Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Back From Maternity Leave, Mary Is Undermined By Subordinates

Chapter 5: The Pivotal Role Of Circumstance Part 13

In the previous part of the chapter, we looked at Mary’s experience as a newbie out of grad school.  Like many people in their first corporate experience, she got totally caught up in the company mission, and as  result spent many hours working at the expense of her personal life.

Fast forward ten years. Mary was several companies down the road, and did not love, or even like, her company.  Yet she found herself once again overly devoted.

Mary has grown in seniority, and is managing an experienced team.  However, she had not yet made director, which is troubling and painful to her.  As was usually the case, Mary was working on the most high profile and high pressure project in the company.  This was no start up, but rather one of the largest in the life sciences research industry.  Once again, the product was billed as (and in fact was) a game changer in the world of cancer detection.

Challenges presented themselves right away as she came back after four months at home with the baby.  The senior managers she was managing had been reporting directly to the director in her absence, and they resented and resisted being pushed back down a level in the hierarchy.  What was particularly challenging was a culture of after-hours discussions and meetings, where decisions were often made when she wasn’t present, by either her reports or her manager who did not share her level of expertise.  “Decisions could be made where you wouldn’t know [the impact] for a few months.  You could really dig yourself in [such that customers would be livid].”


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Were You Ever Betrayed In the Office? Chances Are It Was a Fox That Did It

Chapter 4: Who To Trust At Work Part 11

In the last post, I used Aesop’s fable The Fox and The Crow to define a Fox at work as someone who gets by on flattery. Now compare Aesop’s fox with the following true stories.

Story 1: “Jack,” a Director at a national telecommunications company, laments not recognizing that his colleague as a Fox.

“My colleague and I were in contention for a promotion.  She went overboard to be my buddy and friend, to be helpful.  At the same time she was damning me with faint praise all over the company.  ‘Jack is really good at what he does.  Jack is a really good leader, meets project deadlines but….’  That was her technique.  It planted enough doubt about me that I wasn’t selected.  One of my reports who was close to someone in this other woman’s department told me about how she did it, how long she did it, how many people she did it with.  That was my experience with betrayal.  I thought she was my buddy.”

Story 2: “Liz,” a Senior Manager in the software industry describes her friend “Susie” who got ahead at her expense.  “She [Susie] would present my stuff and her stuff, but would never tell them I generated it.  She was very sweet about it, saying things like ‘I didn’t mean it that way.’  But she did.  She accelerated her career that way.  She got a lot of visibility by indirectly taking credit for other people’s work.  I don’t know how she made it work.  She was very charming and managed her bosses well.” 

Now that you have some idea how to recognize the spoor of the Fox, in the next post, I will offer strategies for how to deal with one.  What is your experience with betrayal, and how have you tried to prevent it from happening again?

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