I have long believed in practicing a ‘no bullshit’ approach to managing my team. If there is something wrong, if I see emotions that need to be checked, or unfairness due to personality conflicts – I step in and say something immediately. Apologies are issued if necessary, otherwise, I have coached my team to never say ‘sorry’ for things outside of their doing or control. However, managing a team with this approach vs practicing this approach yourself can be harder than it seems.
I’ve been extremely cognizant of my reaction to when emotional situations have occurred and my reaction. This year, I’m not proud. At times I’ve done the opposite of what I’d recommend to my employees and mentees. I’ve said ‘I’m sorry’ more than a million times for things I can’t control (ie the weather), I retreat, blame my abilities, question myself, play the martyr role and internalize the horrible thoughts that surface – ie ‘maybe I’m not cut out for business’ or ‘I’m too nice to ever move into that type of position.’
This has to stop. If you are being passed up for more responsibility when you know you are capable of the role, or if you are being removed from conversations, step in and say something. It’s okay to feel mad and confused and worried about your ability to fake it as you deal with the transition at the same time as managing your employee’s perception of you, all the while ensuring it doesn’t affect the quality of your work. This isn’t easy, and it’s likely you haven’t been coached through this yet in your career.
As we all tackle the ebbs and flows of career growth, emotional intelligence, and an attempt at stability should be used to your advantage, not downfall . There are hundreds of articles about what it takes to move up the ladder, and intuition and emotional intelligence always rank near the top of the skill set. More importantly, they are innate, and can’t usually be taught through training but really do set you apart from being a manager and a leader.
So, as I was recently lovingly told, don’t apologize. Get your shit together. Write your feelings down, map out a plan, and then address conflict the proper way, without allowing guilt or fear play a role.
I will tell you it’s not you, but in the end, it might be you. Sometimes, in the workplace, you have to be the bigger person and determine when it’s time to move on, after all, nothing lasts forever. This isn’t an easy thing to decide, nor one to be taken lightly, but it’s something so many in their early-thirties start contemplating. This is the prime time for growth, salary increases, and setting the tone for the rest of your career.
New job. New relationship. New start.
If you are having more days than not that involve wanting to bang your head against a desk, or breathing into a brown paper bag (or hell, drinking from one), it may be time to spruce up your resume and start networking like a fiend again.
Wondering how to get back in the game?
- Present your best self(ie). If you can splurge on some brand name purse, you can afford to take professional headshots. Hire someone. Find the right outfit, and make your LinkedIn profile visually appealing – but also representative of you and your industry. If you are in the creative field, it’s okay to dress the way you would in the office. If you are corporate, stick with a suit and solid colors.
- Write like a copywriter. Stop with the generic resumes. Revamp it. If you work in a creative field, hire a creative to rework/layout your resume. It’s the best $250 you can spend. Make sure to list your accomplishments, actual corporate growth as a result of your efforts, and industry awards or accolades. Make your work history work for you. Don’t exaggerate unless you can speak to it during an interview – comfortably.
- Get out there. Networking sucks. But it can be fun if you don’t try too hard. Start going out more, start asking people where they work, attend your professional organizations events (Ad Club, American Marketing Association, PRSA, you name it – your career field has them). Your friends and networks are probably very happy to help you, especially if you would be willing to help them or have in the past. Let people know that you are gainfully employed, but starting to look at what else is out there.
- Stay calm and collected. One of my most influential and intriguing colleagues, is ironically a few years younger, and one of the most calm and collected, confident and assertive people I know. We met recently and prior to even sipping my beer, he said ‘can I offer you some career advice? You always lose your shit and get so anxious about things – just relax. Breathe. Let it go and then react if you actually need to.’ I so badly wanted to punch him, but the worst part was that I knew he was 100% right. This advice is true in the thick of your career, but especially important as things get tough and you get wandering eyes. DON’T LOSE YOUR MIND (in public).
- Develop coping mechanisms until you make your exit. Per my fourth suggestion, days may challenge you in ways you aren’t ready to deal with. If things are changing faster than you can get a grip on, and so much is beyond your control, take breaks during your day. Spend five minutes and go on a walk. Call someone. Reorganize your spotify playlists. Snap someone that gets you. Laugh. Do something. But don’t sit and get fuming mad. This backfires.
- Trust no one. Well, except maybe a select few. Leaving a job is something that should be carefully mapped out, especially your exit strategy. No one wants to leave because the entire company already thinks you are on the way out. Or HR says, ‘we heard you aren’t happy here and want to help you out.’ Slow your roll a bit, and count to ten (yes, seriously) before feeling the need to vent or tell someone you aren’t thrilled. It will come back to bite you in the ass. Practice your professionalism – even if it’s the hardest thing you have to do.
- Stick to your guns. When you finally decide it’s time for a change, don’t let anyone but your gut make that decision for you. Decide why you are leaving – is it money? Lack of growth? Challenges with employees or the way teams are structured? Clients? Or do you want to try something completely new? In many of these cases, you simply have to move on. But, if you go put your notice in, and your current company decides to throw money at you, make sure you aren’t emotionally influenced with what to do. You started looking for a reason. Don’t forget it.
- Give them a reason to miss you. Relationships and work are two in the same. There are many days where I want to be like – ‘oh, yeah, well f you, f you, and F YOU.” But, again, back to #4. It’s totally insane and opposite of why a company or person made you become so loyal, grow together, fall in love, and learn so much – even if you’ve fallen out of love. When you ‘breakup’ with your company, make it so they are devastated to see you go, that they will continue to think about you, and wonder what they could have done to keep you. They may never know, or they might – but leave it for a tasteful exit interview.
If this is a reality for you, hang in there. There are a lot of tough days – but you’ll most likely learn so much about yourself as you start to regain your happiness and do whats best for you. Lean on your mentors, your friends, and your parents to listen and help – and in the end, know that it will all work out because you wouldn’t settle for anything less.