Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dear Turtle King

Recently a fellow Turtle at Work "VirgoCusp" posted the following comment, asking for my assistance:

"I need the Turtle King's help. Maybe you can enlist other turtles to help to. A Co-worker of mine asked what can be done to stop a "wall hanger". A "wall hanger" being a neighbor in cube town who constantly hangs over your ajoining wall to gab about nonsense and draw attention while you wish to remain anonymous. This combined with "the loud talker" can prove to be a problem for us turtles at work."

This can be a difficult situation for any Turtle. The "wall hanger" or "cube gofer" will peep over their part of the cube to invade your space and annoy you with meaningless drabble. The "wall hanger" can easily be handled by applying proper Turtle strategy. When the wall hanger peeps up and begins to talk you simply continue to stare forward at your screen completely ignoring him or her. Remember that being a Turtle at Work means not going on the offensive. If you try to solve the "wall hanger" by telling him or her to piss off or get lost you draw attention to yourself. If you simply always look "too busy" to talk you serve two purposes. If your boss walks by you look busy while the "wall hanger" looks like a goof off. You thus draw positive attention to yourself as your boss thinks you're a hard work, when really you're not busy at all and the "wall hanger" will get smacked around by your boss and thus leave you alone for fear of getting in trouble.

This approach will work for any of the annoying office personalities. Remember, the key to being a Turtle at Work is to blend in, lay low and deflect attention. If you look busy at all times and simply ignore the annoying people you work with, they'll eventually get theirs from the boss, while you Turtle along. I hope that helps not only Virgocusp, but any other Turtles out there.

If you have any situations that you want advice on simply post a comment or email me at king.oftheturtles@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holidays: A Merry Bunch of Slackers, Idiots, and Annoyers

If you work in an office setting like I do, then you know that the holidays in the office are wondrous, in that each year I wonder how the various idiots I work with can annoy me. I'm a Turtle at Work, but I'm not a slacker or an idiot. There's a huge difference in being a Turtle in that I just chose to do as little as possible because I realize that my efforts will not result in anything better for me. A slacker or idiot is like a robot as they really are not self aware or realize anything, they go through life completely oblivious to others. They are in essence fake and hollow people.

Well, the holidays are prime time for these goofballs in the office I work and I'm sure they're revved up for another holiday season. For those of you not in the loop let me lay out the case of holiday characters:

The Decorator. This is the person in your office that spends countless hours decorating their cubicle or office. The decorating is never done on their time, but instead is done in the middle of the workday. Nothing is ever said to them because they are just so god damned merry and happy that your boss wouldn't dare approach the Decorator for fear of being roped into some holiday discussion. This is how the Decorator gets away with it every year.

The 3rd Grade Teacher. Do you remember your 3rd grade teacher? Mine was Mrs. Ravel and every year around the holidays she would unleash a barrage of holiday sweaters. I swear the woman had 30 of these things. Well, there are office versions of your 3rd grade teacher. In my office there is a woman that wears different holiday sweaters and shirts everyday leading up to the holiday. One day it will be a sweater with a reindeer on it, the next a santa shirt..it never flippin ends.

The Organizer. Around the holidays you may have some type of holiday party or buffet at your work. There probably is one person or maybe a couple that is in charge or organizing the party and basically that is their only real output for the entire year. They will work tremendously hard to organize the party and get every detail in order. It's amazing because usually the party turns out pretty good. Following the holiday party they revert back to lumps and do nothing until the holiday arrives again. Then they become ultra productive party planners again.

The Doomsday Profit. As we enter winter the chance for inclement weather gets greater. You'll be talking with co-workers maybe saying something like "I think we're going to have a mild winter" and that's when The Doomsday Profit swoops in from nowhere to quip "looking at the almanac I hear it's going to be the worst winter yet." Everyone hopes for a mild winter are dashed as The Profit continues with his or her barrage of wintry facts. Then when a potential storm enters the area you'll hear The Profit saying "this is gonna be a big one....20 inches" yet only a 1/4 of an inch falls.

The Window Licker. Every winter you can expect snow at some point. It's not really a big deal to most, but if you are at work when it snows, the Windor Lickers will come out of the woodwork and stay pasted in front of a window with a glazed look on their faces. It's as if they've never seen snow before and they are amazed. If there are multiple Window Lickers they'll converse with witty comments like "looks like snow" or "wow...sure is snowing out there".

The Religious Fanatic. Most who celebrate Christmas realize that the holiday is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. However, each year the highly religious person(s) in your office will make it there mission to constantly review with everyone the religious aspect of what Christmas means. Now, I'm certainly not anti-religious, but the office is not the place or time to hear about this kind of stuff. Plus, the Religious fanatic will also point out that Christmas is not about gifts and that Santa Claus is not a religious figure and should not be represented in association with the Holiday.

Well...those are the cast of characters I have to deal with each holiday season. Hopefully you don't or at least don't have to deal with all of them. Feel free to post your holiday season idiots in the comment section.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Resignation Fantasy

A fellow Turtle recently posted a comment stating how Turtles at Work has really helped them. In the same comment though, the person noted that they still crave to become a Wolf again and be surrounded by other wolves in a productive and rewarding environment. In commenting back to this person I noted that I too shared the dream of one day becoming a Wolf (agressive, motivated worker).

Recently I have had some job opportunities pop up that not only provide me with better compensation, but also re-introduce me to a Wolf environment. An environment in which I will be able to actually achieve, thrive, and be rewarded for my skills and abilities. As I day dreamed today in my office I began thinking of the opportunities.

Over the past few years I have survived incompetence around me through my Turtle philosophy. I have had to deal with idiots above me that have no clue about people and how important it is to say "thank you" or "job well done". I have dealt with the fact that my company pays poorly, so although I am a quality individual, I am surrounded by drones that clock in and out (these are not Turtles, they're sloths...big difference). I also have had this system of mediocracy beat me down with meaningless performance reviews and shitty, why bother, pay increases.

It is with all that anger that I then turn my thoughts to my resignation letter. I have pondered the thought of how I would handle my resignation. Do I stay classy and be very short and sweet, never uttering a negative word? Or.. Do I let go the frustration of the past few years and really lay the wood on my boss and the idiots I've had to endure? If I go with the ladder of the two I'm reminded of the classic Chevy Chase movie Christmas Vacation in which is utters the following rant about his boss and the shitty raise he received for Christmas:

I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a…….. cheap, lying, no-good, rotten,four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol? (Note: I've posted a You Tube clip of it on the sidebar).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What Irritates You at Work?

Today I begin my day by printing out a report that I was sent. It's early in the day and very few people are in the office. I say to myself "I'll have a few moments hear to read this over in silence before the idiots come in." I stroll over to the printer and instead of seeing my report I'm greeted by the amber color flashing "printer error" button. For the 10,000th time the printer has jammed when I wanted to print something and as usual I practically pull the printer completely apart and cannot find the jam. I basically say "fuck it" and question why the hell I'm even reading a report in the first place...I'm a Turtle. But I'm reminded that our cheap and constantly screwed up printer is just one of the many irritations I encounter in my work week.

I then sit down in my office and begin to rattle off a bunch of other irritations that completely drive me insane. I then think..wouldn't it be an interesting challenge to my fellow Turtles out there to see what irritates you? You see, I write all the time about my experiences and philosophy and never really give you all a chance to vent to me. Now is your chance!

You can either respond to this post with a comment or go to the Turtles at Work message board and post what irritates you. I have created a Work Irritations post there. Feel free to tell me your irritations and maybe through Turtle Therapy we can help relieve some of your irritations. LOL.

Turtle King

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween at Work: Not a Trick or Treat!

Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays of the year. To some extent it still is, especially since I have a young child. The part or should I say person, that sours me on Halloween is a manager that happens to report to me. She is the typical drama queen personality I wrote about in an earlier post and Halloween is her time to shine and squeeze every bit of attention out of everyone and anyone that crosses her path. This Halloween was no different than the previous 3 Halloweens. I enter the building and try to quietly enter my office as I know she is lurking around waiting to bounce in and show me her costume. I am in my office for about 20 seconds and my back is to the door. I begin to get goosebumps and feel an eery presence in my doorway. I turn and nearly scream in horror..it's her and this year she is bolder than ever.

