And it was devoured

I started a thing at work where if someone is having a really rough day I get them a cake pop to cheer them up. Then it became getting them a strawberry cake pop from Starbucks cause I liked the smiley face on them. That of course became “imagine it’s the face of your enemy and enjoy the destruction of their head while you eat it” because of course that’s where my mind goes. It has now caught on and other people are also cheering up coworkers by giving them faces to devour. I love my office sometimes 😈

Advertisements

That is the worst idea you have had

When your therapist of 3 years, the women who has seen you through panic attacks, self harm, suicidal ideation, and lord knows what else says “that is the worst idea you have had.” You should probably listen 😬

So what was this terrible idea? I went off my meds. That may not seem like much, but remember all the lovely things mentioned in the first sentence? That was during a period of time I spent months arguing with her that I didn’t need medication. Followed by a month of trying to stabilize on my new medications, some of that time spent in a psych hospital. She helped me understand that I need meds, helped me find a good psychiatrist after I had had so many bad ones in the past, she helped keep me safe from myself while I worked to find the right blend, and she helped me understand that the meds bring me to a baseline where I can then work on my self care to become healthy and stable beyond that point.

Recently someone at the office started telling everyone that I don’t care about things. Suddenly rumors where flying around that I am heartless, that I don’t care about my work or my team. This started spreading out of control until someone started trying to tell others I should be fired so they can have someone that actually cares. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder I’d never been told I don’t care. I’m told I care too much, I care when I shouldn’t, I am too emotional, that I need to shut it off. My whole world shifted as I began to hear these strange rumors and I panicked.

I knew the “issue” was that I was stable, and that I wear an emotional mask on top of that. I also knew that I wasn’t going to lower that mask, so the only way to show emotions through it was to stop being stable. So for the next two weeks I cut my antidepressant and mood stabilizer dosages in half. When I didn’t end up completely crazy after that I just stopped taking them altogether. I went against my better judgement. I went against the advice I give others to never adjust your meds without first speaking to your doctor. I went against the advice I give myself, to talk over decisions I know are probably wrong with my therapist before doing stupid things. I panicked, so I ignored everything but the rumors at the office and I screwed myself up worse.

So at last Monday’s appointment we discussed the issues I’m going through right now, and eventually got to the dreaded question:

“How are your meds working?”

“I’m not taking them.”

Pause… “When did you last see your Psychiatrist?”

“About 3 or 4 months ago?”

“So she doesn’t know you stopped taking them?”

“No.”

“How long have you been off your meds?”

“A week, I was on half dose for 2 weeks before that.”

Pause…. “Why?”

“They were making me stable so people thought I didn’t care. I needed stronger emotions at work or everyone would hate me!”

Longer pause (probably an effort to regain the peace she had found while meditating that morning before I had come in and ruined it) “That… that is the worst idea you have had.”

“They want to fire me!”

“You can’t just stop your meds.”

“I can’t be stable right now, they hate me at work!”

“Do you hear yourself?”

“Yes. But I don’t care. I need my job.”

“You are more important than just a job. You need to be stable for you and your husband and your kids. You need to be on your meds.”

So I’m back on my meds. I’m feeling better, more clear, more calm. But I still have moments of desperate desire to be off them. To let my crazy take control. I don’t know where this desire is coming from exactly, I don’t think it is just from work though that was certainly a catalyst. But something in me says I shouldn’t be stable. And this is a new fight for me, one I don’t know how to face.

When I was young and refused to acknowledge depression as a medical condition, or that I had anything more than seasonal depression, I would refuse meds or go off of them because I shouldn’t need them. I’ve fought that battle and moved beyond it. I’ve learned to ignore the occasional thoughts my brain throws at me trying to convince me of that lie. But this is a new lie. My mind says the meds are working, and they’re needed, but that I should stop anyway. I recognize the truth of my illness and my treatment, and something is telling me not to be treated. To let the symptoms take over. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know how to fight it. Have any of you fought that before? The idea that you can be stable but shouldn’t?

Why I didn’t interview you

I have an opening on my team and so have been staring at resumes all week. Most of these resumes are not going to turn into interviews. Some may think that’s terrible as an interview surely must be a better way to know if someone is right for the role. I get that. As someone who has been refused interviews because I don’t yet have my degree despite the fact that I have 8 years more experience in the field than most with the degree I’m in school for, I get the frustration. But the job I’m hiring for doesn’t require a college degree, it requires strong written communication skills and attention to detail. I absolutely can judge those from a resume, or at least narrow the pool a bit. And while I would love to give people a shot at redemption, the fact is I don’t have time to do so.

