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BLUF: How do I let go of the resentment of the demotion, be grateful for the job, hate the job less and try to build rapport with this new boss?

Background: I was happily "setting up business" in the first half of 2008. Two job opportunities opened up and I applied for both of them. One was tech support (traditionally a stepping stone to management) and the other was a manager position. The VP I interviewed with turned me down for the tech support position but then offered me the manager job. From October 9 2008 to July 17 2009, I was a manager for this group. Due to a second round of "reduction in force" cuts, I was offered a severance package or a step back to setting up business, an individual contributor role.  I took the demotion to keep the paycheck and benefits.

I'm having difficulty on several fronts.

A. I don't like setting up business. It makes me heinously cranky. I get easily irritated and severely frustrated. I much prefer to be a manager - THAT is where I have "the opportunity to do what I do best every day" as they ask us in the Gallup Polls.  I'm a much nicer, more calm, professional person when in a managerial role and I don't want to screw myself over with this demotion.  I want to nip this in the bud ASAP but I don't know how.  With every frustration, I can't help but think "I was SO much happier when I was the manager."

B. This new boss and I don't seem to mesh well together. How do I accept the message "You may not work past 4:30 on any given day without my pre-approval even though it won't result in overtime" without completely shutting down?  I just can't help but feel that if I agree to her marching orders blindly, I'd be doing something wrong - morally, ethically, something.

Argh.  I know I need to redefine my role (back to individual contributor) and fully accept it.  I know I need to forge a working relationship with this VP no matter what position I'm in.  I know I need to be the consummate professional despite challenges, obstacles or frustrations.  The contributor role makes it exceedingly challenging for me; I do MUCH better in the managerial role. (It's a completely different mindset and I'm much more zen as manager.)

Any help / straight-talk / bitchslaps upside the head / reality checks appreciated.  I need to snap out of this and I need ya'll to set me straight before I shoot my career in its foot.

lalam's picture

...if you were managing people that have your current role? As a manager, how would you help people who "set up business" stay engaged and feeling good about their job? How would you help them see value in what they do, and how would  you help them cope with their daily frustrations? Then  can you try to apply this leadership mindset to yourself?

430jan's picture

I can really hear the frustration about this job turn. I'm sorry! I just can sympathize and say that for these past 4 years I have been on a "churn" with my job definition constantly. It takes a toll.

On to the fun stuff...in my estimation this is a situation that you can think of as temporary. Does it help if you just do some self-talk that this will pass? That if you endure and continue to operate with integrity in this less-than-great job you will likely come across some opportunities to advance and find yourself back in a role that suits you better? You seem to have a great handle at the end of your post about what you know you need to do...so then it becomes a test of your own will to do it. In a sense you have to "manage" yourself at this stage. Get yourself to do what you don't necessarily want to do in order to improve your chances in the long run.

Outside of work....can you ramp up the other things in life that are worthwhile and can give you some fulfillment? A class, vacation, spiritual enrichment?

I am not sure what the trigger is for you Ash, but I do know that through all the really bad times in life I have had something to learn. I can look back on those and see how I came out a better, more balanced, or more compassionate person. It sure isn't fun traveling through it though.

Janet

ashdenver's picture

LaLam - uhm, if I were managing people doing this job, I'd pretty much do the exact opposite of everything this boss has done to me!  In fact, as a manager, I did do things very differently - I followed a lot of the MT suggestions / rules and my folks enjoyed working for me.

Janet, you hit the nail on the head - I got there myself last night around midnight, after a couple hours of tossing & turning.  I have it within myself to thrive in this role (as I have in the past) despite having a not-so-nice working environment and the complete lack of a supportive boss who understands me.  Her opinion and perspective do not define my reality for me. The job is the job.  I've done it before and it sucked and I can do it again and survive the suckage. 

I think what sent me into such a tizzy was the fact that her words and deeds didn't align.  She gave great lip-service to "strengths-based leadership" and focusing on a person's strengths but at the first opportunity, she ignored any strengths, zeroed in on weakness and punished me for it.  I think I was too stunned to make sense of it when it was happening but having had time to reflect (one of my Strengths, btw) I see now that I have the capacity to thrive outside of her (severely lacking) management style.

I'm heading out on vacation in just about 2.5 weeks and I'll be away for two solid weeks.  I'm in the midst of Senior year in pursuit of my BA in Sociology (I know, not a real degree) - so class & vacation are already in place!

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ken_wills's picture

Make work a less central part of your life...for now.

You've learned about a type of job you DON'T LIKE - YAY!  Don't do it in the future.

Keep the long view - this is just a couple of moments in a long life of work.

raulcasta's picture

Let's face it- really: work is a means, not the ends.  All else constant, I'd rather have a life than a job.

 

OK, ok, all else is not contstant... but let's pretend for argument's sake.

Really!

Raul

mmann's picture

Ash,

Your post makes it easy to understand how frustrating it is for you to go from a management role you enjoyed, to an individual contributor role you dislike.  I've felt the same at back slidings in my career.  As you've correctly identified, hunker down.  You can survive anything for a year.

Keep your chin up and grow your network.  If you're feeling a bit down some days, post something here and tap the support you get from this community.

 

--Michael

jhbchina's picture

Ash,

It is great to hear that you are in school. Put your energy into your study. Be a leader in the class, have great conversations with your classmates and professors. Make the job your second priority.  The rest will take care of itself.

Have a wonderful vacation, and FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE!

JHB  "00"