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Thread: The character of workplace and employee interaction v productivity?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    The character of workplace and employee interaction v productivity?

    What is the character of your workplace? Do you get along with your co-workers, employees, or people in other departments/offices? Do you have supervisors that take the time to work with you on projects, give you the independence that you might need, or do they micromanage in a dictatorial type of way? Are you working for a place where it feels more like a vocation or just a J.O.B?

    What are the characteristics of a wonderful work environment? What are some of the positive things within your work environment? What are the negatives? Do you believe that a positive work environment with good employee interaction is more productive than the micromanaged, slave driving type of environment?

    When interviewing for a new job, do you look at the work environment before you accept a job? What are the distinctive key factors that you look for? How do you find them?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    You just asked 11 different questions. That has to be a record.

    In general, employee friendly work environments will foster better long-term production.

    However, slave-driving type organizations may produce better results in the short-term.

    The key for an employer is to create an environment that results in happy employees, who are also able to put their nose to the grindstone when necessary. Unhappy employees may work hard for awhile, but not long term.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I feel very fortunate about my work environment. Our staff gets along pretty well and almost everyone is a team player. The director is great and gives us a lot of support and guidance. Because he comes from a land-based but a non-planning background, he also provides a different perspective that is helpful.

    Our commissioners back staff in most cases. One refreshing aspect is they do not tolerate applicants bad-mouthing staff in meetings. If a commissioner has a problem with something a planner has done or a position the planner took, the commissioner keeps it out of the public forum and talks to the planner directly and in private. They respect us as professionals and treat us accordingly. They may not take our advice always, but they solicit our advice and appreciate our dissent on those occasions.

    The departments work well together. We work in concert with Public Works and especially Environmental Health. It works well. This is in a large part due to the current director of planning, who in his previous job, created a system to coordinate permitting and foster cooperation.

    That isn't to say everything is hunky-dory 24/7. We have too much work for too little staff. We are only human so we all mess up. Things move slower than we would like.

    But all in all, we have a great workplace. I have from time to time thought about seeking other opportunities elsewhere. But I always conclude I have it about as good as it gets and I would likely not be as happy as I am here.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Not to take this off track, but

    Do you find that in interviewing for a planning position you have the opportunity to evaluate the working environment?

    I am in the job-hunting phase right now (and have had a couple public sector planning interviews recently, as well as for past jobs), while my husband, working for a major international corporation is currently in the position of being an interviewer (for engineering/management type positions). We notice huge differences in his hiring process versus public sector hiring. I get a 30min-1 hr interview in one room with a couple supervisors and the h.r. rep. asking "standard" questions about work history, a few "what are your weaknesses"-type questions and very little about technical competance. No tour of the office, no meeting your peers.

    His process is several hours of meetings with supervisors, potential co-workers and subordinates, and many questions along the lines of "how would you deal with the following situation...", as well as tours of the facility.

    Do any of you have/have gone through a more in-depth public sector hiring processes? Do public sector planing departments think we are so desperate for a job we will take it without getting a feel for how we would fit in? Or is it that there is a lack of training in the public sector about how to be good managers and make good hiring decisions?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Superiors that have:
    A Clue
    The ability to make a decision
    The ability to stay around the office
    The ability to be tough but fair.

    ...would help out many offices (including mine)
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    My office is fantastic these days, which is a wonderful turn from the past year or so. I work independently and could almost work for home and simply report in for an hour or two a day. The boss is decisive and trusting and we all work hard for the guy. I love it.

    As has been said more than once in these forums: when you interview for a position, its as much you interviewing them as it is them interviewing you. You don't always get the opportunity to walk around the office and feel the vibe, but approaching the interview that way gives you the best opportunity.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by skyfire View post
    Or is it that there is a lack of training in the public sector about how to be good managers and make good hiring decisions?
    I think this is exactly it. I have always been hired by planners- bright people but certainly not trained in management. There is just no room in the budget for management specialists like you would find in a private sector office (not that I would know)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Employee interaction has got to be at least two way. Which means you are also an integral part of the working environment. How you react to the boss, your colleagues and juniors is as important as how they treat you. And it is the one thing that you are in a position to control.

    I imagine most of the forum members have worked under a variety of leadership/management types, different working situations, and in the broad "planning" field must operate across disciplines and institutions. So the experience must be vast. But it would probably be very difficult to summarize it all.

    I work for a consultant company with 30-35 permanent staff in a huge variety of fields. It is an extremely flat organisation - no middle managers. We consult exclusively for the public sector and do so globally. We generally work from WITHIN the institutions that are our clinets. So now I am sitting in Cairo, share an office with a local Government Dep't middle level manager, in a project that among other things is about management. The management styles in this organisation are hugely different. Some tyrants, some mother types, some very good, some lost causes. How they got where they are would provide an amazing book of short stories, not all of them complimentary.

    But one thing we see - we must differentiate between management and leadership...

    The working conditions are atrocious. But for many of the staff, the office is a second home, and I am constantly amazed at the loyalty there is. At the same time there is no way this department can compete with the private sector (or the Gulf States) in keeping staff.

