I quit a job this year that was too hard for me to manage with my young family. It was not a decision made without A LOT of thought and consideration. I felt like I was failing…everyone.
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect I have one regret. All of that time I was taking late night calls, traveling, waking up early for meetings – I never really told my boss what I was going through. I never said that cross-country travel nearly ruined my already strained milk supply. I never told him that 6am meetings threw my whole family out of whack and added stress levels that were simply unhealthy.
Why didn’t I speak up? I thought it was (gasp!) unprofessional. And even today, I am still not entirely sure how to be vulnerable and professional at the same time.
I do know this: Asking for what I needed at the time might have saved them an employee, and me the strain of a career change. So, I am confidently suggesting here that vulnerability is the ultimate sign of professional. Here’s why:
- Being vulnerable means giving your employer a chance to support you – helping them retain an employee. That’s good for business!
- Telling your manager when something isn’t going well in your life allows them to see you a whole person, giving them better insight into your performance and motivations.
- In some cases, if you open up to your employer about a personal situation, it actually gives you more protection in the event that you are terminated related to your personal challenges or need to use programs like FMLA for a leave of absence.
There are times when something is just too personal, TMI (rashes, bodily fluids – just don’t), or risky, as in you could lose your job completely – that’s for you to assess. If you work for a decent company with good people, vulnerability can be a win-win.
I’m lucky that my employer ended up contracting with me on part-time basis to complete some projects which ended up being a long-term situation that gave me just what I needed. If only I had spoken up and allowed myself to be vulnerable and say “I can’t do this”, we could have resolved it long before I let things get out of control.
What would you tell your boss that could change your entire situation for the better?
QC // Julie