I don’t talk a lot about my bad managers in corporate America because they left deep scars on me. It took me years to realize it wasn’t my fault and call it what it is: trauma.
Even here in my safest writing space, it feels a little scary to say that. But it’s true. Trauma is defined (by me) as an event in your life where things are different from that moment.
Trauma is the only way to describe what happens when managers go out of their way to demean and shrink their team’s confidence. Nothing is the same. The safety humans need to thrive, especially at work, is gone.
Three years into owning my own company, those bad managers still influence how I lead my team every minute. I go to extremes to make sure I’m never like those bad bosses. I will spend hours writing and rewriting a coaching email to ensure that people know I see them.
Why? Those moments when someone you admire makes you feel small are seconds you never forget. When the shame happens on a daily cycle, it’s a whole new world of mind games. I can’t do that to people.
I know first-hand that the mind games don’t end because you quit your job either. After I walked away from my worst managers, I caught myself questioning the intentions of everyone with feedback. Let me tell you - that is not a good way to live your life. I still get coaching on feedback to make sure I deliver and receive it with empathy.
That’s why I call it trauma.
It’s so unfortunate to me that I know so many of you are nodding and thinking, “yep, me too.”
Having a bad boss is an unfortunate universal experience. We’ve all been there. People are promoted into leadership roles based on tenure, not training in working with or developing people. A good boss is a rare and unique experience.
Although good work experience is as memorable and impactful, if not more. It also leaves just as many scars. Take the woman I met last week during a LinkedIn rewrite. She cried to me after eight years of set up, strategy, and leadership. She felt traumatized to leave behind her legacy and team.
The truth is, good or bad, work leaves a deep mark on us whether we have an experience we’re proud of or we’re miserable. So many people talk about finding jobs and networking your way to a gig, but so few ever touch on how we grow and evolve after the trauma of work strikes again.
I mean, Glassdoor is fine and all but not exactly where we go to get over things. That’s where people go to start fires.
Venting doesn’t release the pressure of self-doubt. It takes more time. Whether you loved your last job or hated your previous manager or both, work influences us. Managers and experiences change everything - who we are, how we behave, and where we end up. We need to make more safe places to talk about how work has changed us, not just how work is changing. We need to talk about our work trauma and share how we’ve grown from it.
In my case, I can say with no hesitation that I wouldn’t be running Three Ears Media if my manager wasn’t such an asshole. If that person hadn’t pushed every button in my psyche and offended me in every way, there’s no chance I would’ve taken this kind of risk. Risk is not my thing.
I also can’t imagine life without this company today, so I guess all scars aren’t bad.
In this week’s blog, I’m talking about what makes a great LinkedIn Headline. I also share one that’s so awful I won’t even repost it here. If you need a laugh - from a bad work week or just a release from the world - trust me, this will do it for you.
They used the words “daddy needs a new grill” on their LinkedIn profile. Yes, I have screenshots. No, I couldn’t make that up if I tried.
Wear your mask and vote -