Now this woman is about 5 foot 7 inches and weighs about 220 lbs with a hairstyle that looks like a beehive gone wrong. Honestly she probably doesn't need to dress up for Halloween because her normal appearance, clothing and make-up are pretty scary to begin with. But this year she is dressed as some kind of tribal witch doctor. She is wearing an very ornate head dress made of peacock feathers and beads. She also has a lion hair necklace and is wearing a cheetah patterned shirt and pants. Last year she was a cat and I thought that was pretty bad, but this year she has far out done herself. To make matters worse she begins to talk to me like a mix between a Jamaican and a New Yorker. She had an entire barrage of sayings ready to unload on me and after each one laughed (she was the only one laughing). I humored her for the time she was in my office, not saying much as I didn't want to prolong the agony. The Drama Queen/Witch Doctor finally leaves my office to unleash her day of annoyance on the rest of the company.

For the next 8 hours I heard her reel in anyone that walked by and repeat her Witch Doctor script. Over and over and over again, complete with a laugh after each stupid saying. At one point I escaped my office and tried to mill around other areas just to get away. She followed and continued her barrage on other departments. The funny thing about Drama Queens is that they don't realize that other people (a) don't find them funny and (b) don't really want to be around them. True to form, my Drama Queen/Witch Doctor just charged on because she really didn't care if people wanted to be around her as she just imposed her big personality onto everyone.

Finally 5pm rolled around and I literally jogged to the door to get the hell out of there. As I hit the parking lot I see her bumbling around in her stupid outfit, scanning the parking lot, just waiting for some poor sucker to cross her path so she could unleash her nonsense just one more time before she goes home and loses her captive audience.

For Halloween I dressed a a Turtle at Work. No one...not the Drama Queen or my clueless boss even knew it. That's the beauty of being a Turtle at Work!!! I wear my costume all year round, but unlike the Drama Queen, I lay low and stay in my shell as much as possible. It's not easy though when you have Drama Queen's and other annoying people you work with, but you gotta suck it up sometimes because that's what Turtles at Work do!!

I hope everyone out there had a better Halloween than I did. LOL

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Call To All Turtles

It's been 7 months since I started the Turtles at Work blog and it's been a fun ride so far. I've received a lot of great comments and hopefully helped some folks realize that there are others out there that have problems with idiotic bosses, poor work environments, etc. Hopefully I've helped some of you through some tough times and maybe even made you laugh about some of my weird experiences as a Turtle at Work.

In trying to build Turtles at Work, I need some help from my fellow Turtles. I have a challenge for all of you who frequent Turtles at Work. I need help in spreading the word about this blog. If you have friends, family, or anyone who you think would be interested in reading this blog, spread the word either in email or word of mouth. Unfortunately, as you have read, I'm completely broke so I can't award any prizes for what I am asking. Sorry : (. Hopefully though you'll take the challenge and help the good ole Turtle King out. The larger readership I can build the more I can enhance the site and offer more features, content, etc. In order to do that I need more readers like you!

I'll have some more interesting posts and welcome any feedback or ideas on what you'd like to hear about. You can leave me a comment below or email me at king.oftheturtles@gmail.com. Thank you all for your support.

Turtle King

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sequence of Events

My company has no strategy, a mission statement that doesn't really make sense and a executive staff that is comprised of 60+ year old, overpaid lumps. When it comes to actually making decisions or improvements everything moves at a snail's pace. However there are a few things my company executes with precision. There are 3 events that somehow always come together, on time, quickly and in exact sequence. These 3 events are, in order:

1. United Way "guilt meetings"
2. Pay Increases (if you want to call them that)
3. Benefit Open Enrollment

Basically we start with mandatory United Way meetings, which I refer to as "Guilt Meetings". You have to sit through 1 to 2 hours of hearing about sob stories and watching videos. I don't want to sound heartless because I do feel bad for the children and people that are impacted by the United Way. I just resent the fact that these meeting are mandatory and that I'm felt that I have to give or I'm considered a bad person. Then you have these rumor spreaders that comment about how our president personally looks at the list of United Way contributions to see who did and didn't give. My company treats the employees, including myself, like shit on a daily basis, if anyone needs help it's us.

The next event that directly follows the United Way "guilt meetings" is the announcement of pay increases. My company is shrewd in that they wait til you have already pledged an amount to the United Way, and only after that timeframe the pay increases are announced. This year my increase was 1.2%, which is incredibly poor. It amounts to about $14 per week. My boss is emotionless as he gives me the increase and doesn't even thank me for my effort.

And finally the benefits enrollment period. This follows the pay increase announcement and is a time in which all employees learn how my company is again going to jack up the cost of benefits. Usually something like eye care or dental care takes a real hit as we get a new provider that no doctor in the area accepts. The increase this year was a total of $18 additional deducted per week to pay for health care.

So if you look at this sequence of events you can see why my company is incredibly good at executing these things perfectly and it's all about screwing the employees. First you give to the United Way, let's say $5 a week. Then you get your pay increase $14 per week. Then the benefits enrollment increase results in employee payments of $18 more per week. So when you do the math salary goes up $14 per week, but after deducting United Way and benefits increase you actually are making $9 per week less this year as compared to last year. Isn't that just perfect.

Now I don't believe in all the guilt crap my company gives on the United Way so I don't give a penny. But regardless I'm still making less this year than last because our benefits go up. It's just another example of how my idiotic company screws employees, reduces morale and performance. If you know you are going to get screwed like this, then being a Turtle at Work is the only option. It's not easy to deal with, but until you can escape to a company that actually cares about employees, you just have to suck it up, and hide within the shell!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Second Guessed!

One of the greatest flaws I have to deal with at my current company is our organizational structure. It's a typical hierarchical structure that makes it near impossible to get things done. You have to go through several layers of approval that even something as simple as buying office supplies for your department is an adventure. As a middle manager at my company, when I do actually make a decision and try to avoid the approval traffic jam I get second guessed. Actually I get third, fourth and fifth guessed most of the time as other department heads feel the need to add their opinion because of the political nature of my company.

Recently I made a hiring decision for a position that took 2 years for approval. Basically I had suggested a position be created based on a business need. I had done research and a return on investment analysis to show that the position was needed. Finally after 2 years I hear it is ok to go ahead with hiring for the position. The position gets posted and I begin my interview process. Unlike most of the idiots at my company, I actually have a formal interview form that is designed to link interview questions to key competencies required for a given position. I have been very successful in hiring quality candidates as a result. I go through several interviews, updating my superiors along the way, until I finally make a decision for hire. I submit the decision to HR and an offer is made an accepted (enter the 2nd guessing).

I update my superiors on my hiring decision and am immediately barraged with questions on why I hired who I hired. The one big shot actually began to huff at me and threw out the F bomb a few times, acting like my 3 year old. Now, these guys knew I was interviewing yet took zero interest in being involved. I make a decision and hire someone and get all kinds of theatrics. "Why me" I think to myself as I have to hear big shot after big shot criticize me, without reason, for my decision. As a Turtle I do what I know best. I basically remain silent and take the punishment from these idiots. If I speak up, it will only fuel their criticism further and prolong the agony.

Lesson from the Turtle King: You Can't Get Second Guessed If You Don't Make Decisions

I realized that by making a decision I have gone outside the shell. I should have interviewed but deferred my decision back to the big shots so that they could argue (probably for months) over who to hire. Finally, my recommendation for this position came when I was still a wolf (high performer). Now that I'm a Turtle I should have stated that I didn't think the position was needed any longer, which again would have been "laying low" like the Turtle I am.

If you are at a company that is completely hierarchical, with log jam decision making, being a Turtle is the best way to cope. Why get caught up in the decision process when you can avoid making decisions like everyone else. If you do try and make decisions you'll probably get second, third, and fourth guessed like I did. It's just not worth it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Barrage Them With Bullshit

I talk to many people over the course of my day at work. Some people I enjoy to chat with, while others I avoid like the plague. Today as I was walking through the hallway and came across one of our maintenance guys named Doug. Doug is an older guy, probably around 60 years old. He's been with our company for around 25 years and knows how idiotic things can be. He's a veteran Turtles at Work and understands and lives by the Turtle philosophy without even knowing about the Turtles at Work blog.

Doug always gives me nuggets of advice. Today, he came up with an all time classic. I was telling Doug about how hard I used to try and how detailed I am in my work, yet it is constantly overlooked and ignored. Doug turned to me and said "Turtle (inserted for my real name), if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, barrage them with bullshit." Spoken like a true Turtle at Work.

