Released On 31st Jul 2018
Lawrence's blog: The Roomba...
Like many, by the time our children are all in bed our house looks like a complete bombsite. From the barrage of toys that despite best efforts cannot be contained to one room and are spread throughout the house, to the half chewed and spat out raisins and tangerine segments that are fused to the carpet; or my personal pet peeve, the sticker book stickers that seem to be stuck to any and everything in the house except their dedicated piece of A4.
So, during this year’s Amazon ‘Prime Day’ (c.36hrs of supposedly ‘to-good-to-be-true’ discounts from Amazon for those that have not heard about it) the purchase of a robotic vacuum cleaner (a Roomba, as it’s known), seemed less of an impulse and more of a necessity to help stem the daily tide of mess associated with raising 3 young children. That said, I still sought the need to hide it from my wife until the opportune moment to demonstrate our unequivocal need for it (e.g. wait for our twin girls to do something drastic, yet not uncommon, like unpicking the child lock to the baking cupboard and emptying all the hundreds-and-thousands on the kitchen floor (which has happened a number of times), whereby I could then unveil Roomba as our saviour). Oh, maybe I also wanted to hide it because my wife had specifically told me not to waste money on one when I had raised the idea of getting a Roomba previously (but in my defence, it was not on sale then).
My wait for the opportune moment to present Roomba is cut short as my inquisitive and ‘blabber mouth’ five year old sees the Roomba box hidden upstairs and immediately tells her mum. The unveiling of Roomba becomes less of a “tah-da” moment and more of an inquest hearing, “You wasted good money on a bloody ‘robot’, why?”, “Amazon saw you coming”. I try to rattle off the list of Roomba features to convey the benefits (“it’s connects to the wifi”, “it links to your phone so you can set it to start cleaning whilst you are out”), I even offer to douse the floor in hundreds and thousands to illustrate. My wife is not convinced.
Fast forward a week or two and Roomba (or ‘Reggie’ as he is called; you have to give it a name on setup) now has everybody’s buy-in (except one of the twins who tried to stand on him, accidently turned him on and literally soiled herself with fear as he followed her as she ran down the hallway in tears). Reggie diligently patrols the house each evening sucking up all the daily filth from every crevasse before taking himself back to his docking station to charge; he’s shown what he can do and even my wife is impressed and is now an advocate. There have been a few mishaps, he sucked up my daughter’s Anna (from Frozen) doll (interestingly Elsa was left well alone) and a couple of other small toys, but all in all he is making our nightly tidy up that bit easier. This got me thinking about what things I can do to make my work life (and progression to the next level) that bit ‘easier’ or at least, less of the strain it is currently.
I recently attended a seminar aimed at aspiring Directors in our team to discuss the forthcoming promotion process, the output from which centred on the usual things about sponsorship, business cases, personal readiness etc. However, looking around at the other 20+ people in the room, I could see (i) those people who fell short in last years process back for another shot; (ii) those, like myself looking to seriously throw their hat in the ring this year; and somewhat annoyingly, (iii) those that only just got promoted to their current grade this summer and are already thinking about the next step. Now, I didn’t actually hear any grunting or snarling but it did feel like a scene from the Hunger Games with us all sat amongst our competition knowing only a very small number of us would be victorious in obtaining promotion (this year at least). Now, I echo the sentiments of James’ previous blog regarding progression; the ‘process’ as it’s often referred to in my team comes at a huge sacrifice, all of which is on top of an already demanding work life that puts strain on the wider family, and begs the question, is it worth it?
However, having recently decided to answer that question in the affirmative, I have agreed on my own ‘work Roombas’ to hopefully help manage this year’s progression attempt, ‘Reggie Rules’ if you will.
Recognise when you have a legitimate right to say ‘I want’ and make no apologies for communicating this to the people you work for. Personally this is a hard one for me as I have always been a ‘let your work do the talking’ kind of guy, but actually I need to tell those I work with and for that progression is what I want and seek insight as to what the parameters are to achieve this.
Seek genuine and honest feedback (and not the usual corporate guff that can often mask the real messages) to gain a clear understanding of areas for development.
Set your non-negotiables and don’t compromise on them unless absolutely necessary. For me these are small, but important e.g. ensuring I’m home on time on Tuesdays so my wife can attend her Yoga class, going spinning at least once a week etc.
Reggie has so far proven a success in our house but ultimately he had a key sponsor, Me, to help him showcase his ‘talent’. The wilderness of the corporate promotion process is unfortunately less straight forward and only time will tell whether these rules are right for me, if I will diligently follow them, or if they will prove helpful; but it is at least a start.
Lawrence works as a Senior M&A Manager at a professional services firm in the city and is father to 3 gorgeous girls, a four (going on 14) year old and one year old twins.