Tuesday, 30 December 2014

There Actually is Crying in Baseball

It was a funny line in a great movie.  "Are you crying?  There's no crying in baseball!" said Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own.  It became a popular saying for awhile; I've used it myself.

A favourite boss of mine used to use that line at work.  "There's no crying at work!" he'd say to preempt any tears he might encounter.  I'm no therapist, but sometimes I wondered whose emotions he was attempting to suppress.

There is crying in baseball, there is crying at work, there is crying when and where tears come.  In moderation and appropriately, it is not a sign of weakness.  Although less likely to, men may cry.  And ladies, it has nothing to do with the way we were raised that we don't cry often and freely.  We're men, that is the way we are, this is how we deal with it.  Deal with that.

Someone gets fired, a favourite co-worker or boss for example....I've seen tears and heard choked up announcements.  I've seen tears provoked by anger and by frustration, by pleading on behalf of another, and I admire the passion.  Eyes well up when bad news is shared, when good news is shared.  A catastrophic illness or the death of a team member or customer can bring tears in a close workplace or team. I cried when a direct report told me she was pregnant because I knew she and her husband had wanted that baby for so long; I don't think that makes me weak.

Let 'em flow....but then get back to business.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Be Nice to Your Boss

I have had a few bosses in my 38 years in the work force.

Just in the last 10 years I have had bosses whom I absolutely adored, the best boss I've ever had, the worst boss I'd ever had, a boss with whom a subordinate relationship shouldn't have worked but remarkably did, and a boss whom I consider to be a personal friend.  I would suspect that in three decades in management I have been one or all of these to others myself.

At some point in my career I learned to stop fighting the boss.  I can tell you exactly when it happened.  When the cross-section of professional responsiblity and personal maturity intersected, I realized that I had a duty to support my boss in every way I reasonably could.  That sometimes includes telling them when I think they're wrong, and sometimes included stopping by their office to pay them a compliment or provide some other word of encouragement.  It damned sure always included telling them when they'd pissed me off, and why.  And it always meant that engaging in gossip behind their back was a bad idea.  I'm not saying I never did it.  I'm saying I profoundly regret it because it absolutely accomplished nothing, and actually set us back and made the boss's job harder.

Look, I'm not the perfect employee - everyone of those boss's listed above would agree on that.  I like to believe I have always played full out.  What I write here is what I believe, although I was accused by former co-workers of being a self-serving liar and thief the last time I expressed loyalty to my boss.

To them, I invite them to (expletive edited) themselves hard.  And have a happy holiday.

Be nice to your boss.  It's been a long time since I reported to one who wasn't trying hard.

PS - I used some very rough language up there.  Not very deacon of me.  I feel a bit bad about that.  And.....I'm over it.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dad's Advice

Lately I've been seeing posts on Facebook on how to be a man, how to be a better man, how to be a gentleman, all sorts of advice on manliness and masculinity.  The trouble is, with few exceptions they are all mostly written by women.  This is the feminization of men and we would be fools to fall for it, the occasional snippet of good advice notwithstanding.

I'd offer my own advice to young men, but only my sons can tell you whether or not it's any good, so instead I'll share three things I learned from my father.  Dad was never going to be father of the year but I don't doubt he did what he thought was best, so in that way we're a lot alike.

Here's what I learned from my dad:

1.  Learn how to shake a man's hand.  Learn how to shake a women's hand.  You can tell a lot about a man by the way he shakes your hand.  Stand up when you shake someone's hand.  Look him in the eye.  You can tell by the way a fellow shakes your hand if you have his trust, and he yours.  All that in one lesson.  All that in one handshake.

2.  It's not how much you can drink that makes you a man.  It's about whether you show up to work the next day, on time, not complaining, clean and properly dressed, and ready to put in a full and productive day.  That applies to everything.  Play full out, period.

3.  A woman is not an object like a new car (or a used car as the case may be.)  You don't get to take her out for a test drive first.  If you love her enough to move in with her, then you love her enough to make a commitment and marry her.  And then you stick by your promise.  It's no different with your friends, your job, your kids.  You make a promise, and then you do your best to keep it.  Period.  No exceptions.

Oh, and here's one from my mom:

4.  You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes.  Keep them clean and polished gents.  According to my mom that's the first thing a lady notices.

I think mom used the word "lady" very deliberately.