Let’s look at this mathematically. My management position takes an average 50 hours a week for my standard responsibilities. Being a person short staffed adds an additional 10 hours a week to my work load, minimum. I then have to set aside an additional 4 hours a week to read through numerous resumes plus 2 hours for phone screens of the top candidates. I’m now working 66 hours a week and I haven’t even started interviewing. Now assume I have to set aside an hour per interview, am I really supposed to interview all 40 candidates I’ve got in my queue that week? No, it’s not possible. Also keep in mind I am at the lower end of management, there are going to be managers reading this going “WHAT? Only 66 hours of work before interviews? I WISH I could work that little!” Hopefully that gives a little more perspective on why your resume needs to stand out as one of the best.

So here are the top reasons that resumes got tossed out this week:

1. Misspellings

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised. I’ll let a misspelling go if the person looks great otherwise (only one y’all. You give me more than that and I can’t trust your attention to detail, sorry). Best way to eliminate misspellings is to read your resume backwards. Forwards you know what you said so your brain fills in corrections; backwards and you’re forced to consider individual words since the sentence doesn’t make sense. Give it a try, it’ll help.

2. Bad formatting

I had a resume where formatting would change mid-sentence. It’s hard to pay attention to a sentence that randomly changes formatting. Just saying. But beyond that, pay attention to the little things. Just because your sentence structure is good and your formatting consistent doesn’t mean it stands out as great. Make sure there is a flow, use bullet points systematically, emphasize your best qualities with strong placement.

3. Plagiarism and lies

I had someone who listed skills on his resume by listing something general like “computer skills” and then following it with what was obviously a description of a course he took in school. “Utilizing computers to learn more advanced tools within Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Must complete CMP102 to take this course.” How this resume got past the recruiter I don’t know. But that was an immediate pass.

Even if not copy and pasted I may still catch you in a lie. I’m especially good at this in interviews, and yes I will have a copy of your resume with me when we meet. “It says here you consider yourself an expert in Microsoft excel. What are some things you’ve used it for?” “Primarily tables and spreadsheets for keeping track of things.” “Nice. Did you make any of these spreadsheets?” “No, they were pre-made, but I needed to understand them well enough to use them. I also trained others on using them.” “That’s great to hear. What are some formulas you’ve used?” “Uhhhhhh…”. FYI, that’s not expert level. Tell me you’re average but learning and I’m thrilled with these answers, tell me you’re an expert and I’m highly disappointed in these answers. An expert should be making spreadsheets, using formulas, and experimenting with macros.

4. Too long

Ideally a resume should fit on a single page. I don’t need your life story, I need to know what skills you have that best fit this position. I interview plenty of 2-page resumes, but when it starts hitting 3 I’m usually done. Wondering why? Look at the math above. The 4 hour estimate is based on no more than 40 resumes, individual resumes averaging a page and a half. Three page resumes doubles my time. Here’s a tip, make your resume a clean looking one and a half to two pages. Then when applying for the job go through and eliminate anything that doesn’t apply. I’m looking for key words, and those key words can be found in the job description. Make your resume match my description and you’re going to be among my first calls for an interview.

5. Listing too much work history

Similar to it being too long, I don’t want to read through all of that. But more importantly, it shows a lack of tenure. I reviewed a resume this morning that was 2 full pages of jobs listed. That’s a lot of jobs. So I started analyzing the dates and the person never stayed with one company longer than a year. I need someone that can be dedicated and last for a while. Now obviously you can’t go back in time and change your work history, so use my lack of time to your advantage. Specify the last 3 jobs only, and format them in such a way that my eyes are drawn from job title to skills and unknowingly bypass the dates. If I don’t have a list of 10 jobs making me nervous about commitment, then I probably am not going to analyze the dates because that takes additional time. Want to emphasize skills that were used in job number 5 and 6? Simply create a “skills” section of the resume with quick bullet points. I don’t care where the skill came from, only that it exists.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the importance of your resume and how to format it to work for the hiring manager. Always remember that your resume is your first introduction, so make it a good one.

Potentially Unpopular Opinion

I’m seeing the Sarah Sanders kicked out of restaurant story all over. Before making a decision on it I tried to get the facts.

  1. The Sanders party was polite before and after being asked to leave.
  2. The owner was polite and private when doing the asking.
  3. The owner was attempting to protect employees whom she understood may feel discriminated against.
  4. The Sanders party is in league with someone who would actively discriminate against said employees.
  5. The Sanders party did not pose discriminatory actions while at the restaurant.
  6. Had a single employee not made the stupid move to post this on Facebook then both sides may have left it at that instead of the social media shit storm that followed.

I understand the thought process on the side of the restaurant. It is hard to provide service when you feel attacked. But the attack was not happening at that time. There are so many instances of people being kicked out of a restaurant because they are different. The difference does not make a person dangerous. These are not the same situation, but they are similar. Which makes this a tough call. I do not agree with someone being refused service because of their political affiliation any more than because of the color of their skin or the gender they love. However, I do not approve of someone being forced to serve a person who has outwardly defended a person that is attacking their rights. Again, a tough call.