The big shots above me don't want to hear about real problems or see in depth analysis. They want to hear, what Doug refers to as "bullshit". It's easy for the top dogs to understand because they lack any depth and utilize bullshit themselves to stay on top. I caught my boss once in a meeting explaining something in bullshiteese (bullshit language of top executives) to other big shots and our President. He was completely off in his explanation and I was amazed that the other big shots just took what he was saying and moved on. They asked no questions or clarification, just let him go.

There is much to be learned as a Turtle in the above. If the big shots above you are going to use bullshit to stay on top, then you must use bullshit to lay low like the Turtle at Work you are. You know your boss will not follow-up on what you are saying so as Doug says "barrage them with bullshit". It's worked for him and it can work for other Turtles out there as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does Your Company Fail the Grade?

Recently I was contacted by a recruiter conerning a position. I was very excited by the contact and the chance to escape from the dungeon (my current company). I spoke with the recruiter for about an hour as he filled me in on the position and company that he was trying to fill a position for. I was very encouraged and am awaiting word back on next steps.

The recruiter gave me his website and encouraged me to review his background and the site overall. In looking over the recruiter's site I found that he publishes a newsletter with some pretty good content. I came across one of his articles in which he talks about the type of company you work for and translates the types into "grades". I thought I'd share the following with all you Turtles as I thought it was very worth while and thought provoking:

What Grade is Your Company?
"Grade A and B companies generally want upwardly mobile people. Grade C companies want people who can perform a specific task adequately. Grade D companies want the cheapest person they can find. Look around you and decide where you are and what you want to be. The earlier in your career you recognize it the easier it is to change."

I, like many of you are stuck in a Grade D company. They want the world, but pay pennies. When your stuck with a Grade D company you are going to become a Turtle eventually because D companies don't want high performers, they want warm bodies. Grade D companies generally are going to pay the upper echelon big shots way to much and the people who actually make the company run way to little. It's a reality that I experience day in and day out. If you are with a Grade D company, take the recruiters advice and make a change. I can only hope this recruiter can hook me up with the Grade A company he is recruiting for. Unfortunately if that happens I have to hang it up as a Turtle at Work and go back to being a Wolf. We'll see!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The New Guy

There is usually excitement surrounding the start of a new job. You accept a position at a company and feel liberated and pumped at the possibilities you will encounter as you start. We've all been there and it's a great feeling. But soon that feeling turns sour as you realize the political bullshit you have to deal with, the nitpicking boss you have and the annoying co-workers you are stuck with. Your once promising attitude sours over time as these burdens weigh on you and...turn you into a Turtle at Work

This week we were welcomed by a "New Guy" in our department. The "New Guy" entered our department all smiles and cliches. He shook everyone's hand and mentioned that "he's looking to make an impact!" Everyone in the group gave the fake smile, and you could almost see what everyone was thinking. We all had the "this was once me...poor bastard doesn't even know what he got himself into does he?" look on our faces.

As a Turtle at Work there are a couple things that you just don't do when dealing with the "New Guy". You may feel bad for him and try and tell him how bad things are. Don't do it! Turtles aren't like Wolves. We're not pack animals..we keep to ourselves and lay low. If you try and be helpful you are at risk. What if the "New Guy" is a snitch or a work mole for your idiot boss. Also don't try to be helpful to the "New Guy" by telling him the ins and outs of the company. Did anyone help you when you started..probably not. Usually the "New Guy" will be filled with positivity and will tell everyone how helpful you are. Next thing you know others are coming to you for help. Remember..you are a Turtle...you don't need the attention!

Don't try to be a hero. You're a Turtle at Work! Let the "New Guy" be the hero. He'll learn soon enough that your company sucks, he doesn't need your help to figure that out!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What Makes People Tick?

I have realized one glaring flaw in all the big shots that have managed to turn me from a high performing employee to a Turtle at Work. They don't understand the human element! What do I mean by the human element you ask? In short, it's what makes people tick and what drives each individual.

Let's face it, most people really don't want to work. How do I know this? Take a look at the number of people who play the lottery each week. People don't want to work for the most part, but they have to. Why? To support a family or lifestyle that they like. To do things outside of work that bring enrichment and happiness. Now I know there are those chosen few who wake up and just love what they do and wouldn't trade if for the world. Bravo to you, you are the .001% of people who feel that way. The other 99.999% must grind it out at a job that is not full filling to them, but pays the bills.

But back to what makes people tick. One of the most important factors of leadership is understanding people and what drives them. You'll hear the saying "leave your emotions or home life at the door" when you come into work. This statement was made by one of the moron big shots that just doesn't get it. We are human beings damn it! When there are situations going on in your life it is impossible for most to separate work from home.

I've had employees that were high performers and suddenly their performance began to drop. As a leader that understands the "human factor" I understand that behavior is driven from a root cause. Great employees just don't suddenly become horrible. There is a reason for this change in behavior and it's the job of the leader to identify it and help the employee get back on track. When I have had this situation I have talked to the employee to try to get to the root cause and then worked with them and tried to help them. Basically I cared about these people as individuals, tried to understand what was going on, tried to help and as a result got them back on track. If you care about the individual the worker will emerge and be better.

The clueless manager will not handle the situation this way. The manager that does not understand the "human factor" just sees an under-performing worker that needs to be disciplined. They'll call the employee in and issue a warning or discipline and feel great about what they've done. Meanwhile the employee feels like their manager does care about them, and continues to spiral downwards. Eventually the employee is probably disciplined further, demoted or fired. It doesn't have to end like that if the manager understands people.

We are all humans (except for those few aliens living amongst us...LOL) . Far to often poor managers forget that fact and overlook what really drives people. A good manager understands what makes a person tick and tries to get to the root cause of behavior changes that impact performance. We all have problems outside of work that influence us at work. I just wish some of the clueless morons I report to would realize this. They don't and probably never will, which is why I'm a Turtle at Work instead of a Wolf.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's Not Easy

Aside from posting on the Turtles at Work blog, I tend to visit message boards like Monster.com and post some comments from time to time. Frequently I receive post responses or emails from people with the advice "you should find a new job". They are right, of course, but it's not that easy, if it were I would no longer be unhappy because I would be at my "new job". Let me illustrate for all the happy advice givers, why getting a "new job" is not easy:

  1. Job Sites Suck. Job sites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com very rarely show you the job you are searching for. So for example, if I type "Director of Operations" in Monster and click "search" the first 5 relevant jobs that come up are: Independent Insurance Agent, Financial Sales/Investment Consultant, RN Supervisor, Registered Nurse, and Account Manager - Commercial Accounts. How the hell are any of these related to the job title I'm looking for? Answer??? They're not. When I try other job titles or keywords the same thing happens. Maybe Monster and other sites should focus less on commercials and more on programming their job search to come up with relevant jobs.
  2. Companies Suck. When you do eventually find a job that matches your search criteria you are amazed. You review the responsibilities and requirements of the job and find that you match up very closely. You apply feeling like you have a great shot. Then weeks go by with no response. I realize companies get tons of applicants, but you can purchase programs that auto-generate a response. At least give people the common courtesy of knowing the resume they sent was received. But...that's why companies suck and their HR departments also suck!
  3. Recruiters Suck. Many (not all) of recruiters out there are vultures. They find your resume and hover over you. You are their meal ticket and they don't want to lose you to another vulture. You hear from them 2 or 3 times a day, then suddenly nothing. You try to contact them, no response. They've found another, better meal ticket and your history.

It's not easy finding another job. It is easy though for others to just throw out advice to "get a new job". That's why those people suck too! Until you do find another job though, stay within the shell!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Welcome New Turtles

Well, there hasn't been a flood of new people posting to the Guest Map (located on the right sidebar under the best of section). But..we do have a new addition.

Welcome Aboard:

Anonymous Annie of Birmingham Alabama

Annie joins:

XT Mapper of Canada
The Physical Worker of Canada
Jessica V of California
Tike from LA. California
JenEsh from Ohio
Steve from South Carolina
Robert Cenek of http://www.thecenekreport.com/
Graham from Australia

Feel free to join these Turtles at Work by signing the guest map. As you can see, you don't have to post your real name and the map is completely anonymous. In fact, i'd be interested in seeing what catchy "turtle" type names you can come up with. Thanks again to all that visit Turtles at Work. Join the Turtle nation!!!

