Multi-tasking can be hard for many of us. So can meeting deadlines in some instances. Janice Buffett, on the other hand, rarely has a hard time with either one, and it comes from years of training.
Buffett, an office associate II in the School of Nursing, got plenty of experience in those areas at a young age. As the oldest of five children, she was assigned several tasks to help keep the house running smoothly.
“We lived with my mom and my grandparents in Tuscaloosa, and we had one bathroom,” Buffett says. “Somewhere around the time I was in the fifth grade, I was kind of put in charge of bathroom duty to make sure we left for school each morning on time. It was my job to wake up my sisters and brother to get them in, and get them out. You got 15 minutes, and then let’s go. If it didn’t work, I’d get to hear from my mom.”
Buffett credits her upbringing and on-the-job training at home for teaching her to value helping others, keeping on schedule and making things run smoothly. Her co-workers certainly appreciate her abilities. Her consistent accomplishment of tasks — with great personal integrity — has shown the faculty and staff in the School of Nursing that she has a deep commitment to UAB and its mission. For those reasons, Buffett has been selected Employee of the Month for March.
School of Nursing Dean Doreen Harper, Ph.D., says Buffett has demonstrated sustained exceptional performance, commitment and optimism that make both the Family, Child Health & Caregiving Department and the school a better place to work.
The UAB spirit
“She exemplifies the UAB spirit, leadership and personal integrity that are at the heart of our school’s core values,” Harper says. “Ms. Buffett’s exceptional support for members of her department and the school serves as a model for other staff and faculty in our school. Her excellence in performance is demonstrated in her exemplary ability to multi-task, set and keep priorities and deadlines, and use her initiative to complete tasks and answer questions.”
Through it all, Buffett maintains a smile and exudes a warmth that puts others at ease. Becky Christian, Ph.D., professor and interim chair in Family, Child Health & Caregiving Department, saw that first-hand when she became interim chair.
“Janice just has that wonderful ability to embrace people and make them feel welcome,” Christian says. “She had that same approach with eight new faculty who joined our department this past year. Janice went out of her way to help orient them to the School of Nursing and navigate the multiple campus systems — going beyond expectations to help them succeed. Her kindness is evident even when she is interrupted by faculty and she is working on a deadline.
|Janice is the ultimate multi-tasker and always goes beyond the expectations of her job to contribute to the missions of UAB. The quality of her work is excellent, and her contributions to the spirit of our department are remarkable. She has a kind and caring attitude toward our faculty, staff, students and visitors — she makes sure that everything functions perfectly.|
“Janice is the ultimate multi-tasker and always goes beyond the expectations of her job to contribute to the missions of UAB,” Christian says. “The quality of her work is excellent, and her contributions to the spirit of our department are remarkable. She has a kind and caring attitude toward our faculty, staff, students and visitors — she makes sure that everything functions perfectly. I feel quite fortunate to work with Janice every day because she enhances the quality of our work environment and improves the quality of our lives.”
Buffett says the desire to help others, and do so cheerfully, also comes from home. Her grandmother, she says, had an easygoing demeanor and never seemed to get her feathers ruffled.
“She always seemed to just let whatever happened roll off her back, and she’d move on to the next thing,” Buffett says. “I think I get a lot of that from her. You just have to be patient with people and let them know you’re here to help.”
A feel of family
Buffett does more for the department and school than keep tasks on track. When someone needs a creative hand to help out with a homecoming project or birthday celebration, everyone knows to go to her. Buffett’s homecoming drawings of Blaze are legendary within the school. And she’s often the person who organizes office parties and events, including the Goody Day celebrations when her group recognizes employee birthdays.
Co-workers say all of these efforts go a long way toward creating a feel of family and a sense of team within the department.
“The celebrations and events she helps plan always include food and fellowship, and she is in the middle of it,” says Marti Rice, Ph.D., professor of Family, Child Health & Caregiving Department. “Her stories of family and friends keep us in laughter despite the added burden she may carry. Further, she knows and remembers the names of our families and extra burdens that we may carry and asks about them. This basic caring creates a positive team atmosphere and the feeling that we are all in this together. She is the glue holding us together.”
Buffet is appreciative of her co-workers and flattered they would consider her for the Employee of the Month award. “It’s a tremendous honor,” Buffet says.
Chances are, Buffett has already helped several of her familial colleagues — and even some of her blood family members in Tuscaloosa — today. She’s likely fixed a copying machine issue, relayed a problem to the Information Technologies help desk, ordered supplies, made travel arrangements, helped with directions or put out a family fire 60 miles away. Buffett says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I get calls here within the department, and I get calls from my Tuscaloosa family — ‘Janice can you do this? Can you do that?’ But I enjoy it,” Buffett says. “I enjoy my relationships with each person. Every personality is a little different. I tell everyone all the time that this is a family department, and we act like family. I enjoy that.”