Sunday, September 11, 2011
On August 22nd after 20 weeks, 100 applications, 15 first interviews, 4 second interviews and one blessed offer, I rejoined the ranks of the employed. I have stepped down from the ranks of management back into being a writer, but I am relieved to be working again. The pay is less than what I made 10 years ago and I'm back in a cubicle after years of having my own office, but I thank God every day that it's a job I like.
Now that the hurricane that was my career has faded into a tropical depression, I'm left looking around at all the devastation and finding ways to heal.
I've spent the last few months turning my mind inside out trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I've spent hours analyzing stuff with friends, family, a counselor. "How did this happen to me?" "What could I have done to prevent it?" I tried to be honest with myself, so I can take the knowledge into my new job. Time and again, I came up empty.
Now that the dust is settling, I stumbled upon a simple truth. Sometimes sh!t happens and it has nothing to do with you. This realization that, like a hurricane, this was something I couldn't control or prevent was liberating. Two bad bosses in a row can really happen.
Boss #1, whom I will call "Miranda" was just plain crazy. I stayed beneath her radar for four years. During this time, Miranda had me on some sort of pedestal. I was "a star", the perfect employee who could do no wrong. I let her always be the smartest person in the room. I agreed with everything she said. I questioned nothing. I fed her regular compliments and criticized anyone who would dare to question her decisions, ideas or intellect. I told her everything she wanted to hear. I politely declined her repeated attempts to hug me. In return, I got fat raises, trips to national conferences, bonuses, a laptop, a flexible work schedule, memberships and subscriptions to whatever I wanted.
Then I changed. I had outgrown my job and asked for new responsibilities so I could grow professionally. I wanted more managerial latitude and decision-making. Her "mentoring" started to feel more like "micro-managing". I grew tired of Miranda tearing up everything I wrote with a red ink pen like I was a high school student. Her health had declined and so had her mind. Miranda descended into a level of craziness that was only visible to people in close proximity. When our organization lost out on a major federal grant, she snapped. Suddenly, I was the employee who could do no right.
In December 2009, I got a free afternoon off that was given to high-performing employees. In May 2010, I got kudos for being such a steady worker. In July 2010, she butchered me in a performance evaluation. The bullying was officially underway, and I was gasping for air. The pleasant work days stretched into an unending nightmare as she instituted the full array of a bully's tricks. She was enlisting all of my co-workers to help her build a file on me. She tore up everything I wrote, denied me time off, isolated me from my peers, fired and laid off some of my closest allies, and masterminded "conquer and divide" schemes to pit me against my co-workers. She reorganized my department and hired a less-experienced, less educated person from outside the organization to supervise me. They were paid twice my salary and joined her in the bullying.
I knew the HR director was in Miranda's pocket so I lawyered up. I found an attorney who leaped at the opportunity to take my case. Turns out I was the fourth person to engage his services against Miranda. She is Caucasian, all of us who lawyered up were African-Americans who she had either fired, demoted or bullied.
My health had deteriorated. I had panic attacks and my blood pressure rose through the roof. My colleagues outside of my employer didn't know what to think. They could tell I was not okay, but had no way to know if I was the one who had the problem or my employer. I took 30 days of FMLA. During this time, my employer of six years settled my complaint out of court for thousands of dollars and I fled to another position without giving notice. I thought my career nightmare was over, but it was just underway.
(to be continued)
Monday, April 04, 2011
I haven't been doing well on my SP plan. Since I lost my job, I stopped recording my eating, cooking healthy meals and I've only exercised twice in the last 10 days or so. I'm struggling to control the stress I'm under and get re-focused. I figured that the best thing for me to do is to log in and talk about it even if I'm NOT doing well. I'm actually not mad at myself because I've always known I'm a stress eater and losing your job ranks pretty high.
I'm really going through a string of bad luck. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR8KfMTmPRQ
Still, I'm still standing and refusing to give up. My best friend MOJOANDY called me up and reminded me to keep on keepin' on. I agreed. At the very least, I don't want to regain the weight it took me so long to lose.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Yeah, d@mmit, I gained three pounds. Know what's funny? I'm more upset about that than about losing my job. How is that possible? Well, with losing my job, I could see the axe about to fall. With the three pound weight gain, I have no explanation. I know it's water weight and it's not even close to that time of month. So when I weighed this morning, I was, like, WTF?
I'm an extremely intuitive person and I knew I was screwed when they put me on a performance improvement plan 90 days after my date of hire. I had already gotten most of the grief out of my system and launched a quiet job search. So when my boss set up a monday 4:30 pm meeting two weeks in advance, I knew what time it was. The meeting went like this:
Bad Boss: "How are you coming along on the eight goals I set for your 60 day performance improvement plan?"