Turtle King

The Performance Review Myth

I'm sure many of you have the pleasure of receiving a performance review at the end of the year. Your company touts the performance review as being incredibly important. Your witty HR person will comment "the performance review ties directly to your pay increase" and your boss will mention "we pay for high performance". In some companies all of the above may very well be true, but in the incredibly horrid companies most of us work for this is ...well...complete bullshit. Let me address this in several bullet points to demonstrate for you all the myths relating to performance reviews:

  1. Myth 1: Performance Reviews are Important. Hmm... it's so important that every year I'm asked by my boss to submit to him a self evaluation. This is because my boss is too damn lazy to take the time to write my review himself. Instead he will take what I have written and just cut and past it into the review. To make himself feel better he will add one measly sentence that degrades me (see destructive criticism post) and rate me 2 levels below what my self evaluation grade was. The sentence he adds also has zero ounce of fact or truth in it and he cannot give me any examples of what he means. Gee thanks!
  2. Myth 2: Performance Reviews Reward (monetarily) High Performers. As a manager I have the pleasure of seeing what salary increases my people get as part of their reviews. I can tell you that high performance does not equal high monetary rewards. My company flat out rewards employees with the following % increases: 1% (meets expectations), 2% (exceeds expectations), 3% (far exceeds expectations). So based on these reward system, an employee making $40k a year will only get $13 more a paycheck for far exceeding expectations vs. just meeting expectations. Whoopdy do! That's why everyone in my company is mediocre. People came in, realized they would get shitty increases, and figured why try harder than I have to.
  3. Myth 3: Your Review is Based on the Entire Year. We all know the suckasses who do nothing for the first 8 months of the year, then turn it on the last 4 months and get a dandy review. Reviews are very rarely based on the entire year because bosses are too damn lazy to keep records and meet with their employees throughout the year to discuss progress, accomplishments and improvement points. If you did something great at the end of the year your boss will think of that when reviewing you. If you slipped up at the end of the year, even though you performed well overall, expect a crappy review. It's sad, but true.
  4. Myth 4: Your Review Can Be Changed. During your review your boss gives you a bum rating in a category or overall. You provide documentation and proof that clearly shows that the rating is not consistent to your performance. SOL my friend. Your boss took zero time on your review to begin with because they just want to get it over with. They certainly aren't going to allow more time to listen to a dispute of their rating. Furthermore, most bosses are egomaniacs and will flip out that you are even questioning the rating.

Most companies out there talk the talk about performance reviews, but don't walk the walk. Does your company conduct training on performance reviews to make sure management knows how to properly write and conduct a review? Probably Not! Does anyone at your company look at the reviews for consistency and accuracy? Probably Not! There are many myths about the performance review, but there is one truth; the performance review at most companies are a formality and have zero value or reward for employees! If you are a Turtle at Work, you are one because of this fact!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Destructive Criticism

I'm sure many of you out there have received "feedback" from your boss over the course of your career. Your boss calls you in to chat and opens up by saying "I have a little constructive criticism for you regarding...".

I've had some bosses that really wanted to help me and provided actual constructive criticism. They would give me real bonafide examples of something I've done incorrectly, then provide examples of the correct way and finish it off on a positive note.

Unfortunately though, more times than not what a boss will term as "constructive criticism" is actually more like "destructive criticism". Destructive criticism usually serves no other purpose than to wear you down and make you feel like an idiot, while making your boss feel ultra superior. If you've actually had real constructive criticism from a prior boss, you will enter your existing bosses office, expecting it. Then, whammo, you get smacked with complete negatives without detail, guidance or support. The feedback you receive is completely vague and usually is more perception than reality. When you ask your boss for detail, there isn't any because their purpose is not to help you, but to smack you around and show their power.

So how do you deal with destructive criticism? Anyone would probably tell you to address the issue with your Human Resources department. WRONG!! The one thing that most people forget is that the HR department is not really there for you, they are there to protect the company. If you think your boss is an ass before you go to HR, he or she will kick it up 100 notches after HR relays back what you said. I've been there, trust me on this. As a Turtle at Work I've dealt with destructive criticisers by sticking to the Turtle philosophy. Below are the Turtle tips for dealing with a boss that is a destructive criticiser:

  1. Lay low & Blend. You can't be criticized if your not noticed. Let an over-zealous co-worker take the heat.
  2. Remember the Shell. Even if you follow the first tip, you still will be open to destructive criticism. Don't try and debate it with your boss, just take your licks and play dead. You'll get out of the office sooner if you just let things roll off your shell.
  3. Develop Thick Skin. If your boss knows that his idiotic criticism is getting to you, he'll pile it on more. Turtles have thick skin, so should you. If you debate and show emotion your playing into the hands of your boss.
  4. Be Smarter. You know the criticism is bullshit, but act like it's the best thing you've ever heard. You'll stifle your boss, believe me. Remember, the idiot is criticising you harshly to fuel his own ego. If you stay positive and act overly thankful for the feedback, your boss will think he's actually smart. Turtles survive by being smarter than their predators, play the game!
Well, I'm a bit rusty. Haven't posted in some time. I'll have some new material coming up. I appreciate those of you that still visit the site. I also appreciate those emails I've gotten and comments asking for more posts. I'll try my best to pump out meaningful, quality content.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hiding in the Shell

Well, I'm sure many of you faithfull Turtles have been wondering were in the hell has the Turtle King gone. No posts in the last few weeks. You probably feel a bit abandoned and I don't blame you.

In short, I've been hiding within my shell. Nothing really new to write about, but I have some new material that I'll be posting soon. Thanks for all of you for hanging in there.

Turtle King

Friday, August 24, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

If you are a manager at the company you work for you know the difficulties that come with trying to manage a group of people. If you work for a company that is salary stingy it makes things even more interesting in that it is difficult to find and hire good people.

Recently there has been some good and bad news in the department I manage as a couple of my people have been promoted (see I actually care about my employees and try to help them succeed). That’s the good news! The bad news is that I have to find people to replace them. The reason its bad news is that my company, based on salary comparisons I’ve done, traditionally pays people about 30% less than these positions warrant. In addition to having to pass the poor salary hurdle, I also have an inept HR department that sends me people that are in no way qualified for the positions or have questionable backgrounds. As if those two things weren’t enough I also have to overcome a poor company image. To further this point, here are some classics from recent applications and interviews I’ve conducted that prove my point that you get what you pay for:

  • HR forwards an application for a gentleman with the comment “this person has nice experience”. I look through the application and find he has a felony listed for assault and was fired from his last position. Not only was this application littered with red flags, he in no way had the qualifications for the position.
  • I receive a resume for a candidate that has the experience and qualifications I was looking for. I conducted a phone interview and live interview and based on the results thought the candidate would be a perfect fit. The candidate had listed a salary requirement that was slightly more than what we usually start this position at. I submit the resume to HR and inform my boss of this great candidate and the slightly higher salary requirements. I ask HR if we could be creative as I really wanted to hire this person. A day later I receive an email that they (HR) offered the candidate no more than what they usually offer and the candidate declined. Stingy, stingy, stingy!
  • I received an application from a candidate that falls in the range we are willing to pay. Hallelujah!!! The application has several gaps in employment. I call the candidate and ask them about the gaps. The response “I just didn’t want work” during the first gap and “I was fired for a disagreement with my boss” for the second gap. What a gem. I had a few others applications with employment gaps and didn’t feel like putting myself through more agony in calling these folks.
  • A recent candidate that I had an interview with arrived at my company and like all visitors waited in the lobby for me to come out to get them. The word is out that my company is not a good company to work for as this candidate asked our receptionist if what he’s heard about my company is true. The receptionist asked “what is it that you hear”. The candidates response “that the pay is low, the benefits are bad, and that the people aren’t treated very well.” The receptionist honestly replied to my candidate…”well, the pay is low, the benefits are bad, but your boss is a great person to work for.” The guy walked out. Now I was mad at the receptionist at first, but the reality is that he probably wouldn’t have taken the job anyway because of the salary.

