Career Clinic: I Feel Pushed Out at Work

This month Erica answers a woman feeling forced out of her job because she’s not the life and soul of the office…

discriminated against older woman

I’ve worked in a local government business for years. I love my job and I know I might not sound very ambitious, but I help lots of people and I’ve always felt very fulfilled. I get on with the team and I’m proud of our efforts. Recently though I got a new manager and she pulled me aside to say I needed to be more ‘dynamic’ and she was considering putting me on a performance management program. It feels like she just wants a new young lass in and I’m not valued anymore. I’m not even sure what ‘dynamic’ means or why it’s relevant.

Louisa, Skegness

Congratulations Louisa on finding and working in a job that helps others, makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Many would be very envious of you. I can completely understand how your new manager must have rattled you. Perhaps it is worth unpicking the view from both sides…

When someone moves into a new role, they want to have an impact, be seen to be upping their game, to be fulfilling their targets as well as being seen to be doing it by their manager/boss. She may well be ambitious with this role being a stepping-stone to where she wants to go in her career, rather than being the end goal.

You, however, love what you do and want to continue it. This job is deeply satisfying for you, and is where you want to be.

By taking a pro-active approach rather than waiting for her to challenge you, she will see that you are willing to change and be supportive

Organisations need both types of people. They need diversity of thought across ages, backgrounds, experience. In research this has been shown to be a critical marker for success and is gaining ground as we move from valuing youth to valuing a broad spectrum. But your manager may not be aware of this yet.

I would sit down to make a plan. You have to ensure you continue to deliver successfully at what you do, but need to help her feel she is delivering on her ambitions too. Think if there are ways you can streamline what you do, or if there are better ways to do things. Talk to your colleagues to see if small tweaks, new systems, better support would make your role more productive and efficient. Then ask for a meeting to discuss them with her.

By taking a pro-active approach rather than waiting for her to challenge you, she will see that you are willing to change and be supportive. At that meeting, you can ask her for her ideas and show her your thinking. It becomes a positive session, rather than a reactive one with you on the back foot. If she suggests ways of doing things you have already tried, show her the experience and the results asking if she would have implemented it differently, rather than rejecting it out of hand. And ensure you keep it business-focused, not personal. Use third party language – ‘the department’, ‘the team’ etc rather than ‘me’ or ‘I’.

Make a plan together, agreeing ways to evaluate the results of every step to ensure they are successful, not detrimental. This way she can see you are forward-looking but are determined to only implement changes with a positive impact.

Good luck to you.


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