October 8, 2008

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

This is the first job I've had that provides managers with a team of associate support staff. Everyone in our office is a non-profit management over-achiever and you really appreciate that drive when it comes to the associates.

I am accustomed to setting up for my meetings and then cleaning up after. The associates are just too quick. It is a strange feeling, when you've worked most of your career in non-profits and it is all hands on deck, to be asked for the third time if you need any more help.

Sometimes I think we go too far, having associates make "coffee runs" to the local Java Detour. Is this really a good use of expertise? What values are promoting? Can't we take ten minutes and go ourselves?

Well, I went one step too far when I asked Jessica, one of our associates, if she could check my teeth for offending matter prior to a meeting. She oh-so-seriously looked at my not-so-pearly-whites and pointed out areas that needed help. As soon as I reflected on what was going on I was of two minds. I trust Jessica and consider her a friend. This "pruning" I reserve only for my closest friends and would do the same for her. However, this was work and she was doing her best job to make me look good. Couldn't I have just taken five minutes to check my own teeth in the mirror?

I can see how absolute power can corrupt absolutely. I've been on the receiving end of these inappropriate requests and it certainly doesn't feel good. I pledge to stop the train and take care of my own dirty business. Or, happily check Jessica's teeth in exchange.

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