Now I’m sure you’ve read in different books or articles that salary is not the most important thing to most people…this is complete bull. I do believe that people want a rewarding job doing something they enjoy to do, but unfortunately most people don’t live in straw huts living off the land. It’s takes money to live and with prices for everything constantly going up, most workers do really care about making a good wage. If you have a home, car payments, student loans, or children, you know that what you make is extremely important in providing stability to you and your family. The quality of candidates you are able to get absolutely does relate to the amount you are willing to pay. If your company however is salary stingy you have one strike against you. If your company also has a bad reputation you even further screwed. No matter how good you are as a manager, you simply cannot make up for overall inadequacies of the company you work for. If paying employees appropriately is one of those inadequacies, you will unfortunately be stuck getting the best of the worst. You get what you pay for and if you pay poorly you are more than likely to get lesser quality employees.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Armchair Manager

We’ve all probably sat back and watched a football game, second guessing the decisions of the team’s Quarterback or other players. “How could he throw that pass” or “What was he thinking” are probably some common phrases that come out of your mouth as you watch your favorite team. Everything looks easy from your comfortable chair and your decision making for your team is near perfect as you criticize mistakes or missed chances. It’s all harmless as you really have zero control over the players on your favorite football team, but you feel better just being able to have some sort of knowledge or say about the play of the team. There's no harm in being an Armchair Quarterback when dealing with your favorite sports team. But what if you were the one being constantly criticized, but instead of it being harmless talk, it actually impacted your job?

There are plenty of Armchair Managers out there that have no problem with constantly criticizing or critiquing everything you do from the comfort of their cozy office chair. This type of manager is by far, the worse type of person to work for. They will be the first to point out an error and explain how they would have done something differently. You will try to explain your mindset or the complexities of what you are working on, but the Armchair Manager doesn’t want to try and understand what happened, they are more interesting in telling you how they would have done it and done it better. Probably like me, you welcome feedback and ideas on how to do something better, but the tone and arrogance the Armchair Manager uses is not at all meant to help you. The Armchair Manager just wants to spout off without having a real purpose other than to feel more powerful. Even though you are a competent, hard working employee, you always walk away from the Armchair Manager feeling like the village idiot.

Yes the Armchair Manager is one of the many breeds of bad bosses out there that Turtles like you and me have to deal with. The Armchair Manager is difficult to combat because their ego never allows them to actually listen to what you have to say, so don't try to stand up against them, you'll only bring more crap onto yourself. Instead, Turtle along and try to weather the attacks of the Armchair Manager until you can find another job working for hopefully a non Armchair Manager. It's survival out there and sometimes being a Turtle at Work is all you can do to get through the day.

So next time you are watching your favorite team, remember, it’s harder than it looks so try not to be an Armchair Quarterback. Especially since you know how hard your job is and you don’t appreciate your Armchair Manager

Friday, August 17, 2007

Executive Perks: The Rich Get Richer

When I sit and watch the incredibly ridiculous decisions that are made at my company I always get pissed off thinking how our Executives are grossly overpaid. Every Friday when I receive my paycheck I get a reminder of how shitty my pay is compared to theirs. I then get another reminder at performance review time when I get a shitty increase. I also get daily reminders when I watch them go out for lunch everyday, driving off in their high end, luxury vehicles.

As I was reading through some articles online the other day I received another reminder of how underpaid I am and how overpaid they (Executives) are. I found a few articles on Executive pay and this new concept of lavish CEO perks. You see, it seems that getting paid millions of dollars a year is not enough for most executives. They need more, which is why many executives today are now getting paid perks like monthly housing allowances and health club dues, just to name a few.


Michelle Leder of footnoted.org, a website which tracks executive compensation packages says “It's crazy. These are not people making insignificant amounts of money and I don't see a stop to it.”

The theory that the rich get richer is alive and well at my company and many other companies around the world. So when you are busting your ass out there for peanuts, just remind yourself that your Executives are probably not only getting big bucks, but they are also getting lavish perks paid for by the company. Also remind yourself that these big shot perks are for things that you and I either can’t afford or have to pay for out of our own pockets (like a mortgage, meals, etc). If this isn’t incentive to be a Turtle at Work I don’t know what is! You can either stick your neck out for your company and help increase the salary and perks for your executives, or you can turtle along. Either way, your going to get screwed, so you might as well do less. That's the Way of the Turtle.

Executive Perks Listing (Source: USA TODAY)

Imagine that the folks who work for the below companies now know about the below perks their big shots get. Can you say morale killer?

  • Tyson Foods: CEO John Tyson received $457,780 in perks, including $265,875 to cover taxes, $324,472 for personal use of corporate aircraft and $56,867 for insurance premiums.

  • Morgan Stanley: The company gave ex-CEO Philip Purcell $52 million in severance, including $115,000 annually in lifetime administrative support and $250,000 a year to his favorite charities.

  • American Express: CEO Ken Chenault, paid $16.3 million in salary, bonus and stock, received $294,450 worth of personal aircraft use, $163,500 in "local" travel benefits and $77,300 for taxes. Like many CEOs with supplemental pensions, he also got $1.1 million in interest on deferred compensation.

  • Cendant: CEO Henry Silverman, who pulled in $133 million from salary, bonus and stock options, received $49,388 for aircraft use and $49,986 for cars and drivers.

  • Corning: The company paid Chairman James Houghton $4,050 for the nine nights he stayed at his New York apartment in lieu of company-paid hotels. He received $7.4 million in salary, bonus, stock and other compensation, and gained $1.7 million from options.

  • Capital One Financial: The company spent $123,000 for CEO Richard Fairbank's personal financial services, security and car expenses. He made $249.3 million exercising stock options.

  • Time Warner: The company provided CEO Richard Parsons $100,000 for financial services, $321,127 for travel expenses and $52,800 to rent a Los Angeles apartment. Parsons got $12.2 million in pay and stock.

  • Raymond James Financial: The company covered insurance and pay for three staffers who serve as curators for CEO Thomas James ' 1,500 piece art collection at company headquarters. Cost: about $190,000.

  • Cabela's: The sporting goods retailer bought back $18,650 in unused vacation time from CEO Dennis Highby, paid $2.3 million.

  • Sara Lee: The company paid $53,256 for a surgical procedure not covered by former CEO Steve McMillan 's health plan, saying it "significantly shortened" his recovery. McMillan, who retired in February 2005, received $6.5 million in compensation. On July 1, he'll start collecting $6 million in "salary continuation" payments.
    The company gave division President Lee Chaden $35,000 for club dues, $18,483 for financial services and a $600,000 "renovation allowance" for his North Carolina home.

  • Cadence Design: The company upped its monthly housing allowance to CEO Michael Fister 240% to $17,000. That's on top of $3 million in compensation and options valued at up to $23 million.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Send Your Boss to China!

Today I was reading through msnbc.com and came across an article on the Mattel Toy Recall. In short, a Chinese toy manufacturer was at the heart of this recall as they produced Fisher Price Sesame Street toys that were decorated with paint that contained massive amounts of lead. This recall was huge, involving over 967,000 toys sold in the United States. The Chinese businessman that owned the company that manufactured the tainted toys was found dead after he apparently hung himself in his office over the weekend.

You may also recall a few months ago, the huge pet food recalls which also originated in Chinese plants. In case you didn't know, the Chinese government executed their Head of Food Safety after he was found guilty of accepting bribes from firms to register their products without making them undergo the necessary safety checks. In the U.S. we use the term "getting the ax" when someone is fired, but this guy is really headed to the chopping block for his actions. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Government issued this statement relating to the problems:

As a developing country, China's food and drug supervision work began late and its foundations are weak," spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said.

"Therefore, the food and drug safety situation is not something we can be optimistic about."

She said Zheng Xiaoyu's case had "brought shame" on the department, adding that anyone who abused their power would be punished.

Hey, how about that, they not only admitted the issues, but they also laid out the expectations for the future. Novel idea!

I guess you are wondering why I'm writing about two Chinese businessmen that met unfortunate ends. Well, it amazed me that the Chinese culture just doesn't except failure or incompetence. The businessman involved in the toy recall knew he was finished for sending out toxic toys, so rather than deal with the shame and humiliation, he killed himself. When the Head of Food Safety tried to lower the standards and skip the safety checks, the Chinese government didn't just fire the guy, they killed him. Yikes.....pretty harsh society.

Now I'm not saying the United States should adopt such a culture because even though I know the big shots above me are idiots, I certainly wouldn't want to see all of them put to death for their incompetence. Hell, my boss alone would have been executed over 20 times this year for all of his screw-ups. We don't have the execution squad at my work, but we also don't have people willing to admit mistakes and flaws. It is this failure to realize failure that we continue to flounder. At my company, people don't learn from their mistakes and our big shots would rather cover things up to save their own ass.
The crazy thing is that everyone in the U.S. knows there are way to many incompetent people running companies, yet nothing changes. My blog is an example and the many of you that comment or email me deal with incompetent bosses or co-workers and just can't take it anymore. Then you have movies like Office Space and comic strips like Dilbert that everyone laughs at and agrees with, but again nothing changes.
Maybe we should start importing Chinese business people instead of their products. Maybe if my boss was Chinese I wouldn't be a Turtle at Work because he or she would actually be competent and disciplined. Or maybe we should start sending our incompetent executives to China. In a matter of days, they would all be sentenced to death for their idiotic decisions and behavior. What a perfect world that would be!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More Turtles Welcome!!

