Perk Up or Shut Up

February 27, 2007

About this time four years ago, I was thinking to myself – “This MUST  be the worst day of my life.”  It was 7:00am on a beautiful Sunday morning, and I was sitting in my manager’s plush office coughing uncontrollably and desperately sipping a steaming cup of green tea.  The two of us were on a conference call with our client when in the middle of the conversation, she hit the mute button, turned to me and hoarsely whispered:

“Kevin, I need you to perk up!  We’re on a call with the client!  I’m going to make a note in your performance review.”

I had been dragging myself to work for about a month with a coughing flu that wouldn’t quit.  Not only was I not getting better, but I was also clearly not getting along with my project manager–who didn’t seem to notice nor care that I was close to coughing out a lung on her desk. Worst of all, nobody outside of our small 2-person team knew that we were severely understaffed on our project.  I was trying so hard, and seemingly stuck in obscurity (or worse yet, I was being noted as an “unperky” performer in a file somewhere) in my company.

This was my first job out of college–working for the large German bank Deutsche Bank, which had over 60,000 employees worldwide.  And I was scared that I was doing a poor job, that I would forever be someone who couldn’t make it in Corporate America–assuming that anyone else would hire me.   I felt like I was going to let my parents down, who had been so excited and proud of me when I told them about my new job at a big bank.  I felt awful…

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A couple of months and a new project team later, my new manager was thanking me in front of the entire team for my hard work that had helped lead to a happy and satisfied client.

Like night and day.  I felt great working under my new project lead.
That small act of public recognition for my work made me feel wonderfully appreciated; it felt like I mattered and I was doing my part to contribute to the company.  I remembered the stark difference between how my two managers treated me, and I wanted to make sure that I always made people feel the way manager #2 made me feel.  Not only did I work harder for my second manager, I was also more creative and thoughtful about my job.  And much happier.

In founding Worksona, I’m excited to create a service that lets both employees and managers take workplace recognition into their own hands.  Recognition and making people feel like they’re a contributor in their company can lead to wonderful products and services being created.  And in our own small way, the founders here at Worksona hope that we can make people’s lives at work just a little better.

-Kevin

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I’ve always worked in a company with more than 10,000 employees. When you work for a large company with ambitious people who dress like Gap commercials, you get a *de facto* segregation based on rank (analyst, senior, manager, etc..). You stick with your rank and make friends.

I remember when I started my first job out of college, my supervisor asked me to work on something that required skills beyond what I had learned in school.  You know, skills like answering multiple choice questions, writing a paper with a strong thesis, or solving an algebra problem. Thus I turned to someone in my rank to help. At first she said “yes“, but after a moment of thought, she quickly said:

“Oh wait I won’t get any credit for this, so no”

The ironic thing is that she was giving me a ride home that night so we had to stay until I had finished.

Looking back I am thinking how sad that she refused to help me, as it would have not only helped the client but also her relationship with me… and not to mention getting home faster. And, I would have been incredibly indebted to her, spreading the news about how helpful she was.

This was my first experience with office politics. I quickly learned that switching jobs does not help you avoid them — political struggles can be found at any large organization. Navigating office politics can be frustrating and stressful for anyone, as it feels like you are more of a victim and casualty. Oftentimes it’s based on perceptions and impressions that are a bit out of your control. This was incredibly frustrating for me to have my career and see my co-workers’ careers dictated by the whims of others. Thus out of frustration and a desire to help, Worksona was born.

To me, Worksona is a place where I can have a voice and more influence in my career at a large organization. I am no longer a cog in a machine or a victim of office politics. My hope is that Worksona will be a place of empowerment for people in Corporate America. I look forward to this journey with you all!

Holly

The Birth of Worksona

February 19, 2007

T-t-testing-testing. Are we on?Hi everyone, and welcome to the Worksona blog! We’re coming to you live from the home offices on Castro Street in Mountain View, California. Worksona is a brand new service that will launch into beta in the next few weeks, and we’re so excited to bring it to you.

“Always pain before a child is born…” – U2

We think Bono was right: great new things are usually born out of pain. And the story of Worksona begins with the pain our co-founders felt in our jobs at big companies. But we’ll save more of our rants for later…

espite all the efforts of our managers and HR departments, we increasingly felt like something was missing in the system. We felt the need for something more–something not controlled by the company–that would give us the authority to manage our identities and reputations at work, something that would give us the power to recognize and interact with our coworkers in the ways we desired.

And so, Worksona was born. Worksona is the first step toward fulfilling our vision that a third-party social utility can significantly enhance the quality of workplace life for millions of people who work at large companies. We promise we’ll always be about making life better for people who work at big companies.

In fact, people at two large American companies have already launched Worksona communities, and communities at 10 more companies will be launching in the next few weeks. We’re getting great feedback, and look forward to telling you more about it just as soon as we finish a few things up 🙂

We look forward to being in conversation with you over the coming weeks and months (and hopefully years) as Worksona develops and grows.

Cheers to the future!

The Worksona team
(Kevin, Holly, Mike, Wayne, Frank, and Justin)