Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“Be a marvelous mentor”/ “My attempt to climb the ladder backfired horribly”

Apr. 15: “Be a marvelous mentor”: I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Apr. 13, 2015.  This was an inspirational article to reach your goals:
 
Mentors are advisers, coaches, guides and teachers. They assume a delicate, complicated role. And it’s easy, with the ego boost the role can provide, to get carried away. But it’s not about you, when mentoring. It’s about them. Specifically, it’s about encouraging self-learning by your talented protégé.

 
“It’s tricky but exciting and satisfying when you help them and they come back the next week and say, ‘That’s exactly what I needed,’” Vincent O’Connell, a trainer based McLean, Va., said in an interview. He co-wrote the book 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Mentors with executive coach Stephen Kohn, of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

 
The process will have three elements: Self-actualization, self-awareness building, and becoming naturally more empathetic. That may not be top of mind when the mentoring relationship is formed. Protégés will have heady thoughts of career progression, of better jobs in the future. But those will come if the protégé – or mentee, as Mr. O’Connell calls them – can be guided in those three foundational areas.

 
Self-actualization is not meant to open up a discussion of the meaning of life. It should be more closely tied to fulfillment in work. The protégé needs to think about the meaning of what he does professionally, the impact of work on him and those close to him, and the things that would make work more fulfilling.

 
“It will change from mentee to mentee. The mentor is not there to teach him how to do it, but to get the mentee motivated to think it through,” Mr. O’Connell said.
 
Self-awareness involves exploring the protégé’s own strengths and weaknesses. Notably, emotional self-awareness must be considered – knowing what you are feeling, and why.
 
Becoming naturally more empathetic follows Steven Covey’s prescription in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Empathy is of considerable advantage in career advancement, as the protégé connects with a wide-ranging group of colleagues and eventually leads others.

 
These three foundations of mentoring – and growth – are built through conversation, notably probing questions, as well as the mentor modelling the behaviour himself. When the protégé is aflutter about some workplace calamity, the mentor should be cool and collected. When the protégé is eager for advice, the mentor might reply that he doesn’t yet understand the situation fully.

 
The nine practices they outline in the book build on that foundation. Here are some key principles:

 
Model emotional intelligence

 
The two authors believe emotional control is a cornerstone of relationships, which in turn is central to work success. “It’s the platform – the foundation for talking about the other skills,” Mr. O’Connell said in the interview. The four elements of emotional intelligence are emotional self-awareness and self-management, and relationship awareness and management.
 
The idea is not so much to talk about these factors but to model them, so the style will emulated by the protégé.

 
Explore motivation

 
It’s vital to understand what motivates the protégé – and how much of that comes from internal drivers and how much external, like status and money. Mentoring works best when the protégé is intrinsically motivated, saying, for example, “What I would like is for my team to get the most out of each person’s potential. That excites me.” The mentor can now tie things together, around that ambition, as they move ahead.

 
When the protégé is extrinsically motivated, Mr. O’Connell says the mentor will offer more specific advice because it’s about direct career success, and the pathways are clearer, although sometimes along the way intrinsic motivation will be revealed.

 
Identify and pursue stretch goals

 
Mentoring is about making a significant career advancement – the individual is hoping for that and so is the company if it encouraged the relationship. So don’t get lost in incrementalism.
 
“The key to any kind of mentoring is to raise the bar as high as possible,” Mr. O’Connell said. “You need to set goals as high as the mentee can handle.” There’s no specific rule for that – it’s an art to determine the ultimate potential of the individual.

 
Safeguard credibility

 
To be successful, you must be credible. That comes in two forms: Truthfulness, notably the view that what you are saying is what you mean; and the ability to be seen by others as skilled enough for the roles you assume.

 
The mentor will want to discuss times when the protégé’s honesty and credibility were tested, and how that was handled. As well, the protégé must be prodded to think about how they will be evaluated by others in the jobs they aspire to, what skills they currently lack, and how to develop them.

