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Really unhappy at job but ttc - what would you do?

(22 Posts)
bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 12:41:45

I've NC for this as it might out me. Sorry for the length but there's a lot of detail and I don't want to drip feed.

I work as a PA for a large organisation and have been in my role for about sixteen months. My boss is nice on a personal level, my team is great and my hours are nice and flexible but for the last few months I've been feeling increasingly unhappy with the way my role is going. When I found this job I had been temping for a few months - I'd left my other job due to MH issues, the job was extremely stressful and making my MH issues much worse. As I had fairly steady temping work I could afford to be a bit more picky about my next permanent job and as a result I was being extremely selective about the kind of thing I went for. Specifically, I was looking for a fairly straightforward 1:1 PA role with nice people around me that was not going to be heavy on the hours. I was very honest about this at interview stage and the role I am currently in seemed to be all those things.

However, since the beginning I have felt that there is a massive discrepancy between what I think my role is and what my boss thinks my role is. I am a good PA (I think) - organised, good under pressure, happy to be busy, easily able to cope with diary changes without getting in a flap etc etc but my boss seems to want an EA - someone who can project manage, who can think strategically and I don't do either of those things. We've had instances, for example, where she's been really annoyed that I haven't flagged up a particular email as important to her (I can see her inbox) even though (a) the email wasn't addressed to her, she was only CC'd (b) she wasn't mentioned at all by name in the email (c) there was no deadline or action mentioned at all in the email. In order to know it was important I would have to be at management board level and be involved in the strategic direction of the school, which I'm not, nor do I have any desire to be, yet this is just one example amongst several that demonstrates this is what she thinks I should be doing. I think she needs someone one level up from me. I have raised this before tentatively and she disagreed. I'm bright - I have a first class degree and a master's - and I think she thinks I should be ambitious and want to be really challenged but honestly I don't, I just want to do a good job and get paid. I should say I have no problem whatsoever with being busy or working outside my hours when needed, my problem is the kind of thing she expects from me is not the kind of thing I signed up for when I took the job.

I had a 7 week miscarriage three months ago and since then my head is all over the place and I find I am increasingly less able to cope with this. I want to leave (I am totally willing to take a salary cut to find an easier job) but DP and I are TTC again after the miscarriage now so it's terrible timing.

Do you think I should:

a) just suck it up and stick it out here for the maternity leave and benefits/security etc?
b) leave and do temp work?
c) find another job and start, knowing I hope to be pregnant soon and therefore won't be sticking around very long?

I know this is all subjective as for all I know it could take ages to conceive again. I won't be going back to work if I have a baby so that issue doesn't need to be considered. DP's salary is good (it's about three times mine so he has the majority of the financial responsibility at the moment already, I just pay my bit of the rent and some bills and food).

What do you think? Any advice/insights/experience? I'm feeling fragile so please be gentle.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 23-Jun-15 12:48:08

Honestly? I would stick it out, keep your head down, do your hours and keep your fingers crossed. Starting a new job would bring its own stresses.

Sorry for your loss.

waddleandtoddle Tue 23-Jun-15 12:58:26

If it was me in that situation I would opt for option a. But if you are not going back to work after having your baby, then maybe taking a break from a stressful job to gear up for pending motherhood maybe a great way for you to establish yourself in the community so that you have a support network when baby comes along?

In all situations where I feel life is taking its toll, I plan a holiday (ideally two weeks) in the sun. It gives me time to reflect, reconnect with partner and see things in a different light when I get back.

I've had a miscarriage whilst working, a couple of week's after my first maternity leave. When I look back I see now my hormones were all over the place! My colleagues put up with a lot from me and offered practical support I didn't realise I was getting at the time. :-)

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 13:00:58

I'm just really struggling. I'm coming into work every day thinking I'm doing a good job and just getting demoralising emails from her all the time getting annoyed because I've not done something she thought I should have done (even though she never said she wanted it done and there was no way I could have pre-empted whatever it was).

Eg, today she got annoyed because she has a busy morning and I hadn't cancelled a weekly catch up with someone to give her breathing space. A few weeks ago I did cancel the catch up with said person in order to give her breathing space, and she then got annoyed as said catch up was important and must never ever be cancelled.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 23-Jun-15 13:43:43

Your issue is that she's a bad manager.

Try and detach as far as you can. It's her own bad planning causing her issues and she would rather blame you than herself.

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 13:54:47

to be honest I know there are lots of people who have similar issues with her in that they think they've clearly understood what she wants done, only to find they haven't at all. but in her head she thinks she's been explicit about what she wants.

ordinary I could just let it go but at the moment I'm finding it hard not to take it personally and I just wind up feeling I'm not very good at my job.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 23-Jun-15 13:58:05

Can you take a couple of days off, go away, go walking or cooking or whatever you enjoy? You've been having a crap time and it's all getting tangled together I think.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 23-Jun-15 14:00:09

And then email confirm everything

"Tp confirm our conversations, you would like me to read all your emails twice a week alert you to ones discussing "widget issues"; we have agreed this takes priority over ordering stationery which will now happen once a month"

ClaudiusMaximus Tue 23-Jun-15 14:00:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ClaudiusMaximus Tue 23-Jun-15 14:02:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fluffybear86 Tue 23-Jun-15 14:13:06

Honestly? im in the same situation. I hate my job at present but get married in September and ideally will tcc straight away. I am looking for a new job and as I work in a huge organisation I know i wil get mat leave regardless. I think if i get a new job I will just put off tcc for a few months then hopefully it will look better if and when i do get pregnant. TBH i think its quite a common thing that happens so if you do go somewhere new and get pregnant then there is very little they can do! I imagine you wont tell anyone until 3 months anyway so you will have time to get used to the role and make your mark!

