It’s not about the money

Its not about the moneyIf you read my post from last week, you’ll know that I quit my most recent contracting role because of some nutty demands from my ex-employers (here’s the link if you want to catch up –

When I went in on Friday morning to hand my notice in (and I thank my lucky stars that as a contractor I only needed to give them one day’s notice), I got talking to “J”, the lady who sits opposite me. She was also handing her notice in that morning. She’s a permanent member of staff, and has been there four months.  Apparently, she’d heard through the grapevine that she was the third person that morning to be parting ways with this particular Horroffice and that was before my news.   A busy day for HR…

One we’d both done the deed we decided to go out for a long leisurely lunch.

Over some lunchtime vino “J” filled me in on her experiences over the last four months. “J” is an intelligent, capable woman, who has years of PA experience, having handled complex projects for previous employers. In her four months here she had been reduced to stationery monitor, topper-up of teas, coffees and other assorted beverages, and lunchtime sandwich buyer. I was actually sitting there last week when one of the head honchos strolled over with a twenty quid note, flashed it at “J” with details of his lunch order and told her to buy herself a bag of sweets as a treat. Yup – you heard that right. A bag of sweets.  And he thought he was being generous.  Mind you this is the same man who expected me to drop all attempts at a work-life balance and match his 14 hour days (without matching his six figure salary of course).  I had to pinch myself, because for a minute I thought we’d somehow been teleported back to a 1959’s typing pool!

As we were discussing the terrible treatment we’d had “J” said something that struck a chord.  She reckoned “It’s not about the money, although of course that’s important”.  It’s about being valued and respected for your input.  I completely agree with her.  I’ve stayed in roles before where I haven’t been earning a great deal but where I’ve enjoyed the work and my bosses have acknowledged and appreciated my input.  We all want a little recognition when we go above and beyond for our employers.  We’re trading our time for their money, true, but we’re also trading our skills, expertise and enthusiasm with that.  We give a little bit of ourselves and we want that acknowledged.  I think if more employers realised that, and treated their employees accordingly, there might be a lot less handing in of notices and a lot more happy workers.  And I’m pretty sure those happy workers would translate into a better run company which would translate into more profit – win-win!

Just Say No

Just say no 2I did not expect to be writing this post today.

When I started our for work this morning I knew what I had to get through for the day, and I knew what I needed to do to achieve it.

And when I got in this morning, after the ritual turning on of the laptop and worshipping of the coffee-maker (why does everyone always seem to wait until I get up to do it?!) I checked in with my manager and then got on with the task in hand.  By lunchtime there had been a mini-crisis (there always is – it’s that kind of place) and my tasks had changed.  But I re-arranged things and got on with the new task in hand.  By home-time I’d made significant progress and was just about to finish off and pack up when the Head of Finance (my manager’s manager in the whole ‘who’s got the flashiest title and most important air about them’ hierarchy thing) asked me to pop into his office for a word or two.

Just to give you some ‘flava’, I started about a month ago, and my manager had so far done a bit of a poor job at handing anything over to me.  Every time I asked him, he sat with me for fifteen minutes, sometimes even an hour, then something urgent would come up and we’d have to stop.  O he’d have done the work at 7.30 am, when I was still at home.  Or at 7.30 pm, when I’d got home.  Or on Saturday afternoon, when I was at home.  You get the picture.  He mostly asked me to review his work and learn that way.  Not ideal, but other than physically tying him to his chair and forcing him to train me (apparently the first bit is frowned on by the HR gods…) what could I do?

I’d already decided that this particular contract and environment weren’t for me – which is a shame in a way because the team I work with are lovely people.  But there is a trend here – the company works you hard.  Ridiculously hard.  And most people leave within six months.  My manager’s role has changed hands more than three times in less than two years.   With this in mind, I had planned to leave just as soon as I’d lined up another contract.  So.  There we are.

So HoF was asking me how I was getting on, and I was making the usual non-committal responses.  Then HoF got to the point.  He said he had noticed my boss working long hours.  Longer hours than HoF himself.  And he had also noticed that I was not working those hours (for the record my boss’s average day is 7.30 am to 9 pm), and I had not volunteered to stay behind so I could learn from my boss before he left.  Possibly a valid point, although I kind of feel hand-overs and training should mostly be done in work hours – I’m funny like that!

