Its All About Me

This week saw the presentation of many month’s worth of my blood, sweat and tears. A major project finally finished, and was quite successful. This was something I had spent numerous unpaid overtime hours on. I spent hours working on things that I had never worked on before. Sure, I learnt new skills but I have spent months stressed out and pretty much overwhelmed. It has been normal for me in the past few months to get home from work at 8 or 9 o’clock most weeknights. I have spent weekends on video conferences with our collaborators over east and overseas. A few weeks ago, at Mothers Day lunch, I nearly fell asleep at the table. So as you can imagine my family is not really ecstatic with me at the moment. But it was a project I really believed in and I think had the potential to truly create good things. Which it did. This was a project that was really extra special.

But…I then watched my boss get thanked for it.

And, it got me thinking. I was initially devastated. And still am, a bit, days later. I was later thanked by the rest of the team, which I really appreciated.  But this was the biggest, hardest, most difficult project I have ever worked on, with little help while also managing numerous BER projects. I generally don’t go around telling people about the things that I do (hence even this blog is anonymous and only three people know that I do it!) but should I? Do we need to beat our own chests to get attention? Is this the only way to get promoted, to get better clients and projects?

And am I just being precious – is it even relevant what one member of a team does? Should I have expected to get thanked? Maybe the accolades should just go to the boss anyway, as it is their name on the door and their successes (and failures) as a company which matter in the long-term.

On a second note, I get asked A LOT about why I am doing this anonymously. There’s a few reasons. I work for a medium-sized firm, and know quite a few architects in Perth. But I’m really just a junior. I don’t want my comments taken in the context that they might be the opinions of my bosses or my firm. And they would probably get a bit of flak from some of the things that I say. So perhaps when I have my own firm things may be different! Also, I have heard rumours about the Institute not really appreciating criticism. Most of all though, I really want this forum to stay as independent as possible. I don’t want to have to suppress news because it might not look good for my firm, or look like I’m promoting us. I don’t want this blog taken over as the opinions of XYZ Architects. I want to try and be as honest (although obviously personally biased!) as possible when posting here. I also don’t want this to be too much work, and I like having an architecture-related interest that has nothing to do with my office.

But it is something that keeps coming up, so maybe I need to have a bit more of a think about it.

Once again, thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Its All About Me

  1. I think this must be one of the very few common architectural complaints not covered by an Archimatects cartoon, or at least one I can readily bring to mind. So here’s one that may apply to the situation anyway:

    http://pintday.org/archimatects/comic?p=254

    On topic, credit, or at least recognition ought to be passed down the line. A poor manager takes credit without passing on gratitude to those who did the legwork as lack of recognition will always breed discontent. It happens in architecture all the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK.

    On your second note, I don’t see many comments on the blog asking why you are doing this anonymously, so I assume you get A LOT (your caps) of emails regarding the blog. I hope you reply by telling everyone who emails that if they want to comment on the blog, there is a comment button so they can comment _on_ the blog. Come on people!

    If I wasn’t commenting anonymously I wouldn’t write something like “the institute is an old-fashioned, ineffectual boys club (did you see how the WA Chapter resisted the move to drop the “Royal” from the trading name) of which even the WA Chapter President whinges about its lack of clout” as they can be a bit touchy. I also wouldn’t write that because it’s a badly constructed sentence.

    Broadcasting these things is only a problem if you are a member of the Institute though, as institute policies such as the Code of Professional Conduct (which includes the vague “Members must not act in any way that brings the profession into disrepute”) can not apply to non-members, and the Board is only there to make sure no-one misrepresents themselves an architect or behaves dishonestly or unethically.

    Stay honest and biased.

  2. In terms of staying anonymous I agree.. I don’t think you should reveal who you are..there’s no need..there’s probably only about 200 (300? Is that too generous?) local architects/graduates who attend most of the events we discuss so it’s a pretty small pool to take a guess from anyway..and once we know it’s so easy to judge! And as a profession (from what I’ve seen in my few years – we are a judgy wudgy profession!). Plus we are all bound by officialdims/ responsibilities in our every day workplace as to what we can or cannot think/ say, this morning I went to a meeting where I was opposed to the whole project but as the most junior in the room how can that ever be voiced?? So it’s super refreshing to hop on here and read a bit..say a bit..express support / total objection..

    Completely agree about the Institute – they’re a brick wall and they get me down..

    And about the praise issue- it’s tricky..is this a problem only faced by architects or a more generic hierarchy in the workplace widespread issue? I don’t know! But of course it’s frustrating – especially when we see the lower half of the firm slogging away for years while the top half enjoy the perks… but then would they say they’ve all been there too? Have they? (When do our boozy lunches start???)

  3. That’s very disappointing for you, but alas I can confirm its a wide spread issue. Its important to be able to give praise and acknowledgement to staff – you will get more out of them and foster a happy working environment – and they will be less likely to leave! Old style work practices won’t earn the best employees!

    Being anonymous will probably allow you to be more honest without fear of your livelihood.

    Keep up the blog!

    • Thanks to my three readers, you’ve brightened my day!!! Glad to see this credit thing is a widespread issue, and its not just me – I think perhaps you move up to a certain level and then you just forget what it was like “back in the day”. So perhaps you start doing the things you said you would never do, like forget to pass credit back down the line. And it is often so easy to take the credit when its given. Really, me getting grumpy about it doesn’t really do anything, as I can’t affect anyone else’s attitude but my own, so I should really just work on that. But I would take some of those boozy lunches…!

      Thanks also on the anonymity advice – and yes its a good point – if you have anything to add to the blog, please ‘comment’ it rather than emailing me – I get so much junk in my inbox that it takes me ages to check through it all. Oh if only we could say whatever we like about it all without fear or judgements! You guys have put it really well (except for the badly constructed sentence!) Thanks!

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