Monday, September 12, 2005

Rant: Micromanagement and whining

Today I (and my fellow tutors) got an email from our boss, whining about the way we write our weekly reports. We write these weekly reports to keep him up-to-date with where we are on our hours; we each work 256 hours per year. He certainly has a point about keeping the reports up-to-date, but I am afraid the rest of it is not gaining much sympathy. I am even less sympathetic because this man can be a bit of a despot, someone actually said today "Oh, normally Joe* would be much less restrained" -- despite the fact that Joe's famous blowups are completely unacceptable behaviour. The other thing that was said (and bear with me, because I will post the email he sent below) was that Joe would only be happy with his workload if it was zero. So, below is the email that was sent out to us, and the reply I would have sent had it not been so likely that Joe would physically implode, thereby leaving me to teach his classes.

Hi Folks,
now as you are all aware, I have a relaxed attitude to my management role - so long as the job gets done, I prefer to let things roll along. But when I get dicked around, I'm inclined to get a little upset.

I'm a little upset. I'm tired, I'm grumpy, and I'm a little upset. No lets be honest - I'm a lot upset!

Weekly reports are just that - weekly reports. Please complete them
once a week.

I have extra work to hand out. I try to give this to those have done the least. If the numbers show that's you, even though your reports are a month behind, then from now on you're going to get the job.

Now why else am I annoyed? Because at the start of the year I gave a suggested format for these reports. It would help if more of you used it. I don't mind a little variation so long as everything I require is there - but some of you are forcing me to work harder than I think I should have to. I want this info so I know what you've done, and when you did it. Therefore dates help. I don't want to know the week number - people count those in many different ways - so please give a date.
More importantly, give a total - by WEEK! I'm really annoyed that I'm wasting my time having to total up your figures.

Thankyou - rant mode off.


PS Thank you to those of you who have got there reports up to date (and in the requested manner).
Now, here is what I would have loved to have sent in return:

Hi Joe,

now, as you are aware, I work hard and respond well to requests and direction, but when I am micromanaged and interfered with in the course of my work, I tend to get a little upset.

I'm a little upset...I'm tired, grumpy, being pulled four ways to Sunday by the complexities of my various responsibilities at university. No, let's be honest, I am a lot upset.

From now on, I will consider micromangement undue stress, and as you know, I have a chronic illness. I will take stress leave to protect my health when I am future stressed by micromanagement.

I see your point about keeping our weekly reports up to date; hell, I even see your point about wanting easily legible reports. However, the suggested format at the beginning of the year was just that -- suggested. If you wanted people to follow a strict guideline, you needed to make it a strict guideline. In particular, my problem is with your requirement for dates on the reports. I keep my logbook up-to-date, and there is a "date posted" automatically added to each post. I post by weeks, because that is what I can remember -- I work it out from the tutorial I am teaching. Most of us do not actually have access to the calendar functions on our computers; these require admin access. So I actually feel now like I am being asked to work harder than I should have to work; after all my time is limited to 256 hours in the year, and it would be a shame if I wasted time filling out the reports.

The last point I would like to make is that this is information you have never had before -- this level of information and the online format give you more information than has ever been possible in the past -- it also takes us more time. Consider yourself lucky that you have this opportunity to analyse what we're doing, rather than abuse it by micromanaging us.

Thank you. Rant mode off,


PS I am one of the people, by and large, that is following the rules. I suggest you do not alienate those of us who do as we are asked.

Like I said in my sidebar, I'm a smartass, and my opinion tends to get me in trouble sometimes, I thought this was a better outlet for it than putting Joe right into tin god mode.

*name changed to protect my ass

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Rave: Rockstar:INXS

I feel the need to write something (anything) in support of Rockstar:INXS. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the very hot Dave Navarro (and my other little obsession, Brian Molko, thinks he's hot too), but I am totally, utterly hooked on the show.
Dave Navarro

Now, I will admit to being a bit of a reality TV junkie; I am a fan of The Apprentice and The Amazing Race, but normally anything to do with music makes me want to deafen myself with the nearest skewer. NZ Idol, in particular, is the lowest kind of dross that approves of barely disguised hiphop and painful sounding vocal gymnastics while reviling a good rock performance whereever it may be found.

I hadn't planned on watching Rockstar. I had actively planned on not watching it, in fact. But, some friend of mine had their second baby the day it started showing here. I was babysitting their first, and waiting for the Dad to get home from the hospital. There was a TV guide on the table, and I foolishly read the article about the show, decided Dave Navarro was compelling (but not hot at that stage), and foolishly didn't change channel when the show came on. Now I am completely and irrevocably hooked. Even though the show is three nights a week, even though NZ for some reason is getting the show two weeks behind the civilised world and therefore can't vote, even though some of the so-called rockers irritate the snot out of me. I live for the nights it is on, and spend the other four nights a week wishing it was on. I've never felt this way about a TV show before.

Why do I like it? I love the music, and I love the fact that it is not butchered (generally speaking) by the rockers -- they are true professionals, not Joe-Schmo off the street. Dave Navarro is hot. The little guy from INXS who plays the bass is too cute for words. The show does not focus on the backbiting jealousies of the individual rockers (in fact, as far as I can tell apart from JD pissing nearly everyone off, there aren't any), but rather on their development as stars. And there are some genuinely likeable people on it (Mig Ayesa, if you're reading this, I am talking about you).
Mig Ayesa

None of that, however, makes my absolute love of the show defensible from any sane person's standpoint. I've thought a lot about the show and why I don't feel like it is a sellout for INXS, and why I find it in any way bearable. I think it is a great thing for INXS to do. It has been eight years since Michael Hutchence died, and in that time INXS has sung with a number of people and not found a new lead singer.

This is not a show they have done right off the bat -- it has been in consideration for three years leading up to production. INXS wanted to find the very best person for the job, and they wanted to hear who the public thought was that person too. I don't see how they can do that without a TV show. And yet, INXS have maintained the ultimate creative control -- they make the decisions, not the public. The rockers are also very much in training to be rock stars, each week they do something that will be useful for them in any future rock career, and for the person who is the most right for INXS mean that INXS doesn't have to teach them all that stuff. They are not looking for an idol-type singer, they're looking for someone who can play an instrument and write songs, who can really contribute. And I think they are looking for someone to help move them forward; they responded well to a rocker who decided to take things in their own direction, and then explained that they could not and would not subvert their own personality to INXS.

INXS is not going to be the same animal it was when Michael Hutchence was the lead singer, that much is certain. But what is also rapidly becoming clear, is that INXS accept that, and just want the best new person for the job -- and it is also certain that they will be getting someone very talented indeed. In fact, unless there are weird contractual obligations, I have no doubt we will be hearing from most of the final six or seven regardless of who wins.

In the end, this is the only way INXS could attract talented people and get public input. They are genuinely seeking a new lead singer with a personality. They have maintained creative control over the final choice -- and have exercised it in getting rid of two people in a single show when they felt neither was good enough. And let's face it -- this isn't reality TV; there will be no sequel, and the prize is not a million dollars and go back to your normal life -- the prize is a job, and respect that the person who gets the job will have to earn. Reality TV always makes things way too easy. This is real TV. And I love it.