Surviving a Toxic Work Environment
November 27, 2018
1. Thank you for joining Farfromacurse to share your testimony. Please introduce yourself to the viewers and readers and let them know who you are and why you’re joining #TestimonyTuesday :)
Hey guys! I’m Adeshewa “Shewa” Arowoselu and I’m here to give my testimony and advice on when to leave a negative work place and dealing with hostile work environments.
2. Give the readers/viewers top three interesting facts about you.
a. If you can’t tell by my name, I’m Nigerian and Yoruba to be exact! However, I’ve never been to Nigeria but that’s going to change in 2019
b. My favorite movie is “Ten Things I Hate About You,” which a spin off on Shakespeare’s “The Shrewd”. I love the movie so much and the main character influenced my childhood lol.
c. My favorite U.S. city is Los Angeles. Although, I absolutely love Atlanta, I love the vibe L.A. gives.
3. So tell us about your undergrad experience and why you chose your degree.
While in High School, I wanted to pursue the “pharmacist” route. Growing up in a Nigerian household came with the pressures of working in health care occupations. I wanted to be a pharmacist until my senior year in high school when I took an accounting elective class. I was good in math and science but wanted to dive down the accounting route. When I told my father about my possible new career choice, he was very unhappy and cried lol!! I had to fight to major in accounting. But I partied a lot in undergrad which caused my grades to suffer but I graduated in four years and started my career immediately post-graduation. My undergrad degree was in Accounting and Finance.
4. What were your initial plans post undergrad?
As stated earlier, I persuaded/begged my father to allow me to be an accounting major lol. So, I made a deal with him and I told him that I would become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I made this deal because he told me that accountants just want to take the “easy” way out of life and he made it seem like it was so easy. Those were his impressions of accountants, so I educated him on the statistics of CPAs, the degree track, and I made him realize accounting challenges. After I graduated with my undergraduate degree, he pressured me into taking the CPA exam, but I recently started working as an accountant at East Side Medical Center. For me to divert his attention on the CPA exam, I applied to grad school, so I could tell him I wouldn’t be able to study because of school. I graduated with my MBA in 2014 and then I took a break from 2014 to the end of 2015 and decided to pursue my CPA. I completed the process under two years. The process is very cumbersome and even though you have an accounting degree doesn’t mean you’ll pass so it’s a full-time commitment because I was great at my job and didn’t pass the first time.
Side Note: even though I didn’t have the best undergrad GPA, I was able to get into graduate school at Bruneau University without taking any other professional exams such as the GMAT or GRE!
5. Okay, so you worked at the hospital, got your MBA, and studied for the CPA exam. How was your experience working at your first firm and how was the work environment?
For insight, I started as a staff accountant at East Side Medical Center and a year later I worked at a man company for about a year. The first firm I worked at was an equity firm where I was a senior accountant. I started studying while I was there along with another co-worker. In the beginning of 2016 I decided to start studying but I was naïve to the work load and the nature of the company I was working for. I over exerted myself and I casually studied and stopped going out. I thought I was prepared for the exam but I failed by one point! I was devastated and immediately thought it wasn’t for me. The work environment was very stressful and I had an incident with my boss that stressed me out the day before my exam.
6. So, the entire point of this testimony is to discuss how you dealt with a stressful work environment and demanding boss and how you decided not to remain complement even though you were making a ton of money. So, can you please talk about the stressful boss and the kind of things he did and how the people you worked with were dead weight?
My work environment was great on the surface. It reminds me of the quote, “All that glitter is not gold!” The company had great pay, great health benefits, and tons of room for advancement. For instance, I was promoted from senior accountant to manager within a year. At the time, I didn’t think I was capable of the position especially because I wasn’t a CPA. I was offered a promotion as soon as I started studying! So, yea, the company seemed beautiful on the outside. However, there is a lot of microaggressions in corporate America. It can be very frustrating after noticing. My boss was the type of guy that would constantly praise you which can cripple team members that aren’t doing their best. Also, he cracks under pressure when he’s stressed. He will go off on people and explode!
