Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Self improvement is hard

For realz.
A few months ago, I got an email from our HR director inviting me to a two hour lunch meeting (food will be provided). What I love most in the world is free food, so I was pretty stoked. But also cautious. Interactions with HR at UWSEM do not always go well. There’s been a 90% staff turnover since our CEO took over (and it’s not all because people leave for other opportunities), so there’s a scary element to HR. None the less, I braved Scary HR for the promise of free sandwich.

And Scary HR turned out to be less scary. A group of about 15 of us were informed that we had been identified as “up-and-comers.” We were in the top categories of high performers/high potential employees (high per-high pos) and were being targeted for additional professional development opportunities as well as likely to receive promotions in the next 1-3 years. Excellent.
“But,” said the dark cloud of HR. “You are not guaranteed a spot in this group. You could slow down or suck and then you will be like the normal people again.” And again we feel the terror that comes from HR.

A month later, I was on my way to a fancy important meeting when my boss asked if we could talk for a few minutes. I reminded her about the fancy meeting, and she said that it would only take a few minutes. The familiar feeling of excitement and fear that comes from talking with one’s boss came over me as I sat down in a conference room and she CLOSED THE DOOR BEHIND US. Closed door conversations—either go amazingly well or horribly awry. This was an amazingly well situation. I was being promoted. And while I won’t be able to order my new business cards that read “Jenny Hansen- Basic Needs Specialist” until she finishes the paperwork, I could expect to see the change in my pay and workload immediately.


And here comes the hard part. With promotion, there’s more work to do. And with the status as a high per-high po, there’s even more work. I now have weekly homework assignments, as well as am working on developing a plan for the year to help me increase my own awareness of my abilities and skills and am about to enter a mentoring program that will require me to exercise more (apparently part of being good at my job means walking a lot) and do an additional 2-5 hours of homework a week.

But I’m an over achiever, and really want to do this and do it right.
So now, I’m committing to blogging twice a week. I’ve got people at work to who are keeping me on my toes to get this homework done, so let’s see where it takes me!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just about everyone who reads this blog knows that my grandpa passed away earlier this year. He was a wonderful and loving and funny man who would do anything for his family.

The night I found out that he died, Brian and I were staying with my sister in Chicago. Maria and I had stayed up late talking about our Uncle. Uncle G. had been diagnosed with cancer and during the prep for his treatment the doctors had discovered an aortic aneurysm. This was all very scary to me. Cancer-scary. Holes in parts of you where there should be no holes-scary. The combination-very scary.

I went to bed worried about my uncle, and hoping that things would be alright. A few minutes later, my sister came into her guest room to tell me that we had lost Grandpa. We hugged, and cried. The first thing she said was "He loved us so much." Which is true in the most profound way.

Maybe it is just a coincidence in my brain--we were just talking about George when we got the news about Grandpa--but I keep thinking that the Universe gave Keith Hansen a choice. His son was sick, and it was time for someone to go. But Grandpa got to decide who it would be--one of them would go and the other one would be okay. And for Grandpa, that would have been a silly question. Part of me will always believe that he died so that George would be okay.

Uncle George had surgery for his aneurysm last week and it all went well. I just got my first email from him to say that he’s recovering just fine and that he’s feeling restless already. I think that some part of my grandparents are out there somewhere--and they are smiling.