The last few weeks I have had to examine the path I want to take. After a number of months of doing contract work, a part time job, and some one and one coaching, I was given an opportunity to take on a salary position. The money was good, the benefits of health care would have kicked in quickly. I was initially very excited. It was a job I knew I could do – field based therapy in rural Minnesota. Yes, there would be some differences from the field based therapy I had done in urban Los Angeles – but if anything, I was expecting a lot of similarities. In the first week I did one day of shadowing and sure enough, a trans teen, a teen who just had a pregnancy scare, and a teen struggling with the impact of low level autism. All completely different individuals with completely different stories and each amazing and phenomenal souls; and all stories I might have encountered in Los Angeles.
However as I went through the rest of the training something stood out for me. The organization felt very concerned with tracking the whereabouts of their employees, requiring to the minute scheduling of every activity – from 12:48-1:24 I was engaged in documentation. Complete the time entry as a “time worked code”. From 1:25-1:35 my 1:30 client cancelled and now I have to “scramble” – put in the “time worked code for “scramble”. From 1:36-1:58 I did telephone calls to confirm appointments – put in the time worked code.
I have been a supervisor. I have been a manager. On occasion I have had to have an employee do a time study when there have been problems that arose. However it is never something I have asked or wanted all of my employees to do. What I realized was that while the people were nice, the culture, overall friendly, this one activity felt “low trust”. It felt as if there were needless micro-management aspects in the culture to protect the company against the employees within it. This may have been a misinterpretation – I will acknowledge that – however my intuition rang the five bell alarm. I resigned.
The challenge with leadership is there is always a balance between trusting that those in your care are doing what they are expected to do, and following up to ensure that that they are. In most instances I have found that if there is a break down it is due to a failure to understand how to do the job, not a desire not to do it. There have been occasions where I have had to let employees go because they did not have the desire to learn nor the underlying integrity to ensure the best quality care for the people the organizations I was in served.
However those individuals are in the minority. I believe in creating a high trust culture. I know what I expect from myself and from others. I communicate those expectations clearly. Those expectations boil down to three things. Have integrity with your word and deed. Focus on the person in front of you, understand their story, and provide service that enhances their life. Look for the gaps and fill them, don’t tell me it’s “not my job” – if you are unsure how to fill the gap, then find someone who does at minimum. Don’t ignore the gap.
In simpler terms. Integrity. Compassion. Service.
Most people want to do these things. Most people in my experience want to feel as if they are making a positive difference in the lives of others. Whether they are a sales person in a game store, a therapist in the field, or a manager in a company. People want to know they are making lives better.
When companies live in fear instead of faith – micro-management occurs which is often accompanied by unrealistic standards. When they live in faith instead of fear – accountability is high with standards that are realistic – yet push individuals in their companies to grow.
Companies of course are simply reflections of the people that run them. There are parallels between ourselves and the companies we work in. I came to a decision point quickly last week that even if it meant that for awhile a longer I might not have all the financial stability I might desire, that I would live in faith. I will continue to do contract work, I will continue to do some one to one coaching. I will continue to work a part-time job to fill in the holes. I will devote myself to the study required to get full reciprocity in my field in MN and WI. And I will hold myself with integrity, compassion, and service to myself and those around me as I continue to move through my days – and in choosing this path – I know that doors will open up that will allow me to either work in a company once again that is willing to give me full trust, or create my own as I continue to find solutions for those around me and myself.