Practice what you preach

This blog is all about leading, and creating a safe space to be transparent with those we work for and with, and creating effective organizational culture.  Well, full disclosure, I have not been great with practicing what I preach in one area of my job.  Don’t worry, all is not lost.  Last week I found myself so angry about a specific instance at work that I finally threw my hands up and decided to get real with one of my supervisors.  I am still alive to tell the tale, so let me break it down for you.

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When I first started at my job, I went from being an office of one, to having responsibility over four departments and roughly 12 people.  I was without a supervisor, mingling with a group of academics who really didn’t respect me, but did what I said because I had the backing of the Dean.  This was a tricky place for a girl with just a bachelor’s degree and specific experience in higher education.  But, I worked hard and made decisions when nobody else would, and slowly started to build a rapport with these high achieving scientists.

Everything was going along swimmingly, until I had patched all the holes left from previous administrators, and started to really dive into the operations.  Recall, I did not have any formal training, so I just did what I thought was right.  I addressed burn-out, ensured people were paid appropriately, and started to develop procedures.  Some of these items were not appreciated by the academics, who were used to having people at their beck and call, so once again I was on the outs.  Literally cannot win.

I have been struggling with the conflict between what is right for my now team, versus what the expectations are of the people they formally reported to for two years.  It is the single most frustrating part about my job.  Last week, I went to one of my now new supervisors seeking help and guidance.  I have exhausted every other avenue I could think of, now it was time for me to get the help I need to remedy this situation.

She was very understanding and had a lot to offer in terms of potential solutions.  I confided that this was a key contributor to my stress at work and we discussed strategies for mitigating that.  Though we don’t typically see eye to eye, I was grateful for her counsel and willingness to really hear where I was coming from.

The point here is that if I am going to be a safe place for things like this with my team, then I need to trust that others are there for me in the same way.  I was humbled by our conversation, and was kicking myself a bit for not approaching her sooner.  We are all just here trying to figure this out, and if we are able to approach conflict in this cooperative manner more often, the better our organizations will be for it.

Do you have an open door policy with your teams?  I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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Danielle Eaton

Administrator champion who believes strongly in advocating for those who are doing the behind the scenes work to accomplish great things in their organizations.

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