Burnout

I think there’s a big misconception about burnout in today’s society. We assume that burn out is just when you do too much work. If you work 70h a week or something like that you’ll burnout.

I don’t think that’s the case. We already know what motivates people. Yet seem unaware that burnout is the opposite of this. Managers often are trying to “shield” employees and making decisions that are “for their own good” but creates the opposite result. Really what drives people to burnout is:

  • The lack of self-direction (Autonomy)
  • The inability to impact necessary change when it’s needed (Purpose)
  • The inability to grow in the direction we want (Mastery).

In the past, I’ve let folks work on things I thought were a waste a time. Not because I didn’t think they could use their time better but rather because not letting them would reduce their output to lower than it currently was. Even if they now spend 20% of their time on something I disagree with, the other 80% will be much more productive because of it and, in the end, that will help the team.

Now you may say, well I really don’t want that person to work on that. Or I really don’t think that’s a good idea. That means you don’t share the same vision as your employee and the only real solution is to let them go.

In the knowledge economy there are 2 things you should do with employees:

  • Empower them
  • Fire them

You should only ever do those 2 things. All the other ways out of the problem just postpone or create a worse problem in the future. As much as letting someone go is tough, most organizations I’ve been a part of should have done it more often rather than less often.

Swing Sets and Orange Juice

I remember when I worked in the Leader’s office and the Bev Oda orange juice story came out. Many people in the office were genuinely aghast of this. They really felt that this was emblematic of why we needed to kick the conservatives out of power. It was mostly the older more long time partisan folk. I was never able to tell if they genuinely had come to believe after all this time in politics that this topic really mattered.

I couldn’t tell if it’s because they felt that this really was what our work was about or if they just did a big deal of it internally to motivate the younger / newer / more influencable folk. To me it seemed slightly ridiculous. Now don’t get me wrong $16 for an orange juice is ridiculous, but here’s how I see that having played out:

You’re a cabinet minister, working late at the hotel. You have a rush meeting in the morning and you see the little breakfast card thing at the hotel. you check off a few boxes to get an early meal before you go to bed, prices probably aren’t listed. The next day you check out and since it’s the government you don’t get the bill for a few weeks, because of how invoicing and procurement works. A few weeks later it comes with the charges laid out and you just glance it over and sign to approve the charges. You probably never even realize that the juice was $16. The “opposition research” members of the parties comb thru expenses via Access to Information requests and gotcha, the famous “$16 Orange Juice” is born.

And really while $16 is a lot for orange juice, I don’t expect cabinet members to be spending their time trying to save $10 off some orange juice. They have much more important things to do.

But there we were making a webpage and an email campaign about this $16 orange juice.  It’s catchy, news reporters bite and folks click those links. For the record, Bev Oda fully repaid the amounts, agreed it was a mistake and publicly apologized for it. Regardless she was hounded for months about it and it ended with her resignation. What a great thing we had achieved. Force a cabinet minister to resign because of some orange juice.

The Globe and Mail wrote about this “problem” because a similar thing recently happened for the Prime Minister’s swing set. The Prime minister paid for the swing set himself, but not the installation fee. Regardless the $7500 swing set makes the news.

Now given that this is the prime minister, I’m willing to bet he can’t just pay $75 to Home Depot to get them to install it in the yard. There’s probably a bunch of rules about certified contractors and folks who need to pass various security clearances before you can start mucking around in the Prime Minister’s house. And I think everyone agrees that it’s not really a great idea to have someone you found on kijiji installing furniture at the PM’s house. Regardless, the swing set “cost” $7500 ($4,368 of that being the actual cost of the installation that the taxpayer paid).

The article ends with this:

I’m not sure what any of this says about our politics today, other than it’s not good. And the fact is, all political parties in this country are responsible for where we are today.

It seems like no matter what happens, it’s always someone else’s fault. I don’t think it’s the political parties fault. At least not entirely. Could there be some really principled folks who would not pick on such meaningless things? Probably. But we never see them….

Why is that? It’s perhaps because we haven’t voted for them, we haven’t reported the news on them, we haven’t clicked on articles about them. It’s easy to point fingers about this. But I think we should all start looking internally into what we’ve done that’s lead to this moment, what we are doing, and what we think we want to do about it going forward before looking to blame others.

On that note, Bev Oda, I’m sorry I contributed to ending your career. While I don’t agree with many of your views and opinions, I don’t think that should have been a career ending decision.

Campaigns don’t matter as much as they use to

Scott Reid asked if campaigns even mattered anymore. I think he’s partially right that they don’t. They don’t matter as much because the 30 odd days that are defined as a campaign are no longer the “real” campaign.

The “permanent campaign” has been a buzz word for a while but the implementation of it by the Canadian political parties has been lackluster at best. The digital outreach is strongly axed on fundraising instead of persuasion. I can understand why, with fundraising you see the results right away. There are easy to gauge metrics (what those mean and if they are the correct metrics is a whole entire post). Launching a year long persuasion campaign doesn’t show the results right away.

But that’s exactly what many conservative leaning organizations have been doing. A good example of this is “Ontario Proud“. The tactics for gaining followers are transparently obvious. Asking folks to “share if you’re patriotic” or posting some nostalgic pictures asking to “like if you remember this“. The idea is of course to be able to then target folks with the political posts.

