I've had an early autumn epiphany, quite by accident. This has been an interesting year career-wise, and I don’t just mean writing. No, my day job has been a ride and a half, and I didn’t even know it until last month. Funny, but until then I’d grown to accept everything as normal, when, in fact, it wasn’t. It was a bad situation I’d gotten used to, just like the heroine of a chick lit novel who tolerates her louse of a boyfriend until she meets The One. I didn’t realize it until I accidentally landed somewhere else and saw how other people work together without driving each other bonkers.
A couple of years ago, my now ex-boss decided to re-group staff and re-organize the organizational chart, for whatever reason. I went along with it assuming he knew what he was doing. I mean, he had over two decades in the business after all. So, for the last two years I’ve been working with one guy who is completely incompetent but apparently immune to being fired and with another who—even worse—is so positive all the time that he makes a smiley face look depressed.
I never realized what an effect this had on me until I got transferred to another department due to a company-wide reorganization that my ex-boss had no control over, otherwise I think he would have kept me where I was forever. I’ve been in this new department for a little over a month, and…wow! What is so different? Most people would think I’d be glad to get rid of the goober who screwed up every project he did and expected me to pick up the pieces, which is true. That was a relief. However, the real relief surprised me.
The guy I worked with most closely, Mr. Smiley, drove me crazy with his ultra-positive attitude. I’m not a negative person by any means, but his constant “look on the bright side” philosophy went overboard. The biggest problem was it only extended as far as his needs. If I needed to discuss product issues or a problem we needed to address, I got a wall of “Negativity is not accepted here! Just be positive and a solution will present itself.” However, when he had an issue with a colleague, I heard all about it in technicolor. What?
So, I learned how to positively report that our sales were poor or that our employees were mounting a revolt in such a way as to offset his initial response of “Be positive!” and actually get something done. Ever have to justify everything you do to someone who believes in his/her heart that you are coming from a mindset that you aren’t coming from? He always thought I was a negative, a Polly Party-pooper, if I brought an objection to one of his ridiculous ideas, even just playing Devil’s Advocate. That was what this working relationship had devolved into, and it was maddening. I couldn’t just go in and say there was a problem; I had to justify why my positive attitude hadn’t dealt with the problem before we could discuss solutions that didn’t involve me getting sensitivity training or signing up to confer with a guru about how to make success come to me just by wishing.
In my new position, my boss asks me for the “bad news” so we can figure out what’s going on before our sales fall so low they become non-existent. He wants to know the negative so he can turn it around before it becomes a problem. No longer do I feel like I’m the harbinger of doom, peeing on everyone's delusional parade. Instead, I feel like a professional doing a job, and it feels really good.
So the short of it is that I’m in a much better place. I didn’t realize what a bad place I was in until the first time my new boss asked my best educated opinion about an production issue and expected, well, my best educated opinion, despite whether it was positive or negative. No more fake smiles or coating everything with an insincere attempt at glee, and it's so great.
I hope this September has brought you unexpected joys, too. Please feel free to share if it has, or even if it hasn't. Next time I post it will be October, and I am looking forward to a lovely autumn. See you then!