You know what else helped to bring me back? My job. I love my new job. I mean I really love it. It's as though the universe rallied to reward me after that long, blighted 18 months since my jarring, violent separation from "the last place." I haven't said much about gory details surrounding "the last place," its rampant toxicity and exactly what happened there leading up to that fateful final morning of November 22, 2013. It's just not worth it. How about, instead, I report all of the "opposites" regarding my current situation. My readers are intelligent enough to surmise the flip-side.
1. LeadershipTwo experienced, business-minded execs run the operation. Both are hardworking, have high expectations, yet are pleasant to be around and sensitive to a reasonable work/life balance. Both are well-versed in the ops and logistics of a start-up, are good at communicating with people at all seniority levels, and wise about the real-world requirements of a well-run organization. They make sure team member responsibilities are clear, and they keep the team pulling in the same direction with regular update emails and weekly status meetings. They delegate and they trust -- 7 months in, I am managing 7 people. I update the bosses, but they never, ever micro-manage.
2. Space At The TableThe bosses openly seek input from the people they've hired, meaning that they know what they don't know, and schedule enjoyable, intelligent brainstorm sessions clearly free of any fear that they'd be giving up some perceived "control" should they (gasp!) open up the table and let someone else make a contribution. Sometimes this happens over lunch. They listen to the ideas of others, consider everyone's point of view, ask intelligent clarifying questions, and then decide whether or not to implement, rather than shut down immediately before even understanding the business case or looking at numbers. They cultivate an environment ripe for team contribution, along with rewarding recognition of everyone's various talent and experience. "You mean because I said that at lunch, the website looks like this now, and you called me Queen of Content in front of the developers?"
3. RespectSeven months in, I'm re-learning that I can actually speak at my usual, relaxed conversational pace -- I need not rush and tumble my words, because no one is going to cut me off in his harsh, loud mansplainy voice before I can even finish my sentence. People listen. I'm frequently consulted, credited for ideas, and praised in front of others -- the bosses innately understanding that it is natural for people look to them to see how to act, and therefore treating everyone with dignity and respect, expecting that we treat each other with same. When they make final decisions, they inform the staff, and they make sure that you know their thought process and business reasons. They make good decisions. Whether or not they're agreeing with you, they communicate directly but professionally, not a single trace of sarcasm, mockery nor derision.
4. Swift ActionThough friendly and open, they are also strictly business. I've seen one boss fire someone after one day -- that day filled with far too many confused, blundering emails from the new hire -- one in which she called a portion of the work "a waste of time," another email containing at least one blatant lie, and at the end of the day, an email oddly titled, "Done!" Odd because it linked to a puzzling mess of sloppy, barely started work. Done? You're done, alright. As much as they reward excellence, they do not coddle incompetence, clearly understanding that maintaining a bad employee is a strain on the other, good employees, as well as a hit to the bottom line.
5. IntegrityThey made me two promises so far. They followed-up on both of them, on time, just like they said they would. Both times, over lunch -- on them. Along with everything else enjoyable about the actual work itself and the style of the place, I've been thanked and taken to lunch more times in 7 months than in all the 9 years before this...these are good people. These are people you're happy to work hard for, and when you do, they notice and acknowledge and reward excellence.
Here is my advice, to anyone unhappy in a toxic, poorly managed viper-pit of a workplace. Quit. Seriously. Something better is out there for you, I promise.
Get outta there.