The Perfect 10: Employee vs. Boss

Long ago, I worked for an amazing boss who told me something I will never forget. He refused to create an annual review for his staff, because he said he could write all day long about how great an employee’s work was – but if he wrote something, anything, negative about the employee’s work? That would be the thing they would remember, not all the positive comments he made. It’s so true. We don’t remember the positives in an annual review, but we will never forget what we were marked down for.

In the last annual review I had at a former job, all aspects of job performance were rated 1 for the worst and 10 for the best, then the boss could circle the rating number for each particular job task. There were 3 typed pages of performance review items, and my supervisor told me she would never give anyone a 10 rating for perfection on any task, because nobody is perfect, and that made her uncomfortable. But what if some of her staff’s work would really merit a perfect 10 on a scale? Wasn’t there anything that I did that she thought was the best and didn’t need improvement? Probably not, but I would still strive for that 10, you know. In all competitions, everyone will strive for the perfect 10.

The reason I am writing about this is because I just worked a 12-hour shift, and sometime during this long day, I made a huge mistake. I can’t think about all the good things I’ve accomplished in these 12 hours, but my soul is crushed because someone made a complaint about something I did or said. Recently I’ve been sick and physically hurting, but I know we are short staffed and I feel like my employer needs full participation from us. We need to show up. If the boss isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And I’m wanting a 10 for crushing the workflow, not just for my employer, but for myself. I’m driven to perfection, almost OCD about it. If I can’t finish first, I don’t want to play. There is probably some type of psychosis associated with that, I don’t know. It’s just my makeup, I guess. Even the Bible talks about doing your best you can do. “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23. The Lord deserves nothing less than my best effort, for certain. But what does my employer deserve?

I’m always having to prove myself, especially as I get older… that I can still race with the young ones even though I’m an old horse. I very much like the company I work for, and I can only see us improving and growing by great leaps and bounds. I wish I was 20 years younger and could have been here long ago. My mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and now I seem to be not as physically able to withstand the rigors of very long workdays like I used to as a paralegal. Years ago, we worked day and night getting ready for a trial, and when it was all over, we calmed down and then everyone got colds and their bodies cried for a regeneration of normalcy that only rest and recovery could provide, this after we were so pumped with adrenaline for days on end just trying to get to that perfect 10, which was winning our case.

So I made a mistake. Someone told me, “It’s going to be okay. You made a mistake, and you are going to make more mistakes, and you will learn from it.” But I don’t want to make mistakes and I don’t want to feel the humiliation that comes from the boss having to have “The Talk” with me because I screwed up. I would be so much happier if everything I did could merit a 10. What is utmost on my mind right now is not the 11.75 hours that I did something right today. It’s my supervisor telling me that all he knows right now is that I screwed up and we’ll know more about it later. He is just doing his job, and he has to say that. My employer is not going to close the doors because I screwed up. I haven’t caused us to go out of business. But what I did do is take quite a hit to my ego and my own personal quest for the 10. Maybe in the future I can get more 7’s and 8’s and they can help me balance out my -3 mistake, who knows. I will cut my work hours down to a normal 8 per day, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I work at a job full of the much younger generation. They are so bright, articulate, and where I work? They are kind and respectful, too. They seem to be much smarter than I ever was at their age, and as I strain to see the fine print on my monitor sometimes, I marvel at their fearless ability to move through all the screens without even thinking about it. They have the education that merits a good feel for IT and knowing where to go and what to do on a computer because they had to learn in their high school and college classes. I became proficient in the 70’s on an IBM Mag Card, this wonderful “memory” typewriter — just type a letter, insert a numbered magnetic card, about 4″ x 10″, into this slot and viola, it’s saved for future printing or edits. We thought that was so cool. And right now? I’m wearing the new Apple Watch which can scan and ECG/EKG right to my doctor’s office. I would be lost without my iPad’s “Find Your Phone” app for the times I’ve left my iPhone somewhere around here, and I can take walks with wireless headphones while listening to my iPhone song list. Things have changed in the last forty years. Apple, you are my hero.

I was thoroughly amazed when my college roommate printed out my resume’ on her personal computer in 1976, talked to me about any changes, and then went back to the document and made instant edits. I did not have an electric typewriter in my high school in the late 60’s, early 70’s, so using one in a college setting was pretty cool. The hard, electric tap of the keys from an IBM Selectric, the cool tan-colored metal ones with the ball font that you could clip on and off, made using carbon copies a lot neater, especially when you had more than one piece of carbon paper between several sheets of paper. Having a nearby printer wasn’t a thing yet. And office mimeograph machines were the best way to make copies by turning the crank for each copy you needed. Now I can print a document from my iPhone directly to the printer in my home office without leaving the comfort of my couch. Like that recipe? Click – and it’s printed in the other room. Go figure. Hey, that’s such a cute photo of my new grandson – think I’ll just print it now from home. Amazing.

Can you just imagine the technology that will be in place forty years from now? My grandmother, who was a fearless police guard during a time when women were supposed to stay home, would have just flipped out to sit down and order something from Amazon.com from her home PC.

My realtor friend was sitting with me yesterday having coffee at my table when she proclaimed, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” We were laughing about the stuff that we, as single women, have to learn – the things men did for us, like reprogram the TV. The women on the prairie didn’t know there would be an electric stove and you wouldn’t have to put wood in the stove to cook food. They didn’t know that you could someday have a little square robot thing on the floor that runs around the room and picks up the dirt. And a car that drives by itself? No way. Well, guess what? Way.

I’m headed off to work with the youngsters. I love them and they love and respect me. I bake cookies and cinnamon rolls and give them candy just because I can. I’m still learning my job with these young ones – because I don’t know what I don’t know yet.