Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parenting without bribery

Another heated conversation at the office with me having to explain why bribery is not a good way to parent.  Sure, it gets you results.  But compliance is not the goal -- self-discipline is the goal.
I did a bit of research to support my POV.  If I keep having to bribe my kids to behave:

1. they learn that they must be paid in order to be decent people ("what do I get for doing x?")
2. I'm sending the message that the behavior must be unpleasant, since they "have to be rewarded" for doing it
3. the bribes and rewards have to get bigger and better in order to keep working
4. I end up having to intervene all the time instead of them learning to behave on their own
5. I rob them of feeling the intrinsic reward that comes from behaving (e.g. warm feeling from sharing), thus decreasing the likelihood that they will repeat the behaviour on their own
6. they do not learn, understand, or value the behavior that they are being bribed or threatened to do, they simply 'perform' for the reward
7. I perpetuate the milenial culture of entitlement ("what's in it for me?")
8. I'm sending them the message that they are not capable of good behaviour without bribery
9. I'm sending the message that all good behaviour is extrinsically rewarded - untrue

The argument was made that since my salary is my reward as an employee, bribes and rewards offer the same incentive for kids.  I have no problems with paying our kids to do work that is above and beyond what we expect of them.  They have limited opportunity to earn money at this age after all.  Plus I'd like to think that I'm not a slave owner.  However, my kids are not my employees.  None of us are paid to be decent people or contribute to our family -- we love and help each other because it's what we expect and need of each other.  It's not the same as my employment because that is a contract I have with my employer -- services in exchange for a negotiated salary. Plus my occupation is more than a job -- it's something that matters to me.  From a FB comment I read tonight:  "Your work is something that you create and see through, start to finish. Because you want to. And, aside of the money, it brings joy and ease to the world."  Not sure I'm bringing joy to the world exactly, but I know that I am not motivated by the money.  I work hard because I am a hard worker.  Well maybe not all the time ...  But I feel quite strongly about not using bribes to parent my our kids.  Let's hope I'm right on this one.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Should I stay or should I go -- the sequel

I thought I had my mind made up and then when I talked to my friends they bascially told me that I'd regret not taking this opportunity.  I think I need more answers.

medium-term goal: To be an IM Director in the next 3-5 years
What do I need to get there?  And can I acquire the skills and experience in my current role?

According to IM Director SofQs that I've seen, here's what I am missing (in no particular order):

1. real contracting and procurement knowledge and experience:  I need to know more about this than simply filling out forms.  I want to understand the various contracting options, what clauses and wording to use to get what I want, what to avoid -- basically, how to work it.

2. more HR knowledge and experience:  I've got three active staffing actions on the go which will include exams and interviews, so hopefully this will give me some more relevant experience

3. PM knowledge and experience:  we don't do this in my organization, at least not in a formal way; I don't need my PMP Cert., but I need to apply some PM discipline to my projects. 

4. policy development:  this happens to be one of my objectives for next year, so I know that I will accomplish this.  I just have to start it.  I want it to be killer too -- not a copy paste of another department's IM policy suite, but something that will work in my org.

5. business case development:  I do this in a minor way -- weigh options, make recs, analyze risk.  But I need to write a BIG BAD business case, -- will have to wait until the need arises

6. strategic planning  -- I do work planning but I want to write a strategic plan. What is our vision and how will we get there? I'm not particularly visionary, but I want to learn how to lead and do this. 

7. program design -- this falls out of strat planning; unfortunately we don't do this in my org, but we do elements of it (e.g. service standards, program eval); this one will have to be a longer-term goal

8. inter-departmental experience:  I'd like to do more of this, and not just attending meetings WG and COP either.  I'd like to add value by working on the development of government-wide products.

9. experience evaluating, conceptualizing, implementing new technologies (I haven't done this in ages) within our new infrastructure -- plus I have no idea how things work with SSC now.  However, now that I've expressed an interest, my manager is sharing more of this with me.  Can and should do more reasearch on my own.

10. solid knowledge of business processes, especially how things work at Central Agencies -- best way to learn this would be to just GO. However, I can and should start by reading and talking to others

11. CCC - my supervisors are committed to sending me on French training in the Fall

I went over every one of these today during an informal learning plan mtg.  It went really well.  So I guess that decides it ...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Should I stay, or should I go

Job offer on the table and I can't decide whether I should take it or not.  I used to hop between contracts and jobs all the time.  But now I feel paralyzed by this decision -- like I know that if I make the leap,  I will regret it after a week.  Every new job (or relationship for that matter) ends up being a disappointment.  And that's because you expect too much from it -- that it will bring you eternal bliss.  This one is really tough because it might be good in the long run.  However, I am REALLY happy in my job.  In fact, I stopped looking altogether last year.  This job opportunity just fell into my lap.  So maybe some brainstorming will help me figure out what it is I want.

