Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 things employees should remember

I often give Management a hard time.  More because I find that anytime you give an individual extended power over the lives of other people, that Individual can find themselves easily corrupted.  This certainly does not happen in every case, but it is hard to argue against the fact that it happens a lot.

The truth is, Good Management is a pretty hard task and done poorly it can be even harder.  Middle management can be a particularly thankless job where you have the worst of both worlds.  You're not one of the commoners, but you are not an upper echelon employee, and they will keep you on that hook for ever seeking after that ever elusive promotion.  Employees generally are an unruly lot that make it hard on managers.  Lets look at these things that employees should remember (heck they might even help keep you employed!).  I will create this list based on the basic assumption that you are already DOING YOUR JOB.

During this past holiday season, I decided to do a turn for our corporate benefactors.  For all of you that resent those 'rich fat-cats' that run companies, just remember that those rich fat-cats are the ones making the jobs and these days there are many more people looking to get paid than people looking to pay them.  But I digress...

10.  Your emergencies are NOT the companies emergencies. - Someone calling in to say ' I won't be getting in on time because of .  For some reason this is thought of as an excusable absence.  People don't wanna use their sick days etc for actually being sick because they used them all up on their vacation.  Usually a company starts out being very generous with sick policy and being on time to work.  Unfortunately it only takes one complete idiot BONEHEAD to mess this up for everyone.  This person seems to be at the constant whim and fancy of fate.  They often wonder why they are so unlucky and why fate casts a wan glance towards them.  Here is a hint:  You've probably made some very bad choices which in turn creates vulnerability to bad circumstances.  In other words, it's probably your fault and if it isn't your fault, it IS your responsibility.  Don't ruin it for the rest of us.  Play fair with company time.

9. Company equipment and supplies are NOT yours - I just needed a pad of post-its!  Ya know, I do a lot of work from home.  Nobody was using this monitor!  There are any number of ways that you can justify petty theft from any given company.  Why do you think big companies put their names on everything?  Advertising?  No, Theft tracking.  The exit interview from a large company will include a look in your junk drawers at home to see if there are any company things missing.  Just kidding.  But seriously, you should probably ask before you take the store home with you.

8.  Employers are NOT cash machines - Don't ask for an extension on your pay. - We all have problems, and in this economy it seems many of those problems begin and end with money.  Try to remember, money has everything to do with how much you spend over how much you make.  If you have over extended yourself, maybe you should think about dumping the premium cable package, or perhaps not go to Costco one time that month (where rumor has it that you are not allowed to leave with less than 200$ purchased, that's why they check your receipt on the way out.)  The reason you don't want to ask employers for extensions in pay is several fold.  First, you are simply extending your expenses into the next check which has it's own set of expenses earmarked.  Second, how would you feel if the company said 'we are having some cash problems, so would you all mind not getting paid next check so we can get back on our feet?'...I see...I don't think companies can even ride a horse.  Third, early credit causes heartburn to a lot of departments that they shouldn't have to feel because you HAD to HAVE that 3d-LED tv for Christmas (that you couldn't afford) sheesh!

7.  If you need to nap, take a sick day - Sleeping on the job?  really ?!?  You have got to be kidding me.  Never a good idea, but after that big lunch you get those droopy eyelids and your job really isn't that exciting, maybe you could just duck into a store room for a quick catnap.  Or better yet, just doze off in front of your monitor.  If you are losing sleep, you are not performing on the job.  Take your lunch break and take a nap in your car.  More tired than that?!  take a sick day and get some rest!

6.  The company employee handbook is not there to rest your mug on. - Be acquainted with your company employee handbook.  It's going to tell you great information about what does or does not count towards PTO (Personal Time Off) and how much vacation accrues per pay period.  Overtime policies and workplace injuries are usually noted as well.  It's all there.  If the company doesn't have a handbook, you might want to ask for one.  There should be company rules and those rules should be known by company and employee alike.

5.  You are expected to be more valuable than you are being paid. - This nonsense about how much you are worth to the company is just that.  Nonsense.  It's not that you aren't valuable, but if you think that by your leaving the company will cease to exist, you are sadly mistaken.  Also if you have that attitude, it's likely time for you to look for gainful employ elsewhere.  If you aren't giving enough value to assist in the company's growth you should likely work a bit harder.  The company is there to make it's investors/owners more money than current bank rates.  It pays you in order to help it do so.  That's the price you pay for not having to risk owning your own company with your own money and all of the heartburn that includes.  This is America and for the moment, anyone can take a turn at making money in private enterprise.  If you don't like the way your company does it, then build a better mousetrap and prove them wrong.

