My wife asked herself a very simple question:
When will I be good enough?
Now she has proof of the answer.
And she quit.
In an instant.
When we met
I met my wife over 30 years ago in Indonesia in a department store where she worked as a sales clerk. During our four-year courtship, she had a flashing career. By the time we got married, she was leading a 100+ people department.
That kind of career is quite unusual. Unlike most of her managing colleagues, she did not have a university degree. She comes from a family where there was no money to pay for that kind of study. My wife started working when she was 17.
She had the career she had because of her great work ethic and her great personality.
Emigrating to The Netherlands
My wife left her great job in Indonesia to build a life with me in The Netherlands. Building a similar career here proved to be much more difficult.
First of all: she did not speak Dutch yet. So she joined a school to learn Dutch and to get her NT2-2 diploma which would allow her access to higher education and university. She reached this level in 2 years.
Secondly, she did not have a diploma. So she registered for Higher Professional Education. At the age of 35, she got her bachelor’s degree in the nominal 4 years.
Finally, an interesting job
So, after six years of study, she finally found an interesting job at a Township. The job did not match her bachelor’s degree qualification yet, but hey, she was in!
She worked diligently and with joy for many years. The past few years though, something started nagging. She wanted more.
So, in every obligatory HR cycled conversation she made sure that her ambitions were properly filed. But opportunities are rare so she waited patiently.
As a side note:
In previous years there were many more of these obligatory HR cycled conversations to “discuss what goes right and what can be improved.”
There were never complaints about my wife’s work but the field in the file of potential improvement needs to be filled.
For years the only thing her managers could think of that might be improved was her Dutch.
Dutch is a very difficult language to learn and one will always be able to hear if someone is a native or not.
It took her many years to graduate herself…
The final answer
Last month there was, finally, a vacancy for a more senior function. A more challenging function my wife had been aspiring for for years. So she applied.
Long story short: she got rejected.
The interviewing committee thought that she was not strong enough yet for that function.
To put it into my words: they wanted a more testosterone-prone type of person. Not male per se, but tough. The interviewing committee seems to be unable to imagine other ways to accomplish a challenge.
Astutely my wife asked if their judgment was just for this particular position or a more general judgment about her fit for a more senior function.
The answer was that she still needs to develop herself more to qualify for such a position.
What I learned from Toyota is that it is a manager’s job to help people “to develop their own style.” Something the interviewing committee does not seem to understand.
To be able to develop oneself, one needs challenging opportunities. Yet another thing the interviewing committee does not seem to understand.
So she quit.
In an instant.
Reclaiming her self-respect.