Monday, September 7, 2015

Where Are We On This?

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You or ISGMSUY for short. I'm Dave-El and I never forget to attached the cover sheets to the TPS reports. 

Here in the good ol' USA (which I pronounce "Oosah"), today is Labor Day where we celebrate the labor of the American worker by taking the day off from that labor unless your work in retail, fast food and other service industry jobs, public service jobs like police, fire fighters and EMTs, tech support...well, you get the idea. So thank you for your labor those people who don't get Labor Day off because I'm not cooking dinner, it's my day off. 

On the subject of jobs, there's a lot of controversy swirling around Hillary Clinton and her use of personal e-mail for work stuff at her old job as Secretary of State which may cause problems while she's looking for a new job, something in the field of presidenting, perhaps. (Currently she is unemployed or, if you prefer, "between jobs".) 

Clinton has asserted this is not a big deal. When she was Secretary of State, using a personal e-mail account was not against the rules and any business communications were with people who were using secure accounts which are monitored. Or something like that. To be honest, as controversies go, I'm not feeling the sexy from this one. So I may be glossing over some details. I find the whole deal kind of boring. 

Until this e-mail came to light. 



You may wonder, "What the hell is Gefilte fish?" Well, it is a traditional Jewish dish served at traditional Jewish meals where Jews sit down at the table and enjoy the traditional recitation of the traditional Jewish declaration, "Seriously, what the hell is Gefilte fish?" 

If you want to read more about this, click here for the riveting tale of how Clinton parted the Red Tape so that four hundred thousand pounds of Asian carp could be delivered unto the Promised Land. It's actually quite a quirky little story. 

But there's was part of the e-mail that resonated with me. 

"Where are we on this?"  

I have a boss in my real job who will send the occasional e-mail the reads pretty much like that. It's a good thing if you're not into micro-managing or being micro-managed (which neither of us are). I have had bosses in the past who have phrased things differently. 

"Have you started this?" 
"Have you finished this?"  
"Have you spoke with accounting yet?"
"Have you written the preliminary draft?" 
"Have you written the secondary draft?" 
"Have you scheduled the planning meeting?" 

And so on and so on. These are questions from a boss who does NOT trust his or her subordinates and insists on being involved in the details of whatever work has been delegated. Let me tell you, that type of person is a pain in the ass to work for. They question everything, even the parts you're doing right. 

"Where are we on this?" Basically the boss is saying "There's this thing I trusted you to do. I'm assuming you've started it or you're in the middle of it or in the processing wrapping it up. You're responsible enough to handle this. I'm just checking to see how you're doing."  

So I address the question with a response to a level of detail that I know my boss wants. If he's satisfied, he e-mails back, "Good work. Let me know if I can help." If he's not satisfied with something, he can address that particular point without calling into question his confidence in me and my confidence in myself. 

Now there can be a downside to the inquiry, "Where are we on this?" I can think of maybe 2 times where this was a problem because I had no idea what the hell my boss was talking about. "Where are we on this? What do you mean 'we'? What do you mean by 'this'? Did I miss a meeting? Did I miss a memo?"   

In one case, my boss had directed his inquiry to me in error. Oh, so I'm not part of the "we" and I'm not on the hook for "this". The other time, he realized he hadn't asked me to do "this" yet. Hey, I'm cool. That man has a lot on his plate. 

But over all, I like the question "Where are we on this?" The boss is acting from an assumption of confidence that his people are doing what needs to be done. And people who have the confidence of their boss are more likely to cultivate a confidence in their own abilities to get the job done. 

Back to Hillary Clinton's e-mail problem. It won't go away. There's a slow drip of information that just feeds the cable news beasts and their attendant predators. This has forced Clinton to change her strategy of brushing this off (and even laughing about it) which was a mistake. Now she's saying what she should've said in the first place, that she did not make a good decision and did not give her use of e-mail accounts as much due consideration as she should've. 

I imagine Clinton was reluctant to go that route because it sounds like she's admitting to a mistake. And in American politics, admitting mistakes, admitting you're wrong can be damaging to a political campaign or death to one's career. And admitting to a "mistake" that other Secretaries of State had also made since the invention of e-mail? A practice which, until recently and after Clinton was no longer Secretary of State, was perfectly legal? I imagine that would be a rather bitter bill to swallow. But brushing the problem off made it a worse problem.  

The thing is the whole e-mail debacle may really not be a big deal. I know I've made more than my share of mistakes (both actual and perceived) where the question was "Why did you do that?" and the answer was, "I don't know. I just didn't think it through." Every one out there in the world has had to say that at some time in their lives. 

Except Donald Trump who would answer, "Because I'm awesome, that's why!"  

So, Hillary, regarding this job search thing...

Where are we on this?

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