Managing Partner at Blue Book Ventures. Inspirational Business Leader, Workplace Pundit, Best-Selling Author & Venture Capitalist
A Little About Me
Richard A. Moran is a San Francisco based business leader, workplace pundit, bestselling author, and venture capitalist. He is best known for his series of humorous business books beginning with bestselling, Never Confuse a Memo with Reality and is credited with starting the genre of "Business Bullet Books."
Have you had someone tell you, “he or she has a ‘good job?” You don’t know what it means, but you are jealous. Have you ever accepted a new job and on your first day at work you realize immediately that you made a mistake? Have you ever taken on a new assignment and realized you should have asked more questions? Have you ever felt joy when you left a job that you never liked, to take one that you know will be better? Have you ever had a job that you couldn’t imagine not being a part of your life because you enjoyed it so much? (Lucky you!)
Sure, you may have a short commute and good pay and benefits and free coffee but does that make for a good job? Not necessarily. Based on my observations over the years and lots of research, here is what makes for a good job:
Start with the people you work with. Colleagues who support you, help you and are generous with time and expertise are only the beginning. All of your best friends don’t need to be at work but you should look forward to being around your team. And if your boss is interested in your career and supportive in your day-to-day you will truly enjoy your work. If you dread being around your co-workers or boss, could be trouble.
Then, the autonomy you have over your work life is key. Consider the decisions you can make in dealing with customers or in how a project is completed or how and where your day is spent. The more control you have over your schedule, routine and decision making when it comes to your job, the more you will like it. If you hear the phrase, “Check your brain, at the door”, it may be time to check out.
Lastly, and most importantly, meaning is what puts the joy in a job. Ask any firefighter or special education teacher who are always the most satisfied of anyone who works. You might be curing cancer or the environment; but deriving meaning from a career could be as simple as feeling like you are contributing in a meaningful way to the organization’s mission. Meaning could be derived from the satisfaction that you know you are doing a good job. Meaning could be derived from the sense that you are providing for your family. You define what meaning is for you.
Now you have the answer to the eternal question, “what is a good job?” OK, maybe it’s not just three factors. Depending on the career, there could be hundreds of additional things that make for a good job ranging from foosball tables to safety. But without people, autonomy and meaning, that good job might just be an aspiration.
No matter where you work, some people are offensive. But the word offensive has many meanings. Usually, when it comes to work, offensive refers to the person who reheats leftover fish burritos in the microwave or yells in meetings every day. Being offensive under this definition will guarantee that you are well known in the office. Just not the way you want.
A friend introduced me to a better way to be offensive. I asked him why he gets into the office so early every day. He usually arrives before 6:00 A.M. He said, “When I get in early I can be on offense. I can send out my raft of emails before others get in and be ready for the day. If I get in later I am finished before I can start. I play defense all day.” Well put.
On reflection, those who are most successful are always on the offensive. They are always a step ahead and putting a plan in place each day. They are the ones that people follow. No big secret is involved and it is just common sense. The reasons why you should consider going on offense are simple:
1. You set the agenda. What is most important to you and your group’s success becomes the focus when you set the agenda. The things that get done are the things you want to get done.
2. You get things done. You can plan. You can be organized and most importantly, you can check things off the list. The work world admires people who are known for implementation.
3. You enjoy your work more. When you are on defense you are always back on your heels waiting for the next thing to come along. What can be more satisfying at work than to be setting the agenda and getting things done? Not much.
Of course, there are intervening variables like the boss who is also playing offense and setting a different agenda or the customer who needs immediate responses. Being on offense doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the office at 5:00 A.M every day. You can find your own way of getting onto offense depending on your style and the culture of the workplace. The world isn’t perfect when you are on offense but being out front can make work more satisfying.
Just stay away from the other definitions of offensive.
Certain phrases are part of the workplace although they never show up in any business word dictionary. “Gotta minute?” is my favorite. You can be assured of certain factors when you hear the question.
Whatever it is, it won’t take a minute. If it is important enough for the interruption, you can be sure it will require time. The minute usually lasts for forty-five minutes.
“Gotta minute?” is usually a signal that something really good or very bad is about to happen. On the really good side, it could mean that we met the target or the money is flowing in like a flooded river. Wahoo. On the bad side, it usually means that someone is resigning and it’s usually the person who asks for the minute.
If it’s Friday afternoon and your boss asks for the minute, it may mean that today is your last day on the job and you will have many minutes in the future to work on what’s next.
“Gotta minute?” when asked very sheepishly might mean there is a personal problem involved. Think someone needs time off because of a divorce or an issue at home. Or, it could mean that someone is about to coach you about your hygiene problem or that you are acting like a jerk. Say thanks for the feedback.
Maybe the request for the minute is totally benign and someone just wants to discuss basketball or the lunar eclipse. This is rarely the case when you hear “Gotta minute?”
Rumors abound in the workplace, even mean and salacious rumors. The “Gotta minute?” question might really mean, “I have a juicy rumor I want to share with you. It may not be true, but it is worth disclosing.”
Lastly, the “Gotta minute?” person is often the man or woman you have been trying to avoid and not letting on your schedule. Their attack for a “minute” is the only way they can talk to you.
Of course, when approached with the “Gotta minute?” question, the answer could be no. But the person who is doing the asking is usually sly and catches you when there is no avoiding the minute. So the best thing to do is to listen for that minute, be empathetic and make a decision about whether or not to continue. Sometimes, we all just need a listener and for that minute, or more, that could be you.