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It’s About Time

January 20, 2016

Hey kids, it’s snowing!

Does that sentence bring cries of excitement or groans of dread from your kids? For my kids, the answer is “Yes.” It really depends on the calendar. 

Is a job promotion a good thing or a bad thing? 


Is an unexpected business trip a positive or a negative? 


Is getting a new member of your team a cause for exclamations of relief, or muttering of frustration?


Events don’t happen in a vacuum. (Well, some vacuum events involving dust and sucking up those little Lego pieces do, but that’s not the kind of vacuum we are discussing.) Timing is everything. And just because an event might be a positive at one point in your life or career, doesn’t mean it is great other times. 

How could a promotion be a bad thing? If it pushes you into a direction you don’t want to go, or don’t have skills in. I once was hired to manage a team of engineers. My first day on the job I realized that one of the engineers was fairly well known in our industry. He’d written multiple books and was regarded as one of the foremost experts in the world. My thought was, “Why didn’t he get the manager job?” I later found out, he did. And he hated it.

The skills that make you a good engineer, are not necessarily those that make you a good manager. This guy was great at being an engineer, but he was miserable in a management role. The company realized the mismatch and “demoted” him back to being an engineer. He was thrilled. It was almost like a promotion.

I think most people can understand how unexpected travel can be a negative, but can it be a positive? I was living in Chicago and working as an unpaid volunteer for the LDS Church. I was one of those guys you see in white shirts and ties who ride around on bicycles. Except, we were on busses and trains. I’d spent 18 months in Chicago and anticipated spending the remaining months of my missionary service in the Windy City. I was surprised one January when I was informed that the following week I would be transferred to Aneheim, CA. The weather was going from -8 to 80 for me. That was a good switch. 

Okay, but what about a new team member? Don’t we all want more people to help on our teams? You know, share the load? There have been times in my career where I have turned down additional resources. Sometimes, they are simply too junior to be able to effectively contribute in the timeframe I need them to. Other times, there have been personality conflicts. “Bob’s not working out in accounting. Let’s transfer him to Rodney’s team!”

Most of the time I love adding people to my team. I’m a people person and really enjoy working with just about everyone. However, a new person means change. It means taking time away from your everyday tasks to bring the new person up to speed on processes, documentation, objectives, etc. If you are at crunch time in a project, the time when having another person would be the most helpful, it’s actually the time they are least effective. 

Oh, and snow? During November and early December my kids are hugely excited at the first hint of the white stuff. By January, all they want to know is if there is enough that they will have to shovel the walks. . .again. 

Timing is everything. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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