Friday, November 12, 2004

How can you be so cranky on a beautiful, sunny, southern California Friday?

Friday morning. There's this odd, simmering unhappiness in our department that I haven't quite put my finger on yet. I'm mystified as to the origin of the discontent because:

1. We're not working much OT, especially compared to past years (15-20 hours a week for months on end), but we're working "enough" so that they shouldn't be worried for money (their issue last year when we worked nearly none)

2. Our customers are, for the most part, really happy with our performance, so they're not inundated with unhappy people on their electronic and voice mail

3. Their quality is as good or better than last year, so they're not having to re-do jobs (always a good thing)

4. They work for a company with great benefits (including an on-site gym, cafeteria, espresso bar, pool table, multiple foosball tables, a basketball court, and sand volleyball area) and competitive salaries. They could probably make a bit more, some of them, if they went to other companies, but then they'd lose the benefits that accrue when you've worked here for a while (four weeks of vacation every year chief among them)

5. The work they do just isn't that hard. It's definitely not physically demanding, and, while it's tedious and monotonous at times, it's nothing that stretches their brains beyond their (considerable) capacity

So, I just don't get it. As I was talking to one of my senior team members about this earlier, I freely admitted that, as a brainless, spineless excuse for a human being (aka software development project manager), I could have my head firmly planted up my derriere on this one, but I don't think so.

On the fortunate side of things, it's not acutally my team members that are simmeringly unhappy, but I think that's mostly because I have the most wonderful team in the world, most of whom would never complain because they have fantastic work ethics, love their jobs, and are passionate about customer service. (God, I LOVE my team!) Unfortunately, my team doesn't exist in a void but is, rather, a part of a larger department, many of whom are very palpably unhappy.

I just want to shake them all - hard - and tell them to look up from their miserable grumblings and see how lucky they are. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of our wonderful country, where we can all disagree without worrying that we'll be arrested or censured or beheaded. They all enjoy good health, have family and friends that love and support them, and have a job where their input is not only important, it's essential for the continued success of the entire department. There are so many, all around us, who cannot claim even one of the above sources of satisfaction, and yet are positive, energetic, and filled with a zest for life - whatever it may bring.

I want to tell them to stop, just for a moment, and breathe in the sweet enjoyment of a Friday morning in November, knowing in their hearts how blessed they are and how much better it is to be happy with less than everything you've ever wanted than to be sad with more than most will ever have.

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