Events That Change Our Lives
Tomorrow, January 5th, 2013 my lone daughter gets married. Both my wife and I couldn’t be happier for her, and with fingers crossed for a day in January that isn’t too bone-chilling, icy, windy, rainy or devoid of snow entirely, we will witness her tie the knot with a fine young man we are proud to welcome into our family as our own.
Now while this marriage is of great significance, it does not mean that in the days, weeks, and months preceding this Saturday, that any of us who are intimately involved in the planning can shirk on our work responsibilities. In fact, what is actually the reality is that on top of all the things that require our attention, we have to fit in time around the proverbial water cooler at our workplaces to share the latest planning if we are asked. While Management might be sympathetic and indeed interested in sharing in the joy of the lead up to the wedding, we all still have jobs to do.
And this leads me to address the issue of prioritizing one’s work, recognizing obligations and fulfilling duties that fall to us to earn our pay. I have worked with some clients in the past who truly believe that it is more than acceptable and quite normal behaviour to take additional time off, chat away on work time for literally hours, leave early and come in late if the reason behind these actions is a wedding, a birth in the family, a household dog having puppies, or other personal events happening outside the workplace. While an employer can be entirely compassionate about what the individual employee is experiencing, the business does not grind to a halt until the employee is ready to focus on the job they have.
It is critical that you understand the company culture and observe the behaviour of other employees around you when they have similar events in their lives. How do other employees react to them and deal with inquiring about their situations? In some companies, chit-chat and personal sharing is done at breaks, lunch and after hours. In some other organizations, sharing and talking while working is permitted because interpersonal relationships are valued highly. By observing how your co-workers act and react in these situations, you will have a better understanding of what is expected of you when you are the one affected.
I am reminded of a co-worker years ago when I worked for another company. Someone in their family passed, and while they got time off to mourn, their co-workers increasingly became resentful at the person’s lack of work being done as they had to pick up the slack for over two months and eventually the employee had to be spoken to. That fine line between understanding and empathy and not performing work responsibilities had been crossed. Hard to blame the organization or the co-workers who didn’t mind pitching in to help out, but not on a regular basis which just wore them all down.
Now I work in a company that is predominately female, and many are very excited and interested in the marriage of my daughter and how I’m reacting as the father of the bride. What’s my speech like? Will I cry? Do I approve of the groom? Details of the wedding please and oh do bring in some pictures! I’m lucky that I’ve got co-workers that are interested and I feel a part of the group. However, I still have workshops to lead, people to help, and well, work to get done. Am I distracted? Okay maybe today just a little. Next week I assume people will want to know how things went and to see pictures. I’ll still have to buckle down and do my job though. That’s just a solid work ethic in action.
So when you’ve got personal stuff going on; be it good or bad, do your best to focus on your work so that your quality can be counted on. Take your cues from others and from your Supervisor. Not sure how much you can get away with? Ask your boss for clarification and guidance in order to be both productive and giving of yourself when others take an interest in you.
A winter wedding in white; ah….oh sorry I got distracted there!