    For myself, it would take something very special to get me to change my work. But I'm spoiled. Back at my headquarters I share a 20sq m office with two others...but then I'm not often there. We have excellent internal relations, partly sustained by having coffee together, celebrating the month's birthdays once a month, having a "cultural group," having company planning meetings in exotic places every other year, and so on. Lots of individual responsibility and recognition, good mutual support. No complaints from my side.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan View post
    As has been said more than once in these forums: when you interview for a position, its as much you interviewing them as it is them interviewing you. You don't always get the opportunity to walk around the office and feel the vibe, but approaching the interview that way gives you the best opportunity.
    Good call. I recently interviewed for a position where I had thought that I would "Looove to work there". Well, I was in love with the job description, but when i went in to interview, I realized that the place is not right for me.

    When I intereviewed for this job, I was taken around the office to meet everyone. Turns out this is we do if we like the person we are interviewing (as I have done this for future employees when they have interviewed).
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    The character of workplace and employee interaction v productivity?

    I realize I said nothing about productivity. What I have noticed with my current client is that a brutal and demanding boss has upped productivity, if by that you mean the number of reports and plans produced. They look great on the outside and the politicians seem to be pleased...but the quality of the contents is a completely different story.

    Any one remember the toys made in Hong Kong in the early sixties? great looking, and cheap. and totally hopeless quality. But then McCluhan (sp?) said "the medium is the message." It's the package, the wrapping, that counts. Not the content. or....?

    As to relation between employee interation and production - it all depends on the nature of the interaction, doesn't it? If its all in the coffee room gossiping, it's not likely to be productive. If it's in well organised and run working groups or teams, it probably will be more productive. On the other hand we all know stories about the products of committees.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    On at least two occasions, and both were in the private sector, I was promised certain things in writting. The first day on the job at one place I was told that I would have to wait awhile before these things took place Needless to say I left
    The one promised stock options each pay period. This was a large international company and really decent stock
    This was in my contract.
    At the first pay period I was going over everything and there was no mention of stock options or anything close to it. I was scheduled to go to Corporate Head quarters for training the following week. So I asked about the stock options and I was told that I would not get that.
    I pulled out the contract and asked why it was in the contract and I was told that it doesn't matter what is in the contract, you do not get stock options.
    My response was I am leaving now and I walked out the door
    Both times I went through different interviews and visited different work areas and met various people in the organization. Both are very highly respected. Maybe employees live in fear, I will never know because I felt that if we were off to start like that, than it would just get worse.
    Both positions were senior management and paid quite well.
    As a supervisor I have always felt that my job is assign a task, follow up to ensure the task is being performed, if it is not then it is my job to find out why, does the person need training or "tools" to do their job, If so then I need to get them the training and or tools. I have my job to do and do not have time to micro manage,
    I have always felt that micro managers do not know how to do their job therefore they micro manage to show that they are doing something,
    A work place should be a place where people look forward to coming to everyday. Granted there will be some bad days, but as a supervisor you should endeavor to make it as pleasant as possible, provide the tools and training that
    people need and treat everyone with respect,.
    If there is a employee who brings everyone down than you work at bringing this employee around and if that employee fails to come around than progressive discipline has to take place,
    But when you have to replace some one. you have to advertise, recruit interview select and then aclimate them to the workplace.
    It is much easier to retain employees if they want to be retained, because at least they know where the light switches are and the bathrooms are

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The only thing I am missing is the ability to bring the dogs to work with me. I miss Roscoe lying at my feet.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Productivity should go up with a positive work environment imo. One can be working hard and meeting deadlines, but should be able to have a good laugh with a fellow co-worker every couple of hours. I think it also helps when co-workers co-mingle after work, such as heading to happy hour on friday, weekend excursions, or just get tog ethers for dinners and such.

    My firm truly believes in this notion, by sponsoring a company softball team this summer, an annual company picnic, movie nights, bowling nights, etc. Granted the bosses don't really come to dinners or bar excursions, but my office still manages to get people together. Even our annual football pool have people talking as well as our ever one-upping of photoshop simulations and people's heads. Yes, we do get work done, trust me (3 deadlines today too ) but there is no point into all this hard work without a little play.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I think that one of the biggest things that I notice is many people think of the workplace as a J.O.B and not a career or even better, a vocation. I know that I do not went to spend the rest of my life doing Code Enforcement because it does not suit me as a long term thing, but it has been a very beneficial thing in the short term because of the learning opportunities.

    I think that in most cases, work places that have employees who are their because that type of work is their vocation (or at least for that moment), are more productive and happier places to work. Just think of things that you enjoy doing.

    When people love what they do, the entire mood of the office can change. Unfortunately I think that is a very rare environment.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Pretty much in my office, everyone is passionate on what they do..well except for the surveyors and engineers, they always look so bored...
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    My office culture is casual, at times too casual where unprofessional behavior can occur without recourse. This makes for a quite friendly environment where management is off doing their own thing leaving us lower staff to run the counter and tend to the public. The culture doesn't promote cutthroat behavior and a willingness to help each other. Sounds utopic yea? Too bad im not being groomed properly for my next job.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    My office has several factions which I attempt to float between. Group A hates Group B, and vice versa. Half the management complains about the other half to other staff. It gets a bit complicated, but it does have a Young and the Restless feel....
    Do you want to pet my monkey?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    That's awosome K-Shape! Sounds better than my groups morning, were we made fun of our "green" assistant planner by signing R Kelly's rendition of trapped in the closet next to him, but modified the words for a situation he is dealing with in CAD, his neighborhood design, and his design guidelines...aww the fun never ends!
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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