Today was a busy
administative work day.
"The sad truth is that opportunity doesn't knock twice. You can put things off
until tomorrow but tomorrow may never come. Where will you be a few years
down the line. Will it be everything you dreamed of. We seal our fate with the
choices we take, but don't give a second thought to the chances we take."
~ Gloria Estefan
I conferred with Cia,
then Malou, touched bases with Doni, then spoke to Cia again. Lar
took to me to lunch, and we mainly discussed staffing and hiring.
I've learned a few
priceless administrative pearls in twenty years, and I shared one
with my co-workers about how sometimes "The Bottom Line"
is not evident, working in the office's favor sometimes, and other
In Malou's situation,
since it was obvious we and our clients loved her and she loved us
and our clients, and she was thriving at her job, maybe The Big
Picture needed to be drawn and The Bottom Line shown.
My life experiences
have solidly confirmed this truth: A way ALWAYS opens up
if there are willing, caring hearts. We would find a way to
help Malou, just as we had already done with Cia, Doni, Em, Jenn,
Tippy, Jus, and Lar, as a team.
"Opportunity dances with those
who are ready on the dance floor."
~ H. Jackson Brown Jr.
I told them about a
young woman who left, just short of her two-year anniversary. As
an underproducer without passion for her work, excelling in
mediocrity and NO growth, she wasn't being granted an automatic
raise. In the eyes of her co-workers, she was perceived as a
hanger-on who cruised on the office's overload and her peers'
coattails. A non-contributor to its growth, she relied on the
staff's initiative, not hers, yet was quick to claim credit away
administrative stupidity on the halo
effect; it was powerful. We adored -- and still do --
her dynamo sibling, a go-getter who is at the top of the
professional heap, who was influential in our hiring this
woman. This sibling asked us if we would hire her, give her
We figured apples
falling from the same tree had to be similar. Hey, everyone
deserves a chance, right?
The writing was on the
wall, early on, when we learned that she was the very pampered
child. The world revolved around her, and she had been overly
provided for as The Princess. Although in her mid-twenties, her
dress and demeanor was more befitting a school girl.
and "going the extra mile" had no reality for her. Although she was an exempt
professional, she was the first to leave; the last to pitch in.
She felt she was above certain duties. "Not My
Job" and "What's In It for Me?" seemed to be
her working mantra. Perhaps we
should have cut our losses then; instead, we gave her the benefit
of our doubts by granting her time to grow up, to blossom into her
One day, she announced
that she had been offered a job that increased her day's salary by
$10. If she was using this offer as a negotiating ploy to get a
raise, it backfired. Spared the awkwardness of her inevitable
firing, we congratulated her on her offer, while resisting the
impulse to run over to the door and hold it wide open.
No Big Picture was
drawn. No Bottom Line shown. Everyone wished her not
ill, but well, with sincerity. After all, we had all given it
our best, and perhaps she had, too. Not her fault, she is
who she is. She'd been raised to believe she was"extra
special" -- above others. We were not going to
undo a lifetime of this perception. Maybe elsewhere, her castle door of opportunity
would open with an electric eye, befitting a Princess and she
would fit in.
Best of all, we were
relieved that our positive relationship with her sibling was
preserved. We are still good friends. Everyone meant well. No
After all, her leaving
was at her choosing, was it not? We simply could not afford
her regal ways.
Plough deep while sluggards sleep.
~ Benjamin Franklin
Our office has a
profit-sharing / retirement plan for its employees, which
ironically is rare in a field that purports to help people.
Too many get used and dumped, without any regard to their future.
With compounding interest, this long-term perk kicks us up more than
a few rungs on the compensation ladder. We have a chance to
weather our winters in life with greater financial
Our employers regard
their employees as family. It's their homeland's way, and they do
not just give lip service to their commitment. In accordance with The
Ethics of Reciprocity, they generously pay those who give the
best of themselves. In the spirit of The
Grasshopper and The Ant fable, they want to contribute
to their employees' secure old ages. Rather than keeping it all
for themselves, the employers contribute tax-free dollars to an
employee profit sharing / retirement plan.
The administrators do
not discuss the plan until it is clear that an employee is fitting
in and working out, believing that it shouldn't be the enticement that keeps a
less-than-loyal employee from jumping ship. A
non-contributing "mistake" who makes it beyond the
two year milestone costs everyone on the plan, as, without growth,
the retirement pie is divided into smaller pieces.
"Opportunities are never lost;
they are taken by others."
~ Author Unknown
When The Princess
found out how much she was missing out (in the thousands) by
leaving short of the two year mark, she asked if we'd reconsider
and take her back. Her lack of awareness was ...
she whined, "I didn't realize the commuting time and
the wear and tear on my car was going to eat up the increase in
pay." She complained that "merchandising"
-- and not professional services -- was the other office's
priority. In fact, it was not professional at all, she said.
Accustomed to an upper middle class environment, she carped at
having to work with an immigrant population in an unsavory
part of town, and how she was having to always worry about her personal
The Princess' amnesia
lifted and her basic math skills returned. You see, before
The Princess left, she must had forgotten about the team-building
skills seminar with resort accommodations, meals, and full pay
that she received earlier that year. Her co-workers, who had
previously attended the seminar reaped mounds of positivity out of it that they
thought the seminar would surely help The Princess. The seminar is in Hawaii,
and yes, it did take a sizable bite
out of the office budget, affecting all. Everyone was, however, willing to sacrifice for the greater
A co-worker who also
attended the seminar found The Princess' behavior and attitude as
incredulous on Maui as in the office. The
Princess, she said, had spent the week on Maui nickel and diming
her, sighing, smirking, and complaining. Unsurprisingly,
they ended up going their separate ways.
