This Is What Being The New Kid Looks Like

  • No Comments

New job + No vacation accrued = One of maybe eight people at work on Christmas Eve Eve.

This is the first floor of the parking garage at 9:00am (usually packed by then). I parked in the most coveted spot.

Don’t feel too bad for me, though. My executive boss-type guy said I could leave at 1:00.

Until then, the halls are pretty empty. Helloooooooooooooo….?

Brevity Is Not My Middle Name

  • 4 Comments

(Sometimes the pump just needs priming. After writing about having nothing to say, it turns out I actually did have something to say today. It was just hiding. Here’s a second post for the day.)

A few weeks ago, we had a manager’s meeting here at work. This is a once a quarter affair where we meet, eat pastry, and talk about our plans for the department over the next three months.

Part of these meetings is also a discussion about how we, the management team, can improve ourselves and be better leaders for our team.

This quarter’s growth topic in support of that goal was about our use of words.

A senior member of our staff held aloft the cap from a water bottle, and told us the goal was to “use a capful, don’t pour out the whole bottle.”

He told us to shorten the bullets on our PowerPoint presentations.

He told us to “speak in conclusions” in our emails.

He told us to always be aware of how many words we’re using and then trim it back.

Ironically, it took him over half an hour to pass along this message.

I deeply considered throwing the cap from my own water bottle at him.

But I didn’t.

Ahem.

Look, dear readers, you’ve been with me for over three years, and 1,000 posts which amounts to approximately half a million words.

Do you *really* think I can “use a capful” when I write?

People, please.

To paraphrase The Dude, I’m not really into that whole brevity thing.

I’m a writer! I’m a creative! I pass words like currency through my life. My husband and my best friend, the closest people to me, both have kick ass vocabularies! If you’re gonna run with me, you gotta love the use of words and language and be willing to endure my penchant for storytelling the whole damn six pack, not just the capful.

No, I say! No! I reject the capful and dive headfirst into the ocean of words, swim around nekkid, get the words all soaked into my skin and then I’ll use a few more adverbs just to make it more, erm, wordly!

Damnit! Asking me to ratchet back the words is like tying Rodin‘s hands behind his back and asking him to craft a masterpiece with his toes.*

Ain’t gonna happen.**

* Look who is comparing herself to Rodin. That’s a bit audacious, innit?

** That said…I’m trying. Well, trying at work anyway. Be warned, all the words I have to cut out of my days at work are so totally going to show up here.

Cartoon from Toothpaste for Dinner

Round Two: Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

  • 8 Comments

Yesterday, early in the morning, I had my weekly one on one with the boss.

He’s in the US this week, so it was nice to have a face to face meeting. I have such respect and yes, I’ll say it, affection for my boss. He’s amazing.

I had a long list of items to discuss, and we jumped right into the fray.

It was a good meeting, much cussed, much discussed. Decisions made. Strategy set.

When I’d exhausted my list of items, I said to Boss Man, “so, do you have anything for me?”

He said he did. There were a couple small items. “No problem, boss, I’m on it.”

He continued,”Also, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to put you on a development plan.”

Then the world went molasses on me.

Oooooh. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

My hearing slowed down. My head swam.

I’ve been a manager for a long time. Development plan is a cute little Human Resources euphemism for “You suck, we’re trying to fire you, but we have to do a ‘development plan’ first to document what a toad you are.”

What had I done? In four months I already blew this gig?

Sure, I was a little blunt with that supplier, but damn, they suck at invoicing! And ok, I might have made a joke in a serious meeting, but that’s just my way. Everyone seemed to appreciate the moment of levity! And fine, I might have been late to work a few times this week, but that’s mainly because I was on seven in the morning calls with India, and I took them from home.

I’m not a perfect employee! But damnit! I work hard and my intentions are right!

While the edges of my eyes went wavy, and I tried to figure out where exactly I’d screwed the pooch, I noticed my boss was still talking.

“And so we’ll be working on this over the next month. Being new, you may not know that development plans are only offered to our top performers, so be aware that not all of your coworkers will be doing this same activity.”

Wait. What?

Oh. I see. “Development plan” as used at *this* company is a good thing.

Whew.

My heart can now regain regular rhythmic activities.

(And then I almost cried….but I held it in. A girl crying at work is sooooo uncool.)

