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How To Manage Insecurities In The Workplace (with Melanie Pump, Author of DETOX: Managing Insecurity In The Workplace)

In this episode, Tim is joined by Melanie Pump, CFO of Brane Inc. and author of DETOX: Managing Insecurity In The Workplace. Melanie’s unique journey to the C-Suite is like few others—starting her career without a high school diploma to becoming an accomplished financial executive and business leader.

Along the way, she’s faced her fair share of workplace insecurities and toxic work environments. But, through these experiences, she has learned to overcome them and increase her own sense of security.

Listen to learn Melanie’s strategies for managing insecurity and increasing confidence in the workplace. And, get inspired to take action in your own workplace.

Interview Highlights:

  • Melanie started in the corporate world in her early twenties without any education. She hadn’t finished high school, but she was lucky enough to get a job as a receptionist in an engineering firm. [2:47]
  • Melanie ended up going back and getting her GED, bachelor’s degree, and then her CPA designation. She stayed at the same engineering firm for seven years and received four promotions during that time. Someone else from that company brought her over to their organization afterwards. [3:27]
  • Over the 10 years of her career, Melanie was with leaders that were highly supportive, who had the space to let her succeed. But later on in her career, she ended up in some work environments that weren’t as healthy as those early work environments. [5:23]

It’s not that hard to build people up, but it’s also not that hard to break them down. And that is why, especially as leaders, we need to be quite thoughtful about our interactions with people because we can make a big difference in both directions. — Melanie Pump

  • In some ways, Melanie’s insecurities had positive effects on her because they drove her to go and get an education, improve her life and create some safety for herself. [7:56]
  • When Melanie was in a healthier environment, her insecurity drove some positive change. But when she got into more toxic environments, insecurity manifested as shutting down, closing off and reducing the risk. [8:15]

To grow your career and to learn, you need to be interacting with others and learning from your peers. — Melanie Pump

  • We focus so much on physical safety over time, but psychological safety is also important. And that is about creating a work environment where people know they won’t be ashamed or humiliated for making a mistake. [10:12]
  • Melanie shares some strategies to reduce insecurity and increase confidence. The first is to diagnose what is causing the insecurity. There is also self-care that we can do to make sure that we’re operating at our optimal level. [12:02]
  • Some of the things that Melanie has done personally to overcome insecurity is to first be kind to herself. Then, she gives herself some self-care like making sure she’s getting enough sleep, eating well enough, and getting exercise because all those things just build into the overall health of your mind. [14:16]

The kinder you are to yourself, the more you’ll feel secure. — Melanie Pump

  • Melanie has been in that exact spot before where she was insecure because she wasn’t sure what the expectations were. And then when she did go in and approach her leader in that position, the reality was they weren’t actually clear on it either. So rather than spinning her wheels for months feeling insecure, just having that transparent conversation made a really big difference. [16:26]
  • Melanie talks a lot about the need for transparency and clarity in her book because when we’re uncertain, we actually view uncertainty as a threat. Our minds do. And so if we’re not sure what’s going on, that will trigger insecurity and that makes us really unsettled. [17:56]

If my employees are successful, I’m going to be more successful too. — Melanie Pump

  • None of us are past insecurities. We’re always dealing with new people and dealing with new situations and insecurities do come up. So every time insecurity shows up, Melanie tries to remind herself of her successes. [22:58]

When I’m dealing with challenges, I try to remind myself of what I’ve already overcome and what I’ve done as a way to manage my insecurities and have some belief in myself. — Melanie Pump

  • When Melanie made the decision to leave toxic work environments and move on to a better environment, she never regretted it. [29:45]

A real weight lifts when you move out of an environment that is creating a lot of insecurity for you. — Melanie Pump

Guest Bio:

Melanie Pump is a financial executive with over 20 years of corporate experience. Melanie’s success as a finance leader is not what makes her unique. Melanie’s journey to the C-Suite is what sets her apart.

After a few years of working in hospitality, Melanie landed her first corporate job as a receptionist at an engineering firm.  She would go on to finish a Bachelor of Commerce and a Professional Accounting Designation. Those were the first critical steps on Melanie’s path to CFO.

