Aaahh, what can I do?
“Staying focused is knowing your job.”
You’ve got a thousand little things to do. How do you stay focused?
“We stay focused because we’ve worked together for so long. We take our time.”
Did that one tenant just give you a stink-eye and call you a name?
“Don’t take anything personally. It’s a job. Focus on the job.”
You’re super stressed out; what will work throw at you next?
“You have to work as a team. It makes the machine work. One person supports the next. You don’t want to be bogged down, and you need a 360 degree support system. “
Sometimes life at DISH seems like it fits into the above scenarios. Sometimes that stressful voice in italics is whispering to you, and you can feel panic and stress rising at the edge of your awareness. How are you going to follow DISH value #2, Stay Focused: on what’s important and in control? How are you going to keep working, and working well? We turned to the staff at the Star, to help us out, to give us the answer that’s in quotation marks above.
“Excellence is something to strive for. Staying focused is about how to achieve it.” –Linda Williams Assistant General Manager at the Star
For Linda, “DISH values come to life under stress. I was filling in for the General Manager one time, and there were so many things I had to do. I really came to appreciate DISH values then. I really came to appreciate staying focused. Everything begins with me. I need to take care of myself to provide good customer service. You need to take care of yourself and mind,” Linda says. And you need to take care of others too.
“We as staff practice staying focused: on residents and care of the building. We stay focused on one another. You need to boost one another up so you don’t get bogged down. You need to encourage one another.” –Anthony Bell, desk clerk at the Star
Says Anthony: “You have to work as a team. It makes the machine work. One person supports the next. You don’t want to be bogged down, and you need a 360 degree support system.”
Edmund Duhart, Janitor at the Star, agrees. “We stay focused because we’ve worked together for so long. We take our time.” It’s teamwork. “Co-workers are very inspiring, and it’s very helpful. We have our own special affection for each other,” says Anthony. “Being respectful to each other is very important,” is Edmund’s contribution.
It’s also about knowing what you can do elsewhere, beyond your site: “If there’s not enough work here to keep me busy, I call Don and tell him that I can help elsewhere,” says Adolfo Silva, Maintenance Worker at the Star.
“Finish one project at a time. Take each day as it comes. Prioritize.”–Lois Butler
Lois is the General Manager of the Star, and has years of experience managing the Star which have driven in the importance of priorities. ““My priorities are very important,” she states emphatically. “My staff focuses on their job. They have their priorities. We each have our own tasks. Adolfo’s re-doing units. I’m always at my computer for people to drop in. I’m always open for questions. My desk clerks are trying to be helpful. If they can’t answer, they can come to me or the support services director.” Everyone focuses on the part that they can play.
And be realistic about what you do. “You need to have a good understanding of what you can’t do,” says Lois. ““We can’t keep all the tenants happy all the time,” says Edmund. “Staying focused is knowing your job.” That’s Linda’s take. Says Adolfo: “Understand your job- I call Don if I need to clarify something.”
The group at the Star has been around long enough to develop these strategies—most of them have been working at the Star since before DISH was started. So take it from them, and the years of experience that they have working in supportive housing: if your eyes are set on staying focused, remember to take care of yourself, think about your co-workers, and prioritize. Know what you can and can’t do, what responsibilities are yours and what responsibilities belong to someone else. So listen to what Lois, Linda, Adolfo, Edmund, and Anthony have to say…and stay focused!