Goals

At work we have these silly annual performance reviews where we go over a list of goals established the prior year.

The goals always seem to be highly corporate and irrelevant to my job, but somehow I still get high scores on achieving my goals. The way I look at it, if I am doing great work and being productive then I will achieve high scores on the goals, otherwise the goals are a load of shite and need to be re-worked to fit my job, since I am clearly rocking ass at my work.

I am pretty much the hardest worker I know at work. It’s not so much that I am hard working as that I am efficient and effective at what I do. I try to cut out 80% of the BS busy work and focus on what is really needed.

Busy work is defined as any work that if you don’t do it, NOTHING happens. Nothing good happens and nothing bad happens. But if you DO do it, then you are subtracting time and resources away from actual meaningful work, and that is bad.

This is primarily why I avoid busy work and meetings. I especially avoid busy work that I do not “own.” Ownership is kind of a catch phrase where I work, and in corporate America generally. When you “own” work, it just means you are the one responsible for getting it done and for getting hassled by management when it does not get done. I own a subset of document processes at work, mostly updating internal quality SOP documents based on hardware, software, and process changes that come in from engineers. I don’t own the documents per se. The engineers own the documents. I own part of the process (I am a service provider), which is fixing the documents to make them correct, and then processing them for release, since engineers are clueless about this. But the release itself is owned by the engineer, and if they drop the ball on that, they are responsible, and I don’t give a crap. My job is done when I produce my deliverable to the engineer, the finished document in its final form for release.

If I fail to deliver a finished document, that is my failure. But I never do. I have never once failed to complete a document on deadline (though I did have to put in a little overtime once). The failures always tend to occur before the document changes come to me (engineers can’t pull their heads out of their asses and collaboratively figure out what needs to change) or after the finished document leaves my desk (the engineers drop the ball on the release process or outsource it to incompetents). Outsourcing ownership can be disastrous. A lot of the engineers are lazy and like to delegate. But when the delegee fucks up, it is the owner who gets the shaft, not the delegee. So when I have documents to work on, I only trust myself to do the work, and it has paid off.

I call it “putting the ball in someone else’s court.” When I get a request for a document change, I gather the necessary resources, make the changes, and get the draft or finished document off my desk as expediently as possible. I put it in the engineer’s court to do his/her part of the workflow. The longer they have the ball in play, the more time I have to focus on other immediate tasks. That is the secret to my success.

@#$% Storm

Management’s extremely poor planning is about to explode in a shit storm all over everyone where I work. On at least three occasions, I raised the red flag that management was overlooking some important factors in the document migration plan, primarily to do with file linkages in the database that will be broken in the migration. The wise plan would have been to clean up the file linkages in advance of the migration, so the files will work in the new system. However, that scope was too large for management. So they want to go ahead with the migration and pick up the pieces after the fact. They are clueless.

Does Hate Trump Money?

Republicans normally do things that support big business.

That’s why I am surprised at their vitriolic desire to defund food stamps and repeal the Affordable Care Act (often called ObamaCare, but actually better referred to as RomneyCare, since it is very similar to legislation that passed in Massachusetts when Mittens was governor: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/obama-mitt-romney_n_3806788.html).

Food stamps are part of the so called Farm Bill and have been for many years, arguably because it is basically a handout of free government money to agribusinesses and corporate farms, by way of the mouths of hungry children. Food stamps can only be used to buy food at retail prices, so there is not a lot of room for fraud. Also, poor families need to eat, so when they have food stamps, they spend them. They don’t put food stamps into a rainy day savings account. The funny thing about hungry children and disabled veterans is they can’t wait to eat at some later time. The profits from retail sales of food via food stamps go right into the pockets of food manufacturing companies and corporate farms (most food stamps recipients buy food at grocery stores and food banks, although there is a growing movement for them to be used at farmer’s markets and CSAs). Take away food stamps for seven million people and you are basically taking seven million customers away from the food industry. Why would Republicans support that?

The Affordable Care Act is also a program that forcibly obtains millions of new customers for the private health insurance industry. Everyone is mandated to get health insurance, affordable or not. That is why you don’t hear any private health insurers decrying Obama(Romney)Care. Who among them wouldn’t want the government to mandate that everyone buy their health insurance? The health insurance industry is ramping up efforts to accommodate the new customers and incorporating the regulatory changes into its business models. As a medical writer, I am increasingly being solicited for technical writing jobs in health care to assist the insurance industry in revising their documentation for the regulatory changes. No one in the industry is bitching about it. ObamaCare means more customers and more money for the private health insurers, by government mandate.

However, these programs benefit the poor and the sick. For Republicans to object to these programs seems to suggest that as much as they love big business, they hate the needy and disenfranchised more. Is it possible that their derision and hatred for those in need trumps their desire to get bigger profits for their corporate constituents?

Circumstantially, it would appear to be the case. I have not heard any Republican arguments against these programs that specifically mention flaws in the programs themselves. ObamaCare hasn’t even been fully implemented yet, so no one knows if it will work or not. But food stamps have been working great for years, helping the needy and profiting the food industry. Win-win.

All the debate seems to be about cutting excessive government spending. But these programs help people and profit companies, so how exactly are they excessive? Republicans are almost never against government spending (or mandating of spending) on the private sector, if it profits their rich donors (including the food and private health insurance industries). That’s trickle down economics, their M.O. It's what keeps the Republican Party alive and kicking (funded). That’s why you have bank bailouts and government subsidies for oil companies and agribusiness (the latter also legislated in the Farm Bill, RE: corn and soybean subsidies).

So what gives?