The seminar is dubbed
Appreciation Seminar. While the classes are intense and
substantial, they are held in the mornings only. By our
employers' choice, our
attendees are not kept busy with afternoon meetings, but urged to
take in the sights of Hawai`i and experience, first-hand, The Aloha Spirit --
and get paid for it! The Princess returned with a magnified sense of self-importance. We
came to believe that she felt that the office was rewarding her for her
"extra-specialness" -- her magnificence -- that we were currying favor.
She further alienated
the office team, and there was not even a thank you to the
employers or her co-workers. The ensuing feelings created a
negative return on the office's investment in her, financially and
Princess had failed to take into account that the Hawaii trip
alone -- with its cumulative expenses of the shuttle service,
flights to and from Hawaii, resort accommodations, car, per diem
for meals, full pay, and seminar tuition -- cost the office at
least three times the equivalent of her $10 per day raise
over a year's time. She has since learned that no other
office has ever provided such a perk, not even for the most
special of Princesses.
In hindsight, sending
her to the Maui seminar was a poor administrative decision on our
part. The gift of our mistake was the learning of some very
expensive lessons that have held us in good stead since. We are less prone to throw
good money after bad and are more realistically wary
with investments of our time, money, and hearts. We've
learned to put the horse before the cart.
This experience also
gifted us with an appreciation of these aphorisms, "The grass
is always greener on the other side," "Actions speak
louder than words", "Do not cast your pearls before
swine" and "Can't
make a silk purse out a sow's ear."
these words in reply came
easily: "The position has been filled."
"Too often the opportunity knocks,
but by the time you push back the chain,
push back the bolt, unhook the locks
and shut off the burglar alarm,
it's too late.
~ Rita Coolidge
While a pessimist sees
difficulty at every opportunity, I am an eternal optimist. I
will look for opportunities in every difficulty. The sllver
Malou's predicament gave
me an opportunity to use my past experience with The Princess to rationally think things
through and we analyze and problem-solved the situation
together. Ultimately, I consciously helped Malou see The Big Picture.
I showed her The
By evaluating The Big
Picture with the help of figures and simple additon, I shared
these points with Malout for her to ponder:
Did she know that Cia
went to bat for her (Malou)?. Cia had backed her up 110%
when it seemed, early on, that she (Malou) was not going to work out? Malou
wasn't picking up fast enough, and her front office demeanor
needed polishing. Cia was willing to patiently and
supportively train her and began to polish, polish,
polish. Within a few months, trained, Malou was shining. Because
Cia believed in Malou, the rest of us believed in
her and ended up falling in love with her and her work.
Did she know how
brokenhearted Cia was last week? That after giving it her
all, her best, to train Malou to fit into our office, she was hit with a
bombshell last week. Over the weekend, Cia had risen above her personal disappointment, dismay,
and distress for the good of the office and to preserve
good feelings between them. I couldn't have been prouder
of my friend, who was "turning her scars into stars".
Did she realize that
an office that has a higher gross and sees many more clients, but pays an hourly wage lower
than ours, is automatically a red warning flag? It
speaks volumes of how staff is regarded.
Did she know the
outright differences in our clientele? We care for those
who come in basically happy and healthy, by choice, and by way
of satisfied referrals. Surrounding ourselves with positivity,
we are happier and healthier. We subscribe to a wellness model,
not one that caters to and reinforces illnesses. Really, how
happy can one be surrounded by sick people all day, every day?
Did she know the
greater health risks, especially with the high-alert threat of
biological warfare looming all around us? Stresses, world
and personal, weaken immune systems. Clear picture?
Did she realize that
by adding up the material and service benefits, long-term
benefits, and bonuses her compensation was far greater than she
Did she realize that
she had the support of her team of co-workers that can help her
meet her needs? That the gap could be bridged with a
little bit of ingenuity, initiative, and group cooperation?
Did she realize that
at a time when downsizing and economizing is rampant and will be
for some time, that five months experience and a cultivated fit
in our office is better than no months and no known fit?
Last in, first out happens.
Did she know that I
will help with my experience, analytical, and problem solving
abilities, but Cia is ultimately the person who will decide the
next move? That as much as I enjoyed working with Malou
and loved her as a person, the decision to retain her is
not mine to make.
Malou says this is her
dream job. She wants to be part of the team. That was
enough for me to work into my lunch hour to help. Together, in
minutes, we worked out a way.
A way ALWAYS
opens up if there are willing, caring hearts.
"One of the earliest lessons I learned as a child was that if you looked away
it might not be there when you looked back.
~ John Edgar Wideman
I made it clear to Malou
that it is Cia's call, not mine. Cia is her boss. I am
not. If she wishes to be retained,
she must communicate this wish to Cia. Cia will have to decide for
herself. I will not make a decision for her that risks another
heartbreak for my coworker and friend..
The Bottom Line: Cia is
the best boss and friend that Malou will ever have. Doni will attest
to it, so will DH and I. I think Emma, too.
I spoke my truth and
told Malou that I thought she would be throwing away a beautiful
gift that is incredibly valuable to her personhood and her soul, one
that doesn't come along twice in a lifetime. The Gift of Cia.
In a short time, even if
I see her for mere seconds in our workdays, I've come to love Malou.
I hope I have been a good friend in helping her look at The Big
Picture and show her The Bottom Line?
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing
anything that is beautiful;
for beauty is God's handwriting
-- a wayside sacrament.
Welcome it and thank God for it
as a cup of blessing."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Life is a Gift."
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