February 2008 Archives

No, the Awakening isn't coming three years early, I just thought I'd blog about all the stuff going on for me this year.  After almost ten years of having the exact same routine, this year could be one of the craziest I've ever had.  What's coming up for me this year?

Well, in roughly chronological order:

  • When the end of March rolls around, I'm flying out to Scottsdale for a surgical consultation with Toby Meltzer.  I've been waiting for this for...longer than I care to think and now it's getting closer and closer.  I'm still not entirely sure it feels "real" to me yet.  My dad's going with me, and we're planning to see a Cubs game during spring training while we're there.
  • Operation Get The Hell Outta Here.  It's been 27 years since I first moved back here to the land of corn and soybeans with my parents, and really, I want to try living somewhere else and hopefully doing something closer to what I really want to do for a living.  I love my parents, and I'll always look back upon this place fondly, but I really need a change of pace for a huge variety of reasons, but especially for my mental health.  Not quite sure when that will happen this year, but I really hope it does.
  • GenCon Indy 2008.  Wasn't sure I was going to go GenCon this year, because of everything else going on, but now I think by August I'm going to need the break, and now that I'm actually doing some writing and looking for a new job in the gaming industry, I suspect GenCon will be a great place to do some networking.  Plus, I'll get to see the NSDM folks again, as well as some people from Eve and RPGnet who I haven't met before.
  • Presumably, soon after GenCon, I'll be flying out to Arizona to actually have surgery.  Keeping my fingers crossed about this, at least.
I guess it's not that many things, but the magnitude of the tasks ahead, and everything they entail (like moving, selling the house, switching jobs, etc) makes the year ahead look like the summit of Everest reaching out above my head.  I'm thinking about grabbing a new laptop this year, because my six year old Dell is kind of creaking along, and I'd like to do writing (and blogging specifically) while I'm doing some of this, and carrying around a twenty pound lump of lead with 5 minutes of battery life isn't really condusive to that, but money is going to be tight enough as it is, I suspect.  Perhaps if I get some more writing jobs, that'll pay for the laptop (to do more writing jobs).

Anyway, I know I haven't told a few of you folks about this stuff yet, so....there it is.

Morale and Management

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Benoc made a blog post today that got me thinking about morale in general; note that his subject for that post is my current place of employment, so I don't think I'll say too much about his post in particular, but for people wondering why I have been a bit out of sorts lately, that might prove a bit illuminating.

I don't have any "professional" management experience; I've been a peon here at CITES for the last nine years almost, and I tend to like more hands-on tasks than meetings, budgets, and the other headaches that come with management anyway.  However, for nearly the last two years, I have been part of my corporation's command staff on Eve Online, and while I'm sure it's not quite the same as managing something people do for a living, as opposed to something they are at least supposed to be doing for fun, I would like to think that it has given me some insights on how a good manager can help people pull together and how important morale management is to the success of an organization, regardless of its type.

The most damaging thing to morale that I've seen is the same thing that causes customers to become upset with someone they are doing business with: a sense that the plight of the people at the bottom that the people at the top just don't give a damn about them, or aren't even aware that a problem exists.  Being told that your concerns are not important or watching someone tell you how awesome things are when you can barely bring yourself to come to work every day is one of the most depressing things imaginable, because it destroys the one thing that you might still have left, and that's hope.  If the boat is being steered into the reef, and you sit there trying to tell the helmsman to change course until you're blue in the face, but he insists that everything is a-okay and what really needs to be done is to lighten the load by tossing half the crew overboard, you can't help but feel like things can only get worse.

This is why I have tried to be as honest with rank-and-file members of my corporation on Eve, and not insult their intelligence by denying realities that they all can see.  I'm also honest about my limitations and recognize the strengths of not only the other members of the command staff but also those of the rest of the corporation's members as well.  This works well for a few reasons; first of all, in my opinion, we've done a good job of making sure the people in charge are actually good at what they do.  Second, we make sure to recognize the contributions of junior members of the corporation as much as possible, and reassure them that many of the mistakes they make are ones that we have all made in the past when we started.  Finally, and possibly most important, we get rid of people who don't contribute to the group, so that everyone in the corporation is a valued asset that we can count on in times of crisis.

Maybe I'm just naive (as Adam suggested in his comment to another post), but I've found that honesty is almost always the best policy when it comes to dealing with people.  It makes it harder for anyone to attack you, because it gives them nowhere to go unless they attack your accomplishments or lack of them specifically, it makes it less likely for you to get tripped up by your own words (which is closely related I guess), it gains you respect so that people will trust you in the future, and frankly, it makes it easier to live with yourself.  Unfortunately, I will also admit that it makes you look somewhat weak at times compared to people who inflate their own accomplishments or outright lie about what they have done.  When that's exposed, though, it all comes down like a house of cards.  There's plenty of people in my work life, my personal life, and my "Eve life" that I disagree with, often heatedly, on a variety of topics.  If they are well-reasoned and/or well-researched opinions, though, or even if they demonstrate that the person has put in a lot of thought and effort developing them, I still find it easy to respect them.  People who demonstrate that they have no idea what they are talking about, who haven't even tried to understand other points of view or dismiss them out of hand because of the source (or who call such things "insubordination"), will have a hard time getting any respect from me, and I suspect from many others.

It makes for bad management, poor leadership, and morale that makes German conscripts in Stalingrad look positively jubilant.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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