Mental Health Half Day

As evidence of how crappy my workplace is, I had to go to the doctor at lunch today, stricken with heart palpitations largely induced by the anxiety-causing d-bag middle manager who transiently overseas my team while we seek a replacement for my former boss (who left the company because of d-bag and other incompetent managers).

At a meeting yesterday, he asked me to expedite the completion and release of a couple documents held up by apathetic coworkers, including doing some admin work outside my job description. I really had no problem with the work per se, which largely involved getting the needed deliverables from the aforementioned apathetic stakeholders in the documents.

It was, by all appearances, super easy work, from my perspective and I got right to it, planning to crush it handily. What I did not realize is that this "minor work" was all a cover so that d-bag could get in a political pissing match with one of his arch rivals on the manufacturing floor.

Listen to me very closely, people. I DO NOT DO WORKPLACE DRAMA!

D-bag made a grievous error by deciding to unnecessarily drag me into the melee. I suppose he was seeking validation from me that he was "right" in whatever ideological frame of references passes for reality in his head. But I didn't know or care what the disagreement between them was about and I certainly had no desire to validate anyone, especially this creepy d-bag.

I just needed to get my goddam deliverables and do my work. Period. I am not the mediator or resolver of such dramas. They need to be adults, work their shite out, and then get me my shite so I can do my job. But they are like little bickering children.

Dragging me into it served no purpose for me and I soon sent d-bag on his not so merry way to go figure it out with his nemesis. He is a totally inept clown. But the damage was already done and the anxiety it induced sent my heart into palpitations that would not stop. I wasn't light headed or in pain or anything, but it was upsetting and alarming.

So I went to the doctor and he did some tests and ran an EKG, which of course showed nothing because as soon as I got out of the building where I work, my heart settled down and refused to palpitate even once when I was in the doctor's office. Even though the doctor visit may have had a placebo effect in stabilizing my symptoms, I had fully earned a mental health half day thanks to d-bag and the stress he brought my way, so I took one. And he can fugoff if he doesn't like it.

My job is officially damaging to my health now, and so it is within my civil rights to fight back, largely in the form of finding a new job. But I also need to tell d-bag to step off going forward. He is a creep and a liar and when he comes in my cube, he is way too touchy feely and disgusting. He just gives me the heebie jeebies like no one else. How do people get that way?

Lazy Coworkers as a Resource

I work on service and manufacturing documents, which often are owned by an engineer and require input from multiple stakeholders before they can be released, because they are quality documents, regulated and audited by the FDA. It’s a team effort and my role in the launch of a new document release is simply to edit and desktop publish the document into shape, as well as manage a few document reviews by said stakeholders.

When I send a document out for review, there are usually three or more reviewers who have to review the changes, make comments and suggest changes, and sign off in some fashion when they are done. This can take a week, or sometimes much longer, and there is very little progress I can make on the document until the review is fully signed off. I can’t make the suggested changes until the document’s engineer owner has vetted all the reviewers suggestions and accepted or rejected them. At that point, I can make all the accepted changes and spin another review, if needed, or move it to the final approval process for release via our document control people.

Some of the stakeholders required on a document review are, to put it as nicely as possible, lazy. They would claim they are busy, but they are not. They are lazy. This is evidenced by the fact that no matter how small a document change is, they still take the maximum amount of time to review it and make comments.

However, I like these lazy coworkers. When the ball is in their court and no longer in mine, I am off the hook. The document is owned by an engineer. I am just a service provider for them. If the reviewers take a week or a year to finish their reviews, I don’t care. I don’t see the document again until they are done. I can ping them with reminders to finish their work, but they can freely ignore me without consequence, and many of them do. And that’s fine. The more time they take, the more time off from further work on that document I have.

I like time off, and so I actually prefer it when there are lazy stakeholders involved in a document change/release. I can go party until they are done.

That said, I usually have several documents in various states of change/review at any given time, so often document work is coming in even as I am sending out reviews and putting the balls in other peoples’ courts. But if I am really efficient and productive at my job, I can sometimes get all the balls out of my court before any come in, especially if lazy coworkers are involved (they are the ones whose work determines if a ball is headed back my way). This is my motivation to be efficient and productive at work. It’s like a built in reward system to encourage me to work better and faster.

I call it giving myself a raise for going above and beyond the call of duty on my work.

Of course, the size of my raises, in the form of comped time, is proportional to the laziness of the stakeholders involved in my document change/reviews. So it is kind of a wash, because my raises are larger when my coworkers are lazier and thus less efficient and productive from the company’s perspective. THE MAN therefore is losing at both ends when lazy coworkers are involved. But there is not a lot I can do about this. It doesn’t make sense for me to be less efficient and productive, just because my coworkers are. I am under no obligation to maintain their slow pace. The company could remedy the problem by replacing lazy coworkers with more efficient and productive ones, but they don’t really have a quantifiable metric for this. They should devise one, and I would certainly encourage them to hire people who can match my incredible pace of work output. If they do, then I will not have as much time off due to lazy coworkers, and that’s OK.

11 Minutes

Today work, I think I effectively did about 11 minutes of actual work, and most of that was fixing the mistakes of an engineer in a document I thought I had finished yesterday. The remainder of the time was spent sending out email reminders to people to complete their work, which was basically stalling my own. I am so madly productive and efficient at work that I end up clearing everything off my desk and putting the balls in other people's courts. Then it is a game of just waiting for them to catch up and until they do, I am idle. I might update my to do list and manage a few clerical things, but there again I have an efficient system that focuses on the meat and potatoes and eliminates the useless and inefficient busy work.