Two things are blatantly obvious — when my division’s boss wants to keep someone, he throws the world at them. And when he (and those under him but over you) don’t care if you stay or walk, they treat you like less than a human being who isn’t worth their time. It’s painful, but they know as well as I do that I can’t walk unless I’m a trust fund baby (I’m not) or criminally insane (close, but not yet.) So they don’t invest any time in caring about informing me of such things as whatever kind of weird demotion I’ve been put through this year.
My new boss sent me a note this morning with my old boss CC’d about how my bonus will be paid out today (great!) and to let him know if I have any questions (uh… not so great, that means I’m not getting my full bonus, right?) Now, this year I’m lucky to get ANY bonus for many reasons —- the state of the world… being kicked out of my role and my old boss clearly wanting to fire me and likely being told by HR to wait until after maternity leave and such (no proof of this but seems to be true) I ought to be happy for pocket change as a bonus. My overall compensation this year due to my stock vesting is insane. A few percentage points in bonus distribution won’t put a dent in that.
But here is the deal — for the last 3 years… even last year when I was put on a PIP—I was paid my full bonus. I didn’t expect it last year. But that set a psychological precedent. And I know I 100% performed better this last year. I wasn’t perfect. Clearly. I suck at communication and I delivered a few projects late, even though that didn’t impact launch dates. My former boss really is over me as an employee on her team. She moved me to report to someone under her—because she doesn’t want to waste her time dealing with me. I frustrate her and she doesn’t want to have to interact with me on a weekly basis. She sees some value in my output—as long as she doesn’t have to be in meetings with me or manage me or—acknowledge my existence as a fellow human being.
So why should she take two minutes to message me and let me know I would not be getting my full bonus? Yes, I’m on leave now—but clearly she wanted to have my new boss share the news in an early review before I went out then they weren’t ready for that in time so it never happened. Instead of being honest about things and sending me a note saying something about my bonus payout and anything else hitting before I get back from leave (Ie any paycuts/title demotions) I was just ignored. Left to see my lower bonus hit my account and to do the math myself. Even the note this morning was super cryptic. “Message me if you have any questions” — from the new boss. Uh, yes I have a question… what is my bonus payout based on as I can’t figure out how this number came to be… unless my pay was significantly cut and I haven’t been told that yet either.
It really makes little sense. My bonus is supposed to be 20% of my pay. But the bonus paid out only makes sense if my salary is 150k (it’s 175k, or at least it was.) If the bonus is a percentage of 175 then I’m not sure how they got 30k. So my bigger concern is if they are flailing around when to tell me my salary has been cut by 25k. Which is possible. Anything is possible. I don’t see how I can report to my new boss as we both are at the same level in the org—so I imagine either he needed to be promoted this year, or I needed to be demoted. This is maybe all in my head, but I’m pretty damn good at intuiting these things. But if any of this is true, they really should tell me before I find out via my paycheck. I mean, if they considered me worth anything. Clearly they don’t. And it fucking hurts.
That said, everyone knows I cannot walk. The value of my stock, at least this year, is way too high. As I’ve noted before it’s a winning lottery ticket in my hand and all I’ve got to do, barring any unexpected layoff, is to hold my breath, smile with whatever dignity I have left, and take the high road until I can take the high road out of there next year. If I can take my ego out of it, I’m in a really good position to ride this out. It’s just a year now. And, I also think my old boss likes me as a person, unlike prior bosses who have fired me quickly, and she deep down wants me to win here, she just gets frustrated by me and has no time or interest in being my coach. She is undoubtedly looking at an even bigger lottery ticket, a multi-year one at that, and she sure as hell isn’t letting little ol me get in the way of wherever that rocketship is taking her. And I respect her on many levels too. I admire her work ethic, her ability to multitask and always deliver excellent work. So I am sad I let her down. That I am in this awkward place between staying and going. But it is what it is. It most certainly won’t get any better. My job is to stay employed 12 more months. To do a few really strong projects between now and then, despite being in the sleep deprived haze of year one of parenting and full-time breastfeeding. Uh, good luck to me.
I’m trying to approach the year ahead as one quarter at a time. Each is an opportunity to earn more than I earned in an entire year before starting this job, and likely more than I’ll earn in an entire year after leaving. Yes, it’s sick how I, at a time when so many are going hungry and not allowed to work, even as an employee considered an underperformer, am being paid so damn much. I don’t deserve this at all, and yet here I am complaining about getting like 85% of my bonus instead of 100%. But I know my company performed strongly this year, and my guess is a small batch of people were given less than full bonuses to manage cash flow and maybe to prevent any layoffs in the coming year should things take a turn given the whole world is fucked right now. And many companies didn’t even pay out bonuses at all, so I’m damn lucky to get anything (and they know that.) Right?
