I won’t name names, but I would like to share a little story with you about a past company I used to work for. The conditions were almost unbearable and although I was planning my escape and had my dream job in sight, it took about a year for me to make the transition. Sparing you the real grizzly details, I will simply say this was a company who did not believe in supporting their employees (financially or otherwise) and I had a passive-aggressive female boss who had made me her special science project.
I won’t say it was easy to deal with this unsavory situation but I got through it and really celebrated and appreciated finally being free when I left!
The following are a few mistakes I have seen professionals make in similar situations and some solutions for circumventing them and getting through a tough job:
Mistake #1: Quit Before You Have Another Job
Quitting will give you immediate relief but that feeling soon looses its luster and is replaced with a nagging anxiety to find a job. Also included in this is potential bad blood with your last employer (affecting strong references), money worries, potential loss of negotiating power (you generally have more negotiating power when you are currently employed) and something often overlooked until you are actually experiencing it, its harder to confidently express yourself to a potential new employer when you are unemployed.
So make a plan to transition – start working on your career goals, your resume then start your search. If it’s at all possible, do anything but quit!
Mistake #2: Have It Out With Your Boss
I had wonderful daydreams of really giving my old boss a piece of my mind….and I had every reason to believe she deserved it. In my reasoning, someone had to advocate for truth, justice and liberation from tyranny! But, in retrospect, I am glad I held my tongue. My superiors should have seen and acted on this bad behavior and if they wouldn’t, then nothing I could say would have changed them or her. The only thing that would have happened is a string of negative circumstances.
So here is what I did: I avoided her and anyone else who vexed me as much as humanly possible. This allowed me some temporary relief and let me focus on doing my job.
By avoiding those that bother you, the eyebrows your elusiveness might raise will be a small price to pay for a job you are not planning on staying in anyway and it’s better than a hairy confrontation that may haunt you – right as you may be.
Mistake #3: Badmouth Your Employer
Getting yourself all worked up talking to coworkers and others about your companies shortcomings might feel good in some respects but it very well may come back to bite you, get back to your boss and even tarnish your own reputation. Personally I even considered writing a letter to the president of the company after I quit my “hated” job – partly because I had been dealing with the “you know what” for so long that I wanted to share what was really going on with him and partly because I felt it would actually be helpful for him to know. In the end I wrote him – but it was a thank you note.
Again, I held my tongue because little good could have come from my negative letter. What is not heard through productive communication certainly won’t be heard through anger and frustration.
So, what helped me? I made a list of all the GOOD things about the company and the benefits of the job – and I tried to concentrate on those positives. I confess I was amazed at how long this list became – including several occasions where even that irritating female boss had helped and encouraged me. All those points just became harder to see and appreciate through the bad times.
Almost all of us have dealt with less-than-desirable jobs. Just like the saying goes – you can’t change others but you can change yourself. You will feel empowered through having “survived” the situation and through the nobility you will experience when you take the higher road.