Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Unresolved Issues



It’s funny how often you think you have worked through a thing but unbeknown to you it is only buried deep down.  When we were in Jo’burg, having a meal with friends recently, the conversation turned to the subject of boss/employee relationships and I thought I would make a point concerning my last full-time job five years ago.  I had scarcely opened my mouth to form the first sentence when my eyes teared up and I could not go on.  I had actually the greatest respect and admiration for my last boss. She was totally dedicated to her job, often working through the night and making herself ill, but still soldiering on and I always felt that I just couldn’t come up to her expectations. She was inclined to be mercurial and I was a nervous wreck most days, either because, according to her,  I had either exceeded my authority or conversely, not taken enough initiative in solving a problem. In the end, I had to leave as I couldn’t even sleep at night:  to my amazement, she didn’t want to sign my resignation letter. It lay on her desk for two weeks. I still can’t work it out.  Amazingly, two months later I received a phone call from her asking me to undertake another job in her department, working closely with her.  My stomach contracted with fear but I was too cowardly to say no on the spot so I said I would think about it.  The next day I phoned back and with fingers crossed said that my husband didn’t want me to work.

9 comments:

  1. Weird how the past does come to mind, but I hope it feel better now
    kim

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  2. Always amazes me when those buried things come to mind. Sometimes I wonder why I'm even giving them more thought. Perhaps that is when I need to busy my mind, or body with something healthier.

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  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, it is strange how those feelings from the past bubble up and come out when we don't expect them.

    I worked with someone like the woman you are describing. In the end, I also quit because it was just too unhealthy to continue to work for her. Thankfully, I could retire, so I did. She also called and asked me to come back. I went back once for a semester. She asked me to come back several times, but I always stood my ground and said, "No thank you."

    Your health is more important than the stress that such job bring.

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  4. Perhaps it's that these difficult type A personality people need people like us around them.

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  5. Of course I don't know the situation, but it seems a little weird to me that you had the greatest respect and admiration for a boss who was emotionally unstable (mercurial), and made you a nervous wreck b/c she made you feel inadequate by criticizing you either way you went ... to the point where you couldn't sleep at night and had to quit.

    I had a boss kind of like that once. She was a good worker, I'll grant you (her) that. But she was a terrible boss who bred insecurity, cynicism and disloyalty among the people under her, to the point where a lot of them quit.

    She, too, was dedicated to her job; but she was poisonous to the organization.

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  6. But sometimes she was so nice to me and gave me a wonderful party when I left. I actually think the whole issue is more complex. It's (for me) to do with growing up in the fifties when parents did not build up one's 'self-image' with praise. My achievements were never enough for my parents I grew up insecure and fairly timid. One was expected to be modest at all times. OK, I've shed all that now (in theory and 40 years on) but somehow some of it sticks.

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  7. Women in leadership positions didn't have a lot of role models. They took on a tough stand as a way to put up barriers and distance between themselves and their employees. I remember a few bosses like the one you described.

    Women are best in nourishing roles, and that means a leadership style that is more natural and colleagial.

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  8. Thank you everyone. Your different perspectives on this topic have really helped.

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  9. Oh, I should have mentioned that this person had a hysterectomy - to make sure that she could never have any children.

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