Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Be daring: Approve of Social Intercourse at work!

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The title of this blog, if read too fast, might cause some consternation.

Whilst it might then seem less problematic; on a second read, it probably isn’t.

In Australia, we have a jobs boom. It’s pretty tight for candidates right across the board in every state. Smart recruiters are having a great time. I certainly am!

What makes it  difficult is outdated management theory in both general management and HR.

One of the types of management thinking that is really at issue is outdated attitudes to flexibility. Technology offers so much freedom – and yet management can’t pass that on. However, that’s the subject of an article I’m penning, so let’s move on.

Social Intercourse: Oh yes! That’s what every workplace has that is unique. If you are addicted to The Bold and The Beautiful or Neighbours,you can find people in every workplace that share your tragic obsession. But if you’re addicted to the ebb and flow of friendships, the achievements and the highlights, the scandals and the office politics at work; then how can you leave?

Of course, it’s best to avoid the aforementioned scandals and office politics, and good employers add good stuff that is remarkable so that their staff share a common experience that is outside of the ordinary.

Psychologists say that shared experiences bond us. That’s why eating a meal with a client is a damn fine thing.

The best bonding experiences have been found to be dangerous situations, or wacky and absurd ones. Since tying your staff to the railway lines is likely to cause a stir in OH&S circles, why not try something wacky?

Institute the 15-minute weekend catchup – from 9am to 9:15 on Monday, staff may not do anything else but gather in the kitchen and talk about their weekends. Have a big clock that counts down and then emits a loud chime to send them all scurrying back.

Have a theme every casual day. I once convinced a new starter that on Fridays you could only dress in colours that occur in Liquorice Allsorts. (She turned up in black, pink and lime green!). Offer a prize for worst tie day (customer contact people may need to bring two).

Encourage staff to eat together by sponsoring themed lunches every fortnight. For a few bucks per head experience something different each time. For example, a Mexican meal (unless your office is in Mexico) or a build-your-own-sandwich buffet

There is a lot written about having fun at work. But as more places get switched on to this, companies can race to outbid each other in the ‘fun’ department. The trick is to get your people interacting.

Is it dangerous to office discipline to encourage office friendships? How can it be? Millions of companies have a “refer a friend” policy. so how can it be acceptable to be friends before you work together, and not form a friendship in the workplace? And office discipline is a bit of a myth – set clear boundaries on confidentiality and professionalism, but understand that staff talk, whether you like it or not.

I’m out to collect great examples of social interaction at work, and your comments will be a great start. My stats say 64 people read this blog – so two each gives me over a hundred!

Now that is is genuinely a once weekly-ish blog, and since the title is “Musings and Rants”, next time I’ll provide a full bore rant! Tune in then.

Written by robertgodden

May 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm

The Enforced Loneliness of the Long-Distance Author

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As an author, it can be hard to find the right amount of loneliness.

An author? What makes one an author?

In my case, I feel the fact that I’ve written a book. Not how many I’ve sold (not many), not fame and fortune (still some way off), not the thrill of having an international best seller (as if I’d know).

So, I’m an author. And this means I need to be lonely.

Even though JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter in a café, it probably wasn’t Quiz Night or during a morning mothers’ meeting, prams around the tables and chatter about whom what doing what to whomever else and why.

Ever the most spasmodic of bloggers knows you need a little time to yourself to write.

With a full-time job and a full-time family; I found my own patch of loneliness in the mornings.

At first it was when I felt like it. Some mornings. When I didn’t go fishing, or do a spot of reading, or watch the pay TV news that starts really early, or get out a guitar, or play solitaire… you get the drift.

After eighteen months and less than a quarter of a book, I started to regiment my loneliness.

Seven days a week, 5:15 to 5:45 a.m., I wrote. Finished the damn thing off in three months. Or so I thought. But more on that later.

My loneliness was precious to me. I knew it was going to happen. It meant I could gather stray thoughts during the day, knowing they’d have a home the next morning.

Most mornings that was about five hundred words. Sometimes I went a bit longer on weekends

Legend has it that when Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels in the Caribbean he had a pattern: one thousand words and then a lovely lunch; another thousand and then a swim and a stroll on the beach; another thousand and off to a cocktail party surrounded by local beauties. Perhaps his PR firm wrote that bit..

But even motoring along at one-sixth of a Fleming, I got there.

I got very cranky if anyone else in my household got up early. With the utmost grace, I encouraged them to go back to bed or do something else. I almost insisted, without being too obnoxious. Maybe a little obnoxious.

More than three weeks on the overseas holiday of a lifetime did not interfere. Everyday, half an hour. Sat on a hill in Menorca. Propped my laptop up on a hotel fountain in Singapore. Wrote the introduction at deserted bus stop using pilfered internet access at 5:15 one fine Lake District morning as the sun considered adding the colour back to an eerily grey landscape.

And so, I have a book and call myself an author.

When I was writing, I only shared it with two people. One was a good friend who I knew would never say a bad word about it. This was a very indulgent form of reassurance. The other was a good friend who is a professional editor. I knew that from her, criticism would be professional and constructive.

I was terrified of showing it to my wife. I was terrified of the truth.

And I knew I’d get the truth. And if that truth was negative, I’d never be able to continue. So I waited until I’d finished and handed it over. I was thrilled when she loved it.

It was tricky. I knew I’d written a solid business book. With vampires. Time travellers. Thought-controlled Toasters.

I wanted a book that was good fiction, but that had something to offer someone who wanted to build their business, or build their career, and do it creatively. I never once asked if I was doing too much; trying to put too much into it.

For me the quality of the fiction has been the surprise. I printed five copies myself, bound them with rubber bands and gave them to five people to look through, proof-read and comment. One  proof-reader wrote “I cried” in the margin at the end of one of the stories.

(Incidentally, my Mother, who is staying with us, just got up and asked for a cup of tea. Was I cranky? A bit. Where was I?)

So now I’m an author. I’ve got something I’ve proud of. And another form of loneliness.

I’ve now got to convince the world my crazy, self-published book (see www.1001nights.com.au) is worth buying.

I’ve got to become a long distance author; selling my stories to the global village. And that needs more loneliness; more time thinking about what I need before the day starts where I’m Operations Manager, Father, Friend, Son, etc.

Such is the addiction of writing. Such is the addiction of loneliness.

Written by robertgodden

February 23, 2008 at 7:29 am