Love and Fear


Would I rather be feared or loved? Umm… easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.

-Michael Scott, The Office (US version), season 2, episode 6

I’ve written a lot of farewell cards, and I usually try to write something unique, rather than a generic, “Best of luck!” I feel like we spend a third of our weekday at the office, and the people you spend time with become another set of family. OK, family might be a bit strong, but at least friends. Friends that you don’t choose. And friends that you may be frustrating at times. But still friends. So I feel sad when people leave, even though they may just be a floor away, or a block away, they bring something to the team that’s not easy to replace.

There is a new manager in my department, and I feel like he isn’t the most well-liked person. However, nobody can deny that he does get results. Whereas the one project I’ve lead, I was well-respected by my team, but the project was delivered quite late, and with a much smaller scope than originally planned.

It got me thinking about farewell cards and love. The first time I wrote one, I didn’t even know the person that was leaving, and I did write a generic, “All the best in your new role!” with a smiley face. I think his name started with M. I honestly have no idea what he even looks like. As time went on, I got to know my team members a bit better, and so I was able to write more specific things like, “I miss practising Russian with you every morning. I hope you’re still staying aware for white cars on the road!” referencing in-jokes that we shared. I’ll often write poems, or try and write my message in another language if that’s what they happen to speak. When it was someone I felt close to, I wanted to write something that meant something to them.

I finally received my farewell card, and I have to say, I was pretty surprised. Out of the 21 people who signed my card, only one of them was a one-liner (and for some reason, that person signed my name instead of their own, so I don’t know who they are!!!). In fact, quite a lot of them were saying that I’d be welcome back anytime, referencing something in particular about me or our time together, or saying how lucky my new team was to have me. The first and third comments could be something that they say to everyone, but I feel like some of them are sincere.

On one hand, you have me. I’m well-liked by the people I work with (for the most part), and I think people genuinely enjoy being around me, but I don’t deliver results. Well, I do deliver them, but late. However, people are willing to go the extra mile for me (perhaps because they know I’ll do the same?). I am the carrot.

On the other hand, you have Results Guy. I actually think people may be scared of him. He delivers results, but I’m starting to wonder how many resumes are floating around. He is the stick.

That being said, I feel that like begets like. The people who stick around in Results Guy’s world will be the kind of people who enjoy that kind of environment. Once he gets rid of the people who consider the workplace a social environment (like myself to some degree), the only people remaining will be the ones who want to come in, put headphones in, smash out some code, and go home. There will be no water-cooler gossip. Just work.

If people were all like me, they would chat to each other and take long lunches. They’ll help each other out and share knowledge, but work will move at a snail’s pace.

Does high team morale really increase productivity? I don’t know that it does. I mean, I have read those studies that say engaged people are less likely to take sick days, but let’s say there are 10 sick days a year: that’s 80 hours. If people in my world only work at 80% capacity (because they’re faffing about with social things the other 50%), then you’re really losing 48 weeks x 5 days x 8 hours x 0.2 = 384 hours of productivity in exchange for 80 hours (16 of which will probably be wasted anyway).

I guess in Results Guy’s world, he may find that people will be unhappy or burn out, and then leave, and then there’s the months-long search for a replacement, who needs to resign from their current job and be trained up in their new role, which could also be months of lost productivity. My former mentor told me that he is given a yearly budget of $10,000 to do whatever he wants to keep his team happy. He said his manager figures spending $10,000 a year to keep his team engaged works out to be a lot cheaper than hiring someone new to replace any one of them. They do things like LAN parties, drinks nights, movie nights.

So it probably depends. In a start-up environment, where you’re just trying to get to the market first, and it’s just go-go-go, you want those heads down, code churners. But if you do want a team that’s longer lasting, you probably want some people like me. Someone who motivates people to come into work every day.

To be honest, I don’t know how many sick days I’ve saved, but I feel like even though I’m only probably 80% productive, having me around seems to make the people around me smile more, so maybe it’s worth it in the long run? the_boss called me a “nurturer”. I’ve been told that even though I’m not the strongest technically, I enhance the people around me. I used to be offended by that, but I’m starting to see that maybe it’s not the worst quality to have.


Edit: I forgot to post my stats again:

Today is the end of week 5:

Weight: 58.4 / 59.1 / 58.9 / 58.6 58.3 / 58.5
Waist: 74.5 / 75.5 / 75.5 / 74.5 73 / 75
Hips: 88 / 89 / 90.5 / 88.5 / 88.5 / 90
Bust: 89.5 / 91 / 89.5 / 90 89.5 / 92
Left thigh: 52.5 / 51.5 / 53 / 52.5 52 / 53
Left calf: 35.5 / 35.5 / 37 / 35.5 35 / 34.5
Right thigh: 53.5 / 53.5 / 54 / 53 54 / 54
Right calf: 36.5 / 36 / 36.5 / 35 36 / 35.5
Left bicep: 31 / 29 / 29  / 29 30 / 28
Right bicep: 30 / 29 / 30.5 / 30.5 32 / 29.5

I’ve decided to reward myself with KFC if I manage to achieve my goal by the end of the 12 weeks.

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