Those of you who follow me on Twitter, and aren’t sexy spambots (which sound much more interesting than they actually are) will know that I haven’t been thrilled to pieces at work lately.
I was supposed to get my first intern this month, and simultaneously start the class that teaches and qualifies one to supervise. (In social work, we learn as we go, and not a minute before!) This was supposed to happen in September. As you might have noticed, September is drawing to a close, and I’m not freaking out about a grad student being smarter than me or complaining about this class being useless. Something must have gone wrong.
My director, the boss of my fabulous supervisor and underling of my fabulous regional director, came to me to say, “You’re not getting an intern. I sent the paperwork in late. We can try again next year.” That is a direct quote. She then shrugged and walked away.
Here’s a tip: if you’re telling someone that you couldn’t be bothered, for no apparent reason aside from laziness, to do a very simple thing that would be very important for their career, do not end with a shrug.
Let’s just say she’s lucky there were no leftover water balloons from the agency picnic.
It was only one thing. A big thing, granted, as it pushes me back a year in something that’s important and necessary for my future in this field. It also delays my coworker, who was supposed to be the one getting an intern next year. (We only have room for one at a time. I have to respect Anonymous Agency for not pulling the old “we’ll figure it out when they get here, no one mention that this was a broom closet!” trick.)
But it’s kind of pushed me over the edge. Not in the sense of spinning in my chair making barnyard animal sounds on the job, but in feeling pushed out the door, and getting my resume together. Seriously, this time.
What makes our jobs bearable?
For the most part, Anonymous Agency is a good place to work. Benefits and vacation time are good, the place is well regarded, I’m comfortable there, and I have a lot of respect for most people who work above me.
The fact that one person can counteract all that kind of drives me crazy. But feeling like someone doesn’t give you a second thought, and has no respect for your ideas, goals, and schedule, goes a long way.
Now, what does this remind me of?
I’m always telling myself that I have to bear in mind that I’m up against every negative experience a client has ever had with a social worker. Or case worker. Or psychiatrist. Or anyone else who was supposed to help.
We’re different. We’re not like those workers. We care about our clients, and treat them with respect. We know it, and we’ll show it.
Sometimes things come up. Sometimes the bus makes us late, we have to call in sick, a school visit goes way too long and it takes us a while to return a call. Sometimes, for all our efforts, we can’t get a kid a mental health appointment for months. Even worse, sometimes we make mistakes, or forget things.
It seems unfair that this makes all the good fly out the window. Why can no one focus on the positive?!
Especially when someone is coming off of a string of bad experiences, the negative just weighs more. We have to remember that, even when it’s not fair. It takes a lot of good to make up for mistakes.
As my dear director taught me, owning and apologizing goes a long way. If she had said, “I dropped the ball, I’m really sorry,” I still would have been upset. Objectively, some damage had been done. But I wouldn’t have felt the betrayal and disregard for me as a person. If this had been an anomaly in her behavior, I would be able to move on. It wasn’t, so she needs to be ready to lose her most dedicated blogger worker.
We’re going to make mistakes in our work, as social workers and as supervisors. We can get over them if we recognize what’s going on. If we’re too busy being defensive and thinking about ourselves, we won’t.
More importantly, is anyone hiring?