Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 4)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #4: Who Cares What Holt Thinks

One final lesson, then, from Amy Santiago.

Ambitious. Competitive. High achiever. Perfectionist. Most of the adjectives that other people would attach to Amy cut both ways–ambition can be good or bad, perfectionism can manifest as attention to detail or cripplingly high expectations. (Trust me, I know.) And Amy is hyperaware of all of her most minute flaws and failings, so surely, a self-evaluation of her own weaknesses should be easy.

The problem is that she tries so hard to give the captain the right answer, that she ends up willing to give any answer, regardless of truth or depth. And it’s Peralta who finally gives her the key to unlocking a healthier way of approaching the question:

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Amy Santiago: So I asked Peralta what you thought my biggest flaw was, and he said ‘Who cares what Holt thinks’–

Capt. Holt: That’s not surprising. He’s very disrespectful.

Amy Santiago: But he’s not wrong. My biggest flaw is that I care too much what you think of me. I should be more confident in my own judgement, and I am so sure of that, I don’t even care if you think I’m right. Evaluation over.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 18, ‘The Apartment’)

Yes, it’s important to listen to what the people around you think. But you also have to have confidence in your own decisions, and the conviction to be answerable for them. I moved our floorplan around without consulting our VM manager, and then I explained to her that the previous setup wasn’t working and that I’d tried to improve it. And do you know what?

She wasn’t mad or upset. She didn’t freak out like I’d done something wrong and she didn’t tell me to put it back the way it was.

She listened. And she agreed with what I’d done and she admitted that the setup she’d executed wasn’t ideal, and she thanked me.

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Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 3)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #3: Putting Out Fires

Then there’s the time that Terry gets put in charge while the captain and Jake are quarantined with the mumps. As much as he’s a mega-stacked black cop, I really empathise with him here. He starts off with an overlong list of small jobs that he wants the squad to get done under his leadership. There’s nothing I like better than starting a new project with an overlong list of small jobs to get done.
In this case, none of them get done.
This makes Terry pretty disheartened, making him doubt his ability to lead the squad. He also becomes so frustrated with the constant tiny struggles of keeping his team in line that he slams an office door so hard that the windows shatter and the ceiling buckles, Hulk-style. Gina isn’t always the most supportive Nine-Niner, but she’s on Team Terry for this one, and she’s the one who lets him know that he’s actually doing a great job, even without getting through his list:

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Gina Linetti: Do you want to know why the amazing Captain Holt has never gotten the evidence room cleaned or done anything on your list?

Terry Jeffords: Why?

Gina Linetti: It’s because all day long he’s putting out fires. That’s what a captain does. The only difference between you and Holt is he lacks the strength to close a door so hard a room blow up.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 3, episode 12, ‘Nine Days’)

 

This is the one that I’m carrying to work with me every damn day. Our stock rooms are messy and overflowing, we don’t get enough Visual Merchandising support, we have tons of excess stock to transfer out, and the memory keys on our phone don’t actually lead to the right places. These problems, big and small, are just some of the many things on my list. But I have to make peace with the possibility that I won’t have the time, energy, resources, or support to fix any of them.
No matter what else I get done at work, as long as I put out the fires, I am being a good manager.
That’s what managers do.

 

Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 2)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #2: Don’t Be The Boss Genie

Although he’s hardly the obvious choice for the job, on Thanksgiving weekend Jake is left in charge of the precinct for what should be a cushy shift. He gleefully takes on the role of Boss Genie, acceding to all of the squad’s requests. But the fun is soon done when they find a package of mysterious white powder and the entire building is placed under a biohazard lockdown. Jake tries to keep morale high by downplaying the situation, while Amy handwrings in the background trying to suggest structure and rules.

Jake Peralta:  I just don’t want people to panic, so I’m asking for your help to keep this thing quiet, so we can have the chillest biohazard lockdown in Brooklyn.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

But after a rumour spreads that the package might be more than a hoax, the civilians panic, fights break out, and a couch is lit on fire. Jake concedes that Amy might be a better, more capable leader, but she doesn’t let him abdicate responsibility quite so easily:

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Amy: You’re still trying to make people happy. Don’t apologise to me. Be a leader and tell me what you need me to do. Tell everyone what you need them to do.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

I’m still working on this one, truth be told. But I have a tendency to take on responsibility for everything in the workplace, even things that aren’t technically part of my job. This gets more difficult, of course, when you’re a manager and just about everything can be construed as ‘part of your job’. But I’m trying to communicate more with my co-workers about what I want to get done, and what they need to be doing to help. Personally, I work better when I’m not micro-managed and don’t have a boss constantly telling me what I need to get done. But we’re one team member short and everyone’s in a new role, so I have to be sure that certain things will be done correctly and on time.

 

Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 1)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #1:  Holt’s Law
There’s this one episode where Rosa publicly harangues a patrol officer because he mishandled evidence in an important case. Yes, let’s face it, constructive criticism is a great learning tool, in the right hands. But in Rosa’s hands, it involves marching into Officer Dietmore’s workplace and handing him a kids’ police costume:

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Rosa Diaz: Hey, Dietmore! If you’re gonna bag evidence like a five-year-old, you should have the right tools. It’s a My First Police kit … The walkie-talkie blows bubbles. Hope you can handle it.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 20, ‘Fancy Brudgom’)

Initially,  Rosa responds to the captain’s request to apologise to the junior officer with further insults. But the captain tells her that her ‘zapping a rat in a maze’ approach isn’t going to work in the long run:

Capt. Holt: A real leader doesn’t zap people when they mess up. They teach them how to fix the problem.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 20, ‘Fancy Brudgom’)

I have this tendency to harbour secret, irrational resentment of people when they screw up things that seem easy to me. That is definitely not a good quality for a manager to have, and, with some minor modifications, it was my go-to answer to ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ back when I was interviewing for jobs. But I took Holt’s Law with me to work last week and actually talked my co-worker through a minor thing they’d been doing (or, rather, not doing) that was bugging me. Turns out she hadn’t actually been taught how to do it properly, and if I’d acted like a leader sooner, I’d have saved myself a bunch of angst and made her feel more confident, too.

 

Neither Seen Nor Heard: Women, Excess, and Misogyny in Popular Media

Or: How TV Tropes Can Help Us Understand Violence Against Women In The Real World, Or: How Violence Against Women Can Help Us Understand TV Tropes, Or: The Dangers Of Excess, Or: This Is How You Find Out About My Love For Digressions, Or: Please Stop Ignoring The Sociopathy Of Western Culture’s Behaviour Towards Women.

[Trigger Warnings: mentions of: death; murder; violence against women; self-harm; sex; food and eating disorders.]

I am worried that this seems excessive.
It is March 21st, 2015. I have lived in Melbourne for three months and I’m sitting in the café down the street after putting out an invitation to my Facebook friends to let me read tarot for them.
Isn’t that a bit much? I think to myself. Who even does tarot in a café? Who believes in that crap? Wait, we’re wearing that skirt? Oh and we’re taking another selfie? Are we overthinking this? Just be less thoughtful, less vain, less weird, less needy.
I am worried, these days, about everything I do and its potential for excess.
And there’s a whole book just in that. But the bigger issue is that, as a woman within western society, I have been taught that my entire gender is excessive and needs to be contained: be seen but not heard, diet your body into oblivion, lock up your sex drive, keep your hemlines below the knee. Hide. Shrink. Shut up.

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