4.  No, you can't just throw on 'whatever' and come to work. - If you see a section in the employee handbook (mentioned above) about a dress code, it's highly likely that someone earlier on in the company's history decided to come to work in ill fitting sweats and a ripped t-shirt, or hot-pants and a halter top because 'there isn't any dress code so I thought this would be ok'.  Dress codes are like super villains (or hero's for that matter).  They all start with an origin story.  You don't want to be the subject of that origin story.  It's not the kind of legacy you wish to leave...or do you?!

3.  Remember who the founder of the feast is. - It's interesting that often people will complain about company parties or company perks like t-shirts or fun contests.  Just what kind of an ungrateful child were you?!  Out of those employees that want to play Schindler to the companies Nazi party and talk about how many jobs could be saved for the expense of this or that 'waste of time'.  Remember many of those jobs would not be here even if the company didn't have the little extras that all of the sudden you are playing Penny Pincher Petunia on.  You certainly didn't have this problem when you were relieving the company of a ream of paper because you printed your w-2 at home.  So don't screw up the few nice things a company may do for you and try to show your gratitude once in a while because oddly enough the company might deserve it.  Along these same lines, if the company is providing you with an in company benefit.  Don't abuse it!  Free or subsidized drinks on the company are meant to be used on premises during work hours.  They are NOT meant to be stowed in an employees car for the party that employee is throwing this weekend!

2.  If you are working on it during company time, it is company property.- Working on little pet projects during company time?  Writing that great American novel that will get you out of this hole?  Organizing your scout troop from work?  The company owns (and rightfully so) any work you do while they are paying you.  If you happen to invent perpetual energy while you are at work and so much as a scribble of the design sits on a napkin in your cube, you probably will end up owing the company a piece of that if they want you to.  Many company's just assume it is a part of having humans as employees and that is more than fair on their part.  But for your part, you may want to either make an arrangement with the company or keep your work at home.

1.  Don't be a pain in the Rump - All of you wanna be Lawyers and Barristers that wish to examine all company laws and by laws for any obvious loopholes or hypocrisies, just remember:  The company gives you money to spend time on their behalf. Phrases like "I'm not paid to do THAT" will definitely put you in solid with your managers (I'm rolling my eyes now).   Playing the rules like a lawyer plays an Injury case may be perfectly within your rights and a perfectly 'fair' to do, but you are being a pain in the butt and that pain will wear on your superiors.  It really will only be a matter of time before they find you less useful than you are being paid for and encourage you to find 'exciting new opportunities'.  Remember, sometimes you don't need a reason to be fired, just an excuse will do.

No, I don't follow all of these little rules. No I haven't been recently switched into a management position and am trying to play toady (If you even thought that, you probably don't know me very well, if at all)  I just realized that for all of my complaining about management, there are plenty of things that we do as employees that cause management to do what they do.  Trying to mitigate bad circumstances will usually work in your favor...Usually...;)  Happy New year Everyone!

I hope your holidays were Merry!  only 2 more years till the end of the world!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 10 Crappy/Great Christmas Songs

How many things can you say about Christmas?  Well lots of things.  You can talk about all the good things that happen around Christmas, and frequently I do.  This time.  I think it's time to talk about the songs of Christmas that really need not be there, along with the ones that are completely necessary. The good songs are good because they fit in tone and lyric with the holiday.  Then there are the stupid songs...You know the ones.  the ones that you've heard so many times that they have lost all meaning; or the ones that have had precious little meaning in the first place.

This is the first time I've got no pictures but links to YouTube videos.  Go ahead and click through, they are safe.  Except for that second to last one.  ick.

10. Jingle Bells/Jingle Bell Rock - Traditional Crappy - Originally a cute song sung by children, this song is also one of the first to be re-lyriced to the denegration of the Dark Knight.  Bat-mobile Lost it's wheels my left chestnut.  If that's not enough then we have to take the same song and give it bit of a swing rhythm for a whole new craptacular song.  This song has always been around during the holidays as a means nothing kind of song.  So people can use it and manipulate it a hundred ways and nobody really cares.  This is not as much a song about Christmas as it is about winter anyway. All this being said, the Chet Atkins instrumental of Jingle bell rock is one of my favorites, but all others are abominations.

