Conundrum…

Overwhelming questions at hand.
Husband’s new job – must be there by December.
I remain unemployed. Need money to survive. (Oh Reality, you are an evil beast!)
Need to find something ‘temporary’ to tide us over until I can find something in our new state.

I am thrilled for my husband and this move meets many of my long term life goals. Downside is it will be a lot of work!!!
Meanwhile, this latest wrinkle in our lives changes the way I look for work.
I just spent the last 8 weeks looking for a permanent-type job in our current location. I must go change all of the job search agents, focusing more on contract work or ‘just something’ that pays decently and fills my gap. ARGH.

Perhaps I have a reader who might be in need of a slightly used, overly enthusiastic quasi-technical Program Manager who can build teams and lead them to high delivery. Location preference for my immediate needs is the east side of Lake Washington in Washington state. Location preference for my longer term goal – north side of Denver. Go!

Updating is hard to do

As more and more of our lives become digital, separating our personal lives from our work lives gets more and more complicated.
For years, I have had multiple subscriptions to various ‘cloud-based applications’. As a consultant, I have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the accounts separate. Fine, I will do that, but the cloud-administration and login tools need to meet me halfway.
The quickest, easiest way to manage the various accounts is via hardware and login-tokens, which is essentially how I administered my stuff for the last 6 years. What I didn’t do was keep the software up-to-date on my personal system. This is killing me!
Adobe is a beast! As most of the time when I needed that software was for work, I only kept it fully updated on my work machine. Fine, that worked. For the rare occasion I needed the suite for personal use, I would just login with my personal account. No harm. No foul. Adobe was getting paid licensing fees for both accounts, I just wasn’t taking the time to update my personal copies.
I am paying for that shortcut, now! It has taken me forever to update my applications!

Bad timing to change my password

Yesterday was crazy busy!  I work in an environment where all users are required to change their password incredibly frequently. Yesterday was that day for me.

Upon logging in and receiving the notification that my password was about to expire, I did my due diligence and went about the tasks that are necessary to complete that task.  I know it should be as simple as logging into a single place and doing it once, but it isn’t.   It takes a lot of time and at least one hard boot of my device to complete this task.  Upon successfully finishing this laborious, time-consuming task, I went on about my day.

Fast forward:: Life would have been good if I hadn’t had to change sites to be able to get to my appointments.  The password change came back to bite me.  Thank God I had built in an hour for lunch and travel, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to resolve my technical issues and arrive on time for my meeting.  To be honest, this is actually one of the things my favorite manager likes about me.  He likes that when I encounter these little challenges, I don’t just throw up my hands and walk away.

I get it.  I understand that not all of the servers that service the tools that I have to use to do my jobs all get updated in the ‘blink of an eye’.  I get that ‘real-time’ means the configuration of the portal that I am currently using to access data and sometimes the tools.  Guess I have been around long enough to realize there is processing required to use every portal, everywhere.  There are reasons for daily maintenance windows and overnight batch processes.

Knowing that gives me a baseline to use to troubleshoot my own issues.  This saves so much money for all of my employers.  I can fix it myself.  I don’t have to tie-up a minimum of one support resource to resolve my basic issues.

For me?  This is a baseline metric for anyone who claims to be a IT professional.  How much does it cost us to keep you productive?

I am….

  • A  versatile consultant who thrives on variety and challenge
  • An innate problem solver who grows in a flexible, collaborative culture
  • An engaging leader who makes a positive impact
  • An effective communicator
  • Able to influence across multiple responsibility areas
  • Able to get teams to make progress executing on a common set of goals
  • Able to prioritize and manage workflow to meet deadlines
  • Able to establish and maintain an effective follow up system

 

When you whine, I listen

Set the stage – for the last year the most uncooperative, self-important person I have ever encountered  has been talking about how awful the new  infrastructure is and how painful the process has been.

Every time she whined, I paid attention.  The negativity is annoying, but there are nuggets in those statements.  The way I see it?  Listening to tales of woe are invaluable when you are doing a task or designing a task.  If I can avoid encountering those issues by preparing on my side, the whole painful process will be less disruptive to productivity.   In days of yore, we called this pre-processing.  I think one of the buzzwords is operational excellence.

The little task I was bragging about yesterday?  She started that process last February!  I think she completed it in January.  I forgot.  I don’t really care.  The only reason I know about is frequent audits of her historical artifacts identifies missing responses from my teams.

I started the task on January 26, 2016.  I negotiated to minimize the impact on team operations.  The development team made my site read-only last Thursday – St. Patrick’s Day 2016.  Cool.  This is a system, infrastructure migration, a little maintenance time is necessary.  We didn’t decide to do this.  TPTB did.  We are merely complying.

