“Daddy? What is it you do again?”
My daughter looked up from her drawing and fixed me with her questioning stare.
You can’t explain what I do to a four year old. Even one who had watched me all morning: resetting passwords, setting up new users, installing software, checking performance reports,etc.
Saying “I’m a system administrator” isn’t going to work. Not today. Despite what she had seen while she was drawing and writing and being polite to every single one of my workmates.
Especially when she had convinced me to take her into work that day.
I thought for a second. I got nothing here. The answer when it came was as natural as breathing.
“I help people do their job,” I replied. So satisfied she went back to her drawing : pen and pencil circling and meeting each other on the paper. Maybe she will stay the day, I thought. But by lunchtime, she’d had enough. So I took her home.
That conversation stayed with me for years through my career. From system administration through PC support through service manager finally to trainer.
But I was wrong.
The clue to the answer began with two successive groups of trainers. They needed to know how our web site worked so they could train others. And naturally I helped them: trainer guides, instructions even eLearning videos.
But something was missing. In both cases, I felt I had not really helped them. Yet I had as said to my daughter helped them to do their job.
So what was missing?
I did notice in many of my subsequent roles, I was what I called the support trainer. The one who deals with the tempers of mismanagement, creates a separate training project schedule, creates or finds a better training scheduling system, organises and tracks all the myriad documentation, etc, etc. All of which I dismissed at the time as doing the administrivia no one else wants to do. Or being a responsible eldest child. Or helping people do their job better.
The answer when it came was during an orientation session for my present role.
Another person was asked, “Why did you join?”
Her reply was mine. “I wanted to help the helpers.”
But, but , I spluttered to myself, that’s my answer. Which I had only found out a few weeks earlier, in reflecting why I had accepted the role.
Help the helpers. That’s what I do. Besides what else is there?