 
“If you get the opportunity to be a mentor, you should do more than wing it and spew out how you did it or regurgitate best practices. Instead, start with what the protégé wants for their career and focus on their needs, and make the time and emotional investment to help them,” he concludes.

 
 
“My attempt to climb the ladder backfired horribly”: This was in the Globe and Mail on Apr.13, 2015.
 
THE QUESTION

 
I was trying to move up at work and asked my boss whether I could supervise clerical staff. He approved, but the staff did not want to be supervised and went to human resources. HR then said I couldn’t supervise other clerical staff because I am also classified as clerical, on the same level.

 
My boss was apparently unaware of this situation, but hasn’t stuck up for me, implying that I kept information from him when I pushed for a position I am not classified to do.
I try hard to do my job but have lost credibility. I see no prospect for moving up as management now views me as toxic when it comes to supervising others. Everyone in the office hates me, even though I have tried to explain to colleagues that I just wanted to get a promotion.

 
I love my job but hate the turn of events. I just want things to go back to the way they were before. How can I get rid of this cloud over my head and get my co-workers to see that I’m not try to backstab them?

 
THE FIRST ANSWER
Colleen Clarke
Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

 
We are, unfortunately, judged by our actions, not our intentions. Without an official promotion, one doesn’t usually just start supervising a peer group.
 
Clear up matters with your manager as soon as possible. Explain exactly what your intentions were in supervising others and how you approached your colleagues. Ask for his advice and support on mending your relationship with your peers. (Asking people for advice makes them feel important and part of the solution.) Also check with HR to see what they suggest.
 
You have probably built bridges and trust with your colleagues over the years. Now is the time to ask for that “benefit of the doubt” to be shown.

 
Write a succinct letter to the team apologizing for whatever you did that has upset them. Then, speak to them one to one so you can read their body language and discuss their individual concerns. Work on winning the team over one by one.

 
In the meantime, look for leadership opportunities in and out of the office.

 
Take a course and read books on supervision. Practice self-leadership, become an example. Volunteer in your community or on an internal committee that requires a supervisory component. Prepare your résumé with these new leadership skills and start looking for advanced opportunities where you will be appreciated.

 
THE SECOND ANSWER
Zuleika Sgro
Senior Manager, Talent Management Services, Questrade Inc., Toronto

 
It sounds as if your manager may have been trying to provide you with what you asked for without going through the appropriate communication channels. Communication to the team of any change in reporting structure is imperative to ensure success.

 
Being a people manager – a good one – also requires training on how to be a good leader versus being a star performer in your current job. A promotion does not always mean being a people manager and not everyone is suited to managing others.

 
To move forward, prove your value and trustworthiness by being an exceptional colleague to your peers. Support them by doing your job well, with genuine intentions, and promote a team atmosphere.

 
I would also encourage you to speak to your manager about your concerns and ask for support in re-establishing your trust with the team.

 
 

 

“Overcoming bad chemistry”/ "Don't raise the min. wage. Fine- tune it"

Feb. 16 “Overcoming bad chemistry”: I cut out this article from Barbara Moses in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 17, 2012.  This is a good article because it’s kind of like psychology and about getting along with others.  Sometimes you can change how you interact with this person, and you can talk to this person to affect their behavior.
 
It’s applicable to interacting with your co-workers, but it’s also applicable to interacting with family members too.  When I work with people, I don’t expect my co-workers and I to be friends and hang outside of work.  As long as we are productive and complete our tasks to help the customers, that’s the end goal.  Here’s the whole article:
 
A middle-manager client of mine was upset when her boss told her that he had hired a new team member. She had known he was looking for someone but had expected to be part of the interview process. “I have to work with this person, sit next to them in a cubicle, I should have had a say. What if I don’t like her?” she wondered.

It turned out she didn’t like the new employee; she found the woman stiff and humourless, and impossible to connect with. She disliked the newcomer so much that six months later, my client was looking for a new job.

Organizations try hard to keep out personal feelings about liking or disliking someone from hiring and promotion decisions, using tools such as behavioural interviewing, competency profiles and stern policies on everything from diversity to favouritism. But you can’t legislate human nature or control personal predilections.

