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Would you brush a hippo’s teeth?

Brushing a Hippo's teeth-compressed

As you may already know, I ran a pet sitting service in addition to my resume writing enterprise. (October 5th I notified clients I was shutting down.) If you think working for corporate America is demanding, try caring for someone’s animals in their own home. Goodness me, the stories I could tell.

I also volunteer as a Career Expert for Careerealism’s Twitter Advice Project (T.A.P.) Anonymous individuals pose job search and work-related questions and the experts respond via Twitter in 140-characters or less. Lately, some of the questions make me stop, shake my head and wonder what’s happening to the work ethic and why people are bewildered when they’re expected to do their job.

OK, so what do pet sitting, being a career expert and a diminishing work ethic have in common? Hang in there. I’m getting to it. One of my pet sit clients wanted their cat food heated for 8 seconds; another one insisted 5 seconds was optimum – imagine how much fun it was the time I sat for both clients in the same weekend. Another left me a note telling specifically which blanket to put in the carrier in the unlikely event I had to rush her cat to the emergency room. Another had bowls labeled so each dog ate out of the correct bowl.

While there are lots more examples, you can catch the drift. Pet owners, (like business owners) are very specific about caring for their animals (businesses). Did I always agree with them? Ah, no. C’mon. How many times do you see a cat rush to the microwave to heat up a mouse or a bug before devouring it? A sick cat will know/care if it’s resting on a specific blanket, really? Dogs can tell if they’re eating from the “correct” bowl? Granted order of feeding is important, but do they really care if the bowl is red or blue, as long as there’s food in it?

Did I spend time pontificating and arguing with clients and sharing my opinions about their care practices? Nope. I took notes and made sure I did as my “employers” told me. They didn’t ask for my opinion. They asked me to do a job, in the manner in which they saw best for their animals. They paid me. I “got over myself” and delivered stellar service, right down to ensuringtwitterbadge I knew where that special cat blanket was, just in case I needed it. It was part of the job.

Some T.A.P. questioners pose queries like, “My boss expects me to get to work on time and that’s a problem”, “Why am I being held hostage? I asked to leave early for a ballgame and was told no.”, “I want to take a cooking class, but I’ll have to miss work, is that OK?”, “They’re moving people I don’t like into my department. What am I to do?” Wait. I’ll be right back. I’ve got to get some cheese to go with this whine.

If you agreed to take a job, were told the start time and now getting there on time is inconvenient, it’s a self-discipline problem. Suck it up; hire a brass band to roll you out of bed if necessary, but on-time arrival is not an unrealistic expectation. You’re allowed to ask for scheduling considerations, but based on business climate, department goals and dare I say, your supervisor’s mood, you might hear no. You’re grown. Deal with it. Gee. You have to work with someone you don’t like. Oh well. Find a way to get along during the workday. I used to tell my employees, “You don’t have to like each other at 7:59 a.m. or 5:01 p.m., but from 8-5, you better all be pulling in the same direction – toward business success – period.”

It seems most of the questions stem from a belief work is a necessary inconvenience and a business should acquiesce to the whims of each and every employee. Making everyone happy, all the time, dooms a business to failure. That’s not to say everyone should be miserable or sometimes special things can’t happen, but overall, you were hired to do a job. You agreed. You draw a paycheck because of that agreement and on payday, everybody’s even.

Bottom line, they call it work for a reason – it’s not always fun. As long as assignments aren’t immoral, unethical or illegal, stop complaining about the tiny things and do what you were hired to do. That’s not to say don’t offer opinions about business operations, that’s expected from a good employee. What I’m saying is, stop complaining when the business doesn’t revolve around your own personal wants and needs. If that becomes a problem for you, then update your resume and find a job that is more suited to your tender sensibilities. Otherwise, devote yourself to the success of the organization. If they ask you to heat cat food for 8 seconds, arrive on time, or brush a hippo’s teeth, then do it with a smile and know you’re contributing to the overall success of the organization, whether you see it that way or not.

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  1. […] Would you brush a hippo’s teeth? « Dawn's Blog – view page – cached + DawnBugni: RT @fholmhogan: Overqualified Applicants: We are terrified of you – October 22, 2009 + DawnBugni: @cokeman777 Do U read minds? Thought of U this morning-got to… (Read more)+ DawnBugni: RT @fholmhogan: Overqualified Applicants: We are terrified of you – October 22, 2009 + DawnBugni: @cokeman777 Do U read minds? Thought of U this morning-got to say hi 2 Virgil. Phone rang, thought went out of my head & now ur here. Wow! October 22, 2009 + DawnBugni: RT @MatthewRayScott: 4 Things People Need in Tough Times. October 22, 2009 + DawnBugni: Great advice! RT @Resume_Writer: Unemployed & depressed? Read my article w/suggestions how to cope: #jobseekers #mcm October 22, 2009 * Search for: ____________________ Search (Read less) — From the page […]

  2. careertrend says:

    Hi Dawn,
    What a whimsical title! Thanks for drawing me in with the visual of ‘brushing a hippo’s teeth!’

    I think the world often is consumed with self-soothing, self-care, how can I take care of ‘me, me, me,’ mantras that people carry that attitude into work. Bottom line, work is a means to an end — a paycheck that supports one’s lifestyle.

    Clearly, we can aspire to the career (work) of our dreams, the activities, duties, tasks, contributions of which are satisfying, fulfilling, sometimes fun, ego-lifting and gratifying.

    However, work isn’t always fun, satisfying and effortless. It often is labor and toil. The upside includes rewards and results. There’s nothing like the feeling of working hard to till a garden, plant and tend to the seeds and witness the fruits of one’s labor.

    As well, your line, ‘devote yourself to the success of the organization’ is key. If job seekers keep that in mind, they probably will be pleasantly surprised the results and rewards in their own career advancements.

    Well done, Dawn!


  3. dawnbugni says:

    Hi Jacqui –

    I used to work with a woman who groaned every time the phone rang. One day, I reminded her the ringing telephone and clients paying for products and services is what enabled me to cut her paycheck every other week. I went on to point out, her being there to provide those services and promote those products was integral to the organization’s income. She was visibly surprised by this revelation.

    Frequently, employers fail to point out how important employees are to the bottom line and employees get all wrapped up in an “us against them” mentality that neither party sees the important role they each play in preserving business success and in turn, income and lifestyle.

    As you said, work isn’t always fun or satisfying, but the livelihood it provides is.

    Thanks for adding such thoughtful insights.


  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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