Then he went on to ask me if there were any commitments at home preventing me from staying late.   I said, yes, I had commitments at home (A pooch, family, friends, A LIFE – although I didn’t elaborate that for him).  And then he said something like (I wish I could remember it verbatim) ‘Well, we all have commitments but we need to find a way around them.’  EXSQUEEEZE ME???  Are you basically telling me you think I need to give up my home life so I can stay here and work myself crazy for you?  After a little shell-shocked nodding from me the meeting concluded and I toddled off home.

Which brings me to now.  Having talked it over with the Fam. we’ve all voted for me to hand my notice in tomorrow.  I don’t have another cushy contract lined up.  I have no idea what I’ll do or what will come up next but I have to trust in God, The Universe and Fate that there was a reason for this conversation.  Maybe that reason was to make sure I don’t get sucked in and slave for far too many hours at the most disorganised finance department in the history of mediocre finance departments.  Maybe the reason was that I now have enough material for ‘Coping with the Horroffice’ and it’s time to find a lovely little contract where I can thrive, flourish, deliver value and still leave on time and have a life.

So tomorrow morning I will just say no.  No to extra hours for no extra pay.  No to being made to feel guilty for leaving on time.  No to this culture of working employees into the ground and then moving on to the next one.  I’m handing my notice in and I’m moving on – on my terms, in my time and with my dignity and nerves intact!   Hoorah!

Swearing in the workplace

Swearing in the workplaceLet me paint you a picture…

I’m sitting with my boss at his desk and he’s talking me through the month-end process.  We’ve missed the deadline set by Group to report our numbers into them.  This is partly due to Group not having the reporting pack ready for us, partly due to my boss having to deal with a million other ‘Urgent, Must be Done Yesterday’ tasks, and partly due to the colossal ineptitude of some of the staff we work with causing us problems.  So things are going well, NOT.

I’ve been here just over a month, and I’m starting to get used to the casual and random swearing I hear in conversations all over the office.  I’m not a fan myself – I just don’t like hearing those words and I rarely use them.

But today, my boss had what I can only describe as a thunderously loud and severely prolonged swearathon.  It was so astounding that the rest of the office actually stopped what they were doing and looked genuinely shocked and awed at the same time.  (Group had sent an urgent email, copying in the world, his wife and his mother-in-law, pointing out we were late with our reporting and were holding them up).  I honestly thought he might be having a genuine apoplectic seizure for a minute.  But he was just letting off steam.  A lot of steam.  Enough to power a train from John O’Groats to Lands End apparently.

I completely get his frustration.  I mean seriously – it’s not like until this point we’ve been blissfully unaware of the date or the fact we’re late in delivering and have all been skiving – we’re busting a gut trying to get it all done.

But….I don’t like the swearing.  In fact, I would go as far as to say I hate the swearing.  And I know I’ve been spoilt, because most of the office environments I’ve worked in have had very few rude words.  I won’t be joining in – I can’t, it’s not part of my natural vocabulary and so it feels weird to me.

I guess what I find odd is that it’s the norm here and most people seem to do it without thinking.  I don’t know whether it’s normal to want to turn the air blue with your words – we do have air conditioners for that after all.  What do you think?  Is it normal?  Am I just making a big deal out of nothing, am I being Polly Prude?  Or do you agree with me – swearing in the workplace is just not cool dude?

Here’s something else to ponder in the whole ‘swearing in the workplace’ thing – according to a 2012 Career Builder survey 57% of employers questioned said they’d be less likely to employ someone who used profanity.  And 64% of employers would think less of an employee who repeatedly uses profanity.


All work and no play

All work no playWe’ve all heard the saying – ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.


It’s true too, isn’t it?


After a month in my new contract (yup – it has only taken a month for me to realise this may be another Horroffice….yikes) I was definitely feeling dull around the edges.  And don’t get me started on my horrifically dull skin and slightly haunted eyes.

Even the dog was drooping – I thought he might actually have contracted Horroffice syndrome from me – oh the horror!


So before things took a turn for the worse, off we went for some play.  Which is why it’s been a little bit quiet chez Heena’s blog – sorry lovelies.