Obviously, most people would prefer to work with someone who is upbeat and interested in the welfare of others, rather than a colleague who is sour and self-absorbed.

But often, more subtle characteristics make us more or less predisposed to like someone. How we react to these attributes is highly subjective. A characteristic unnoticed by one person can drive another crazy, whether it’s a high-pitched voice, a weak handshake, excessive ambition or self-satisfaction.

Several managers have confided to me that not only do they have difficulty working with someone because, say, the person is loud, but also they are embarrassed that something so petty could be a source of difficulty.

Personality characteristics and personal preferences also rule the roost when it comes to the boss-subordinate relationship. For example, most management experts say that a good boss delegates and promotes autonomy. That behaviour will be beneficial for an employee who can’t stand being told what to do, but challenging for someone who prefers structure and clear direction.

Some people are more tolerant, and can work with almost anyone. I recently asked a friend if he likes the people he works with, and he looked at me as if I had asked whether his office has indoor plumbing. He said the thought of whether he likes someone never crossed his mind – all he cares about is whether they deliver.

Most of us are not so dispassionate. But although we may be less tolerant by nature, we can use self-awareness about our prejudices to prevent knee-jerk reactions.

One senior manager told me he ignored his gut reaction about a talented job applicant, which was “You won’t be able to work with this person because she is fat and talks too much,” and forced himself to hire her. She turned out to be a great addition to his staff and she is now his right-hand person. Overcoming his prejudices, he said, was an unexpected learning experience.
So what do you do if you think the chemistry is wrong between yourself and a colleague?

Put it into behavioural terms: Specifically determine what is bothering you, and then decide if you can live with it. So what if your colleague has an irritating voice; does it interfere with his performance, or yours? Does it hurt you? Whenever you start to feel irritated by this person, remind yourself of the triviality of your concerns.

If your style does not mesh with that of your boss, and you know yourself well enough to identify where the mismatch is, speak up. But don’t slag his or her style – it might not be objectively awful, just a bad match for you.

One middle manager who felt her boss was a control freak sold him on changing his behaviour. She told him she understood that he was concerned about whether staffers were doing what they were supposed to, but that it undermined her own performance and confidence. She described two recent incidents of micromanagement and how dispiriting she found it. He changed how he delegated work to her – but not how he treated others.

By the same token, if you are the boss, try to understand your employees’ preferred work style. Be cognizant when you are pushing hot buttons. If you know your employees need praise, and you tend to be tight-lipped, try to meet their needs some of the way, without denigrating them for those needs. They are different from you, not bad.

Sometimes you may find yourself in trickier territory, whether with a boss, a co-worker, or a subordinate. You and the other person simply rub each other the wrong way and there’s no obvious reason why: You just don’t like each other. Or your colleague doesn’t like you for reasons you can’t fathom.

You might have to just live with it. For example, an executive acquaintance has an extreme distaste for one of her staffers – she can’t stand how long it takes him to get to the point, how loudly he talks to his wife on the phone, the cute pictures of his kids on his desk – even though she respects his work. But, as she wisely notes, “This isn’t a marriage. These things drive me crazy, but it is irrational and I don’t have the right to tell him to become a different person.”

In other words, know what is changeable and what is not. And if you are the victim of bad chemistry, understand that it is impossible for everyone to like you even though that hurts.



 

May 6 "Don't raise the min. wage.  Fine- tune it": I cut out this article by Todd Hirsch in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 27, 2015: 

“It’s just not possible,” say the anti-poverty advocates. “You can’t live as an independent adult on minimum wage, particularly in the larger cities where living costs are high.” It’s a common refrain heard across the country in response to provincial minimum wage laws. What employers are required to pay doesn’t adequately address urban poverty, which is a growing problem in Canada.

“But raising the minimum wage will kill jobs,” say the right-wing think tanks and the small-business lobby groups. “Forcing businesses to raise their wages will result in fewer jobs. It may even force them to close their operation altogether. A low-paying job is better than no job at all.”

