- Who Is the Toilet Paper Fairy and Why Doesn’t She Exist?
- What’s the Purpose of This Blog?
- Who Runs This Blog?
Who Is the Toilet Paper Fairy and Why Doesn’t She Exist?
When you were a child in a well-organized home, your bathroom was kept fully stocked with all the necessities, and I’m sure you never thought about the toilet paper supply too much. Occasionally, you might have noticed that the roll was looking a bit thin, you mentioned it to your parents, and voila! Problem solved. You went to college and lived in a dorm, and custodial staff ensured that bathrooms were kept in order.
Then you moved into the real world and discovered a painful truth: If you or your roommates failed to buy toilet paper, it ran out. You suddenly saw that toilet paper does not magically replenish itself in your bathroom. Sadly, there is no Toilet Paper Fairy waving her wand to make sure you have what you need. Rather, the existence of toilet paper in your bathroom is the result of a very practical process: You go to the store, you grab a giant pack of 24 rolls, you give the nice cashier some money, you wrestle the package (which totally does not fit into a grocery bag) home, and you’re comfortable for a while.
Why is this important? Because if you think about it, you’ll realize that the smooth running of your daily life is built on many, many low-level processes like these. And where do you spend most of your daily life? In your office. If you’re an administrative assistant or middle management, you know that the majority of your office hours are spent either personally enacting these processes or supervising others to enacting these processes. Those of us in the trenches know that no part of a job is accomplished by waving a magic wand.
Alas, many of those further up the ladder, those who are required to see things in a larger scale, often refuse to respect the trees that make up their forest (to switch metaphors). They lose sight that their big process, or at least, the opportunity to develop their big process, is built on a foundation of many, many smaller processes. As a result, they tend to think that the actions they direct their juniors to perform ought to be accomplished instantaneously, without understanding that those actions require effort and that effort ought to be rewarded with appreciation, not taken for granted.
Let me be clear here: I understand that a company executive has high-priority tasks to accomplish and often millions of dollars rest on the success of those tasks. As such, I do not expect a company executive to know how to find the small binder clips, how to reserve a conference room, or which person in the mailroom will be most likely to find that absolutely urgent package. I do expect that company executive to understand that if the office supply closet is out of the clips, he or she has to do without until the next clerical supply order comes in, or pony up from petty cash and have someone run to Staples. If the big conference room must be reserved 48 hours in advance, someone else has snagged it, and the boss tells her assistant that she’s meeting with major clients in a hour and needs that room, no excuses, it would be inappropriate and undiplomatic for the beleaguered assistant to explain just how much sweet-talking he will have to do in order to get that room. However, the boss should have at least a glimmering of how much work is involved to make this happen and be willing to consider alternatives should the effort fail. She also needs to understand that if she treats the guy delivering the mail like a piece of furniture, instead of person who should be responded to with courtesy, that guy is not going to snap to attention when that urgent package goes missing.
This issue can also come into play laterally, as well as down the command chain. If you make a particular process look easy, your coworker may have no idea just how much work and expertise lie behind it. Obviously, it’s a bad idea for your peers to discount your contributions.
It all boils down to this: There Is No Toilet Paper Fairy, either in your bathroom or in your office. Neither your supervisors nor your coworkers should mistake your competency for waving a magic fairy wand, and believe that anyone could easily accomplish the considerable work that you do. Credit must go where credit is due: The last thing you want is for your superiors to believe that you’re replaceable. Conversely, when trouble prevents the smooth running of a process, others must understand that a problem won’t simply go away by waving that wand, and that they must work with you to solve that problem.
The Toilet Paper Fairy does not exist: It’s all on you to get the job done. Respect the Process!
What’s the Purpose of This Blog?
The purpose of this blog is to Respect the Process, to document all the small things that can either lead to a smoothly run, happy office, or destroy the harmony completely, often with large-scale implications. I’ll also explore the minutiae of job seeking. A lot of times I will accomplish this by linking to various advice columns and chat boards that deal with work issues. I’ll find the most interesting stuff, so you won’t have to go to the trouble.
Who Runs This Blog?
I’m Amy Goldschlager, the writer of three Vooks (video-enhanced e-guides) on office life: Office Politics, Manage Your Boss, and Ace the Job Interview. I’m an editor, copy editor, proofreader, writer, and book reviewer who’s worked in a lot of offices in a variety of temporary and permanent roles, from administrative assistant to senior editor. I’m also actively looking for freelance and full-time work, so feel free to pass the tips along! Learn more about me by visiting my website, http://www.amygoldschlager.com.
I’m not here to complain or offer specific details about any office where I might be working, or discuss previous workplaces in any but the most abstract sense. It would be seriously unwise for me to be specific in that way—I mean, I want to keep working.