Photo Of Melanie Pump

Learning and growing, it does take mistakes and some things are going to go wrong, but if you keep moving forward you can still really reach amazing heights.

— Melanie Pump

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Read the Transcript:

Tim Reitsma

Have you ever been insecure? What about being insecure at work while trying to perform? I know that throughout my career, I’ve been plagued with insecurities. Am I good enough? Do I have the right skills? Do I have what it takes to grow my career? These insecurities can be debilitating. Insecurities can come from a variety of sources — a toxic work environment, uncertainty about your job, lack of feedback or reviews. There’s a lot of different sources. 

In today’s podcast, I’ll be talking with Melanie Pump — an accomplished financial executive, business leader, and the author of Detox: Managing Insecurity in the Workplace. We will hear Melanie’s story, talk about insecurities and how they’ve showed up for her. And inspire others to take action if you’re feeling insecure in your workplace. 

We’re People Managing People and our purpose is to build a better world of work. We’re owners, founders, entrepreneurs, we’re middle managers, team leaders. We represent every business function in an organization, and we’re on a mission to help people lead and manage their teams and organizations more effectively.

So if you want to lead and manage better, and if you want to become a better organizational leader and more effective people manager, then join us. 

I’m your host, Tim Reitsma and keep listening to find inspiration, actionable insights, and tools you need to recruit, retain, and manage and lead your people and organizations more effectively.

And while you’re listening to the show, please subscribe and join our mailing list on peoplemanagingpeople.com. 

Join our community of leaders and follow us on social media to stay up to date with all that’s going on.

Welcome Melanie to the People Managing People podcast. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. 

And I’m really excited about our conversation today about insecurities in the workplace. And I was talking to a few people around the office today about what we’re going to be recording on and they can’t wait to hear it as well, because it’s such, it’s a topic that we just don’t talk about. And so, yeah. Thanks for joining. 

Melanie Pump

Well, thank you so much for having me. Because you’re totally right, it is, it’s all of us have insecurities but I think maybe we’re a bit insecure about our insecurity, so we don’t often talk about it. So, so I think it is a great discussion to have. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, for sure. And so before we dive into that actual topic, I would love to hear about your journey. Your journey of your career, what led you to being a CFO and yeah let’s take a couple minutes so our guests can, and our audience can learn who you are. 

Melanie Pump

Yeah. I’m happy to share, cause it is you know, our journeys are what help us, helps us form the opinions and the learnings that we have. So, and my mine’s a little bit unique.

I, I started in the corporate world, in my early twenties and I came into it actually without any education yet. I’d actually had a bit of a rocky childhood. So I hadn’t finished high school and I was lucky enough to get a job as a receptionist in an engineering firm. But of course I came into that with my insecurities, because I was surrounded by all these people who had this education that seems like something that would be so hard for me to reach.

But fortunately I had a really great leader who you know, despite my sort of fears and trepidation saw my potential and supported me to to believe in myself.

And I ended up going back and getting my GED getting my bachelor degree, and then my CPA designation. And I was at that company actually for seven years and I got four promotions during that time. And and then somebody else from that company brought me over to their organization afterwards.

And again, I had a really great supportive leader. So during that time, I, like I said, got my accounting designation and moved into a controller role. And I’ve just been able to progress my career ever since then and build my confidence, you know, up to being in the role I am now as a CFO. 

Tim Reitsma

Wow! What a journey, you know, from not finishing high school to, you know, getting, you know, it’s like that big break, you know, having a leader that just believed in you. 

Melanie Pump

Well, and this is it. And it really is game-changing because I think about it often, you know, if I had instead of getting that job with that one, at that one office, if I just accepted a job somewhere else my life could have taken a totally different trajectory if I didn’t have that leader, you know. Of course, I do believe in myself and know that I played a role in accomplishing this as well. 

But we’d never do things alone and ending up with a great leader can really make a difference in someone’s life. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, having that champion, that internal champion who sees something in you and helps you see that in yourself, and just gives you that vote of confidence that sometimes that’s all it takes.

