29 Apr

how to make your employees want to come to work

I don’t write about work very much in great detail, because, you know, firing and stuff. However, today is a little different. Today marked my one year anniversary at my current place of employment. It’s been a year that’s flown by, but it also seems like I’ve been here forever. Both of those are awesome things. And there are awesome things that this company does for their employees that I’ve never seen done before. For me, they’re things that make an impact on me, make me want to stay here and would likely have made me want to stay at any employer. So, bosses, employers, managers, etc., here’s my advice, from both an employee and an HR standpoint, to you:

Recognize Your Employee: Not just at their yearly review, but regularly. Money and gifts and prizes are not required. A “hey, great job working with that customer!” or even just a “thank you so much for your help with this insanely boring spreadsheet” goes a lot farther than you think.

Use Manners and Be Nice: I get it. You want to tell me to do something and you’re the boss. Got it. But if you say things to me like “Do you have some time to help me with this?” or “Could you please type up these 540 pages of mindless drivel?”, I’m going to be happy about helping you because you were nice to me. You’re asking me and you’re not telling me, and it makes me feel like you really do appreciate my time and skills.

Offer Training and Growth: But only if someone wants it. There are people out there that are really good at one thing and they love it. They don’t to learn more things. As long as that’s not effecting their job or your company’s bottom line, that’s okay! Not everyone wants to be a CEO and we still need people like that. The employees that want to learn and grow just want to know that option is available. Let them shadow another department or visit another location if you have one. They don’t have to take advantage of any of that, but having the option makes a huge difference.

Help them Find Passion: Don’t think passion projects, because that phrase makes me want to hurl. My VP recently enlisted my co-worker and I into expanding our diversity. I’m passionate about that and I’m excited. Your employees may find they really love training people and that can work to your advantage – win, win! Maybe someone’s extremely into research, so take advantage of that, too, and have them do it for you. Passion -> excitement -> engagement. I promise.

Ask for and Listen to their Opinions: You don’t have to agree with them at all, but if you are truly hearing what they’re saying, it goes a long way. You might want to engage them a little bit, so they feel heard. Taking the time to listen to their ideas, opinions or concerns gives employees the feeling that they, along with their feelings, really do matter to their leader and ultimately to the organization.

This isn’t an conclusive list and I only play an HR person 40ish hours a week, so feel free to take this word for word or with a grain of salt. More than anything, treat your employees like people. The way you work it out is totally up to you.

28 Apr

goodbye first trimester!

I always feel weird writing these things from a non-pregnant partner’s point of view, because it’s missing all of the details that moms search for, like “round ligament pain” or “puking on the side of the freeway”. (My pregnant wife would have searched for the first thing, by the way. The last thing is all me.) However, I also know that when we first found out we were expecting I couldn’t find a single place online where I could commiserate or learn from non-pregnant partners – moms, dads, what have you. So, boom.

Today, our fetus is 13 weeks old.

Amelia had a blood test last week (due to her ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE) just to test for any weird chromosomal stuff, since insurance pays for things like that when you’re 82. Along with that, they’re also pulling DNA, which will identify the sex of the baby. That test was on 4/23 and they said we should have the results in 7-10 days. Essentially, I’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo by knowing whether or not I’ll have a son or a daughter come late fall.

 

New things:

  • Can current pee and scratch itself, making this mom super proud.
  • Cartilage is being replaced by bones and RIBS are forming to protect the tiny little organs that are actually starting to work on their own.
  • And hooray for their intestines finally being on the inside!
  • This baby has a mouth that’s opening and closing and if the baby’s anything like this mom, it’s probably going to be open all the time and that closing part isn’t all that important.
  • The weirdest thing for me to grasp? This tiny being already has formed fingerprints!

Size from head to butt: 3 inches. Also 3 inches? My… nope, never mind. But if you fold a dollar bill in half, that’s the same size as this baby. It’s the same length as my pointer finger. Do you have a business card? This baby is just a smidge smaller than your business card. That’s kind of nuts.

