I started work as an apprentice when I was 15 years old. The manager of the salon created a very strict work environment-being timed in the bathroom, taught how to hang the towels ‘correctly’, work day ends when the manager says. Any monetary bonuses were based on targets. It was typical practise to give the apprentice the children and men as they took longer and your percentage per client was always below the target. When I complained to my parents, they said it was developing a strong work ethic and I would be the better for it. We were always told to never quit! My dad was a hard worker and my mother too. Mum continues to keep herself busy today.
One day my mother called the salon and was told that I was too busy to speak and that personal phone calls were not allowed. My mother (who never phoned the salon) replied, “Could you please tell Andrea that her dad has had a heart attack and was being taken to the hospital”. The only form of empathy I received from my manager was when she said that her Dad had also had a heart attack. But I think she said this more as a way to say, it’s quite common.
After four years I got up the courage to ask my boss for a transfer. It was hard as we are always told to never quit and never give up. However, I was offered to manage another salon but it would be in a four weeks time. I was so excited! All that ‘hard work’ had paid off. The only problem was that my boss told my manager that I requested to be transferred. So for the next four weeks, my manager would make comments like, “You only have to work with me for two more weeks”.
Years later I opened my own salon and one night I ran into my previous boss. Ironically, I was told that I was the only apprentice who had not asked to be removed from working with this manager. Because I had never shared my concerns, I remained in the same context. I had hoped that my exiting that situation had caused my manager to reflect on her practise. But I also wonder if hoping was enough? Had I made it any easier for those coming through as an apprentice?
I expect many of you have worked with those who support and encourage your professional growth. Yet I expect some may have also worked with those who may also impede your success. These people-
· may not work as collaboratively as they could
· may not share information or documents that make work less stressful
· may not share your triumphs and successes but always freely share your challenges and mistakes
· may not allow you any autonomy
And so I wonder …
· when does your resilience create a precedent for others?
· when should you speak up and say it’s too much?
· how do you work with those who you believe are not promoting your success?
· why do people act the way they do? (Insecurity, modelled & experienced behaviour)
And the questions continue...