Melanie Pump

And allows you to make mistakes too, right? And lets you know, that it’s okay, that you’re not perfect and that learning and growing you know, it does take mistakes and some things are gonna go wrong but if you keep moving forward, you can still, you know, really reach amazing heights. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. That’s amazing. And so throughout your journey, I’m just really curious — what led you to write this book about insecurity in the workplace?

Melanie Pump

Yeah, so, so I mean, obviously you can tell by my initial part how much I believe in the power of leadership and what a difference that can make for employees.

And I was so fortunate, you know, the first, you know, over 10 years of my career I was with leaders that were highly supportive you know, really healthy leaders who had the space to, to to let me succeed. And then you know, later on in my career, as many of us do, I, you know, I did end up in some work environments that weren’t as healthy as those early work environments.

And I saw, you know, not only the difference in myself, so, so how I wasn’t learning and growing as much in those environments. But I also saw it in my peers how people weren’t you know, to say they weren’t reaching their full potential. They weren’t growing because the toxicity in that environment, you know, often was driving negative behaviors and making people quite insecure.

So the contrast between those two environments, you know, like I said, so lucky to have that early great experience, but what that really did is highlighted just how detrimental a toxic or negative work environment can be. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. It can really have an effect on you as an individual, right? It’s I’ve heard the saying of, ‘Oh, you just leave work at work’, but it just doesn’t happen that way. It just doesn’t work. 

Melanie Pump

And that goes both ways, right? You know, like how we say, you know, you’re supposed to sort of leave your personal life at the door. That’s also impossible too, like we are a whole person and we can’t leave, we can’t leave part of it behind. So if you are really struggling in a negative work environment, that impacts your whole life.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. As you were talking, it reminded me of my education journey. I went back to school later on in life, and I was totally insecure sitting in these lecture halls with people a lot younger than me. And I remember there’s one course, I couldn’t pass a test to save my life. And I thought, this is it, like I’m done.

And even the instructor said, ‘If you have failed this test, you might as well, you might as well leave.’ And so I went and talked to the instructor and he said, ‘Tim, I know you know how to do this. You got this.’ And that, just that vote of confidence, that little change, that, that positive reinforcement — man, does it go a long ways.

Melanie Pump

It absolutely does. Like it’s, you know, it’s not that hard to build people up, but it’s also not that hard to break them down. And that is why, you know, especially as leaders, we need to be quite thoughtful about our interactions with people, because we can make a big difference in, in both directions.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. And insecurity show up so differently for different people and they’re caused by a lot of different factors as well. How did they show up for you in your journey?

Melanie Pump

Yeah, and you’re right. They really can, you know, some insecurities can drive positive effect. Like I would actually say for me in some ways there were some positive effects because I felt insecure that drove me to go and get an education and improve, improve my life and create some safety for myself. 

And so when I was in the healthier environment, that insecurity sort of drove some positive change. But then when I got into these, you know, more toxic environments, what I was observing in myself is, insecurity for me manifests as shutting down and closing off and reducing the risk.

So, you know, cause I’d been in some difficult work environment, some difficult environments overall, you know, during my childhood and growing up, so I kind of learned to shut down. And in these toxic work environments, I was doing that. So I wasn’t collaborating as much as with my peers as I was before. I wasn’t putting myself out there.

And I think we all know that to grow your career and to learn, you need to be interacting with others and learning from your peers. So that, that was one of the main things that I saw in myself. It’s almost like I was diminished. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah it’s that just resonates with me ’cause I’ve been there. I’ve had the insecurities where I just shut down and in different jobs throughout my career. And it’s like, oh, I should just probably find another job, which isn’t the solution. 

Melanie Pump

And you’re protecting yourself. Like, that is what that is. You know, when we feel insecure it’s a way of saying we don’t feel safe. So often we’ll just instinctively, like you may not even realize that you’re doing that. You might not realize that you’re reducing your collaboration. It’s just an instinct to you to protect yourself. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. You hit on a keyword — SAFE. Feeling safe and having that safety. And I think as leaders in organizations, that’s such an important thing to create. How do you create safety? 