They’re both correct, of course. But they’re also both arguing about a policy that needs reform. As a way of addressing poverty, minimum wage laws are very blunt tools. Are there ways to sharpen the tool so it both tackles poverty but isn’t overly punitive on small businesses?

The problem with an across-the-board minimum wage is that it doesn’t allow companies to discriminate between workers. An adult living in an urban area is doomed on minimum wages, even working 44 or more hours a week. If there are children in the equation, they’re doomed too. They truly do require more.

But a 16-year-old high-school student living at home, supported by parents, working twelve hours a week in the mall food court, is not doomed on minimum wage. And that first job is critical for young people getting work experience.

Yet the employer can’t pay the high-school student less per hour than the single parent simply because the parent requires more money. And legislation that would force the employer to pay a higher minimum wage to both workers could certainly result in one of the two losing the job. That would be a terrible outcome no matter who loses out.

Maybe a solution can be found to sharpen the minimum wage tool. In the Netherlands, the minimum wage increases with the worker’s age. A 15-year-old must be paid a minimum of €2.89 an hour ($3.92, up to 36 hours a week). When the worker turns 16, it rises to €3.32. It notches higher by increments of about €0.50 to €1.50 an hour until it peaks at €9.63 for a 23-year-old worker.

As well, the minimum wage is set officially by month, week and day – not hour. As it works out, the hourly wage actually falls a bit for workers with more hours per week. For example, a 23-year-old part-time worker earns €9.63 per hour, but if they’re willing and able to work full-time (40 hours) the hourly wage drops to €8.66.

This allows employers to discriminate not only by age of worker, but also by the availability of the worker to put in more hours. A high-school student in his teens earns much less per hour than a young adult worker. But the employer also has an incentive to give more hours per week to the adult who is able and willing to work full-time.

It may seem like a bit of a complicated system. But if Canadians find value in establishing a minimum wage in the first place, then it makes sense to fine tune the program to maximize its usefulness.

Someone may argue that such a system allows employers to discriminate against people based on age. Isn’t that unconstitutional? Canada’s social programs already include a good deal of age-based discrimination (e.g., Old Age Security). It also allows governments to discriminate on other factors, such as the number and age of their children ( e.g., Canada Child Tax Benefit). So if we consider the minimum wage as an anti-poverty social policy, then age discrimination surely can’t be a hurdle.

There’s no getting around it: Urban poverty is a tragic and growing problem in Canada. While everyone likes the idea of adults supporting themselves and their children by working, it’s just not possible on minimum wage. An across-the-board minimum wage is the problem. Perhaps the Dutch example offers some sensible guidance for Canada.



5 yr old helps homeless/ FHRITP scandal

May 20 5 yr old helps homeless: I found this on Yahoo news "5-Year-Old's Touching Act of Kindness Toward Homeless Man":

Sometimes among all of the incessant “Why? Why? Whys?” that your average 5-year-old asks comes a question that stops you in your tracks. That’s what happened for mother Ava Faulk a few weeks ago heading into the Prattville, Ala., Waffle House for dinner with her 5-year-old son, Josiah Duncan. 

“We saw a man who was dirty, holding a bag with his bike outside,” she told WSFA 12 News, adding that she explained to Duncan that she thought the man may have been homeless. That one word opened the floodgate of big questions from the little boy including, “What does that mean?” followed by, “’Where is his house? Where is his family? Where does he keep his groceries?’”

The boy urged his mom to buy the man dinner — then sang him a prayer blessing before the man began to eat the hamburger he ordered with extra bacon. “I wanted to say the blessing with him,“ Duncan said of the hymn he crooned as 11 other customers watched, and cried along with his mom and the man as well. “God our Father, God our Father, we thank you, we thank you, for our many blessings,” Duncan sang. “For our many blessings, Amen, Amen." 


Sikh man helps boy: I found this on Yahoo:

Neighbours have clubbed together to reward a Sikh man who found international fame after he broke religious rules to save a little boy’s life.


But in TV interviews, many viewers commented on Singh’s lack of furniture.

