The phone rang…it was my boss. I could tell by her tone that something was really bothering her, so I immediately asked her, “what’s wrong?” Hoping she wasn’t about to oust me for not having one of my clients download and print their marketing materials. Luckily, that wasn’t what she wanted to talk to me about. She explained to me how there were a series of things that were getting on her nerves, one of which had to do with me. I listened intently as she went on…”Nathan (our regional manager who we shall call Nathan) e-mailed me last night, and the subject line of his e-mail read “Theresa Campbell.” My heart jumped into my throat for a moment as I said, “…and?” trying not to sound not too concerned.
She proceed to tell me how a position was available back in Detroit, Michigan and he was wondering if they should, serve me up as a candidate to interview for this promotion. Besides the fact that I’m not even technically up next on the “next up list,” she proceeded to tell him that based on all of my conversations, with her and other upper level managers, the opportunity he was thinking about having me interview for would not be a good fit based on my interests at this point in time.
The best part about this entire conversation with my boss, is that I didn’t really do much talking. She did. She explained with conviction how she told Nathan that this would not be a good idea, and although he continued to come back to her with “what if,” statements concerning my future with the company she was able to, with confidence, fight for me.
For the longest time I have been sharing with our leaders that work-life-integration is only one piece of the, “what does it take to retain a millennial?,” puzzle. The reality is…many of us want to do work that is meaningful, that makes us come alive, and allows us to live out our purpose with endless resolve and heart. The opportunities are available in my Fortune 10 company; however, it will take a new breed of leaders to recognize that the days of having employees work jobs that they don’t necessarily have an interest in just to be promoted, will be few and far between. The companies that will win in the future, will be those that position their employees in areas of the organization where they can leverage their strengths for the greater good of the organization and themselves. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”
This phone call from my boss was a defining moment in my corporate career. It was a moment of truth. My truth being told by someone else. It was a moment where I was so proud of myself, for having taken the time to really determine what it is that I wanted for not just my career, but for my life. Not only this…I was proud of the fact that I was able to clearly articulate what I wanted, to the point where someone else got me. My boss…she knew my truth.
I will remember this conversation with my boss for the rest of my life. I’ll remember, what it felt like to have someone fight for me, and let me tell you…it felt damn good.