29 Jul A Lot of Us Have Been Bob 😥
I received an outpouring of responses from last week’s episode about Bob getting stabbed in the back by his boss, Rick. Sadly, a lot of us have been Bob and have had at least one (often more than one) horrible experience like that at the hands of either a terrible boss, toxic company, scheming colleague, or some combo of all of the above.
✔️ One of my coaching clients asked me if I had any Bob experiences and yes, I do. I recount a couple of them in this episode.
✔️ There are signs that the times are changing, though more needs to be done. The days of companies being able to treat people like garbage with no repercussions and no accountability are coming to an end.
✔️ The Devil Wears Prada turned 15 this year. Yet the Miranda Priestly-es of the world are still in Corporate America, make no mistake about it. More women are rebelling against mantras of “lean in” and “girlboss” yet managers from hell are by no means a thing of the past. Or a thing purely of fiction.
✔️ The old school notion of success having to be the corner office with a fancy title is obsolete. Ya know, kinda like how the idea of a corporation giving its retirees a pension, full benefits, and a gold watch no longer exists. We can debate whether that dream died with the Enron scandal, but we know now that it’s gone. The onus is on you to look out for yourself and not swear fealty to a corporation.
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please excuse any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Fair warning, I am having to record this episode on the fly. So if there are periods of time where it sounds like I’m up walking around, I’m in some kind of motion. Or if it sounds like I’m in a wind tunnel, you’re not far off. So we are having a heatwave, the dog days of summer have rolled in where I’m at, and they are freaking brutal. And my air conditioner unit died. So as I wait for the repairman to come out and replace the unit, I am having to do everything that I can to not die of heatstroke. So if it sounds like I’m recording this episode from the middle of a jet engine, it is in fact just a cacophony of fans like as many fans as one human can run at one possible time. So it is what it is. I received an absolute outpouring of responses to the last episode about Bob and Rick and how Bob was unceremoniously stabbed in the back. And Rick apparently had no remorse for what he did. It’s unfortunate because so many of us have those stories. I wish that it had been an episode about something pleasant, and it was an outpouring of support due to people that had awesome stories to tell. But it seems we all have our own horror stories, our own experiences of a boss from hell and unethical company promises that weren’t kept. And I think it’s interesting because the tide is really turning. If you pay attention on social media, there are so many sites now dedicated to exposing the bad practices of companies and asinine processes that people had to go through in the name of getting a job. You know, I remember one time, I had someone that wanted me to go on their website, I was in the process of a telephone interview. And the woman asked me if I was near a computer, I said, Yes. And you back in that day, it was considered really bad protocol to have any sort of distractions going on. But she said, I want you to go to our website. And I want to know that you’re there by hearing you recite our company values. Not long ago, I saw a post on Instagram where a woman was like, I don’t know, who are Why should have to memorize the company’s core values when the company doesn’t even own up or live by their own core values. And I’m like, Yeah, hello. So it does my heart good to see people standing up and getting a backbone and saying, no, we’re not going to go through eight interviews. I’m not going to copy paste my resume into your ATS system, like your ATS system should be able to parse it. There’s no reason for me to do all of this work twice to apply for an $11 an hour job. It’s freaking ridiculous. So yeah, power to the people. One of my coaching clients listened to that episode. And she asked me if I had any experiences of a Bob and Rick variety for my own career. And I wanted to say, yeah, how much time do you have, we could be here all day, if I wanted to talk about it. A couple of examples that I will offer up– Obviously, I’m not going to mention any names not going to get into identifying any of the companies. I’m just going to tell you the story of what happened from my perspective. There was a company that I had worked for for several years, and I really liked it. It felt like home to me. I had an awesome boss. And her boss was also awesome, which helped. We were not buried under layer upon layer of bureaucracy with people that didn’t know who we were didn’t care. It was very cool. I really enjoyed working there and had great co workers to a lot of the horror stories about backstabbing, co workers from hell really did not apply at that particular place. And that’s one of the reasons why it felt like home to me. I was never persecuted for being an introvert. Nobody ever made me feel lesser than or took offense to my declarations of social events. Plus, I had a long commute and people also understood that too. They knew that at the end of the day, often after I had worked overtime, I wanted to go home No I didn’t want to go to Billy Bob’s barbecue. I didn’t want to go to Sally Sue’s Pool Party on the weekends. I just wanted to go home and that was very well respected, you know, later on down the line when when I got into more sales type of roles, the dynamics changed. But at that point being an introvert was not seen as this heinous offense. And I really enjoyed working at this company. Anytime I had the opportunity to learn something new, I always said yes. And