Turtles at Work has had some really great comments over the past few weeks. The business cliche list really has hit a nerve with the fellow Turtles out there. I will be updating the list again, as I have recently received more cliches in comments and email. Keep those cliches coming.

As I've posted in the past, on the right sidebar I have a guest map and message forum. Please feel free to sign the guest map or comment on the forum. A big welcome to some recent guest map Turtles:

Jen Esh of Columbus, Ohio
Jessica V of California.

I've taken some suggestions and moved the links for the guest map and message forum to the top right sidebar. Join the Turtle community by signing the guest map!!

Also, I'm always interesting in hearing suggestions, comments or ideas. Please feel free to comment to this or any post. You can also reach me at king.oftheturtles@gmail.com. My email address has a period between the king and of parts, so don't forget that if you are emailing. Well, hope everyone is enjoy the posts.

Take care and "lay low" my fellow Turtles. There is comfort within the shell!!!

Turtle King

Monday, August 6, 2007

Beyond Logic

Recently I was lucky enough to be in a meeting to review the results of a inventory audit. My company every quarter at the directive of the Brain Trust (ie Executive Management Staff) conducts a count of every piece of manufactured product we have stored in our warehouse. The big shots stress how important it is to conduct these counts to ensure everything is accurate. This would seem like a logical request as any company would want to make sure the inventory stored was as accurate as possible. But at my company what may seem logical on the surface becomes idiotic and wasteful when you drill down deeper.

Doing such a count at my company is pointless due to the fact that product cycles out of our warehouse very quickly. The product kept in our warehouse only sits in our warehouse for an average of 10 days. Also, we have people that are responsible for counting and reporting on inventory daily. They can't count every type of product we have stored, but they usually cycle through the various portions of our warehouse each month. So the directive to count product quarterly does nothing more than waste time, effort and money. Here's the results of our latest quarterly warehouse counting effort that proves that point:

Cost to Pay Employees to Count: $16,500 (combination of regular time and OT)
Unit Difference Actual Inventory vs. Reported Inventory: -8 units
Dollar Difference Actual Inventory vs. Reported Inventory: -$150
Inventory Accuracy %: 99.98%

So we spent $16,500 in labor to find a shortage of 8 units and $150. Now, I've tried to look at this to see how anyone could explain spending $16,500 to uncover $150. Alas, I haven't developed any new form of math or logic that could justify this.

Now as a Turtle I would normally just "lay low" and let this slide, but I had a moment of temporary insanity. When the costs and results were being reviewed I actually questioned why we would continuously conduct such a costly exercise knowing that each time our inventory nearly matches up perfectly. I was met with an "Who's on First" Abbot and Costello type response from the various head honchos in the meeting. I retreated back into my shell to avoid any further bullshit responses, but in the back of my mind I began thinking about what that wasted $16,500 could have been used for. It could have gone towards:

  • Better pay raises for me and my employees. It's nice watching the big shots drive around in expensive cars, wear expensive clothing, and take lavish vacations, while we get a pat on the back and a bag of donuts instead of raises.
  • Training. We get zero training at my company. The rivers would turn red, it would rain frogs and locusts would attack the day we actually had a training class at my company.
  • New cubicles. Our cubicles are seriously from the '70s. Many of my employees have Frankenstein cubicles made up of mismatched cubicle parts. Very professional!
  • Office Equipment. Since our printer and copier breakdown at least once a week.
  • Real Paper. We have this cheap paper that is so thin that it constantly gets caught in the printer causing it to jam up and overheat.

Smack! That's the sound of me crashing back to reality. The $16k could have applied to any of the above things, but instead my company will waste it on a pointless activity that has zero impact.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Scapegoat No More!

When a company suffers poor performance who is responsible? Those of you out there that are brainwashed by the "we're a team" slogans probably feel responsible to some extent. If you are in middle management or a worker bee you absolutely do have impact on the performance and success of your company.

But in reality what impacts success or failure is the plan a company puts forth and who puts the plans together? Here's a hint...they make a six figure salary with bonuses and perks. Yes, the executive management team is the answer. These people have the biggest impact on the success and are supposed to be the brain trust of your company. These mavens of strategy are supposed to develop and communicate a strategy that will lead to success.

If you, as a pawn of the company execute their plan, then success is supposed to follow. But what if the plan is flawed or poorly designed? Well, if the plan doesn't work it's very rarely the genius' that thought the plan up that take the fall. Enter, stage right, the scapegoats! Yep, anyone not on the executive management team become scapegoats for the failed plan, and that means people like you and me get screwed each year with no or poor pay raises, zero bonuses and sometimes layoffs. Meanwhile the big shots who crafted the disastrous plan get to keep their high paying jobs because the essence of senior management is to take care of each other, while screwing everyone below them (see ENRON, TYCO, and Adelphia Cable).

Well, I'm sick of being the scapegoat for poor planning. I'm sick and tired of getting zippo in return for top performance because big shots can't put two and two together and come up with a well thought out strategy. There are other folks like me out there sick of being scapegoats but their called something else...work turtles. Because being a turtle at work is the only way to avoid being the scapegoat for high priced, low result idiots at the top. That's my rant for this fine Saturday afternoon. I"m out!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Deep Thoughts: Those Burning Questions I Ask Myself!

Like most of you, I have thoughts throughout my day relating ot my job. Below are my deep thoughts from today. Most times these burning questions we have will never be answered but at least we think of them and probably laugh about them with the other competent people we work with. Enjoy and send in your burning work questions!

  1. Why is the carpet color in the office purple, did they have a discount on that rug color or is it subliminal torture?
  2. Why is my boss so incredibly negative, he's making big bucks to do nothing, shouldn' t he be incredibly happy?
  3. If Human Resources is supposed to be the "people department" then why is it that the HR people at my company are generally rude, unhelpful and unavailable?
  4. Why doesn't anyone at my company realize that all the problems and errors are due to a lack of training?
  5. If I"m salaried and do not have set hours, why is it a big deal if I leave 15 minutes before 5pm?
  6. What would happen if everyone in the office turned into brown nosers? Would people be confused about what ass to kiss?
  7. Why do people respond to emails about stuff that doesn't matter, yet ignore emails about stuff that is really important?

Sorry it's been a while since a post. It's been a busy couple weeks. In the preceeding post I have updated the All Time List of Business Cliches based on the emails and comments sent it. Please feel free to keep sending in those cliches as you hear them. I'm trying to figure out a way to post some type of list on one of the sidebars.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The All Time List of Business Cliches

As I've written in many different posts, the art of using catchy business cliches and phrases is just out of control. I've had my share of cliche throwing bosses and each one thought they were incredibly witty and effective, when in fact they boring, regular, and incompetent. The other night I was talking to my wife about the latest barrage of cliches from my week and she said "you should make a list, I bet it would be funny". Well, here goes...

UPDATED LIST

  1. We've got to get our basic blocking and tackling down
  2. Pick the low hanging fruit
  3. Let's think out of the box
  4. How can we make this a win-win situation
  5. Eat the elephant one bite at a time
  6. Let's get our arms around it
  7. I'm looking for your to knock the ball outta the park
  8. You have to look at this problem from the 30,000 foot level
  9. Don't throw anyone under the bus
  10. It's the 80/20 rule at work here folks
  11. Let's cross that bridge when we get to it
  12. It's water under the bridge
  13. The ball is in your court
  14. I think we can agree to disagree
  15. He'll due the lion's share of the work
  16. Take it with a grain of salt
  17. A good rule of thumb is...
  18. He is finally in his element
  19. You're comparing apples to oranges
  20. That's as clear as mud
  21. Everthing from soup to nuts
  22. The whole nine yards
  23. It's crunch time!
  24. Don't put your eggs all in one basket
  25. Fail to plan and plan to fail
  26. Get your feet wet
  27. You can expect what you inspect
  28. Go with the flow
  29. Rome wasn't built in a day
  30. Moving forward
  31. Let's not put the cart before the horse
  32. You're barking up the wrong tree
  33. That's just a drop in the bucket
  34. Stop beating around the bush
  35. Can't see the forest for the trees
  36. Caught between a rock and a hard place
  37. Leave your footprint on this project
  38. Let's not beat a dead horse
  39. In a nutshell
  40. Timing is everything
  41. Strike while the iron is hot
  42. Don't burn your bridges
  43. Step up the plate
  44. At the end of the day
  45. Be proactive not reactive
  46. There is no *I* in team
  47. Lead, follow or get out of the way
  48. Let's not rock the boat
  49. Don't lean to one side or we'll tip the canoe
  50. Everybody on board the Job Express
  51. polarized redundancies
  52. Storm the Winter Palace
  53. on your plate
  54. Business Is Going To Be Hard To Get = BIGTBHTG
  55. Take the ball and run with it
  56. its 4th and 10
  57. it's on his/their radar screen
  58. That dog'll hunt
  59. Let's whiteboard this thing
  60. loaded for bear
  61. Let's swing for the fences on this one
  62. How do we monetize this
  63. Let's schedule a knowledge transfer
  64. you load my gun for me and I'll shoot
  65. 110%
  66. let's make sure we're all on the same page here
  67. run this one up the flagpole
  68. Value-Added

