Category Archives: People

I Didn’t Get Any Cake

Milton Waddams in Office Space:

Nina: Now Milton, don’t be greedy, let’s pass it along and make sure everyone gets a piece.
Milton Waddams: Yeah, but last time I didn’t receive a piece. And I was told…
Nina: Just pass.
[while the cake passes Milton mutters – eventually everybody but Milton gets a piece]
Milton Waddams: [muttering] I could set the building on fire.

When you start getting your meetings bumped, your invitations dumped, and not receiving cake–is there any other conclusion than Milton’s underlying suspicion that he’s intentionally being choked off?

I understand that the time of one person at a higher level is more valuable, but one wasted hour of a higher level employee can erode hours worth of productivity. Bump people sparingly. Respect their time.

Respect and The Prefix “Pre-“

In many ways, good parents, good teaching, and good management have similar traits. There has to be respect to have control. Respect is not about being liked; respect is about being trusted to make good on whatever promise or threat is given. Maybe that oversimplifying, but take away that aforementioned trust and see what happens to the respect. Moreover, respect doesn’t just involve the person who is the recipient of the promise or threat; respect involves all observers.

Sending out materials labeled “pre-” indicates that you are making a request. Not expecting that request to be fulfilled diminishes our respect for you.

The meeting pre-read: Pre-reads which are read in their entirety in a meeting. This is such an established pattern that many people don’t even bother to open the document prior to the meeting.

Why bother? We’re going to read word-for-word in the meeting anyway, and spent 90% of our time rereading a handful of sentences.

Some of the problems with the pre-read are a consequence of no one wanting to read a 80-100 page document for the first time during a meeting. Keep the pre-reads reasonable if you want any hope of them being read beforehand.

Canceling the meeting for lack of pre-read participation would be a nice luxury, but that would be more likely to encourage people to not do the pre-reads.

Pre-work for classes: Having pre-work for classes and not expecting it to be done diminishes your students’ respect for you.

Working through the pre-work as the body of the class makes those of us who do the work beforehand despise you.

Either the pre-work is an “agenda” for the class and needs to be stated as such, or it needs to be given a good faith attempt by all students. If it’s an agenda for the class, I’ll probably opt for the class that considers it pre-work and save myself some time and aggravation.

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