Tag Archives: Work

Learning Web Development

I’ve wanted to switch to web development / design for awhile now, but did not want to go back to traditional school.  I searched online a few weeks ago and found several options through a site that rated learning effectiveness for each option.  I decided to go with Treehouse because of their flat annual fee.  Meaning, I pay $xxx for a year and I can take 1 course or 100 courses.  They also bundle courses into a learning track.

I am taking the Front End Web Development track, so may periodically share my practice web site on this blog.  Here is what I have so far, which was the basic HTML / CSS course.  Pretty much a refresher for me.

18% Friendly? Why don’t we smile at each other?

I work in a string of seven buildings connected by halls. Each building has four floors and two wings. There are a lot of people here with at least three companies in occupancy.

It is common for people to walk the halls for exercise. This is especially true during the summer, when my company sponsors a walking/exercise program where you can earn an Amazon gift certificate worth $50 to $100.  My company has the bulk of office space here, so there are usually plenty of people walking at any given time.

I’ve noticed that not many people smile, or even make eye contact. Today I decided to see what percentage of people would display a minimal acknowledgement – such as a nod or smile.  This experiment took place right before the cafeteria opened and I saw 40+ people.  There were two small groups of people who were talking as they walked.  All of the others were individuals.

18%! Three people smiled AND gave a verbal greeting.  Out of those, I know one so I almost didn’t want to count her.  Another individual nodded, but did not smile or give a verbal greeting.

Out of all the others, a substantial majority did not even make eye contact.

Psychologically Damaging Office Setup

I just need to get this off my chest.  I work in an office where we only have 1/2 height walls with no wall towards the aisle. Most people sit with the backs of their monitors facing the aisle – so they’re looking out into the aisle.

Why is this psychologically damaging? It is a pose that looks inviting to the casual observer.  It is deceiving and has tricked me on more than one occasion.

You have to look for the casual signs that someone is not available for a quick conversation.  People have headsets when on the phone, but sometimes you can’t tell if they have a headset on.  Some people hang a sign on their monitor to let people know they’re on the phone.  Some of those people just leave their sign on ALL the time – which makes it blend into the environment or less reliable.  One person even has a sign up 100% of the time that says “DO NOT DISTURB.”  Yes, it is in all caps.

Let the Games Begin

This is how I feel about this massively huge and disorganized project I’m dealing with at work!  It is someone else’s project, someone who bites off more than he can chew and then asks for help.

Embed from Getty Images

Learn a Tradeskill

In response to If I Had a Hammer.

If you could learn a trade — say carpentry, electrical work, roofing, landscaping, plumbing, flooring, drywall — you name it — what skill(s) would you love to have in your back pocket?

I would love to be a gardener.  Being locked up in an office all day is not natural, but it sure does pay the bills.  If money or good benefits weren’t an issue – I would switch to an outdoor, physically active job in a heart beat.  Jobs I’ve considered in the past include gardening or landscaping (but I only like the planting & planning part).

Here’s a good fantasy job for me – alchemist.  I play fantasy games and alchemy is a popular crafting aspect of many games.  It would be interesting to roam the land for fresh supplies and craft a variety of potions.

Fantasy doesn’t pay the bills or provide good benefits though.

Guess I’ll stick with my office job after all!  At least my cube city is not as bad as this!!!

© Vasilyev Dmitry / Dollar Photo

Woe Is Me

You brought me down when your job was to build me up. You attacked me when you should have guided me.

You took a broken person who was on the mend and tore new wounds. Your words could have divided our team but instead I am finding that it is building new and stronger relationships. But not in all cases.

We know that you have favorites. We see that opportunities go to the few. We see that special recognition goes to the few.

I plan to remain strong. I plan to use this as a learning experience to benefit myself. I plan to use this to build on the tenuous relationships I have formed as a result of this.

Peace out!

Boldly Enhance My Career

In response to DP – To Boldly Go…

An impending new year gives rise to reflection and goal setting. What will your goals for 2014 be? It’s never to early to start thinking about self improvement!

I think that 2014 will bring about a career related change.  I don’t know what it will look like at this point, but something must happen in that area.

I am an instructional designer.  That means that I analyze training needs, design the training, sometimes develop it, never deliver it (that is someone else’s job), and evaluate effectiveness.  I like doing most of this.

