So, I have to say, today was a very long day. Here’s a recap…
Started off neutral
Last night, when I was leaving work late (7:15 or so, a rarity for me), I thought my headlights seemed awfully dim. Turned out I had no regular head lights, just running lights or high beams. Sweet. Confession time though, I knew the passenger side one was out from Monday night, so I was looking to have it fixed this week, just hadn’t gotten to it yet. However, with both out, and nights starting earlier (eek!), I needed them fixed. Off to the Nissan dealership this morning. They’re in South Ottawa, not too far from my house, but I work across the river in Gatineau. Their shuttle only goes to Gatineau on the 9:00 run, I had meeting at 10 where I was hosting 7 DGs and an ADM, not an option to be late, so I dropped the car and splurged on a taxi all the way in. $35, but better than being late. Actually at work earlier than normal even. All good, right?
Let’s talk for a second about the drop off though. First, the guy tells me how basically he’s doing me a favour to get me in today because he’s all booked up, and this isn’t an “express service” option. Then, he notices I’m due for a service, which I’d already told him, and he offered to do that too — wait, what? You’re so booked you’re squeezing me in for the headlights check, may just be a bulb even though odd both are out at same time, but you have time to do a level 2 service too? Umm, okay. Anyway, we talk about the afternoon shuttle, I tell him I need to be picked up at the end of the day. Usually they go and add me to a list, but the driver was making a run, so they will “make a note” when he’s back. I figure this is their daily business, so no worries. Before I finish checking in, I remind him I need the shuttle pick up and I’m in Gatineau. No problem.
At work, do my meeting at 10:00. We have a management dashboard that my team runs. Each quarter we go through it in a bit of detail, about 15 minutes to do a check in on “where we are”. It isn’t about the tool, it’s to prompt the discussion, but it’s been working well over the last year. I’ve been running the tool for about 8 years now and it is finally working the way I want it to (my standards are high — not too onerous a product, simple to understand and fill out, and just enough detail for a DG to say, “Well, it’s a bit off the rails here, let’s chat for 30 seconds so everyone else knows why/how, etc.”). For the discussion, not cuz there’s a tool. We start in, 10 seconds in the ADM jettisons it for topic 2 because we have a new government and our priorities are about to change considerably. Topic 2 is all the work we have to do between now and the end of the year…guess what, exact same content as the dashboard, we cover all the topics anyway, just a little less structured. I am but a humble servant, I live to serve. Good discussion, just not what I expected. We discuss a third topic that I wanted to defer, and lo and behold, all the stuff we didn’t have for them by way of background is what they want to discuss at the big budget meeting I’m having in two weeks, where I wanted it discussed anyway. Weird, weird, weird meeting. Moving on.
Huge bump up
I had my performance feedback session today for mid-year. Standard stuff, I’m awesome all around. No, seriously, that’s most of the conversation. I’m a manager, my boss treats me like a Director, we agree on the way forward on all our files with only minor nuancing at times, and he feels like I appropriately consult him when I need to do so. Generally a home run. But then he added some cream, and I have to say, it may have been the single greatest comment I have ever had from a boss during an actual performance discussion. He said he really enjoyed working with me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t saying he really liked me, I wasn’t getting his personal seal of friendship type of comment. He and I have a unique working relationship and we work hard on it together. Normally, there would be a director between him and I, or I would be acting. I don’t want to act, and they don’t have the budget right now for the director position (a fourth one in our Directorate), and while he could reconfigure and overload the other three, we have worked out a structure whereby I directly report to him. To be honest, with all my special files, I’ve reported to a DG regularly for the last 7 years anyway, but now it is without the EX-01 safety net / mentor / boss sitting there to rely upon. When he comments he enjoys working with me, it’s about that type of structure and that he and I together make the files as “fun” or at least as “little painful” as possible. We have a pretty high pain threshold doing the corporate files, including privacy, audit, etc. and yet our conversations about the files are not down in the weeds filling out templates but rather the strategic aspects that touch our programs. I hadn’t thought of it in quite those terms, but I too really enjoy working with him, as I have the last two DGs as well. Honestly, it’s rare that I don’t like my boss throughout my entire career, sometimes because I’m particular about who I work for and partly because I have a very structured way of talking to bosses that has served me well. Mostly along the lines of “here’s the basic files and what I plan to do about them/have already done” and “here’s where I need some guidance / am still thinking through an approach”, with regular check-ins.
