“I hope you do not let anyone else’s expectations direct the course of your life.”– Julianne Donaldson
In my previous organization, we were given a lot of work and there was never a moment to spare. The attrition rate was very high which practically forced us to be on our toes, learn different skills and grasp new work in a short period of time. The first few months were a blur, I never understood what I did at work. Slowly things made sense and by the time I left the organization, I was solving issues that I always admired my seniors for doing. In one of my review meetings, I was praised by the senior management for my quality of work which was better than was expected. The expectation there was basic, do the work allotted to you accurately and avoid making errors. Any work done beyond this expectation was applauded like handling a team well or completing work well within the deadline even with a low staff count.
Things changed (for the worse) when I joined my current organization. Firstly, I am part of the cost function here (I don’t make money for the organization) in a team filled with sales professionals and traders, hence looked down upon. No one says that directly but one can sense it from other people’s behavior or the general work environment. Secondly, I don’t get any feedback on my work from the only person whose opinion matters, my boss! I started with zero expectations (visibly excited to learn new things from scratch) which fizzled out in a month when the person who taught me work left the organization. I realized that I am on my own from now onwards without anyone in my team. I tried understanding my boss’s expectations but he was always vague in his communication. My boss who is 30 years my senior, has a very old school mentality of learning at work. Instead of giving more work, he expects me to ask him if he has any work. He wishes that I interact with every one in my vicinity and learn about their job. That’s how he wants me to learn everything about everything.
I tried doing it in the beginning. I probably didn’t give my best attempt as this way of learning was against my personality. I am a shy and introverted person, it takes immense mental strength for me to ask someone a normal query. I keep thinking that I’m disturbing the person or might not get a satisfactory response. This is not a new thing, I’ve never asked any queries to my teachers from school to college, I always tried finding my own answers. But this was the prime expectation from my boss and I had no clue how to live up to it. I kept shrugging it to off to a point that every single unsatisfactory response from my boss makes me feel that he HATES me! It’s really nerve wracking to end each work day on an unsettled note truly believing that I’ve disappointed my boss. He doesn’t say anything to me on my face but gives sarcastic replies at times proving my suspicion right.
I know I’m not going to be around working for this person all my life. This phase is temporary. It’s just that every single day at work becomes a burden when you feel unwelcome and somewhat hated. Oh yes, he has never really appreciated any of my work till now, it’s been around 2.5 years that I’ve joined this workplace. He compares people’s achievements to his own and feels that the present generation doesn’t work hard enough. You guessed it right, he is a ‘baby boomer’. His work ethic and knowledge is admirable, he earned it all on his own. When you have done so much in life, it becomes difficult to appreciate anything that’s less than yours. That’s where empathy comes into place. You lived a different life, it’s unfair to have unnecessarily high expectations from the present generation and mock them for not doing better. Everyone is doing the best they can.
This is one of the main reasons on having terrible Monday blues and dreading the end of each vacation. I don’t wish to go back to being burdened under the painfully heavy weight of my boss’s expectations. The only way out is to do my best and enjoy what I do. My sanity and happiness is always a priority and anything that goes against it doesn’t have a place in my life.