What I don’t like is the environment.  Very large corporation, poor internal communication, too many people who don’t want to be there (including me), and a TON of negativity.  It takes too long to get things done and there is too much resistance to running training like a business (measuring results that are clearly outlined with stakeholders) instead of like an order taker.  We don’t “do training” right here either.  We skip essential steps and short cut others.  It is a BIG ugly mess that only a handful of people are interested in fixing.  Several people resist fixing the mess, while most are indifferent.

What could this career change look like, you ask?  Or maybe you didn’t ask and it was the voice inside my head.  I’ve been thinking about this for a LONG time.  I love learning new things.  My Via Me report calculated that as my highest Signature Strength.  I also have a great deal of interest in helping people.

With those two characteristics in mind, I have been looking into the possibility of becoming a business, executive, or leader coach.  Coaching is becoming more and more in demand and I believe I have a related skill set in my Instructional Design.  I have teaching experience and didn’t really enjoy that, but coaching is very different.  Teaching is telling, explaining, demonstrating, guiding practice, etc.  International Coaching Federation, an coaching standards organization, defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Big goal.

Left Out

Happy people surrounding a person feeling left out.Every week in staff meeting at work we take a few moments to thank team members.  Most of it is in the form of, “I thank X for helping me to finish Y on time” or “I thank G for helping me figure out what to do about Z.”  But once in awhile a team mate offers extra thanks in the form of “pride award points” that can be spent on gifts through our gift store, or even transitioned to real $$$ to spend on Amazon.com.

Yesterday several people who worked on a project that I was involved in received pride awards.  I didn’t get one.

I don’t expect recognition.  I like recognition though.

And when everyone else on the team gets recognized and I don’t – well – it makes me wonder why.

Was I forgotten?  I don’t like that idea.  I don’t need to be popular, but certainly don’t want to be forgotten.

Did I do something wrong?  If I did, I sure would like someone to share that with me so that I can learn from it.

Did I not put enough effort into it?

Why, why, why???  It makes me feel deflated, demotivated.

Updated Article: Asperger’s in the Workplace

Many have heard or have used the words Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Bi-polar, OCD, and so on.  Individuals with these labels have a wide variety of abilities and behaviors.  Often when you hear Asperger you think of a child, but children become adults and enter the workforce.  Do you work with someone labeled this way?  Do your coworkers have children or grandchildren who face this reality daily?  Recently in the news, companies such as SAP and Freddie Mac are heavily recruiting autistic individuals hoping to harness ! their unique talents and to give them a chance to flourish in a job and spark innovation.  For Ari Ne’eman, president of the Washington DC-based Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and a member of the U.S. National Council on Disability, the moves are welcome and well overdue.  “We need to see neurological diversity in much the same way as we’ve seen workplace diversity efforts in the past on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.” 

Eilene Edwards from the Supplier Management Learning Solutions team has personal interest in seeing this neurological diversity come to fruition.  She and husband Aaron are the parents of two boys.  Their oldest Ryan is seated next to dad.  Their youngest Luke, seated next to Eilene, has Asperger’s and struggles with the battle between these strengths and difficulties daily.  Understanding the strengths and difficulties associated with Asperger’s has helped her to avoid many problems and handle problems that do arise in a more effective way.

Family enjoying pizza.
Family enjoying pizza.

Asperger’s Defined

Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a milder variant of Autistic Disorder.  The fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM5.org ASD Fact Sheet defines ASD:  “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms.”

ASD Strengths in the Workplace

  • Exceptional memory including understanding concepts presented in material and images.
  • Detailed understanding of concrete concepts, rules and sequences.
  • Intensely focused.
  • Very precise and detail oriented, which can be combined with high levels of focus on tasks that others may not want to do.
  • Schedule driven.

ASD and Difficulties in the Workplace

Two difficult aspects of work for the ASD individual include social interactions and transitions.

  • Social interaction difficulties may include not understanding nonverbal cues, strict adherence to rules and the expectation that others also adhere to said rules, blunt language (which is “truth” to them), and sometimes repetitive behaviors.
  • Transitions happen quite a bit more often than non ASD individuals realize, and each transition has the potential to cause distress in the ASD individual.