What a lovely week of play we’ve had though.  Even though we’re not ‘activity holiday’ people we took ourselves off to the brand new Center Parcs in Woburn.  Whilst we kept firmly away from the crazy swimming pool packed with excited, dangerous little people and didn’t do any actual ‘activity’ type stuff, we have had a fabulous time.  We have spent hours mooching around outside with the pooch.  We’ve had the most luxurious spa treatments almost every day.  We even had a sauna at the back of the lodge!  Speaking of which, the lodge itself is more swish than my little semi.  And we’ve laughed, eaten loads of lovely nosh,  and drunk in the atmosphere and the alcohol.  Every day we were there my mind and body unwound a little bit more.  Every night I went to sleep thinking ‘Aaaaahhhhhh lovely.’


And canny planner that I am, before we even headed off for our week of fun, I spent the Saturday before having my own personal theatre fest – a matinée showing of Richard III, a lovely little meal, wine and solo contemplation, then one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen – Medea at the National Theatre.


It’s probably not the ideal way to do the whole work/life balance thing – gorging on glorious goodies for the mind, soul and body before and after wading through the boggy waters of office life, but it’s better than not enjoying any goodies at all, right?


So I guess my plan for the next few weeks is to find a way to get more balance.  I’m going to make sure it’s not all work and no play.  I’m going to make time for play (there’s too much work to do to stop and head off on a treasure hunt for Time – I may as well create instead).


In which case I’d better sign off so I can go and check out some more theatre listings and sort some doggy play dates!

Two Cool Confidence Boosting Habits

Confidence 3A great way to get ahead at work is to cultivate a confidant attitude, right?


But how do you do that? Especially if you feel like more of a wallflower than a sunflower type?

Well, here are a couple of habits confident people cultivate – try them out and see whether they make a difference for you. (And remember, even if they don’t quite work, you made the effort, you will have tried something new, and that in itself pushes your confidence levels up – it’s win win!).

  1. Focus on your goal.  The only real super-power confident people are blessed with is the power of a positive vision.  Confident people are just as aware as everyone else of the chances and pitfalls of failure.  They acknowledge that and then go for what they want anyway.  They focus on what it will feel like, what it will be like, what it will look like when they achieve what they set out to accomplish.  So give it a go.  Work on just one goal.  Write it out, picture what it will be like and then every day remind yourself of that goal.
  2. Keep it simple.  Sounds…erm..simple,doesn’t it.  And it is.  Nothing new here, but something a lot of us overlook.  Once you have your goal, don’t get distracted!  Focus, focus and then focus a bit more.  Work out your plan to get where you want to be, break it down into manageable chunks and then start ticking things off the list.  Take a little action every day, remind yourself every day of what you want and go for it.  Don’t let other peoples drama’s get in the way, and learn to tune out your own negative thoughts and over-analysing of the how/when/what if.  Just keep your eyes on the target, and take it one step at a time.  That’s it.  No big secret.  Simple.  But effective.

When I first decided I wanted to move from accounting to writing, people didn’t really get it, and not everyone was encouraging.  I heard lots of stories of how many millions of people had tried and failed.  And it’s true, millions have tried and failed.  But how would I know if I was one of them if I didn’t try.  What if I didn’t fail?  What if I made it?  And that’s the difference.  In my vision, I ALWAYS make it, I always get to where I want to be.  Once I’ve decided what I want to do, I just break that vision down.  So I planned what I wanted to write, I broke it down a bit more, then every day I did a little bit.  After work, at the weekends, whenever I got a chance.  And lo and behold, after plugging away doing a little bit every day, for a lot of days, Coping with the Horroffice was born!

So see how you get on with these little tips for big confidence boosts and once you’ve got them mastered, head back over here for a couple more to add to your arsenal.

It’s all about attitude

Attitude vs aptitude“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” – Zig Ziglar.

Here’s my take on this interesting little idea.

When I first became an auditor I wasn’t particularly keen on auditing (is anyone, ever?).  I did the job, hit my deadlines and went home.  To get my accountancy qualification I needed three years of experience signed off by the business.  So that’s what I was doing – ticking the boxes to get to the three year mark.  I had convinced myself I didn’t want to stay in auditing, so what was the point in getting excited and involved?

I got on well but I never really got ahead.  I wasn’t seen as one of the ‘stars’ of the department.   I knew I had the capability, I just didn’t have the enthusiasm.  And I learnt the problem with this when it came to promotion and pay rise time.  The ‘stars’ had been working hard at shining all year.  It didn’t necessarily matter that I might be doing a better job – they were shiny, eager, worked hard and got the kudos for that.  And actually, I think that’s fair enough.  I chose an easier life.

