A while back, I suffered some personal injuries from the job that I held. The injuries were not physical, but emotional. Many workers out there suffer from these types of abuse at the hands of managers, yet few make the decision to walk away. The decision to leave the situation may come for different reasons. Some of the reasons that you may hear include:
- Financial need
- You are the sole breadwinner
- Bills need to get paid
- Child support
- Student loans
- No savings
- …list goes on
- You have decided not give it a fight…let them leave first! (shakes fist furiously in the air)
- You’ve gone this far, why stop now?
- Hoping that things will change
- Maybe the boss will realize how bad he/she is
- Climate surveys
- You believe the recent climate survey will reveal all the bad stuff, upper management will finally realize how bad things are and will be forced to do something (because they are outraged! how could they not be?); they will fire all the bad apples, you will be promoted and become a positive leader! Oh…and unicorns exist. The end.
- The ‘bad’ boss will leave one day
- They are fantastic, or at least not that bad
- Commitment to the organization
- You belong there…you’ve given them 20-30 years of hard work!
This is not an all inclusive list, but you get the gist of it. The problem is that these assumptions rarely ever come true. If they do come true, you are left with so many emotional scars, physical ailments, broken relationships, and so forth that you have essentially given up on pursuing your true dreams. I can get really deep here on emotional stuff, but I need to get back to my personal story and how all of this applies.
The emotional wounds that I developed in this particular job took only six months to develop: yes…6 months. Not years. Every day I hoped that things would change, that my leaders would see me, that my managers would be better, that the unicorns would…you get it. That business relationship led to scars that I could not hide or cover up. This is a very poetic way of me stating that I essentially allowed the toxic environment affect me in such a way that I started to buy into the lies. You see? When you have a poor leader, the corporate culture follows suit. These poor leaders have been groomed to be this way. They are usually high achievers that see in you a simple number. A peon. A pawn. That is if they even see you.
The problem comes when they actually start to see you as a result of you pointing out issues. In my specific situation, I brought forth corporate issues paired with potential solutions. I provided examples of personnel issues that resulted in the environmental toxicity; yet I also brought forth positive ideas that could help improve the environmental and personality problems. I was told over and over to withstand the personal attacks and insults that I received from the employees (which actually worked for me) by being the “better person.” These individuals had been in that office for close to 10 years, had tried to be hired into the managerial job that I had competed for, and were rather vocal about their displeasure in me being the new boss. Now, my style was that of a team member rather than a manager. I wanted to hear their ideas to improve processes, I wanted to know what worked, what did not work, etc. I recognized their hard work in writing and in front of the organization to build and boost their self-esteem. These things did not work because the environment was toxic. I could do no good.
I felt that if I stayed there, things would get better. That if I continued to be positive, listen to their ideas, personality get to know them, engage them that things would change. These individuals criticized upper managers for not recognizing their hard work (which I always recognized), they complained about leaders that never cared to get to know them, yet to the face of these leaders…they were all love. I saw how they sabotaged other employees that they disliked. Things that they did included: taking credit for other people’s work, accusing others of violence (these allegations were never investigated), they also accused people of stealing. As they saw my positive heart, they started to paint a picture of ignorance. They would go around me to upper managers, yet these managers were okay with those actions. As a result, I requested various meetings with my managers and supervisors to address the issues. They started to state that I was too uptight (apparently I was to laugh off being called a “bitch” or being denied information).
I started to realize that I was tremendously vulnerable. I realized that I did not know many aspects of the job because these employees would secretly schedule and attend meetings in which I was supposed to be in, but would tell me after the fact OR as I walked into the office unprepared. I would then get phone calls from upper managers asking specific information, but I would have to refer them to my support team because I was clueless. Little by little I saw sabotage activity after sabotage activity. I set to beat them in their little games; however, I realized that I was miserable in doing so. I read career advice columns and books that spoke about how to “be prepared” and how to “counterattack”…I CONSUMED THE INFORMATION. Then one thing happened.
I stopped caring. I started to look at those supposed leaders and could see their own misery. Sure, they were highly paid, promoted, certified, recognized…blah blah blah. Yet, they looked so UNHAPPY. I started to contemplate whether or not this is how I wanted to end up. I also started to look at the people that were sabotaging me. They were simply salivating over the position that I had. Then, I started to look at the actual position that I had. It was not great at all! It had a title that sounded great, yet it was a peon’s job. Sure, we all would like to believe that “you create your own success,” yet that position was not designed in a way to allow it. As long as those managers continued to be there, along with the corporate values and culture, that position would just be a butt-kisser’s haven.
I realized a couple of things: these folks were meant to be together…meaning, they could have each other. I also realized that I would be foolish to stay there if I ever wanted to grow my career and succeed. Sure, the attraction of a safe paycheck every two weeks was there. Growth was not going to happen if I stayed. In addition, I had developed physical pain from the stress. My stress was physically showing! I could not sleep, I was paranoid imagining what else these fools would come up with. I was paranoid about having HORRIBLE and DYSFUNCTIONAL leaders with ZERO VISION. How could I possibly stay?
And so…I left. My story does not have its happy ending just yet. I am still recovering from everything that happened. However, I do not have the ailments, worries, and physical pain. I do have the scars, yet I have a clearer vision for my future. Financially, I am rather tight. However, it is okay. It is worth the try.
Do not give up on yourself. There’s more in you than a ‘for sure paycheck.’ You were made for greatness. Do not buy into the lies of a toxic group of people or a person that can see how AMAZING you are, but tries to keep you from seeing it yourself.
Finally, run to your dream. As corny as it sounds, try it. It is better to live with home than with none at all. I know this has been used before, but there is a lot of truth to it.
GO and TRY.