The H.R. Doctor Is In: Waiting by the
In our careers and in our lives,
there are moments of key importance when news finally arrives
that we have expected impatiently for a long time. The wait by
the mailbox seems interminable.
The HR Doctor remembers as
though it were yesterday running to the mailbox every day as a
high school senior waiting for a letter from UCLA. When the
letter arrived, I recalled being paralyzed for several
moments. Do I open it? What if I havent been
I have shared my hopes and
dreams with friends and colleagues. I have waited for weeks
and now the letter is in my hand. Do I open it now? I did. I
stared at the letter in silence as I read the words
"Congratulations on your admission to the University of
California, Los Angeles!"
The same feeling of impatience,
worry, fear and hopefully joy is something we all experience.
Sometimes that concern is reflected when we visit a doctors
office with a medical problem and wait for the doctor to come
in to the chilly, Spartan examining room to tell us the
results of tests. Sometimes at work, we wait for the results
of the performance evaluation. Every appointed official has
waited, either impatiently, nervously, or both, while the
elected City Commission, County Commission, or Board of
Supervisors considers our recommendations and then says to the
clerk "Call the roll!"
Recently in the Rosenberg
family, two of these events occurred in close proximity.
Wonderful HR daughter Elyse, a county government senior
management and budget analyst, applied for a promotion to
manager. We all strive to advance our career, even though it
might mean leaving the comfort zone of a job we understand and
working with people we respect, to risk the unknown of a new
director, a new department, unfamiliar work and our first
supervisory responsibility. Am I doing the right thing? Will
this work out? How do I excel in supervision? How do I handle
my first staff meeting with new subordinates?
When the offer is finally made
and accepted, we all look back on our careers and find that
the answers to these questions were inside of us already. We
may have had self-doubts, but somewhere along the line a
mentor or a sensitive executive like Sue Baldwin, director of
county records in Broward County, Fla., understands that there
is nothing to worry about except, to paraphrase the great HR
Director, Franklin Roosevelt, "fear itself."
The other "blessed event"
involved wonderful HR daughter, and fourth year medical
student, Rachel. No matter how hard you work in medical
school, no matter how respected you may be by your fellow
students, the attending physician who grades you, or your
patients, you simply cannot be a doctor Ð you cannot graduate
Ð unless you pass the various State Medical Board
These are two-day marathons Ð
grueling, nerve-racking examinations Ð which can shatter a
students confidence and leave him or her wondering if instead
of being a doctor, perhaps he should consider a career as a
greeter at Wal-Mart. The monumental board examinations were
taken two months ago and the results arrived just yesterday.
Every day, the "HR Daddy" was dispatched out to the mailbox by
his daughter who is involved in doing clinical rotations half
a continent away. "Has the letter arrived?" "I dont think I
did well!" "What if I failed?"
Yesterday, the letter arrived
while Rachel was on the telephone talking to Dad about her
days experience. I got to open the magic letter from the
dreaded "Board of Medical Examiners" and got to say
immediately, "Its a pass, Rachel! Not only is it a pass,
its a super pass!"
It may be something like medical
boards or getting a promotion. It may be good news from the
doctor or good news about other people you work with or care
very much about. The situation is the same. Everyone of us
faces these moments in our lives when we "wait by the mailbox"
Ñ either literally or figuratively.
These moments of great
importance mark the progress of our careers and our lives.
While we believe that joy is far better than disappointment,
the HR Doctor wondered Ñ but only briefly Ñ how the HR
daughters would have reacted if the promotion went to someone
else or the board scores were disappointing. How we handle
disappointment and failure is, arguably, more important than
how we handle success.
The "Seduction of Comfort" (see
the HR Doctor article by that name at www.hrdr.net) can
be dangerous. The best bosses, colleagues, spouses, and
parents work with the ones they care about through the process
of recovery and growth out of disappointment with equal
passion and sharing as though it was joy rather than
Joy may not be as great a
character builder as disappointment can be, but it is much
more fun! The HR Doctor hopes that your time spent "waiting at
the mailbox" produces equal joy to what has occurred recently
in our house.
All the best,