Here’s the most up to date science-y looking and generalized picture of our baby (via EHD.org):

three-month-fetus

Your key to weirdness in the above photo: forehead (1), elbow (2), rib cage (3), right knee (4), tiny foot (5), right balled up little first (6), little baby back (7) and hip for shaking (8).

Baby Upgrades: 

  • Crib purchased! It was agonizing. I’m not kidding. We looked online, we looked in baby stores, you name it. We ended up using an IKEA gift card we got from Cindi and Adam for our wedding and putting that towards a nice little Swedish crib.
  • Big brother is getting into this little sibling. He picked out a puppet for the baby at IKEA and he had to try out SEVERAL before he found the right one. He’s also planning on bringing over some other puppets from his dad’s house, so he’ll be able to have a bigger selection.
  • We’ve been pre-approved for a car loan to add a second car along with our second child. We have a few ideas of what we’re looking for and we’ve been needing a second car anyway. Now we just have to find one that holds one teenager, one car seat, one large dog, one small dog and whatever the heck else we need when we travel, and yet still get decent gas mileage.
  • We got a new Lazy Boy reclining rocking chair and an awesome area rug, so our living room is not only baby friendly, it’s also grown up looking, too.
  • We loaded a car full of crap to the dump this last weekend, too. We’re in purge overload, but everything we purge, we’re just replacing with baby stuff. I blame Children’s Place and it’s evil 40% off codes that I use to buy all their clearance things. I got another email today, but I looked and I have literally bought everything on clearance that’s gender neutral.

That’s a lot. Oddly enough, it’s actually going really smoothly. Like really smoothly. I can only imagine that when we have our Level 2 Ultrasound on May 23rd, we’ll find out there’s a twin in there or something.

24 Apr

the last year has seriously flown

My desk on the last day at my last job.

Exactly one year ago today, I was at the Imperial Room with co-workers from my previous job, and I was in the process of getting absolutely obliterated on drinks that I couldn’t keep track of at all. Later, I would puke on the back porch. My wife would probably tell you more about that if you wanted the details. The hardest part for me was leaving some of my co-workers (the non-homophobic ones) and the CEO, who was an enormous catalyst in my professional growth over those five years. The easiest part for me was everything else. I won’t go into detail, but I’m sure you can read them in my future memoir and it will likely take up 43 chapters with very few pictures.

And since then… man. You know how they say you shouldn’t do ALL OF THE LIFE CHANGES at once? Well, screw that. In the past 365 days, we’ve done some things.

  • I started a new very awesome job.
  • We celebrated Minnesota legalizing gay marriage.
  • We went camping.
  • I started going back to school.
  • We went to Vegas.
  • We got married.
  • We saw Macklemore.
  • We went camping again.
  • I went to Missouri in October.
  • We went to Missouri for Christmas.
  • Amelia started going back to school.
  • We went up north for a cabin weekend.
  • The Kid switched schools.
  • We got pregnant.

I don’t necessarily know that the next year will slow down with things on the agenda like going to Montana, graduating with my AA in Liberal Arts, going to New York, buying a new car, starting my Bachelor’s program, and having a baby all on the agenda for the next six or seven months.

When I put it all into perspective, I can’t wait to come back and look at this post again in 365 days when we’ll have an almost six month old and a 17 year old a month away from graduating high school.

This is probably a gimme, but I’m pretty happy with this life of mine right now.

23 Apr

headed to new york city, but where else should we go?

Amelia and I are joining three other friends for a little late summer vacation to New York City. It materialized over Facebook one afternoon when Jenni mentioned seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, since it was starring Neil Patrick Harris. Next thing I know, we have tickets to the show purchased and we’re now just waiting for airfare not to be insanely stupid. For the wife and I, we’re calling it a post-community college graduation party, pre-baby trip. When we planned it, I don’t think we were even pregnant yet. Oops. But she’s a trooper and says she doesn’t mind traipsing along the east coast while seven months pregnant.

