Back in a previous job, there was this crazy boss. Towering in stature and demented in his requirements, that he used to torture me (and others in the team as well) at work was an understatement. Everything I did was considered wrong or not good enough. And everything was ‘late’, even if it was well before time. The team as a whole had this toxic culture, where the hours at one’s desk mattered more than the quality of work, and we regularly clocked 18 hour days 7 days a week. Such was the predicament, that I dreaded going to work.
Did I do or say anything at the time? Nope. Because I was scared. Scared of what others might tell me. Scared of whether I might lose my job. Scared of whether it might leave a blot on my résumé.
When I look back today, many years later, I look at the situation differently. Yes, it was perhaps a good learning ground, because such experiences prepare you for life – rudely and decisively snatching you out of the comfort zone that is one’s school or college or home. But what has changed the most now is the need to have a voice. When someone is doing something wrong to me, by keeping quiet, I’m not only suffering today, but also allowing the menace to carry on unchecked.
Contrary to perception, having a voice and speaking up actually helps boost your image, instead of cutting it down. People realize that this person is not a pushover, and hence cannot be taken for granted. If one gets fired for opening his/her mouth, then it speaks volumes not about the speaker, but the organization. Do you want to work for one where doing the right thing or speaking up – leads to a pink slip? Does that align with your values? We need to consider this and choose carefully. Today whenever I’m in a tough spot, I try to ask what future-me from ten years later would do in this same situation.
Jobs will come and go. But careers are made by making the right choices.