Navigating the Day

Today was one of those days most of us dread. Many currents, rocks and shoals to navigate with personnel issues, a very tough patron behavior situation and competing staff needs and opinions all coming to rest against, under and around my little canoe. Much of the tumult is ongoing and swirls around many of the other managament staff as well. One or two are the management staff!

As a five month newbie on the job as Youth Services Coordinator, I'd like to have the luxury and a little grace time to let these currents swirl and simply float above a few situations, letting them play out as they will. But I'm paid to look at, observe, listen, represent the department and staffers, represent the public, build consensus, make recommendations, participate in and make decisions and communicate all along the way. I am here to look for ways to smooth the waters rather than stay in the middle of a maelstrom where we all get sucked down lower.

So I talked honestly with two other managers, listened to their concerns and shared some of mine. I listened as a staffer shared her frustration and promised no solution other than that I would think more on it. We will talk again and see if there is some common ground we can find in this stalemate involving another staffer. Neither is right, neither is wrong - always the hardest to mediate.

And that tough patron situation. Like many others I have had to take care of since I started, I talked as directly and as honestly as I could with the aide for a special needs adult to help reach a solution that honored both her client's needs and that of the children who use our area. I kept my director informed as well as my staffers about the situation, my communication and what actions they could take if the problem re-occurs.

Honesty, listening, communication and staying out of knee-jerk emotional reactions helped me steer the course. I am as bone-tired right now as if I had paddled all day long in my canoe in the beautiful Canadian wilderness of Quetico. And also, for today, as satisfied.

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