In Germany, schoolchildren sing a song for new first graders. The lyrics say: "That strange flutter in your tummy, that's what we had at the start, too", or words to that effect. That strange flutter comes back time and again over the years. Even at work. But if you're lucky, you'll have a mentor or buddy to lend a hand. Do you have a buddy?
The first step is always the hardest. The first few days and weeks at a new job can be nerve-racking. It can be hard to find your feet with new tasks, new co-workers and networks, even understanding "unwritten" rules. Just finding the copy machine and office supplies can be bewildering.
Over the last few weeks I have been in touch with three members of staff who weren't just left to their own devices when they joined Deutsche Telekom. They had a "buddy" by their side for support. But that support wasn't part of some huge mentoring program, like the sort all major corporations have. Instead, it was just colleagues who were happy to say "I'm always here if you have questions." I took the opportunity to speak to them all. I was very touched by their solidarity. So much so that I'd like to introduce them to you:
Marion Jozefofski, based in Frankfurt (Oder), advises Deutsche Telekom customers on the hotline. She has been working in the service area for a long time, but only recently in the "Fixed Net Complaint Management" unit. It receives calls from customers affected by access faults, complaining about their bills or facing problems with the internet. For Marion Jozefofski, this meant a new clientele, different IT applications and a host of company specialists whom she'd never heard of but who are there to help out with tricky cases. This was also her first experience dealing with customers with complaints, who aren't exactly always in a good mood. But her buddy Edward was there to lend a hand with anything and everything. He dispensed useful tips and even jumped in when one particular situation was going off the rails: a customer who just didn't want to hear that updating her Deutsche Telekom products would fix the problems she had. "That was exciting and touching for me as a newbie. I can't get that customer off my mind. I wanted to help her, but I just couldn't," Jozefowski says, looking back. That's why her colleague's support, help and tips were so useful. "I had a 'direct line' to get my questions answered."
"I couldn't have done it without him"
"She's a role model for me, too"
The chemistry between Monica Kummerow and her buddy Julia von Esmarch is just as compelling. Julia, who has been with the company since 2009, told me, "We also get on well as individuals. I think that's key to a trust-based buddy relationship." Monica explained she got many offers of help when she joined Deutsche Telekom’s Corporate Communications. But what she likes most about her buddy is that they also talk about things "not related to our daily work in the office". They regularly meet for lunch and their conversations range from the department in general, its structures, to working methods and other issues. Monica knows she can count on Julia's advice and approach, especially for difficult tasks. "She is a role model to me because she is very structured, attentive, patient and has a good sense of humor." Julia recognizes the value of her experience built up over years in the job: "Sharing my experience can only help new colleagues." In the meantime, Monica's induction has come to an end. What's left is their regular lunches. And, just like I observed with everyone I met, an enduring special connection.
What about you? Do you have a story to share? Are you especially grateful to a buddy?