Would that we could rewind the past! Or an incident from the past that still haunts us years later.
Many years ago, when I got my first position in management, I was of course very excited and proud of the achievement. I had the opportunity to contribute to the organisation on a different level while learning new skills. At this time I had already been working for the company for 18 years.
During the years I worked in a few positions, from junior entrant into the company, to supervisory positions, to instructor in the training department. In short, I had accumulated a wealth of experience about the company, the industry that we were working in, and the people who populated the various departments that made up the organisation.
To top up the good news that I was successful in my application for promotion to management, I was also informed that I would be in charge of a group of employees who were themselves in supervisory positions. It was, in my opinion, a great day when I heard the news.
The rest of the management team were also mainly new appointees and we were looking forward to working together.
A few days later I was called into the office of a senior manager. He informed me that he had decided to swop me and another manager around so that I would now manage a different, and more junior group of employees, while another new appointee in our management team would manage the people I was originally appointed to manage. He asked me if I had a problem with this and I said no, I did not.
But I did have a problem with it. A very big one.
In hindsight I now wish that I had answered differently and that I had stood my ground and insisted that I stay in the position that I was allocated to at first. At the time I was the one with the most experience and as time passed, I demonstrated that my skills were more advanced than my colleague who was now installed in the position originally given to me.
I decided to make the most of the position I received and two years later I left with much more experience and newly aquired skills. Even though I did not work in the position that I would have preferred, I still had a good time working there and tried to maintain a good relationship with my colleagues and team members.
Why do I still think about this incident after so many years? What is it about that day that keeps coming back to me?
It is the age old problem of not wanting to appear aggressive in the workplace. Of wanting to fit in and not rocking the boat. To be a good girl.
I found that that is a problem with most women at work. We are too scared to be assertive and to insist in getting what we deserve just in case people will consider us to be aggressive, abrasive, not a team player. As a result, our careers suffer years of setbacks.
Forward a number of years into the future and there I was sitting again in the office of the managing director of the company I was working for. This time I was informed that someone had been appointed in the position I had occupied for some years in the company and that I was now downgraded to a more junior position, essentially from management to team leader.
Deja vu. I had been here before. What they were doing was illegal in our country, but they assumed, correctly, that I would put the wellbeing of the company ahead of my own feelings.
It took me less than a year to make my way out of the organisation.
Would I have changed the course of my career if I had given a different answer to my manager in the first incident? Maybe not, but I am sure that it would have given me more confidence in my own abilities and that would have had a more positive outcome on the rest of my career.
Would you go back and rewind or redo someting in your past?