The cost of ennui, part 2

You have to constantly polish the rock.

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Shortly after I wrote about my decision to take a “grass is just as green here” approach to my job, the grass actually got greener.  I went to the home office to host a day long workshop for the project I was kicking off, and used the rest of the week to catch up and network with folks at the home office.  During those meetings, I worked out that I would be transferred to a new manager in our organization.  While my initial meeting with her was promising (she asked about my strengths and what types of jobs I liked doing), I remember a co-worker from a few years ago that quit because of her.  I was understandably nervous and talked to a few other people who report to her to get a feel for the change.  Her direct reports said great things, but did say it would take some getting used to.

In the weeks that followed, I had many project meetings with my new manager  for her to learn what I am currently doing, and for her to give me her expectations to incorporate into my projects.  The surprising part was that she would take time out of her day to teach me things that I didn’t know (I’m not a data analyst, so I only know  Excel through googling) and actually coach me on what I should be doing.  Shortly after I was officially moved to the new manager, the manager to whom I unofficially reported (dotted line) announced that she was leaving the company.  My new manager and I worked together to scope both my role and my previous dotted line manager’s role.  Since the open role was 2 steps above my current role, we scoped the 2 roles for equal scope one step up.  I was encouraged to put the things I liked to do into a single role, where it made sense – basically creating my next job.

Fantastic things, right?  Then I had to apply and interview for my job.  *screeching halt*  I have never been good at interviews.  It took me 3 years to go from the call center floor to a management position, where it took people with the same skills only 18 months.  I was qualified at that time I just couldn’t convey those qualifications during an interview.  One of my Area Sales Managers called me a diamond in the rough, but he was never able to polish the rough edges enough.  The only way I made it into management was by volunteering to become a “floating coach” during one Q4, and sacrificing the best sales time of the year to be a faux manager.  I outperformed other managers, even with the added responsibility of training queues and ops projects, and I still wasn’t promoted.  I spent another 4 months back on the phones hiding all the bitter thoughts.  Finally a mentor sat me down and walked me though step-by-step what I needed to say during an interview.

Since then most of the interview scenarios I have been in have been mid level career conversations about the actual job and the fit for the organization.  I can easily relate my experience and training or education in an interview.  When I moved out of sales, I was most concerned with what the job entailed and what I would be doing to make sure it was a good fit.  My interviewers were most concerned that my personality was a good fit for the department, as the tools could be taught.  I’m sure there was some skills based stuff in there somewhere, since most of what I did in that role was interpersonal skills based, but it played to my strengths so much so that I don’t remember any actual questions asking about skills.  I remember everyone being especially pleased that I was able to ramp into my job so quickly, and I remember thinking it was super easy stuff.

I have been in various positions in that organization or the last 9 years now.  I haven’t had to officially interview for a role in all this time, and have moved into new roles through career conversations during re-orgs.  I thought this interview would be similar.  I had already had so many discussions with my boss about the role, that it would just be an informal interview.  I got dressed up for the official video portion of it, as I am a remote employee and not interviewing in person.  I was mentored over 10 years ago that the way to “win” in an interview was to tell your experience story; all the questions relate back to why you already have the skills/experience/education to get the job done.  This interview was on the next level – questions about what my plans were for the role and how I would accomplish them or why I was better than another unnamed candidate.

Y’all, I didn’t do well at all.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  I tend to falter when I have to “sell myself” or relate to competencies.  I’m not good at tooting my own horn, even when I know that’s what’s expected of me.  That’s when the impostor syndrome comes out in full force.  It was my own boss interviewing me and she even tried to guide me to the type of answers she was expecting.  Thankfully, she ended the interview a bit early and set my expectations on what the job would require from me to see if I actually wanted the job.  It will demand a shift from tactical thinking into strategic thinking, which will she thinks will be painful.  It may be, but even if I have to see all the trees in order to see the forest, I think I can do it.  She coached me through the expectations for the next interview, and I revamped my resume to meet the expectations.  Also, I’m thankful that the director of the organization that I’ll be responsible for working with sent in a glowing review.

I had some stiff competition.  My director has a better relationship with the other top contender.  My boss went to bat for me, and convinced the director I was a better choice due to my experience and relationship with the other director and her team.  I got the role, and the eventual plan is to back-fill my current role with my top contender (who I really do like and is a great colleague).  I knew the week before the Christmas holiday and my goal for the end of the year was to prep material for both my old role and my new one.  There is some HR stuff we have to work out this month, and until that is sorted, I have both roles.  Not a bad thing, since it’ll be my job to train my colleague anyway.  I should know sometime this month what my salary will be, and I’m hoping for the bump to consider the additional acronyms I’ve acquired behind my name since my last promotion.

So, that’s been the reason for my absence the last month or so.  Work is quite literally kicking my ass, but at least it’s in a positive direction.  I’ll have to rethink my post commitment.  I still want to be accountable to writing, but I don’t feel like once a week is sustainable even on the average.  I’m going to reduce to twice a month.  I’m super excited about the opportunities this career move opens up for me, though.  Most of all, I feel like I’m no longer wasting those new acronyms.

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