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Been off licking my wounds…

I think it is fair to say that the Big Meeting with Bossman was not an unqualified success and I’ve spent a few days off licking my wounds and taking some time to think.


It had been rather built up in my mind – this was going to be The Moment when I’d find out how the whole flexible working thing would work.  It would be the moment when this large firm that prides itself on its diversity and family friendliness would show its true colours and let me find a way to get back to a place where work and life felt a bit more in balance.


The good news was that work wise I’m doing ok.  That my abilities are not in doubt and that I can still do the job.  Which is good.


Trouble was that the negative feedback was that Bossman thought that I’d been a bit miserable recently.  That I’d been unhappy.  He’d even been surprised that someone had come up to him and asked if I was ok, that they thought I might be unhappy.


And the solution to this was to not focus on how to deal with the underlying issues that might be making me unhappy but to suggest that I just needed to be better at being jolly.




And then we moved onto my little paper I’d written for him setting out the case for flexible working.  Setting out how I thought I could make it work and how I thought I could make it work for them.


Basically where we got to is that he doesn’t think it’ll work in our part of the business, I could consider moving sideways into a non-client job which is what they usually do and perhaps we could have a chat with the only lady he knows who does it and see (incidentally she has a full time house husband).  But really he’d consider giving it a trial perhaps but he’s far from convinced.  But it might be worth exploring because he does have someone else in the team who might want flexible working in the future and she’s a good egg that they want to keep…


Oh and if I do this it will impact my ability to get promoted.  So not only am I miserable, I’m now difficult and about to shoot my career in the foot.


So we are no further forward.


It doesn’t seem like this is a firm that are willing to follow through their grand statements about diversity and how they want to nurture women in senior roles and how flexibility and different working patterns are to be encouraged to enable them to keep good people.


After a few days away I’ve at least moved on from my immediate knee jerk reaction to burst into tears and tell them where to stuff their job.


Trouble is that I’m not sure what to do now.


Do I stay or do I go?  And if I go what else can I do, where else can I work?  If I stay do I really want to go through all of this and can I make it work?

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20 comments to Been off licking my wounds…

  • I’m no expert in working for a big company, but I have been in a similar situation. Basically I see it like this, you go to work for the money primarily,it doesn’t matter if you are doing the job of your dreams or not at the end of the day most people would not go to work (for money) unless they have to. I mean, otherwise you would go and volunteer somewhere doing something they really want to do. So, I know it sounds harsh, but if you want the cash then you need to accept that either you fall into line or you find a job elsewhere. Or at least thats the conclusion that I have reached.

    As for the misery, well, I deal with this by being overtly cheerful to everyone and everything at work and laughing off all criticism. Its a reached a stage where people now have no idea whether I am taking the P. or not which means they dont mess with me which has made my life an awful lot easier. Its hard to do though.

    Going to work is the hardest thing with kids and I cant imagine the stress and the pressure of a job like yours, but then there are swings and roundabouts to everything. The other day I was be-moaning my crap salary to a colleague. This may sound silly to you but I am a little ashamed asking some of the mums from school round because my house is so rubbish compared to theirs. She pointed out that its all about the choices we make and somewhere along the way we all pay for stuff in different ways. If you take an easier less demanding more flexible role (I have no idea) but I imagine you might have to make sacrifices in areas of your life such as maybe the house, but then you might be happier, less stressed and able to do other things.

    Its very hard and I can totally understand your thoughts. I hope you come to a good solution which works for all of you.

  • I completely understand your situation and have been there myself. I’ve gone back out to working for myself so that I can continue to juggle effectively. The thing is, kids never really reach that magical school age when you can go back to a full time career, I’ve found even teenagers need to know that you are available. I’ve also found that I am the only one I can trust to juggle my home and work responsibilities, no one else really gives a stuff. As Zoo Archaeologist says, it’s all about the money hunny. Oh and ZA dont’ worry I don’t invite people back to my crap house either, because I am also embarrassed about where I live at this stage of my life. Muddling you need to think about what you want, and not what you should do! V xx

  • Redbedhead

    You have my sympathy. I had a similar dilemma on my return from mat leave with G. In that case the decision was made for me when they made me redundant and I then found a job with an organisation that claim to be family friendly but actually are!

    A few observations are:

    1 It doesn’t matter how family friendly the organisation say they are if your immediate boss doesn’t follow through. I am v lucky in that my bosses are great in this regard but I know of others in our organisation that aren’t anywhere near as flexible.

    2 Do you think it will do long term damage to your career to work flexibly? I could live with an element of short term damage / lack of promotion but would struggle if I felt that was it and I wouldn’t now progress for the remaining 30 years or so of my career.

