Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cats released because caregiver knew what to do

One of the groups was facing problems with their town council - the town council had come in and trapped some of the sterilised cats in their area. They were at a loss of what to do and we had some email and phone discussions to talk about it. One of the caregivers called the officers today. Another caregiver had spoken with the officer yesterday but the officer was adamant that the cat would not be returned.

The caregiver today did several things right I think. First she called the officer up and asked why the officer had gone back on their agreement that the cats would not be trapped. She also went up the chain of command - when she got an answer that didn't make sense from her property officer, she went up to the property manager and then to the General Manager.

Secondly she was very calm but explained the benefits of a TNRM programme to the TC. She also said that there were several very upset caregivers who wanted to know what was happening and had gotten several of them to sign a letter which was being sent to the TC. She also copied the MP on the letter.

Thirdly, she stressed that she wanted to work with the town council but wanted to know why the TC was not working with them. She also wasn't afraid to call up the GM and ask for an explanation.

In an hour, she got a call back from the Deputy General Manager. Within two, she was told that she would be given a letter and that the cats would be released. The Deputy General Manager also agreed to meet with the caregivers, the officers and the RC members to see how the groups can work better in the future.

Why did this caregiver's approach work better than the other's? It's not that either of them is a 'worse' caregiver - but that this caregiver knew what she had to mention in order to get the town council to listen. She didn't bring up 'poor innocent cats' - she brought up the fact that the complaints would not be solved AND the wrong cats killed. She was calm, did not break down into tears (which a third caregiver did) and was able to therefore be an effective negotiator. She was also able to talk to the TC about the long term working relationship and not just releasing these three cats. In fact, afterwards, the TC asked if she could be the liasion in the future.

It doesn't mean that other people don't deserve to be heard if they're not the most coherent and logical - certainly every caregiver who wrote in made a difference. It's also good to let the TC know that there are people who care passionately what happens to the cats - but to effectively get the point across, it may take a caregiver who is able to be a bit more calm about it.

If the TC sees that you are logical, calm and reasonable, they are certainly going to be more inclined to work with you then say another person who is upset, belligerent and emotional.

The other thing that was really good to hear was how happy the caregiver sounded when she realised that she had managed to get the cats released through her efforts, and the help of the other caregivers.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,
I wonder if any company contacted CWS in providing admin support or secretarial services.

13/12/07 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thot I am rather calm and couldn't understand why people cry in such situations.

I was really surprised at myself when i actually broke down when it happened to my cats. Not that I do not know that I have to be logical, I didn't act or speak irrationaly, I knew I had to keep calm but I just couldn't control my tears, I was just so frustrated speaking to the officer. I thot I did all I can, feeding responsibly, TNRM etc.. but because of one repeated complaint of cat sleeping on his car, all cats had to be rounded up.

So now whenever I read that people cry in such situations, i can empathize.. i guess it can be quite difficult for some..

14/12/07 8:57 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - no they didn't.

Anonymous - I CAN understand why people cry too and I know it can be very frustrating. Sometimes some tears can actually be helpful because it shows that a very logical person is so frustrated and at the end of the tether that they cry. It has moved some people I think who would not have budged otherwise.

On the other hand, sometimes if you go in and blubber without saying anything, that can give a bad impression - not to mention clutching at officer and blubbering for example. Tears basically shouldn't be a substitute for a cogent argument.

14/12/07 9:08 AM  
Anonymous PG said...

Dawn, it is easy to say then done, especially if you are the affected parties. Do you know how arrogant these TC's officers are? They sometimes, do not speak the truth...which I don't want to elaborate further...till I meet up with you. We are the affected parties mentioned in the blog. They simply want to resolve complaints from anonymous callers by rounding up those tame cats to AVA and close the loop. The biggest laughing stock was they even told us initially that they did not activate the pest controller, till we verified the details with AVA.

15/12/07 8:14 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

pg - I DO know how arrogant some of these officers are because I deal with lots of them, and not just from one TC.

My point is this - sometimes the caregivers make it easy for the officers to ignore them.

You mentioned that the officer denied trapping? This won't be the first, or I doubt, the last, officer who tries this - but you verified it with the AVA. So the important thing is - what do you do with the information?

I'm not sure if you were involved in this particular case I'm referring to - but in some of the cases I've seen, the emails or calls that were made were not very lucid and made it easy for the TC to ignore them. Irrelevant facts were brought in. In one case I saw, an email sent was not even addressed to the officer but some other person - who turned out to be some other person in the group. The officer was just mentioned at the bottom of the email.

If you look as if you don't have your act together, then it makes it easy for the officers to dismiss you.

If this IS the same case you're mentioning then the point is one of the caregivers DID get an agreement - and the cats released and a dialogue has been started about the future. And the way she did it is through being rational and calm about it. It may be that she may be better at negotiating and so perhaps she can be the liasion through which the TC works with you.

