Is Corporate adulting the same as professional maturing?
Corporate adulting is what I refer to as the “maturing experiences” that professionals go thru in a corporate environment. The progressive result of this journey “should be” career growth.
The corporate landscape
After I landed my first corporate job, I realized that all the leadership training I had in a youth club, and the church did not prepare me for the terrain in the corporate jungle. Needless to say that I was caught flat-footed and went thru unnecessary emotional disturbances because of it.
For example, I was trained to be transparent about my weakness because teammates are there to help. Ahm, well, I had bullying episodes because of that. As a youth leader, I was also trained to cover the backs of my team. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered bosses who were distrustful of their direct reports. I later figured that there are direct reports who are after their bosses’ position, that’s why bosses are distrustful. These direct reports made attempts to push the boss out so they can present themselves as an alternative. I can’t understand these direct reports back then because my brain was wired to “submit” to my boss by default.
I made a lot of missteps as a newbie in the corporate environment, but over time, I learned the norms and unwritten rules to survive and find my way. Just as the branch manager advised me on my 1st day:
The one you replaced is a super performing officer, it will be tough for you to replicate it. My advice first is to settle down, then find your way. You will eventually find your place in this organization.
Corporate adulting: A proactive response to a negative experience
I thought I have learned the terrain but moving up the corporate ladder is totally a different animal. When I applied for and was granted a probationary appointment to a senior manager position, I went through a hellish round of experiences.
I was assigned to take over the HR department of a different company with tenured staff. These people resented that an outsider and a newbie was given the opportunity. So you can imagine the atmosphere in our department. Add to that, the ranks petitioned for a certification of election to recognize the union. As if it is not enough, the company has highly competitive managers who developed working dynamics that if you are not careful, you will fall into a trap.
Because of all the above, I acquired stress-related sicknesses like diverticulosis and stress dermatitis. I also received a recommendation to undergo physical therapy for recurring lower back pain.
My choices back then are to quit or go down swinging. Since I would never forgive myself if I quit. I opted to just suck the pain and push forward. Mental health is not a “thing” during that time, forget about support groups or mental wellness leave. It is not in the corporate lingo then.
In one of my lowest moments as a newbie HR Manager, these are the closest encouraging words I got from the “kindest” manager in our team, she said:
If you want to survive and get the nod of the team, learn how to paddle your own canoe.
Despite the hardship, I kept a positive outlook and dug deep within to keep myself motivated. I hanged on to faith and chose to follow God’s lead.
At the end of the difficult journey, I lost all fear–
- fear that I will lose my job, hell I don’t care.
- fear that someone will say a bad report, I dare them to do it in my presence.
- fear that employees will go to Tulfo, to DOLE, I dare them to make sure to have a valid case otherwise, they will have problems with me.
- fear that I will not be liked. Being a man-pleasing office politician is more stressful at the end of the day
I also realized it’s nobody’s business to be a motivator. The best people can do is point me to the source of intrinsic motivation, and accompany me on the journey. At the end of the day, it is me and only me who can motivate myself.
This corporate adulting journey resulted in gaining executive maturity. Those experiences prepared me for an executive-level position later on, and these made my present role as mentor and adviser to MSEs and managers enjoyable.
Because of this, it has been my personal mission and that of #HeRoUniverse community, to share these lessons in form of articles, learning sessions, coaching, and mentoring. This, so the corporate adulting experiences of the next generation need not be unpleasant. We also started creating social cards like below, to sharpen the saw of upcoming leaders.
But I don’t think I am the only one who has a corporate adulting lesson to share. Every professional reading this has a story, allow us to learn from you too, by sharing your experience in the comment section below.