Today is a Day for Chocolate Cake

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Sometimes you have a boss who says that you don’t ask enough questions and are therefore incompetent, resulting in a poor performance rating (no matter that one typically asks questions when one does not understand anything; not vice versa).

Sometimes that same boss, once you start forcing yourself to ask more questions, provides the feedback that you require too much oversight, resulting in a poor performance rating.

On days fraught with such inane and contradictory feedback, one must go home and eat a small piece of dark chocolate.

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Sometimes you have a boss who happens to be a micro-manager incapable of delegating meaningful tasks, and this boss may present you with strong criticism based on your supposed lack of independence or ability to provide meaningful contributions to the team.

Sometimes that boss will refuse to let facts get in the way of her predisposition to dislike you – facts like your track record for never delivering a project behind schedule, and facts like your negotiating millions of dollars’ worth of savings for the company despite your boss’s inability to provide meaningful work.

On days filled with such frustration and injustice, one must stop by Starbucks for a Grande Mocha Frappuccino.

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Sometimes you have a boss who is so disrespectful and maddeningly incompetent at her role as manager that you have to run into the girls’ bathroom to cry at the office, and you’re not sure if it’s out of anger, frustration, sadness or hopelessness.

Sometimes after you’ve already had a long day of work, the bridal boutique where you returned your wedding dress two years earlier when your groom got cold feet right before the wedding – that bridal boutique sends you an email wishing you a happy wedding anniversary and inviting you and your nonexistent husband to be featured in their magazine.

On days like that, one must go home and bake oneself an ENTIRE FREAKING LOAF OF CHOCOLATE CAKE.

To be eaten alone.

On the couch.

In one sitting.

Today is a day for chocolate cake.

Authentically Aurora

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“Interesting”

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 9.21.37 AMEveryone these days knows “interesting” doesn’t mean interesting.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary may still define interesting (adj.) as “holding the attention; arousing interest”, but the Urban dictionary (which is obviously far superior) explains that interesting has come to mean “something which arouses no interest at all. Used to politely avoid admitting this, which indirectly expresses your indifference.”

In my experience, “interesting” also means weird, peculiar or awkward.

“Why yes, Grandma, this apricot pork casserole is… interesting.”

“Yeah, I thought Miley’s impersonation of a wrecking ball was… interesting.”

“I find Trump’s strategy to win voters… interesting.”

I recently sent a follow-up email to one of my colleagues who attended the Women’s Leadership Development Program with me. I’d really enjoyed talking with her and told her so. “I am so thankful that we ended up sitting next to each other that first day. You have so much wisdom and such an encouraging spirit! Thanks for all of your insightful comments both during the group discussions and during our casual chats between sessions.”

She just wrote back to me. “Hi Aurora! I feel the same about you… You are truly an interesting person!”

Ha. Truer words were ne’er spoken.

Authentically Aurora

I’m an Incompetent Sloth

I’m at the office right now, and I kind of want to go to the girls’ bathroom and cry in one of the stalls. I’ve done it plenty of times before. But I’m going to write instead. Because both crying and writing are ways for me to get everything out, but the latter results in far less puffy eyes. A girl’s got to have her priorities.

I had my Mid Year Review at work this week. A few months ago, I joined a new group in the company that does Procurement for IT services. When I joined the group, I sort of knew was a computer server was. I mean, I’d seen them in spy movies and stuff. Now I’m in charge of managing a 10 year, 6 billion dollar contract for hosting and storage IT services. No big deal.

computer serversFortunately, I work for woman who is a subject matter expert, having earned her degree in IT prior to starting a career in IT Procurement where she has worked for the past twenty years. Unfortunately, this woman is strict, harsh, and encapsulates everything one would expect from someone who grew up in East Germany. Which she did.

Since she has worked in this space for so long, this East German manager typically has difficulty speaking at a basic enough level for new staff like myself to understand. I’ve felt like I’ve made huge strides toward understanding IT in the past few months, despite our communication issues (both ethnically and technologically). For example, I can now translate this sentence:

“The CCN for the DTAO NSD went to the PPC and IBB last week. For K2, we are moving toward ROMv1 prior to DG3.”

That means:

“The Contract Change Note for the Desktop Anywhere Online new service development went to the IT Business Boards last week. For K2 Blackpearl, we are moving toward Rough Order of Magnitude version 1 prior to Decision Gate 3.”

Which means:

“A contract amendment for one service line went to two different business approval boards last week. Another service line is going through a re-pricing exercise.”

Brilliant, right? Once I learned to translate the IT jargon; then I just had to get up to speed on what the heck DTAO, K2, Filemover, Control M, Sabrix, Webphere, XenApp and TAD4D actually are. One is a license reporting application; another is eHosting software; yet another is tax reporting software.

Further to understanding the various applications, I got to connect with the various Product Managers, Project Managers, Service Managers, Product Management Advisors, Category Service Managers, Business Managers and Product Architects – both internal and external – for each of the service lines. Working on a global, virtual team, it is of course no problem at all to keep straight all the people I have never met face to face: Kelvinder, Satish, Bhavesh, Sanjay, Kayoor, Christine #1, Christine #2, Paul, Alexander, Mike, Michele, Haley, Linda, Katrin, Gerdien, Igor and Shadonna.

So now, after four months “in seat”, I still don’t enjoy the work, but I am finally starting to feel like I at least have developed enough knowledge and competence to where I can start adding value. But, as I discovered this week per my Mid Year Review results, my East German manager has yet to be impressed.

In the field where she was supposed to fill out “What this individual has done well“, she wrote:

“Despite extensive onboarding, [Aurora] has made slower than expected progress.” She went on, “She has to quickly increase her knowledge base regarding IT to be successful in the future. She should… be more confident”, ask more questions and act more independently.

Okay, first of all, if that’s the “What this individual has done well” section, I don’t even want to read on to the improvement areas. Secondly, aren’t asking more questions and acting more independently mutually exclusive?

In my last role, I was called arrogant and over-confident. Now I’m being labeled insecure and lacking in confidence.

In my last role, I was told that I dug into too many of the technological details and was advised to focus just on the commercial side. Now I’m being told that I am technologically incompetent and lacking in knowledge.

At some point, some encouragement would be nice. Either at work or at home. At work, I’m an incompetent sloth. At home, I’m a duplicitous woman lacking integrity.

I’m tired of being beaten down. Hey life! Hey God!

(…is anybody listening?)

Authentically Aurora