I have decided that I must be approachable and undeserving of the fierce reputation I have. There are at least two directors who are intimidated by me, which I find odd. But still, I have been told on more than one occasion that people were "scared" to come and work for me, until they work for me and find that I try to be fair, reasonable, and about helping them improve their skills to help the business. It's the backhanded compliment I hear most: "I don't know why I was nervous to start in this department."
Today a girl who has recently been promoted out of my team was in our area. There was a bit of catching up and she was giggling. "With your hair like that, no I'm not going to say it, well, it's just that with your hair like that, just your hair, you remind me of the Trunchbull from Matilda, no offence!" No, no offence. Why would that comment be considered offensive, or hurtful. I told her I'd put her in the chokey if there was any more of that nonsense. I tried to laugh it off. I think that made it less awkward. She apologised twice during the rest of yesterday.
But it did hurt. It struck a nerve, and has me thinking about my reputation. It's not undeserved, if someone joins my team and has no work ethic, they probably won't last long. I won't put up with dead wood, but I don't chop it out at the first opportunity, it takes us quite a while to admit defeat. Instead I'll make sure we're clearly outlining what is and isn't acceptable and giving people another chance. And I don't hold a grudge, just because a person makes a mistake, or is used to being able to turn in 10 minutes late each day, doesn't mean they should be instantly dismissed. Second chances can be few and far between in the rest of the business. When we have chosen to lose someone from the team, it has been for the right reasons, but the person going is all that my colleagues see... In addition, I won't accept stupid tasks assigned to my team, because someone else is too lazy to learn how to perform that aspect of their own role. I willingly speak to managers who have team members trying to cut corners. I don't think it's fair that someone else should have an easy ride, while one of my teams is under enormous pressure, especially in the holiday season.
But therein lies my problem. Because I want my team to be successful, and because I don't have a supporting cast of ten supervisors I can delegate to, when I get assigned to "special projects" they consume most of my time, leaving the day job to wait it's turn. Let me define a "special project." We may acquire a new business, or product for our group, and it requires someone to take the information provided, and fit it into our structure, define processes, put in IT requests for the development to support it, liaise with our various credit and finance teams to ensure that the whole process is mapped and supported. It can take weeks. Because, as with the rest of this business, there is no project management or process mapping software to help. And the only starting point is the template I put together last time we did it, for the last time. These projects are important to our business, without the addition of new customer bases or product offerings we would stagnate. But they always seem to land on my desk because I'm "good at that sort of thing" and I "understand the systems". And there is nothing in my job description about absorbing them.
I was no where near as productive as I could have been yesterday. My brain seems to start on the right path, but then it just gets stuck, and I realise I've been reading the same short page of text for about 20 minutes. I'm still calm but apparently still not sleeping, because I've been wide awake since ten to five. Roll on Christmas, 10 days off, all in a row. I'm hoping I'll feel much better.