How do you do what you do?
A couple days ago, I mentioned that part of my daily work is to manage a helpdesk team. They are a great, hardworking team of ten.
Sometimes, I’m not sure how they do what they do. Especially since most all of these folks are contract employees. They work that hard and they aren’t even getting all of the benefits of being employed by the company.
This morning, I’m sitting in my office working on mid-year performance reviews for my other six full time (not contract) employees. I’m trying to find a “business” way to write “he’s a great worker when he bothers to show up to work on time.”
I’m fiddling, I’m delaying, I’m reading updates on Twitter instead of actually working.
All the while, I can hear my best contract employee, who has the honor of having her cube located just outside my office door, on the phone with our end users.
In the time it took me to check the current stock market performance (down a skosh this morning), she has answered three calls.
One from an outside supplier wanting to do business with the company. “I’m sorry sir, I’m just a call agent, but I can pass on your message. No, I can’t give you their phone number. Because I’m not authorized, I’m very sorry. Yes, I understand. I will gladly pass on your message and they’ll call you if there is a fit. I understand. I understand. I understand. But that’s unfortunately all I can do. Yes. I understand. Ok, thank you.”
Another call from a supplier wanting to get paid, “I show your invoice was received on Monday. It’s set up to pay Friday. Yes, ok, unh huh. It looks like it was stuck in approvals. Sure, I get that. I can see what I can do to expedite, but I know for sure the check will run Friday. Ok, yes, I’ll see if we can overnight the check.”
And then a call from an inside end user who can’t use our *very* simple online purchasing system. So she walked them through step-by-step, “Do you see the box with the little magnifying glass? Click that, then scroll down to the fifth one down, yes, that’s it, click that, then click ok. See the next box that says ‘description’? Ok, click there, then type in what you want to buy. Well, what is it you need? Ok, so let’s see, type in widget, blue, two and a half inches. Did you do that? Then click ok.”
Meanwhile, between calls, she’s answering email, typing in tickets for the calls she’s just taken, and giving relationship advice to the guy who shares her cube.
This woman is a force of nature.
This is just a small sample of her days, and this is a “quiet” day!
As I listened to her working so hard while I idled the morning hours, I started to feel bad. I realized…I can’t do what she does. Well, I could, I just don’t want to.
I’m pretty glad I get to sit here in my office being managerial and probably overpaid, searching the thesaurus to find new ways to say “efficient” and “process”.
I feel grateful that my parents were able to send me to college, because, really, it’s my MBA that has me sitting in the office with the door and not the open-air cube shared with another employee.
I think about that amazing lady out there, the force of nature, who is age 24 trying to go to school at night and holding down this contract job and taking care of her mom and grieving her recently deceased grandmother and being the leader for the team and training our end users and generally doing it all while looking good and being pretty gall damn calm.
I think about how it’s unfair, how hard she works and how I have to be honest and admit I don’t work as hard as she does every day. I do have days where I work that hard, but not as consistently.
Then I laughed. Because then I remembered a recent conversation I had with this force of nature woman. She was in my office and I was grilling her for information. I was working on a major presentation to our senior leadership team.
I was spending *hours* on a PowerPoint deck of slides, tweaking bullet points, fiddling with fonts, jimmying the graphics.
She looked at my computer monitor, shook her head, sighed, and said, “I’m so glad I don’t have to mess with things like that.”
I think she’s pretty grateful she doesn’t have to do my job, either.
Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener.