Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Easy Decisions

I’m not good at making decisions sometimes, but some are so easy that they pretty much make themselves. I’d just like to say, right now, that I love this kind of decision!

Creative writing prompt #26 says to write about one of the easiest decisions of my life. The difficult decision here is which easy decision to choose...

Do I go for:
- deciding to say yes when Boy proposed to me?
- deciding to move 2 hours north to live with Boy after 9 months of dating? (In a way this was a difficult decision due to leaving behind everything and everyone I'd ever known, but there was no question for me that it was what I wanted)
- agreeing to be godmother to my BFF's children?
- deciding to finally call it a day with my ex when I realised exactly how little I, and our relationship, meant to him? The rose tinted glasses well and truly came off when he decided to go to the gym rather than have a serious talk with me, so I told him, in no uncertain terms, where he could stick it.
- accepting an offer of a secondment at a time when I was extremely unhappy in my work role?

All of the above were some of the easiest decisions possible, but I'm actually going to write about that last one.

Towards the end of 2010, I was approached by an ex-colleague of mine who had been asked to put together a small team with the purpose of improving certain aspects of train planning and reducing delays. We had worked together doing exactly this previously, until the company had decided to centralise this and took all the work to our new National Centre. Since this had happened, the quality of the work had deteriorated so much that it had reached the Route Director's radar and he wanted it resolved. So he called on my mate SB to lead this project.

When SB first contacted me about it, I was torn. I was overjoyed at the offer to work with him, but my big concern was that travelling to York every day would cost a fortune. Boy was already doing it, and the cost of travel between home and York is outrageous - contrary to most people's assumption, just because we work in the rail industry does not mean we get free travel. We do not. It's not even discounted by much. So we certainly couldn't afford for both of us to be paying out for it. I was absolutely thrilled to be reassured that there would be no issue with this - I would be based in York at the company's request, and therefore my travel costs would be taken care of. Win!!

The day I was to speak to my line manager about the fact that I'd been approached was the day I had my performance review. At this particular time, I was feeling very undervalued and underappreciated - which was reinforced when my boss gave me a rating of "poor" despite the fact that he had no evidence to support this. I was doing the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs, never missed a deadline, never messed up an order... And yet he still said I was "poor". So, at the end (which was his decision, he wanted to say his things before I got to say mine), I told him about the offer. He actually had the cheek to say that if he'd let me have my say first, it might have changed the comments he'd made. How on earth can anything I've got to say have any bearing on his rating of my performance, if he genuinely believes his appraisal to be true? The fact is, HR tell every line manager that they're allowed to dish out a certain percentage of "good", a certain percentage of "excellent", and they must include a certain percentage of "poor". Unfortunately for me, I was the easy scapegoat on our team because I'd had 3 months signed off sick with depression earlier that year.

After my performance review, there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that accepting the secondment was something I wanted to do. I wanted to work in a team where I was respected, where my work was valued, where people had faith in me that I would deliver quality. I was sick of feeling like I was constantly on eggshells, like people were just waiting for me to slip up - even though I never did. I wanted to enjoy being at work, rather than endure it and go home every evening and cry.

Initially, I was offered a term of 6 months, but SB told me it was very likely to be extended if we proved ourselves - and there was no doubt we would because we'd all done this work in the past and we did it well. I ended up being part of that team for a total of 21 months, and in addition to it being an easy decision it was also an excellent one. I got my confidence back, because after working for 3 years with people who didn't respect me I'd completely lost that - but SB and the other guys knew I was the best person for the job and knew that I would always, always get things done right, on time, and to a high standard. Not to mention that we all actually got on and had a laugh and were genuinely friends. My time within that team saw some really difficult times - I lost my dad only 2 weeks after my move - and I had nothing but unwavering support from them.

As far as easy decisions go, this one was definitely right up there - and making the right decision honestly changed my life. SB is probably the greatest manager I've ever had, and even though this project came to an end more than 18 months ago and he has since left the company, we're still in touch and we're still friends. His attitude to work and people management made for a much more pleasant working day - and don't we all want to work in an enjoyable atmosphere, where we're appreciated and respected and trusted?

What easy decisions have you made in your life?

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3 comments:

  1. I've had a job where it didn't feel like my performance review had anything to do with my actual performance! At the 6 month mark, I went to my superiors and asked them to give me an assessment and let me know if there was anything I could be doing better. One said I was great, and the other only had 1 suggestion, which I immediately implemented. 2 weeks later, I was put on "probation" and given a huge list of flaws with my performance that had never been mentioned at any point during my 6 months of working. Needless to say, it was an easy decision to put in my 2 weeks, rather than follow through with their "performance improvement" plan.

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  2. I was once told that I looked like one of the children I taught in a performance review. Despite always dressing professionally, I don't know if it was because I am short, because later I was denied a move to teach older children because I was too small and it would have been too much of a risk for me - many of the children had challenging behaviour. But....four years later I was moved to Post 16! Totally flummoxes me still!

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  3. I always find new doors open when old ones close! A very big decision that certainly paid off for you and made a huge difference to how you felt! I've made lots of decisions in my life and certainly big ones at a young age - I wouldn't be where I am today without taking a different path to what I may normally have taken, but I am super happy, so my gut was totally right! :) x

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