Saturday, January 07, 2006

Employee of the Quarter!

Okay, here's the back story. Six months ago, I was on the brink of losing my job. My editors were not pleased with my deadline performance, the thoroughness of my stories and my "behavior" at a recent conference (drinking). I sound like a total slob, I know, someone spiralling into a hopeless mess. My perspective on the situation was totally different. I felt I had been doing as good, if not better, at my job in recent months and that in my party mode, I was garnering new contacts for my stories. I was shocked to hear my editors felt the way they did.

In any case, I surrendered to their feedback, put my own emotions in a little cage and just got back to work. As part of my probationary period, I was asked to start coming into the office on a regular basis (I had been freelancing from home at the time). That for me had more pluses that minuses, since I am a people person and focused on team-building.

Well, here six months have passed. In that time, I've worked on everything my editors have asked, improving my deadline performance, responding to my editor's feedback and cutting off alcohol at all company-sponsored functions. One of my investigative pieces created a lot of buzz and feedback in our industry, just as we were going into our annual convention and trade show. And as a whole, the body of work since July has hit if not surpassed my editors' expectations.

Last week, during our first-of-the-year company gathering, they held an awards ceremony. Lo and behold, the winner of Employee of the Quarter ... Me! I screamed like a pageant queen and accepted my plaque.

If I were to summarize lessons learned, I'd say this. I forgot that I was providing my company with a service. If I were a mini-company, Angel Inc., I stopped listening to my main client. My own feelings aside, their needs were not being met. And looking back, the things they wanted were fair requests. Hard work, focus on quality, commitment to deadlines, a perception of professionalism and helpfulness towards the outside busienss community.

Even more importantly is the mutual knowledge that those goals are lofty and difficult to maintain. If we fall below, then an honest effort to move back to excellence is all that's required.

Those are tough lessons. And I'm happy to now take them to heart. I know this may sound corny, but I'm grateful for my little plaque. It makes me pround of myself and what I've been able to accomplish.


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