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Thread: being helpful, taken for granted

  1. #1
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    being helpful, taken for granted

    This just keeps sticking with me from my review. It has been a couple days, I accept that I am not in a good place in the department and I chose the wrong priorities so my rating is low. I have some months to kick butt however and switch gears (helps to also be looking for a job). So overall I accept the review, but one thing just keeps sticking with me,

    My supervisor grew up in 2 spanish speaking countries so his accent is thick. It is not a problem for me after 2 times living in California and now in Denver. I can understand him fine, but I won't be able to exactly quote what he said here because a factor in our communication is also the body language and going back and forth for understanding. At one point he said that he needs to just do his job, pay his rent, etc. just like me. Then he said basically I have advantages, my school/site loves the work I do, I know my programs very well, and English is my first language. That is great, The issue is that he actually has the supervisor job, and he actually has the power to write me up, decide my priorities, change the game, etc. Not to mention he earns more and I have applied for the supervisor job 3 times. So it feels (again) like everyone knows I am smart and very capable, that was basically what he was saying. But then the expectation is that I will help everyone else, however it is an underlying assumption, and when I want to do something extra it is often denied because I am not as good with the business side of my job. The specifics are using me at the beginning of the year to do a traning with another person who had never trained before with 2 days notice, then denying my request to train my providers with short notice.

    I am the one who will send one of my staff to your site if you are sick, train you on the data systems, talk through a staff issue you need to decide about, or teach you some mindfulness techniques as needed. I will also with my supervisor and previous ones patiently go over what my site looks like, what is written in my grant, how to make sense of my data and how it affects programming. I will do this as many times as we need to, they have multiple sites to track, language learning, and busy schedules. I have actually been told that supervisors feel comfortable giving me a staff that needs work and extra training because they know I will do it well. One year I took over 3 sites for the last 3 months because someone was fired, at the end of the year my supervisor said that the staff was so happy with me, she said it more as shocked however, like she couldn't figure out how someone could do what I did. It ended up just feeling awkward more than a compliment.

    The crappy old story that is coming up is that I have been doing this my entire life. I was the head of the class, so I was frequently used to tutor other students. At one bank job I learned the regulations so well that I was answering questions for other employees who had been there for years. I made a jeopardy game and for a traning for my coworkers. I held my own in my divorce with some pretty big lawyer types too.

    I guess my next step is to figure out what I really want to do that uses my strengths and let go of that harsh mind-set that says I need to just buckle down and get good at paperwork and business. So I need to do it, and maybe if I wasn't always beating myself up (and letting others take a punch or 2) I could just do it reasonably well.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I got out of corporate life is because I felt I was becoming an example of the Peter Principle: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

    I was a fine market researcher. I could do everything: write good discussion guides, moderate very skillfully, and write cohesive reports. But I grew to HATE meetings, sales, training new employees, and filling out time/expense/administrative reports, all of which I was expected to do as VP of Research. Becoming a freelance researcher freed me from those higher-up expectations and now I happily let others do that c**p and I get to do the parts of the job I love.

    Point being: Is there any way for you to find a similar situation? Can you subcontract teaching services and work for people who do the detailed administrative stuff? Just a question because I totally get what you're saying. BTDT.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    I am just wondering myself the same thing, I am not sure. I know if I can leap over into a training gig that would be ideal. However I am not sure what it takes to get there and if it would sustain me. So hmm, thinking ya know

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    It does really suck that you are in a situation where the powers that be don't value all you offer. But its all too common. In their eyes, the passion and creativity that you bring doesn't make up for not keeping the paperwork continually in the state they want it in. I agree you need to play to your strengths (and get out of there). Since no matter how well you do the stuff that you do well, it will never be enough to them if you aren't also doing the things that they value well. They give you the salary, they get to set the rules on what is valued.

  5. #5
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I just happened to recall that a couple of months before I quit I had read this book: Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create the Life You Really Want!. I know it sounds like one of those "You can earn a million bucks while you sleep" books, but it's not. The book is as informative as it is motivating. It motivated me to quit, anyway.

    At the same time, I would never underestimate the caution you need to have in breaking from an employer. My stars happened to align and I was able to make a seamless transition into freelance work because the company I left became my first client. And you often do have to use those dreaded business/administrative skills to drum up business and keep records of your own. But if the time and situation is right, the freedom is priceless.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Thanks for the book recommendation, I will look that up.

    You are both right, they have the job I need to do, I have what I need my staff to do, it is just the nature of jobs. I know my former staff really made me aware of what are reasonable expectations for bosses. Her expectations were not reasonable, so a chance to check in and see if my expectations of my bosses was reasonable. I had a few adjustments to make. However there is still an element that I want to push back on, especially since we do so much work on equity in our department. That is the underlying assumption that I am a nice person and so when I am helpful it is altruistic no career focused. No, it is work not volunteering. I just need reasonable credit for it. There may never be a way to bring it up, especially since I am focused on good relationships. Everyone knows everyone in my field and in our area so that is not an option!

    One of my parents just interviewed for a promotion at her job, she is a woman in tech. The interviewer (her boss) wanted to know why she hadn't shown leadership and she had plenty of evidence that she had been doing things to support and lead the team. However he didn't notice when she did it, She feels an uphill battle there that I can relate to.

  7. #7
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    At my previous job I got tired of being the only team player, training and helping, writing policies and procedures manuals and getting no recognition. People would try to pile on more. "Well you know more than me." Yes, but that doesn't mean you should do nothing but take 20 minute smoking breaks every hour and even when you are at your desk not work but look at social media and gossip.

    I really hope you find a better job Zoe Girl. There are some issues where I am now, but it is so much better. Now I have the opposite problem of people trying to steal others' work so their productivity stats will be high.

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    Just bought the book you recommended, Catherine, and thank you!

  9. #9
    Senior Member lhamo's Avatar
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    Two additional books you might find helpful (I did):

    "The No Asshole Rule" by Bob Sutton
    "Necessary Endings" by Henry Cloud

    I think your current supervisor is clearly an asshole. So was the previous one. Both did nothing but undermine you, probably because they found your programmatic and people skills to be threatening. So they threw you under the bus for paperwork lapses.

    Necessary Endings was really instrumental in me having the courage to leave my last position. I was really dedicated to that organization/my team/my grantees, and they exploited it.

    I hope you find both books helpful.
    "Seek out habits that help you overcome fear or inertia. Destroy those that do the opposite." Seth Godin

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