For all I know, everyone didn’t get their full bonus this year. But if that was the case it would be helpful for them to communicate this to be as well. Just some sort of explanation now vs waiting until I come back from leave and have a formal review. Then again my boss apparently thought I was returning in 2 weeks (um, 6 weeks after having my baby) — which is not correct—I’ll be out for 14 weeks, a pretty big difference. Not sure where he got the 6 weeks from but again you would think if he wasn’t sure he might ask me (I also mentioned Q2 before so not sure where he got the idea i would be back in Feb?) Anyway, yet another example of how this company clearly doesn’t give a shit about me. If they don’t want me to leave, they sure as hell are doing a horrible job encouraging me to stay—esp after this year when my stock pool is much smaller. I must be in the bucket of employees titled “meh” — subtitle “let them leave on their own… or not… we don’t care.” I’m guessing this bucket is also the first to be cut in any formal layoff, so knock on wood that doesn’t happen this coming year,
Ok, so the challenge here is how to put out incredible work while being so ripped up about how I’m sitting in horse manure at my company with no path to get out of it. So I have to sit in the muck and smell it all day long and still have a big ass smile on my face and pretend like I don’t notice I’ve been relegated to function in a big ol pile of poop. I can get up and shower and get out on my own, but man does life in poop pile pay well. I think I’ll stay a while. And try to convince everyone I just lovvvveee sitting in heaps of feces, watching my colleagues be wrapped in the finest silk and flown on heavenly jets, and doing my best creative work. Ever. Like some brilliant shit that makes them think, man, we ought to keep her around for one-more-quarter. Just four more times. Three more, really, once I am back. So doable. So smelly. Shit.
But before you roll your eyes at me and my situation, know that even my silk-wearing colleague who took over my role is struggling. I mean, I’m not sure if anyone notices or if he is just overly critical of his work, but he is facing the same roadblocks I did due to the disorganization of leadership and constantly changing direction. People think he is brilliant so he gets away with delays and such, as far as I can tell, but he sees that the whole situation is pretty challenging for anyone to thrive in. I guess that makes me feel a bit better about things. Not that he is being set up to fail as well, but that anyone in that role would struggle (plus I always had that role plus about 90 other roles making it impossible to focus on doing it well, kind of unfair to compare my performance in the position to his anyway, right?)
Well, I should be sleeping as it is 4am but I have a 3 week old who refuses to sleep in his bassinet so I’m currently under him as he grunts and farts away the night (until he wakes up and looks like a bird human from a horror movie, attempting to find my nipples fit his hundredth nightly snack.) This is what matters. I’m trying to separate work from life but it’s hard as work has always been my life. I don’t know how to make it not my life. Maybe that’s the problem. But if you look at anyone in my company, especially those on my team, who are successful — well they live and breathe their jobs. My former boss hasn’t taken much time off since she started at the company, and I’m pretty sure she worked a bit even on her days off. I think she subconsciously resents me a bit too—being able to not only take maternity leave, but also taking vacation days and using them. I took no more than my colleague but I’m sure she forgot how much he took and sees me taking a lot as I’m a mom with kids so obviously I’m not dedicated to my job. Maybe it’s all in my head but I don’t think so. Unconscious bias is real and when you already have a narrative in your head about a person every little plot point will support that narrative unless you actively try to reframe it (or, you know, care to.) Everything I do supports her story of me being a train wreck. Anything positive I do is quickly forgotten. My only saving grace is that compared to a few prior hires who were total asses (or rightfully spoke up for themselves amidst the craziness, depending who you ask) I have generally maintained a ridiculously good attitude about sitting in the shit pile. Instead of complaining about my partial bonus pay or asking for an explanation I just responded with a thank you. When my former boss told me on my half year review that I just don’t have the personality to lead, I shared that I believe one can always get better at things and I will always try to improve myself, but I am open to any role she sees fit for my abilities (and lack thereof.) i guess compared to a few of her former hires and the crapshoot of future ones, I’m at least loyal and do good work. That’s not me trying to keep my job, that’s just me. I care a lot. Too much. It’s a problem. I’m not some corporate robot. I’m in it with my full heart. I can’t be any way else.
So right now I’m setting a first goal for June 30. At this point of the year I should be at approximately $450k in income for the year. Should I lose my job at that point, I can walk knowing this was still my second highest earnings year ever. While I can make about 200k per quarter for the remainder of the year (and very much want to make that additional 400k) I HAVE to feel good about getting to the end of June if that’s all I can do. That’s just 10 weeks or so after coming back from leave. And barring getting caught up in any mass layoff, or losing my mind and telling them “what I really think,” I should be able to make it. That’s a huge win. Ginormous. I have to be happy with that. And I can still earn more this year… I could take 3 months off and get another job in the fall and still make over 500k for the year. It’s hard to see that as winning if I’m leaving another 400k+ on the table (when it is likely my income will drop below 200k in my next role) but fuck it. I have to feel good about all of this. My husband makes 100k a year yet still makes me feel crappy about maybe losing my job half way through the year. I don’t think he really should criticize me when I have managed to earn so much in a short amount of time. Maybe taking 3 months off this year, should I get fired, isn’t the end of the world. Maybe it’s the start of a new world. I don’t know. I’m tired. Tired of being in their corporate career that makes no sense to me. I don’t know what I want other than not this. I want to write, I think, but maybe movies or tv shows or something. I want to help people. To inspire them. And to be a good mom. I don’t know. I feel like — I am turning 40 in less than 3 years. And while 40 isn’t “old” it sure as hell not young. Fuck I can’t even make those 40 under 40 lists anymore at that point. I’ll have to encourage someone to start 50 over 40 who aren’t yet 50 who suddenly figured out their life’s calling but aren’t old enough to be on lists of people who did that when they were impressively old. Or something. Did I mention I have a 3 week old and I haven’t slept much in 3 weeks?
June. 30. I’m going to get there. Some how, some way. After that every paycheck and vest for the year is icing on this melted manure cake. I’m all for icing, but I’ve got to grant myself some grace. Or whatever. It’s important to recognize that even if I am falling apart in the flesh, on paper I’m kicking ass. And, in reality, I’m just, as always, holding on for fear life. So I’ll keep on keepin on.