I am proud to say that I was able to complete the mirrored migration in less than a week.  It isn’t a brand, new, beautiful, fully-functional site, but it is enough to keep us working in a brave new world.  I am readying myself for the adoption complaints, but that is when I see opportunities for improvement!!

Here’s a little insight into me, when you whine, I listen and learn….

 

Culture shift and it is time to move on down the road…

For a number of years I have had a job where the primary goals were to ensure that my leadership was successful and that our team would deliver on our promises.  Technically, this team should have been eliminated with one of the many reorganizations that we have endured, but we weren’t.  As a matter of fact, our breadth of influence has continued to expand over the years.

I take great pride in the fact we have not only survived, but thrived.  What makes me sad is the lack of understanding about what it has taken to ride these waves of change and continued forward.  It takes a lot of hard work to remain relevant in an ever-changing environment.  Essentially, what we did yesterday is not necessarily what we will be doing tomorrow.  The only way that we have been successful is through honest, open communication and a trusting relationship.

The most recent direct leadership change broke the rules.  The recently promoted Gen X’er is clueless.  There is a lot of power-tripping going on and a complete lack of communication.  The team has never been this disjointed and the morale can’t get much lower.  To be honest, these are the results of poor leadership and devaluation of the individual.  Ironically, this Gen-X leader reads lots of materials on how to manage and tries to implement them.  We have more checklists than anyone has ever seen, but they are just that – checklists.  Checklists without culture are worthless.  I equate them to lousy phone trees you encounter on thoughtless interactive voice response systems.  You do them just to get through to the next prompt, but the experience is anything but delightful.  There are no trusted relationships left of the team.  There are people going through the motions and there is absolutely no room for feedback or negotiation.

Since the latter years of MCI/Worldcomm, my favorite message has been ‘Perception is reality.’  That was their tagline and it really is a good reminder for anyone who ever engages in communication.  The message you are sending may mean one thing, but if the receiver perceives it to mean something different, the reality is the receiver’s perception is the meaning that will be consumed.  Advice to all leaders out there, when someone tells you this is their perception of your message, listen to them.  It is important to hear what is being said.  This is your opportunity to clarify an misperceptions and shouldn’t be used by you to defend what you meant.  If there is a strong disagreement between what you meant and the actual perception, work needs to be done together to bridge that gap.

I realize that this under-qualified leader has been promoted beyond her capabilities and we have spent the last few months trying to improve the situation, but without active listening and participation on this leader’s part, nothing will change.  This leader has broken the trust and is on an all out war against successfully achieving team goals.  My perception, which is my reality, is that we no longer have a solid vision and without vision, we are dead.

In years gone by, I would have dug in and tried to improve the situation, but not anymore.  My reality is my perception and currently I am perceiving a lack of appreciation for what it truly takes to get things done and I don’t feel like explaining it anymore.  What does that mean?  It is time for a new job.  So I am starting a quest to locate an organization that shares my values of professionalism, hard work, open, honest communications, accountability, reliability, fairness, honest days work for an honest day’s pay.   I used to work in that environment, but the recent culture shift has eliminated those shared values.

 

 

 

Partner to realize the vision

This is what I want!  I want the opportunity to partner to realize the vision.

Interviews are a joke.  Everyone shows up with their checklist.  The interviewer knows what they need to do, the interviewee has a set of pat answers designed to help them get the position.

Everyone has a checklist.  Everyone is trying to answer those questions in such a way as they can exemplify they know how to do all of that stuff on the checklist.

The reality is that anyone who gets the interview has already proven they have the basic skills necessary to do the job as defined by the job requisition filed to be able to publish the position.  From there, it is all a matter of mood.  The offer goes to the person who fits the emotional state of the interviewers at that point in time.

I am actively looking.  The culture of my current environment has become untenable and it is time for me to take action.  I deserve better!

 

Transaction Completed – Finally!

I am pleased.  I was able to get something fixed I have been trying to get fixed for 7 years!  That is a very, very long time.

I was able to log onto the new billing system and get my husband’s name changed on his line.  We are finally ported!  No longer will I be receiving calls from myself.  This is a huge success.

Quite frankly, this transaction actually started a long, long time ago.  My husband had a different provider.  He really liked his old phone.  The different provider began charging for maintaining the  backwards-compatible connection.  It was stupid to be paying that fee!  So I added him to my line at my carrier.  Yay.  We saved money.  BIG money.  Cut our costs in half.  This is a good thing.

