With any job, you have your good days and your bad days. For me as a manager, a bad day is when a lot of staff has to have off and the day becomes very stressful. Rather than just sit back and let things fall apart, however, as a manager you have to step back into the role of a counselor to not only help yourself, but to help the individuals maintain their daily lives and work habits. In doing this, it reminds me why I love my job and why I have been working with adults with autism for a few years now.
Just the other day, I had to be the counselor for the day with one of my individuals because no one else was available to work with him. It just happens that this individual is the grandson of the company’s founder. His job is to refill the bus schedules at various subway stops in the area and to clean the racks that hold the schedules. Before he goes and refills the schedules, this young man has to count out 30 schedules for each bus route to be placed in the racks. Instead of having him sit at my desk with nothing to do, I tried to find ways to make the job more of challenge for him. For example, I would only count out 20 schedules, hand them to him and ask him if we need more or less schedules for the day.
The schedules have to be in numerical order on the racks, so sometimes I would hand the individual a schedule out of sequence to see where he would place it. It would just amaze me that no matter how I tried to make the job a challenge, the individual would not miss a beat and would place everything where it needed to be. He would even greet people as they came up to the rack to get a schedule. The station managers came over to say hi to the individual and note what a great job he was doing, and how much his work is making their jobs easier. Upon returning to the Vocational building, the individual wanted to get ready for the next day rather than getting ready to go home.
As a manager, sometimes I get lost in paperwork or become stressed over policies with the staff. Sometimes it is good to not be the manager for a day and actually go to work with the individuals to remind myself why I choose to be in this business and why I work with this population. I think every manager in any job should take a day, step back, and work in the shoes of their staff members. It might just give those managers a better understanding of why they work where they work and why they love what they do for a living.