Monday, April 21, 2014

We have a TM4 and plane tickets...

"Congratulations Chris."
- John
All my bags are packed I'm ready to go
I'm standin' here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin' it's early morn
The taxi's waitin' he's blowin' his horn
Already I'm so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go.

My EER is boring and yours should be, too.

This is EER season....Department of State's annual employee review process.  A month of writing, and rewriting about yourself and how great you are, getting you boss to write about you, and your bosses boss to write, and then you review what other people wrote about themselves.  Those EER's will be put in front of review panels when it comes time for they matter.  Obviously we need a way to review employees....I guess this is the best they've got, but I'm liking it less and less.

For starters, EER's are supposed to be a narrative of your past years performance in the "Core Precepts."  But when you get to the specifics, what do review panels want to see within those Precepts?  What's going to get you promoted?  What kind of things will they read to get me distinguished from my peers.

Which way to Promotion Panels see you.

Let me give you an example of a weakness I see in EER's...let's say you're on a Promotion Panel and you have 2 FM's up for promotion.  Here's a snippet from each FM's EER...

1) I spent the year putting in place all of Posts large building system maintenance contracts.  Because of my work, Post now gets 2 annual visits from US service contractors to make sure chillers, generators, and electrical systems are maintained and serviced at proper intervals.  The contracts worked with my staff to create a spare parts list to ensure that we have adequate parts for repairs.

And now this guy...

2)  One weekend in the middle of the night Post 1 called to say there was no a/c in the building.  I arrived at 2 am to find the chiller offline and a refrigerant leak.  I called the a/c team in and after 2 hours we were able to stop the leak and get the chiller working at 50%. 50% capacity was enough to get us through the next 3 days while OBO and Post worked to get a replacement compressor flown in from the USA.  The Ambassador was grateful that the emergency was addressed right away and the unit was repaired in a week.

Who gets the promotion?
Who's review sounded more heroic?
Probably number 2....but maybe there's a back story.

Maybe #2 never maintained the chiller. Maybe he didn't care about getting a spare compressor in case these was a failure.  Maybe he didn't get his staff trained to make the repairs quickly...the result of this inaction was a major equipment failure....but he got the opportunity to look like a hero.  The guy who spent the time being proactive and thinking ahead never needs to be called into action because his equipment doesn't beak down.

A lot of "maybe's", but my point is that (I suspect) promotion panels attention is piqued by the heroic and not the proactive....this doesn't bode we'll for the FM who spent his year buying spare parts and establishing maintenance contracts....boring stuff really.  But that's exactly what I did this year....I planned and prepared....after all, it's called preventative maintenance after all.

[In fairness, just because there is an emergency breakdown that doesn't mean the FM was derelict in his duties...there's also a lot of bad luck out'll happen to me at some point I suspect.]

So my boring EER this year consists of establishing all of Posts BME contracts, building up the spare parts inventories, getting guys trained, ensuring the NEC PM work order system is up and running, and, well, working really hard.  Like I said - heroics, no emergencies, just trying to leave Post a little better than when I got here.  Doubt you'll see my name on the promotion list this year.

I'm happy to have an EER full of proactive and preventative goals because I sleep better at night knowing I'm better prepared for upcoming disasters.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A** kissing, bootlicking, salesmanship, and your reputation.

I am not a bootlicker.
I am not an a** kisser.
I am salesman....and I am selling Chris Grawburg.

I want people to buy Chris Grawburg.  I want people to want Chris Grawburg.  I want people to need Chris Grawburg on their team.  I do that by selling myself.

Not the cheap trick I was referring to, but equally repulsive.

Selling yourself does not mean you're a cheap trick or a used car salesman.  

Selling yourself means laying the foundation of a good reputation and building on that reputation with each task your given and each person you meet.  

