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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Goodbye Jim

Posted by Tim Stobbs on April 14, 2014

Out of all the characters in the federal government as the federal Finance minister I spent the most time following what Jim Flaherty did since it was most relevant to this blog.  So I was a bit shocked to find out he was dead after just a few short weeks from leaving his job.

On the whole I have to say from my personal point of view his record on the job was a mixed bag.  On the one hand he created the 40 year mortgage and created the huge surge in housing prices in this country, which has totally screwed over anyone who didn’t already own a home.  Yet later on this was undone and we reverted back towards 25 year mortgages as he did the hardest thing to do in life and admit you were wrong and fix something after the fact.   Yet for the average person his biggest legacy is the creation of the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) which allows all Canadians to save money in an account that doesn’t trigger tax on investments.  While it hasn’t been well used by the average person (since the majority of people just keep their money in a savings account, sigh), it was a good step in the right direction to help encourage saving.

Yet Jim’s last lesson is likely the most notable to me.  Life is short, so don’t spend all your time working.  It doesn’t do you any good to spend you life building a retirement fund if you drop dead shortly after leaving your job.  Stress can be a killer and you have to take care of yourself now and in the future.  So I will try to recall this lesson and not spend all my time working in life.  You have to sit back and enjoy life as well.

So goodbye Jim.  Thanks for trying to make life better for people, while I don’t always agree with what you did I do appreciate you tried.  My condolences to his family in their time of grief, while I didn’t know him personally I respected his actions.

Standing Up, Again

Posted by Tim Stobbs on April 10, 2014

Yesterday I had a second opportunity to vote  for myself in an election, which trust me that doesn’t get any less weird doing it more than once.  This time I was picked by our local engineering association (APEGS)’s nomination committee to be nominated for their council.  The council is the governing body for the association and it would be for a three year term.

I really don’t even know how my name came up to that committee, but never the less I understand that our engineering association exist because we are self governing body.  So in my mind that means some members have to help run it or we end up with getting run directly by the provincial government which could be unpleasant.  So I agreed to let my name stand for this year’s election and I will serve if elected.

Besides I’m hardly a shoe in for the job.  Actually the other nomination ironically taught me when I took my engineering degree.  So yes I’m running against my old professor, which I think provides a nice contrast in choices.

It might seem odd that I’m volunteering for more work , when I fully admit I’m obsessed with not having a day job.  Yet the reality is I want more time to do other things like this, I enjoy contributing my time and skills to organizations which I believe can help improve people’s lives.  Being free from having to work for salary doesn’t mean I want to stop being involved.  Instead it means choosing the work I do based on interest and not the salary.

Do you stand up to support organizations you believe in?  If so, how do you contribute?  If you had more time to get involved, would you do more?

The Raise & Better Work Evaluations

Posted by Tim Stobbs on March 21, 2014

I wonder some days if I just don’t have a problem accepting praise or perhaps I just lack the ability to give enough credit for my own work.  In either case I did better on my last year performance evaluation than I thought and got a nice 5% raise yesterday.

Yet perhaps what was most interesting part of the discussion on my work was the fact the company is starting to move past just evaluating results of people’s work (ie: what they did), but also the context on how they do their work.

I think everyone has run into someone who on the surface does great work, but is a pain in the ass to work with. Some people tend to put up with the attitude because of the great work.  Well apparently the new direction in our performance reviews going forward is going to assess both the what and how.  So in the future the ass to work with will get less of raise.

On the surface I like the idea, but I have to admit to being concerned on who evaluates this but I found out our performance rank last year was vetted on all the department managers and the director prior to approval.  So a person can’t just kiss up to one person and get a higher result, you actually need to be a generally good person to work with (or somehow kiss up to a hell of a lot of people).  Of course the group evaluation helps keep things in balance, but things can still go sideways for a person who doesn’t do much work with other groups.  Yet I suppose there is no perfect tool to judge performance of an individual.

In the end, part of the reason I did better than I thought on my performance evaluation was the fact I’m apparently a nice guy to work with.  The group was partly evaluating the ‘how people work’  prior to it becoming the official direction going forward.  Which to me is funny, since it isn’t like I try to be that nice, but rather respect people and be honest about things.  Last time I looked I looked I work with adults so the respect is fairly easy to give and perhaps it is my failing in life that avoid lying to people.  I tend to tell people what they need to hear not what they want to hear.   So while I expect my honesty to get me into trouble at times…and it does…overall it seems to balance out.

Oh for the record I’m not a saint to work with….I have my bad days just like everyone else and my problem areas.  I hate repetitive data entry and will avoid doing it, my first draft of anything is horrible, and my work after 3pm usually sucks.  Also when I have a really bad day I can be almost mean to people.

So what do you think about evaluating people for what they get done and how they do it?  Does it work or just cause even more problems?