Days 65 & 66: Self-esteem in the Workplace

My boss sent me a job listing yesterday. This is not surprising; he and I were both laid off a few weeks ago. I’ve sent a couple listings his way, and have received them from any number of friends. This was the first one, however, that I have received from my boss.

What was remarkable wasn’t the fact of him sending me a job posting in and of itself. What struck me was the note he included. It said, “You can do this job.”

“You can do this job.”

As if to say, “Believe in yourself. Recognize your skills. Understand the value you bring.”

As if he were continuing to encourage and mentor me, as he did as my boss.

I reported to him for four years, after having been under a VP of a different department for ten. The change was not because of an upper management decision to which I was not privy. When my boss was assigned as the VP in charge of my product and we started working together more, it was very clear to me that I would benefit greatly from reporting to him directly. I did some fancy office-politics maneuvering in order to make it happen without ruffling any feathers.

It was, by far, the best thing I have ever done for my career. Four years later and I couldn’t be more grateful about having been successful in making that change happen.

My boss became a pal and mentor, and my professional development exploded.

We’ve been through a lot together in the past four years. I went through a traumatizing breakup and some intense depressive episodes. There were many days when I was unable to go to work, because I couldn’t summon the energy to get myself dressed and knew I would be in tears all day anyway. He understood and was supportive.

Meanwhile, he had his share of things he went through. And he knew he could count on me to keep our department running smoothly during his absences, two of which were several months long. But I had the skills and was able to do what needed to be done, and he knew that. I’m not sure I would have, but he did.

If I had been laid off four years ago, before the experience of working with him, I would have been in a panic. I would have had no idea what I was qualified to do and I would have feared greatly for my future.

I probably would have job searched from a place of desperation. I would not have thought enough of myself to look for jobs I might want. Instead, I would have looked for anything I thought I might be capable of doing. And if I were hired, I would have simply been grateful someone was willing to take a chance on me. I would not have thought of myself as deserving of that chance.

Now, because of the experience of having worked with one good manager, I understand my worth. I recognize my skill set. I know I will acclimate fine into a new role and that I will contribute greatly to any organization I work with.

He sent me a job description and said, “You can do this job.”

He knows me well. He knew I was likely to look at the “requirements” section of the listing, see all the certifications they wish a candidate to have, and assume I wouldn’t qualify. He knew I would assume I wasn’t good enough, because it’s what I tend to do.

My boss is still mentoring me, still guiding me to believe in myself and recognize the importance of all I’m capable of. I don’t have certifications (yet), but I’ve been doing the job well for many years, since long before he became my boss.

Self-confidence is one of those things everyone knows is an asset, but it isn’t something that develops in a vacuum. One needs the people around them to act as magic mirrors, making people see themselves both as they are and as they could be in the best possible light.

My self-esteem has never been fantastic. But after four years of reporting to this one particular boss, it’s absolutely the best it’s ever been. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

To learn more about personnel management done right, I highly recommend askamanager.com.

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