Old School

Learning a job on a fast track career path when very young is fast and furious, especially when you work 20 hours a day.  It took less than two years to batter the bad habits out of me as a chef.

This is because, as a high pressure job, you have to learn really fast how to get the best out of people you would not even talk to in any other situation.  I used to say that catering should be like national service, since you learn about prioritisation, teamwork, forward planning etc very quickly.

Offices, by comparison, seem to foster a malignancy that is almost tangible at times, to the point that home workers are said to be some of the most experienced and highly qualified office workers you can get.  One outsourcing company, whose name I unfortunately forgot, cited the statistics and it was quite staggering.

These homeworkers saw the light.

As someone who has done a very wide variety of jobs, 80 hours of something you enjoy is a lot easier than 35 hours of something that sucks your soul.

I wrote and removed a post on the art of management when I first met Little Shiva.  It became apparent in the following weeks that he probably didn’t understand a word of it.  He was being dictated to by a person with a fairly advanced disorder, however, and given the stature of this person, I am not surprised that I was not to be listened to.

A good manager empowers their staff rather than intimidating them into doing things out of fear.  This is very basic.  In order to do your job well you are supposed to take things like retraining and staff turnover into account.

It is also your job as a manager to make yourself dispensable, that is to say, to ensure that if you have to be somewhere else, the work is getting done.  This means that throughout your day, you should be ensuring that your team are aware of the tasks required and doing them without prompting.

A manager’s function is to be a buffer between staff and senior management, not to generate friction.  This means as a functional adult, you should be prepared to mediate between staff and to deal with your own problems.

In a banking situation, of course, you have the complication of the bank.  Any relationship in a bank is between you, the bank and then the person.  This, however, does not negate your responsibility to communicate with your staff.  In fact, you should be making sure that everyone understands that their relationship is also with the bank before anyone else.  It is a basic principle of risk management.

In the event that you are hiring, you should have received some bias training.  Most of the major banks provide this, although I have been discriminated against because of my previous experience as a carer, because I am female and likely to procreate, because I am too interesting twice now – the first time I was told that the bank did not need cultural change (I had not mentioned any plans to single-handedly change an international bank, this was apparently a charisma issue)  because I am creative (this time I was chased by a woman screaming), and finally because I am not a mother.  At this point I made a complaint, knowing full well that the only likely response was that the bank would repeat the same rubbish that their demotivated interviewer had made up.

Because my first career was as a chef, I find it extremely easy to prioritise tasks as back burner or front burner items.  It is a very simple analogy and a question of time-management.

The most difficult thing about offices generally, however, is that people in a seated position are vindictive and lazy after quite a short time.  Cliques form, and self-interest creates deep suspicion if you express any interest in work whatsoever.  This is something I have found extremely boring over the years.  Nobody wants to deal with enthusiasm, nor do they understand why their assumptions about you are wrong.  They just invent something else to bitch about.

So, if your office staff turnover is high, and your staff look miserable, replace the manager, because they are not doing the job effectively.  Employ someone with some leadership capacity that actually likes working, not someone that looks like you.  That would be a first.


You may also like