Fix It Or Forget It?November 12th, 2010
Sometimes it takes a while to see danger signs where you work, but other times, they seem to jump right up and grab you by the throat. See how Trudy* and Velma* each had alarm bells go off at their employers’, and whether they could Fix It Or Forget It?
Trudy* worked on various fund raising campaigns, events and proposals, and was frustrated when circumstances would change before it was time to mail, launch or submit them, causing her either to scrap the entire project, or seriously overhaul the entire thing, so that it seemed she was starting from the beginning.
After this happened multiple times, she started asking, “Why?” and discovered that the reasons didn’t have to do with the funders’ requests at all – it was because of the Executive Director’s whim. Often, he simply “changed his mind,” or no longer liked the idea!
Once this happened again and again, and Trudy’s attempts to thwart her director’s sabotage were unsuccessful, she decided to Forget It! and we worked on getting her another position. She figured she had spent enough time in her job by now (nearly two years) to establish some stability, since it took her that long to realize the pattern.
The difficulty, though, was in making her resume boastworthy, because it was filled with not-quite-completed accomplishments during her tenure at this organization, thanks to her I-can’t-make-up-my-mind-director.
I had her look critically at her time there and search for any and all finished works that she could put on her list of achievements. She realized that she had written various press releases for the communications department, as well as assisting with several events; however, none of these were for projects that she directly managed.
This contributed to making Trudy’s job search a longer one, and she supplemented her efforts by joining her local professional association and began networking and volunteering within her local chapter.
Velma* worked for a professional society organization that dealt with various chapters, and soon after she started, prepared with everyone else for the upcoming annual conference.
She was surprised when, prior to the conference, a significant part of the staff briefing was dedicated to the CEO instructing the staff on how to behave in a professional manner, which included detailed advice on not getting too drunk, and that portraying oneself professionally after hours was considered important as well, etc.
As the CEO continued his lecture, with various examples of dos and don’ts, Velma continued to be astounded that a roomful of adults needed to be briefed in this manner, prior to conducting an event!
At the annual conference, however, she could – unfortunately – see for herself why the CEO thought it was necessary to speak to at least some of the staff as though they were children.
Although her initial impression that she had signed on to work in a frat house led her to consider looking elsewhere, someone had gone too far and it made public press, which led to a scandal. This forced everyone – from the national organization down to the chapters – to implement stricter policies and guidelines, and the staff who did not want to take them seriously decided to leave the organization, for the most part.
Now that the organization itself had decided to Fix It! Velma was happy to stay and do the work she had signed on to do in the first place.
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
— Rita Mae Brown
Tags: Beth Kanter, career, career goals, career skills, career strategy, Dilbert, fix it or forget it, fund raising, fundraising, job, job search, jobs, management, networking, non profit, non profits, nonprofit, nonprofits, personal branding, professional, professionalism, workplace