Phew. That's all the cliches and phrases I could think of in one sitting. I'd like to add to the list and get your feedback. Either leave a comment or email me at king.oftheturtles@gmail.com with your additions to the list. Let's see how big we can get this thing!

Friday, July 13, 2007

When Brown Nosers Attack

I've been covering the topic of changing jobs in the past few The grass IS greener posts. I will continue that series, however I'm changing gears for at least this post.

In an early post titles Turtling Through Workplace Personalities I detailed out a number of fun people many of you may work with. In my opinion the most dubious of all Workplace Personalities is "The Brown Noser". I have come across many Brown Nosers over the course of my career. The typical Brown Noser is harmless in many ways and most people realize he or she is a complete idiot and somewhat harmless.

However recently a new breed of Brown Noser has emerged at my company. His name is Phil and he is a hybrid of Brown Noser, Back Stabber and Con Artist. Phil started at my company about 5 months ago and initially came across as a straight-forward, honest guy (The Con Artist Part). Then I watched as he slowly began a record streak of ass kissing (The Brown Noser Part). And now he has established himself as a back stabber, ratting on anyone he can to the big shot he brown noses with (the Back Stabber Part). Because of his rare blend of talents he actually is now being seen as a key member of management by our clueless big shots, even though everyone in middle management despises him and realizes what a worthless tird he is. To make matters worse he has this Fargo-esque accent that is completely irritating and he throws in a few "ya's" and "u betcha's" during meetings.

Now I have never come across this leathal blend of talents, but this new breed of Brown Noser can be handled by a group of team oriented Turtles. My fellow Work Turtles and I resort to a counter ass kissing measure in which we actually brown nose the brown noser. During meetings I will start by feverishly agreeing or complimenting Phil for his "great ideas" or "innovative approach". Then the other Turtles will chime in with like praise. Now we all know this guy is a complete joke, but that's the bueaty of this approach. You and your fellow Turtle co-workers know your compliments are shallow, but Phil doesn't. His ego blows up as he is overcome by the constant praise of the group.

Now I know some will say that giving him praise is helping him get promoted, but let's face it, he's going to get promoted anyhow due to his ass kissing and back stabbing anyhow. At least our approach allows us to avoid getting back stabbed by Phil while in turn giving us the enjoyment of watching him bask in fake praise. It's how Turtles stay safe when confronted with a hybrid brown noser!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Grass Is Greener: Understanding What You Value

As part of my job search one of the first thing I realized was that my current company wasn't the right fit for me. I had known this for some time, but became a bit complacent and accepting on my situation. It wasn't until I took inventory of what I valued that I realized how badly I didn't fit with my current company. I found this article on Monster.com titled Work Values Checklist by Pat Boer. As Pat writes in this article

"Whether we realize it or not, often our career choice is based on values rather than the work. "

Pat's comment makes a lot of sense, but like me, I bet many folks out there haven't taken inventory of their values and matched them up with the company/position when you are job searching. In Pat's article there's a checklist that I would encourage any Turtles to complete. Basically you are rating your:

  • Instrinsic Values (intagibles, rewards, satisfiers)
  • Extinsic Values (tangibles, benefits, physical settings), and
  • Lifestyle Values (personal values about how you want to live your life).
From conducting this inventory of values you will have a clear picture on what you really value. As Pat writes "Knowing what's important will help you prepare for your next interview or help you find increased satisfaction with the job you have.". Amen!!

Next I'll provide some tips for the actual interview, including some things I've done in the past that have led to success.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Turtles Welcome

As I've posted in the past, on the righ sidebar I have a guest map and message forum. Please feel free to sign the guest map or comment on the forum. A big welcome to some recent guest map turtles:

Graham from Australia
Tiki from L.A. California
The Physical Worker from Canada
Steve from South Carolina
Robert Cenek of the http://www.cenekreport.com/
XtMapper from Canada

Also a big welcome for Judith Munson of http://www.insidetheworkplace.com/ for her forum comment.

Again, feel free to sign the guestmap, enter a forum message or comment on any of my posts. Your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

Turtle King
king.oftheturtles@gmail.com

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Job Search: The Grass is Greener!

As I mentioned in my prior post Conference Commando, I have decided that I no longer want to be tormented by the clueless executives above me. I've posted many responses on this blog that basically vented about the various career situations I've experienced. I've also tried to explain how companies, through poor management, cause good workers to become turtles at work. I've received many comments from people stating that they experience some of the same situations and are also frustrated. Hopefully through documenting my decision to search for a new job I will help other turtles escape their bad situations and possibly become wolves again.


In making this decision I really looked at the stages of my time at my company. Because my company is so horrible in understanding workers it causes people to ride the "Career Roller Coaster". I went through 5 stops since joining my current company.

(Click on the below graphic and it will launch a bigger, more readable version)

1. Energetic. I came in with great ideas and energy. I was a wolf (ambitious)


2. Optimism. I presented my ideas for change, waiting and hoping they would be successful


3. Neglect. I watched as the executives above me ignored my work.

4. Defeat. I realized that my contributions didn't matters and became a Turtle


5. Search. I made the decision to make a career change to search for a new company.


I'm currently beginning the Search stage of my Coaster ride, hoping to find a company that won't put me on a Roller Coaster. However by starting a smart search by understanding what I value is key. I'll discuss this in my next post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Conference Commando

In an earlier post titled A Day in the Life: My Boss I described, via a detailed time line, how my boss spends (a better word would be wastes) his time playing solitaire, video pinball, reading newspapers, and flirting with our department assistant. The blob of the office exemplifies my company; a lot of high paid people doing nothing.

Well, it seems that my boss has added another useless skill to his repertoire. It seems that since everyone knows that he does absolutely nothing, someone decided to give him something to do that plays up to his one true skill, which is wasting time. He has become "The Conference Commando"! Over the past few months he has suddenly been hopping plane after plane to attend various conferences. He's been in California, Ontario, Florida, Colorado and New York, all on the company's dime.

In one way I don't mind this because I don't have to see him blob around all day, but on the other hand it pisses me off. I can't get a penny towards training for my employees yet our company will spend thousands of dollars for blobby to supposedly attend conferences. I say supposedly because he never brings anything back to share with the people that report to him. The other kicker is that he takes his wife along with him, so you know he probably skips the conferences in favor of something like site-seeing and eating (another thing he is good at).

Yet another feather in the hat of frustration. My boss has the luxury of being able gallivant all over the country, meanwhile my co-workers and I get the short end of the stick. I will be writing in upcoming posts about my plans to escape my horrid company. Hopefully my thoughts and actions will help inspire others to move on as well and get out of there horrible work environments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility....Yeah Right!

If you’ve seen the first installment of the movie Spiderman you probably know the famous line from that movie “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. This line helped keep Spidey grounded as he struggled with understanding how to use his new abilities or powers. In the world of business there are many that have power that should certainly reflect on the responsibility associated with the power they wield. .

Power is a relative term, but in business, one way power is defined is by position or rank within the company. The CEO usually wields the most power as this person has the ability to shape the direction of the organization. With each level below the CEO, power diminishes however I believe there is a distinct break in power once you pass the executive level (Vice Presidents). The CEO forms the direction, strategy and culture of the company and utilizes the Executive Staff to employ their power to filter that down to the rank and file.

