New Boss Part 4: Role Conflict Lightbulb

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As my readers lately know, I have been in a pickle with my new manager.  She is not my personality type, or values type, or communication type, or motivational type.  Our methods for getting good work from the team are completely opposite- she likes to bash people over the head with numbers, and confronts us with our shortcomings.  She is obviously fake when socializing, very disingenuous.  It makes me almost panic to be around her, it is so unfulfilling and frightening.  She cancelled all of our team meetings so we can all “just work” and report in to her our progress with our billing goals (blech, can you hear my sneer? Do you see me scrolling to find out what the heck Prince Harry is thinking moving to Canada?)

1) I am frightened because I feel like a fraud when she confronts me about spending time away from billable work– like I am stealing money from the company working so many hours and spending it doing un-valuable things like building camaraderie amongst the team, asking people how they are, encouraging them to grow, and making connections with folks we work near but not for (yet).  I work in the Environmental group of an engineering firm. We sell our expertise outside the company mainly, but should be able to sell within the company much much more than we currently do. I am the “Technical Lead” which she decided means all day I read and review and do technical work.  I enjoy that, but I am also a people connector person, and I like to help grow business and grow people. It is stressful for me to be in non-life affirming roles.  I am a scientist, and a partial geek, love to read alone and reviewing papers is fun.  But not 100% of my time.

2) I am frightened because I honestly don’t trust myself not to tell her that she is full of horse feathers, doesn’t know how to lead a team, is useless, etc. etc. and then I will quit my job and drive home in a rage, only to realize my kid has cavities, I need glasses, I DO want to retire some day and not work at McDonald’s, and oh yeah, I need to buy groceries because I do like to eat.

Hence the pickled brain Anne has had for the past 2 weeks, or is it 2 months (she started November 13). Keep reading!  I have been busy reading, thinking, pondering, journaling, talking, and finally, writing…

Dan Shapiro and Roger Fisher in their book Beyond Reason (I am reading the entire book, it is really good) describe that “fulfilling roles have 3 qualities:

  1. Clear Purpose: that guides the behavioral framework
  2. Personal Meaning: Incorporates my skills, interests, values, and beliefs
  3. It is not a pretense: the role defines who I am, what I stand for”

(direct quotes, I am not even paraphrasing!)

Tania Braukamper says “When we connect deeper internal motivations, or shift our mindset to find meaning in what we do, we’re not as easily enticed by distractions.  And because of that-… we have more of a chance of staying present.”… the more we practice being present, the easier the work will be come.

*Invitation to Explore* #14:  Define our role and find meaning in our definition. After you know your role and how it is meaningful to you, we practice focusing on the motivation to carry out the tasks by customizing our language.

If we are present with the meaningful motivation, (the WHY), then stress/anxiety/frustration/procrastination won’t lead us astray. For example, Mark sees his role as a father to provide his sons with experiences for them to learn to be responsible for themselves.  So when he needed to move his academically underachieving twin sons home from their freshman year of college to attend school nearby, the frustration and anxiety could have been overwhelming . But he didn’t lose sight of his motivation, and meaningful role as their Dad that includes allowing the life lessons and logical consequences . He stuck with the box packing , the gross dishes under the bed, the long drive, and the belly aching morose attitudes of people who don’t realize how well they are being loved.

Second example: I have to spin my job, reframe their expectations into something I can relate to: I don’t like her number-crunching on me, but I am motivated to be a good role model to the young women I manage. So I will be more energized to rearrange my priorities and solve the puzzle of how to fit 12 hours of work into a 9 hour day if I can talk about it to the women.  Filling in a number on a timesheet doesn’t feel life-flowing energetically satisfying when compared to a conversation connection, finding common struggle with someone, solving the problem together, developing and communicating a team approach to the challenge.  Synergy! (Can you hear the cheering section?) THOSE actions are volcanic blasts of energizing actions for me. Working alone to fill in my report numbers is a cold icicle stream of water down my back in comparison.

Stick with me, here is the kicker- how do we transform those cold icicle streams into a volcanic blast of energy by re-writing or re-thinking our “roles” from awful dirty piles of socks under the bed to changing the world?!?

What is your package of skills, interests, values, or beliefs that add the volcanic energy, the lightening, to your world?  Ignore what your “job description” posted on the website is.  What do you love to do?

*I like “Invitation to Explore” better than challenge today.  It feels easier to ponder, less confrontational.

More tomorrow.  You are lighting your own lightbulb!

close up photography of woman holding string lights

Photo by Myicahel Tamburini on


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