Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Weight of People's Opinions

So I'm at a point in my career where I've been in the same pay grade, doing basically the same things for a decade and well, that means it's time for an assessment.  Not that I'm not constantly assessing things anyway.  But lately, what this means is a bit different.

There's been a lot of change in my work this year.  At every level of the company, things have been getting a bit shook up.  And when I'm strapped for cash, and I'm lamenting that I could, should or would be making more money if only (pinpoint any one of at least a dozen reasons), well, I have to acknowledge that I and my illness are partly responsible for 10 years of stagnation.

At the same time, vertical and horizontal mobility at my place of employment hasn't really been viable.  And so, I've been pretty content to take on new projects but to hold the course because frankly, having a job is better than not having one, and I get paid very well for what I do, and I've learned in my 40 years that some things in life are more important, and having a job which affords me the time to devote to such things, well, that's the bigger priority.

Still, when you work in Corporate America, it almost doesn't matter how stagnant the industry is. They want to see, in fact they have to see, that you want more.  Just to maintain your status quo you have to give people an illusion that you're eager for more/better/different, because that's the generally accepted signal that you're worth your keep.

So I've done what I could to keep that illusion alive.  I've done what I had to do to make sure that my execution was top notch, and that the quality of my output was reputable.  At the end of the day however, it's a constant stress, a constant pain, and a constant struggle to find a groove where I can achieve this without feeling like I've compromised my own principles, ethics and morals.

Which brings me to the crux of today's angst.  My manager is firmly of the opinion that I should be doing a 360 review.  In other words, I am expected to solicit the feedback and input of approximately 30 people I work with for opinions and thoughts on what I do well, what I don't do well, and what I should be doing.  I've tried twice now to duck out of it, but have failed miserably in flying this one under the radar.  And when pressed, it's hard to simply say that I'm not interested in doing it because frankly, I'm past that desire to look for others approval/input on my personality.
I think the level of maturity I've reached tells me that the only opinions that really matter are mine, my husband's, my child's and well, honestly my closest friends on only certain issues.  I'm really not so career minded anymore that I'm interested in crafting people's perceptions of me.  And where at one point in time, it would have mattered to me that someone thought I was too assertive or not assertive enough, I just quite frankly don't give enough of a damn any longer to try and appease either of them.

And so, with metaphorical chains on my wrists, I'm appeasing my manager and going through the motions of setting up this feedback survey, knowing full well that some of the crap it generates will potentially trigger my anxieties and depression.  And I'm trying my damnedest not to be placing too heavy an emphasis on the potential results.  I'd sooner they fire me than cultivate any part of myself differently just to appease yet another innocuous and anonymous survey comment.

Feedback is important if you want it, need it, or can use it to move on.  Knowing it's all futile anyway makes this a whole lot of wasted effort for a whole lot of people, and it only potentially hurts one person.  It's like the corporately sanctioned bullying mechanism to weed out the weak ones and force them to sit at the front of the bus near the driver.  Hopefully this marks the beginning of the end of my career here and I can look back a year from now, lovingly looking at a severance check and a brand new chapter where the only opinion that matters in my life is truly mine.

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