But stop yourself for a second…how powerful a statement is that? My boss actually enjoys working with me on our files. Forget the personal side, forget the rest of the performance side, that is a damn good indicator of your performance right there. I can think of some other people where I would not have that kind of working relationship. It’s a pretty awesome compliment.
Of course, I *am* awesome, so what’s not to like? 🙂
Small high continues, starting to trend neutral
Anyway, moving on. Moving forward on hiring a new staff member, working on crunching some budget numbers, and herding cats for a transition note tied to the morning meeting. Not awesome sauce, but it’s working.
The downward turn
I call Nissan at 3:00 because I haven’t heard from them about the car, just want to make sure everything is going okay and on track for end of day. Yep, working on it now, no problem. I ask about the shuttle again, do I need to reconfirm that I’m on the list, nope, they have my number, all good.
At 3:45, I realize I haven’t heard from the shuttle. I work in Gatineau and I am the first stop for the shuttle — after me, he goes to downtown Ottawa. I call Nissan again, wait five minutes, shuttle driver calls. I’m not on his list, he’s never heard of me, am I sure I’m being picked up today? Umm, yeah. He’s already picking up downtown, can’t get me, but offers to drop them and come back for me. It’s at least a 20-30 minute run one way, and he hasn’t even picked everyone up yet. Best scenario he would pick me up at 5:00; worst, well past 5:00, and I wouldn’t get out of the dealership in time to pick up Jacob by 6:00.
The death spiral
I’m out the door, no cabs of course as it is raining, but I manage to run for a bus (my knees will hate me a LOT tomorrow, I can’t run on pavement), get to Tunney’s, switch, make it all the way to Hunt Club and Merivale. Pouring rain. No umbrella. No hat. Wearing a fleece jacket (I was only going to be in a car, I swear that was the plan). Driving rain. 20 minute walk to Nissan.
I arrive, and I’m basically a puddle. I’m wet, I’m cold, and oh, yeah, I’m pissed. I scrambled because I had to, there was no other option, I needed the car to go get Jacob. I had Andrea scrambling for contact numbers in case I couldn’t make it to the school by 6:00, but I was at dealership at 5:15 by a miracle. Creating small floods on their tiles. I was going to enter by the service entrance, and I thought, “F*** it, if someone says somethin g, I’ll show the dealership manager what a pissed off service customer looks like.”
Get to service counter, somebody is having long detailed discussion with them about what they did, what they were authorized to do, blah blah blah, I don’t have time for this. I go over to the service manager’s door, and I reservedly tell him to look at me carefully for two reasons. First, the drowned rat in front of him (soaked hair, jacket, pants are like paint at this point, shoes dripping) is what a customer looks like when the dealership doesn’t put him on the shuttle list after he confirmed it three times. Second, I thought he should also see what $40K in business looks like walking out of the dealership.
He was all apologetic, wanted to know who I talked to, etc. I said, “Sorry, that’s not my problem anymore. I don’t work here, and I am not your customer anymore. I’m done.” And walked away. I was so cold and miserable, plus I’m fighting a cold, I didn’t have any energy left to avoid turning into THAT customer. He came out and chased around to find my service agreement, waved all costs (about $350 worth of service), as he probably should have, apologized again, explained what they did. Very professional. I took my keys, contract, and left.
Turning some of it around
I put on some music in the car on the way to get Jacob, but I’m soaked to the bone. I call Andrea and get her to pull together pants, shirt, underwear (yes, I’m THAT wet), socks, and a towel. In the door, strip, dry, washroom, back out to get Jacob. My wife is awesome. And she thought to give me Jacob’s rain boots and rain jacket. It’s still pouring at that point.
Jacob and I grab some stuff at ToysRUs and then over to Swiss Chalet for dinner. He and I have an awesome boys night, lots of stuff we’re looking at together. Good time. I’ve been looking forward to trying their rotisserie beef, a different take on roast beef, looked good. It’s not. How a rotisserie beef ends up “greasy” I don’t know, but the level of fat and grease was a complete turn-off even for me, and that’s saying something. I still occasionally eat dead bird in a box (aka KFC).
Get home, put the cub to bed, start blogging. Most nights, I kind of take mental stock, “How was today?”, just as I ask the cub. I have no idea how to answer it for today. I survived, that’s good, right?
Oh, I left out one of the best parts. The headlights? They said it was all fixed, but when I got to the house, I realized the driver side one is still out. Awesome. I’m hoping I can live with it until the weekend and I can figure out a new service centre to repair it.