Recently I needed about a month off work due to severe morning sickness and the unfortunate loss of my baby.  With the pregnancy and severe morning sickness planned and expected, I had been completely upfront with my manager about my plans and the flexibility I would require.

This was my third pregnancy and with each, I had horrendous morning sickness requiring hospital stays and long periods of time off work. With my first two pregnancies I wasn’t really prepared; well not from a work point of view. While in my head I was ready for another baby I was leaving my manager and Optimum in the lurch by not having a plan for the time and flexibility I required.
Third time around I was prepared; I had restructured back office and my role so there wasn’t such a high reliance on myself.  I was upfront with my manager and let him know of my intentions and I updated procedure manuals so if I was to be out of action for a long period of time people had access to everything they needed to know. I was lucky to have a great manager who encouraged me with this and offered me the flexibility I needed, but on my return to work last week it had me thinking… Do I take this for granted?

I noticed in a lot of my conversations with my manager I was saying “I need” and rarely “can I?” or “could I?”.  I had taken for granted all the flexibility and blind eyes I had received in the past and now I just assumed what I needed, I would get. I was purely thinking about me, not Optimum, not my manager; but me.

While I have a great working relationship with my manager as his PA for over six years, I was taking for granted the benefits of the past and forgetting that he also needed to look after the best interests of Optimum.  I started paying more attention to the conversations going on around me and so often they started with “I need” which had me thinking maybe it wasn’t just a me problem but a group problem.

“I need to leave early today”, “I’m taking a week off”, “I’m running late again today” are all lines we have thrown out there from time to time, but maybe it would be received a little better if we just worded it differently. “Can I leave early today?”, “Would it be ok if I took a week off?”, “I’m sorry but I have been caught in traffic and I’m running a little late”.

In these days of the search for “work/life balance” and “flexibility” within a role, have we forgotten to be grateful for these benefits and become a little me, me, me? Is it time we should be saying   “can I?” a little more and less of the “I need”?

Nyssa Hurt – Corporate Services Manager