Me: "I've made progress. I will brief you on my progress for each goal." I start to discuss my activities and the progress I've made.
Bad Boss: "Sounds to me like you're making progress. Still I'm concerned about..." (starts to bring up things that do not appear on my performance improvement plan.)
Me: "Here are the strategies I've developed to address those items." I start to brief him on my plan and philosophy. I read the expression on his face, so I pause and ask the magic question: "Do you see me here in 30 days?"
Bad Boss: "I don't think you're going to make it."
Me: (Pause) "Then let's discuss my severance."
At that point the conversation shifts to negotiations. I negotiate two month's severance pay. Bad Boss looks like he's going to cry. He asks when I want my last day to be (seriously???) I tell him, "Today."
I handled myself calmly and professionally. I don't cry, complain, argue---none of that. It's not for him to see because my response is the only thing I can control. Besides, I had been there less than a year and the pay really sucked considering the scope of the job. Bad Boss offers to help me find another job, says he's willing to make some calls and be a reference. My only response is, "If you need an independent contractor--call me." I extend my hand, look him square in the eye, and shake his hand firmly. Who knows, he might have to call because I made a conscious decision to wrap up three projects and submit them the day AFTER our meeting. I'm the only one with the online userids and passwords to all three projects. Without my information, they can't access the work.
When I walked out of the office, I was surprised to see that they had sent most of my co-workers home. Probably because they thought I'd go off on everybody and create a scene. I must've been a major disappointment. I joked with a former co-worker as he helped me carry my boxes to my car. I told him that I had enjoyed working with him and that I knew that God was not going to give me any more than I could handle. When I pulled out of the parking lot, my co-worker/friend/Soror followed me. We drove and parked in a lot about two blocks from the job. I got into her car and it was only then that the tears started to flow.
When I told my family and friends, about losing my job they were like, "How did you figure out what was happening?" I told them, so I'll tell you. Here are the classic signs:
1) You are no longer "in the loop" on decisions
2) You are not even "in the loop" on decisions affecting the department you run
3) You have a major philosophical difference with your boss about how your job is to be performed
4) Your boss starts to avoid you--no small talk, no feedback positive or negative, no response to your emails
5) You are blamed for things that are beyond your control
6) You get little or no credit for your ideas or a job well done
7) A co-worker with major power in the organization is openly competing with you
8) You have a conversation with the office pariah about the organization's dysfunction and discover you agree with them more than you do with your team
9) The organization is a bad cultural fit. In my case, the overt religiosity within the organization made me uncomfortable---and I'm a christian.
10) Your subordinates and your boss start breaking the chain of command
So now, for the first time in decades, my entire future is a blank slate. I have NO idea where I will be working or living a year from now. The changes in my life are happening so rapidly, my head is spinning. Before I can start filling in the blanks, I'm giving myself a week to lick my wounds, hold pity parties with my friends and family, and just feel sorry for myself. After that, I'm launching my job search. I am actually thinking about going into business for myself. I'm getting tired of Bad Bosses and Crazy Bosses.
The only thing that's keeping me sane is my faith in God and my SP program. Okay, so maybe I can't control losing my job or finding three pounds, but I CAN pray and maintain my eating and my exercise habits.
Onward and Downward.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
For the first time I can remember in a while, almost every area of my life is in transition. My relationship with my child is changing, my job is uncertain, and I've lost touch with one friend of six years and ended another friendship of five years.
I'm not clear why all this change is happening at once, but sometimes that's how life is. Still, if I were to compare this time in my life to the weather, I'd say it's like a light drizzle in cold weather. Depressing but not devastating. I've survived many storms and this is no comparison.
This week was so-so.
THE GOOD: I cooked twice this week; kept my kitchen clean, bought some new exercise clothes and shoes, logged in all my food and exercise, and worked to increase my fruits/veg/water, even hitting my goals on two days this week.
THE BAD: My weightloss is stalled again. I won't repeat all the whining that I did last month. I know it's water weight, but it's frustrating. Still have work to do on fruit/veg/water intake. Still ate out several times this week because I've been watching college basketball at bars and grills. I'm hopeful this will change once the college basketball season is over.
THE UGLY: My dog chewed up two of my fitness books, including the one by Tosca Reno. I am just disgusted. I only exercised on sunday, tuesday and today. I am drinking way too many diet cokes.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Today I spoke to my "son" who is a division 1-NCAA football player. I told him about my new eating and exercise habits and he was very supportive. During the course of conversation, he mentioned that he maintains an "in season" weight and an "off season" weight, which is 11 pounds higher. The depressing part is this; BOTH of his weights are more than ten pounds less than what I weigh now and he plays football!!
All the conversation did was motivate me to work hard in the gym this evening and eat a sensible, nutrient-dense dinner. I don't like the idea of weighing more than my "son".
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