That said, you can do only so much and, frankly, you have done enough. You may well be surrounded by people who are unwilling or uninterested in living in the real world where diversity exists. If that’s the case, it could be that you need to move to an organization whose values are more aligned with yours.
Stress Level at a 10
I work for a nonprofit, where I’ve been employed for most of the past 30-plus years. I’m a bit of a workaholic. A few weeks ago, my manager asked everyone at a meeting to say what our stress level is, on a one to 10 scale. I said the truth: 10. One week later, the manager’s theme for her morning email was time management: Basically, anyone who says she is busy or has too much work actually has poor time management skills. I considered this to be a public shaming of me and one colleague who also self-reported a high level of stress. The email is not the only thing I don’t like about the manager, but it feels like the proverbial straw, the latest in a stream of disrespectful actions. Do all bosses do this? If I decide to stick it out until I’m eligible for Social Security, what’s the best approach?
— Anonymous, Madison, Wis.
Your manager is passive aggressive and has some toxic ideas about work culture. I don’t know that she was shaming you as much as she was judging you, which isn’t much better. But who cares what she thinks? You’re stressed out. Most people are. Your manager is just being petty. Ignore her silly provocations. You’ve been at your organization for more than 30 years. You can see the light at the end of the employment tunnel. You can and will get through this. If you have the energy for it, you can certainly look for new employment. Or you can just stick it out. You didn’t share how much longer you have to work to qualify for Social Security benefits, but I am guessing it’s fewer than 10 years. It’s time to figure out who you are beyond your work. You can be great at your job without being a workaholic. Keep doing your best, but find other things outside of work to put some of that intensity into. As I’ve written before in this column, the job will never love you. Do not invest the whole of your identity in what you do for a living because when the job refuses to love you back, when it lets you down, you’re left with nothing and you deserve much better.
A Sly Salary Negotiation
I’m in the process of hiring a new writer. She impressed us all in the interview process. We made her an offer and she verbally accepted. Then she sent us some questions about details of the offer. We sent some benefit details and vague info on our growth numbers, given the nondisclosure agreement she signed.
The day her acceptance was due back, she phoned human resources — not me, the hiring manager — to say she had another offer at a startlingly high salary. She said she’d take our offer for an additional $10,000. I really doubt the level of the second offer. But others wanted to push forward and gave her a $5,000 bump. When I phoned with the counteroffer, I mentioned her competing offer and she brushed it off — ‘Oh, that, I wouldn’t take that. I’d like to work for you.’
I feel like we’ve been played. I can’t shake the feeling that she lied to us and went around me. What do I do with this feeling?
Your new employee is not taking money out of your bank account. Why are you so pressed about her negotiating tactics or how much she is being paid? You don’t know for certain that she is lying about the competing offer but, if she is, she is not the first nor will she be the last person to manifest an imaginary job offer to negotiate higher compensation. It sounds as if she was savvy, did her homework and shot her shot. Let go of the feeling that she lied and circumvented your authority. She has hustle. She will, hopefully, bring that hustle to the job every day and be a great employee. If not, you will handle the matter accordingly. I understand why you are irked about the way she went about this, but that’s your bruised ego talking. Nurse the bruise and move on. You’re still the boss.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at email@example.com.