Right before I took an exam I made a mistake and I inquired about a way to fix it. He demanded me to figure out a way to fix it and went off on me! But when I first started, he was so nice, but this moment caused him to show his true colors and he called me stupid and made me feel bad about a mistake that could be fixed. He went off on me and the other employee that made the mistake as well. He went off on a tangent and stormed up and down the office telling everyone about the issue. I’ve never been in a situation like this and I didn’t know what to do, I thought I would be fired for this. Soon, the mistake was fixed, and he started to become very condescending by questioning me about the simplest tasks. This made me scared and sad because I didn’t know what to do. I thought I had a perfect job until this blew up in my face.
Moving forward, the issue was fixed within thirty seconds, but it took him 15 minutes to go off on us. I specifically remember a co-worker telling me how he often has an attitude like this and to not worry about it but the way he was talking to me was so disrespectful. He talked to me and the older lady very rudely and my father doesn’t even talk to me like that. I left work very flustered and was stressed because I had so much, work to complete and I had the CPA exam the next day. Due to being distracted and distraught with work and life issues, I incurred a car accident on 85 North. Keep in mind, I drove an Audi at the time, so the accident set me back financially and I paid thousands of dollars to get it fixed.
7. Wow! So, we’ve all been in some type of stressful work environment with a boss, but the highlight of this testimony is your transition out of this toxic work environment. Give us tips on how to handle a stressful work environment and transition out to something better.
Long story short, I don’t work there anymore. Keep in mind all of this happened in 2016. My former boss was the type of person that would explode on you and then be super nice the next time he saw you. When I got back to work he acted like nothing even happened. He even asked me about my exam and tried to make jokes. I ended up getting over the situation and decided to continue to pour into my job. I worked my hours and figured out a way to incorporate studying in my work schedule. I was diligent and eventually got it done! I became a CPA and was promoted to accounting manager. When I was no longer focused on the exam, I began to realize, I used to be very busy because I was doing more work than I should’ve been doing. There was poor quality work performance and a lack of accountability. Overworking myself made me burnout. I eventually transitioned after another serious issue occurred with that boss.
8. How do you attribute this testimony to God coming through for you?
I received a message on LinkedIn regarding new job opportunity, but I declined. I wasn’t interested in stepping down from my current pay and position. The person requested my manager anyways and said that he will see what he could do. I was requested to go to the new company and talk to the President about their business. I felt very underprepared for the multiple interviews, but I was offered the job after a couple of meetings. I was given the exact amount I requested which gave me a base with a bonus, some of the benefits included employer paid health care at 100%! The former job had similar benefits, but my coworkers and I didn’t think we would find this anywhere else. Don’t ever believe anyone that says you won’t get what you desire anywhere else. He answered my prayers and gave me exactly what I wanted /needed when I least expected it. I trusted God with my entire life and prayed for him to order my steps through this entire situation. I didn’t act out and become malicious to anyone. It feels like all of this landed in my lap, but I know it came by the grace of God.
9. Were there any anchor scriptures you held unto during this time?
My favorite scripture is Psalm 37. There’s a line that says, “…Trust in the Lord and do good…” This was the epitome of how I lived when work was going crazy. This scripture describes my testimony. Don’t fret, sometimes bad stuff happens in life but just keep your cool. If you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then you’ll be fine. God will take care of you.
The main reason I decided to bring Shewa into this interview is because a lot of us go through stuff at work. Half of our life is at work, so this topic is very important, it doesn’t matter what way you look at it. Whether you’re at a 9-5 or an entrepreneur. A stressful work environment can make you go through another stressful situation such as the car accident. So, I think this is a good way to talk about solidifying your relationship with God and doing good. Don’t just go off on people just because they’re going off on.
10. Please give us advice or a tip to deal with this type of situation.
Understand that we are constantly given choices in life. Sometimes were afraid to make choices due to the fear of the unknown. There’s power in embracing your ability to choose! For example, I knew I had the choice to stay or leave when I had the first negative encounter with my former boss. I could’ve chosen to leave but I stayed. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to get everything I needed out of that situation if I would’ve left prematurely. I had to stay to learn my lessons and move on when I was ready to go. Then I accepted the choice to leave the old job after praying about it. I also had the choice to go off on my boss after he treated me terribly, but I kept my cool and did what I had to do and left. My main advice is to do good and trust in GOD! What you put out is what you get back.
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Until next time...