as a result, the scope of work for things that I was capable of doing, just continue to grow and grow, and I would get pay bumps, I would get merit raises as well as cost of living increases. I mean, they, they weren’t stingy in that regard. Now, I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that I got massive raises, I would just sort of continually get little, little small bumps. But I never really got a significant title bump. And I also never got my own office. And those things were starting to wear on me, there were days when I would begin to feel like a second class citizen. And I also felt like there was just no upward mobility, you know, I was always looking at, at my boss, and then her boss and the the ownership above that level of management and thinking, where’s there really to go? Well, a situation occurred not going to get into the specifics of what happened, but a situation occurred, where it presented a clear and obvious opportunity for me to move up, finally, and I was like, Bob, I thought that my ship had come in, I thought, all right, I was feeling restless, I was thinking that maybe I would have to leave even though I didn’t really want to. And then this set of circumstances occurred. And it just was so clear that I was the heir apparent, I was the person who needed to move into the role. And my boss, as well as her boss went to bat for me to the ownership and said, this is a very clear opportunity for Sarah to move up in the company, this, this would be the time if you pass her over on this one, she is going to get frustrated. At some point, she’s going to start to prize upward mobility and moving up with her career over loyalty to this company like this is an opportunity for you to really reward her hard work and move her up do right by her in this situation. And ownership chose not to and for me, it really felt like a slap in the face. And my boss and I had a conversation one afternoon about everything that had played out. And I told her I can’t you know, I can’t stay here after this. It’s like being weighed, measured and stamped unworthy. I’m not I’m not going to promote you, you’re not good enough. And I there’s no way that I could stay here after this. And she nodded her head and agreed with me and said yes, you would have to have the word doormat, stamped on your forehead if you stayed here after this. So I completely understand why you want to leave. And I will support you in your quest to look for something different because you are getting the short end of the stick. And I found out later that the ownership of a company had said Sara wear so many hats, and she does so many things that we would actually have to hire for different people to replace her if she left. And my boss and her boss said that’s going to happen anyway. If you don’t promote her, you don’t do right by her, then she’s going to leave and you’re going to have to hire those four people anyway. So you may as well do the right thing by a loyal employee instead of trying to, you know, squeeze an extra dime out. That’s ridiculous. But ownership decided that they would rather be cheap than do the right thing. And I can talk about it now kind of detached and dispassionate. Because it’s been years ago, I made my peace with what happened and I moved on. But at the time, Yod hurt like hell and it’s smart. And quite frankly, it felt like I didn’t really want to leave. I had not emotionally all the way made peace with the fact that I needed to leave. But yet, on some level, I knew from a perspective of self worth and self confidence that I had to go. And after I left that job, that was actually when I had the 30 day gap. And I took the temp assignment that I was talking about in the last episode of the podcast where I was just counting down the days. And looking back on it. One of the things that wore on me during that temp assignment is I was waiting for the next full time permanent job to get started. I would think to myself like I wish this wasn’t even happening. I wish that this had never even been made necessary. And any time my phone rang I always sort of, you know like my my breath would catch in my lungs a little bit and I would hope that it was this previous employer calling me back I kept thinking maybe they’ll come to their senses. There’s still time you know, I haven’t started the next full time position. I’m on a temp assignment right now just to make ends meet like you know hello this would kind of be the perfect time to step up to the plate and do the right thing. You can’t call me back, say, you know what we screwed up, we shouldn’t have let you go, that was wrong. Come back, we’ll give you a pay raise, we’ll give you the opportunity to do what you should have been doing before. But that phone call never came. And I just remember, like, each day that went by that I realized, like, yeah, I’m going from that place, and I’m not going back. And apparently, they just don’t give a damn. You know, I really at that point did have to go through the grieving process. And I had to just own up to the fact that my fantasy of having this super long term career there wasn’t going to happen. And it was painful, it was really painful. Later on in my career, I had another gut punch situation, it was not as severe as what Bob went through with Rick, I did not go nearly as far down the primrose path as Bob did with Rick, but it was definitely the type of situation like this is when this is the moment when you can look back on a situation and go Yep, that is exactly precisely the moment when all the wind came out of my sails. So I had been working at this company for several years. And it was performance evaluation time, I sat down with my manager and I had a good evaluation, my performance was good, no complaints with that. Of course, by this point in my career, I was in a