We’re for sure going to New York City for a couple of days, perhaps more. Amelia’s never been to the east coast. I’ve been to Newark and Boston twice each and New York once. So, my question to you east coast dwellers and regular visitors, where else should we go? Do you have specific landmarks we must see or our lives will not be complete? I don’t think we’re talking a week on the east coast or anything, but maybe a couple of days before or after our weekend in New York City.

Some things we’ve talked about:

  • Driving up to Boston
  • Driving over to Philly
  • Hitting up Atlantic City
  • Flying one way into New York City and then just picking some other city to fly out of and road trip it there

And then of course we’ve talked about just spending the whole time in New York, which poses the question of what’ s a must do there?

  • Liberty vs. Fever game the weekend we’re there?
  • Central Park is a must visit
  • Not Yankee Stadium. I don’t want to catch douchebag while I’m there.
  • And I know all the lists of things I can look at – I just like personal recommendations!

Also, I really like opinions!

18 Apr

when it comes to babies, the internet is the worst place to be

I know it’s all baby stuff all the time right now, but if I wrote about the other things going on in my life, it would look like this:

  • Work is grand.
  • School is moving along.
  • Minneapolis Community & Technical College is a giant joke, but I only have five more weeks of classes there, then an eight week summer semester where I’m taking classes from a different school since MCTC makes it literally impossible to actually get their Associate’s of Arts online, even though they have a degree program called Online Associate’s of Arts. But at the end of June, I’ll have one degree down, and a very angrily worded letter/blog post/novel to share. I just want the degree first.
  • The teenage man child in our house is kicking school in the face and is about to line up an internship for the summer. Again.
  • All the animals are as awesome as ever, as evident from my constant posting pictures of them on Petstagram, Instagram, whatever.

That’s it. And I’m excellent with that.

It’s been a whirlwind of baby-fueled shopping, planning, reorganizing, planning, budgeting, planning and planning house over here in dangerous North Minneapolis. Now, obviously this bebe was planned, almost down to the minute that it happened. With that planning, we truly discussed everything. There’s just something different about discussing this creation of a new life and then, you know, realizing that it’s going to be here in less than 200 days. TWO HUNDRED DAYS. We’ve been in crazy purge mode lately and, if you’ve ever helped me move, you’ll know that I don’t purge. I don’t HOARD, but I do have the tendency to keep things as bit longer than I should.

So, babies and the internet. That’s how I got you here. I mean, I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but people are fucking stupid and it scares me that so many of the reproduce. My wife belongs to a few groups on Facebook with LGBT couples trying to conceive and it’s really been helpful with some things we’ve been growing through and some concerns we’ve had. She’ll sometimes share what some of the people post. And usually, they’re stupid that I beg her to tell me what the name of the group is so I can leave comments that say STOP IT RIGHT NOW. I guess I see why.

Babies and the Internet II: Sometimes, I like to Google things like “11 week old fetus” to see pictures of fetii that are similar to the one we’ve created. I always immediately regret it, because pro-lifers have taken the liberty of photoshopping the hell out of some images that make me want to throw up. And I don’t want to throw up because they’re aborted fetuses, because in this instance: THEY’RE NOT. I want to throw up because people out there spend so much time trying to scare the everloving bejeezus out of women that are considering abortion. It’s terrible. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon an image someone had thrown out there of a bucket full of 9 week old fetuses, and of course they were covered in blood and all had tears running down the sides of their faces. Screw you, pro-lifers. You can have your opinion, but can you at least share that opinion in a way that’s not grossly inaccurate and uses complete fear to get your point across?

Babies and the Internet III (this is the good stuff): I now know that our little dinosaur looking thing is about 1 1/2 inches long right now, which is almost the size of my thumb. I’m having a hard time dealing with the fact that the clothes we’ve been stocking up on are MUCH BIGGER THAN THAT and the baby will be fitting into some of them in, you know, less than 200 days. Did I mention that earlier? The internet says it’s the size of a fig, but the only thing that I know about figs is that they make Fig Newtons out of them, so that’s not helping me much in terms of visualization. Other websites say the baby could be the size of a lime. I think that’s much cuter:

theboyandthelime

Lime-sized representation with his/her older brother.