5 cringeworthy work moments and lessons learnt (Blog #15)

embarrassed person

I don’t know about you, but there are definitely some moments I’ve had at work that make me c-r-i-n-g-e when I think back to them. All I have to do is take my mind back and feelings of embarrassment and awkwardness consume me when I think about the actions I did or the advice I got given.

But with every embarrassing and awkward moment there’s a lesson learnt.
And why should everyone learn the hard way?

I’m more than happy to share my cringeworthy moments with you so at least when it happens to you, you can tackle it better than I did. Or, even, at the least, not feel as bad about it.

Either way, we can both share a laugh.

So I hope you enjoy it.

Cringeworthy moment #1 – Being encouraged by my manager to shout at people

It was job #2 and it was my first full-time marketing position that I managed to get. As I started to dive deep into my first direct marketing campaign, I outsourced some design work to an agency. One particular day I was having some difficulty in getting in touch with my contact there and he was due to send over some versions of what he had developed.

It got to the point where I’d left several voice messages and still no reply. It was at this point my manager, a women in her mid to late 50’s, decided to enlighten me with her years of experience. She said, “Mimoza, this is where now you have to raise your voice to show how serious you are.”

In other words, according to her, in order to prove that my phone call was important I now needed to start shouting on the phone.

How pathetic!

And there she was sitting a whole two metres away waiting for me to do this. So, with the next phone message, I didn’t shout, but I got louder and firmer as my manager sat there watching me. And even as I write this I just think how embarrassing and what ridiculous advice.

It’s embarrassing that I listened, but, I can tell you, it’s even more embarrassing that a manager in her 50’s would give that type of advice.

Not much time past and I got a call back. The designer apologised for missing my calls and mentioned he was out of the office for personal reasons. Although, he didn’t say anything specifically, he’s tone was that of an adult speaking to a student who was still learning. Not offensive, but mature and trying to play the role of a coach. It was clear he was giving me a “get out of jail free card” given I was so young in the industry. And for that I say thank you.

Lesson learnt
Me coming across as aggressive and rude achieved nothing other than making myself look like an idiot.

Never in my 10 years and 9 jobs have I ever seen a situation where it is justifiable to scream at someone in the office. N-E-V-E-R!

It achieves nothing other than making that person resent you and not want to work with you.

People that do this lack professionalism. It’s as simple as that.

Aggressive behaviour is for those that don’t know what they’re doing and can’t handle themselves, in other words the amateurs. Assertive behaviour is for the pros.

And at the end of the day, if you don’t get what you want you change agencies/providers.

Cringeworthy moment #2 – Accepting unrealistic goals and being disappointed when I failed to meet them

It was job #3 and boy was I in for a hellish three months. It was the home loan industry and my manager within the first three weeks demanded:

• A fully completed marketing plan
• Implementation of the plan involving in-house copy writing and designing
• And have new clients coming in by the end of the third week.

WTF! On top of this, endless amounts of other tasks and a detailed weekly report, which he never read.

So, when all of this didn’t happen in the first three weeks, guess what he started to say?

The problem was me.

I was simply no good.

And this continued for the whole three months that I was there. It felt as though I couldn’t do anything right.

Was he completely out of it?


Was he fully trying to take advantage of my inexperience at the time?

Like there was no tomorrow!

Was he a total lowlife for doing this?

I would say lowlife doesn’t even come close.

During those torturous three months I turned to whomever I could to get some advice on what was happening. I turned to university lectures, friends and work associates and I got all different types of advice.

One of university lecturers even visited me at my new job. I know what you’re thinking. Yep, I was a bloody good student.

But when I think back now my uni lecturer’s visit was quite disappointing. He left me with the assumption that I had to try even harder as this was what working in the real world was like. Although, he meant well, what a load of shit!
Does working in the real world mean giving them your blood as well?

Out of all the people I turned to and how much I told them about all the things he was asking me to do, no one was able to say, “Mimoza, what he’s asking you to do no one can do it, your boss is an absolute idiot.”

But it was only through my experience that I’d see this. By the time I was working job #4 I saw that my manager at job #3 had absolutely no clue about what he was asking for.

After three months I got out of there. I left for a trip and job overseas, which ended up being one of the best experiences I’ve had and was exactly what I needed after those hellish three months.

But two interesting things happened as I was preparing to leave.

