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How are you wired?
Old 07-23-2016, 04:49 AM   #1
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How are you wired?

How I am wired might explain my reaction to catching my son goofing off at his new job.
My father was a guy who worked for the rail road for his entire life. He went to work with clean fingernails, shined shoes and a neatly pressed light blue shirt every day for 30 years. I know because I shined those shoes as a kid and received a few lectures about how to appear and behave. In retrospect I know he was a bit vain about his appearance. When he moved out things a home became stressful - my mom would would struggle to make ends meet. Although I didn't articulate it at the time I was on a mission to change things for myself.

My uniform is very deliberate -dress slacks a designer dress shirt (bought on the cheap) some 'casual' but neat shoes. I've seen some great workers suffer because they don't present the complete package. Poor communicators, a bad image (dress or look) negativity or worse the inability to sense a shift in the management wind. You know the type -they refuse to swim with the corporate current. You might think yeah I know this guys type a real tight ass. You'd be wrong I love to laugh and I'm an incessant teaser.

If you believe doing what you like, making a decent buck at and becoming independent defines success then I'm there. Education and hard work got me here... Much of the corporate game is perception - the truth is We just don't goof off or if we do we do so sparingly and discreetly. Sleeping in the parking lot when you should be pushing carts isn't very discreet. It certainly isn't a good start.




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Old 07-23-2016, 05:41 AM   #2
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Patience, my friend. We are (mostly) not born with an innate ability to make our own way in the working world. It might take longer than you wish, but the vast majority of us eventually learn how we should behave and we straighten up and fly right. For me, it took a stint in the Navy. When I was a teen, I was not really a good worker.
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Old 07-23-2016, 05:52 AM   #3
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Sounds like you and I are a little old skool Ray. I've calmed down quite a bit and never had kids so not sure I can contribute anything.

My fish or cut bait moment came a year or so after I started out in consulting and failed two sittings of actuarial exams. It was either pass, stagnate or quit so I had to get it together and really study for the first time in my life. He'll get there.
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:06 AM   #4
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At a company sales rally, lo some 37+ years ago, we were at one point separated, (as was the company wont), into groups......the question was asked "Why do you do a good job?"

Round the (large) circle it went, with all the stock answers being submitted, ("Good of the company", "Personal accomplishments", etc, etc), and then it was my turn......"I do a good job so that my customers are happy and they leave me alone; they don't bug my boss, so he leaves me alone......I reach my objectives, so everybody's happy; I'm virtually autonomous, which makes me happy".

(Without actually moving themselves, I could 'feel' those on either side of me practicing disassociation....."I'm only sitting next to this guy by pure chance".)

Not long after....I was promoted.

Advise your son to use employment as a tool to realize his priorities.
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:15 AM   #5
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I agree that when one is supposed to be working at gathering carts he should not be sleeping in his car . However, do you know for certain he was on the job and not on his break? If he was not on his break then that is a very, very bad sign indeed. I assume that the time in between when he left home for work and when you saw him in the car was within 30 minutes. Just some thoughts.
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:32 AM   #6
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Teens, most of them, are still quite centered on themselves and often lack the ability (or don't take the time) to put themselves in someone else's shoes (including those of their boss). They also often lack the ability or willingness) to look ahead much beyond the end of their shift. I can't offer any techniques that might help enlighten your son, but I would probably try to have a discussion with him (at a time when you've cooled off and can handle some give and take). Where does he want to be in 2 years? In 5 years? How does the present job at the supermarket tie into that? How can the present job lead to something else? Is his present boss in a position to help him get a better position, a raise, or a good recommendation when he leaves the supermarket? What could he do to make his boss's job easier? (Hint: Don't wait to be told to do anything--there's always work to be done. Hint: After you've put in your time and shown that you're good at this job, show him/her that you are ready for more responsibility).

