Like many of my posts you will see, my previous organization was a horrible one to be a part of. I would like to provide a time range, just to give you an idea of what was happening and why so many stories are being told about that one toxic location and organization. That time span was from January 2013 to January 2016.
So I arrive to my new job on January 3rd and was pretty much being sold a dream by my sponsor. I am not the one for buying or selling dreams, I rather see what my work environment is for myself. I arrive at my new work center to see a power struggle going on that should not even be happening. A person that has been working in our career field for 17+ years was having to defend herself from the promises of personnel saying they can do better. These promises were of course empty and half-ass delivered but I will save that for another post. But to sum up how this story ends, the 17+ experience person was relocated and the place fell apart.
When she left, things really spun out of control. I offered to help on many different occasions but was not given the chance because of leaderships favoritism of other personnel. But I did get a major program to manage out of the situation, two to be exact, so I played my part and pushed on with my areas of business. One program was sports, I was the Sports Director and the other was Safety Representative. Both programs were broken but I pushed forward to make them successful. The sports program went from receiving minimum support from other agencies in our area to being praised as the best sports program seen in over 4 years. I put a lot of time into the program and when we lost the contract for our sports officials, I found a way to keep it going without having to pay $34K for a new contract for sports officials. Sports was the first program I took over for the organization. No one wanted it and did not see the value of it.
The safety program was in such bad shape that our organization was facing a failure. Failures are bad but not unheard of and can be learning experiences. But this failure we were facing was going to be the only failure seen in the area in 17 years. So, needless to say, my leadership and management were on edge about how it would go and the results. To cut this story short, we passed. After that, I saw myself being chased by leadership personnel outside of my organization to join their organization, that organization being Safety. I was sent to a course that made me a certified Safety person with OSHA and I received some college credit in the process. This was the second program I took over for the organization that once again, no one saw the value in. I milked this situation so much with my hustle and grind that I had outsiders looking for me to join their team.
Once I was done with those two programs, I did not have to introduce myself to anyone…outside of my organization. My organization was still not letting me get a foot in the door to help with our internal problems. After going though this for a little over a year, I was sent to temporarily fill a spot in Spain for 6 months which turned into 7.5 months. On behalf of my stateside organization, I took on one operation but by the end of my stay in Spain, I was overseeing three. This was a “sleepy” place in Spain that people saw as more of a vacation than an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Since I was the “odd ball” and took the opportunity to grow versus travel, I left Spain with more experience and a better appraisal than anyone else did. In my short time there, I was able to start a professional development group that reached other countries that house our similar profession. Spain did not have programs that no one wanted to do, the place just had nothing in general going for it, so the individuals that were actually a part of that organization did not have opportunities to grow during their time there.
So I return to my stateside organization, only to see that things had gotten worse. There was a downsizing going on and the opportunity for members to retire early was seized by more people than expected. With that opportunity, the majority of our experienced people left the entire workforce for good. Who can blame them, I was looking to take that route as well, I just did not have enough time invested to make the separation worth it. No smart person would stick around in a toxic and hostile environment if they did not have to.
With their departure, came my opportunity but it was met with some hesitation by my leadership personnel. My management team was all for my opportunity to excel, but I later found out that they themselves did not want to take on the responsibilities that lied ahead for me. Once again, I was facing two areas that no one saw the value in, one was managing a tiny food operation and the other was an accounting position. The accounting position came first. I showed up for my training and the person I was replacing had their baby earlier that morning. I walked into an audit 3 days later. During that time, I identified and remedied many errors and help reclaim a lot of money that was being stolen by people abusing the system. My time managing the small food operation was not bad, it was actually a welcomed break from the organization. No one wanted to come and see it for themselves, which meant I could really do what I wanted. I turned that place around in less than a month by utilizing my personnel and their strengths instead of having them sit in a facility for manning purposes. After the success of these two areas, I was promoted and moved to a different section of the organization.
I became a Production Manager for a food operation that was struggling on many different fronts. The main front or issue was, like any other operation, the personnel. I flipped that whole operation upside down and began restructuring all sections from the ground up. It took around 2 months for everyone to become used to it, but it did happen and we saw major changes take place in an award winning way. Like I have mentioned before, this was yet another area that no one saw value you in. My final stop, within that organization, was managing the entire operation. I received a new offer for a job in South Korea and for my family to proceed to my follow-on location that I will be joining after I complete my job in South Korea. During my time as manager, I changed what I could but chose to pour as much of my knowledge into those remaining in the organization, just so they had an idea of what I went through just so they knew what to avoid.
During my ride to the airport, I began to realize just how far I made it when I was referred to as “eh” or told to “wait my turn” or “you will not make it here because we already have our people chosen.” If it was not for the hustle and drive within me to want more and not take no for an answer, who knows where I would be. I could still be there or I would have found a way to exit this profession on good terms and be with my family full-time.
My advice to anyone reading this is to not give up. Keep pushing because you never know when it’s your turn to step-up or when you can capitalize on a situation and gain both personal and professional experience. Thank you for reading and please, if you have a story to share, please do so. If we all begin to share, then those looking for a way to succeed or at least a way to manage their current situation can reach out for help versus suffering in silence.