I quit!

Posted by jlubans on February 19, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: That box of triple glazed Kripy Kremes just might entice the corpulent chief.

No, maybe I won’t.
So it goes in the workplace. All of us have had those thoughts.
Some of us even pull it off – leaving and landing on our feet. Most of us aren’t so lucky. If we stay, it’s a gamble, one that can be debilitating to one’s health and career.
Usually at year’s end, business media offer up advice on career planning.
One such was a recent list of ten signs (no link available) that point to the door, the exit.
Among those, were,
“You’re Not Getting Time Off” – you’re working more and enjoying life less.
And, “Your Company's Future Looks Bleak” – well yeah, if you are losing market share and no one’s buying what you are selling; “Hop on the bus, Gus.”
Finally, “Your Workplace Is A Revolving Door” – everyone but you is leaving. Why are you staying? Worse for you if the replacements are jerks.
The list of ten gained a couple startling reader comments:
“If you dream of killing your boss, it’s probably time to leave”, as illustrated.
Another one, more pathetic: “I go to work happy, I come home … sad.” “Just drop off the key, Lee.”
Unless you like getting beaten up, yeah, time to leave. If you keep on keepin’ on regardless, see a head doctor.
From the list: “You might want to quit your job if you're questioning your workplace's integrity.
"Maybe your boss is demeaning, maybe your co-workers are stealing, maybe clients are abusive….” Or, your boss is a narcissist jerk - who is only looking out for himself; he or she uses your ideas, your achievements and never gives you credit.
And, it may be that Trust and Honesty are featured in the company Values statement, but not practiced.
If you are having to deal with whispers, shadows and perfumed daggers, “hit the road, Jack.”
One of my own reasons to vamoose : Your network is unraveling.
You are no longer invited to lunches, you are left out of meetings, and, you are passed over for promotions.
Somehow, colleagues you thought were on your side, now are less forthcoming and available. They may even avoid you.
A song captures that sinking feeling, that apprehension of not so good times ahead: “I’ve Got a Funny Feeling I Won’t Be Feeling Funny Very Long.”
And, it may be that those with whom you worked most closely have left the building, like Elvis, literally gone. Their replacements just don’t want a whole lot to do with you. Why?
All your positives (improvements, major achievements, fiscal gains, your reputation) appear diminished if not disappeared down the memory hole.
There’s a song for it: “I Don’t Know What It Is, but I Sure Miss It When It’s Gone”. Or perhaps more to the point: “I’ve Closed My Eyes to the Cold Hard Truth I’m Seeing.”
Obviously something has changed. If your network is not telling you, then “Make a new plan, Stan.”
Another one from the list: “You’re On High Alert”.
If "You are persistently in a state of fear of angering someone or of doing a task incorrectly" it may be time to fly the coop.
A song offers a clue: “I’m Sick and Tired of Waking up So Sick and Tired.” If that’s you, “You don't need to be coy, Roy.”
Another one from the list: “You’re Just Not Good At It, (anymore)
A country western song comes to mind: “There’s No Use Running If You’re on the Wrong Road”.
For me, it was something I call “plateauing”; that is, the challenges are gone, the dragon’s been slain and the fair maiden won.
When lunch becomes the thing you look forward to each day, “don't you come back no more, no more”.
It is a time, if you are not forced out, to reflect.
What do you want?
What’s missing?
Where do you want to be in two years?
What makes you happy?
Why is the job so blah?
If the answers point to the door, then, yes, time to go but keep in mind this old song:
“I’m Going Someplace I Hope I Find.”
The song addresses that for you it may not be the destination but more the journey. When we start some new idea, sometimes we do not know where we are going.
That’s no reason not to take the first step; some destinations reveal themselves.
When in a new city, I always wander, sometimes for hours. My destination is vague, I often get lost, but then there’s much to be said for being lost and then found.
So it can be when pursuing a career.
Finally, good advice from the reader’s Comment section: “If you don't like your job QUIT. (But), before you cut the rope have it tied to another pole.”

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And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

Quick Ones: Three for the Road

Posted by jlubans on February 14, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: "Hey, Mister, throw me something!".