Melanie Pump

Yeah, and I mean, it is a really important topic and you’ve probably heard the term it’s been talked about a lot more recently — psychological safety because Amy Edmondson, a Harvard professor has released a book that really focuses on that and how do you create a work environment where people feel psychologically safe?

We focus so much on physical safety over time, but psychological safety is also important. And that is about, you know, creating a work environment where people know they won’t be shamed or humiliated for making a mistake. You know, people feel like they can throw out an idea and people will take that and think about how to make it better, rather than taking it and thinking about how to minimize that employee.

You know, making sure you have an environment where the values are clear and people live those values and know that they’re important to the organization. There’s a number of ways to, to work to improve the safety for psychological safety of an environment. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, I think it goes hand in hand with feeling secure in your workplace, because if those values are just written on a wall, and I’ve come across organizations through my time when I was consulting on workplace culture where values are just written on a wall. Nobody knew what they were and they were just there because somebody said you need values.

So they put them up on the website, put them on a wall and an employee handbook and just never lived those. And, and I’ve heard… 

Melanie Pump

Yeah and that almost works against the safety of the environment even more because if you have something and you say this is the way you are, but you don’t actually walk that talk, that’s going to create even more insecurity because then people are saying, Okay, well they’re saying they’re this and they’re not. Well, that means that there’s a lack of trust overall. So yeah, having values and not living by them can really be detrimental to the corporate culture. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. And it’s so if somebody is listening today and somebody is feeling really insecure in their role, in their job, maybe they’ve got a new position or taking on leadership in team, whatever the situation, what are some strategies to reduce that insecurity and increase that confidence?

Melanie Pump

Yeah. And then the first part is, really is trying to diagnose what is causing the insecurity. Because often we might think it’s something else, like there are many things that can impact it, you know? So even just at a high level, I find for myself, if I don’t get enough sleep that actually increases my feelings of insecurity, because I know that I’m not performing to my full potential. 

I know that I’m not you know, 100% myself. So either there’s this some self care stuff that we can do just to make sure that we’re operating at our optimal level. So, so first taking a look at those things and really diagnosing, is it something with you? Is it something with your environment?

It’s hard to truly make it better until we can narrow down what is causing us the insecurity, and then we can start working on that. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. There’s some great techniques to unpack that and, and really get to the root cause, there’s from the operational process improvement side of things it’s the 5 Why technique.

You just ask yourself 5 Whys. You know, ‘Why am I feeling this way?’

Melanie Pump

Right. 

Tim Reitsma

And you come up with your answer and then just take a deeper dive. 

Melanie Pump

Yeah. And sometimes we have to take that deep dive ’cause our brains sometimes can be tricking us into thinking that it’s something else. Like sometimes facing the thing that’s actually making us insecure can be really difficult because change is also scary. 

So sometimes, you know, we may be almost avoiding or rationalizing the thing that’s actually causing the problem. So it really can take some work to dig down and figure out, you know, what is actually unsettling you and making you insecure. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah I think of, you know, I know for myself I’ve recently started a new role in an, in a new company and I believe you did as well.

And so going into this, into these positions, you know, our brains can play tricks on us is like, am I fit for this job? Am I the right person? Do I, you know, do they really know what I can bring to the table? And all these things that come to mind. And so, what are some things that you’ve done personally?

I know taking on a new role or even, you know, publishing a book, and this is your first book. What was coming up for you when you wrote this, or start a new role and yeah. What are some things that you can teach me? 

Melanie Pump

Yeah. Well, you know, part of it is for one being kind to yourself. I mean, we hear this all the time, but you know, everything you just talked about there about thinking, am I right for this role? Do they know, do they actually know what I’m capable of? All these kinds of things. Those are so normal. 

Like when I moved into the role that I’m in now, I did say to myself, You know Melanie, there’s going to be days that you’re going to love this, and there’s going to be days where you’re like, what did I do?

And they don’t know what I’m capable of, all these kinds of things and accepting that because the kinder you are to yourself the more you’ll feel secure. So definitely I do that, is just try to have a real awareness. And like I said also and I’ve really learned over time to, to give myself self care and to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. Make sure that I’m eating well enough, make sure that I’m getting exercise because all those things just do build into the overall health of your mind.

