I was hired as the expert but no one will listen, I accidentally shared a list of my personal debts with my team, and more:

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I was hired as the expert but no one will listen to me

I was recently (two months ago) hired into a brand new position for a nonprofit that requires me to be the “subject matter expert” for a shared application. While I did not have experience with the exact application I was hired to manage, I do have experience with project managing the designing and use of similar applications. My main project right now is to clean up the data in the application and get everyone in the organization “rowing in the same direction” so we can get good insights from the info captured by the application. This is going to be a long-term, involved process that will require a lot of communication with all departments. I’ve developed a game plan and shared it with my CEO and my supervisor.

Now comes my dilemma: While the “upper levels” are very excited about the prospect of the results that will come from having me on board, I feel like I can barely get a word in edgewise about the subject expertise for which I’ve been hired! I haven’t had much opportunity to even open my mouth in a meeting about what my thoughts are on realistic results, timeline, or what is needed to make the project a success. I’m concerned that if I can’t get anyone to listen at this point (because I’m given no space to communicate in the first place!), I am being set up for failure down the line when we actually get started on the project. Truly, I’ve even tried to “politely” interrupt, but the speaker just keeps going without any acknowledgment that I might have something to add. The one time I did manage to say something in a video meeting related to the application, my supervisor walked away! I know I’m still new, but my experience and knowledge are what I was hired for. What do you do when you’re hired as the “expert,” but no one is interested in hearing from you?

You’ve got to be more forceful about speaking up. You might not know the politics of the org well enough yet to know if you can do that in meetings with higher-ups, but you absolutely can — and need to be — more assertive about raising these issues with your boss. Ask for a call with her ASAP where you say, “I want to talk about what results are realistic to expect, our timeline, and what resources we need to meet the goals I’ve heard laid out in these meetings.” If you have trouble getting a call with her, lay out the basics in an email — but be assertive about trying to set up a call first.

It sounds like you also need to flag that higher-ups are moving full steam ahead on plans without giving you a chance for input, and ask about the best way to ensure your input is included. But before you do that, I think you’ve got to consider the possibility that you being in those meetings was them ensuring your input was included, and because you didn’t speak up, they assumed they had your agreement. This might be a culture where you just need to jump in, speak up, and assert yourself (as in, “before we go any further, I need to talk about what the timeline and workload would look like for something like that”), rather than waiting for a clear opening. So you might need to own that you didn’t do that, explain that it’s a different style than you’re used to, and resolve to do it going forward.

2. I accidentally shared a list of my personal debts with my team

About a month ago, I started a new job, a huge promotion. Because of the pandemic, I’ve been working at home 100% of the time, and I haven’t gotten to know most of my coworkers very well yet. I’ve received overwhelmingly positive praise so far from my supervisor, but I struggle with severe anxiety issues so I’m constantly battling the idea that I suck at life and everyone hates me. I understand objectively that’s not reasonable, but my mind begs to differ.

Last night, when I was working on a personal spreadsheet and went to print it, I somehow accidentally saved it to the shared drive my entire team uses. The spreadsheet is a list of personal debts and their projected payoff dates. I don’t have a crazy amount of debt (less than most households), but I’m deeply anxious and a very private person.

It’s possible no one would have seen it, but this morning, my direct supervisor found it and he emailed a copy to the team to ask whose it was before he deleted it from the shared drive (I don’t think it was malicious — they seem to be a very close knit team — and he’s been a great supervisor so far).

The sheet doesn’t have identifying information, and I have no idea whether they could see the author via the copied attachment (not shared from the share drive, a separate copy — meaning they can always access that copy). I emailed my boss and apologized, and he told me not to worry about it, but I’m still really upset and unsure what else to do. The idea that my coworkers have seen my personal debt is horrifying me. The idea that I stupidly saved it to a public drive is even worse.

I don’t know how embarrassing this gaffe really is or how to move past it. I feel like it made me seem irresponsible in several respects, and look deeply unprofessional. How do I handle this?

Oh my goodness, this is your anxiety brain messing with you. This didn’t make you look irresponsible or unprofessional on any level. People have debts. People also occasionally save a personal file in the wrong place, especially when they’re working from home. Read more here…

Source: Ask A Manager