 

May 22 FHRITP scandal: "Reporter confronts men who bombarded her with vulgarity".  This sexism has been in the news.  I got to give points to Shauna Hunt for confronting those guys for the sexism and misogyny.  When I first read about it, I was more about: "That is so rude that they're are interrupting someone who's trying to work."  I am very work-minded.  Then everybody is talking more about sexism.  Here are some Youtube comments.

ramywiles: Sexual harassment isn't a joke, dudebros.

garfocusalternate:It was done to her because she's a reporter, and the phrase is often shouted at reporters, not necessarily targeted at them. The guy probably wasn't even considering the fact that she was a woman.

Randolf Ledesma: the guy got fired  from his job in Toronto...

My opinion: If you say or do anything bad outside of work, you can get fired.

I'm going to do a little flashback of 2013 post called "joke flops/ funny and annoying/ funny wedding video."  It's about how I annoy my sister on purpose.  It's mainly annoying, but not offensive.  But here's some more:  

Aug. 6 Other people's flops:

Summer school: I told you this one before of back in gr. 10 math summer school.  Mike was joking around and making fun of these girls giggling really loudly.  He giggles really loudly in a girlish tone of voice.

Mike: "Let's go and make cookies for the boys!"
The entire class (unison): What?!
Mike: Guys, I got that from The Simpsons.
Teacher: Yeah, sure, you get everything from The Simpsons.
Mike: Yeah, but I did.  Remember it was about the Malibu Stacey doll being too sexist?
The entire class (unison): Oh, yeah.

This joke flopped because no one got the reference, and then nobody laughed.

Sexual harassment: I've mentioned this before.  This was the worst joke flops I have ever seen.  It was also in gr. 10 and this guy was pretending he was interested in my friend by saying disgusting and sexual things to her for 20 min.  He was suffering from delusions of grandeur that he thought was so funny, but no one else was, especially my friend.  He also suffered from low level of emotional intelligence because he couldn't see how offended my friend was.  It's not until she cried and walked out that he was like: "Oh my God, I totally offended her."

http://badcb.blogspot.ca/2013/08/joke-flops-funny-and-annoying-funny.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKkAL1AEam8

Britain's youngest donor: I found this touching story on Yahoo. 

The parents of Britain's youngest organ donor say their son "lived and died a hero" after the infant's kidneys saved the life of a patient with renal failure.

Doctors told mother Jess Evans during her 12th week of pregnancy that one of the twin sons she was carrying suffered a fatal condition which stops the brain and skull from developing.
 
She and her fiance Mike Houlston were told their baby would either be stillborn or die shortly after birth.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, the couple from Cardiff said they decided to allow the infant's kidneys and heart valves to be donated to save the lives of others.


The Drop Box: The Movie: I was at work and the TV show Context with Lorna Dueck was on in the break room.  They interview Pastor Lee Jung Park and the film maker Brian Ivey.  It's a documentary about abandoning babies at an orphanage.

This is from imdb.com:

The Drop Box tells the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society. It is an exploration of the physical, emotional and financial toll associated with providing refuge to orphans that would otherwise be abandoned on the streets. The movie is also a story of hope - a reminder that every human life is sacred and worthy of love. South Korea is not the only country grappling with the issue of orphan care. Around the world, there are more than 150 million orphans waiting for forever families to call their own.   

My opinion: I hope people are inspired to adopt babies, be a foster parent, and/ or at least donate to children's charities and charities in general.  I want to get a job to really make a difference and help people.

I have this blog and I tell and inform people of the news and various charities. I always put up Amnesty International and Unicef e-newsletters I receive here and to get people to sign petitions on Facebook.            



May 25 Bloopers: The guys who interrupt news reporters is not funny.  If you want to be funny, be like the Alias TV show crew.  Here is the season 1 bloopers.

The first part where Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber are talking in elevator had to be cut.  It was on Garner's end.

1min and 15 sec in: Bradley Cooper is talking to this gold thing.  Someone off screen ruins the take on purpose.

1min and 23 sec in: Garner and Garber are in the elevator.  Someone off screen says something and it makes them laugh.

What the people say off screen is not offensive, but it does ruin the take.