about expectations and support.
  • DO stay open-minded to learning from your supervisee.
  • DON’T throw a stack of papers at your supervisee and say “These are useless to me.” Continue reading
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An in-between post: thoughts from my aunt

After I published my last post, I received an email response from my (obviously awesome) aunt. I found her thoughts interesting, so I figured I would share them with all of you (I asked her permission first, of course!):

“I enjoyed this post — it brought me right back to the early 70s, when I first went into sales and was a ‘pioneer’ during the early days of the women’s liberation movement. [My encounters actually began in 1967, when I started working full time. They escalated when I went into sales in 1973.] Many of the guys that I worked with alternated between resenting me (thinking I would betray their behavior with other women to their wives) and hitting on me…. Sometimes it is easiest to ignore it, but if it is repeated it must be dealt with (such as your ‘I have a boyfriend’; or ‘I’m in a relationship’).

Regarding inappropriate physical advances, take a lesson from an ol’ ‘women’s libber’: I would go with a handshake every time you greet/ungreet — even in an elevator. Just square your shoulders and put your hand out there quickly and that should cut down on the unwanted physical advances. The other stuff (confessions of a difficult marriage, etc.) has to be managed on a case-by-case basis, and I get that it’s trickier if the ‘sharing’ is coming from someone you may ‘need’ in the future to help one of your clients. Perhaps you could say that you need to stay focused on your clients (and their issues)? As long as you’re smiling when you say it, you can get away with a lot.”

Perfectionism, Shmershmectionism…

You know that moment… and that other moment…and every day when you are barely on top of your urgent To-Do list and you look to over and see that the person in the cubicle across from you is shopping online… again?

Then maybe you are also familiar with the moment afterwards where you wonder why the H–E–DoubleHockeySticks you even bother working so hard. Perhaps that person is praised (for whatever that’s worth) just as often as you are and it is becoming all too clear that no one at this Non-Profit Organization cares/notices who is working hard and who is getting by doing the minimum. And maybe you, too, have been called a perfectionist. Continue reading

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