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 result of these unpleasant experiences is mental resilience, a major factor in developing executive maturity, which brings career growth.
The corporate landscape
After I landed my first corporate job, I realized that all the leadership training I had in the college club, and the Christian church that I’m part of did not prepare me for the corporate terrain. 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.
I also figured later that covering the backs of my staff is not exactly good. I learned later on that my team is the company, not my department. By covering the backs of my department, I am instead building my little kingdom and making my staff think that they are at war with the other little kingdoms, within the kingdom.
I made a lot of missteps as a newbie in the corporate environment, but over time, I learned that the best way to learn the norms and unwritten rules to survive is first and foremost, to shine by following the rules. Then stay put (better work with the devil you know than the devil you do not know), observe the dynamics and engage proactively. Just as the branch manager advised me on my 1st day on the job:
The one you replaced is a well-loved performing officer, it will be tough for you to replicate her accomplishments. My advice to you is just to settle down and be the best version of yourself. You will eventually find your place in this organization.
Corporate adulting: A proactive response to a negative experience
Past forward after 3 years and 2 companies, I thought I’d learned the art of surviving the corporate jungle. but moving up the corporate ladder is altogether a different challenge. Aspiring for and being appointed in a leadership position is 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 were given the opportunity. Needless to say, my direct reports worked for my removal as their manager.
Add to that, the ranks petitioned for a certification of election to recognize the union- this is the result of years of distrust between employees and the managers who failed to listen and attend to the concerns of the direct reports.
As if it is not enough, the company has highly competitive managers who had a habit of blaming HR whenever they cannot meet their targets, or they have issues at work. I quickly developed critical thinking because if I am not careful, I will fall into their trap.
The end result of this cocktail of problems, 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, this is the “kindest” word I received from a colleague
Sonnie if you want to pass your probationary period as HR Manager and remain a manager, don’t always look for help, learn how to paddle your own canoe.
Despite the hardship, I kept a positive outlook and dug deep within to keep myself motivated. I hung on to toughen myself emotionally. I developed a framework that acknowledges the greater power at work in the corporate environment, and when I submitted to it, I succeeded.
At the end of the day, I lost all fear–
- Fear that I will lose my job, hell I don’t care anymore.
- Fear that someone will say a bad report about me. This time around, I dare them just 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. 8 years later (10 years in the same company), I was pirated to another company to work as Asst. Vice President.
Because of corporate adulting, It made my present role as mentor and adviser to MSEs and managers enjoyable.
People who worked with me for a while have noticed that I am not in the business of sugar-coating my words and making people think they are in heaven even though they are in purgatory. In my opinion, the best way to build people is to acknowledge with them the facts (do not fool them), so they can make an informed and intelligent choice to join you, stay longer and grow professionally with you.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another –
King Solomon Prov. 27:17.