A couple of years in though, I suddenly had a bit of a change of heart.  I was really enjoying the work I was doing, I liked the company I was working for, and I wanted a little bit of the limelight.  So I started volunteering for extra stuff, like interviewing graduates or doing a little bit of presenting.  And the more I did, the more I enjoyed and the more I shone.  And the more I shone the more I got noticed, until I was approached to take on a more senior role.  Which, at the time, was exactly what I wanted.

I’d always had the ability to do the job and do it well, but when I turned up the volume on the positive attitude, everything started coming my way a little bit faster and more easily.

It makes sense really – when I’m looking at my employees its the ones who are keen to take on more, eager to learn and willing to do more than they need to that stand out for me too.

Attitude makes  a huge difference to the altitude of your career, and your life in general. So grab your big girl/big boy pants, turn the volume up on your enthusiasm and see what happens!



MilkgateToday was a historic day in the office.  Today was the day Milkgate, which has been gently bubbling over in the background, simmering and occasionally steaming but never really cooling down, finally boiled over.

To give you some context, there are lots of little departments dotted around the manufacturing site I’m currently contracting at.  Each little department has its own little fridge(and I mean little – there’s enough room for half a sandwich and a pint of milk..ahem).  And on top of the fridge are the basics for getting through the day – industrial strength coffee, tea and sugar, plus accoutrements.  Although accoutrements sounds a big grand when I’m actually just referring to a packet of plastic stirrers and a very dodgy looking teaspoon on a tray that has probably been here since before the industrial revolution.

We get allocated one carton of milk, which just about sees us through the day.  It gets delivered in the morning before we get in, so we’re ready for the day.  Now occasionally, other departments, whom also get their carton of milk, are a little more heavy handed with their supplies, and they come and pinch ours.  Not to worry, we usually have enough to go around.  But there’s been more and more ‘borrowing’ and so far we’ve not seen any return of said borrowed stuff.

And today, when we got back from our lunch, and were ready for a nice strong afternoon tea to kick the second half of the day into gear, what did we see?


No milk, no tea and no sugar.  Our levels had been low, to be fair, but we definitely had enough for one round.  And not only that, our precious chocolate hobnobs (which we’d donated ourselves for the greater good of the team) had been hobnobbed too!


An incensed colleague went out to investigate, and came back even more enraged, as no-one dared admit to being the milk/Hobnob thief.  Plans were made to add a padlock to the fridge, or to have a fridge monitor on duty at all times.  We were on high alert.  We were tea deprived.  We could put up with terrible hours, poor processes, shoddy IT systems, but to deprive us of our tea and coffee?  No way!

There was no other option left – we alerted management at the highest level (our General Manager, who luckily happened to occasionally share our office space, and had enjoyed the generosity of the occasional Hobnob or Kitkat with us), listened attentively.  Finally, after a good two hours of stewing (us obviously, definitely not the tea) and a excellent effort to remain serious in the face of such absurdity from the GM, there was news.

An email had been issued at the highest level, to all departments – there would be no more borrowing of milk between departments – it was now strictly forbidden.

The next morning a big packet of chocolate hobnobs were waiting for us, along with TWO cartons of milk – Milkgate was officially over.

Coping with the Horroffice

I’m excited and a little bit nervous today.  Why?  Because in today’s post I’m going to give you a little peek at Coping with the Horroffice.  I’m still working on draft number whatever, but it’s slowly taking shape and I can’t wait to share the whole thing with you soon.  In the meantime, here’s a little excerpt from chapter 1…enjoy!


“Set goals, control your future – A good way to avoid getting sucked into other people’s bullshit is to have a clear picture of why you’re where you are, doing what you’re doing, and what that’s going to lead to.  It’s a bit like this. Imagine your life is a car.  Setting goals and following through on them is like you taking the steering wheel, setting the GPS, deciding on your destination.  It stops other people hijacking your car to get them to their destination instead (you might offer them a lift if it’s on the way, but that’s your call, not theirs!)”

