In which Jill helps you get your mojo back. (But are you sure you want it?)
You’re done. You don’t want to be, but the writing’s on the wall. Gretchen’s not feeling the love from her boss or her peers. In the dark of night, she thinks it might be time for her to pack her bags. There’s just one thing: she doesn’t want to go.
I’ve worked at a pharmaceutical company for almost 17 years and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I came up through the ranks. I started in the Claims department and was bit by the analytics bug! I went to night school to study statistics, learned how to use a handful of BI and analytics tools, and became a Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP).
Two years ago my boss put me in charge of data governance, a role that has broadened across our sales and marketing division. I feel I have delivered in this role. Still, business people are reluctant to include me in their data discussions. I find I am still trying to convince people to be data-driven.
I see a tremendous opportunity to expand data governance into our research and development (R&D) division. I think I could instill some new practices that might show the sales and marketing side the potential of using data.
My problem is that my boss won’t support me. In fact, he’s told me not to raise the subject with R&D. I understand this is political. But it’s had a chilling effect. Fewer people are attending my data governance meetings, and even a recent Lunch and Learn session turned out to be sparsely attended. I feel like I’m going backward.
I just received my review. My boss gave me a raise below cost of living and some terse feedback, nothing specific. I’ve tried to get the support of some of my old users. They know what I’ve done and can vouch for my work. But even they don’t seem enthusiastic.
I’m at a loss for what’s going on. I’m feeling invisible. Any advice for what to do?
–Gretchen in New Jersey
Gretchen, you’ve served your company well, and they’re lucky to have you. I suspect that neither your boss nor your users fully understand the historical contributions you’ve made to the company, and how much of the current analytics program is due to your contributions.
One possible problem is that people are growing tired of the data conversation. Data governance was ultra-hot a few years ago, but now many companies have ingested data quality and management functions into their business operations. Data governance is less discrete than it used to be.
Putting that aside, we have to be honest about the possibility that your company is not taking you seriously. How do you know? Read these 10 questions and note the FIRST answer that pops into your head:
- When you ask for time with your boss, does it take her more than a week to respond? Or does she neglect to respond at all?
- Have answers to your questions about direction or decisions by superiors been dismissed with little to no explanation?
- Has it been more three months since a subordinate or coworker has approached you for advice or counsel?
- Are you included in decisions that require consensus?
- Have there been meetings or conference calls you felt you should have been invited to, but weren’t?
- Are superiors’ replies to your emails typically a sentence or less, with no suggested action or follow-up?
- Has it been a while since you or your team’s work has been cited by someone outside your team?
- Have your requests for training or employee development been denied?
- Has a superior told you to stop doing something you’re doing?
- Have important work conversations included topics you’ve already discussed with others? Do you find that you’re repeating yourself?
If your immediate answer to six or more of these questions is “yes,” you have some decisions to make. It can be hard to face some of these truths. But it can be even harder to ignore them. You’re being marginalized in your workplace.
You have two choices. One is to go official. Request an in-person meeting with your boss. Emphasize that this is about your job status. If she doesn’t respond to your request within 48 hours, contact HR. Explain that you’d like an honest assessment of your work performance and your future at the company.
Your other choice is to admit that you might be stagnating and are ready to move on. Update your LinkedIn profile, write a few articles or blog posts that highlight your experience, and start networking. You’ve served your company admirably and learned a lot in the process. It’s hard, but as Emerson said, “Every wall is a door.” It might be time to walk on through to your next opportunity.