Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

a miscellany of the wonderful and the banal

Posts Tagged ‘lists

How to be a Good Boss

with 2 comments

Now, it’s been a while since I had a job, as I scampered back to full-time education and have been using this as an excuse not to get on with the demoralising business of lying to HR departments about my level of enthusiasm for filing things and trying to convince them that I am in any way a sociable human being. However, when I was in full-time employment I had a wonderful selection of terminally awful bosses, and one or two really good ones. The really good ones did things like give me free food, instill a sense of team unity without getting into disgusting bonding exercises, and ensure that they didn’t give us all contradictory instructions; the bad bosses did things like talk to me as if I was a dog, lean over my shoulder while I was working, and change the goalposts every five minutes (and refuse to train me to do my job because it was time-consuming and then yell at me for not being able to do my job: advice for large companies, if someone has been in the same role for 30 years and it doesn’t require specialist skills, you may want to consider keeping a close eye on them for psychopathic tendencies).

So here’s a nice list of ways you can get more out of your workforce when your workforce is someone like me:

  • Don’t micromanage. Everyone has different ways of getting a job done and if the end result is the same, whinging at them for doing things in the order you personally wouldn’t or for slumping while they do it is pointless timewasting. Go sit behind your desk and play minesweeper or something instead.
  • Make sure there is a steady workflow. If at all possible, give everyone a list of shit that needs to get done over the course of the day. If it’s supposed to be in a specific order, say so. And then let them get the fuck on with it. Interrupting to give people new work should only happen if the new work is urgent, otherwise just tack it on to the end of the list; and for fuck’s sake don’t take things off people when they’re in the middle of doing them. It’s disorienting and despiriting and depressing and nothing makes people more resentful and less productive than that. Furthermore, don’t give people one task and assure them it will take them all day, because it pretty much won’t. You can only ever have at best a vague understanding of how long your employees take to do something, and if they’re like me they will finish quickly, get bored, surf the internet while waiting for more work rather than interrupt you to get some or “take the initiative” and risk getting that wrong.
  • Be aware of how people work. Your employees aren’t machines. They have different needs and approaches; some people like to chat while they work, others prefer to listen to music on headphones; some people like to work in one long lump and then have a long break, others like to take lots of little breaks; some people dip between projects, other people concentrate on one at a time; some people have their most productive periods in the mornings, others after lunch; some people are sticklers for deadlines, and other people need to be told they’re two weeks earlier than they actually are.  It’s to your benefit to adjust to their methods of working rather than panickily trying to impose the same sense of order onto everyone and failing to get the most out of them.
  • Either sit down or piss off. If you work in the same room as your employees, work in that room. Sit down and type or make calls, but don’t prowl around the room like you have radio-controlled underpants. It’s distracting and threatening, and as you must know, nervous people make more mistakes than calm ones. If you have to flounce around, do it outside.
  • Set a good example. If you want your employees to be on time, not spend their entire time on the phone to their friends, have fewer coffee breaks, and dress smartly, you have to do the same. It gives a proclaimation a little more weight if you say “you don’t see me chatting away all afternoon” rather than, as one of my former line managers did, spending all day every day on the phone to members of your family within earshot.
  • Be flexible. A workforce that’s rewarded for its loyalty and hardwork with understanding and patience doesn’t even require as much in the way of material rewards. Most people would rather have a pleasant working environment – ie. one in which disputes are settled quickly and the boss (that’s you) doesn’t behave like a gorgon, a lunatic, or a prison-warder – than a large bonus, particularly if we’re in low-responsibility jobs. It also makes us more likely to volunteer for overtime.
  • Aim to be authorative. Not bossy, domineering, or shrewish. Don’t wheedle. Don’t attempt to explain the significance of the tasks you’re setting – we’re minimum wage slaves, we do not fucking care, and you cannot make us care. You’re the boss. I don’t give a blind monkey fuck why you want the files moving, just tell me to move them and I’ll move them. Don’t try to convince me of the worth of the work I’m doing, or cajole me into doing something. You are boss.
  • Don’t hotdesk. You can’t prevent friendship groups or cliques from forming, it’s a deeply ingrained part of human nature. Instead of forcing everyone to move out of the position they’re comfortable in, let them have their own dominion, and remind them not to glower at other people and to save their work gossip for outside of work.
  • Never make work socialisation mandatory. Just because we can get on with each other when we’re being paid to doesn’t mean we have any desire to see each other outside of the workplace. If we want to come, we’ll come, and if you make it an offer it’s far more likely to breed camaraderie than if everyone is required to spend additional unpaid time around people from work. Furthermore, not everyone is a great socialiser. They may well be a great employee, but you don’t get anywhere forcing the leopard to change her spots for the sake of “workplace spirit” – all this does is breed resentment.
  • Keep calm. You’re in charge, here. Your panic is contagious, and so is your anger. There are other ways to convey the gravity and importance of a situation or timeframe than by being emotional: they’re called words. If you’re straightforwards about the relative importance of various tasks and projects, people will respond accordingly.

