Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lessons from Work -Circa 2012

Here's an old potential blog I wrote but never posted:

The other day one of our coworkers Jeff was logged onto a computer at work. After he left another coworker went onto the computer to program some boards. When I logged onto Facebook later that same day on my computer I noticed “Jeff” was saying some pretty interesting things on his Facebook page. For instance, I didn’t know that Jeff’s favorite color of nail polish was purple. Or that he was getting his nails done at the salon later that day after going shopping for some new sandals. He was also considering getting a perm for his hair. 

Many lessons can be learned at work during the day. For instance: Always log out of social media sites before shutting down a shared computer. Today I’d like to go over several other important lessons time at the office has taught me. I find these lessons to be valuable and important for everyone to know in whatever business they may have. 

Yesterday we were informed by our coworker Paul that many US States our currently considering succeeding from the United States. Paul often keeps us informed of various matters regarding the political climate of our country. For instance, throughout the past year he would leave his cubicle and stand in the middle of our cubicle section and discuss how frustrated he was with what one of the candidates did. For a while it was Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump. Then Romney and more Romney and Obama and then more Romney. He’s slightly democratic so most of his complaining was about Romney. He brought up his personal feelings with regard to various controversial issues raised during the election season and how poorly politicians were addressing them. 

What Paul didn’t realize was that when he was away the other employees would have some commentary on their own –but not on politics. Paul at one point was bestowed with the nickname “Paul”-itician. His behavior rather than his rhetoric was often discussed at lunch and at leisure throughout the office when he was away. 

Lesson: Sharing personal view points can add great insight into the lives of those around you. It can also irritate some people. Perhaps political opinions and personal views are best expressed on the appropriate occasion, calmly, and with great respect to others who may share differing views. Calmly. 

In another instance, two other coworkers Fred and Jim didn’t often see eye to eye. But they did express their views respectfully –usually when the other person wasn’t around. Jim is in Sales and during our marketing meetings he would share all the new leads he had with potential clients and all the products he was planning on shipping out to them. Fred was the Engineering Manager and during engineering meetings he would share how his department was low on parts and may have to push back or delay some of the current orders so he had time to order more parts and actually build the products to ship out. 

Lesson: Communication is an important part of any business culture. When one does not effectively communicate, important details and facts are left out of the attempt at a shared vision. The system then malfunctions and people can get very confused. And bewildered. And frustrated. And angry. And I’m going in the other room now... 

Sometimes it’s best not to take things so seriously. This is why most of us at work like to discuss a variety of non-work related topics. For instance Brian, Fred, and Ken often enjoyed discussing their favorite tv shows. Like the other day they were talking about Dancing with the Stars. Andrea, who’s cubicle is next to mine, actually had to interrupt their discussion to mention the very important fact that their “man cards” needed to be turned in by the end of the day. 

Lesson: Diversity is an important aspect of a business environment. Allowing people to feel free to be themselves and openly support the Giants or Dancing with the Stars leads to happier, and more accepting business relationships among coworkers. 

Actually one of the most diverse people in the office was a woman named Alex who was actually born and raised in Mexico. She spoke Spanish fluently and often talked to customers on the phone in Spanish. Once after having a 20 minute conversation over the phone speaking Spanish she actually continued speaking Spanish for the next 5 minutes… to Brian… who thought she was still talking on the phone… and she was confused why he was being so rude and ignoring her… and he was confused why she was looking at him…and she was confused why he wouldn’t answer her preguntas… 

Lesson: Communication is an important part of any business culture. When one does not effectively communicate important details people can get confused. And bewildered. And frustrated. And resentful. And really confused. 

I’ve been designing some new user interfaces for our boards. These user interfaces are just concepts right now and I have to make a lot of iterations. I was looking around my cubicle, among my art which generally consists of ink drawings I make and thought, “Why don’t I have any of the product images I create on my cubicle walls?” At the time I also noted how boring most of the Kleenex boxes we get are. They’re always floral print and I felt bad because most guys don’t like floral print. Then I thought what if my company made sleeves for Kleenex boxes as a way to promote our brand. 30 minutes later my experiment was complete. And with that I officially became the weird girl who sits in the artistically-inclined cubicle and puts images of our products on random boxes of Kleenex. 

Lesson: Diversity is an important aspect of a business environment. Allowing people to feel free to be themselves and design Kleenex box sleeves and grow potted plants at the office encourages acceptance and individuality in the cubicle community.

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