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5 Feb 2010 / Julie

I hear it’s going to snow.

And from what i can tell, Maryland is taking it quite well so far. To see what i mean, please take a moment to watch the video from accuweather.com. I’ll wait.

See? Panic. (granted, the most hilarious panic i’ve ever seen… but i digress.)

But where others see a snowpocalypse, i see my chance to finally build a snow fort rivaling the 1996 creation of famed family memory. My snow pants and toe warmers are at the ready and now all we need is some downward falling flaky precipitation, slightly more wet than airy.

Snow is due to arrive in the area of my office around noon (a time that was pushed back from the original 10am estimate) but is already falling near where i live (in the suburbs of the city 2 cities to mpow’s south) and while i’m sure mpow would prefer to ensure the safety of it’s employees, and even though i have a pre-authorized telecommuting agreement, there’s been no communication about the impending record-breaking Maryland weather.

No memo, no email, no nothing that we might be closing early or that we’d be closed over the weekend (luckily that doesn’t apply to me, but it does to a lot of others who i’m sure would like to know). The only note is an MSWord-styled clip art of a snowflake on our staff intranet page that links to a 4 month old emergency weather policy reminding us about Liberal Leave – that sort-of helpful thing in the guise of support that says “sure, if you feel your safety is more important than your service to your customers, go ahead, you can go home.”

I admire an individual’s or organization’s ability to not panic even when panic seems necessary, normal, or needed for whatever personal emotional reasons there might be. But panic only serves to cloud your mind and put you in harms way. As my dad, the former fireman, has said on many occasion- “Panic and you’re dead.” And he’s right.

However, the lack of communication can incite panic and higher stress levels just as much as panic can. Not acknowledging a situation might be or is on the horizon (or on your doorstep) does not make it any less of a threat. This goes for both blizzards and landscape changes such as service models, technology, finances or staffing needs. Really, pretty much anything.

Even if you want to make sure you remain open for your customers, in an effort of the best service possible, your staff are serving those customers and any stress or uncertainty they may be feeling about what’s about to happen will undoubtedly effect the service they are able to provide. A little communication goes a long way. Even a “we’re aware of the situation and we will update you on any decisions or information at x-time” can go a long way in making your employees feel protected, cared for, and valued and in turn, making your customers feel the same.

With that said, i am going to be the responsible, working adult that i am and head home – and watch the snow fall until there is enough quantity that i can finally build the fort i’ve been dreaming about for 14 years. A fort from which i will rule with a gentle but firm and knowing hand – always communicating with the people who need me to lead.

Stay warm, everyone!

[all images on this page found through the Flickr Commons.]

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