Coping with the Horroffice - Cover

Three ways to beat the Bank Holiday Blues

bank holiday bluesIf you’re anything like me the lovely long bank holiday weekend that you’ve been looking forward to for ages is now almost done and dusted, and has flown by way too quickly.

Not only are we saying goodbye to the last three day weekend for the year, but we’re getting ready to say hello to darker evenings and colder weather.  No wonder we’ve got the bank holiday blues!  There’s something very ‘back to school’ about it all, but without the excitement of new stationery and school bags.

So how do we cheer ourselves up, get out of this funk and ditch the bank holiday blues?  What can we do to help us feel better and cope more easily?

Here are my three tips – all tried and tested by yours truly – to help you banish the bank holiday blues:

  1. Indulge yourself.  Hopefully you’ve had an awesome weekend and indulged aplenty already but this is slightly different.  I want you to plan to indulge yourself on Tuesday night.  Make sure you plan this out over the weekend, and buy in whatever you need, and clear your diary for Tuesday night.  It could be anything from buying yourself a bar of your favourite expensive chocolate, opening a good bottle of wine or just having a lovely long soak with the radio on.  Whatever it is that makes you melt a bit and go ‘aaahhhhh loverly’ is good.
  2. Hug it better.  Find someone or something – partner, friend, parent, sibling, cat, dog, whoever is willing and able, and give them a lovely long hug.  Why?  A hug that lasts for twenty measly seconds or longer is actually proven to make you feel better – it lowers your cortisol and stress hormone levels, and increases the levels of feel good hormones like oxytocin.  And why stop at twenty seconds – get yourself snuggled up on the sofa for a lusciously long hugging session and enjoy!
  3. Breathe it out.  You’ll hear me refer to this one a LOT.  Because it’s awesome, free,  easy and you can do it any time and anywhere you need a bit of a boost.  Just focus on your breath for a couple of minutes.  Take a slow breath in, notice it travel through your body, notice the way it pauses just for a moment, and then notice it travel all the way back through your body and out.  As you focus on this, you’ll give yourself a whole host of benefits, including feeling calmer and happier about pretty much anything.

I personally will be doing a little of each – why be stingy when they all sound and feel so good!  So tonight I’ll be hugging the pooch and enjoying some deep breathing, and I’ve planned a little bit of wine ‘o’clock, plus more Simba sofa cuddles and deep breathing tomorrow evening.  By the time that’s all done it’ll be Wednesday and I’ll be back in the flow of the week!

Let me know how you get on. x

Dress Down Friday

dress down fridayIt’s Friday – hooray!  If you’re anything like me you’re counting it down in hours and minutes.  I don’t even have anything particularly special planned for tonight, but it’s the idea of being released from the shackles of the Horroffice, not just for a few hours, but a whole weekend, that has me grinning like a raccoon riding a roller coaster.

Before I get to clocking off time though, I have the dilemma of what to wear for ‘dress down Friday’.  And it really is a dilemma.  I can’t wear my ‘at home with the pooch’ clothes, because then my colleagues at the Horroffice might think my ne’er do well twin, Heena the Hobo, has taken my place.  When you own a fur ball that moults all year round, your idea of dress down goes from nice-ish jeans and a smart but cool top to clothes that come with a pre-attached layer of golden fur and am occasional smear of slobber – not really the right look for the office, even on an oh-so casual dress down Friday.  But I also don’t want to be the dork that turns up in ‘normal’ smart work clothes when everyone else is in their slouchy tops and sneakers.  And the added dimension to this dilemma is the fact that I lose a precious three inches in height on most dress down days, as I swap my heels for my cool and comfy Vans.  This may not seem like much to you, but I barely hit 5ft in heels.  In Vans I’m practically a munchkin.  Ideally, my dress down clothes should also be ‘magically make me look taller’ clothes.  Easy peasy, right? Wrong.  None of my clothes seem to fit the delicate balance that is dress down Friday.

Clearly this is a shopping emergency, and has the potential to ruin the fabulousness of feelgood Friday.

Finally, having hammered my bank balance and the shops,  I have reluctantly added a third section to my wardrobe – in addition to my work clothes and my weekend clothes (which include smart and slobby sub-sets of course!), I now have ‘fur-free-dress-down-Friday-specially-for-work-keep-away-from-the-dog-at-all-cost’ clothes.

The joys of being a pet owner eh!  Have a fabulous Friday my lovelies. 🙂