November 7, 2011

do you have the tools you need to do your job?

I remember one of my first jobs in an office environment, where I was required to fax documents to our head office on a regular basis. Pretty basic right? Think again. The equipment in my office didn't include a fax machine or scanner, only a printer from an undetermined prehistoric era. So I spent time every day driving to the nearest Xerox shop, standing in line, paying with my own money, waiting for the fax to deliver after several failed attempts, driving back, and claiming my minuscule expense - all while trying to look professional. Sounds like fun, right?

This was frustrating for me on two levels:
  • Personally: I'm pretty savvy with a computer and I love technology, so I found it gruelling to be relying on faxes in the hi-tech world we live and work in. I like getting things done, and quickly too. It also cost me money out of my own pocket to drive around and pay for this, and only being reimbursed at the end of the month.
  • Professionally: How many hours of my week were spent waiting in that Xerox shop? Minutes ticking away every day with no real work being done and no profit being made. I may have been a first-timer, but I was feeling terribly inefficient and I knew that this was not the way to do business.

As this was something I didn't have much control over, I did try pleading with my boss to supply a print/scan/fax machine in order for me to do my job properly. Funny thing is that I had to wait a month for his answer: "When you start making some real money, we can think about getting more gadgets for your office". Hmpf, please stop asking me to send faxes then...

I don't need to tell you that this had a very negative effect on my commitment towards my job and my boss. I was young and inexperienced and I needed a job, so I tried going with it for a while. Even though this wasn't my responsibility I did try to be flexible and work with what I had, but you can only spend so much of your time trying to fix something that isn't yours to fix. Regardless of the other resources available I was not able to do my job properly.

According to Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, this is another foundational requirement for employees to feel engaged and positive about their jobs, and I am a believer after experiencing the opposite for myself. This experience has taught me to consider available resources before accepting just any new position in the future, and also to be grateful if I do work for an employer who supplies everything I need to do my job.

If you have all the tools you need at work, you can spend your energy doing what you're paid to do AND MORE. I don't think I'll ever take resources and tools for granted again after that first experience. Any others who had to learn this the hard way?

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