Thursday, September 27, 2012

Top 10 Traits of a Bad Boss

Up and downs describes my professional experience over the course of the past couple of years.  As a result, I've had time to reflect on the type of people I am happy working for as well as those I find challenging.  I'm jotting these things down, so I can hold myself accountable and try to be the best boss I can be, most days.

I have had some pretty fabulous managers as well as some duds.  I've also managed teams for a little more than half of my career.  My list of the Top 10 Traits of a Bad Boss are based on my experiences and my own mistakes.  Here they are:

1.) Having complete disregard for people's lives outside of work.  Don't work people 80 hours a week because you are not organized.  Invest a little time up front and everyone will save time in the end.  You'll get more out of your employees if you extend them some flexibility (where possible) and show consideration for life outside of work.  Also make sure to communicate to them when you might need extra hours from them ahead of time, so they can adjust their calendars accordingly.  

2.) Starting every sentence with "What you did is wrong, I don't understand it.".  This immediately puts people on the defensive and less likely to help you figure out what you don't understand.  Perhaps instead one should try "I'm having trouble understanding this, can you help me/provide more context/add some clarification/etc..".

3.)   Yelling.  Under no terms should you yell at your employees.  I do understand the higher up the chain you go, yelling is a bit more prevalent.  I'll never get that high up the chain, so from my view in the mid priced seats, yelling is not okay.  It's disrespectful, demotivating and humiliating.

4.) Jumping to conclusions without understanding the facts.  Don't come out of the gates swinging (verbally that is) unless you understand the facts.  

5.) Throwing your people under the bus.  Take responsibility for your team.  When they fail, you fail.  When they succeed, you succeed.

6.) Taking credit for work your team has done.  Yes, you are the leader and your guidance and knowledge may have lead to an outstanding product, but if your team did a bulk of the work, let it be known.  

7.) Blaming your team for your failures.  Ultimately, what makes it up the food chain is your responsibility.  If the higher ups aren't happy, accept responsibility then take the issue up with your team in a constructive way.  

8.) Establishing rules for the team and then doing the opposite.  If you set a rule or policy with your team you need to follow it as well.  Be the example.

9.) Forgetting to say 'thank you'.  These two simple ways go a long way.  Thank your team for late nights, for an effort that was above and beyond, acknowledge a job well done.

10.) Expecting more of your team than you expect of yourself.  You are the boss.  In most cases you make more than the people on your team.  As a result, more is expected of you, deliver it.  

Top 10 Traits of a Great Boss coming soon to a blog near you.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Picking - Becoming a Tradition

What am I going to do with 15 pounds of apples?  This is what happens when we do any sort of picking.  For the past 3 years we've been berry picking in June and we've started the tradition of going apple picking in September.  It's so much fun to watch my kids pick their fruit off the vine/tree and running through the fields.

I am kind of selective when it comes to what my kids eat, so we only go to organic farms..  The berry farm is close (Webb Ranch in Portola Valley) , but the apple farm was 1 1/2 hours away (Clearview Orchards in Watsonville).  Typically not a bad distance, but we got a late start and had an afternoon nap we are up against.  Abby starting yelling, screaming actually, that she wanted to go home 15 minutes from the farm.  Oh boy, that was not enjoyable.  I knew as soon as we got there, the girls would have fun.  We pulled into the parking lot and they were giddy with excitement.

Steve wasn't able to join us this time around as he was in Chicago participating in an annual 'guys weekend' trip.  Next year he'll join us.

Emily picking an apple.

Abby picking an apple.

Now I'm off to find recipes to help me get through some of the 15 pounds of apples I have sitting on my kitchen counter.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Murphy's Good Days and Bad Days...

Within the same four week period, I quit a job that I was not happy with, I was to get my two little angels started at new schools and was slated to start a new job.  When it rains it pours.  It's been a month of adjustments for sure.  Adjustments to schedules, jobs, expectations, schools, etc...

During this time of what is all good change, we got some bad news.  

As I was rushing my kids out the door to get haircuts one afternoon I noticed our dog Murphy was limping pretty badly.  I had noticed earlier in the day that we was hobbling a little bit after getting up from laying down.  It was pretty mild so I chalked it up to a leg that fell asleep, a cramp, something temporary.  It was a lot worse at the end of the day.  

After I got the kids in the car, the phone call to Steve went something like this:

"Steve, Murphy can barely walk, you need to come home now and take him to the vet.  I've got the girls loaded in the car for their haircuts".  

I was thinking the worst case would be a torn ACL, a sprain, something that could be fixed, easily fixed.

Murphy was on anti-inflammatory meds for a week and doing well.  After he was done with the meds, he started limping again.  Back to the vet we took him.  He had x-rays.

I don't remember if my husband called me or texted me with the diagnosis.  Bone cancer (aka osteosarcoma).  Bone cancer that is not treatable.  We could delay the spread, but it would eventually take his life.    

There are a couple treatment options available to us.  We've decided on a course of treatment that is good for Murphy and good for our family.  He has good days and bad days.  Today he had a good day and it makes me happy.  When he has bad days (lots of visible pain) it's heartbreaking.  Murphy is the best dog we could have asked for, both before and after having kids.  I'm not sure how much longer he will be with us, but we are going to spoil him as much as we can and treat every day with him as a gift..  

A couple years ago in Tahoe

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Abigail, oops I mean Dear Abby

(I wrote this a few weeks ago, just getting to posting it now)

Dear Abby,

No, this isn't a letter asking for advice from 'Dear Abby'.  This is a letter to my first born child the night before she starts kindergarten.  How are you almost 5?  How did the last 5 years whiz by?

On our porch before heading to school.

Walking to school, I had tears in my eyes taking this picture.

Abby, you amaze me.  You are a very sweet little girl.  You are always concerned about others, you sense when people are sad or hurt.  You are a rule follower (earlier today you told those two older girls at the pool that they were not supposed to go down the slide backwards, they were at least 3-4 years older than you, you believed in what you were doing and you weren't phased when they told you they didn't care,  I love how you shrugged it off and went back to playing).  You catch a lot of what happens around you and fight sleeping as to not miss anything.  You are at times goofy.  You love art projects and music.  Your favorite artists at the moment are Adele, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Madonna.

You are weary in new situations and are thoughtful before taking risks.  You are an amazing big sister to Emily.  You share her pain and her joy with her.  It's touching how supportive you are with her achieving milestones and you always keep her in your thoughts.  When I asked you earlier today if you wanted just mommy and daddy to take you to school, or if you wanted Emily there, you asked that Emily go too.  Precious!

I know you are worried about starting Kindergarten in the morning, but you are going to do great.  You love learning and I am very excited to see you learn over the next 2 decades (yes, you are going to college).

You are very decisive, are quick to make decisions and do not sway easily from the decisions you've made.  I love this about you.  One day I asked you if you wanted me to tell your teacher to call you Abigail (your given name) or Abby.  Abby it was and Abby it's been.

We will be here for you as you adjust to going to big girl school.  We want to hear about your feelings, your fears, your successes and your failures.

Abby, I am hoping your first day of Kindergarten is fantastic and isn't as scary as you think it's going to be.  We are proud of you and wish you nothing but happiness as you start your educational journey!