1. My manager, who throughout the whole three months thought I did a crappy job, wanted to know if, once I returned, I’d be coming back to work for him? I was like WTF! Are you kidding me? Of course I’d never, but what a manipulative lowlife. After all that it became clear that his whole purpose was to make me think I as no good so I would listen to him, no questions asked and stay there.

2. His work associate offered me a position and said that anyone who lasted as long as I did with my manager was worth hiring. No, thank you! I was done with the home loan industry.

Lesson learnt
Never do or accept something because your manager has told you to, regardless of the years of experience they have.

Throughout my experience something that has been consistent is the feeling when something isn’t right. And I’ve never failed to miss it. Early on in my career I didn’t have the confidence to act on it and later on I did.

If you’re working your butt off and it still isn’t good enough something isn’t right and it’s not necessarily you. Stop simply following, start saying no and start doing what you think is best at the job you’re in. Even my horrific boss at job #3 didn’t know what to do with himself when I started to say no to certain things and push deadlines out. He accepted it. You’d be surprised how many managers would.

Cringeworthy moment #3 – Believing that ridiculous amounts of overtime is a must if you want to have a successful career

I’ve experience this in crazy job #3 which you’ve already heard about and in my last job, job #9.

Yep, after all my years’ experience I got sucked into a manager’s unrealistic expectations AGAIN!

So, what happened at job #9? Within 3 months of me being there (I’d come back after maternity leave) half the marketing team resigned. Then the day came when the manager suddenly got kicked out.

Lesson learnt
Never is ridiculous amounts of overtime accepted. Never!!

While I was at my chaotic job #3 I turned to whomever I could for advice and support in the matter. And the best piece of advice I got was this:

Question: If you had to cut down a whole forest of trees what’s the one thing you need to do?

Answer: Sharpen your axe.

In other words, rest, sleep, get out of the office. Have a life outside of work. Get the point.

I don’t know how any manager in their right mind could think that by working their employees to death they would get anything good out of them.

Cringeworthy moment #4 – When my manager said to me, “You’re the marketing officer, it’s not your job to be creative.”

So, here was the issue. It was job #5, my first stint with government and at the time we were outsourcing our creative work to an agency. My manager was very unhappy with a creative piece they’d produced and felt as though they missed the mark several times.

After listening to her, I wanted to help. So, I started telling her one of my ideas and what I thought the creative agency should do. I got stopped dead in my tracks and she said to me, “Mimoza, it’s not your job to be creative!”

My manager didn’t even want to know what I had to say and was happy to let time and money go to waste by letting the agency have multiple attempts at the job until they got it right.

Lesson learnt
Once again, just because a person has the title manager it doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

The most successful experience I’ve had working with a design agency was when I worked with them to produce what I had in mind. In other words, I had a picture in my head of what I wanted. I was quite detailed in my brief. I know some would say too detailed. But you know what? I got what I wanted and less time and money was wasted. It pays to know what you want when you’re asking for something.

When people tend to leave the creative side of things completely with the agency outsourced there’s always a lot of to-ing and fro-ing until they get what they want.

Also, for a fulfilling career that advances you in every aspect, it’s probably best to stay away from the public sector. The main skills you’ll develop are skills in office politics, dodging responsibility, passing the buck when you can and learning to do the bare minimum to get by. You too will become one of those people that don’t care.

Cringeworthy moment #5 – When the 50 something year old designer at work told me to “Fuck off”

This was at my second and last stint with government. Our graphic designer looked as if he regretted his whole existence on earth. He had been in his job about 20 years and was sick and tired of having to work with his fellow marketeers when it came to design work. He was convinced as the designer it was up to him to decide what looked best. Too bad other people thought it was crap.

Giving him work was interesting. Sometimes it went OK and sometimes he told you to “Fuck off”.

Now this only happened once, but I was there only 4 months.

My reaction?

I, a 20 something year old women, told a 50 something year old man that I was disappointed in his behaviour. Very disappointed!

He told me he didn’t give a shit. (lol)

Looking back in hindsight it makes me laugh.

Lesson learnt
If you don’t want to die inside as a person, then I’d stay away from government.
I repeat. Stay away from government.

So, do you have any cringeworthy moments yet? Tell me about it.

If not yet, I’m sure you soon well.

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For more on how this all started click here.

See you next week.


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