The Sea Company

Sunday, January 07, 2007


After a lot of thought and advice from a colleague I tackled the situation of the child who wanted to quit the company. His initial reasons were 'because it sounds boring - just looking at a lot of old stuff'. He is also a child who likes to be the centre of attention and often 'plays up' to a situation for effect, so I wasn't sure how serious he was about it all. Two more important things - he is a bright, motivated child who has really enjoyed the work so far - and he was the one who emerged as the leader of our reknowned 'bones team' and took this role very seriously - all things in our favour I felt!!

We had a company meeting to discuss what should happen in the case of somebody quitting. They wanted to know how it would work in a real job, so I explained about my job: interviews, contracts, giving notice etc.They quickly decided that this member's contract would stipulate notice - ! month to be exact! Someone also mentioned that he might find it hard to get another job if he had just quit another one - someone else said he would be letting down the team. This atmosphere of condemnation, though, soon changed as other people began to say things like 'you're our bones expert - we need you'. At this point I thought it might be politic to go round the circle giving everyone a chance to say something to him about how they felt. Everybody had their say - a couple who passed first time asked me to come back to them - and every person int he circle asked hiom not to quit because: 'you're great at your job', 'we won't be able to find another bones expert like you', 'you're a good friend', we'll miss you', 'we've got so many discoveries and adventures ahead of us', 'we stick together in our team' etc etc - very moving actually - I asked C how he felt at the end, but I knew from the expression on his face as his colleagues were saying their bit. 'I feel special' - he said. (At this point, coming out of the drama, I also reminded him that if he did quit, we would have to find a whole load of alternative work for him to do for the rest of the year!!!)

Then something very interesting happened. He explained that there was a bigger reason for him wanting to go. It was his disappointment last term when we agreed to let Alison Davies have her Great Grandfather's bones. I suddenly remembered that. as head of the bones team, he had been adamant that we should hold onto the bones. He now said that he had been very upset about this - when reminded that we had voted on our decision and gone with the vast majority he was still unhappy, saying that voting is not a fair way of coming to a decision. I waqs amazed that he had been holing onto this for all this time. I said that it was a very serious issue and promised to have a full discussion of it if he decided to stay. We all decided, at theis point to let him go off to think about it and let us know later. At this point we stopped the session and began our Golden Time. After about 5 minutes C came quietly up to me and said that he'd changed his mind and would like to stay. I asked him if it was OK to tell the class and he said yes - of course a huge cheer went up at the news!!!

I think it was OK the way we handled it - with another, less robust character I might have chosen a different tack. It also shows how important it is to listen and give time to issues - if I had just dismissed it all or handled it differently I might never have heard his strong opinions and feelings about the bones dilemma. If anyone has had a similar situation, I would love to hear what you did!!

We decided to give him some time


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