Monday, October 4, 2010

Breaking Up is Hard to Do...

Today was probably one of the most draining days I've had at work in a long, long time. It wasn't supposed to be draining. Today was supposed to be a happy day. You see, I decided after less consideration than I probably ought to have given it to quit my job and take the other one that I have now officially been offered.

I walked into the office this morning. I was feeling a little nervous about telling my boss but lighthearted about the fact that after months of complaining and stressing about this job, I had finally found a way out and it looks to be a positive change.

When I got to my desk, I typed out a short, polite generic resignation letter indicating that I was giving two weeks notice as of today. I know not to put too much in writing when it comes to letters like that. The less said, the better. If they want to know why, they can do an exit interview.

By the time my boss came in, I had decided to give him a fifteen minute settling in period before I gave him my news and my letter. All went as planned. Then I went in, shut the door to his office and told him I was leaving.

It turns out that contrary to my belief that he had wind of me job seeking, he had absolutely no clue. I had blindsided him. His jaw literally looked like it dropped to his desk and for a minute, I felt like I'd kicked a puppy.

He didn't know what to say. Shock was involved. Then speechlessness and then, finally, in a slightly less confident voice than I'm used to from him, I heard him say, "I don't understand. Is it something I did?"

This is not what I expected at all. I tried to give him some of the more general reasons but I outlined why I was accepting this other job and why I was giving my notice. It wasn't good enough. It was rather a painful experience. He finally looked at me and said, "If I can come up with a better position for you here, would you consider staying?"

I knew most likely nothing was going to change my mind but he seemed...desperate. So I told him I'd definitely consider it.

What followed was a stressful morning. He instant messaged me. He called me into his office for another painfully awkward conversation. He dashed off to speak with his boss- our company president who has also resigned- and then I got an email outlining a new position and the responsibilities.

I knew as soon as I saw the email that I wasn't staying. Truth be told, my reasons for leaving are as much due to the politics and environment of the office as they are with me being bored at my job. I had told my boss that one of the reasons I was resigning is because I needed more responsibility, more control over my own work. The job description he cobbled together was a desperate attempt to appeal to that area of my request.

I spent the afternoon being almost angry with him. I've worked for him for a year and a half. I met with him no less than four times to tell him I wanted more to do. I met with our company president and told him the same. Finally, I talked to our incoming company president with the same request. Nothing. I've spent months of feeling like I'm useless at my job because I get no feedback. I watch my coworker get rewarded with projects, a Mac laptop and whatever software she needs while I sit and have to download free versions of software on my old Windows desktop.

Then, I finally quit my job and suddenly, I'm irreplaceable. I'm invaluable. I'm necessary.

I was annoyed. I had hoped my boss would express regret that I was leaving but graciously accept my decision. Instead, I spent the day feeling guilty and dishonourable because I'd let him down.

In all honesty, it felt like a rather bad breakup. I've had those before. One in particular was with a rather nice man who I liked a lot but I was too young to settle and so knowing it wasn't going to go anywhere, I broke up with him. He had no idea it was coming. He was upset. He begged me to change my mind. He asked what he'd done wrong and what he could do to fix it. I felt horrible because he was so broken.

My boss was like that today only it was the 'professional' version of a breakup. I quit my job. He doesn't understand. He wants me to give it another go because it might work out.

Finally, late in the afternoon, I was summoned to our outgoing president's office. My heart sank. My head was already pounding from the stress of dealing with my bosses attempts to awkwardly communicate. Nevertheless, I trudged down to his office, waiting for yet another promise of improvement and fulfillment of my professional needs.

To my intense pleasure, it turned out to be a great conversation. Having resigned himself, our president understood that my decision wasn't just due to job dissatisfaction. He understood how stressful it's been to have entered a company during a time of turmoil- being sold, being merged, moving, being renamed, etc. He understood my need to get away from an office where, while I like most of the staff, the cliques, gossip and favouritism was too much for me. He understood that, sometimes, you just know when it's time to move on.

I felt much better when I was done talking to him. So much better that I went straight to my bosses office and told him the decision was final and that, while I enjoyed working for him, it was time for me to make a change.

He took it...ok. He was clearly surprised I didn't cave to his counteroffer but I think he knew he'd lost before that really.

I feel right about my decision. A wise friend of mine, Ms. P who is down in Texas, compared my job situation to one of my favourite Christmas movies- "The Holiday." It's a romantic comedy about two women who swap houses and find love. Specifically, she compared me to Kate Winslet's character who has been in love with a man for years. She's done everything for him, tried to make him love her but she was just a square peg trying to fit in a round hole and he can't appreciate her for the great woman she is. She leaves him and he finally realizes what he's lost yet our heroine, Ms. Winslet, realizes she deserves better than that and leaves him for good.

In this case, my situation isn't a man but a job. I've tried for two years to fit into the company. I've worked hard. I've done everything I can to be a good employee and yet I've felt as though I'm stuck in my cupboard under the stairs, underappreciated and invisible. Then, when I finally decide to leave and move on with my life, the company realizes what it's losing and begs me to stay.

Well, like Kate Winslet's character in that film, I think I finally found the gumption to move on with my life. I'm not sure what the future holds but I have a strong feeling it's going to be better. If nothing else it's a new opportunity.

I never thought I'd say it but I'd like to thank the Most Optimistic Bathroom in the World for dispensing some wise advice: "Live for Today for your Life is Now."

Of course, my guess is that when our CEO picked out those signs, she didn't intend them to inspire us to quit our jobs.

Ah well. The deed is done.

Happy Tuesday (and thanks for reading!)

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