Something went astray in that port low those many years ago.  Instead of porting into my provider with his name, his line was renamed to mine.  Okay, no big deal, one would think.  We would try to get it fixed, but every time we made a change it would revert to my name again.  The change never stuck.  This was okay, I knew how to get it masked.  Quite frankly, this was one of the things I thought about when we were thinking of changing  providers.  This was an opportunity to twiddle that bit or flip that switch to have it fixed, once and for all.

Tonight we successfully completed this transaction.  Patience is a virtue.

To be fair.  We probably could have finished the final steps earlier this week.  Guess what?  We have jobs.  We work forty plus hours every week, have family and friends, and this week is father’s day.   Probably my favorite Hallmark holiday!   These are the mundane things I had to take care of between beginning my port out of Yellow and into Magenta.  (Did I tell you I hate pink?)

Regardless, this transaction is finally complete.  So far, I am loving it!

Now they Notice

So I have been departing from BofA for months.  I even sent them a break-up email in December.  December 2012.  I told them that I was leaving.  I have slowly and methodically been disentangling myself from their clutches.  Kind of like a long-term ex – every day you find something else that needs to be removed.

I moved all of my automatic payments.  I moved all of my cds.  This is important.  I am a consultant.  I don’t make a lot of money, nor do I have a lot of long term promises in my career, so I set up a system of rolling cds when I went into this field and it has saved my fat from the fire more times than I can count.  Now I have to set up that nifty little system again, elsewhere.   It is not a big deal, it is just annoying.

I didn’t realize all of the transactions I had going in and out of the megalithic institution, until I went to remove them.  Even though I kept them updated, every step of the way.  I would send them a note letting them know I was one step closer to departure, they never responded.   They didn’t even notice until my account balances fell below $25.  I have received multiple notices that my account balance has fallen below $25.  That is just sad.  They only care, when they legally have to care.  What a shame.

Let’s get real.  I am a very small fry in a much bigger pond.  My numbers aren’t high enough that they are going to tip the balance sheet one way or the other, I know that.  What I am is a long-time customer.  BofA and I had a relationship for a very long time.  Another metric of stability is churn.  Everyone who is talking about customer service mentions churn.  Sad part is additions are the only things rewarded.  No one give a rat’s ass about the existing customer.  It isn’t until the existing customer becomes a past customer and part of churn that the machine even notices them.  This is sad.

In some ways, I think this passion to break off with BofA has influenced other parts of my life.  I had been a long time customer of Sprint  and I am not there anymore either.  Customer service is a huge differentiator in this world of service providers.  I can get the good elsewhere – how I am treated along the way is what is valuable to me.

Freedom Day

Despite the universe’s best efforts to prevent me from reaching my goal of exiting BofA today – I did it!  I marched into one of the local branches and extracted my remaining funds.  It was weird.  I don’t know what I thought it would be, but I was amazed at how it felt actually closing my account.  The manager at this particular branch was amazingly good at her job and there is a possibility if I had done my banking here over the past couple of years, I may not have left, but….

It really wasn’t fair to this branch.  They were always nice to me.  I should have gone to the Houghton branch, they are the ones who discriminated against me and started this whole exit process in the first place.  The nice person who ended up having to process the exit was curious about why I was so adamant about my departure, so I shared the story about how poorly I had been treated in December at the Houghton branch and how I had even written to BofA telling them of my plans and that the lack of response clearly communicated to me that my business wasn’t valuable enough to them, so I wanted to go where it is appreciated.

As we were processing the exit paperwork and putting together my cashier’s check, we reminisced about the bank the company used to be before it was acquired by the megalith BofA.  When I moved to this town, I didn’t have much.  My credit was crap.  I was new in town.  I needed a bank.  Seafirst was the only bank that would give me a chance.  That was 16 years ago.  Oh how times have changed!

Seafirst was acquired by BofA long, long ago.  Now, I have my ducks in a row.  I have more than two nickels to rub together and my credit ain’t bad.  Seafirst took a chance on me when no one else would.   This is probably at the core of why I stayed with BofA for so long, I appreciated the actions of Seafirst.  Well BofA long since has cashed in whatever goodwill had been built and I won’t miss dealing with them and their holier than thou staff who wouldn’t know how to provide quality customer service if their lives depended upon it.   I like my new banks.  They know me by name!  They have had the opportunity to lose the business, but so far, they have more than risen to the occasion and that was before I really had made much of a deposit.

As if I needed one more confirmation of my choice, yesterday I noticed there was a charge on my account that shouldn’t have been there.  I picked up the phone.  I called the branch.  It was right at closing time, so there wasn’t really anything they could do at that moment, but I was promised a call back first thing in the morning.  Low and behold, my phone rang at 9 am.  My account had already been reviewed.  The erroneous fee that I had been charged had already been reversed!  Yep, confirmation I had made the right decision!