I often get told the reason I am unable to "get on" in the workplace is because I am not very good at playing the game and I need to put more effort into getting better at it. I am told this by friends who work in similar environments to me when I ask them their opinions on where I am going wrong.
When I question what this game is I am told it is a game that you need to be good at in order for you to be promoted or better thought of, stay under the radar and do not cause a fuss or have an opinion on how things can be done better.
The thing at work is it is never the job I have an actual problem with. In all the jobs I have had I have always excelled when it comes to the work. I am a great problem solver, resilient, conscientious, can meet deadlines and I work really hard because I have an intrinsic fear of failure.
Where I seem to always come unstuck is navigating good old office politics and social etiquette. I am an extremely honest person. A hopeless liar and a complete failure at this game.
I have 14 Qualifications to my bow, including being a fully qualified accountant as well as a degree from a Russell Group University, am loyal and have 16 years customer service experience both in a person and non facing setting. I get overlooked for promotion often because I am too outspoken. I see the flaws in everything and I also see the solutions. I know when something will not work but I have learnt to say nothing. Every company I have worked for (not including my present one) the yes men or women get promoted and the ones who speak up get disciplined or more work lumped on them until they leave.
I have worked for micro managers who didn't even know how to do my job that were promoted to be my manager from a completely different department because they said all the right things to the right people. The manager above said "you have to fake it to make it". It was a massive learning curve for me. I always feel I am an easy target for those with insecurities themselves and have been told my intelligence is a threat and people are intimidated by it. The same manager who said I was scruffy and told me to spend my savings on better clothes, advised me in my monthly appraisal that they had advised their manager if they had to line up the team and shoot one person, who would they shoot, and they said it would be me. This was despite the fact I not only hit all my targets I would often then move on to help the team with theirs and work extra hours. This was before I was even diagnosed autistic and I just didn't realise where I was going wrong. I was fast getting a reputation in my department for being very good at what I did but my manager seemed more concerned about how I dressed and my mannerisms.
None of the managers I had in past jobs truly understood the job they were managing me to do. In past jobs I was often given the more complicated things because I had the attention to detail that meant I rarely got it wrong and I wasn't afraid of phoning around to check if the information I had was correct. I could focus on the task and ensure the rest of what I needed to do was kept on top of as well.
Giving up is easy. I could just quit. Forget that I have a lot of qualities employers say they love. The only one I lack is the one to play the game. The social game where you have to be fake nice and watch your tone, and make small talk. None of that interests me. All I care about is doing a good job but these days that just is not enough. It really isn't. The laughable thing is every conversation you have with someone these days, needs to be backed up with an email especially ones with managers or other colleagues. What ever happened to taking someone at their word?
The only game I can think of that comes close to this metaphorical game is Snakes and Ladders. The manager you get or the people in your team is a game of chance. You either get people who like you for you (rare) and are pushed up that ladder then you just have to figure out and avoid the snakes that can send you back down it. Here although being autistic means I struggle to figure out who has my best interests at heart and who doesn't, the problem is not autism but the culture of business.
The problem I have and always will have is I am just not interested in this game. I don't care for titles, and I already work really hard to try and just get by without being mocked or thought of as weird. I have been bullied my whole life. I am used to it and half the time I don't even realise it is happening to me until someone points it out. All I care about is the job I was employed to do and getting on with people the best I can.
If you hire a bunch of yes men and women how on earth do you think your company will progress. You need the questions to be better. If everyone just agrees with you how do you know what you are doing is right? I do not take kindly to criticism but that is mainly because I have low confidence however, if you try the suggestion and it works, is that not a success?
When I am criticised or told I have done something wrong the insecurities I have that have been caused by others just resurface. The heart beats faster and that horrible feeling happens.
These days you can be the best in the company at your job but if Bob the Boss doesn't like you, forget it. I would say 70% subjective and 30% objective. You could be the worst person at your job but be able to say all the right things and behave in the right way and you will have a job for life.
I always think I am driving along nicely and doing OK then crash, I am hit with a load of things I need to change. All subjective. I can deal with things when it relates to my work. That is easy for me it is in black and white and I take on board what is said and put the effort in to be better but when it is how I dress, or how I behave that tends to be a lot harder. I am already doing what I think is correct. I am masking and trying to be told that is not good enough is and always will be a hard pill to swallow. It is very disheartening, saddening and maddening.
My motto in life is quitters never win and winners never quit, so I try. I try everyday to be better and everyday I hope the dice will roll in my favour and I make it through. I like working. I enjoy having that structure to my day and using the money I get from doing a job for someone else to make further money for myself.
It is nice to have job security and something that gives you paid holidays and a set pay cheque each month but it is also nice to be accepted a bit like the people who can play the game and play it really well.