Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

“Free your mind and let your ideas soar”/ spying boss

 
Mar. 19 “Free your mind and let your ideas soar”: I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 26, 2012.  This was in the business section of the newspaper, but it’s about being creative.  Here’s the whole article:

If creativity is essential for success these days, then we must become profligate with ideas. On his blog, entrepreneur James Altucher shares these ideas for becoming an idea machine:

Capture fresh thoughts

Ideas floating about in your brain, uncaptured, will never get you anywhere. So take time every day to write down 10 new ideas. They can be on anything. “It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want. The key is that it has to be 10 or more,” Mr. Altucher declares. “You want your brain to sweat.”

Don’t limit yourself to ideas you can put into practice today – or ever. It can be helpful to list 10 ideas too big for you to carry out, some perhaps not even possible at all, just for the value of outlining the notion. He stresses that you never have to look at these ideas again. The purpose is not to come up with a good idea but just to have thousands of ideas over time.

Activate new parts of your brain

Mr. Altucher recounts taking a watercolour class with his wife. He wasn’t all that great at it, but his brain felt terrific, because he was diversifying, trying something new.

Dip into four books a day

Every day, read some chapters from or skim books on four different topics, including some issues you know nothing about (he cites a genetic engineering book he explored recently).

Ease up on yourself

Make sure that as you play with ideas, you limit the pressure on yourself. You should not have to feel that every seed you bury will grow into a lush plant. That will just set you up for disappointment and burnout.

Shake up your day

He has a precise routine every day, starting with reading and writing, and continuing through meetings and meals. But sometimes when he needs to rejuvenate, he’ll spice it up with something different – perhaps a walk first thing in the morning instead of reading, or sleeping in four-hour shifts instead of eight hours. Shaking up the conscious mind allows the unconscious to be freed, and good ideas can emerge.

Recall childhood passions

Years ago, you had some interests as a child that consumed you but are now gone from your life. Try to recall them, write them on a list, and think about what you knew – still know – about them. The more, different notions at play in your mind increases the chances of two different thoughts cross-fertilizing into a new passion or idea.

Tickle your brain

Mr. Altucher recalls how he was advised to turn off his computer to be creative. That might be true. But so might the reverse. “With the entire world of knowledge at our fingertips it sometimes is fun to get sucked down the rabbit hole like Alice and drift around in Wonderland,” he writes. “It tickles the brain and lights things up that may have been dormant.”

 
Spying boss:
 
“Our boss is spying on us, but we don’t know why”: I cut out this Globe and Mail article on Nov. 25, 2012.  It’s the advice column called “Nine to Five.”
 
THE QUESTION
 
My employer has installed surveillance cameras in our small office. People need their jobs, so it seems everyone has adjusted to the cameras, but some are uneasy about how much more spying is being done that we don’t know about. There are also rumours that there are listening devices. The boss placed one camera in the front office and it’s unnerving because it shows he doesn’t trust anyone and it does more harm than good when people are treated like objects.
 
I can see big retail operations using cameras, but this is a close and personal application and it feels like jail. Even banks mount their cameras at ceiling level so they are not in your face. Am I overreacting, or is this commonplace? Can I do anything about the cameras? Or am I just being too sensitive?
 
THE FIRST ANSWER
 
Bill Howatt, Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.
 
Employers commonly use video surveillance for security reasons, such as protection from external wrongdoing, and surreptitious surveillance for protection from employee wrongdoing, such as theft. Federal and provincial privacy legislation impacts the surveillance and privacy interests of employers and staff, such as in the Protection of Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act.
 
While you might want to consult a lawyer to check the law that applies in your jurisdiction, the general approach to workplace surveillance is reflected in the federal Privacy Commissioner’s four-question test: Is the camera demonstrably necessary to meet the specific need? Is it likely to be effective in meeting that need? Is the loss of privacy proportionate to the benefit gained? Is there a less privacy-invasive way to achieve the same end?
 
Your employer cannot have video surveillance just to have his own personal reality show. Cameras in clearly private areas, such as washrooms, would be a definite red flag. However, cameras in work and public areas require more analysis, and your boss needs a defensible operational reason that meets the above test.
 
You are well within your rights to ask your employer why he believes he needs video surveillance. I suggest you have an open conversation where you seek to understand why he feels the need for video surveillance. You can express your discomfort and what you believe others are feeling. Be clear that your objective is only to understand the employer’s operational purpose. If you are not satisfied, contact the federal Privacy Commissioner’s office (or the equivalent provincial counterpart) to determine whether the circumstances of the cameras are violating the rules, and how you can exercise your rights.
 
THE SECOND ANSWER
 
Greg A. Chung-YanAssociate professor, industrial/organizational psychology, University of Windsor
 
I preface this answer with the disclaimer that Canadian laws around monitoring are not well-established. Before making a legally based complaint, talk to a legal expert.
You and your co-workers are monitored at unusual angles, you don’t know why you are being monitored, and you suspect there are other monitoring devices. Sounds like the beginnings of a horror movie to me.
 
Keeping in mind my disclaimer, let’s assume an employer has the right to monitor its workers. Having the right does not automatically make it good management practice.
 
Regardless of any well-meaning goals on your employer’s part (reducing theft,
preventing bullying), he is fostering a negative environment because he implemented the monitoring without communicating the purpose of the surveillance or how information will be used, protected, or stored. Employers should collect information in a manner that respects the dignity of workers; if there are less-intrusive ways to do that (such as cameras at a higher elevation) then they should use them.
 
Meet with your boss and express your concerns. Employers should have a written policy on their monitoring practices, and you can ask to see them, suggesting that they be circulated to employees to alleviate their fears. If there is no policy, the request will get him thinking about establishing one. Couch everything in terms of trying to improve the work environment rather than as a formal complaint.
 

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