Friday, July 3, 2009

Hero Support

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

- Mother Teresa



When I started at my job, there were only four of us workers. Over the years, now we are a staff of 12 and I am the supervisor. I have learned how to do THAT job by trial and error. The most important thing that I have learned is my number 1 job is to support my co-workers. Yes – I did use that word correctly – my “co-workers” not “my staff.” I just don’t like the term “my staff.” I realize there is a power differential. I am the one who has a say in who gets hired, in what the final policies are, in addressing issues when there is a problem. I know that. But, we are working together to meet the directives of our agency, to meet the needs of our clients, and take care of ourselves. And – my part of that is to make sure my co-workers have what they need to do their jobs.
What they need includes a heck of a lot of stuff. What they need includes an effective and safe working environment, proper office tools, continuing education, emotional support, a good salary, kudos, guidance, and sometimes just an ear to listen. They must know that I have their backs – and I do. They have mine as well.
I am so proud to work with all of them. They are all dedicated, smart, and hard-working. We don’t have any slackers at our workplace because the work is so demanding, it isn’t actually possible to slack. We’ve been called the “ER of Social Work." So apt a description has never been made. We are all crisis, all the time.

We meet as a group once per week for about 1 ½ hours. Just us, no prosecutors or other staff members. We really don’t have the time for such a luxury, but I figure we have to make it. If we sit around a table and talk to each other at least once a week, not only do we solve mundane issues (like agreeing on work protocols), we can also solve and prevent the bigger issues. Sometimes we even fight and have been known to cry and pout a time or two. Sometimes we talk about prosecutors we really like, and those we really don’t. Whatever it is, it gets put on the table.
We do a lot of supporting each other and we use a lot of humor. Sometimes when things hit home too much, we just sometimes listen and nod our heads – we’ve all been there.
So – my job as a supervisor – I am truly honored to serve these people. That’s why they aren’t “my-staff.” They are my heroes.

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