Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's My Job

I have a confession to make: I am good at my job.

That may sound silly, but the truth is that it feels like a confession. I have received a ton of compliments on my work over the last eight weeks, from several different people. Each time, I’ve felt proud, but the pride is overshadowed by embarrassment. I don’t feel like I do anything special, or at least like I do anything that should be seen as special.

I have had many jobs since I took my first office job at the age of 19. Over the years, I’ve learned that my strength is in serving a customer base. I am highly organized and detail-oriented. I love people, and it pleases me to make someone else’s job or life easier. I work best for a manager who includes me, teaches me, challenges me to grow, and then leaves me alone to do my work.

When J. and I moved back to Dallas in April 2010, I signed on with a staffing agency, which placed me as an administrative assistant at a commercial property management company (specializing in medical office buildings). After three months, I was hired on by the company. It was a complete fluke that I landed in this industry, but it is a perfect match to my personality and skills. It's a dynamic workplace; I have changed offices four times in the last year, and I’ve worked under four different property managers. I have been blessed to love each one more than the last. My current boss began work on September 12. She lauds my work daily, and she's already working to promote me. For the first time, I see myself in a career, not just a long-term job.

I’ve received compliments on my work over the years, but never in the quantity of late. And while it brings me joy to be recognized, it also feels strange. I believe in working hard, and in doing a good job. I’m being paid to accomplish certain tasks, so I have a responsibility to earn my keep. And my name is attached to those tasks; I want them to be done well! I’ve worked with a lot of people who do the bare minimum, and I have no patience for that. If I can do an extra minute or two of work that makes the next person’s job easier, I do it. I don’t believe in job descriptions; if something needs to be done, and I’m capable of doing it, then it’s my job.

My current office manages a brand-new building. That means that most of our interior space is still under construction. I deal with contractors for the bulk of each day. I also assist with our tenants’ needs, including coordinating everything for their move-in. On some days, it’s a very complicated dance – not so different from juggling a set of flaming bowling pins. I have days when I’m busy every second and yet cannot name a single thing I accomplished that day. Other days, I get several projects finished in one swoop. Either way, when I leave work each day, I’m happy.

So why do I blush when I receive a compliment? That reaction seems to be typical for American women. “They” say we don’t get raises because we don’t expect them the way our male counterparts do. It’s difficult for us to accept, or demand, recognition for doing our jobs well. Or maybe women are just hardwired to work hard for no gratitude. Perhaps that’s part of my embarrassment, but I think it’s more than that. I work hard because that’s the right thing to do; I do my job well because I would be ashamed not to. And it seems that I receive such gushing compliments because those traits are rare in 2011.

Now there's something to be embarrassed about.

No comments: