Asking for a Friend: Advice from Babe to Babe
Introducing: the Babes Who Hustle Advice Column
Behind every hustlin’ babe is a support system of other babes sharing their insight, venting their frustrations, and lifting each other up. That's why our team is thrilled to launch our latest endeavor: Asking for a Friend, an advice column for babes to turn to with their various questions and concerns about the ever-changing workplace experience.
In assembling an impressive team of our very own community members from various industries and professional backgrounds to answer the questions we’re all asking (or wishing we had the guts to ask,) the intention behind this column is to provide as much knowledge and reassurance to our audience as it has already given to us.
We hope this weekly addition to our editorial calendar inspires you to fill your cup, cozy up, and dive into all the invaluable advice that the BWH community has to offer.
Have you spoken with your supervisor about additional responsibilities within the position you already have? While it may not necessarily come with a title change, it may give you the recharge you need to find the work interesting again. If you did everything you could on your end, then you may have already answered your own question—oftentimes that twinge in our gut gives voice to the things we’re not quite ready to admit. One of the most important parts of being a good staff member is recognizing when there isn’t anything left to give, even if that means moving onto a new position and taking your talents elsewhere.
—DIANA MORRIS, BABE #182
It's definitely important to be honest and upfront with people about your career goals, especially if your hope is to move up with your current company. Many times when people are aware you have aspirations to become an assistant director, director, manager, etc., they will keep you in mind for opportunities. But if you're already feeling stagnant or unsure (despite making your aspirations known), a tell-tale sign is to observe your surroundings. When was the last person in a similar role promoted? How does your resume measure up to theirs? How do your levels of education and experience, skillset or length of time with the company compare? If you feel like you’re similar in desirability to someone else who was recently promoted, or are on that general trajectory, hang tight and continue to let your aspirations be known. But, also take notice of your office or department as a whole. If someone else was recently promoted into the only other open position and your company doesn't create new positions often, then you pretty much have your answer. Most companies (and bosses) know when they can't afford to hang on to good talent and are understanding when the time comes for you to take something new, especially if you've been discussing your plans with them all along.
—ALEXI STRONG GONZALEZ, CONTRIBUTOR
I recently had to ask myself this and here’s what it boils down to for me: (1) When the situation is something you can change, keep pushing for movement within. Whether that’s reading new books in your industry, going for a certification or offering new implementations within your organization. If you’ve done all that and have a good track record with your superiors, schedule some time to ask them how they perceive the growth of the company and how you could fit into that. I think it’s perfectly appropriate to go to your superiors with questions about your growth. (2) When you’re dealing with elements you can’t change, like poor leadership, toxic work environment, plateau on salary or no upward mobility available in the company, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
—KATE PIERSON, CONTRIBUTOR
I’ve realized when it comes to balancing work and personal issues: sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t. It’s good to have one coworker you can trust to be aware of an issue, whether it’s your boss or a coworker, who doesn’t necessarily need to know details or be very close to you but can be a support system in small ways (e.g. grab coffee with you, offer you their office when you need to cry, etc). I know I tend to deal with my depression in unhealthy ways by throwing myself into work and ignoring my personal life, but I de-stress by running, swimming at the beach or listening to a podcast. If you’re an ambitious person, instead of outlets to relieve stress, it might be helpful to look at an inspirational quote that jolts you back to where your attention should be focused. My favorite quote is from Oprah; it helps me every time: "Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment." So, I ask myself: Does focusing on this personal matter help me get to where I want to be?
—MARISOL SAMAYOA, BABE #65
I remember going through a devastating breakup in my mid- twenties. I was teaching then, and I went to the headmaster (who was not someone I was close to and not someone who was exactly warm and fuzzy) and said: "I'm dealing with a personal issue right now that’s really difficult. I will be here every day as usual, but I need to leave at the beginning of sixth period until I can get a better handle on things." (Sixth period was my planning and also the last period of the day.) He was awesome about it; he didn't pry and he wished me luck. Later, when I was struggling to balance being a mom of a 2-year-old and a newborn with being a full-time employee while my husband was deployed, I went to my boss (who had one kid, a husband who was home and a nanny who came to her home every day). I told her I was struggling to do it all, that I was barely staying on top of things and certainly not getting ahead. I asked her for help in prioritizing work tasks. Her response was that I needed to accept that it was OK to not get ahead on everything and that just keeping the plates spinning—even if they were wobbling—was enough for her as my boss. I'm a big believer in direct, honest conversations. But I also believe you shouldn't ask for accommodation unless you're truly in crisis. It's much harder to deny a request if you've never asked for anything before, you know?
—AMANDA HANDLEY, CONTRIBUTOR
I think you really have to compartmentalize. Remind yourself you’re at work to work and leave your drama, heartache and stress at home. Find an outlet somewhere else, whether that’s exercise, counseling, meditation, etc., so you can process those feelings and then be totally focused when you walk into your job.
—JODY JOYNT, BABE #41
Navigating inappropriate situations in the workplace can be difficult and HR structures can vary from job to job. I have found a lot of people think reporting an issue to HR is going to be like waving a magic wand; your problem should be instantly resolved. Perhaps in ideal situations that might be the case, but I think unless you have a lot of evidence to back up a compliant, the HR department can only do so much. The best advice I ever received was to remember that HR is there to look out for the best interest of the company and to help protect the company. My advice would be to try to work out a solution with the other party involved before going to HR and keep everything documented. If the conflict isn’t getting better and your supervisor has been looped in, approaching HR would be the next step.
—DANIELLA CABEZAS, BABE #26
It really depends on the trust and relationships you have with your company. Do note that every HR department is legally bound to hear you out and keep you anonymous, should you request it. I once had an issue where I had to report someone who was unstable, violent and harassing people inappropriately. I found the person in HR whose job was most related to my concerns and asked if I could have a private, confidential and sensitive conversation with them on the topics listed above. This gave them appropriate context for our call and allowed them to set up the necessary anonymity precautions. I’m happy to say they were able to handle the situation professionally and keep my name out of it.
—HILLARY KIRTLAND, CONTRIBUTOR
I feel there are two main ways from which to approach this kind of issue. The first is if you are the victim of clear-cut harassment or abuse. If a boss or coworker threatens or intimidates you sexually or physically, you should have no qualms about reporting them right away (especially in this day and age). People who behave that way are predatory and habitual. You’re not the first person they've treated that way and you will not be the last, so don't hesitate to report their behavior and have a third-party intervene. Depending on your company's HR structure, do some research beforehand to determine the best person in the department to approach. If there are more than 20 people in HR, research titles and roles. The benefits administrator may be able to help less (or just not be as equipped to handle it), in a serious harassment situation than a compliance manager. Likewise, you may be better off speaking with a coordinator or manager as opposed to the vice president of HR, and that person may be more easily accessible. Something to keep in mind is that while HR is legally obligated to hear you out, there are instances where your complaints cannot be kept anonymous. I worked at a public university, and we were subject to Sunshine Laws. This meant you could go in and vent to someone in HR about a bad experience, but if you wanted something done about it, you had to file an official complaint that became part of public record—meaning you had to put your name on it.
—ALEXI STRONG GONZALEZ, CONTRIBUTOR
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!