Does your work environment feel toxic or make you feel valued? What has your boss said in the last week that made you feel like your boss cares about you as a person?

If you often feel like your organization doesn’t care about your wellbeing, or they pay a lot of lip-service but don’t really mean it (mandatory Saturday wellness retreat, anyone?), this episode is for you.

As always, this episode is inspired by a comment from a listener: Katie wrote to me saying, “Thank you for the Industry Insider webinar series. Using what I learned in your course, I was able to finally get a position that makes me feel valued.”

It’s not an earth-shattering comment, but it felt so very timely, because especially with COVID, I know that so many of you are not feeling valued. Many of you feel trapped, and even unsafe or expendable. That’s not OK.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • Five things my boss* said just this week that will surprise you
  • Signs of a toxic workplace
  • Workplace expectations around vacation time
  • What to look for in your current or future company culture

Today, I’m going to give you five real-world examples of surprising things upper management say (and mean!) that I’ve heard myself very recently. These are phrases and ideas that, I feel, show your company really values you as a person. Or at least, that mine does, and I believe you deserve the same.

Lots of people love their colleagues but generally don’t feel like they have a supportive work environment when it comes from the top. Your boss sets the tone for your workplace culture. He or she should be saying the right things, saying them often, and leading by example.

*When I talk about ‘my boss’ in this episode, I mean either my actual boss, or another leader in an organization with which I am professionally affiliated. These are real statements, but I’m not intending to attribute all of them to any specific person.

Whether you’re considering a new employer or a new career entirely, or putting your current company culture into perspective, this episode will help you align you and your company’s values.

You absolutely deserve to be unapologetic about putting your family and your own self-care first. – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[2:19] Is this what you hear at the office, or in your faculty meetings?

[2:48] What my boss says about when family comes first (yes, when)

[4:30] What my boss says about taking vacation – and what you’re expected to do during that time

[6:15] What my boss says about being able to get in touch with me at night or on a weekend

[8:23] What my boss says about my responsibility while my colleagues are away

[9:50] What my boss says about being called out, and what I hope you’re saying if you’re the boss!

[11:30] How to make this episode actionable in your own work environment

[12:19] Reality check on your expectations and what you deserve at work

Links and Resources:

Industry Insider – what to know about landing a nonclinical career without a new degree, a foot in the door, prior experience, or a pay cut



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 41 – 5 Things Your Boss Should Say (Mine Does!)

Hey there, welcome to the Career Prescription. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe. And of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode, so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Hey there, welcome back! Today I’m going to do something a little bit different and just share with you some of the things my boss says. And this episode is inspired by a comment. As always comment from a listener, Katie wrote to me, one of my students wrote to me saying, “Thank you for the industry insider webinar series. Using what I learned in your course, I was able to finally get a position that makes me feel valued.”

So that’s very nice to hear, I’m glad to have that comment and to share it with you guys. It’s really so important to feel valued at work. And I know, especially with COVID, that a lot of people are not feeling valued, right? They’re feeling overworked, they’re feeling underappreciated. And in many cases, I know just because people are contacting me about it, people are looking for something different. Now, I am not suggesting, necessarily, that a job change is right for everybody. Or even that shifting out of your clinical work to non-clinical work is right for you. Or vice versa, perhaps whatever it is, that gratifies you, professionally, obviously, you’ve got to find a way to make that work for you. And you want to work in an environment that is does not feel toxic and that does make you feel valued.

So I’m going to share with you five things that I’ve heard over the past week – just one week – at work either from my boss directly or from some other leader in the company, who is, you know, my boss’s boss’s boss, or some other very much boss in my company, so that you can evaluate that against the kinds of things that you hear at work, and see if you know, perhaps you’re settling for something, if you’re not feeling valued, not everybody’s going to love every single part of their job. But I think there’s a certain expectation that you can have about your work environment. And certainly, feeling valued and being recognized as a human being, I think, is an absolute essential.

So here goes: five things my boss says that might surprise you.

Number one, my boss says your family is always first, family is always first, I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard that. And I’ve heard it not sort of in that trivial way where people sort of say, Well, of course family is first. But then you know, when the rubber hits the road, it’s very hard to shift professional opportunities to take care of family things. That is not at all the case. Everybody in my organization shares that value that family is first. And they don’t just mean if a family member is on a deathbed or having some kind of an emergency. They also mean, if you need to take your dog to the vet, they also mean if you need to be there to see a play that your kindergarteners putting on. They mean family is always first even in just sort of the most non-emergency ways. That they recognize and support the time to be there for family today with COVID going on. A lot of this is unpacking around taking care of kids right schooling from home, or people who used to have some additional help to maybe help them with their homeschooling or to help them around the house, help them get the kids off to school just you know, helping with an elderly parent, helping with a lot of the responsibilities that now are really just falling back on parents because we don’t have as much help within our household as we might have before. Family first is really, really echoing strongly I have seen leaders at all levels blocking their calendar, saying I can’t take meetings at this time because it’s carpool time, or I don’t take meetings at this time. Because this is when my kids are coming home from school and we’re going to you know be going over their homework together or what have you. So family first and not just Family First, when things are really, really dire. But family first all the time, even in little ways.

Okay, number two, my boss always says please be sure you take your vacation. And my boss asks me to be sure that the people who report to me also take their vacation. I think I hear this probably once a week. Make sure that you take your time off, you’ve earned it. Make sure you take your holidays, make sure you take your vacation.

