Why my boss will never win ‘Best Boss’.

There are a number of competitions out there that recognize strong leadership in the workplace. I know – I spent a few seconds scrolling through them on Google. The most famous one, the ‘best boss/worst boss’ contest, stresses how your boss is a great motivator, communicator, and leader, and how they make the office more productive and satisfying.  That’s great, as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go very far.

I did have one interesting related post I hit upon here, having to do with creativity.   The writer in question has done this activity with  variety of types and classes of employees, which I think is something important.  1) In the workplace, people regularly separate and group themselves.  2) Inter-group association, knowledge, and cooperation is not encouraged.

Take my office, for example.  There are two lunch groups – the admin assistants, and the other office workers.  It’s not because anyone looks down on us admins – many just feel more comfortable with their own group, where they can talk casually about daily tasks.   The same thing is true across the office – individuals in one department, such as real estate, don’t know about the daily or even major actions of those in private equity.  How do we create a sense of office unity despite this?  Better yet, how do we enliven progress recognition and achievement if we don’t know what anyone outside of our own small group is doing?

My own current boss is trying to make things more overlapping and to have different groups dabble in each-othe’s work.  Of course this is great as an ideal, though we haven’t worked out what the overlap is going to look like, or who will be responsible for what.  But most importantly for a growing organization, it moves people to start to be aware of the total work environment, hopefully breaking down some of those barriers between work groups.  It will not make him a more productive or a better leader over the short term especially.  Just because of his position people are sometimes afraid to approach him, and striking up major office innovations is not going to change that.  But over the long term, I think it will do something real and good for us as a company.


My Bathroom is Carpeted.

Not my current bathroom.  The one I grew up using as a child was wall-to-wall carpet.  The only uncarpeted section was the bathtub itself.  It was really a nice place to be in the morning.  My mom would bring out the little electric space heater when we were going to take a shower or a bath.  it would make the whole room toasty.  After I got out, I used to linger in front of the heater with my towel, letting my body ‘air-dry’.  Really I was probably completely drying out my skin, but that warm little heater just felt so good.

I am guessing from the content of my adult state that the heater probably had more to do with keeping the bathroom dry  than keeping me warm.  The reason most bathrooms aren’t carpeted is due to dampness and possible mold.  Tile just does better resisting the wet air.  The thing I don’t understand is when some people have wood floors in a bathroom – that seems like more trouble than carpet to me.  Personally, I don’t even like having sheetrock in the bathroom –  it’s too easy for it to get damp.  But that’s really beside the point.

The point is that I loved that bathroom, and that heater.   I loved the carpet underfoot, rich in the cold mornings.  I loved getting out into heat with a sheen of water still on my skin.  I’ve melted heaters into flaming puddles of plastic goo because of this love.  I’ve turned towels to ash.  But still, despite all the possible negatives of this kind of bathroom, when I’m lying in my warm, toasty bed in the morning, it’s still the one I’m most drawn to.

More on the crazy credit front.

I’ve written a little bit about the current ‘credit crisis‘, but I came across this blog dedicated to stockpiling information about the whole thing as it happens.  If you’re interested in more gloom and doom, you should check it out.  Some timely advice might be that governmental classic from the Cold War era, ‘Duck and Cover‘.  For myself, I vastly prefer Samuel L. Jackson’s line in Jurassic Park: “Hold on to your butts.”

Peppermint Tea?

I was feeling a little sniffly at work and one of my co-workers suggested I have some peppermint tea. She said it would clear me right up, so I thought I would try a cup.

And then it dawned on me. All this writing about camphor and my own childhood experiences with spearmint and I’d been missing something important – mint contains menthol, that wonderful cooling oil that’s in a variety of products from gum and cigarettes to cough syrup/drops and decongestants. Though I’m not sure about the reliable scientific properties of the herb, it is regularly used to combat mild colds and to settle stomachs.

And now that I’ve had my nice cup of tea, and inhaled its fragrance deeply as well, I do feel better. I don’t know if I’m actually less congested. However, another property of menthol is that ‘cooling’ sensation. It’s cause by the oil’s activation of the ‘cool’ receptors on your nerve cells, though it does not actually make the temperature of those cells go down. So now I’m sitting pretty, feeling the ‘ahh, coooool!’ in my beleaguered nose cells.

Work Woe, Work Joy

There are quite a few books/blogs/agendas/workshops that seek to address the idea of a work-life balance.  It’s something that I often address myself, in my search for that uplifting career path.  I found this particular post helpful as a starting point to considering this path.  However, it also raises quite a few questions about my current job.

One of the things I noticed about my own responses to the post were in regards to creation.  I like making things.  It doesn’t much matter what – I like working with my hands for utility or beauty, I like writing, I like making.  I even like polishing up other people’s work and making it pretty, or arranging things in an artful way.  It appeals to my sense of order and beauty.  The problem I am faced with is that my current job allows me to do many of these things frequently.  I keep office things in order – I organize and beautify our quarterly books.  Yet I am still often unhappy at work.

A part of my frustration I know comes from not having enough to do at some points.  True, there are a few months out of every year in which I’m truly busy, but most of the time I have significant down time.  A part of making my current job more worthwhile may simply mean filing this time too.  But I think there is also a larger issue.  Growing up as I have in an environment in which career change is not only possible, but also perhaps desirable, I am very hesitant to commit to any career path longer than a year or three.  Why spend my time and money on something I’m not going to keep with? How do I address my own career path when I feel such a broad and general desire in my future career needs?