David was having a hard time. Within months of starting a new promotion, his wife told him that she was leaving him. It was an emotional blow he hadn’t seen coming. He had trouble sleeping and eating. His kids kept asking him what was going on and he didn’t know how to answer. He felt like he was walking through life in a daze as he struggled to sort out how he felt, now that his wife had dropped this bomb on him.
He was also struggling at work, and it wasn’t just the sleep deprivation. Though initially excited about his promotion, he wasn’t enjoying his new job. He had been promoted from a different area of the organization. He was trying to learn the ins and outs of his new team, but he wasn’t catching on quickly. He felt that his questions were annoying the team and that they didn’t respect him. He tried to implement team building exercises, but they fell flat. He tried meeting with his new direct reports individually, but he didn’t feel that they were very forthcoming. He was good at his previous role, but this first step into management, even with his VP’s trust and support, wasn’t going as well as he thought it would, and it was demoralizing.
He wanted to turn to his Director — to whom he reported — for guidance and mentorship, but he was uncomfortable approaching her. He wanted to appear as though he had it all together, when the reality was that he was falling apart. But to admit that to her would be a sign of weakness and that would never fly, especially with his first performance review coming up. He felt he had no choice but to keep faking it — work was work, and home was home, and there was no need for one to affect the other. He could handle it, and it would be fine. He had had a few stumbles, but nothing big — no one would ever notice.
On the other side, David’s Director Salma was also struggling. She was quite happy with her promotion to Director, but her first task — to hire a manager to fill her previous managerial position — didn’t go well. Her team went without a manager for several months, and although it was great that they were mature and skilled enough to handle this, her struggle to find a replacement detracted from her ability to do her new job.