Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The People at Work

I had something different planned for today. I suspect many of you could say the same.

COVID-19, the non-catchy short-form for CoronaVirus, ran roughshod over most of our days, hiding in emails and sneaking into almost all our plans. Abundance was in full effect in the corporate emails that filled my box. Caution was something I even found myself typing all afternoon.

This month's topic was about the people who make up the ecosystem of work. Last week, I rambled about how work is a system. This week, I thought I'd share the stage with others to hear their ideas about their colleagues. And, I will.

But, COVID-19 gave a useful coda to last week's post. If anything shows the interconnectedness of human behavior, infectious disease certainly can. With the near-global diffusion of cell phones, there are very few adults who don't know there is a virus on the loose. Collective meetings are ideal places for the virus to proliferate. People holding collective gathering spaces are working hard to make the best call about how to proceed. As one site moves to cancel, it sets into motion even more cancellations. The decision-making is happening like a Rube Goldberg, one event after another. And, we are all working through our choices together. There are probably plenty of workers right now trying to make these tough decisions, maybe even putting their health at risk. I appreciate them. Though, I also appreciate all the workers who are doing particularly hard tasks, keeping public spaces clean for example.

And, then onto the people at work...this whole month's topic started, because of a colleague. Early in the morning, I usually chat with a fellow early bird at my office. We were recently discussing some fairly banal, but important, issues about construction near my office. I've spent most of my working life at the mercy of city and state road construction, as Ohio seems to always been in repair ;>. As someone who doesn't always listen to local traffic, I was thankful for his insight. Much later, I realized most of us at work have these sorts of off-handed interactions with people--not exactly about work but incredibly important to your ability to do your job.

We often spend more time with peers than friends or family. They can make your lives more fun, easier, or livelier. They can certainly sink your day or make it shine. While I often read about manager-subordinate interactions, I don't often hear about peer interactions. Enjoy some tales that illustrate some of the ways peers make our workplaces worth it. 

What is something you learned from a peer? 
From time to time, step back and take distance from your projects, having a bird’s eye perspective helps to understand dynamics and situations that being immersed in the work don’t.  Amparo Leyman Pino 

“’Always assume goodwill.’  It's actually one of the first things that Dr. Gretchen Sorin, Director and Distinguished Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, told my cohort in our first week of our MA program.  That advice has served me incredibly well over the last seven years, and it frames how I try to approach problems at my museum.  We're all on the same team, and we're just facing obstacles and doing our best to overcome them.  It also buys a lot of credibility among my peers, I think--people are more willing to work with you when they know you'll always give them the benefit of the doubt if they make a mistake.”  Fred Gold

"My mentor gave me a simple, but profound piece of advice as I started my career: recognize the people who work with you and acknowledge them for who they are and what they're doing for the museum. I manage docents, and I make sure I thank them for their service as much as I can.  But that also extends to my professional colleagues, too.  I work with incredibly caring and talented people, and it's important to recognize how vital they are to their communities and the museum." Andrew Palamara

“While you may find yourself in situations beyond your control (or above your paygrade), you can always control how you respond. Let your actions bring good, impact change, and make clear what you stand for, wherever you are. I think about that affirmation e v e r y day. I've leaned on it when establishing boundaries at work, claiming agency as an emerging museum professional, figuring out what exactly work/life balance looks like... I hope it can bring others some moments of clarity and action, too!” Andrea Ledesma 

So what about you? What's something you learned from a peer? Tag me so I can add your thoughts to this month’s summary post @artlust on twitter, @_art_lust_ on IG, & @brilliantideastudiollc on FB. 

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