Rise, fall and betrayal in the workplace.
| "Head Sled Dog" - that was my nickname at my job. One of the people who worked under me had given it to me, and as soon as he said it I knew it was both a compliment and insult. That nickname, and the meaning behind it, pretty much sums up how people view me; I've never had a hard time gaining respect, it's whether or not people like or dislike me. I'm okay with this. It's not always easy, and there are a lot of times I question which side of the fence my friends, co-workers, "acquaintances", and even my family are on.
Six years ago I moved to a new place and began a job that I had no prior knowledge of, and within two months I was promoted and became a supervisor to people that had been working there - some for many years - with the hopes of attaining what I had done in such a short time. I had the respect of those people, once they worked with me and saw my capabilities; however, they never liked me.
I knew it was going to be an uphill battle; proving my supervisor made the right decision in promoting me, and keeping the balance of being professional to his standards, yet trying to be "likeable" to those now under me. It took about six months, but I finally was able to have a copasetic relationship with everyone.
This job was definitely challenging for everyone involved; testing Military Communications Equipment required long hours, ability to acclimate on the fly to daily, and sometimes hourly changes, work out in the elements, and most of all the skill of having patience with the equipment and people. My first test that I ran was the best test I would ever be a part of. Looking back, I wish I wasn't so naïve as to think I would have more of those, because it was never like that again. The people in all capacity of the test were awesome, fun, intelligent, and we had a blast. It was still challenging, but there were more laughs and after work drinks, BBQ's, and shenanigans that erased the grueling requirements of each work day.
I had made some great friends, and we were a pretty tight knit group. I realize, now, that it was because we were all new then; it was my second test, and first as the Lead, but for the majority of everyone else they were "fresh off the boat" or "newbies". We were much more forgiving of mistakes, super excited when things went right, not as frustrated when they went wrong, and we spent lunch getting to know each other. We were all we knew in the vastness of the testing community, and that was just fine with us.
After that test, if we were scheduled to work together again we picked up where we left off and were leery of newcomers; however, our group began to grow the more people we met, and eventually and inevitably, with meeting new people and gaining new skill sets we began to find ourselves and the dynamic changed. Some people were able to grow while keeping the bond alive, while others decided they had outgrown it.
I worked in my Lead position for six years; it was awesome to see people move up in responsibilities and knowledge, and disappointing to see others egos get the best of them. I was always around them, and was always working with more "newbies", which was great because it allowed me to train and teach them the ropes. We used to say that working there was like having amnesia; each day was different and I absolutely thrived in that environment.
I always remained loyal to those that I first worked with, and if they ever needed anything professionally or personally, I was there. I never viewed myself as superior to those that worked under me; I always said that we worked together as equals. I always encouraged new ideas, was patient with the "newbies" on their first tests and encouraged them when they felt lost, praised them when they did things properly, corrected them when they didn't get things right, and was stern with the ones that "just want to get a paycheck".
Due to being in a Lead role, I was well aware that how I was treated in their company, and what was said when I wasn't around were sometimes two very different things - testing is like high school, rumors and gossipers run wild, and things said always got back to me, but I never said anything. As long as they were performing the duties required of them and were professional at work, I was good with that, and everyone knew that about me. You don't have to like me, but you will do what is required and asked of you, and treat me with the respect that I show to you.
Despite being the "Head Sled Dog" I had managed to have quite a few people whom I worked well with and hung out with after hours. I considered these people my friends. Little did I know the feeling was not mutual.
About a year and a half ago, I was offered a different position with a different company; however, I would remain in the testing community and continue to work with everyone that I had been working with for the past six years just in a different capacity. It was a great opportunity, and a huge promotion which I could not pass up. I thought my "friends" would be happy for me, but that's when the daggers came out and were not so anonymously placed in my back.
Normally I have a pretty good sense of people's intentions, but the treatment I endured and all of the statements made about me after I switched positions definitely took me by surprise. The most hurtful thing was "friends" that I had helped up the ranks, gave promotions to and maintained their employment throughout the years were the first to turn.
So there I was, facing a new job with new responsibilities and challenges all the while being shunned by those that I had previously worked with. The very few that continued to talk to me were either gathering information to run and tell the others, or had to do so secretly as to not get in trouble or be shunned themselves. I felt as though everything I had worked so hard for had been disregarded and tossed out without even a second thought.
I was told that "At least you know who your true friends are", but that made me feel even worse, because it meant the past six years was a farce, a non-reality, and I had been a fool. The "Head Sled Dog" had been put down.
This has definitely been one of life's lessons that I had not anticipated; however, instead of being bitter, holding grudges, and holding on to the need to understand it all, it has made me wiser. I have no regrets about my actions, I'm proud of my accomplishments and my ability to have been able to help people when they needed it. However, I do miss the laughs, the inside jokes, getting together to vent about the day, and the friendships - no matter the intent behind them.
Such is life!