I have just had a heartening experience in my office. As it is the holiday season I thought I would share it on this blog. We have an incredibly complex internal knowledge management system for recording our programme plans, budget etc. as many large international organizations do. Not being someone who is gifted in using IT programmes (thankfully blogging is so easy), on Monday a call to send in my 2008 workplan created a wave of psychic angst. It was complete already, but produced in a simple table format in Word (which worked for me), how now to get it into the bigger complex internal system full of spreadsheets and quadrenniel results? So I tried myself, found the guidelines, asked my immediate colleagues, with no success and a mounting feeling of frustration and powerlessness. So I sent out an email to my colleagues, a “plea” as one called it, for some peer learning on how this works (I am still new and my unit is new here).

Wow, what a response! I was so happy to have my first email response back within minutes, and then during the day more and more people offered to help, to give me some advice, to show me their own workplans, to share their tips to make the process, which is admittedly complicated, easier to navigate. These are incredibly busy people anyways, and this is the last week before the long holiday period, everyone is madly rushing to finish off things; still I got so many offers for help that I want to acknowledge that indeed it takes a village, or at least a community of colleagues, to sort out a new staff member. At least this community is willing to do it. You just need to ask; we should ask more.

I was interested to see what wikipedia said about that phrase, “It takes a village…” and here is what I got, I have adapted it here for my own purposes (e.g. replaced “children” with “staff members”, “adults” for “managers”, and “nation” for “organization”, etc. – interesting results…)

Staff members are not rugged individualists. They depend on managers they know and on hundreds more who make decisions every day that affect their well-being. All of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, are responsible for deciding whether our colleagues are brought up in an organization that doesn’t just espouse team values but values teams and staff members.

I am well on my way to completing my workplan now, thanks to my colleagues and their willingness to provide some informal, peer learning to someone in need. And I will be actively looking for an opportunity to reciprocate in the New Year…

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