I worked in fast food during my HS years. I was good about not slacking off--worked hard, grabbed a broom or a rag and made myself useful when the orders were filled. Still, when the night was slow and the manager asked for volunteers to leave early, I would often chime in to "help" get the labor $/hr down (and because leaving soon sounded pretty good). I was not savvy enough to know that this probably didn't look very good to the management.
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Old 07-23-2016, 07:05 AM   #7
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Similar situation with DS... not goofing off on the job but lackadaisical about showing up on time, etc. When he was 18 we were away on a trip and he was living at home and working. I guess that he decided to just not go into work and didn't call or anything like that. The second time he did it they fired him. It was one of the best things that has happened to him... it was a wake up call... in subsequent jobs his attendance and punctuality has been very good. Natural consequences work.
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Old 07-23-2016, 07:14 AM   #8
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IMHO work ethic is something you either have or you don't.
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Old 07-23-2016, 07:25 AM   #9
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Never had kids but did mentor a lot of employees. I felt that most people were basically good, but often needed some guidance. That's not to say one should let people get away with not doing their jobs, but hammering square pegs into round holes is a fool's errand. The skill of a good manager, and maybe a good parent, is to know where the line is.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:00 AM   #10
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As we age most of us do not want to recognize how the world changes. It's so nice to grow old and remain comfortable in our habits and surrounds. I'm very much like that.

This also happens with companies, I've observed. I've been in a wide range of work situations from "home and on my own" to megacorp melancholy.

Each generation has modified wiring. It can be difficult for new wiring to fit into old infrastructure. I witness that on a daily basis, at the job, and at home. Yes, the mores and work expectations are already there as you approach the front door on day one.

Many of the newest and largest businesses do not put any emphasis on clothing and attire. The pictures which accompany this article are typical. The emphasis is on all relationships.

Atlassian: Inside Australia's coolest workplace | Daily Mail Online

As these companies age, there is more focus on structure and rules, and those happy with their wiring simply move to another startup.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayinpenn View Post
How I am wired might explain my reaction to catching my son goofing off at his new job.
My father was a guy who worked for the rail road for his entire life. He went to work with clean fingernails, shined shoes and a neatly pressed light blue shirt every day for 30 years. I know because I shined those shoes as a kid and received a few lectures about how to appear and behave. In retrospect I know he was a bit vain about his appearance. When he moved out things a home became stressful - my mom would would struggle to make ends meet. Although I didn't articulate it at the time I was on a mission to change things for myself.

My uniform is very deliberate -dress slacks a designer dress shirt (bought on the cheap) some 'casual' but neat shoes. I've seen some great workers suffer because they don't present the complete package. Poor communicators, a bad image (dress or look) negativity or worse the inability to sense a shift in the management wind. You know the type -they refuse to swim with the corporate current. You might think yeah I know this guys type a real tight ass. You'd be wrong I love to laugh and I'm an incessant teaser.

If you believe doing what you like, making a decent buck at and becoming independent defines success then I'm there. Education and hard work got me here... Much of the corporate game is perception - the truth is We just don't goof off or if we do we do so sparingly and discreetly. Sleeping in the parking lot when you should be pushing carts isn't very discreet. It certainly isn't a good start.
Ray, I see you say you shined shoes for your dad as a kid, and now you are spiffy dresser with a good work ethic. However, I don't see any mention of all the years in between. Were you always on top of things? Or did you ever work a crappy job that you hated and goofed off on? I was an incredibly dedicated worker in my career, but I also dozed off in the warehouse in one job, and got into a strawberry pie fight between the cooks and waitresses after hours working in a restaurant. Kids are kids, and have to find their own way. I have much better memories of the pie fight than I do the big release for divestiture in '83.

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IMHO work ethic is something you either have or you don't.
I disagree vehemently. Work ethic can be created, but it can't be instilled. I learned mine over a period of years.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:16 AM   #12
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Similar situation with DS... not goofing off on the job but lackadaisical about showing up on time, etc. When he was 18 we were away on a trip and he was living at home and working. I guess that he decided to just not go into work and didn't call or anything like that. The second time he did it they fired him. It was one of the best things that has happened to him... it was a wake up call... in subsequent jobs his attendance and punctuality has been very good. Natural consequences work.
Really good story, and one I think is dead on. I have responsibility for many people, in both Professional and Hourly positions. I like to think I am pretty "fair" about performance, and even attendance. I started to write lenient, but NONE of them would agree with that. Fair, I think they would agree with.

