Aside from the facts that I’m blatantly ripping off borrowing from the movie Forrest Gump and also straying away from my usual technical content, I had a notion this morning that I felt like I needed to explain. In case you missed a tweet of mine from earlier today, here it was.
Now you might be saying to yourself “I know exactly what he means” or “I don’t know what the heck he means”. Never fear, that’s why I’m here to explain. First things first, I recently went through a break up with a girl that was a bit different than past break ups. You see, this girl decided to give me constructive criticism about our relationship. So naturally I’ve been thinking over what she had to say and I started to see parallels between how I approach relationships and how I approach work. Here are a few of the big things that stood out for me (and perhaps will be relatable for you.)
Communication is a must
Open communication is necessary for any healthy relationship (work or social.) You may have heard a phrase like “you need to tell me what’s going on, I’m not a mind reader” at some point in your life. Being able to put thoughts, ideas, and feelings into words is how we as humans relate to others. The same is needed with your employer. I’m sure many of you have regular reviews with your manager or superiors, but those meetings once, twice, or however many times a year should only be affirming the communication that is continually going on between you and your employer. Keep the lines of communication frequent and flowing.
Honesty is a must
Without honesty, all that open communication you’ve been working on can pretty much be thrown into the trash. Honesty has major implication for relationships of all types, and it takes more forms than just telling the truth or being ethical. In addition, sometimes dishonesty will manifest through deliberate omissions (I didn’t find any bugs in my code), to white lies (I found one minor bug that isn’t a big deal), all the way to blatant lies (there’s no way this one bug will crash the entire application, oops.) Honesty is important for both sides of a relationship so that each side is accepting who the other person truly is.
Don’t be afraid to fluff your feathers
I’m not a zoologist by any means, but I hear that when some birds are looking for a potential mate they fluff out their feathers to make themselves appear larger and thus propagate Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Just as we humans like to show off our positive qualities to potential significant others, so too should you show off your positive work to your employer. I’m a consultant, so whenever I receive a praising email from a client or have a notable success I like to pass that along to my superiors. Not only does this help my case for getting a raise or promotion at review time, it also reaffirms my employer that they made the right choice hiring me and I’m bringing positive value to the company. As a side bonus, it also means I want them to share in my joy/celebration over a job well done.
This has been just a brief glimpse into what I think it means to view your employer-employee relationships like your relationships with a significant other. Glad to see my psychology minor getting put to a little bit of use. If any of you are interested in singularity type ideas (seeing the relatedness of everything) then I highly recommend you read The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse. It is one of my favorite books of all time and really digs into that “everything is connected” notion in a science fiction / mathematics type of ways. So enjoy this short break from my technical posts and expect me to return to my usual types of posts next time.