Monday, June 30, 2008

The Replacements

I sat down intending to blog about the awful day I had at work. I was going to talk about how negative and hurtful and shocking The Gossip has been, but instead I thought I should talk about the great things that happened today.

Sue Ellen is a good employee, but doesn't want any extra responsibility. She has stated in no uncertain terms that she does not answer phones, and she flat refuses to act in any way that can construed as a supervisor or lead operator. I have room for this personality type on my staff, and she's very valuable as she is. Lately, Sue Ellen has been doing a lot more around the office; when she sees that our supply cabinet is low on shipping materials she brings some in from storage when she's on her way from there. She has been volunteering to do little things that she knows I don't really have time for, like distributing invoices which come in extremely large quantities. Nobody likes distributing invoices; it's boring, repetitious work, and takes a couple hours from start to finish. Sue Ellen especially hates doing it, but she's been volunteering for this task almost daily.

Beatrice has also been making herself available to help out where I need it, checking with me whenever she's finished with her assigned tasks to see where I need the most help. Constance has been working extra hard to complete her tasks ahead of schedule and jumping into other duties that need to be done. These ladies, and others, have taken turns distributing faxes off the machines, taking out the recycling, and covering for staff who are out.

This behaviour is quiet and matter of fact; they don't make a big deal out of it, but it's a definite change in attitude for these ladies. A lot of the time my group seems to have a status-quo attitude towards their work. I'll be honest, the work is not fulfilling or challenging. This is an AP department contracted to a trucking company, and the work is not especially creative nor gratifying. There are seemingly-endless stacks of invoices to process, invoices to reject, invoices to research, invoices to shred and line the bottoms of cat-boxes ...

It's no great mystery that I have a difficult time motivating people to work hard, and work happy. They think I'm loose in the head because I actually do enjoy it, but I don't honestly expect a lot of passion from them, as much as I would like to see them bring some passion to their jobs from time to time.

I feel like I got some replacements inside the same team members I've always had, like someone changed their filters and now they're working harder and better. I felt very grateful to not have to assign someone to the jobs they hate, but to actually be able to choose among several people for the best suited. And when I thanked them for their hard work and acknowledged how wonderful they've been, they beamed big, bright eyes at me and smiled like I had handed out cookies. They made the awful parts of my day not seem so awful.

Oh, and I've changed all the names. If you're named Sue Ellen, or Beatrice, or Constance and think you've recognized yourself here, you haven't but I'm sure your boss is proud of you too.

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