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Life path with strong support

INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELE GÜNTHER, PROFESSIONAL AND DISCIPLINARY TEAM LEADER, CONTRACT MANAGER OF THE TELEPHONE SYSTEM LAST UPDATED: 2014

Anyone who frequently calls Gira will certainly have heard her name. Gabriele Günther started working at Gira as a telephonist 38 years ago. Six years ago, at the age of 55 she was promoted to the position of team leader. She has mastered this challenge with a great deal of energy and even health restrictions cannot throw her off course.

Topics in this article


Further development and promotion


Health management


Life and work at Gira

You started working at Gira as a telephonist back in 1976. In the many years you have worked on the switchboard, you will have certainly taken and forwarded a wide variety of calls and spoken to quite different people. What are the nicest moments in this job for you?

GG: When there's enough time to talk about personal stuff now and again with customers who call often. Or when you get the chance to make a joke which we can all have a good laugh about.

But there are also less friendly calls. You have to be thick-skinned and accept it with humour. How do you deal with difficult situations?

GG: Quite simply by letting the caller finish speaking and being especially friendly and courteous. That has been my motto throughout the years. And that has always worked really well.

Even if you are treated badly?

GG: It's especially in those situations that I consider it particularly important to be polite. I show understanding for the customer and his/her concerns. The switchboard is the first point of contact. Some callers want to let off steam of course. But I know that the caller doesn't mean it personally.


Gabriele Günther has been working at the company for a long time, she started working at Gira as a telephonist 38 years ago. In the meantime she has been promoted to team leader and she enjoys her wide range of tasks.


You started working at Gira as a telephonist and made an important career move around six years ago. You were promoted to team leader. What does this mean for you?

GG: It is very important for me that I had this opportunity. Getting such a big opportunity at the age of 55 confirmed my achievements in my former job. Gira gave me sufficient time to grow into this position.

What did this "growing into" phase look like?

GG: At the beginning I took part in intensive training. And I am still attending training courses today. As a manager, I sometimes have to have serious discussions with employees, for example. I get all the help I need for this. But it's also not so easy when you go from being a colleague to being a supervisor.

Gira suggested promotion. Were you directly in favour of this?

GG: I first took a bit of time to think about it, but I quickly made a decision and was proud of this.

What has changed by you becoming team leader?

GG: My field of work has changed a lot. There have been some new additional tasks, for this reason I have less time to work on the switchboard myself. My work is mainly administrative. I am also the interface between Gira and the service provider of the telephone system.


In her free time, Gabriele Günther relaxes by going on walks and cooking and baking.


Some time ago you had to cope with some serious health problems. In spite of some remaining restrictions, you are doing your job in an excellent manner again and also as a member of the works council. How do you manage all that?

GG: Quite simply: I enjoy working. But of course I had to learn to slow down a little, which I still find hard to do today. I have now been working as a member of the works council for twelve years. And I have recently received the approval of my colleagues for a further four years. But I won't be a member of as many committees as I was in the past, although I'll be working just as intensively.

How did your employer behave in response to this difficult life situation?

GG: Let me give you an example: When I was in hospital, I found out that from now on I would have to use an oxygen unit. I spoke to my supervisor and said, OK, I can wear it in my room behind reception. Then no-one will see me with the unit. My boss then gave me a good dressing down and said: "That's not a defect that you have to be ashamed of. You can confidently let yourself be seen with the unit and go wherever you want in the company. You don't need to hide. "And I do this now in the hope of being able to motivate a colleague in a similar situation."

Do you see yourself as a role model?

GG: Yes, to motivate others. But believe me, it was not easy at the beginning. When I walk through the company with my unit, I have at least the feeling that my colleagues look worried or shocked. That's quite an effort for me. But I am proud to have done it. And Gira has supported me, encouraged me to be open about it. I am very happy about this.

How do you relax from your tiring job? What do you do to get fit again?

LF: In winter I make use of the Gira fitness centre or I like to relax on the sofa with a good book. In summer I spend time outdoors and enjoy my garden. Cooking and baking are the two things that I find relaxing. I like to invite friends over and am happy when they are having a good time and they enjoy my cooking. If the weather is good, I go for a walk. But I have to take the oxygen unit with me for even the smallest exertion. I've christened it Willy, by the way, as it is always with me. When I go for a walk I also use a rollator which helps me to transport Willy, which weighs five kilogrammes. I also had to get used to the rollator at first. I have my usual route that I take. At the beginning it used to take me an hour. Now I manage it in 45 minutes.

You will be retiring in a few years. When the time comes, will you miss Gira?

GG: Yes, I will miss Gira a lot, mostly contact with my colleagues. But I will also miss my work and the various tasks. I still enjoy being on the telephone in conversation with others. I have already thought about what I want to do when I'm retired. I would really like to have a dog again. But this is unfortunately not possible due to my illness. I am not fit enough for this. So I thought about visiting an old people's home or hospital on a regular basis and reading to the people there or reading to children in a kindergarten. Maybe I could do this later in the Gira childcare centre. This would be nice as then I would have contact with the company.

PROFILE OF GABRIELE GÜNTHER


Born
1952

At Gira since
1976

Training
Retail sales woman

Career at Gira
She began working at Gira on the switchboard. She has been a member of the works council since 2001. She completed an in-house advanced training course and became a professional team leader in 2008 and a disciplinary team leader in 2009. She was also appointed contract manager of the telephone system and thus the contact partner for all issues relating to telephony at Gira.

[Last updated: 2012]


Further information