Weeee Represent the Lollipop Guild

  • 11 Comments

I’m what they call a robust gal. Hardy. Big boned. The word “petite” doesn’t apply to any of the assets I embody. I’m broad of shoulder and sturdy in the hips and thanks to a mom who told me to stand up straight, I own every one of my five feet and almost eight inches.

I had to stand in the back row for class photos. I long ago gave over to the knowledge that with these thighs, corduroy was not an option.

Back in college, I danced with short cowboys and took many a brim of a cowboy hat to the bridge of my nose.

After I moved to California, I wore flat shoes for years because I dated a guy not much taller than me. He once cooed over a friend who is teeny tiny, “you’re like a little doll!” he gushed. I never felt more elephantine than I did at that moment.

This is the hand I’ve got to play, dealt by my genetics. Honestly, I’ve become more sanguine about it over the years.

This brings us to the events of yesterday. I’d been invited to a status update meeting with a VP from my company and the CEO of a large multinational corporation.

In the morning, I dug around in my closet and put together a pretty nice outfit. A meeting like this is big doings, so I knew I had to up my game.

I got dressed and put on my favorite pair of three inch heels. The outfit looked great. Before leaving the house, I asked The Good Man if I was committing a work faux pas.

See…my boss is about 5’9″ on a good day, and his boss is maybe 5’6″ if the wind is right and he’s on the uphill side of an incline.

Is it bad form to tower over the people who pay my paycheck? The Good Man considered the question and decided the outfit worked, and thus all would be ok.

Off I went to work feeling pretty good. The meeting time rolled around and I stepped into the conference room. As I was the only woman in a roomful of nine men, they all rose and walked over to greet me.

Ok, so flatfooted I’m 5’8″ and now wearing three inch heels I’m 5’11”

There was only one person in the room who was taller than me. Just one. The rest of these #$%^ing Lilliputians scrambled around somewhere about my kneecaps.

*sigh*

At the end of the day, I was very glad to go home, kick off my tall shoes, stand on tippy toes, and kiss my 6’2″ husband.

Because that’s the best way to navigate through a day chock full of Oopma Loompa-ish men.

(I might also add that I was only one of two Americans in the room. We had a gent from Hong Kong, a Dutchman, an Aussie, a Swede, a Scotsman, a Russian, an Irishman, a Spaniard, an American from Phoenix…and me.)

Curse you PowerPoint!

  • 6 Comments

Oh how you vex me.

Sure, so the boss of my boss says….”Karen, put together a couple slides on [insert name of project here].”

And because I am that kind of employee, I say, “Yes boss!”

Then I when the boss is out of earshot, I sigh. Deeply. Loudly.

Then I make motions not unlike a cat would when being shoved into a mailbox.

Then I open up a blank PowerPoint screen with the company approved slide template.

And I sigh again.

It mocks me. The blank slide mocks me.

The company approved slide template has a graphic and logo running down the left side and the bottom of each page.

This takes up valuable real estate on every slide.

In this already limited space further limited by the corporate branding, I’ve been asked, essentially, to describe the d’être for my department.

My powerful team and successful program that was a decade in the making by my very talented predecessor.

I’m to boil that down to a few salient bullet points, format them in the corporate way and in corporate colors.

I have to make all the bullet symbols line up. And the font on every page should match in typeface and size. If I put in a table of numbers, all the numbers should line up like obedient school children.

I haven’t even BEGUN to discuss “transitions” where you have your text come swooping in or looping out or emerging from thin air. I hate transitions. I really, really hate them.

I’m not *good* at PowerPoint. There are some people in this world who can make magic happen with the PowerPoint software. Unfortunately I am not one of these people.

One would think with my creative mind that I’d be all up and over PowerPoint. Nope. See, the times when I’ve gotten clever in the ol’ PowerPoint, I’ve received dismissive looks and suggestions for edits. My sense of humor doesn’t really translate to the rigid slide format produced by the PowerPoint software.

No. Must maintain a professional attitude. Must use a tool with SO many moving parts it could make the Pope cuss (you suppose they use PowerPoint at the Vatican?).

Must do a good job on this as I’m only sixty days into this new job. Must help them continue to think I was worth hiring.

Must make PowerPoint magic.

Oh and did I mention…this all must be done by Monday?