That said, I have had the misfortune over my career in some cases to have to ask employees that we go our separate ways. In several of those cases, they have kept in touch and came out of it much stronger, more determined and focused employees for their future companies. Recently, I initiated a co-op program with our local University. We had an engineering co-op that was sleeping at his desk, and just generally not doing well. After a couple of conversations about it with him, I told the Engineering Team Leader to send him home and get his badge. We called the university co-op office and let them know. They were shocked. I assume no one has "fired" one of their co-ops before. I explained that he probably just learned more than most of the co-ops in their program, and with the right coaching from them, might be more successful as well.

Hopefully, your son will have someone do that for him either at this job, or another. That wake call might be what changes everything going forward in his life.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:21 AM   #13
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That said, I have had the misfortune over my career in some cases to have to ask employees that we go our separate ways.
As a 'kid' working in a small supermarket I didn't show up for a weekend shift......the manager told me that to maintain control of his staff he couldn't possibly keep me on....so I was fired.

Then.....same guy found me another job...saw some potential, I guess.

I've never forgotten that.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:23 AM   #14
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Ray, You're overreacting, IMO. We hired my nephew for the summer between high school and college. He was majoring in computer science, so we put him on some computer projects. Not what I would call a stellar work ethic. But he ended up with his computer science degree, then his masters. Has a great job, and he's an entrepreneur in a start-up.

IMO, you need to give your son some time (and a little slack). I think most kids start off as lazy in the workplace, but eventually come around.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:34 AM   #15
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I'm pretty wired after a pot of coffee...

I'm so glad to be out of the world where I'm expected to be happy, productive, and cooperative in the face of psycho management, salary freezes, downsizing, etc.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:47 AM   #16
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I see no problem in delivering some tough love, just don't obsess about it.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:49 AM   #17
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Ray, I see you say you shined shoes for your dad as a kid, and now you are spiffy dresser with a good work ethic. However, I don't see any mention of all the years in between. Were you always on top of things?.

In retrospect my my first few jobs were pretty awful... But I don't remember either goofing off or hating the job. Call me crazy but things were so bad and my expectations so low I guess I was just happy to have a paycheck...

When you don't have any money your focus tend to be short term - dinner tonight, the worn tires, brakes whatever... Did I have it all together ...naah I was living on a wing and a prayer.


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Old 07-23-2016, 08:51 AM   #18
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I'm pretty wired after a pot of coffee...

I'm so glad to be out of the world where I'm expected to be happy, productive, and cooperative in the face of psycho management, salary freezes, downsizing, etc.
I always feel older in the morning. By noon I feel about 55.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:54 AM   #19
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In addition to my own experience long ago, let me add a little more recent color.

For the past ten years or so, I have hired neighboring high school students to help me with snow shoveling, leaf raking and other house and yard projects. I pay fairly well and I will hire their friends too, so they can work together. They have all been good kids, but none of them have been what you would call self-motivated. If at the end of our work on Saturday, we agree that they will come again Wednesday after school, they may or may not show up. And I always have to work shoulder to shoulder with them, or they will listen to their iPhone or talk to their friend and stand there raking the same ten leaves for an hour. In the end, however, they have all graduated and gone off to successfully navigate college and (for the early ones) begun working real jobs.

I hope they learned a little by working with me.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:59 AM   #20
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Be careful that you don't let your son's behavior at one time (slacking on his job) become your definition of his character. He screwed up, you caught him, and reprimanded him. Let him have the chance to show that he can learn from his mistakes. Don't pigeon hole your son into a "lazy kid who will never amount to anything".

To some extent, my DH has pigeon holed our youngest daughter. She is wired differently than DH, me, or the oldest. (It was eye-opening when she did Myers-Briggs at school and came up the exact opposite of my ISTJ). Compared to the rest of us in the family, she flies by the seat of her pants, doesn't plan, and procrastinates. I learned years ago to let her do things her own way and suffer the consequences. She's turned into a responsible adult that tends to be spontaneous, friendly, and fun-loving. I appreciate that in her. DH, on the other hand, still thinks of her as a disorganized teen who is just hours away from screwing up somehow. Unfortunately his attitude comes through loud and clear to DD and she resents it, and I fear it's affected their relationship.
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