No one can tell you exactly how or when it's going to happen, but sooner or later you're going to put your foot down at the office. You'll know when that point is --when you're feeling violated or used. You'll know when it's time to push back, even if it means facing the possible consequence of putting your relationship with your employer at risk.
It might be just a small moment, but it's the moment when you change forever.
|Mary Foley is author of "Bodacious! Career: Outrageous Success for Working Women."|
Workwise, for me, that time came about six months after I was passed over for the promotion I wanted and the position was filled by a man from the outside. He also became my new boss. Distracted by several projects, he left me alone at first, allowing me to do what I had already been doing for several years before he came onboard. One day, I sent out an e-mail to a round of colleagues asking for their input on a project. My boss, of course, was on the list.
I received some suggestions from others, but from my boss, I got an e-mail that felt like command and control. After six months of leaving me alone, suddenly he was in my e-mailbox telling me what to do. I was just asking for input, but he was giving me orders. I knew a violation had happened, and I knew exactly what it was about.
The next morning we sat in my office for a previously scheduled meeting. I purposely jump-started our conversation with, "You remember that e-mail you sent me last night? I've got to be honest, it sounded like you were telling me what to do. There's one thing I can't stand, and that's being told what to do."
If there was anyone in the world at that moment who had the right and mandate to tell me what to do, it was him. I accepted his positional power to do just that. But I also had years of autonomy, working for managers who recognized my ability to figure things out and take the initiative to get things done. So I added: "I've been in this role for several years now. And although you can tell me what to do and I will respect that, you should know that I will look for another situation to be in."
With a stunned look and defensive voice, he responded, "But, I have strong opinions!" To which I replied, "That's fine, I welcome strong opinions. I want to hear your point of view. I definitely believe that with lots of input, I can create a more effective result. But, in the end, I'm responsible for what happens." He conceded, "Well, OK."
From that moment, he respected my ability and my need to work without a heavy hand. I felt proud that I put a line in the sand. One benefit was that I got the behavior I wanted. But the longer lasting benefit was that I learned yet again that while risk comes with dangers of losing a job, it also comes with rewards. The risk of taking a stand is often rewarded with actually being able to keep the job you love.
Taking a stand is one of the most bodacious actions you can take for you and your career. By simply saying, "This is what I believe to be true and how I want to be treated," you are creating a culture shift in your life that will ripple beyond your immediate goals in any area.
Bottom line: Speak up for yourself; plan what you will say, how you say it, and anticipate responses. You and your career are worth it.