Sure - do tell me what happened if you see me, or you can always email.

15/12/07 10:21 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

By the way PG I just want to clarify I'm not criticising you or the other caregivers because I know that all of you ARE doing a good job. The thing is I think that perhaps it's not being properly communicated to the TC exactly what you ARE doing - and that's the part that needs to be made clear to them. If you're doing a good job, handling their complaints, AND at no cost to them, it's in their benefit to work with you too.

15/12/07 6:15 PM  
Anonymous PG said...

Dawn, how do you feel if these officers from TC, denying all the way that they did not activate any pest controllers? We had to take leave and verified the cats physically at AVA and back to the TC with further clarifications. At least three quarter of the day was wasted in traveling. They finally admitted it was their front desk operator who activated the pest controller, do you believe that?........ under TC's standing regulation, only a Property Officer can activate the Pest controller.

17/12/07 1:25 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

pg - you'll be surprised what I would believe. Again sadly this isn't the first time something like that has happened and I'm not even sure that what the officer told you is necessarily what actually happened either. However as you said, you found out that basically the cats were caught and shouldn't have been - the question then is what do you do with it?

I am also sorry you spent quite a long time taking time out to solve this as well - but the thing is if you can work out a protocol with your TC then this will be the only time you will have to do it hopefully.

My point was basically this - when you and the other caregiver went down, why did the officer refuse to return the cats? Why did they agree to do so with alacrity when the other caregiver called? It's not because your points were not as valid as hers - but I think she managed to persuade them with HOW she said it and by what she did.

17/12/07 2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point was simple, they had no choice because the pressure was right from the top, their DGM. We tried not to have the "harsh way" by going to their superiors every now & then because we still wanted a harmanious working relations with them. Are you aware the other caregiver did have tough and fierce argument with the PM before talking to the DGM? The innocent cats were lucky this round because the DGM had sympathetic ears for the strays. Any way, it is best to be careful, when dealing with these staff from the TC, I sincerely hope that they are not personal and be more professional in handling complaints from the residents.

17/12/07 12:53 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I don't think it was to do with the DGM being sympathetic (many officers by the way have told me that they do like cats). And yes, you SHOULD go higher up if you're not getting the response you think you should be getting. There is a time for being 'nice'and there is a time for being firm - it doesn't mean of course you need to be rude.

What is the point of having a 'harmonious relationship' when by this point it clearly wasn't and the officer wasn't willing to help out.

Let me put it this way. Say you object to the shop selling something. Why keep complaining to the sales assistant? They can't do anything about it. The boss at the top however can.

17/12/07 1:06 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

pg - let me emphasise one more time, this is NOT to say you are not a caregiver, but as I mentioned in the workshop too, there are caregivers who are NOT communicating effectively what they are doing.

While we expect staff from the TC to be professional, we should also extend them the same courtesy. I have to admit when I read your email to the TC, I didn't think it effectively communicated what you wanted to get through as well.

If you'd like to discuss this, please call me or drop me an email. I can also point out why I thought your email was not very effective and why the other caregiver's approach was more successful.

Often TC officers want to know that you CAN mediate too. Your tone is very important - it's not just WHAT you say, it's equally important HOW you say it.

Also I would say that it's important not to assume things - if you suspect an officer is doing something, come right out and ask, not asking can make it more difficult to tell their motivations. Even if they're not entirely direct with you, their answer/tone/etc can tell you a lot sometimes.

17/12/07 1:35 PM  
Anonymous PG said...

Dawn - Hope you can understand, in the first place, the trust was already lost, they simply lied that they did not call Pest Control. Why are they doing it? We have been working all along in harmony for the past two years. As civil servants, where are their integrity? I do admit some of our emails were strong but definitely not rude. I will certainly wish to meet up with you to discuss in details

17/12/07 2:18 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17/12/07 2:24 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

PG - what you said are very relevant questions. However if someone you spoke to has told a lie for example, and you confront THEM, chances are they'll try and evade it. It's better to then take it higher up. If someone IS covering something up, accusing them of it is not going to help. There is a certain point when you need to bring it to the next level.

It wasn't so much that the emails were rude - but it wasn't effective. You didn't get your point across I felt and your points ARE valid so it's a shame that wasn't communicated.

17/12/07 2:27 PM  
Anonymous PG said...

Ok noted, thanks, in that case, will leave the mediation to others with TC's officers, shall only concentrate to take care of other logistic deeds for the stray cats' committee...such as sterilisation, transportation for the sicks, adoption and feeding, these are the services which have no dealing with e-correspondences. All the best to your stay in States, have a Merry X'mas.

17/12/07 3:20 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yes and ALL those needs are equally important. As I said pg, I know you are a good caregiver who takes good care of the cats :) Merry Christmas to you too.

17/12/07 3:26 PM  

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