different line of work. And so there was always a sort of stigma around my introversion and the fact that I just flat out refuse to play the social climbing game. As I said before, like, No, I’m not going to Billy Bob’s barbecue or Sally Sue’s Pool Party, I’m not going to, you know, at that, at that point in time, I had a long commute, and I was already involved in agriculture. So my mornings were so early, I mean, Good Lord, if you have ever participated in farming, then you understand, you have to get up before the chickens before the rooster crows before daylight you are up and out of that bed doing what you need to do to take care of your animals. So it’s like, No, I’m not going to go to your power breakfast, I’m not going to, you know, I’m already getting up at four in the damn morning, I’m not going to get up at 2am to get everything done just so I can show up dressed to the nines at some networking breakfast. So that was always held against me, even if it wasn’t articulated in such a blunt to the point kind of way, it was always there lurking in the background like Harvey, the rabbit, you know, like, hey, you’re an introvert and you don’t play the social climbing game. So ya know, there’s only going to be so far you can go in our industry. So I’m sitting at this performance evaluation and things are going surprisingly well. And again, hindsight 2020 I think back on it now. And I’m like, yeah, it was almost too good. It was almost like, you know, the setting up for something to happen. And my manager pulls the Rick, you know, closes and closes the old door and is like, well, now I wanted to let you know that my my time here at some point is going to come to an end, I’m trying to decide if I want to semi retire if I want to transition to a different role within the company, or if I’m just done if I want to go on full, full retirement, but you know, I’m not going to be here forever. And my boss wanted me to ask you. And it was it was just like that it was like the the volume suddenly got low, like my boss wanted me to ask you, if you might be interested in taking my position, when I do leave whether I transition into another role in the company, or whether I full on retire. I mean, I know that you’re an introvert. And I know that maybe people management isn’t necessarily what you want to do. But, you know, it means something to the both of us, for me to at least present you with the question? Is that something that you would consider? And I’m sitting there like, would it was like the scene in the movie where the record skips and everybody turns to look at some action that’s taken place. I was genuinely shocked. And I said, Yes, I would definitely consider it. There are things that I would need to be trained on. I wouldn’t want to take a job like that if it was just me being thrown to the wolves and saying, All right, good luck. See ya. I would want there to be some kind of transition period, so that I can really learn and understand more of what you do. I mean, the things that I already know how to do, that’s great. But I know there are a variety of things that you do in your job that I don’t, I don’t have I’m not privy to I don’t even know what some of those things are. And the manager said, Oh, yes, of course, you know, there would be no throwing to the wolves, there would be no sudden abrupt departure. This would be very much a transition that would happen over the course of multiple months. Definitely no throwing anybody to the wolves. So I’ve walked out of that evaluation like, yes, this is great, because I felt at that company that I always had upward mobility in terms of my income. But in terms of like getting a tie a real title bump or an office or anything like that, Hell no, I just didn’t even think that was possible. And like, the Bob and Rick situation, I was sworn to secrecy, hey, this is not common knowledge yet. None of this has been set in stone, it has not been formalized. So don’t tell anybody. We don’t want to start making announcements prematurely or causing any kind of dissension in the ranks. Just, you know, keep your mouth closed about it. And let’s get something organized and formalized first. Yep, no problem. I said, Not a word to anybody. I kept it to myself. And I really started thinking, and I look back on it now. And part of me is like, Oh, you were kind of foolish. But, you know, at the time, I had so much exuberance about it. And I still had some youthful idealism. I still have idealism. Don’t get me wrong, but I just I’ve been able to temper temper that out with some necessary cynicism knew sort of wash the naivete off the idealism and really look at it through a lens of is this realistic thinking or is it pie in the sky, but I had like a notepad. And I would would write down inspiration and things that I really felt like could make that department better ways that we could operate leaner things that I knew we were being made to do that were absolutely ridiculous. They weren’t making anybody any money. I had some real ideas, man, I was excited. So I’m gonna say it was maybe two or three months later, there was another person in the department who was a total blabber mouth. And this person was, I think, also very insecure. And I think one of the reasons I will just call this person Sam, not going to say gender or anything identifying just going to call this person, Sam, I believe that Sam was insecure. And that is one of the reasons why Sam wanted to blab all the time, very much the type of individual that puffs the chest out and wants to act like a big deal to everybody all the time like. And Sam was going around, not quietly, not discreetly, making mention that our manager had said all of the same things to Sam minus the bit about Hey, I know you’re an introvert because Sam sure as hell was not an introvert, minus the introvert