It’s been almost two years since everything really started. I work for a call center, and at the time, I had been promoted to the Senior team and assigned to the Executive Recovery branch of the team. In my business, the senior team members are the problem solvers of the business. Callers who demand a supervisor are transferred to their team so that they can identify and resolve the problem. Seniors work in an incredibly stressful environment, as many of their callers are angry and abusive. In addition to working with customers, Seniors also answer questions for colleagues who aren’t sure how to solve a caller’s inquiry. Agents from all over the business will call for clarification on instructions and guidance on how to resolve issues. As an Executive Recovery agent, I helped Seniors find answers and took hostile escalations that went above them. My job challenged me, emotionally and mentally. The title gave me a sense of strength and purpose. I believed I had finally ‘arrived.’ For the first time in my professional career, the people who I had gone to for help were coming to me for help, I was the subject matter expert, I was the leader, and it felt good.
In the summer of 2015, upon coming back from a weeks vacation with my family, I found out that due to a series of events, I was being removed from the Executive Recovery team and placed back on the Senior Team. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, but during the transition, it nearly broke my spirit. I became bitter and angry, and while those emotions didn’t last for very long, the trust that I lost for my leadership and our organization lasted for a very long time. I requested a transfer to our work from home program and isolated myself for several weeks. I had an incredible supervisor during that time who refused to let me give up on my goals. She had a way of pushing me without ‘pushing me.’ The love of my job never went away, but being bitter causes us to lose sight of the big picture. Her patience and encouragement eventually lead me back to the site and is ultimately what gave me the ability to become a supervisor.
Now, I go back to this time, because I believe this was the catalyst of my depression. The primary reason I was ‘demoted’ was because I had gained the perception of someone no one wanted to work with. I was repeatedly told by a member of our management that people didn’t ‘like’ to work with me, people didn’t ‘like’ me, my personality was ‘too strong,’ and if I didn’t find a way to change, I would never advance. When I went to work from home, I didn’t have to face those allegations because I wasn’t socially interacting with my peers. My work was able to speak for itself so I wasn’t self conscious. I didn’t have that voice in the back of my head. However, when I went back on site last fall to interim as a supervisor, I had to face those allegations and for a very long time, I’ve walked on egg shells out of fear of not being ‘good enough.’ Denying who you are is exhausting, and I started sleeping all the time. I lost interest in things that I would normally be excited about. I tried to keep a stone face and never show vulnerability. My husband finally said I needed to see a counselor, and that is where this side of the journey begins.
I am discovering myself. I am revisiting moments like the one above, where I had an opportunity to make a decision, and the decision I made was wrong. I am identifying my ‘why,’ developing an action plan, and working towards achieving my goal.
When my manager made the statements he made, I had the opportunity to make a decision. I could allow his words to discourage me and hold me down, or I could use his words to learn to develop relationships with others. I chose then, to build relationships and learn to let my work speak for itself, but when I came back to the office, I allowed those words to cause me to question myself, which damaged my confidence and ability to lead. My opportunity here, is to trust that this is no longer a concern. I shouldn’t just ‘let it go,’ because it happened, it created an emotional response of fear, and I learned from it, but I should recognize that fear and implement a plan to overcome it. The truth is that I wouldn’t have the position that I have if my leadership team didn’t think I could effectively lead. So from now on, when I begin to seek approval or validation because I am afraid I am wrong, I am going to evaluate the situation, make a decision, and stand by it. If I make the wrong decision, then I have an opportunity to learn and grow.
The willingness to learn and grow is where we all begin. You start with a desire to accomplish something. For me, I want to make a difference in the lives of others, it’s a passion and obsession that is deeply ingrained in my being. Realizing this helped me identify another habit that I had to change… and we will talk about that next time.