This is a work related post. If you want cute fun stuff this is not that post. 🙂

I’ve worked for my boss for eight years, at two agencies. She’s someone I value greatly. She’s a 65 year old lesbian, she used to run a bread baking commune, and she loves whiskey. We’ve always gotten along well and drank together during the sixish months 4 years ago when I did not work for her. Her granddaughter is our dog sitter, she was one of the first people I told I was pregnant, and, in general, I really love her. That’s not to say she is not a boss. We have had hard conversations. She does my evaluations. I’ve been in trouble in various ways.

There has been a change in the past few months where things have gotten bad. It has been hard to pinpoint but I am feeling it and over the past few weeks I realized the other two people in our four person team where feeling it as well. A shift has occurred and our relationship with our boss has turned very boss/employee. We don’t feel recognized for the work we do and we don’t feel particularly supported by boss. One of my coworkers has always had a tumultuous relationship with out boss (coworker is totally useless) and the other is fairly new to our department. While this has hit them I think it has been especially hard on me.

There are many reasons for this change. Someone left our department last year leaving my boss to take on a caseload when she is already over worked. She gets shit from different managers in meetings about being too friendly with her staff. Our stats aren’t great this year. And, as stupid as it sounds, the agency started a new award thing where are quarterly meetings they give awards to people. At each meeting my boss has presented an award to someone (not any of us) but failed to mention any of us by name. It seems small but as a small department it gets noticed when your boss never says your name in public.

Yesterday I met with the other two people in my department about bringing this up at a staff meeting today. We discussed tactics and what we wanted to say and, loud mouth that I am, I was nominated group spokesperson. So I did it. I brought it up and told our boss we were all feeling a bit under valued. I tried not to get into specifics but told her that things had happened in the last few months that made us realize we need some appreciation we aren’t getting. I told her that we did not blame her, these were things we realized about ourselves and things we did not know we needed. I suggested we set up a half day retreat with us and the two other folks she supervises who are not in our team to talk about what we need to feel valued, what we need to be an effective team, and what kind of support we need to do our jobs. My boss was receptive. She talked about her own struggles with the agency and how she can understand why we would feel this way. She cried. She thanked us for coming to her and telling her. Immediately after our meeting she scheduled a time for a retreat and started looking for a place.

So I guess my point in this post is just to put it out there in the world that I did something that was hard for me. It was hard because I am outspoken and blunt and needed to say something delicately to someone I care about. And it was hard because my feelings are hurt and I cry easily and I wanted to hold my shit together (which I did, mostly). This has been weighing heavily on me and while now I have to get through the damn emotional retreat I feel like maybe I am on a path to things being a bit better here. Here’s hoping she feels okay, too.


Posted on October 25, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Oh damn. Props to you for having the hard conversation. Glad it went so well!

  2. Wow, that sounds like a super difficult but productive conversation.

    The variety of issues in nonprofit management always make so upset. Between the cutbacks, the toxic personalities,and lack of team cohesion, I was practically running to get away from my last job. I’m glad your situation sounds like it is able to be improved and that you’re able to communicate your needs and have decent team members.

  3. Oh geez, I feel this so much. I often get nominated to say the hard things which I think is both an honor and an awful, painful thing. Non profits are so hard. There is cultural Bullshit and workplace trauma and so very little in the way of support. I’m glad you did the hard thing, and I hope you’re gentile with yourself and your team. You are navigating hard shit and there probably isn’t a good way forward. I hope, though, you get what you need at work very soon.

    • Thanks, friend. It is a crummy situation. I care about my boss so much and don’t want her to be upset but ultimately it is important she knows. There are so many other things that go into this. Other folks in the agency have no respect for our department, other manager criticize our boss frequently for being too nice, she is way over worked… I am hoping that we can find a solution where our needs are met a bit more and she can still do what she has to do. It’s hard -after 8 years the past six months is the most I have ever felt like she is my boss. I know she is and maybe I just need to accept that but it totally changes the dynamic here in a way that is sad.

    • Andie said what I wanted to say only much more coherently (it’s 6 am here and a restless toddler shared my bed last night.) I’m glad she responded well and acknowledged what you and others are feeling. In the non-profit and public service fields working with a good team and the benefit of the work you are doing are what keep you going.

  4. Props to you for doing this–I am SO impressed–and to her for not getting defensive. I hope things improve rapidly or at least thoughtfully. Sounds like a tough relationship shift on top of a difficult work situation. Good luck navigating!

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