Monday, September 18, 2006

Take the High Road--Always the High Road

I work for an organization that is lacking in integrity and where employees are treated very poorly. My particular boss (a supposed leader in the organization) is immature, retaliatory and volatile. I am in a leadership position and have a lot of responsibility for setting strategic direction in my area. I have a terrific team of professionals that I work with and that is the best part of my job.

I am looking for other work partly because the work environment is toxic and the people I work with, in my professional field, are the meanest group of people I've ever met. I don't feel that my professional expertise and judgment are valued or appreciated - in fact, I feel that I'm resented for the work I do.

My question has to do with my own professional integrity as I look for other work. At my level, I would expect to have a candid conversation with my director about my job search so we could do some transition planning for a significant body of work that will come up after the first of the year. However, there could possibly be some retribution if I make my wishes known or at least he could make my life a living hell.

I am torn because I care about the work I do and don't want to leave my wonderful team in the lurch. I also feel strongly about the "right thing to do." I don't want my last weeks there to be hellish, especially since I don't have an exit date. What would Wanda do???

Sounds like a great place to be leaving, even though your team is terrific. My guess is that your team is great because you are there. You bring something to that toxic, intolerable situation that no one else does. Your team is lucky to have you and will miss you, no doubt.

Your boss, on the other hand, sounds like a bully. Perhaps, if you tell him you are leaving and he starts acting out on you, you can bring his behavior to light and call him on it. That could be a great gift to the organization and to your team if he were dealt with and his harmful behavior were minimized.

Take the high road--that's what I'd do. I would check with myself and ask, "How do I need to handle this for me so that I have no regrets--no shoulda, coulda, woulda?" Bottom line I have to live with myself long after this particular job is done.

I would do what my professional ethics tell me to do and have the conversation with my director about the transition planning. I would behave as if the organization appreciated my expertise and professionalism and give them the highest level of service I would want to give to any organization. This one may not appreciate it, but if you can do that for people who don't treat you well, then the next employer who is looking for your level of professionalism will be thrilled. I would do my best to give my current employer nothing to complain about professionally.

If my life became hellish because I made the "right" decisions, I would deal with those things one at a time. Gentle confrontation can work wonders. Whenever I am in a difficult situation that requires confrontation, I do my best to maintain my highest integrity and have no regrets about what I say or do. Often with bullies, all you have to do is stand up to them and they buckle. If you need other tools, check in again.

I hope that helps. That's what I'd do.


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