It feels nice telling the boss what to do. Maybe I’ll try this again sometime.


Written by Amelia &/or Delilah

June 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm


with one comment

With thanks to Amelia & Liza G.

1. Not all cancer is fatal.
2. AIDS can be managed with extensive medication and lifestyle adjustments and is no longer an instant death sentence.
3. Countries that do not speak English as a first or official language exist!
4. Lawyers spend a lot of time reading.
5. Learning, class-planning, and exams are part of life in schools as well as rampant romance, sports, and rallies.
6. Regardless of someone’s moral status, a gunshot wound can be a) instantly fatal, b) fatal after a long time, or c) not be fatal at all. C) applies even to gunshot wounds to the head. Yes, really.
7. A defibrilator is not a magical death-reversal machine.
8. Sharks don’t growl.
9. Nor do snakes.
10. Most women would really prefer it if you didn’t talk them. NB: It is still stalking if poetry, chocolates, and flowers are included. Even if the guy is “really good-looking”. Still stalking! Still don’t like it!
11. People lie, good guys included. Sometimes you will not actually know they’re lying. Sometimes they don’t even lie out of spite!
12. Alcoholism does not magically produce stubble.
13. People can become homeless for a number of reasons, and “being crazy” is not always number one.
14. Not every gay man is there to be some white chick’s sassy best friend. Nor is every black woman.
15. People who aren’t white go to colleges, work in law firms, and make important scientific discoveries. Also, there are black nerds and Asian gangstas.
16. Trans men exist.
17. Sex does not automatically result in love, nor vice versa.
18. Fat women have sex lives. So do disabled women. So do butch women.
19. There are women in this world who do not want to have babies.
20. Sometimes nice people are bitchy. Sometimes nice people are promiscuous. Sometimes nice people are violent. The inverse also applies.
21. Having perfect hair and nice shoes doesn’t automatically make you a good person, male or female.
22. Not everyone is attracted to slenderness and white teeth.
23. Some disabled people are assholes, just like some able-bodied people are assholes.
24. Serial killers are actually pretty rare.
25. Some women don’t cry much. Some men cry a lot.
26. Being an abuse victim does not automatically make someone an abuser.
27. Paedophiles do not wear a uniform.
28. One in three pregnancies end in miscarriage. Of those, approximately 85% occur before the woman knows she’s pregnant. Miscarriage is not an easy moral alternative to abortion.
29. Plenty of women have abortions without it destroying their lives or their bodies.
30. Not all athletes are dumb and not all nerds are unfit.
31. It is possible for someone to love Star Trek and get laid. In fact it is possible for someone to get laid as a result of loving Star Trek.
32. Female nerds exist; two of them write this blog.
33. Scientists spend a lot of time involved in research and testing hypotheses and have to write a lot of peer-reviewed papers; they do not generally leap to untennable conclusions in the space of five minutes – at least, not in their professional lives.
34. Women with martial arts training usually prefer not to fight in skin-tight PVC as it is not the most comfortable or easy to move in of fabrics.
35. Adult men are capable of making decisions even when there is a woman in a short skirt in the room.
36. Women have sexual desires, many of which don’t involve shoes.
37. There are mental illnesses which are neither depression nor schizophrenia.
38. Billionnaire philanthropists are very rare.
39. Most rapists are someone the victim knows; most rapes do not take place in dark alleyways.
40. Mexican intellectuals, academics, scientists, artists, and general non-maids, non-gang-bangers, and non-police officers = also exist!
41. Women have periods. Even outside of RomComs.
42. Loose clothing is easier to move in than form-fitting clothing, more practical for concealing weapons, and more likely to be favoured by professional thieves and assassins.
43. There are people who do not like dogs / are not liked by dogs and who are still not minions of Satan.
44. Food quite often looks like ass and tastes like heaven.
45. People from non-English-speaking communities have this tendency to communicate primarily in not-English rather than talking to other members of their community in accented English.
46. Not all Generals are incompetent.
47. Most crimes are not solved.
48. Removing a woman’s glasses does not automatically transform her into a sex kitten, it usually just means that she can’t see.
49. In emergency situations such as cave-ins and flash floods people’s survival instincts invariably kick in, which means that they will calmly and carefully do their best to preserve the lives of everyone in the group, rather than having histrionics, princess fits, or becoming monstrously selfish.
50. Sometimes, parents abuse their children. Sometimes, the children don’t hug and make up. Sometimes they never forgive their parents. That is their right.

I could, of course, go on… but already exists.

Written by Amelia &/or Delilah

January 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm