One Day At A Time~
I was inspired to write about the one professional regret I have and this topic prompt is just right for that.
(*winks at Kathy*)
In the mid nineties I left the salon to work for a product company. It was my favorite product line and the job to educate other hairdressers throughout Michigan on this great line just kind of jumped in my face. I went after it.
I interviewed for the position and discovered that I had always hoped to end my hairdressing career doing exactly this job! As I listened to the owner of the distribution center for all of Michigan and parts of Canada tell me all about what this position consisted of doing, I was totally aware that I was meant to have this job. I would be as good for this company as they would be good for me.
I was offered the job on the spot at the conclusion of the interview with a compensation package I would never be able to earn as a hairdresser. I was to take a couple of days to think it over and a couple of days to talk with my employer then give the owner a call and let him know IF and WHEN I wanted to start my training.
There was no IF in my mind. I wanted this job. I knew I would be very good at it with the proper training and I knew the man who would be doing the training was exactly the person I wanted to learn from. He had been with this company since before it's inception. He and the founder had been colleagues and friends for many years and he knew these products from a chemical point of view as well as from the marketing point of view. I knew the inside outs of salon life and which products were beneficial and which were essential. It was a match made in heaven or California.
Overview of the job~I traveled four days a week throughout the state teaching and motivating. I did a little sales work here and there and I did paper work, follow ups, emails and scheduling from the office one day a week. Weekends were free unless there was a show someplace. I attended and worked every show where our product was offered or showcased. I got to attend a seminar in Palm Springs when their new color line was being introduced and I got to officially join the National Educators Team. It was a slice of heaven for this wannabe teacher and dyed in the wool hairdresser. I loved this job! My bosses were there for the final presentation, at which I had 2 models to show and I got extremely high praise for my professional and entertaining approach. They were (Mr. & Mrs. Owner) very impressed with my knowledge and my work on the models. They raved about how comfortable I was on stage and told me everyone was asking who I was and could they 'borrow' me for their introductions in their areas. I was so pleased and so satisfied.
Jumping forward one year~I was hosting a workshop at corporate headquarters and Mr. Boss informed me that the sales managers would be sitting in, if I didn't mind. I really didn't mind and I had no real choice anyway. He da Boss.
I assumed they were there because I had many of their clients in this workshop and they wanted to hear what the customers were hearing.
Not exactly the case. They were 'ordered' there to 'critique' my workshop.
Let me stop right here a minute. Every workshop had questionnaires filled out by all attendees and I had seen every one of them. I had a few negative comments about not giving away enough free product, not giving them enough discounts for attending and also one who said she thought I was very aggressive. The other hundreds were about learning a lot, loving the hands on, liking the way I made learning fun and exciting and how they left not being able to wait for their next order to come in so they could get busy doing what we had learned at that workshop. Seriously, excellent comments and many hundreds of them!
So...following the workshop and the departure of all the participants, the managers, Mrs. Boss and I all went to dinner. Apparently Mr. Boss was busy or just didn't want to be part of the dinner or should I say roasting.
We had a lovely dinner and Mrs. Boss ordered everyone an after-dinner drink. While we were all enjoying that and discussing the workshop, she said something like, "Let's get down to business now. First Manager, please tell Jo what your take on her presentation would be."
And the party turned ugly. The three of them began tearing me limb from limb. There was not one positive statement made. They didn't like my light-hearted attitude during the product knowledge section. They didn't like that I wore a suit and heels, it seemed too upity to them. They didn't like my hairstyle, recently done at OUR show by OUR designers on platform. They didn't like my interaction with the clients, I was to teach not them. They didn't like my handouts. Not enough of them and I didn't really follow them as I taught. They didn't think I taught as much as I talked. It went on and on. Mrs. Boss had asked me to just listen and then I would, of course, be given the floor.
When they had finished, I had basically nothing to say. I looked at each of them while I gathered myself and my self-respect and finally I said, "Wow, I am shocked. I am deflated. I am angry. What I am not feeling is critiqued. I am feeling steamrolled and beaten. I am going to leave now and collect my thoughts. I will think through everything that was said here and I'll possibly have more to say later, but for now, I need to separate myself from the three of you and try to figure out exactly what would make anyone think this was a good thing. This, my co-workers and Mrs. Boss, was NOT a good thing. Good evening and thank you for the wonderful dinner Mrs. Boss."
One day at a time. I listened. I reran my year with this company in my head all the way home. An hours drive is long enough to clear muck and mire and make some sense of what my evening had turned into. It really made no sense unless Mr. & Mrs. Boss had enlisted the managers to help get me to decide to resign, based on my obvious poor performance. They had pretty much convinced me that I sucked at a job where I thought I was a rock star! Two weeks before this happened, I was given glowing accolades for my presentation to a chain salon. Mr. Boss had been present and he was over the top impressed with my growth and comfort in my position. That was another day. This one was different.
Reviewing my year, seeing the ups and the downs and the future compared to my past, one day at a time, it was so clear to me that I had to leave this job. I had to stop doing what I knew was the best thing I had ever done because the people who were signing my check no longer held my respect.
I regret having done that because I believe now that I could have become stronger and better and I could have moved way beyond this distributorship if I hadn't let the ridiculousness of the attack take me down. If I had stood my ground and gone to Mr. Boss the following work day and said, "No, I didn't enjoy being attacked and I will, for the record, never sit through another one, I did learn something. Co-workers are not friends and professionalism does not exists here. I am very good at what I do and both you and I know that. I have no idea what that was all about and frankly, I don't care. I am staying on here until or unless there is a real reason to move on. If you choose to fire me, that's okay. But I am not quitting and I am not changing my entire program. You and I built that program together and it is solid and good."
But, I left.
I learned a big lesson that evening and it has led me down a good road. I learned to treat every employee and co-worker with great respect and remember how I felt during the attack anytime I had to address a situation. It served me well the rest of my career. When I did have to fire someone, they often thanked me for the opportunity to work with me. I allowed them to leave my business with their self-respect in tact.