But what if the people who wield the power within a company are corrupt? Just because a CEO and his/her Executive Staff have the power, it doesn’t mean they are skilled enough or ethical enough to use it wisely. Hell, most executives acquired power through unethical means. I’ve seen the political jockeying that goes on to attain power at a company, and most times it has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with how cunning and conniving a person can be in destroying their fellow power seekers. So if they’ve attained power through unethical means, you can pretty much bet that they’ll use that power unethically, which usually translates into power for their own benefit.

So how does this concept of business power relate to the non powerful folks (most likely you) at a company? If your executives have the power, but lack the ethics you probably are working for a company, much like mine, that doesn’t care about employees. The profile of a powerful yet unethical executive staff is clear. They love to talk, usually about themselves or their accomplishments. They don’t listen or care to interact with the employees who do 99% of the work. And, they have no problem collecting large salaries with bonuses while screwing you each year with horrible yearly increases along with cuts to your benefit programs (health care, dental, etc).

The last point is particularly frustrating as I am made to feel greedy when I question my 2.5% raise for exceeding expectations, while I watch the big shots drive around in their Lexus’ or other highly expensive vehicles. I also enjoy watching them as they all go out to lunch, every single day, while I eat my packed lunch. The topper is getting rejected for training I need, while they gallivant all over the country attending “conferences”, with their wives that really are paid company vacations.

Unfortunately the line should be re-written to say “With Great Power Should Come Great Responsibility” because having power in business does not automatically mean those in power will be responsible. Responsible Executives realize the power they have been given to lead a company is a privilege and use that power to grow their business and employees within that business. Most irresponsible Executives are only interesting in growing their own bank account. That’s why there are so many lackluster, under-performing companies out there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Review: Lead Well and Prosper

Recently I received a new book titled Lead Well and Prosper: 15 Successful Strategies for Becoming a Good Manager by Nick McCormick. Nick was gracious enough to send me a copy of this book to review and I would never turn down an opportunity to read and learn.

The thing I found different about this book as compared to the millions of books on management is that it’s to the point and focused. So many books out there go on and on for hundreds and hundreds of pages. Lead Well and Prosper gives existing or aspiring managers 15 key concepts to work on and effectively gets to the point without sacrificing detail or content.

Each chapter begins with an example of a situation pertaining to one of the key concepts, then follows with how to employ the correct strategy in handing the situation. The chapters conclude with a bulleted section showing Dos, Don’ts and Actions to remind and help guide the reader. These Dos, Don’ts and Actions are also combined in the appendix which is a nice checklist for any manager.

Mr. McCormick’s experience in business and leadership shows in this book as he doesn’t try to overwhelm you with buzz words, cliché’s or analogies. He instead gives you a straight forward approach on each strategy that you can actually use and act upon.

In addition to the great content within each chapter, the book contains a nice appendix, with some useful examples of action plans, schedules and an “Am I a Good Manager Test”.

In summary I think many managers think they are wonderful, but I’m sure if they would read Lead Well and Prosper and take the “Am I a Good Manager Test” they would get a dose of reality. Far too many managers overlook the strategies detailed in Lead Well and Prosper and frustrate and de-motivate their employees in doing so. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of this book and again thank Mr. McCormick for providing me a copy to review.

To Purchase Lead Well and Prosper visit: http://www.begoodventures.com/products.html



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Mountain of Performance

In talking with co-workers recently the question came up "what makes people at this company not give a shit?" As I mentioned in many early posts, people initially do "give a shit" when they start at a company. I believe that most people want to come in, do a great job, and have a rewarding career. Unfortunately there are forces that impact an employees ability to continue to strive to do a great job. In essense the Philosophy of the Turtle is envoked only after an employee has been battered and beaten into submission by poor management.

As I discussed this further with my co-workers I sketched out a drawing that pretty much explains why employees initially try hard then give up! Below is that drawing, but unfortunately for some reason I can only upload it in the below size. If you click on it it will open another browser and be easier to read.





Sunday, June 10, 2007

It Could Be Worse

As I was riding to work the other day I detracted from my normal thoughts of workplace monotony. Instead of thinking about my deathmarch from the parking lot to my office, I began to think "hey, it could be worse." I mean, my job basically sucks, but I could be in a worse situation. I then began to think about possible situations that could be worse than working at my pointless job. Here is the list of situations that might possibly be worse than mine.


Septic Tank Repair Person. Imagine, starting your day with a four alarm septic tank overflow, knowing your the guy that has to fix it and clean it up. Your senses are probably numb from the constant stench of other people's shit.

Dog Crap Picker-Upper. Some smart entrepreneur figured that people are to lazy to pick up their own dog's crap, so they started dog crap pick up business. Aside from being disgusting imagine this scene.

Person: "Hey, what do you do for a living"
Dog Crap Picker Upper: "Uh, I'm a dog sanitation technician".
Person: "What exactly is that?"
Dog Crap Picker Upper: "Basically I go to people's homes and pick up their dog's crap."
Person: inaudible response due to laughter

Male Prostitute. Thoughts of Duece Bigalow Male Jigalow come to mind on this one.. I mean, sure it would be great if you were a male prostitute for a bunch of Christy Brinkley type women, but let's face it, women who pay for sex are probably more likely to resemble Roseanne Barr, Rosie O'Donnell, or the landlord from the movie Kingpin

I apologize to any of my readers that work in the Septic Tank Repair Business, Dog Crap Clean Up Business, or are currently earning a living as a Male Prostitute. However, these situations are all much worse than mine. In the end, dealing with incompetent and overpaid executives isn't the worst that could happen to me. It's close, but as I said early, it could be worse!
Feel free to comment with jobs or situations that you think are worse than yours. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Communication Breakdown

I was sitting in yet another mindless meeting humming in my head 'jimmy crack corn and I don't care", when suddenly one of the geniuses I work with uttered "I think we have a communication issue." Whoa! In usual fashion one of the big shot bosses agreed that there IS a communication issue at my company. Whoa! I almost couldn't believe it. "We actually may be getting somewhere!" I thought.

My hopes were immediately dashed as yet another committee was formed to solve the "communication issues". I have seen committee after committee formed at my company with zero results. Usually the people assigned to the committee realize that our leaders are incompetent and have a few meeting to make it look good. The committee never really solve any problems and our big shot leaders never ask for summaries or solutions to hold the committees accountable.

The communication committee began fittingly with a communication problem. The committee lead determined that he and his team needed to understand what causes communication issues. He asked everyone to provide him with ways in which they communicate. As usual, no one asked any questions to fully understand the request (communication issue #1). People started to submit the ways they communicate, while others just tried to ignore it rather than ask questions. When the leader of the committee began to receive responses the information he was receiving was not want he wanted. Since he hadn't really clarified his request with the folks he was asking (communication issue #2), the people submitted whatever they thought was right, rather than what the leader wanted. In addition, less than half the people responded, which made the communications committee leader irritated. The problem is that he should be irritated at himself for not setting a deadline for response and making it clear with reminders to folks that their responses were necessary (communication issue #3).

So in summary, the committee to solve communication issue at my company failed as the committee couldn't communicate the project clearly enough for people to understand what was expected. They failed at the issue they were trying to solve. As usual the committee fizzled into the void with zero results or follow through. Communication takes time, effort, and hard work. These concepts are just far to complicated for the peanut brains at my company. We'll just continue to suffer communication breakdown after communication breakdown. YIPEE!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Identity Crisis

In talking with a manager from another department I heard this classic for the incompetence hall of fame.

Our manufacturing department was in the midst of a 30 day review of a union worker. At the end of the 30 day review the manufacturing supervision (management - non union) decided to terminate the union worker in question. The union worker went on FMLA towards the end of the 30 day review period, which left the supervision in a quandary. They had to terminate the employee within 10 days or they would have to conduct another 30 day review. The supervisor decided to call the employee and terminate him over the phone.

The supervisor printed off a phone list of employees so he could call the union worker he would be terminating. The supervisor made the call, but the employee didn't answer. He decided to leave a message on the employee's answering machine explaining the termination. The employee promptly called back and questioned why he was being terminated. The supervisor began to go through the information from the 30 day review and started to provide a full explanation of the reasons for termination. The union worker then began to argue that he was never on a 30 day review and hadn't done any of the things listed as part of the termination. The supervisor then said "Ron, I'm sorry, there's nothing more for me to say." The union employee responded "Ron? This isn't Ron, it's Steve!"

The supervisor then realized he had called the employee that was one line above the employee he actually wanted to terminate. Nice move and yet another classic example of incompetence.

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