10 signs you’re in an abusive relationship with your job

bad bosses

1.You work hard and present great ideas to your manager, who rejects them and later on presents them as his or her own

2. You’re constantly asked to deliver things last moment with the excuse that “someone important needs them”

3. You’re told that you should be grateful that you have this job because people “out there” are DYING to work for the company

4. You’re suddenly reassigned to the area that no one wants to work in and told you should treat this as an opportunity

5. You’re told that the company is always looking for great talent but somehow you never hear of interesting job opportunities

6. You often notice that several other colleagues are working on the same task and whoever delivers first gets the praise

7. You’re told that first you need to spend several years proving yourself and only then will you be able to get challenging assignments

8. You’re recently promoted and your peers offer you “helpful” advice that ends up getting you in trouble

9. You’re asked to work on the weekend on a regular basis and expected to answer e-mails / calls at odd hours of the night

10. You’re asked to cancel your holiday vacation so that you can babysit the junior staff while senior management spends time with family

Please feel free to add your own examples to this discussion. #BetterJobBetterLife

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The Price of Stress

Today I received the following e-mail at work (translated here from Portuguese):

“Stress is one of the main challenges of high performance professionals. Putting away this exhausting element will result in improving quality of life. A check-up is a snapshot of your state of health and a first step of setting a program of goals to be achieved in the next 12 months. We should proactively look for longevity: 73% of diseases are related to chosen lifestyle, 10% are accidents the last 17% are attributed to genetics. Lets do it…..” 

First, I found it one of the best corporate communications e-mails I’ve gotten so far; perfectly targeted towards type-A, result oriented folks that end up in those over-stressed situations. Second, it made me think about how many times we keep hearing this type of message about the relationship between work stress and personal health and overall happiness and despite knowing it all, completely failing at reducing stress. On the contrary, it just keeps increasing and increasing.

I saw this article about the Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship and found it quite interesting as everyone thinks that the solution to a bad boss, annoying colleagues or a grinding routine is opening your own business. However, as I found out on my own flesh, staring your own business is no walk in the park so the expected outcomes better really be worth the sleepless nights and endless worries.

As my entrepreneurial plans were put on a small burner for now, I am yet to find the answer as to what should one do. Some of the ideas I am contemplating are:  getting a brain dead 9-4 pm job such as a pharmacy cashier, moving somewhere remote where I could live off the land and teaching English or selling wire bracelets to tourists, or moving in with my parents and pretending I am a bohemian writer, spending the next two years lounging in coffee shops and people-watching (which I do already but could make it into  a M-F activity). Any suggestions?

Laziness, Luck, and Work-Life Balance

Ever since I remember, I thought of myself as a lazy person with potential for more. When I was in middle school and was offered to skip a grade, or go to a more advanced school, I refused and preferred to stay with my friends. In college, I stopped reading my textbooks probably after the first semester (the fact that I stopped buying them also helped), and only studied before the exams in order to pass (of course forgetting 100% of the course materials right after). I picked classes based on the professor’s rating and reputation for lenient grading. When time came to look for jobs, I applied to all the IT companies, barely studied for interviews and got dinged by all of them. I had no interest to work in IT and ended up getting a job in a major investment bank because I ran into a friend in the hallway and he told me the name of the CEO of this bank, and thus helped me be the only one that answered this question correctly in the job interview. Later on, while my new class of analysts was working its ass off, I chose to take every vacation day possible, leave work at a decent time and never work on weekends. We all got the same salary and bonus at the end of the year.

I had no patience to look for a more interesting, or high paying job, nor was anymore interested in the banking industry and therefore chose to go to business school. I didn’t know much about this whole thing and ended up making some connections with current MBAs who gave me very useful tips that helped me navigate the process. I wanted to apply to the top five schools and write the perfect application but yet I ended up finishing my application about 3 hours before the second round final deadline and applying only for my top choice. I got in. This is when I started getting scared about luck and how long will I be able to get away with things and continue on the right path.

