Work: when enough is enough
"NO!!!" I shrieked at the hair salon yesterday when I turned to this page in a fashion magazine they'd given me to while away the time. And "NO!!!" is what this poor model should probably have said at any point during the shoot when she was told to wear these ridiculous items and make herself look as gormless as possible. So, too, could any one of the many people who must have been involved in this idea - the photographer, the art director, the brand manager, the magazine subs & editors....why didn't anyone put their foot down and scream that enough was enough and they refused to be part of these shenanigans any longer?!
No matter how edgy, or sexy, on-trend or off-piste an ad they were convincing themselves they'd created, surely they knew, deep down, that this was WRONG.
But I have to admit, I've been there myself. And so have many of the clients I see who come for career coaching, having reached the end of their tether but at a loss to know what to do about it. Let me share some examples of wrongness at work that I've experienced over the years - you may or may not recognise some of these scenarios:
COMPUTER SAYS 'NO'
For 6 months I had to get into work before 6am in order to add direct mail codes to a system, because it would crash if more than one person tried to do this during office hours. My manager said I had to do it as it was 'too hard' to fix the system. (But then it did get fixed. No thanks given for all that time when I couldn't see my kids before school.)
BOSS STEALS YOUR WORK
Blatantly, ie in front of me with a smile on his face, this guy took my presentation and replaced the front page with one that his name on instead. Actually I've had several managers who didn't take the time to find out what my job was but passed my work off as theirs to people higher up the chain. As a result, whenever someone reporting to me has provided me with information that I've used, I make it a point to give them the credit.
BOSS STEALS FROM THE BUSINESS
In one of my first jobs when I was a young 20-something, I became aware the Finance Director was stealing from the business. I told the MD, who called me 'opinionated' and took no notice - until after I'd got a (much) better job elsewhere. He called me at home and said the truth had come to light and could I please make a statement as they needed my evidence to take the FD to court? Ahh, sweet justice.
JUMP HOW HIGH?
When you're promised that you'll get a promotion if you improve at x, y and z, jump through hoops of fire and actually do the job that is the one you're going for (length of time unspecified)....and it never materialises. OR they give it someone else.
NOT LEAVING WITHOUT A FIGHT
You've been recruited to do a job and you're promised you'll get a full handover from the previous incumbent. But they do whatever it takes to make you look like you'll never do the job as well as they did - either they don't give you everything you need, or they refuse to step back completely, or they sneakily sabotage any changes you try to make. Whatever you do, somehow you're the one that looks like a trouble-maker.
CARRY ON, I'M RIGHT BEHIND YOU
When you manage a team there are occasions when performance isn't up to scratch and it's your job to step in and do something about it. No problem, you're a decent person and you do it sensitively but with clear expectations for the team or individual to do better. Nevertheless, managing under-performance can be very stressful. The situation isn't helped if your boss is uninterested/unsympathetic/unsupportive - or as I had, supportive but only in private. He refused to commit anything to writing to show that he agreed with what I was doing, "Just in case, you know....". (Sound of footsteps running for the hills.) Cheers, buddy.
Good news though - these experiences make you stronger. You take what works and discard what doesn't. You re-focus on what you want and need from a career, a role and even your working environment. List everything you hate in a job - then decide if any (or too many) of these things are what you face in your work. And actually YES, you ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. You just might not have the courage, plan or knowledge for how to change your situation so that's when you talk to the people who are there to help you get unstuck.
And one day, like me, you'll wake up on a Monday morning with a great big smile and get out bed excited for the day ahead. You know you're good at what you do and get the appreciation & pay you deserve. You'll be getting good challenges, development, reward and pleasure out of what you do. Don't forget to put your plastic rain hood on while you do it - apparently they're all the rage right now.