Speaking of the road, a 1933 espionage thriller, “The Two Undertakers" features a bit of unexpected, if twisted humor. The quote occurs with the bad guys in hot pursuit of the 2 good guys, both British Secret Service, who are in an open, horse-drawn wagon.
The villains are in a motorized Maybach (think Mercedes) sedan.
Ever resourceful, one of the good guys, Ronald Briercliffe, is inspired by a case of bottled beer in the back of the wagon.
As for the other spy, Granby by name,
“He was still tugging at the galloping horse, assisted not unskilfully by the horse's driver, who had at last begun to grasp the fact that the animal was trying to run away.
"But we might break the bottles on the road," I suggested.
"Good lad," answered Granby.
I crawled over the back of the seat, reached for the bottles, and dropped them one by one from the tailboard.
I had once read a story of a Russian family pursued in their sledge by a pack of wolves, and how the father threw his children overboard one by one to delay pursuit. I knew now how the poor man must have felt.”

Saying No.
The reader may remember a January story about a terrorist holding 3 hostages in a Texas synagogue. The Wall Street Journal editorialized on what happened:
One of the hostages, “Jeffrey R. Cohen, wrote … that at one point during the siege, the gunman (Akram) ordered the trio to their knees….
Instead of kneeling as … ordered…, Cohen, 57, said he defied the attacker’s demand. He stood up and mouthed the word ‘no,’ looking Akram straight in the eyes.
‘I was not going to let him assassinate us,’ Cohen said. ‘I was not going to beg for my life and just have him kill us.’
Rather than shooting Cohen, Akram backed down.
He turned around and put his gun down to pour some soda, Cohen said. Cytron-Walker, the rabbi, seized on the moment, yelling ‘run’ and throwing a chair at Akram as the three hostages ran out.”
The FBI surged in and brought the stand-off to an end, an unfortunate one for Mr. Akram.
Are you as impressed as I am with Mr. Cohen's astonishing courage?
Saying No in the office is usually not a capital offense; yet we hesitate when our higher ups and/or work colleagues are rushing head-long into a mistake. Instead of saying No! we sit silent.
Next time you find yourself accommodating a bad decision, think of that Tall Texan, Jeffrey Cohen.

Eternal Truths in the Workplace.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Lady Fortune
and her whimsical ways and I quoted some advice from Mistress Philosophy: While “Fortune rules the world and that the wise person ignores her ever-shifting ways, preferring eternal truths.”
The puzzle is knowing what’s an eternal truth.
Well, we are told there are mathematical rules that might qualify, e.g. Euclid’s “All right angles are equal.”
No doubt there is some Euclidian link to the modern office, but it seems that there may be other “truths” more appropriate and applicable. I refer to “Open Systems Theory” in which several biological constants appear to hold for any organization and, if that is so, every leader and effective follower should keep in mind.
Messrs Katz and Kahn “note 10 characteristics (each of which is worthy of lengthy discussion) of open systems:
1. Importation of energy from the environment (resources, people, etc.)
2. Throughput (transform resources available to them).
3. Output (export some resources to the environment).
4. Systems as cycles of events
5. Negative entropy, to keep the organization viable (through input of energy/resources)
6. Information input, negative feedback, and a coding process (to maintain steady state).
7. The steady state and dynamic homeostasis (and a tendency toward growth to ensure survival).
8. Differentiation and specialization.
9 Integration and coordination
10. Equifinality (many paths to same end).”

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And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

Ginning-up Gratuitous Hate

Posted by jlubans on February 10, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: The Memorial of the Mass Murder of Jews in Rumbula Forest, Latvia, 1941.