It’s very smart and well done and an easy way to bypass the current campaign finance laws since there are no limits outside of election periods. I guess this is why they say campaign managers are always prepared to fight the last war.

Strategic voting

I really dislike First Past the Post as a voting system. It’s so incredibly flawed. It leads to situations that the current election in Ontario where I have a preferred party that has currently 0 chance of getting elected. I also have a strong preference of the remaining choices. I’m fine with the NDP who’s policies are similar to mine except often (IMHO) unrealistic in how they will achieve all (or any) of them concurrently. And there’s the conservatives which the leader (Doug Ford, which some of you may know as the brother of the late Rob Ford) is practically a caricature of how to be a terrible human being.

The problem is that the NDP and the Conservatives have been statistically tied in the race for a while now with the Liberals far behind. In a perfect world we’d have something like the preferential ballot which has a few other names but is basically that instead of writing an X you rank folks 1,2,3 etc. This has many advantages over the current system and has one very big advantage over all the systems political junkies try to get to referendum in that you can explain it in one sentence and folks will instinctively understand what you mean. In my current situation I would just vote Liberal 1, NDP 2, Green party 3, any random independent running 4, Conservatives 5 and all would be fine.

In the current context the choice would ostensibly be wasting my vote or voting the lesser of two evils. While I support people who want to always vote for the best candidate or the one who represents them the most, I find that in reality that leads to things like Stephen Harper, George Bush, Donald Trump, and potentially, Doug Ford. That’s too high a price to pay.

So at this point you could reasonably assume that I would vote NDP. The problem is my current riding. I live in Ottawa which is the only place the Liberals are actually still in  the running with polls showing the NDP with a slight lead but within the margin of error. The conservatives sadly are leading in the region (because of this split IMHO). From the latest polls I can see here https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/onvotes/poll-tracker/ the NDP has a slight lead. If that remains the case on election day I will sadly need to cast my ballot for them. Not because I think they are the best party, but because they are, by far, better than the alternative. Hopefully one day we’ll get election reform right and it won’t have to be this way.

Why blogging is harder than posting links

After writing my last post, I decided to google if others had thought of it before. And voila: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/201702/compassion-trump A much better article that goes thru what I wanted to much better then I can. ( Seriously, I recommend you read it). And I think that’s partly why it’s hard to blog. I know what I’m writing isn’t the best on the topic. So why not just post a link to what I believe on Facebook?

Maybe because I feel that posting a link is sometimes not as much about trying to tell people something but to tell others who we are, or who want people to think we are. Kinda like wearing certain clothes or doing certain activities. “Oh, Stéphane must be a great Liberal because he posted this article on such and such”. Who hasn’t shared an article they only read the headline of and were like “I agree with this and I want others to know”?

Facebook is becoming similar to our lawn or our bookshelf. We make it in the image we want people to have of us. We keep the lawn well maintained, (or that we don’t care about such superficial things as lawns). That we have Kant on our bookshelf (Or a truly ridiculous amounts of Dave Barry books).

Is blogging more “truth”? Harder to hide behind? Potentially because of it’s public nature (vs the appearance of privacy from Facebook).

Compassion for Donald Trump

I remember talking with someone and they mentioned how it’s pretty easy to have compassion for people you know and kinda dislike, but having compassion for someone that you truly despise, now that was challenging.

And I’ve thought about it especially after reading Leadership and Self Deception (which I was sure was titled Leadership and the Art of Self Deception). The book really helped me have compassion for former colleagues that I use to scorn. The way the book is written is really different than most books of the genre and I think that’s what made it go from some abstract ideas about compassion to really have me be introspective about my past behaviours and consequently theirs.

But there were (are) still folks I don’t think I have compassion for. If we’re supposed to have compassion for lettuce where should I draw the line? Is Donald Trump not worthy of my compassion?

I disagree, often quite strongly with his policies, his actions, his beliefs. But does that mean I shouldn’t have compassion for him? After thinking about it, there seems to be many things I should be compassionate about. There appear to be some struggles with his relationship with his wife. He is criticized (rightly or wrongly) on a daily basis by many people on TV, in magazines, online. The way he talks about things often feels like he’s insecure and afraid. He even has polls daily that tell him how many people disapprove of him. None of that can be fun.

That’s without even examining his past and what made him. If we take the lettuce metaphor. It’s easy for me to say, well that means I should be kind to someone who might be addicted to drugs and commits a crime, or who have suffered trauma and lashes out. But is that just because I know (or can imagine) their past? How can I truly judge Trump without being omnipresent?

I guess this brings me to what I struggle with the “compassion for lettuce” concept. If I should be compassionate for everyone, even someone like Donald Trump, then does that mean not holding people to account? If it’s not the lettuce’s fault that it got no sun, too much water, bad soil, is anyone responsible for any of their actions?

I “know” what the answer to this is. It’s that both things are not dependent on one another. That you can have compassion for someone while still holding them accountable. But I’m not sure I know how to do that yet…

EDIT: you might as well just read https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/201702/compassion-trump it’s a much better article than this one.

Compassion for lettuce

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change. – Thich Nhat Hanh