Now cynical person might assume that this is because the company has to maybe make a payout. If that vacation time is not used. But actually, that’s not true. The way that it’s set up in my organization, and perhaps in yours is kind of a use it or lose it set up. Which means that if a certain time period passes after the end of the year, and I haven’t taken my vacation, that it’s gone, and it just resets to that annual number of days or weeks. So that’s no skin off the company’s back. In fact, it’s probably super for them, if we all don’t use our vacation from a purely you know, financial point of view, because they don’t have to pay us out in salary for that time work. They just would have enjoyed us working, working, working, continuing to work.

But because of the corporate culture, and because of the appreciation for not wanting to overextend and burn out employees and for wanting people to have really good mental health, there is a very strong acknowledgement that people have not, this year, been taking the time away that they should, they haven’t been relaxing, they haven’t been focusing on time away to recharge. And so we are being told on a regular basis, make sure that you do that,you’ve got to do it, absolutely do it. I’m going to do it, you do it, everyone take your vacation.

Okay, number three, and this may surprise you to people are saying do not bother each other at night, or on the weekends. I know that, you know, depending on how you work, right, some people do work at night, some people do work on the weekends, some people have actual shifts that require their coverage during that time. So just use this as kind of that metaphor of whatever it is, that is not the time where you are expected to be on that people should not be expecting you to be on I mean, it’s really pretty simple. This is not rocket science.

But when you’ve got super top leaders, C suite level, VP level, folks saying, “look stop bothering each other on nights and weekends.” That really sets the tone. Now I’ve had this conversation with you guys on this podcast before and in prior episodes about, you know, setting boundaries.

Personally, I do value the ability to be able to work when it suits you. So I do sometimes send email at night or on the weekends, early in the morning, whenever it happens to suit me to be at work. But I have no expectation that somebody else is available or responding to me at that time. And I’ve made that abundantly clear with folks who are on my teams who report to me and people who are my colleagues, if it’s someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time, I might even or that I don’t speak with regularly, I might even include a specific note in there saying I know I’m sending you this on a Saturday, I don’t expect you to look at it till Monday, or I hope you don’t see it till Monday, something like that.

But it’s really, really refreshing to have people, you know, there’s a big difference between giving people permission, that sort of idea that it’s okay to be unplugged, versus that imperative stop bugging each other outside of the expected business hours. Everybody listening to this podcast well have different expectations of what business hours are. But really, really important. When you have leadership and an organizational culture that says, “Look, when you’re off, you’re off.” Don’t expect each other to be on because it sort of self-perpetuating, right, and then nobody ever feels like they can unplug. This is similar to taking your vacation.

This brings me to number four, which is a huge part of making these other ones operational. My boss always says, we have got to cover each other cover for each other so that when you’re off, you’re truly off. At a recent meeting, someone who’s my boss’s boss’s boss said, we’ve got to cover for each other. So that when we’re off, we’re off when you are off, you are truly off. He went on to say, you know, we don’t want people calling in from the park or from the beach or whatever, when you’re on vacation or when it is a day off when it is a holiday when it is you know, nighttime weekend time. We don’t want people coming in and doing work. I think that’s a really important message to come from the top to say, look, this is not something that we applaud. This is certainly not something we expect, we expect the opposite, we expect that either the work can pause because not everything is a giant emergency that day or that somebody else on the team or within the organization can cover it so that you’re not doing a thing that I know many of you are doing which is taking vacation to catch up on work that’s ridiculous, is a totally toxic way to live. So ask yourself in your organization, among your colleagues, is this a sentiment that everybody shares? I hope so. We’ve got a cover for each other so that when you’re off, you’re off.

Okay, the fifth thing that my boss says and, gosh, I hope your boss’ say this too. And I say this also to the folks who report to me, and I mean it so sincerely but I appreciate hearing this from leaders, even very senior in my organization. If I am not leading by example, on these things, the things I’ve just mentioned, right family, first, take your vacation, don’t bother each other on off hours cover for each other so when you’re off, you’re off. If I am not leading by example on these, I expect you to call me out on it. That’s what they say so that is not just lip service.

Well, we’ve given you all of these things, a feel good family first, don’t bother each other nights and weekends, you know, when you’re off, you’re off. But then if someone who’s very senior to you, is calling you at night on a weekend, or is sort of questioning why you weren’t around because you were off. Or is giving you, you know, even a sort of subtle question about, you know, whether that family obligation was really all that important. They have just basically said, hold me to it, if anybody does anything like that, call them out on it.

Not only are you allowed to give permission to but you are expected to and I think that is an enormous difference in culture. It makes it so much more imbedded and makes it the right tone, the tone is set. And so you know, that you can and should do these things in terms of prioritizing your family, taking the time to recharge and be able to bring your best self back to work. Knowing that you have indeed earned your time off and that when you’re off, you’re off and that your colleagues are covering for you. And that if anybody even begins to go down a path that implies otherwise, no matter how senior they are, that you are not only empowered, but expected to just straight up, call them out on it.

So these are five things my boss says I would love for you to look around your organization, especially if you’ve been feeling undervalued lately. And see if your boss says these things. See if your colleagues say these things. See if senior leaders in your organization say these things. And if they don’t, this might be an area in which you can do some really great work for the culture of your organization. Or it might be that this is something that you look for in the culture of the next organization that you choose to join. And maybe you choose to join it sooner rather than later. Because you do deserve to feel valued at work.

You absolutely deserve to be unapologetic about putting your family and your own self-care first. And you absolutely deserve to be a human being has a life outside of work. I know that everyone listening to this podcast, shows up at work brings their best self is totally dedicated, work extremely hard. You deserve to be rewarded for that. And you deserve to live life outside of that as well. So, if someone hasn’t said that to you lately, I’m saying it to you now. I hope that you do have a culture in which you feel very valued and you do feel empowered, and your boss says all of those things.

And also hope that if you are a boss, you start to save these things, too.

That’s it for today. Bye for now.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of the career prescription. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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