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Empathy Over Ego

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It was the most hectic time of year for the internal audit team at Choice Financial in Bismarck. Audits were pouring in and customers needed files sent right away.

So when Julie Dahle’s computer began functioning at snail pace, the timing could not have been worse.

“I’d been having technical issues for a few months, but it was compounded by the level of workload at the time,” said Julie, an internal audit manager at Choice. “Sometimes, I was practically in tears watching my computer function.”

Files weren’t loading. It wouldn’t connect with the printer. Necessary programs were nearly impossible to run. Julie was doing her best to get her work done, but with her computer constantly slowing her down, she was reaching her wits’ end.

“It was like the caveman era, with chisel and stone,” she said.

In the office next door, Steve Fercho, known throughout Choice as “Security Steve,” began to notice Julie’s frustration. He has years of experience in the IT field and now works in cybersecurity. While he doesn’t do a lot of troubleshooting with computer issues anymore, he tries to help his team out when he can. And this seemed like an emergency.

“Any way I can help?” he asked Julie. Julie didn’t like to bother Steve from his work, but she was desperate for help.

“Maybe you can take a look and see what’s going on,” she said.

Steve checked a few things on Julie’s computer and could tell right away that something was not right.

“I could tell there was something out of the ordinary going on,” he said. “I know how frustrated I would be if my machine was acting that slow, especially at such an important time. So I tried to figure out how we could solve the problem.”

Steve wasted no time in getting to work. He ran a few diagnostics tests and determined where he thought the problem was coming from. It was only a few hours before he had the computer operating smoothly again. He then contacted the IT department to request additional RAM, to allow Julie’s computer to operate faster. He also contacted the help desk to speed up a shipment of equipment Julie was waiting for and fixed her printer issue, so her files would actually print.

“Within a few minutes, he transferred my computer from the Stone Age to 2018!” Julie said with a laugh.

With her computer working smoothly once again, Julie was able to tackle her tasks with renewed vigor and efficiency. Best of all, she didn’t have the internal stress and frustration that comes from trying to do your work with a slow computer. She was happier at work and all around much more productive. She couldn’t thank Steve enough.

“Steve is so willing to step in and offer help, and always has such a calm PeopleFirst approach,” Julie said. “Him being able to step in and help with these issues… it was huge. I was just so relieved.”

Steve expressed that in his work, no matter what he is doing, he strives to be as empathetic as possible. And he’s good at it; it’s even one of his top 5 StrengthFinder themes. It ties in closely with a Choice core value that he lives by: Respect yourself and others.

“Empathy is really important. You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” he said. “I think the world would be a lot better if we chose empathy over ego a little more.”

Read some of Security Steve’s other writing, here!