Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boss Woes

Sunday I woke early as usual to open our doors and take care of the shift change. I'll have to explain more about our staffing schedules later. On this particular day three of our nannies head out for their two-day break. I have to search their belongings (sigh....yet another blog post) and I usually chat with them about how the children did during the night. This day, one of the ladies told me that one of the 2 year-olds had a fever in the morning. She actually said, "her temperature was high". I asked if she had passed on the information to the new shift and she said yes. 

I said goodbye to two of the ladies (the third was not yet ready to leave) and then walked into the nursery to check on the child and confirm that the new staff had received the information about her illness. I discovered that the new shift had just gotten a very abbreviated passing comment. Since this shift was just coming off their own two-day break they didn't have any idea what the 'medical history' was for this child. I pulled the log book off the shelf and checked. Not only was the notation missing that she had had a fever in the night--but there was no log entry at all for Saturday. 
Furious, I rushed to the door and called the two nannies back--they were waiting at the corner of the road for the third nanny to join them.

When asked why the day nanny hadn't filled in Saturday's entry she shrugged and said, "I made a mistake." The night nanny insisted that she had written about the night but that she had written it elsewhere in the book "since I thought that was the right page." I was absolutely livid. The entry she had written was in between days so, clearly out of place and was painfully short--"she had a high temperature". No details about what time she had had the fever or if she had been restless in her sleep or anything else. I knew the child had had a headache the evening before but due to the day nanny not writing it down, the new shift would have had no idea.

Another reason I was so upset is that this was not the first time these two nannies had been 'called on the carpet'. They had both shown a pretty lazy attitude toward their work. I told them off sternly--emphasizing the importance of paying attention to details when caring for kids--and had them fill in the missing information in the logs before leaving for their time off.

Monday evening, the day nanny was supposed to report back to work. She didn't come and the following morning had still not shown up. I called her phone but she told me she "was too busy" to come. I asked if she was really telling me she had quit working. She said yes. I asked why she hadn't let me know out of courtesy that she was quitting so I could arrange a replacement but she had no answer.

If I tell you I was angry I'm not lying at all but I was also a little relieved. This girl (because she truly is that) had been a difficult worker and I would like to see someone with more passion for the kids in her position.

I, later that morning, got a text from her saying that she had quit because "U don't know how to work with people, U like talking too much and U shout at people". I admit this is the point where I felt the need to stomp my feet a'la Scarlett O'Hara. Aside from the obvious untruth about the shouting (Oh, Lord, how I would have loved to from time to time--I actually hadn't given into the urge--not even when this happened), this girl had received reprimand upon reprimand and mercy upon mercy. 
  I know it is normal to want to blame others for our own failings. Heaven knows I do it often enough. I know that quitting a job can feel, too often, like a breakup. "Surely it can't be me failing, it must be my ogre of a boss."

The other feeling that was really strong for me was, and is, sadness for the young girls in this country. There seems to be such a lack of motivation and initiative. This is such a big topic that it deserves its own post. I will write about this on Saturday.

In the meantime, please pray for me. I need wisdom in leading this project. Oh, how I wish I could take off my 'boss' cap. And please also pray for God to send the right people our way who can really be here for the kids.

What is your best boss advice for me? Do you have now, or have you had in the past ,a boss that made it a pleasure to go to work? What was it about them that did it? Or, do you have an ogre boss story to tell that will make me feel better?


  1. Oh girl... I only wish i had some advice for you. I think all I can offer is prayer... which I'll do of course. I'm really hoping you find someone good to replace her.

  2. You did the right thing girl. Keep on keeping on.

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in your Saturday post - I've seen the same thing happening re with lack of motivation and willingness in Cambodia and thought it was unique to Khmer mentality, so I'm looking forward to picking your more experienced brain some.

    Thinking of you this week.

  3. I think young people not wanting to work is the norm EVERYWHERE--it certainly is here in the US. Perhaps if you wrote a "contract" they had to sign before they begin work, specifically setting forth exactly what's expected of them and give them periodic reviews, especially during the probationary period. Is there some kind of inexpensive incentive you could give them if they consistently get good reviews? Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), bribery sometimes works quite well.

  4. oh amy how frustrating.all you said sounded like at week when i was working in Lusaka in an orphanage.checking staff as they left the apathy the easily taking offence.I was told i was to bossy by the staff as i persisted you cant feed a preeemie baby every 4 hours adn give then porriage at 8 weeks but i knew i was speaking in love and truth and the 2 babies i had been particularly sensitive about ended up at UTH (shudder) in the NICU(double shudder) adn nearly didnt make it hence me setting up zoes hope as the sick little ones need just that bit more attention.

    I was serious when i told tom in an email i wanted to come over asap. Now we are buying land In town in lusaka we may see you as u will get free accommadation adn a good feed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!part of my heart is to please like minded people who have to come to Lusaka and minimise their expenses as far as food adn accommadation and if little ones from you needed surgery then staff you whoever could stay with us.
    Building will start as soon as the next lot of money is in


    i feel that way often when am there trying to give

    am back in jan so maybe i will somehow get to you( need to find an escourt as am not that confident yet to go alone a long way on the buses mwinilunga as a team was challenging enough

  5. Seems like I had a very similar experience with our first store manager a couple of months ago. I was so frustrated, and it turned into anger more and more each day. He finally quit. Then even though I proved to be right and won, I felt like I failed. It was such a devastating victory, if you can even understand such a phrase.

    One time I read that if you lose patience with someone, that it means you've lost faith for them... how true. I guess I am seeing that I have to pray for faith for people who "don't hear me" or "don't understand me" or "don't follow through with what I've explained" or "are just dumb".... It's not just in Zambia. It's definately a "boss's problem" that we have to deal with. And the poor people under us have to either leave us or figure out how to live with us while we're trying to have faith for them.

    I'm usually frustrated and have anger issues or lack of patience when I'm overworked and overtired. When I get a good nap, stop looking at the computer & start looking at the blue sky, it really helps.

    I'm praying for you... I really understand.

  6. debbie barrettAugust 22, 2010

    I'm just now catching up on your blogs! Was this E.? If not surprised at all! It was predictable. Or perhaps it was her buddy w the attitude? I'm really surprised you didn't lose both at once. And the text isn't surprising either. OH, so frustrating to put the responsibility on you! Take a deep breathe and keep blogging! You are doing an amazing work for children! Good bosses don't lower their expectations - and that makes people mad. You can live w that!


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