OnlyLovers Tue 23-Jun-15 14:24:11

She keeps moving the goalposts. Are you due a review/appraisal? I'd bring these things up if so. If not, ask for a meeting with her and bring them up. Mention things like not knowing whether or not to cancel the catch-up.

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 14:42:29

Your DP is only a DP and you are renting, and you say that you won't be going back to work if you have a baby. Have you put things in place to protect yourself and your financial security if the worst were to happen? I know this is off on a tangent but apart from the work and maternity benefits I think this is also something that requires very careful consideration.

Don't worry, we are getting married in November. My mum was a single mum left high and dry by my Dad so I know what you mean, but honestly my DP is a good one (I know lots of women think that and it turns out not to be the case).

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 14:44:22

only yes actually I am due a review in a few weeks and I am storing up these examples.

We actually have a good relationship in general so if I was going to look for a new job I would probably be upfront about it with her. I think the main issue is she wants me to do a job that I didn't sign up for and have no interest in doing.

Thanks everyone for your answers, they are really helpful.

bellathebluebell Tue 23-Jun-15 19:36:02

If you want an easy life then you shouldn't be working as a PA because it is bloody hard work! There are plenty of them on here who will agree with me.

To be effective and pre-empt things you need to read emails and get in the loop of what is happening. It doesn't matter if they are sent to or cc'ed, you need to be analysing every single message. I'm working for two directors at the moment and I am copied in on all their incoming and outgoing emails. They work at pace and it is absolutely frantic but I couldn't do my job properly as they are both crap at telling me what is happening. I spend most of my days asking questions, prodding people and battling with the inbox.

Speak to her often about her calendar. Catch her in the morning and run through the day. Tell her about that meeting that moved and flag up how that will affect the rest of the day (i.e. it's half an hour later now so she'll have to leave promptly to get to that meeting at the Council, blah, blah, blah...). That is what a PA/EA does. They tell their bosses what they're doing/where they need to be/what they need to do. It's not for the faint hearted.

I would stay where you are if you can get it to work. You're lucky to work for one person. The rest of us are buckling under the pressure of two, three, four people to look after...

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 19:48:23

Bella I know all that thanks, I have been doing this for ten years. And I've had roles that aren't all crazy crazy, so I know that they exist. My issue isn't with it being busy, it's that she keeps changing the goalposts regarding what she wants.

One of my previous roles was supporting four directors. I actually found that job easier than supporting one. Everyone's experiences are different.

bellathebluebell Tue 23-Jun-15 19:59:45

Unfortunately, the role has changed. I've been doing it since my mid twenties and now I'm mid forties. Sadly, I remember the days when all of the directors had a PA but now you're expected to look after several bosses. I've moved around a lot and the majority of PA jobs are insane (in business anyway).

If you can't get on with her style then you need to change. Are there any other vacancies? You said it is a large organisation. If you've had MH issues then I wouldn't hang about, I'd start looking for something else.

Littlef00t Tue 23-Jun-15 20:14:57

I'd start looking for another role, but be picky and try and sort out the issues with your boss first.

If you can reach an agreement it might work out.

If you do leave It wont matter if you upset your new boss as you're not planning on coming back Not that it should anyway

Maternity allowance is not much worse than maternity pay if you get pregnant slightly after the cut off for full mat pay (unless enhanced of course)

The last thing you want is another role that turns out worse.

Remember if you decide to stay at your current job you'll have to stick it out through your pregnancy when you might not be firing on all cylinders

Unexpected Tue 23-Jun-15 20:30:05

Two issues:

One, she is a bad manager, who is covering up her own shortcomings by making them your issue. You do need to be able to read between the lines on emails, arrangements etc but she is making this impossible by changing her mind from week to week about what the priorities are. You need to bring this up in your review with specific examples (the one you gave about cancelling/not cancelling a meeting is good) where she has been unclear and contradictory in her expectations.

Two, there are very, very few PA jobs any more which are stress-free, with regular hours and just cover the traditional tasks of phones, diary management, minute-taking etc. Most companies are cutting back on support staff and expecting that everyone somehow contributes to the bottom line. PAs who might once have supported one director are now working for a team, have budgetary responsibility, are expected to project manage, have line management responsibilities etc. Maybe this is not the career for you any longer?

bakedappleflavour Tue 23-Jun-15 22:00:41

Yes I have been thinking that but it's just so not the right time for me to think about a career change. Oh well. I may have to stick it out I think.

blueshoes Tue 23-Jun-15 22:28:02

Do you get enhanced maternity benefits in your current job? If so, stay. It is a good way to get somethings back from your employer.

PannaDoll Tue 23-Jun-15 22:54:15

In your situation, I chose to suck it up. I briefly tried to find another job at the start of TTC which would have enabled me to get max maternity benefits but I was half hearted about it.

I worked a job I hated with a boss who didn't much like me (the feeling became mutual), once I was actually pregnant, my whole attitude changed and I stopped feeling every barn so personally and knew I was just treading water until mat leave.

Once I announced my pregnancy to him, my boss became more human to me, cutting me a break and letting me come and go as I pleased to an extent.

I went back to the same job and the working relationship, while still not great, was improved by the year apart :-)

Stick it out and disengage. The benefits are worth it.

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