In State Department language your reputation is your "corridor rep."  I don't use "corridor rep" because it's a buzzword that the cool diplomats throw around at cocktail building my "reputation" is what I use. (Note to the reader - I consider myself cooler than the cocktail party diplomats.  I mean, how many of them know the four components of the refrigeration cycle...I mean, geezzz, come on.)

Specifically, how to I build my reputation?  I have 5 ways to build the Chris Grawburg brand...

1) Don't be an ass kisser.  Everyone knows who the ass kissers are and everyone likes to talk about them behind their back.  Yes, ass kissers can go far, but you don't want to be perceived as a fake.  It's my contention that people who are genuine and just "are" themselves will not only go far, but be happier doing it.  Ass kissers are hollow, soulless people who probably got picked on when they were a kid and are seeking out attention from those above them to make up for the love they didn't get growing up....ok, maybe that's an over analysis, but just be yourself.

2) Keep your word.  If you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain time - be there...early. (I once heard Ambassador Kenny in Bangkok say that if you're not 5 minutes early to a meeting you're already late.) If you promise to do something, then do it....with enthusiasm and pride.  If you say you'll meet a deadline, you better darn well do it...early if possible.  This is what you say you'll do.  Important note - this applies to your relationship with superiors and subordinates.  Just because someone works for you doesn't mean you honor commitments to them any less.

3) Exceed people's expectations.  I love turning in a funding request, or a safety report, or finishing a project and hearing, "wow, no one's ever done that before."  I want to wow people with my work.  There are 150 facility managers out there all doing reports and building projects.  I seek out ways to do it different, better, shinier, more completely, and thinking ahead.  If you can do just a little bit more!  Example...when OBO gives you money for a project do you provide weekly progress reports back to the POC with pictures showing the work status? When you request money, do you just send an email or do you take the time to make a professional presentation?  When TDY'ers come to Post, do you meet them at the airport personally?  Do you come to meetings organized and prepared to answer questions...actually spending time anticipating topics?  These are the little things people remember about you and build your credibility.

                   Get out there and meet people.

4) Meet people face to face.  When I was in engineering sales my golden rule was "people buy from people they like."  In other words, my relationship with people helped me make sales.  I wasn't buying them off, I was genuinely getting out there and meeting them.  

The same holds true as an FM.  When you're in DC on consultations, make the most of that time.  Walk around OBO and look the person in the face that helped you with questions or gave guidance on your career.  Take 2 seconds, introduce yourself and say, "Hey, I know your busy, but I wanted to introduce myself and just say thank for helping me with xxxxxx."  Sometimes they are busy, sometimes they'll take the time and talk.  Go to the Bureau you're working in and say hello to the folks there...just put your smiling, sincere face in front of them.  When they see your name on an email, they'll have a face to put with it and it creates a connection.

5) Be nice to everyone.  Again this is not brown-nosing, this is being friendly and collegial with everyone you meet. During my bidding this past fall I was floored at the people I ran into from Bangkok or DC or some of my regional posts who were involved in my job search.  Floored in a good way and in a "oh crap" way.  People who were my equals in Bangkok, are now potential bosses.  Folks that I just knew in passing, we're showing up as key decision makers for jobs.  More than once I stopped to think back if I was nice to them or not.  There is one person in particular who I didn't get along with in Bangkok...and this person in now at a Post I want to go to.  Chances are if they're still there next bid cycle?, I won't be going to that post.

This is a bootlicker...and a really inappropriate picture overall.  I'll have it removed right away.
Remember, keep your commitments, be honest, genuine, do exceptional work, and get your face in front of people....these are the things of solid reputations.  That solid reputation is going to get your name out there and it's going to get you your next job.  EER's might get you promoted, but a good reputation gets the job.

Now go sell yourself!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kids in Angkor Wat!

A pic from our side trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  Jacci and my 3rd trip, but 1st time for the kids.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Look who made the list....

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Good videos...

Two videos from our Thai trip. 

One a commercial that will make you choke up.  Another from the Bangkok Beatles the night I was there.

African Sleeping Plant

Cool plant in my backyard!