In my reading of popular fiction
from the 1890s through the 1930s, it’s not unusual to run into stereotypical slurs and insinuations against Blacks, Jews, Asians, Italians, Germans, the Irish, etc.
Usually these are minor denigrations – a descriptive word or two, tossed off in passing like salt or pepper to add some seasoning to the story, a touch of local color or as an in-joke for readers in the dominant group.
Stereotyping was (and is) a sleazy and lazy way to wink at the reader – WE – you and I gentle reader - are of course better than these foreigners!
The author winks and nods upon our sharing his prejudices; in so doing, he co-conspires with us in our claimed superiority.
I’ve cringed with a few of my favorite authors, PG Wodehouse and Edgar Wallace. While their characters (like the kind-hearted Bertie Wooster) rarely if ever make racist remarks, both authors from time-to time sprinkle racial aspersions in the scene-setting background.
But, an 1899 item takes the cake as the vilest I have come across in a popular magazine, the Ludgate.
The Ludgate, its editor claimed, had the largest circulation of any three-penny magazine in the UK with each edition reaching about 100,000 readers. Like its famous competitor, the Strand, the Ludgate offered a mix of fiction, poetry, articles on royals and empire, and illustrations to be enjoyed by UK families.
The quote appears in an 1899 story, “The Trap at Belvedere Mansions” by Reginald Bacchus and C. Ranger Gull.
“A knock at the door interrupted his reflections, and a gentleman, whose voice proclaimed him a German no less loudly than his features a Jew, and whose age may have been twenty-eight, entered ….
Mr. Francis Birnbaum was a pale, undersized little man with an eager and crafty expression. The tailor, in the City, who made clothes for the little mean man, knowing his type, always sent home parcels addressed, "Captain Birnbaum."
Be that as it may, no moustache or single eye-glass could disguise the fact of Mr. Birnbaum's parentage. His soft, yellowish nose and greedy, sensual lips proclaimed him unerringly for what he was, the dirty little continental Jew, of a mixed breed.”

Some 40 years later in my birth year in my native land of Latvia 25,000 Jews – men, women and children - were trucked into a forest and murdered by German police and local collaborators.
This was not an isolated massacre; it was repeated all over Europe against Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, and anyone else who was somehow suspect and deemed "inferior".
My point is that ignoring hate encourages its growth. To my knowledge no one wrote to the Ludgate decrying the disgusting language.
Had someone written, they’d have been mocked by many but maybe a few would have thought twice.
At least, a few might pragmatically ask (like Shakespeare’s Shylock) “Do Jews not read?” And, to ask, what’s the purpose of this hateful language?
And, perhaps, just perhaps to condemn the magazine for its gratuitous promotion of hate.
More recently and relevantly, we of the elites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are of course better than those despised “deplorables” or anyone with a different world view from the media’s orthodoxy.
Or, are we?

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And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

Hold for Arrival: Gleason’s Trunk

Posted by jlubans on February 03, 2022  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: “And Away We Go”, Jackie Gleason’s signature shtick.

Speaking of Lady Fortune, Jackie Gleason, a famed American comedian and actor, had a unique way of dealing with the ups and downs in his show biz career.
We are told that not long after making it big on TV and Broadway in the early 50s a friend observed Gleason packing a variety of tailored clothes into a battered old trunk.
When asked what he was doing Gleason had this to say: “Right now, I’m supposed to be playing burlesque in the Adams Theater in Newark,”
That made no sense; born in 1916, he’d knocked around show biz, vaudeville and burlesque houses for 35 years but now his name was in lights on Broadway. He’d made it!
Well, Mr. Gleason knew Lady Luck could knock him off Fortune’s wheel just like she could keep him on top.
Gleason explained that “if not for his run of unanticipated good luck, he might very well still be working in burlesque houses. He remained the same person even if he was now a coast-to-coast star.”
So, just in case (JIC), he sent that trunk across the Hudson River to Newark, with the tag: “Jackie Gleason, Hold for Arrival.”
His trunk was a pragmatic way of preparing in good times for the hard times lurking just around the corner.
If his luck ran out and he was back introducing strippers in a dilapidated burlesque theater, he’d be a well-dressed Master of Ceremonies, waiting for the next spin of the wheel.
Mr. Gleason stayed on top until his death in 1987,
There’s a country western song about life’s ups and down: “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”.
Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines based at Love Field in Dallas Texas no doubt heard that song while sipping his favorite adult beverage, Wild Turkey bourbon. His personal philosophy: “We figure there’s going to be at least two crises in every decade, and we’d better be ready for them. My slogan has always been, ‘We manage in good times so that we’ll do well in bad times.’”
It was his caution (and millions in JIC lines of credit) that had Southwest the first airline back in the sky after 9/11.
It’s not easy, this anticipation of bad times a’comin’.
When you’re on top, everything is looking rosy, the bluebird of happiness is flying over ever greener pastures, so why bother? Good times are here again, goes the song.
Remember Gleason’s trunk. Don’t wait until a crisis; you and the organization should take the time to think about what you will need to see you through and beyond.

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And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle

© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022