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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

from issues to opportunities

We all have challenges.  Working with people usually means personnel issues of some kind will arise.  It's not uncommon to disagree with a coworker and it can even lead to better ideas and improved ways of doing things.  Personnel issues can take many forms, but lately I've seen "issues" related to balance, keeping employees engaged and looking for opportunities to learn from difficult situations. 

photo courtesy of @EdCabellon
Working in student affairs & supervising about 40 students, calls for teachable moments (and being ready to embrace & seize a teachable moment).  If a student misses a shift, our first concern is for his/her wellbeing, rather than punitive measures.  Turning such situations into an opportunity to teach someone how to act responsibly is often necessary.   

One recent example comes to mind: a student employee missed his/her scheduled shift.  It is not acceptable to miss work.  Confusion occurs among other staff members, poor planning is communicated, and people may worry unnecessarily.  The follow-up conversation contains questions like: is this the best job for you?  Have you over-committed yourself this semester?  What might you be able to cut out of your current schedule?  I think balance can be the hardest lesson to learn.  

I'm still learning balance with each new semester and I'm no longer a student.  I begin by making a list of what I committed to for the semester, both at work and in my personal life.  At times, it calls for cutting something out or re-prioritizing and considering how I approach my to-do list.  It has also forced me to do something I find very difficult, to say "no."  Over a year ago, my roommate came home with a napkin to give me with the following printed on it:
"Just say NO to the sign up sheet"

Since the semester is still getting started for many of us, working to achieve balance should be a priority.  We'll only get increasingly busy as the semester progresses.  Take this opportunity to make a list of the things you are committed to and consider the most important things first.  
Do you see balance on your list?


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