What do I like about my job:

flexibility:   I can pretty much set out what I want to work on and how; my superiors trust that I will get whatever work needs to get done in the best way possible.  Sometimes I end up a bit lost, trying to figure things out, taking short-cuts, making rash decisions.  But most of the time I thrive.  I feel connected to my work because I have a big say in how it should be done.  Flexibility is very important for me.

the people:  I have a great team and wonderful supervisors.  I am very fortunate.  I've worked on other great teams as well, so shouldn't feel that I wouldn't get that in my next job.  I just feel really lucky to have ended up with such dedicated and kind people.  It makes my job easy.

the variety:  I'm in charge of the whole enchilada, not just a tiny sliver -- library, records management, IM systems, policy, awareness and training, and IM business analysis.  Every single day is different and I am still learning so much.  I am rarely bored because I get to play in multiple areas of my domain.  The variety is wonderful.

more on flexibility: I can tele-work, I can take surfing brain-breaks, I can take the occasional long lunch, I can work extra time to take time off.  Hell I even took the entire summer off.  I've become so used to this that I can't imagine working in an environment that was less flexible ... not that the new place is not (I don't know), but I'd have a really hard time if it wasn't a flexible work environment.

What I don't like about my current job:

not making a difference:  we are not known, our work is not a priority with Sr. Mgmt.  If our team disappeared off the face of the earth, no one would even notice.  This is hard because I need meaning.  I still believe that my work helps others do their work more easily and makes government more transparent and accountable.  But then I see how little we've actually done to make a difference where it counts and I'm disheartened.  Is it just this way in my Agency, or is it like this across the GC?  I don't know.

lack of upward mobility:  my manager is younger than me, so she will not likely retire soon; I don't even have her skillset, so filling her shoes one day is out of the question. My director told me that my job will never be re-classified to a director-level job (like it is in the rest of the GC).  It's just the way it is.  Do I really want a promotion?  Marginally more money, lots more politics and a whole lot more stress, no thanks.  I just want my job classification to be commensurate to my current level of responsibility.  That's not going to happen unless I move -- to another dept or to another branch within my Agency.

lack of discipline:  we're a bunch of cowboys in my branch; we're constantly responsive to operational emergencies (and I like that), but we don't have any discipline or thought for the future -- planning, project management, strategy, policy ... these are foreign concepts where I work that just don't fit with our culture.  How'd I'd love to learn to do things properly for a change!  Maybe it would actually make a difference in our ability to make a real difference?  Then again .... I might feel stifled and frustrated by process and rules because I am used to the flexibility I currently have?  Ugh.

What I like about this job opportunity:

the Director:  she is one class act; not only is her reputation and track record marvellous, she is also a lovely person.  I would learn so much working for her.  I'm certainly learning a lot from my current boss, but she is not an expert in my field, nor does she purport to be.  However, this director plans to retire in 3-5 years.  She's agreed to mentor me. But how much time does she really have with three other managers and a full workload?

Central Agency experience:  everyone I talk to says that it's the key to upward mobility in the GC; learn how the machinery of government works -- it gives you a much different perspective and also looks really good on the CV

the discipline:  they seem to have their shit together at the other organization -- policies, tools, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, big budgets; it's no wonder than accomplish great things

What I don't like about this opportunity:

risk of getting cut:  the role they want me to fill is likely to move to SSC within two years. In fact the previous manager just jumped ship, probably for that reason.  So where would that leave me?  And being the new kid on the block leaves me even more vulnerable to cuts.

boredom:  I'm likely to get bored with having to focus on just one area of my domain -- an area I have a bit of a distaste for lately in fact.  It's not that I don't like technology -- I love technological change.  But I've been disappointed by so many promises of EDRMS systems, that this new one is already fulfilling my lowest of expectations.  Unless I have the opportunity to get involved with other initiatives, I could see myself losing interest fast.

fear of the unknown:  I don't know anything about the people (other than the Director), including the people I will manage.  I don't know if the work will be interesting, if I'll adapt, if I'll live up to their expectations, if I will be happy.  I have no idea. I'm clearly not comfortable with the change.

So, what to do?  I think I've made up my mind -- at least for today!