    3 I have found that you can’t really have it all, sad I know. Something has to give. For me I have sacrificed a certain amount of progression in my career, so my promotion prospects are limited for the time. However, I am still reasonably well paid, my work is enjoyable, my bosses are fab and flexible and best of all I see lots of the girls despite working full time. It is a compromise that works for me but might not work for others. You need to find where your lines lie.

    Good luck, sounds like your boss talks the talk but really isn’t willing to walk the walk.

    • Muddling Along

      I’m not even sure that he’s willing to talk the talk – and you are very right that it does just depend on who you work for directly

      Am going to spend a bit more time thinking this weekend – question is whether to be the tall poppy and give it a go or skulk off and find something else

  • Karen

    Sorry for being blunt but ‘Bossman’ sounds like a total tosser! If he thought you were unhappy and had even had a colleague ask him if you were okay then HE should have approached you. Have you spoken to your H.R. Dept too or is it company procedure to direct everything through him?

    I totally agree with everything said above. Having followed you and read your blogs for some time now I do wonder how on earth you keep going with everything you’ve got on your plate. One thing you haven’t mentioned is how your husband feels about it all and what advice and support he has. You make it sound like a decision you are taking on your own and I’m sure this isn’t the case.

    For the record you have never come across as miserable. Hope you come to the decision that is right for you and your family xxx

    • Muddling Along

      Mr Muddling is wonderful – he doesn’t want me to be unhappy but he does want me to be fullfilled and he does think that my job is important for me (and my sanity) but he does agree that full time may not be quite what our family needs right now with his extra travelling

      And yes, Bossman does come across sometimes as a bit of a tosser!

  • Clearly you CAN have it all. Just not at the same time.

    Agree, it is largely about the money but I wouldn’t do a job just for that. I’d rather take a cut and go without a few things (except Clinique Youth Surge face cream, obviously) than be made unhappy by a horrid boss. You are clearly very employable with great skills x

    • Muddling Along

      Thank you – just wish I knew where to find a something else, what I do is quite niche and it feels like a scary world out there (and I don’t like quitting)

  • ARghhh….these are the impossible challenges of being a working mother that men never even have to consider (mostly). It’s tough and lonely. Everyone says ‘do what you feel is right’ but there are so many considerations other than what YOU want for yourself.

    I think that job makes you so miserable, frustrated and the bossman makes you feel undervalued…I’d say it’s time to move on, whether to something similar but different or take a big jump and do something totally different.

    Do the sums work if you jack it in, get rid of the nanny, tighten your belt for 6 months whilst you figure it out? I think you’re at a bit of a crossroads my love. Big opportunities, big change, big scary monsters too.

    Be bold xx

    • Muddling Along

      Trouble is that what feels right changes from moment to moment and day to day

      Big opportunities, big change, big problem that I’m tied into here for a bit due to various contract things but you are right, I do need to think further afield and be less afraid – gulp!

  • I think we need to meet up for a chat again.

    LCM x

  • Is that conversation with BossMan even strictly legally?
    Is it time to speak to HR? Not so much from the legal angle but “look I thought this company had all these wonderful diversity policies and prides itself on being flexible? How can we help eachother work through this?”
    Not a pleasant thing to do but maybe no less pleasant than the situation you find yourself in now?
    My heart goes out to you and yes, maybe this is a cross-roads, maybe it will end up being a good thing job wise.
    big love xxx

    • Muddling Along

      I’m not sure that telling me it’ll destroy my promotion prospects… but I have wanted to keep it low key until we get to a framework that works for us – involving HR I worry may just push them into saying no and at least the moment it isn’t no

      And yes I do foresee a horrid conversation where I do point out that they did tell me this place was flexible and family friendly before I started and that their external reputation is not that this is a place you can’t work part time

  • What a horrible situation! I hope he goes away and thinks about it and comes to a cleverer conclusion.

    • Muddling Along

      Me too – he has daughters so you’d like to think he saw the benefits of rolling out changes that help working women

  • As with many of your commenter’s I very much understand your position. I would say that in my experience the most critical thing in work is a boss that you can work with. Sounds like this is not the case here so maybe working for the other department is a good idea? put’s you in a good position to look out for something else?

    • Muddling Along

      We have found working together tough – we’re very different in our approach and its been difficult for both of us

      Definitely time to look around and explore options

  • Hmm, interesting and difficult situation. I actually work in the area of equality and diversity (esp in the area of gender and flexible working) for a large organisation. If you ever want to have a chat or bounce some thoughts about this issue please email me. Under the law they HAVE to consider your application properly and there must be clear business case as to why they don’t think it will work – not just him thinking it might be slightly more tricky for him or something. There should also be an appeal process. Anyway, if you want to discuss further drop me a line 🙂

    • Muddling Along

      Thank you – I may very well take you up on that, I had written a proposal that seemed to tick off all the boxes but sadly the initial reaction was a knee jerk ‘we can’t do this’ rather than reading the full thing

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