AMININ MAN natin o hindi (whether we admit it or not), we all crave and enjoy recognition.
From the humble certificate recognizing volunteer barangay tanods (or night wardens), to Oscar nominations and awards watched by billions on TV and the internet, recognition of excellence, effort and energy in whatever form or shape, is not only a reflection of achievement, but is sometimes a goal in itself.
How many times have you gone for the extra sale, extra points, or extra work, just to get the award and the “victory march” to the podium? I know I have.
Except that, shortly after my training for a higher position at work, I had no right to assume that I was due for any recognition, in view of my less-than-stellar performance.
True, I was just getting my feet wet and allowance had been made for rookie mistakes and slipups.
But I was fast wearing out my welcome. Each hour that the factory was not running meant that around 4 tons of product was not being manufactured. And each mistake I made, counting shutdown, startup and down time, translated to minutes that led to hours that led to, well, tons of product unmade.
Because I was responsible for the whole factory, each shutdown, however minor, was on my hands. The dozens of dozens of machines, all tied together in a network, usually functioned well, but the inevitable snag, breakdown or blockage, although not fatal, frequently stopped the whole operation, if not checked ASAP. And it was up to me (and my assistant) to make sure this happened, accompanied by the appropriate response.
***** ***** *****
A few weeks after Christmas, I didn’t need to be psychic or supersensitive to know that my colleagues were starting to doubt if I was up to the task. Already, the production manager was asking if I wanted retraining or if there were areas in the training I wanted to refresh.
Only my confidence and everything in the training, I wanted to tell him, but I was afraid everything would crumble if I said so. Everything was riding on my job, as you may know. My well-being, my migration status, in fact life as I knew it was dependent on me doing my job well.
Nothing to do but soldier on, Noel.
***** ***** *****
Crucial to me was pushing up my work ethic, repeating and practicing without fail the procedures taught to me step by step without short cuts, speeding up my reaction time, and learning through my mistakes.
I wasn’t about to let management think that it made a mistake reposing their trust in me, and I didn’t want to let down everyone who had confidence in me. All my life, I’d never been a mechanically inclined person, but no job can’t be done at least to a decent level with hard work, hard work, and hard work. I was prepared to do all three.
***** ***** *****
That was three months ago. I still make mistakes now, but they’re less and they’re not as huge (touch wood). I react faster to potential breakdowns now, and I do my best to learn from said mistakes. Every time he has a moment, the production manager takes me aside to tell me I’m doing a better job. I appreciate everything he says.
Tipping point was Friday, when unfortunately I couldn’t attend the weekly meeting. After averting a potential factory problem, I entered the meeting room to catch up, where the plant engineer sternly told me :
You missed an important announcement, Noel. Especially for you, actually. You were voted Employee of the Month. How could you miss your moment? Congrats, now get out of here.
Sarcastic lang pala.
Flabbergasted, I quickly thanked the engineer and quickly reported to my Number One Fan, the production manager, who obviously already knew:
See Noel? It’s not just me who’s appreciating you now. Your production is going up, you don’t call the engineers in the middle of the night as often now (touch wood), and you’re making life a little better, for yourself and everyone on site. Pat yourself on the back, Mr Employee of the Month.
In my understated way, the recognition is a bit premature, considering that I’ll make many more mistakes and I’ve got so much more to learn, but it’s recognition I’ll take any time.
Thanks for reading!