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Updated: Aug 5, 2019

Recently I was talking to a friend who needed to have a difficult conversation with her boss. She wanted feedback on how she was performing, to discuss her future and her salary. Being the empathetic person she is, she has found it difficult to raise her concerns because her boss experiencing some personal problems, and she wasn’t sure how he would respond to what she has to say at that particular time.

This got me thinking…

When we have issues at work, aren’t engaged or feel like we are worth more than what we are being paid, do we value ourselves enough to speak up, and, do our employers value our opinions if we do?

When I was 18, I worked in hospitality. I had to leave one organisation because I was being bullied by some older women employees. Rather than working at fixing the bullying problem, they decided it easier to give me some money and for me to leave. This experience gave me an early appreciation around working for organisations with a good culture.

In my first full time job, I had some teething problems with my boss as we were both strong minded. As a 19 year old who didn’t drink tea or coffee and didn’t appreciate being told to “Make me a coffee!”, or what I deemed a “yes master” expectation of employees. One day, he said to me “I know you hate me”. I didn’t hate him at all, I didn’t even dislike him, it was quite the opposite. I liked him and I found him entertaining. But this was the turning point in our relationship because it started a conversation.

I explained I didn’t hate him, I just didn’t appreciate the way he spoke sometimes and being ‘told’ to make him coffee. After that our relationship was amazing. We joked, we had banter, he valued me as an employee, he made his own coffee or said ‘please’ if he asked me to make him a coffee. We developed a mutual respect for each other. He knew I was a hard worker and I even made his ‘scrap book’, which was newspaper clippings of people he knew.

When I moved to Melbourne, I was offered three jobs on the same day. I accepted the job with Hudson (recruitment), which was the lowest paying of the three. Now most people would think I made the wrong decision, but at the grand old age of 21, I valued the culture of the organisation, the people I met and the future possibilities over the money. I am so grateful I made this decision because I met some incredible people who I will always respect and admire.

Hudson, as an organisation, really did value their employees and their culture was incredible. I could have difficult conversations or express my aspirations with managers and they respected it because “if they don’t know about a problem, they can’t fix it”. I learnt so much from Hudson, about myself, my values, organisational culture, respect, communication and much more.

I left Hudson and joined the police force. I’m sure people can imagine, Victoria Police, as an organisation is a completely different beast. There’s political pressure on senior ranking members, most of which haven’t been operational for a long time, who have to push the government’s agenda and KPI’s down to the uniform members. Sometimes the decisions made don’t make sense. But what can you do? Nothing. Suck it up. This was a bit of a cultural shock.