Monday, January 12, 2009

Take back control of your life

This morning I came across a wonderful website, http://www.overcomebullying.org/. The site belongs to an organization devoted to resolving bullying in schools and the workplace (Plug: Sign up for their newsletter), and I found one of their articles to make an extremely good point.

Sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is to quit your job. But to most that's not an option, especially in this economy. Overcomebullying.org points out, though, that while your bills are one thing, your mental health and physical state are much more important. While you're thinking, "Can I afford to quit my job and still pay my bills?" what you should be thinking is, "Can I really afford to be this unhappy?"

The fact of the matter is, you don't just shut your feelings of hurt and anxiety off when you leave for the day. They remain with you at all times.

I became a workplace bullying consultant because of my own experiences. I was bullied by another Director-level peer. And... as the HR Director I was fighting for the rights of all of the staff members the bully was bullying. I found myself fighting wars for them in order to ease their own pain, because that's what HR professionals do - take the brunt of the wrath of management if they can.

I left that job not because I quit, necessarily. I left that job because my boss came into my office one day, after about a year of my perpetual tardiness and extremely reduced productivity (normally way out of character for me), to point out that while I was once the highest producer and full of life and ideas, I was not putting in any effort at work anymore. We decided the best option for me was to leave - right then.

So, with my tail between my legs I packed my boxes, and left without warning. Scary... or so you'd think.

When I think back to that day I don't see fear and saddness, I see beautiful rainbows and sunshine. My drive home from work that day, the day I was essentially asked to leave because my tormentor had ripped my self-esteem to shreds, was one of the best days of my life. Over the course of the next few weeks, I could physically feel the monkey climbing down off my back. I could stand up straight again and everything seemed brighter, literally, not metaphorically. My physical state changed - I felt happy and vibrant again. My mental state changed - I could see the world with clarity.

And where there's a will there's a way. I went out and immediately got another job full of life and fun. I loved going to work everyday. I was ultimately laid off, unfortunately, and that's when I decided to start my own consulting firm.

While finding a job immediately may not be so realistic during this time, the economy will change - and you want to be ready when it does.

So start your planning now. Get the ol' resume out and start filling in the gaps. You're lucky because bullies target the smartest people with the most ideas, and the management favorites, so that means you've got a good chance at finding something new.

Keep in mind resumes should contain lots of tangible accomplishments with only a few job tasks that summarize your position. Be sure to keep the resume neat and clean, and use bullet points to make it easier for the resume reviewer to scan. Resumes only get 2-20 seconds of time, so you want to be clear and concise. For more tips on resume writing click on "In the Media" at http://www.catherinemattice.com/. You'll find some great information there.

Also remember that there is no need to bind yourself to another 9-5er with a paycheck every 2 weeks. We often do, because it's steady and it's easy.

But if you want to leave now many companies are hiring consultants to do a little work here and little work there to cover the stuff that a now-laid off person may have been doing. Start asking around and using your business contacts - you may find there's more demand out there for your skills than you thought.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I quit my job because I was bullied. Before I did though, I wrote the owners a letter describing my experience with my supervisor and they put her on warning. There is some satisfaction there, but I still could no longer work for her. I need to know what to say in a interview about the experience. Can you help?