After two short stints in two small office environments she found herself out of work. The classic, ‘Last on, first off‘ syndrome. Her employers had tried. But they were small operations and in reality needed someone who wasn’t as raw with office work as she was at the time.
Imagine the challenge that being out of work posed to her new found mindset and self-belief.
Her old factory job loomed like a giant magnet trying to drag her back into her old life and everything that came with it.
Imagine her strength of character to ‘stay the course.’
“I really, really don’t want to go back to a factory job. But I just don’t know if I’m cut out for a an office job.” she exclaimed.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“You know the answer to that question Gary! But I don’t know what to do.“
“Well, you’ve proven twice now that you can study. One of the side benefits of studying is that you have to use office skills to do your homework. So, in a way it’s like practice for your future job.” I suggested.
“You know, I have a friend who works in real estate and she suggested that I give that a go.”
So off she went for a third course and obtained a qualification for Property Management. It took a while but she finally got a job. It wasn’t a full time job, just four days per week. They understood that it was her first experience in the industry. They promised training by one of the Directors of the company. It has been over six months since she started and she has seen that Director twice in that entire time. So much for training. Yes, it is sink or swim at that company!
Recently she informed me that she had been required to use her own car to visit the houses she was ‘managing’ and that she had been given an ‘office phone’ that she was to use to answer landlord calls on her three days off per week. She told me that she didn’t think it was fair that she was expected to work on her days off and that she had to use her own car to travel around on business duties.
“Are you receiving an allowance for these activities?” I asked.
“No.” was her response.
“I’m pretty sure your job would be tied to a Government Award and if it is then I’m pretty sure the conditions of the Award are being breached by your employer.” I said.
“But I don’t want to lose my job.” Fear, a powerful mindset kicked in. The type that says the ‘little person‘ should just be happy with what they have and don’t rock the boat because you could lose your job.
I had to tread carefully and respectfully. This is her life and she has the right to be in control of it. Which includes sticking with mindsets that I might not agree with.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“To work for someone who treats me fairly. I’m happy to work hard and I believe that I do. I’ve learned a lot. I’m glad I have been given this opportunity and I appreciate it. But that doesn’t mean I should work on my days off and not be paid for it. When I go shopping, the phone rings. When I’m out with my friends, the phone rings. Once I left the phone at work and they called me up on my personal phone and asked me why I hadn’t taken the phone with me. To top it all off my boss keeps telling everyone in the office about how much she hates Property Management. How’s that supposed to make me feel?“.
While the desire to jump on my horse and go riding in to ‘save‘ my young relative seemed to beckon me with every word she said, I knew that this could prove to be another major mindset shift opportunity for her. Support was what she need, not a knight in shining armour.
“What if we were to do some homework and find out exactly what your rights are. Then we can see if you can have a conversation with your boss, armed with the facts.”
“I can’t talk to my boss about this, I’ll get the sack!“.
“Maybe, let’s worry about that later. Let’s get some facts and then you can decide what you want to do. You’re in control. You decide if you take action or not.”
We discovered a Modern Award that covered her role. It identified allowances and normal hours of work. We also had a look at her ‘contract’. No mention of the Award there and no mention of allowances and use of her vehicle, nor answering the phone on an ‘on-call‘ basis. It seemed to me that she had a legitimate case to take to her boss.
She decided that she didn’t want to raise the issue with her boss. “Maybe I’ll just start looking for another job.“
Fair enough. She had come a long way and it was understandable that such a conversation would be too big a leap.
But life can have a funny way of contriving events to force an issue. Just last week, on one of her days off her phone rang. She took the call and referred the caller on to her boss. Her boss took the call and then rang her back.
She was informed that she was ‘unprofessional‘ for not completing the call herself and her boss felt that she wasn’t meeting the standards of the role. Please recall that this conversation is happening on one of her day’s off and she had been told, yet again earlier that week that she wasn’t going to be put on full time.
My young female relative was calm. But she wasn’t silent. She informed her boss that she knew her rights and that she should be receiving an allowance for answering the phone on her days off, or they should simply employ her full time. She was again told that the quality of her work was not up to standard and that if she didn’t like answering the phones outside of her scheduled four days then maybe someone who really wanted to work would be happy to have her job.
Aaah, when challenged, turn to bullying. That’s the spirit Ms Employer (yes friends, her boss is a woman)!
My relative called me. “I think I’m going to lose my job. How can I go into the office tomorrow and see my boss. I don’t like this conflict, maybe I should just quit right now.“
“If you quit, that would certainly be understandable. But if you do have a conversation and you stay calm, focus on the facts and be open to a range of solutions, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“She could yell at me and I don’t like be yelled at.”
“Plus, I’m not a very strong person so I can’t have that sort of conversation.” Yes, another powerful mindset that can easily emerge and hold people back from creating what they want.
“I’m sorry but that’s not what I see standing in front of me. I see a brave, courageous young woman who has been on a two year journey of self-improvement. I see a young woman who has been knocked down and continues to get back up. I see a young woman who has challenged and overcome her mindset that she can’t improve. I see a young woman who has choice and who has the power to act on that choice. I see a young woman who is taking on the challenges of creating the life she wants. I also see a young woman who I respect no matter what you choose to do going forward.”
Earlier tonight she contacted me. She had spoken with her boss. The result. She is now working an extra half day in the office to take calls.
While not a perfect result it was a win-win. She has the opportunity to earn more money in a fairer (but certainly not completely fair nor in compliance with the Award, but that’s another issue) and her boss has her for an extra half day doing a job that is obviously required.
The best outcome is the evidence that this experience provides for my young relative. She has proven that she can challenge her own mindset and have conversations that she didn’t think were possible for her to have. And, from the perspective of her starting point she has proven that she can achieve a win-win.
That said, if you or anyone you know has a Real Estate business in the south eastern region of Melbourne and you are interested in meeting my young relative and exploring the possibility of engaging her to join a vibrant and supportive team, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this article.
I’m of the view that her current employer doesn’t deserve someone of her qualities and quite frankly, she deserves a ‘break’ and if I can help facilitate that, then I would really like to contribute to creating one for her.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com