As a casual employee at a shoe retail store, I have encountered many disruptions and/or changes within my time working there. All the experiences I have had, have changed my work ethic and professional values, allowing me to develop as not only an employee but also as an individual.
In particular, the most recent encounter I have had was when my manager of many years was moved to a new store and the store was provided with a new manager. Due to our previous manager being there for many years, all the employees understood and complied to her work standards and rules. They had also grown a connection to her and valued her as a mentor.
During the first couple of days, the new manager seemed to be very nice and it seemed as though she valued her job highly. As time went on, there were many new strict rules applied to the store that the employees were not use to. As the manager started to get comfortable, she would start to yell at employees for the smallest mistakes and treated everyone unfairly, making my colleagues uncomfortable to work with her. This created enormous amounts of tension to our work environment, as everyone who had a shift with her, asked to swap it with me.
A week later, a close colleague of mine told me that she has been very depressed working here and that the work environment completely changed. She stated that she would cry after every shift with the manager and this is when she decided that she was going to quit.
The concept of ‘Re-membering’ introduced by Michael White (1997) explores the idea that people’s identities are shaped by what is referred to as the “club of life”. This is a metaphor for the members surrounding us in our lives that play a role in how we come to experience ourselves.
This concept is explored within my story as I came to discover my dedication and work values being “forged through my relationships” with my work collogues (Carey and Russel, 2002). From this experience, I discovered what professional values I find most important to myself. This was a big change for this store and it allowed me to become adaptive of the new work expectations and rules. As my colleagues become uncomfortable working with the new manager, I also found myself being a responsible and flexible team member by swapping shifts with my colleagues. These experiences allowed me to discover my strong work ethics and it also shows how this moment has developed me to become an understanding and caring person.
These moments reflected by the change and/or disruption are also known as “moral moments”. Arthur Frank (2004) explains moral moments as “moments of normative self-disclosure. In these moments, like it or not, what we do reveals who we are: the values we uphold and how well we hold them up are evident to ourselves and to others. As we see others react to this self-disclosure, we know ourselves”. This experience was a moral moment for me when I saw the happy reactions of my colleagues and my manager when I was able to swap shifts and adapt to the new work methods. These moments are essential and important for self-development as well as self-improvement.
Another concept that relates to my story is ‘Absent but Implicit’. This term conveys “the understanding that in the expression of any experience of life, there is a discernment we make between the expressed experience and other experiences that have already been given meaning and provide a contrasting backdrop” (Carey, Walther and Russel 2009). This experience made me draw back on what it was not. It was not the work place my colleagues and I were used to, they were not the same work methods, and it was not a healthy environment. Contrasting this experience with other experiences, allowed me to help the current situation by “revisioning” what I believe are important and to prevent these issues from re-occurring. This provides self-development in understanding my values, hopes and commitments in life.
Carey, M. and Russell, S., (2002). ‘Remembering: responding to commonly asked questions’, Narrativepractices.com.au, No.3 issue of The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, Available at: <http://narrativepractices.com.au/attach/pdf/Remembering_Common_Questions.pdf> [Accessed 26 August 2021].
Carey, M., Walther, S. and Russel, S., (2009). ‘The Absent but Implicit: A Map to Support Therapeutic Enquiry’, Family Process, Vol.48, No.3, Available at: <https://narrativepractices.com.au/attach/pdf/Absent_But_Implicit.pdf> [Accessed 26 August 2021].
Frank, A.W., (2004). ‘The renewal of generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live’, University of Chicago Press, Available at: <https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7208/9780226260259/html> [Accessed 26 August 2021].
University of Bradford. (n.d.). ‘Professional values – Developing your skills’, University of Bradford. [online] Available at: <https://www.bradford.ac.uk/careers/develop-skills/professional-values/> [Accessed 26 August 2021].