9. Joy to the world - GREAT - The bigger the choir the better.  The more voices in the mix, the harder it is to screw up.  This song is terrific with or without bells. On the other hand this is another song that is messed up by soloists all the time.  I'm convinced that this song was meant to be sung in chorale.

8. Grandma got run over by a reindeer. - Gosh this song is so clever that somehow it's found it's way into the Christmas radio rotation.  This song just blows.  No wait, that's really not harsh enough to explain what I think about this song.  Ha Ha very clever. The idea that this song got it's beginnings from a Radio DJ.  It's not that I find any aspect of the song offensive.  It's that the song is really pretty inane.  Did you ever think that maybe there is a Laplander in Finland to which this actually happened?  It's not beyond the pale.

7.  God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen - This song seems to go hand in hand with A Christmas Carol, the finest Christmas story told during the season. I've always found it to be a touching song that has a great lyric but will stand without lyrics.  This is a rare thing in music.  I've found that the song can be improvised with pretty good results as well.  The link above is one of my favorites.

6. Rudolph blah blah blah - In America, we love an underdog.  we love him so much that we make up underdogs that win just in case there aren't any real ones to point out.  This song is more about America than it is about Christmas.  If you haven't heard it.  Don't bother.  It's a story about a mutated reindeer.  Some say he was found as a faun on the outskirts of Chernobyl.  Apparently He makes friends with a bunch of other mutants and a dentist.  Fits so far.  Well the mutants convince the mutant reindeer that when you are an outcast, you are simply part of a different group, just not the one you were cast out from.  You can see the analog to Christmas already can't you?  No?  Ok, so Santa Clause apparently can't fly his sleigh when there is too much snow.  I guess it never happens around the end of December.  So they were going to cancel Christmas.  Santa and his rough and tumble bunch of reindeer decide to swallow their collective pride and see if Rudolph would use his mutation to help them navigate to somewhere, I'm not sure where.  It doesn't matter, it was snowing there too.  When they got back in a couple of hours, they all had a fine dinner of crow and Rudolph was accepted as a hero to the group of bully reindeer.  This is the only part that doesn't ring true.  When a group of bullies use you for your mutant powers, they quickly ostracize you again once your usefulness has expired. Now the original song has been peppered with musical asides that turned this song from vaguely amusing to a vapid main course played to Jingle bell's appetizer.

5. Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah - I'm sure Mr. Handel thought this was a pretty hot number once he finished it, but I don't think he figured he would become the subject of countless High School choirs' Christmas programs.  The great thing is, if you have enough people, it will sound terrific (see #9).  This song more than any other reminds me of when I was singing at my best and part of a pretty good sounding choir.

4. 12 days of Christmas - The pyramid scheme of Christmas.  Everyone pays off the partridge in a pear tree.  This musical ponzi scheme is to music what Trivial Pursuit is to games.  Just a bit too long.  11 pipers piping I'll say.  By they time you get to 12, you've payed the piper over and over again. This song is the venison of  Christmas songs.  If you mix it with enough other things and try to disguise it, it just might be palatable.  Best to avoid it all together.  Just stop with 5 golden rings and call it a day.  Most people get the swans, maids and lords confused anyway.

3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing - This song is murder to sing, but if you have a really good choir or a bunch of cartoon drawn kids singing it, it really is one of the markers of Christmas.  The above video link is the Steamroller version.  Not my favorite, but I love the synchronized Christmas lights thing. 

2. Jingle Bells, Barbra Streisand. - Just listen for yourself.  This song sucks.  If you think otherwise.  I'm sorry for you and those around you.

1. Silent Night - With no modification and no personal aria this song is another terrific Christmas song.  one solo soprano with full tone and good pitch it's as good as Christmas songs get.  Any remake of this song is but a distant shade of it's original.

Yes, I know there are a wealth of good and bad Christmas tunes.  I'll probably visit this in a part 2 next year. 

Amazing!  I was sure I was going to peter out this year.  It just didn't happen.  In fact, at this writing, I've got material to last into February already.  It's quality may, of course, be another issue

Merry Christmas to all!  Thanks for reading.  I really very much appreciate it.  Tell your friends!