Monday, September 10, 2007

September's Big Question: ay chihuahua!

The LCB big question for September is "Where to work?" I can see a lot of people treading very carefully here so as not to pick up their P45/pink slip ;-)

The points we are urged to consider are:

  • What should be considered such as innovative work, interesting projects, real impact, pay, life style, etc.?
  • What types of companies make sense in different situations?
  • What resources exist to help make sense of this?
  • How does this differ for different roles such as Manager, Instructional Designer, Trainer and Authors?
  • Does this apply in the US, UK, India, etc. equally?
  • If you aren't at a "best place to work", how might you make a transition?
Whenever I find myself thinking that I have reached the end of my tether with my current job, I ask myself what I would change. The harsh reality of course, is that where the grass is greener, the water bill is also higher!

Sometimes I am frustrated by the lack of opportunity to try my hand at something really innovative. But it isn't my employer that prevents me from doing that, in the final analysis - it's the market place. Even when we have won a bid because our solution has seemed the most innovative and forward thinking, the client often backs off from many of the innovative features as the scoping proceeds. It seems that the appetite for risk hasn't quite reached what Kathy Sierra called the koolaid point.

Sometimes I am frustrated by my lack of face to face interaction with learners. I really do miss them. I am a born teacher and completely in my element in the classroom. Then I will be approached by a company that offers me a face to face role and I realise I will have to give up a lot of my access to social media, that I will gradually eased out of blended solutions into pure f2f. I couldn't do that. I have tasted the online fruit and lo, it is good! It seems there are few opporunities to get a balance of both.

There are times when I think I missed the boat by not moving into a management role years ago when the opportunity first arose. Then I watch my own manager grappling with all the management-y things that take him away from learning-y things and I heave a huge sigh of relief that I still get to grapple with learning-y things every day.

I often think that my cultural "type" would succeed better in the US, then I hear yet another anecdote that indicates that the American working environment is heavily weighted in favour of the employer. That holidays are shorter, working days longer and the work-life balance way worse. That said - I still have a hankering to try Australia :-)

I would have to say - regardless of whether I work for a large, blue chip corporate (which I do at present) or for myself (which I did for 11 years), my ideal job must meet the following criteria:
  • It has to be enjoyable... even fun. There is nothing more sould destroying than grinding away at something that grinds away at you.
  • There needs to be a pleasant atmosphere in the office. It is very difficult to remain motivated in a tense atmosphere.
  • The work should be interesting, stretching and challenging. I can't imagine ever being satisifed with approaching each project in exactly the same way each time.
  • The salary must pay the bills. Well duh!
  • I need to know that there is scope for advancement. I would like to be able to plan for the future - I can't imagine doing the same job in 5 years' time.
  • I can't be expected to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear more than once in a blue moon. Once in a while, it's kind of fun to face a challenge of this magnitude (I've had my fair share), but they can wear you out if they come along too often. If you don't have the tools, you can't do the job properly.
  • There can be no argument on the point that my family comes first. In my last job, I had a scare when my younger son took seriously ill while I was at work. My manager was away from her desk so I asked my colleagues to explain what had happened and dashed home to attend to him. In less than an hour I was back, having left him in the care of my mother-in-law, only to get a rollicking from my manager for leaving the office without her permission. I assured that, under the same conditions, I would do exactly the same thing again! Ironically (and perhaps it's spiteful of me to relate this), when she later became a parent, this rule was mysteriously forgotten!
  • I long to be able to go home at the end of the day, secure in the knowledge that someone is in a new place tonight, because of something I did or - better still - helped them do. That I made a difference. That I enabled or empowered someone - gave them a leg up to place that they couldn't reach without help.
I think that will have to be it for now - the fried brain I mentioned has just gone into spasm!

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