Thursday 11 April 2019

Maintaining relationships beyond when we worked together

Beyond working together
On Monday, I was out at the Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames, a private members club which boasts the membership of some of the most successful Olympic rowing champions the UK has ever produced. It is also the oldest rowing club in the world.
I was there at the behest of my one-time IT Director who in 1994/95 headed my department as I made the transition from the public sector to the private sector, a lowly technician hired to manage the Novell Netware network as the company began a concerted migration to Microsoft Windows NT.
In a UK-based and European-based career that spans almost 30 years, I am actively in touch with most of my managers, at least the ones who do want to keep in touch with me too. This includes my first two in the 1991 to 1995 timeframe. They have initiated and maintained contact with me through the years, long after our professional engagements.
Demons in control
I also have two managers who stand out as sociopaths and psychopaths who engaged in systematic and sadistic abuse of their staff for reasons I cannot care to research. I made immediate career shifts from under their management before they caused irreparable damage to my mental health and wellbeing at work.
You can never properly understand people like that whose little power with the ability to upend the lives of their reports instils fear, loathing, suspicion and disorder pretending to organisational effectiveness in their staff, by adopting a divide and rule team control regime, using the more malleable and pliant members of their teams in an unprincipled Big Brother device to exert absolute authority and obeisance from those fearful of their status and prospects.
We are people first
They are the complete opposites of the other managers I have worked for who treated their staff as human beings first, dispensed inexhaustible emotional intelligence, took interest in people beyond being drones and slaves at work and opened opportunities for progress and promotion to their people.
These managers became friends because they had that human touch, treated people with courtesy, consideration, and respect, they are mensch.
Hugs and more
Out of the blue, I got an email from my director, full of humour and ribbing asking after my welfare and hoping we get to meet up before we pass on. He had sent me an email the year before and suggested meeting for dinner, but I never really got to arrange anything. The last time we met was in 2013 and this was after a 14-year gap during which I was in the Netherlands.
I took an Uber ride from Reading arriving early at the club for our dinner that he had booked and offered to pay for, probably knowing that at other times, we had tossed coins and I always lost the bet. We met up at the bar, had our dinner and ordered from the menu before going for a short walk to the pontoon on the river whilst catching up in ideas, events and people in the intervening time between our last rendezvous.
When we sat for dinner, we were treated to a beautiful meal as we conversed like old friends. He was the one who persuaded and convinced me of going contracting in 1995 and I have been in typical consultancy and contracting roles for all that time, except for two years between 2002 and 2004.
Work life matters
Relationships matter, friendships from work can endure, the workplace, whilst a professional environment is also where you are probably interacting with the same people most of the time for the duration you are there. Why you would not attempt to engage and relate with those people and possibly build friendships escapes me.
That is not to say some of these colleagues are not hard work, Machiavellian in their attitude and impossible as human beings. You manage them out of having a negative effect on you as much as you can. Smart in their own conceits, you eventually part ways, hopefully never to meet again as they lay in store for themselves unfavourable references if you ever get to have a say in deciding to work with them again. Work is life, people would remember you for how you made them feel.
My old director is a member of the Leander Club, he goes rowing a few times a week on the Thames, looking quite good and fit for a man in his late sixties. I have an invitation to the Henley Regatta, I was invited almost 25 years ago, I didn’t take up the offer then.

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