Monday, November 9, 2009

Making a Difference

Most days I hate my job. I don't mind managing a department so much as the line of work we're in. It just isn't for me. This is always especially true on Mondays. I spend Sunday night dreading the 4AM alarm. But today is a little different. Today I feel pretty damn good about what I do.

One of my employees has been put through the ringer the last few months. In August she started feeling stressed. Her daughter is a Senior in high school so she is worried about all the expense this year will bring (she's a single mom), the stress of applying to college, etc. She found out that she has a disease and this disease is causing her to lose some of her hair. She met up with her father for the first time in 10 years. Fighting with her mom... Just lots of drama in her life. She is typically such a strong woman that it was very strange to see her go through such a weak and vulnerable time.

For whatever reason one day she confided in me. I don't know if she just thought I should be aware so that her job/performance wouldn't be put in jeopardy, but she talked to me. I had no idea that she had been suffering, just that she was a more muted version of her typically animated self. After a few weeks of her trying to 'deal' with all of this on her own I sat her down and chatted with her again. We talked about the Employee Assistance Program we offer here at work. She'd have free access to a family counselor and somone to chat with. She did NOT like that idea at first. She thought of it as defeat. Boy am I happy that she changed her mind.

After speaking with a pro she decided to take a week off. She met with a therapist four days that week. She got meds and straightened things up at home. She's been back in the office for a couple of weeks now and there is such an improvement! I didn't think much of my involvement in this process until today. She caught me in the restroom (where all important woman-to-woman chats occur, of course) and told me that she'd reconnected with her mom. That she is feeling SO much better and although she's still sensitive, she is feeling on the mend. She thanked me for giving her the push she needed to seek help. And for being there for her when she didn't feel like anyone else was. That she was grateful to have me as her boss.

I cannot tell you what that means to me here. So often I feel like an after-thought, or bored, unnecessary, floundering. But today I got to feel like perhaps my job is a bit more than reporting, scheduling, performance reviews, quality audits, and product development projects. I got to make a difference to just one person. A person that I admire. For today at least, that makes all of the other crap worth it.

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