a kinder, gentler learning curve

Today was one of the most stressful days I’ve ever had at a job. Yet it was a remarkably positive experience and reiterated the poignant lesson of not taking yourself too seriously.

I’ll avoid the lengthy details of what actually happened, but to make a long story bearable, I’ll just say that lots of new responsibilities unexpectedly fell onto my shoulders.

As the emails started flying in, I felt the tell-tale rise in blood pressure and nervous finger tapping commence. I’d been down this type of road before, and it doesn’t always go well. But – I soon realized I had a few things on my side.

To begin, my leadership completely understood and communicated that this was well beyond my job description and and daily routine. To me – this was a huge acknowledgment. The folks above me knew I wasn’t trained on what I needed to do, nor had I ever done it before. They also knew my actions were going to be visible to tens of thousands of employees. Instead of pressuring me or intimidating me further with these facts, I was told that ‘this was going to be crazy, but we’ll get through it together and learn from it’. I was encouraged to ask questions and seek out help from people at all levels.

What also helped alleviate this situation was the fact that I had lots of folks standing behind me. I had multiple offers for help and coverage and even had someone bring me frozen yogurt (yes, really). This type of confidence and support was exactly what I needed to perform effectively.

Let’s be honest. It’s not like I’ve been beaten or screamed at in previous positions, but there have definitely been times (that I can still visualize) where I know that feeling more supported and less terrified would’ve really helped me succeed. Sometimes a tough manager is the best way to grow, but at the end of the day, I learn a lot more when I’m being fostered than when I’m bullied or scolded.

All details aside, I think that what helped resolve the situation so successfully was the fact that no one freaked out. No one raised their voice. No one panicked. Hence, the not taking yourself too seriously. We all work hard and face pressures on the job, but at the end of the day, it’s important to put it all in perspective.

Could this type of situation have been prevented with different planning? Maybe. But ultimately, it ended up a total success. And because of how it was handled, I feel very prepared for the next time it happens.

Which is hopefully not for a very long time.


One thought on “a kinder, gentler learning curve

  1. Another great piece, Jess.

    Your words painted a great picture of a team
    working together to solve a problem, and lending
    support and encouragement to the newer members.


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