I’m a 55-year-old woman with more than 12 years at a non-profit provincial organization, working f rom a home office. I’m being managed from afar by a 30-year-old micro-manager who has limited people skills and zero managerial experience. Over the past year I lost my co-worker of seven years, apparently due to downsizing, and had three major projects taken from my portfolio.
I am extremely bored and don’t feel I am valued despite the fact I have lots to offer due to my acquired expertise and experience. I have not had a raise in the past four years nor have I had a performance review despite been sent complimentary e-mails from our clients. I have even contacted our employee assistance program due to stress.
Do I speak to my superiors to let them know I’m feeling left out, ignored and undervalued? Do I continue my search for a new job in a tough market for an older worker? Or do I ride it out in the event I get a severance or a buyout?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Vice-president of HR, HP Advanced Solutions Inc., Victoria
Let me assure you that in today’s labour market, 55 is not old! More companies are leveraging intergenerational talent strategies to help develop and retain a motivated work force, including recognition of the value of the knowledge and expertise of baby boomers.
Now, to your specific issue. The most common reason for employees feeling undervalued is communication. It is the foundation for building good relationships, where a mutual understanding of goals, expectations and accountabilities can be agreed upon. It goes both ways, though, so both you and your manager need to work on creating that environment. Assuming “afar” means you can’t simply drive to a meeting with your manager, look at utilizing Skype or virtual meeting rooms, where you can have a candid face-to-face conversation about what you can do to make a bigger impact within the organization.
You mention the option of waiting for a severance or a buyout. Is this really how you want to finish your career? Waiting for the employer to make the decision for you will cause you to become even more disengaged. I strongly suggest that, should you choose to leave, you do it on a high note and on your terms, after making a concerted effort to improve the relationship and your engagement. Remember, it is always easier to find work when you are working. Best of luck!
THE SECOND ANSWER
Founder, Women’s Executive Network, Toronto
It sounds like a few things are going on here. On one hand, your employer seems to be undergoing structural and leadership changes you don’t agree with, and which have taken away your ability to make decisions, leaving you with little or no control over your career.
At the same time, and perhaps more importantly, you seem to have hit a point where you are looking for more in your career. You want to be challenged and you want to create value and feel valued. That’s clearly not happening and you want a change.
You’re not alone. According to recent research, a growing number of people in their 50s are looking for the same things you are. You should look at this as an opportunity to do some soul-searching about what you bring to the table and how you can have the most impact, and use that as a base to decide where you go from here.
Once you’ve done this, your path forward will become clear and you can take charge of how to best direct your efforts. Maybe this will lead to a discussion with your employer – one focused on what you have to offer and how much more you could be doing – or maybe it will lead you elsewhere. But the decision will be yours and you will regain control.
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