Marilyn received her 1st poor performance review in 22 years... and she has been with her current employer for 4 years.
She was dumbfounded. She told me it was like she was kicked in the gut with the added bonus of not seeing it coming.
She thought she was doing well. Sure, it was a challenging year... but three VPs left in the last 6 months and she assumed some of each their responsibilities without anyone having to ask her, in addition to her own job.
And she didn't even ask for a bump in pay since the company was going through some rough patches.
She thought, not only that was she was doing well, but was expecting a few pats on the back for her initiative in taking on other responsibilities without anyone prodding her or financially rewarding her to do so.
And that's so not what happened.
She was told that there were a ton of unfinished projects.
She was told she was delusional for thinking she “stepped in” to the roles of those other three departed VPs... because from their perspective, that hasn't happened.
The couple of bosses she sat with during this unnerving meeting even told her that she has done well the past, but this particular year was disappointing.
So as I consoled Marilyn, when she was at a point of being calm and not angry, I reminded her of a cold truth:
She has a history of jerky bosses.
(Marilyn has worked with us on and off over the years for her resume and LinkedIn profile through job changes she made... so we know this about her situation).
Boss before this one? Jerky. That's why she left.
Boss before that prior boss? You guessed it... Jerky.
And the one before that one? Yep... Jerky.
I reminded her she has a pattern of jerky bosses. Was she ready to look at her part into why she had jerky bosses all the time to avoid it in the next job?
She got little mad at me. She asked me if I was blaming her for her jerky bosses?
Well, no... not directly.
Is it all Marilyn's fault she has had jerky bosses?
Of course not....
There will always be jerky people in the world.
Marilyn is pretty damn good at what she does and deserves to work at a place where her skills will be valued and appreciated.
But if this keeps repeating itself employer after employer... at what point do you look at it and go, “Maybe I am doing something (or not doing something) that draws me to these types of people/companies?”
So I told Marilyn, she basically has three choices:
(1) She can do a job search to flee this place (but probably not look at what she is going to as closely since she is just focused getting out of this place). This will work temporarily, but she runs the risk of landing a job with the same type of jerky boss.
(2) She can look at... I mean, really look at... why she chose this place (and her prior employers) and what decisions she has made while working here that put her in the position of tolerating jerky behavior repeatedly.
(3) And if she genuinely can't leave the job right now, she can develop a set of coping tools to still thrive in a dysfunctional environment and not have her self-esteem in the toilet every time something doesn't go as it should (because of the jerky people at work). She can shift her thinking that she chooses to be there and has stronger, healthier coping mechanisms.
That's it. Those are her three choices.
Actually... there is a fourth option, but I told her it's not an option for her. The fourth option is she can stay and continually feed off of their negativity to be sapped of energy and spirit from these jackasses at work each and every day... she can remain a victim. I told her this option, while always present, isn't going to work for her any longer.
Why do I tell you this story?
Because it also happened to me.
Because chances are it's happening to you.
So how do we fix it?
You begin to fix it by (1) accepting sometimes jerky bosses happen to good people and you then have to decide if you are going to tolerate it or/and (2) realizing sometimes good people have habits that can lead them to consistently getting hired by crappy bosses.
Working for a great boss is not only going to happen because you researched and found a great boss.
You have to commit to making a change to your behavior that leads to you getting hired and staying hired by dysfunctional people.
If you have had a history of jerky bosses and anxious situations, you have to know you have choices.
You may feel you don't, but you do.
However, you have to want to commit to breaking the pattern... and then make the commitment.
You see, every relationship is 50/50. It's hardly ever all one person's fault when relationships aren't working.
Even if you think it's all your jerky boss's fault (or the fault of jerky co-workers, vendors or clients) that you are miserable.
It takes two...
My favorite old school rap artist Rob Base said, “It takes two to make a thing go right...”
You have a part in your misery.
And you have a part in making this thing go right.
The first major step to eliminating the misery is to acknowledge that you had or have a part in either putting yourself in your situation, tolerating your situation or positioning yourself as a victim in your situation — or possibly 2 out of 3... or all 3.
When I realized that I had a part in my own misery in some of my prior jobs, a liberating wave of freedom came over me.
Why? When I realized I had a part in my misery, I felt empowered.
I felt like I can change my course.
And when I did....
I got control back in my life.
I didn't feel stuck anymore.
It didn't matter to me anymore what other people thought of me.
I didn't focus on what I could lose anymore — and focused more on what I had ... (note I didn't say what I could gain)
What did I do to relieve my angst, to avoid jerky bosses and to find an invigorating employment environment?
I committed to not wanting to save the day, each and every day, every time, for every little thing, so I can be thought of highly by others.
I committed to setting boundaries and put myself first.
I committed to finding fulfillment internally and stopped needing external validation to feel good about myself.
When committed to making these points happen in my daily life, miraculous things started to happen:
I had the energy to save the day when it really mattered and I did it because it was the right thing to do. I didn't do it because I sought accolades, which means I wouldn't ever be bitter when people didn't give me accolades in return, since often they didn't.
I wasn't upset when others didn't value me first because I put their need first — because I stopped putting their needs before mine. So no more resentments.
I didn't need my boss to notice every little thing I did to feel valued, because I found fulfillment internally. So when my boss didn't notice something, I wasn't automatically deflated.
And I started to think my boss wasn't a schmuck. And that my co-workers didn't suck. And not because he or they changed.
It's because I changed.
All because I changed behavior within myself. It's the advice I gave to Marilyn, too.
Would you like to learn how to get career coaching help to get you through and triumph in your current situation?
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