In the restaurant owners shoes I think I would have gone a third route. Serve the party myself. When there is a difficult customer, or a customer that makes an employee feel uncomfortable I take over so my employee can remove themselves from the situation. I have done it many times. A customer can make an employee feel uncomfortable even when they are not actively doing something wrong at that time. I do not make my employees suffer that situation if I can step in and help. But I also don’t kick the customer out.

As a manager I feel the great responsibility of protecting my company, my customer, and my team. And sometimes that means making tough calls. There are times that I put my team first, but I do so in a way that makes it invisible to the customer as much as possible. And ideally without one of my employees posting my decisions to Social Media for all the world to see and judge.

My boss has Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

Every month the amount of people coming to the blog to find out how to deal with their BPD boss grows. For every one of you coming here to try to find out how to deal with someone that has BPD I want to hug you! Part of that may be my overly sensitive emotions and tendency towards inappropriate relationships, but more so it’s because I can see you’re going through a difficult time with someone you’re stuck with all day. That is an extremely difficult thing to deal with.

Something I mention in my first post about this topic is that you can’t change the person. That if it gets too bad then maybe look for a new job. Which is entirely unfair. I can hear the “that’s ridiculous!” and “That’s unfair!” and “Why should I be the one to change?!” screams coming through as I read my own words. And to these I respond, “yes” and “it is” and “you shouldn’t”. So why then do I leave that advice there?

The fact is we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. I’m not saying that the tough manager shouldn’t be held responsible. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions. But you can’t control your boss any more than I can control you. So then the question may come up of why their manager isn’t doing something about it. Maybe you can’t control them, but certainly their boss can hold them responsible, right? To which I argue, who says they’re not?

I recently fired someone, and ya know what? It took over a year. In a large corporation an HR department needs strong documentation of what the issue is, how it effects the team, how it effects the business, and proof that the employee has been made aware and given all necessary tools to change. If that can be proven and the changes have not been made, then the person can be let go. I was stuck in a situation where the employee did not work in the same office as me and I had to rely on others to provide feedback. If they didn’t then I had nothing to go off of. I needed proof that the employee was not improving despite the additional discussions, warnings, and trainings she had received. There were people who wondered why I wasn’t doing anything, but refused to provide feedback at the same time. I was doing site visits, asking for feedback, documenting everything possible. I was assigning training classes, following up, and more. I was stuck with a system that needed people to speak to me and people that refused to speak.

The manager of your BPD manager might be doing things that you aren’t aware of. Maybe they’re tying to document and people aren’t speaking up. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they’re in process providing new trainings and looking to see if it helps. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. We can’t assume.

So along with taking ownership of your actions, make sure to document things and speak to your bosses boss when needed. Do so tactfully and in detail. Don’t speak on mental illness, that will make things far messier. Instead speak on specific examples of things that took place. It may take time to see improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t being held responsible for their actions.

Here’s some examples of how to provide feedback:

Instead of “She just doesn’t understand boundaries” say “I stated last week that I am uncomfortable with her hugging, and yet she has continued to hug me.” Notice how the first statement is vague and could mean she walked past you too close for all we know. That will barely get a reaction from the big boss. The second statement, however, is an ethics violation and potentially sexual harassment. The person you report that to has to immediately follow up with some form of action.

Instead of “She has a bad temper” say “She began yelling at me in front of the team yesterday. I felt embarrassed and struggled to focus on my work the rest of the day.” The first statement could be her temper or your thin skin, no way for an outside party to know. The second statement is clearly her reacting poorly to a situation in a way that negatively impacted your work and employee moral. The first statement makes a manger want to say “work it out” while the second is likely to prompt a verbal warning if it’s the first documented offense or written warning if it’s been documented before.

Sometimes this still won’t make things change. I don’t know why, I’m not there. And it may still come to a point where you have to leave because the environment isn’t getting better. I get that. I’ve been there. I had a boss that had extremely high turnover and had a way of making her boss believe that it was because she had developed them for great things, when everyone who worked for her knew it’s because we’re all trying to get away from her. I attempted to provide feedback, my manager knew I might so never had anything in email. It was my word against hers and hers always won. I tried to switch teams and was told that I needed to learn how to work with others, and would not be allowed to work for anyone else. Meanwhile this boss was treating me and many others horribly. I left the company. They lost my skills and experience because of her. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Last I heard from a previous coworker, her relationship with her boss doesn’t seem to be quite the same. She’s not on such a high pedestal, she’s not getting to run her team however she wants anymore, and her work is being more closely monitored. Enough people provided enough similar, and constructive, feedback that it’s finally being looked into. But not until after I had to get out.