bit. Sam had had been told all the same things by our manager that the manager told me Oh, Sam was the heir apparent and the managers boss wanted us to wanted to know who was interested. And so it was know me being the heir apparent, as we all started comparing notes. Now I didn’t dive in, I just sat back and remained quiet. But as it turned out, everybody in the department had been told the same thing they had been asked the same question they had been given the same speech they had been, all of us had been told that we were the heir apparent so that when this manager retired, we would be Oh, the angel on high. So when the lens of questioning made it in my direction, and my colleagues were like, Well, did you get asked the same thing? Did you get the same speech? I was like, Yeah, I mean, kinda, but you guys know, I’m not interested in anything like that. I show up, I do my job, I make the money. And then I leave, I’m not interested in anything management related. I could have won an Academy Award for the performance that I gave that day. So I just sort of brush it off like and, you know, no big deal. And then when I got into my car to leave to go home, I felt like Jack Woltz in The Godfather, you know, that part where he’s like, wigging out in front of Tom Hagen. And he’s like, a man in my position cannot be made to look ridiculous! That’s how I felt, hand to God. I had like a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel, and I’m like, I have been made into a fool. I sat there and bought every word that I was told hook, line and sinker. I started this notebook of all these improvements that I was going to make. I let myself get all carried away in this fantasy and that’s all it freaking was. It was a fantasy. And if you think that my Bob and Rick story, can’t get any more salt in the wound, just wait, there’s more. So a couple of days after that, after the little roundtable Inquisition, where it was determined that everybody had been given the same spiel. I had gone to the office coffee pot to get a cup of coffee and I overheard two people talking loudly. They were not whispering and I was not eavesdropping. I did not make any I didn’t skulk in, or you know, or like tiptoe. I was just very, you know, normal going into this area to get a cup of coffee. And these two people were talking again, not whispering, they were talking pretty flagrantly, to one another, about how someone else had already been hired to take that manager’s position. So any discussion of anybody else within the department was pointless it was it was a moot point because somebody else had already been hired from outside the company. And this individual was somebody who was known to those of us in the department and was universally reviled my dyad. So it was like, not only were all of us played for chumps, but the person coming in to take that manager spot went, when the time came that that manager was going to retire with somebody that we all freaking hated. We all knew who that heir apparent was, and we were like, Oh, no. And it, it very rapidly devolved into Mutiny on the Bounty. I mean, we were all so mad. So it’s not just I guess, my personal story of feeling foolish and feeling like I was in a situation like Bob and Rick, but I mean, anybody who is in the department at that time, I’m sure felt that way. It was like we all got played for fools. And the only thing that I can think is, it was the old carrot and the stick, it was false hope it was, you know, we’ll we’ll keep you here. We don’t want there to be a mutiny. We don’t want everybody to find out that we’re hiring john doe, who everybody in the department hates to come in and be your new boss, we want you to stick it out, we want you to stay. So we’re going to give you false hope that you are in fact going to be the next manager when is just a bald faced lie. And I will tell you very candidly, one of the things that I love about entrepreneurship, and freelancing is that I don’t have to deal with that kind of nonsense, because that’s all it is. It is silly, nonsense, jumping through hoops and trying to impress the boss and trying to be a kiss up. And oh, what if I say the wrong thing, what if I wear the wrong thing, you know, it’s all gonna lead somewhere it this is all going to be worth it when my ship comes in. I am so glad to be out of that world. Of course, doing consulting and freelancing work has its pros and cons to mean at any point in time, when you’re doing 1099 work, the well can run dry, I mean, obviously, we always want to do things from a business development and marketing standpoint, to avoid the well running dry. But in the back of your mind, you know, it’s a possibility, you have to really be fiscally responsible, and make sure that you’re managing your finances both personally and professionally, to a tee. But my God, I would rather take those types of problems and those types of responsibilities over the sheer bs that I dealt with in corporate America, any day of the week, I just do not miss it at all. And in seeing how many downloads, last week’s episode received, and reading the DMs and the emails that I got from people saying, I have been bought, I have been shanked in the back or I have been played for a fool by somebody like Rick. Sadly, so many of us out there have those stories. It’s not an isolated event. It’s not something that only happens once in a blue moon to one or two people. It’s something that that it just has to be happening all the time. Which is so sad to me and so unnecessary. I read an article recently in Harper’s Bazaar. And I was led to it in kind of a funny roundabout way because one of the movie channels that I get has been showing, The Devil Wears Prada, basically every day for the past month. And I think at various times of channel surfing, I have caught different pieces of the