Social Interactions

How do you know when you are boring someone you are talking with?  It is likely so automatic to you that you don’t even think about it.  ASD individuals often have favorite topics to discuss and most people are willing to listen for a period of time.  But when a non ASD person has had enough, he or she may start checking the time and giving nonverbal hints that they want the conversation to come to a close.  ASD individuals typically do not catch these hints.  The best option is to use clear language that closes the conversation politely.  For example say something like, “Thank you for an interesting conversation.    Now I am going to a meeting.  Bye!”

Transitions

Recall that a common characteristic of ASD individuals is their ability to focus.  Transitions are a break in that focus.  Some transitions that a non ASD individual may not think about include: switching from one project to another, especially when the first one is not finished; breaking for lunch; adapting to a new information system; gaining a new responsibility.  Transitions can cause feelings similar to those that many avid readers have after finishing a good book.  There is a letdown period where you may wonder “oh no – what now?”  Imagine having that feeling several times a day.  When the ASD individual controls the transition, things go much more smoothly.  Whenever possible, involve the ASD individual in the transition planning, especially for significant transitions.  Allow the ASD individual to control their own minor transitions, such as when to take a break.  When presenting an unexpected transition to the ASD individual, be sympathetic and allow time for the individual to process through stressful emotions caused by the unplanned transition.

Closing

Eilene tells us that not everyone with Autism Spectrum Disorder has a formal diagnosis.  There are many adults who fit the description, but they were never diagnosed as ASD.  They may have been labeled “that odd kid who likes to play alone and won’t look you in the eye” or “that kid who is always causing problems or being rude.”  Next time you encounter an employee who has some of the difficulties described here, be more open to finding good ways of interacting with him or her.  You may be surprised at the innovative ideas they can come up with, if just given the understanding and chance they need.

Autism Abilities in the Workplace

This is an article I wrote for a Diversity newsletter at work.  I mainly wrote this article because I have a 9 yr old boy with Asperger’s and he will eventually be in the workforce.  Being employed by a large corporation with many “engineering types” – it is likely that there are some with these difficulties.  My company strives to have an inclusive and diverse workforce and I am glad to help!

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Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Bi-polar, OCD, etc., etc., etc.  Each of these labels are applied to people with a wide variety of abilities and behaviors.  Many individuals with these labels are in the workforce.  In fact, companies such as SAP and Freddie Mac are heavily recruiting autistic individuals, even current college students.   This article will define Autism / Asperger’s (ASD), identify strengths applicable to the workplace, and provide information about their difficulties associated with being in the work force.

ASD Defined:

From DSM5.org ASD Fact Sheet:  “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms.”

Strengths

  • Exceptional memory.  This includes understanding concepts presented in material and images.
  • Detailed understanding of concrete concepts, rules and sequences.
  • Intensely focused.
  • Very precise and detail oriented, which can be combined with high levels of focus on tasks that others may not want to do.
  • Schedule driven.

Two difficult aspects of work for the ASD individual include social interactions and transitions.  Social interaction difficulties may include not understanding non verbal cues, strict adherence to rules and the expectation that others also adhere to said rules, blunt language (which is “truth” to them), and sometimes repetitive behaviors.  Transitions happen quite a bit more often than non ASD individuals realize, and each transition has the potential to cause distress in the ASD individual.

How do you know when you are boring someone you are talking with?  It is likely so automatic to you that you don’t even think about it.  ASD individuals often have favorite topics to discuss and most people are willing to listen for a period of time.  But when a non ASD person has had enough, he or she may start checking the time and giving non verbal hints that they want the conversation to come to a close.  ASD individuals typically do not catch these hints.  The best option is to use clear language that closes the conversation politely.  For example say something like, “Thank you for an interesting conversation.    Now I am going to a meeting.  Bye!”

Recall that a common characteristic of ASD individuals is their ability to focus.  Transitions are a break in that focus.  Some transitions that a non ASD individual may not think about include: switching from one project to another, especially when the first one is not finished; breaking for lunch; adapting to a new information system; gaining a new responsibility.  Transitions can cause feelings similar to those that many avid readers have after finishing a good book.  There is a let down period where you may wonder “oh no – what now?”  Imagine having that feeling several times a day.  When the ASD individual controls the transition, things go much more smoothly.  Whenever possible, involve the ASD individual in the transition planning, especially for significant transitions.  Allow the ASD individual to control their own minor transitions, such as when to take a break.  When presenting an unexpected transition to the ASD individual, be sympathetic and allow time for the individual to process through stressful emotions caused by the unplanned transition.