Then came business school. I was surrounded by highly successful over-achievers that going through my life, would have picked the toughest path at each and every step of the way. They would skip the grade, study a whole week for the test, go to a special school for gifted children, choose the toughest college for undergrad, participate in 50 extra-curricular activities, go save orphans in Africa, and worked long hours for the best companies. All of this while looking great and projecting the image of utter-happiness. Scary shit. I felt extremely guilty for being a lazy bugger and not doing all these things throughout my life despite having the chance to. Then came recruiting and everyone was spinning in circles, trying to get internships in every top firm for the top salary and image. But I of course, chose the opposite path and only applied to things I thought would be interesting. I got no job offers while people around me were getting them left and right. Somehow, despite all that I ended up doing a great internship in an awesome company, for the first time in my life working hard and waking up in the morning looking forward to doing what I was doing there.

Second year of MBA repeated the same cycle with just a lot less efforts on my part. When I was about to graduate and still had no job, I was thinking that I should start worrying and freaking out and was indeed starting to do so, without much action though. I then got a job offer and decided to venture into the unknown and move to Brazil. It somehow again worked out.

When I first started my job here, I was overwhelmed by lack of structure and communication of expectations. I think I finally see the benefit of this.. It lets me structure my own path and create the position that I want to have. This isn’t easy. Especially, when you’re used to corporate America that tries to put you in a box as hard as possible and then tells you to think outside the box. Now imagine, there is no box, no one knows what a box is, and you’re in the middle of it, trying to make sense of the mess. No more excuses for the lazy person to exploit the system and look for shortcuts. There is no path to shortcut. So, it has been an interesting challenge that made me feel really excited about work for the first time in my life. On the other hand, I have been spending too much time in the office and then too much time outside the office thinking about work and worrying about becoming a sad workaholic.  I was in a conference recently, at a women-in-business event, and the keynote speaker, a successful CEO of a company was talking about work-life balance. She said that she hates the question of work-life balance and that her response to it was: ” forget work-life balance, there is no such thing, I just do everything because I like what I am doing and I am passionate about it. I never think about the balance of things”. I thought this was straight to the point.

For me the issue of balancing multiple priorities was always about the level of interest in each one. Therefore, it ended up with no balance, but rather focus on what was appealing at the point of time. I am still struggling with figuring out the right way to navigate the world around me, but at least I see by experience that different paths can lead you to exactly the same point, and one of those paths may indeed be easier than the other. Not sure what is the lesson to be learned from that.

Worklife

Today was an interesting day. One of those that makes me so grateful for not having a routine at work.

It started with a 1 hour, turned into 3, with my boss, the other managers (my teammates) and his executive career coach. It was more of a therapy session geared towards discussing his strengths and weaknesses and how we could help him realize his leadership potential. I felt so torn between being honest and being smart in giving my input while keeping the boss happy. Thank God for biz school management classes and other cheap psychology knowledge which allowed me to come up with the constructive feedback with something along the lines of “I really appreciate your energy and enthusiasm, and since it is contagious to our team dynamics, the flip side is that when you are in a bad mood, it affects our mood as well, so this is a development point”. Argo: “please don’t take your shit out on us…etc”. Thankfully the meeting was in Portuguese, which helped me keep my mouth shut and not say anything I may regret after.
I think I’m going to look into this career coach business. Seems like a good cash cow..

The next activity of my day was a presentation to a group of 50 part-time MBA students from the midwest. I was a bit worried since it was my first time to make an hour long presentation for a large audience. Especially about something I don’t know too well (ie the entire business strategy of my company). But once again, I exceeded my own expectations and delivered the presentation almost flawlessly and even got laughs from the audience. Luckily, the students didn’t ask too many questions and were partially sleepy or hungover (or both). Boss was once again happy.

My third activity involved me mentoring my analyst and empowering him to do his job better and take initiative. That one is still work in progress but have been enjoying this exercise in psychology quite a lot.

Grobby is evolving indeed. Good times!