movie. I think probably I’ve collectively watched the movie three times, but just in bits and pieces as it’s been on this movie channel. And I was like wonder why they’re showing this movie like every day? Well, I read that it was because the movie was having an anniversary. It doesn’t seem possible. But the Devil Wears Prada is now 15 years old. And I’m sitting here going oh my god, like I remember getting together with my best friend and going to see that movie in the theater definitely doesn’t seem like it’s been 15 years ago. The title of this article in Harper’s Bazaar is The Devil Wears Prada and the myth of the one and only big break in the byline is the iconic film reflects a bygone era that glamorized hustle culture and laid the groundwork for the girl boss archetype. Oh, how I wish it was a bygone era. But I will tell you, just like the stories that I’ve relayed just like the story of Bob and Rick, and just like the stories that you guys have sent to me about how many of you have been steamrolled, stabbed in the back played for a fool, etc. Like, it’s not a bygone era. And that’s one of the things that I wanted to say in this episode is, there’s still hustle culture, even though people are calling it out on social media, and they’re ripping on these companies that want you to go through a stupid application process that’s frankly, degrading, there’s still work to be done. There’s still this pressure of meaning in that women are supposed to be all things to all people all the time, you’re supposed to be involved in the community and on the PTA and active in your church or religious organization and Superwoman at home to the kids. And then you’re supposed to take on everything in the world at work, too. And it’s like, Hello, we’re human to there’s only so many hours in the day. And I want to read a paragraph from this article in Harper’s Bazaar. These films laid the groundwork for the girl boss archetype that would go on to dominate the discourse surrounding women and the workplace. Over the last decade, they tried to sell a modern version of the driven headstrong career woman who will do just about anything to establish her professional credibility. It was an attempt at crafting a 21st century Mary Tyler Moore. If you say yes to everything, and everyone, and you lean in with relentless enthusiasm and devotion for your job, you too can be rewarded with a corner office, a fancy title and the admiration of your peers. Never mind that it will cost you your sanity. And quote, you may have heard me say before that when I got to the point in my career, where I had the corner office and the fancy title, I looked out the window of said corner office and thought, God, this feels really hollow. You know, this is what society tells me, especially generationally speaking, right? I’m a Gen Xer, this is what you were taught by your baby boomer parents to want, you’re supposed to want the title, you’re supposed to want the corner office, you’re supposed to want the respect of your boss and your peers. Like this is what it’s all been for your schooling and your college years and eating dirt at at jobs where you were treated like dirt, it’s all leading to this, oh, the corner office. I sat in that corner office, which was huge, by the way. And I looked out the window and I thought, yeah, no, this this feels like a Pyrrhic victory do not like do not want. And so when I’m sitting now in my home office, looking outside the window, cows grazing out in the pasture, that’s way more rewarding and peaceful and tranquil to me than sitting in a corner office in some high rise building. I know now I’m old enough, I really understand why George Washington said I would rather be on my farm than the emperor of the whole world. It’s really true. The article goes on to say 15 years after the Devil Wears Prada, the girl boss backlash is in full swing. The term itself is now considered passe. It’s been rendered obsolete, perhaps by overuse and by sheer cynicism, and what a girl boss is supposed to even be. More often than not the images of so called girl bosses thrust into the spotlight were that of white women. Its linear vision of corporate success that is to be white, conventionally attractive, and generally privileged to begin with, doesn’t hold up in growing critiques against capitalism today, or the toxic work environments that girl bosses went on to create. And quote, just my two cents here, as dennis miller would always say, it’s only my opinion, I could be wrong. I think there needs to be a backlash against more than just the girl boss archetype. This idea of somebody like Miranda priestly, who has a town house and a fancy car and works at this prestigious job and treats people like dirt and is allowed to get away with it. Okay, there needs to be a backlash against more than just that. It’s like the post on social media that I told you about towards the beginning of this episode. Like why should I recite your core values when the company doesn’t even abide by them? itself? I think we need to see more people standing up against the Bob and Rick situations being led down a primrose path having somebody tell you, okay, this is a big hairy secret and you’ll you’ll lose out on the promotion. If you tell anybody. I mean, isn’t that highly suspicious to begin with? Like, who who in the hell does that? Why Why would it need to be kept a big secret if it’s actually going to happen? I mean, just things that make you ponder filling out application questions that take forever when You really should just be able to submit your resume mean things that are making people feel like cogs in the machine, rather than human beings, quite frankly deserve to be rebelled against. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you haven’t already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.