Coach Vera Held’s take on difficult workplace situations.
Q: Finance has taken over our company. We’re even cutting out milk for coffee and looking to find a cheaper coffee vendor. My emotions fluctuate between being thankful to have a job and feeling trapped. I desperately need to exit or my head’s going to explode. I’ve explored six different director-level opportunities in the last three months. The best potential employer has a company-wide vacation freeze in December and January, which makes it impossible to see my kids and grandkids at Christmas. Any ideas?
A: You are gainfully employed and this makes you far more appealing to employers and recruiters. Keep exploring and access all your contacts. You can’t have too many ears to the ground. As for preserving your sanity while the hunt goes on, make your health the top priority. Sleep well, eat right, drink water and exercise regularly. At lunch, nip out for a fast walk. And bond. Spend time with your managers and your team. Allow the support to flow both ways. Good heads and hearts will prevail and you will land the right opportunity.
Q: I’ve invented a new home-retail product and I’m really pumped. It’s got much promise, even at the international level, and the patent is pending. But I’m working with a distributor “Ben” who talks down to me and consistently undermines me. I feel nothing but angst and a need to protect myself when dealing with him. Turns out, he also had the product incorrectly labelled while being manufactured. What should I do?
A: How exciting to be the creator of a product that’s got legs and can travel worldwide. Now, choose a respectful, competent distributor to work with. You need to be in a professional relationship rooted in trust and integrity. If the roots are strong and you feel comfortable, this will enable you to do great things moving forward. Access your network, line up candidates and interview for the job. Look for a new distribution partner — someone who’s got your back and is not just out to make a buck.
Q: I provided a client with a well-explained retroactive invoice. When I called regarding payment “Henry” played the “I’ve been travelling card,” the “I’m so shocked card” and the “I don’t understand the retroactive invoice card.” He demanded I change the invoice date to meet his fiscal year start. I let him rant and rave. Then, I played the “honour and integrity card” and the “you’ve taken advantage of me card.” I also spoke to a vital assignment that I’d quickly and cheaply completed. My cheque’s in the mail.
A: Nicely played. I especially like catching Henry off guard with the assignment item. But a retroactive invoice with the current billing date is not only legal but common. If something wasn’t previously billed due to an oversight or error, by all means invoice. Because of Henry’s love of histrionics, you wisely billed with an explanation first and then called. Bravo on the strategic financial win. Energy vampires like Henry require firm boundaries to ensure you are always professionally protected.
Vera Held (www.veraheld.com) is a coach, facilitator, speaker, writer, PR consultant and the author of business best-seller How Not to Take it Personally. Send workplace questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.