Also keep in mind the potential for your boss to change. I recently called an employee “sweetie”. A habit of mine outside the office that accidentally slipped at the office. He reported it to my boss who mentioned it to me. Not only am I being more careful what I say to him, I am more careful what I say in general. I need to change to ensure my team feels comfortable at work. Whether the change is before or after an employee leaves, it is possible.

I’m wishing you all the best in your career! Please remember that things can get better and less stressful even if it requires tough choices to be made.

Let’s cut off half that compliment, thanks

“You’re doing so well considering all you’re going through!” I’m hearing that non-stop at my new office. I’m trying to take the compliment but it’s frustrating. Am I really doing well? Or am I doing only ok but getting more credit since I’ve got life junk going on?

Part of my problem is that I entered this job with imposter syndrome in full force. I kept hearing “I’m so glad you’re here!” And “you’re exactly what we need!” And “we’ve been counting down the days until you could start!” all through my first couple of days. That’s a pretty high expectation to walk into. So my brain kept wondering how long before they realize I’m a fake, that I’m not good enough, that they made a huge mistake on me.

As the compliments grow, so do my doubts. Which means they try to praise me for doing great things in spite of the insanity of my life I hear only that they’re making excuses for me not doing all that great. The nasty voice in my head should leave me alone. And I hope eventually people will cut off the “considering” part of their compliments.

I’m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

You’re asking me?

I rarely feel like I’ve got my shit together. Most of the time I see the shit and no togetherness whatsoever. Yet at work I’m fairly good at faking it, you have to be as a manager. So this morning one of our newer employees began asking me at what point does a job become a career. Wow, now that is a tough question to be greeted with before the second cup of coffee!

We chatted for a bit and it turns out he is at a point in his school that he has to choose a major and he’s second (and third, and fourth) guessing himself. I explained that that is entirely understandable. I changed majors 3 times before finally completing school (less than a year ago, and more than a decade older than he is). I explained that to me a career is about having growth opportunity. It’s about knowing that there is a path and you’re not stuck. That maybe job vs career means something different to others, but that’s what I needed for me.

It was not what he was expecting to hear and seemed to really make him think. I asked what he did and didn’t like about his work. What he did and didn’t like about his current classes. And then gave him a few things to consider where studying through that path left options open as he fine tuned his skills and desires. But I think what he needs to know more than anything, and what I failed to properly explain today, is that no matter what he’s very likely to succeed. I’ve seen how fast he learns at the office, how calm he is regardless of situation, and how he actively works with his team. As long as he keeps this dedication and work ethic nothing will hold him down.

So to everyone wondering the same thing please remember that your wonderings prove desire and dedication. Your thoughtfulness on these questions shows determination and intelligence. And that is what will bring you far in your career, more so than anything else.

Oh, and one more thing to remember. That manager in the office who you think has her shit together so can answer these questions and help guide you, yeah she’s lost too. You’re not alone in your fear and confusion. But I guess that means I’m not alone either.

Questions about your boss with BPD?

From day one the most common search term for this site has been “my boss has borderline personality disorder.” That hasn’t changed. In fact it’s become even more frequent. I spoke on this once before, but am not sure it actually answers anything you want to know. If you are coming to this blog trying to figure out how to work with a boss who may have BPD please feel free to post a question in the comments section. I will do my best to answer.

Failed them again

It was supposed to be family movie night. I would come home from work, we’d snuggle on the couch, drink some hot cocoa, and watch Cars 3. But I got to work and all plans left my mind. While I focused on the mountains of paperwork and hours of analysis and data entry, my husband went to the Thanksgiving event at the kids school. While I struggled to help my team balance work and make realistic goals to avoid unnecessary stress, my husband helped the kids with their homework, encouraging them as they continue to learn. And as the work day came to a close, I stayed. Forgetting movie night, I sat at work to try to get stuff done. I felt so far behind and wanted a chance to catch up. Until an hour before bedtime when my husband called and asked “aren’t you coming home?” “Yeah, just finishing up a couple more items.” “What about the movie? The kids have been watching for you to come home so we can start.”

I failed my family. I prioritized wrong and missed a chance to snuggle my kids. I got home and they were so sad because it was too late to watch the movie. I apologized, they wandered off to play a little before bed but still with these sad faces. A couple minutes later I heard giggles. Went to see what cheered them up so fast. They were playing with Daddy. My husband to the rescue, again.

I love that they are so close to their Daddy, and that my husband is always there for them. But I feel like such a failure as a mother. Tonight I felt that terribly. I still do. How can my work become so important that I lose sight of spending time with the kids? Will I ever have a chance to prove I can be there for them? Or will Daddy always be the one they need?