Recovering from a traumatic workplace experience can be a long process.
Whether the person has been pushed out of the company, dealt with a toxic environment or experienced bullying, bad experiences can leave us with shattered confidence and even potential mental health issues.
Louise Huskic learned this first hand early on in her career, when she was thrust into a position she wasn’t ready for.
“It was a very interesting conversation – my boss walked in one day and said, ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this but I don’t have a choice. I’m making you a team leader and there’s no pay rise’.”
Rather than being put off, Louise said her first reaction was, “What’s he talking about? Of course I can do this.”
“What’s he talking about? Of course I can do this.”
In hindsight, she later realised he was absolutely correct. And that conversation was the extent of her training.
“I was thrown into a team leader role with no guidance or clarity around what the role required, and I was given people older than me and with more experience than me to line manage.
By this stage, Louise hadn’t even managed other people on a project and openly admits she had no management experience whatsoever.
“There was conflict and without that experience I didn’t handle it well. I put my hand up – to this day I regret some of the things that I said and how I managed that whole situation.”
Needless to say, she says it was not a great experience.
She left the position 18 months later for a multitude of reasons and soon after that had children. As many new mothers can relate, this changed her perspective on her world.
With a greater focus on work/life balance and being there for her children, Louise returned to part time work in clinical research trials and project management.
When she started to again consider line management, she was met with responses like, ‘Well, we can’t have a part time line manager, you have to go full time or nothing’.
She let the idea go and further experiences seemed to affirm that she was not suited for management.
“Over the years, just doing little things like team building exercises and running exercises that are meant to be fun, trying to get people to paddle at the same time or trying to get people to work together as a team, we’d all end up falling on the floor.
“Maybe I don’t have the skills for leadership.”
“So these little things just made me start thinking that maybe I don’t have the skills for leadership, maybe it’s not where I should focus.
“After a few years I came to the conclusion that people management wasn’t for me. And I actively avoided it.”
Louise’s career saw her enter a variety of roles which won her some fabulous experiences and opportunities. She reflects that she hasn’t regretted a single decision she’d made.
“My last position before the line management was a global role which meant a lot of nighttime work.
“I was a global trainer, so I had to be up and energised and engaging in the middle of the night for conference calls going through to 1.30 in the morning. Doing that for three and a half years was exhausting.”
Now on the hunt for another role, Louise’s functional manager said to her one day, ‘I know you don’t think of yourself as a line manager but I think you’d be really good and I’d like to offer you a line management position.’
She found herself contemplating her age and the need to make herself more marketable. She considered where the gaps were on her CV and, having spent the past several years avoiding it, line management was one of them.
“I found myself getting a little bit more excited about line management than I had before and just decided to give it a go.”
Three years later, Louise is still thriving in the role with Bayer and has no intention of leaving.
“I think what’s difficult when you become a line manager is seeing other peoples’ values and ways of working that are different to yours. They’re not wrong, just different.”
“They’re not wrong, just different.”
When asked what she would tell her younger self, she had several points to share:
- “People come to these things at different points, there’s no right or wrong time, it’s what’s right for you.”
- “Be a little bit easier on myself. Let go of things, don’t hold on to some of the things that happen.”
- “Be kinder to myself.”
- “Be a bit more confident in what you have to offer.”
To others who may be in a position they don’t feel ready for or are stuck in, Louise says it’s important to have a support network.
“Find a good coach, find someone who will listen to you who you can bounce ideas off and rehearse difficult conversations with.
“That was one thing that I was very fortunate in having when I transitioned to a line management role. The lady that offered me this position, she was very much aware of how reluctant I was and she said she’d be there all the way.
“It’s really important to find that support network.”
“Finding somebody like that, someone who can coach you and talk you through, rehearse difficult conversations if you need to, that sort of thing. It’s really important to find that support network.”
Louise is speaking at the Advancing Women’s Leadership in Pharma and Medtech conference, being held in Sydney from 29 – 30 April, on ‘Regaining your confidence after a bad work experience’. She will share how to understand your value and convey your worth, reconnect with your strengths and regain the confidence to flourish in your career.
Among a host of other inspiring speakers, attendees will also learn how to stand out for leadership opportunities, lead in a rapidly evolving industry, and seize opportunities for career growth. Learn more here.