The Bottom LIne

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Greetings,

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 times, not.

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 from them.

Blame our 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 chance.

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. 

Personal initiative 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 own.

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 hard feelings.

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 security.  

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 ... poignant. 

"Besides," 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 safety.

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 good. 

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 the Staff 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 emotionally.  

Money-wise, The 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."  

As administrators, 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 linings.

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 Bottom Line.

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 dreamed?

  • 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 from something, 
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."

Sincerely,
Author Unknown

 

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This web journal was created on a September Morn, September 29, 2001.
September Morn 2001