And when you have a healthy mind, you’re better able to handle these other challenges that are coming at you, and you’ll be able to maintain a level of security more easily. But also, you know, again that, that awareness and identifying what are the things that are making you feel insecure, ’cause there may be some things that that you do need to look at fixing. 

You know, maybe there’s not, you’re not getting enough support in your role. So asking for that, you know, for example, or maybe you’re really not clear. If we’re not clear on what the expectations are in our role, that can really unsettle us and make us insecure, ’cause we don’t know how to succeed. So identifying some of those things too is really important. 

Tim Reitsma

That’s a, I had somebody come to me recently who was talking about how the expectations in their role just weren’t clear. 

Melanie Pump

Right. 

Tim Reitsma

The expectations were, ‘Go do something.’ But they were stuck on actually how to go and do that something. And we’re stuck and feeling completely insecure and being even insecure to acknowledge it. And I think there’s so much power to acknowledge when we’re stuck when we’re feeling overwhelmed when we’re feeling that we’re not skilled enough to, or don’t have the knowledge to drive something forward.

Melanie Pump

And also, like I’ve been in that exact spot before where I was insecure because I wasn’t sure what the expectations are. And then when I did go in and approach, you know, my leader in that position, the reality was is they weren’t actually clear on it either. And that’s why it wasn’t clear to me. I mean, they’d put me in this role.

They weren’t totally sure how I was going to get to where it was. So me actually saying, ‘Hey, you know, I’m really not clear on where we’re going and how I’m expected to get there.’ Actually resulted in us having a dialogue of realizing neither of us really did, and then developing a plan to get there.

So rather than me just, you know, spinning my wheels for months feeling insecure, just having that transparent conversation made a really big difference ’cause you know, sometimes it is that, you know, nobody knows what the expectations are and so you need to work through them with your leader. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. That’s, I think that’s vital. You have really nothing to lose by sitting down with your leader. If you’re listening to this today on your way to work or on your way home from work, wherever you are, like that’s a challenge for you this week is to pull your leader aside and ensure that you’re aligned on expectations and aligned on what you’re responsible for and what you’re accountable for.

I worked at a company where everybody in the organization were about a hundred people and everybody had five accountabilities. Not four, not six, but five. I’m not sure why five but that just drove a lot of clarity on who to go to for certain things. Who to reach out to, and it drove that clarity of, Okay, this is what’s expected of me.

Melanie Pump

Yeah. And that makes such a big difference like I do talk about that a lot in my book about the need for transparency and clarity, because when we’re uncertain like we actually view uncertainty as a threat. Our minds do. And so if we’re not sure what’s going on, that will trigger insecurity, yes, and make us really unsettled. 

So, you know, transparency is talked a lot about in the corporate environments but it really is critical for a secure workforce for people to have, you know, not only to be certain about their own expectations but what’s the strategy of the business and where is it going so that they can feel comfortable. The employees feel comfortable they have a future there. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. In the book chapters seven and eight, you’ve really hit on that the impact of uncertainty and then strategies on how to reduce uncertainty. And we’re talking about a couple of those, which is, yeah. It’s having those honest conversations, those transparent trusting conversations.

And if it’s not well-received, then you know that maybe there is a reason for your insecurity and it gives you an opportunity. 

Melanie Pump

And then, but you know, if it’s not well received, but I will say most of the time, like most of us want clarity. Most of us want to help support the people around us. And sometimes we just don’t realize, like, I know as leaders, you know, all of us are so busy.

Sometimes we don’t realize that it wasn’t clear, you know, what the direction is or what the expectation is for the employee and somebody coming in and raising that with you. You know, actually no, I appreciate it ’cause if my employees are successful, I’m going to be more successful too. So yeah, so everybody working together and trying to be clear on those expectations is really important.

Tim Reitsma

And so if somebody is listening who knows they need to have this conversation but are feeling very insecure about having the conversation, where do we start? How do we, you know, do we look ourselves in the mirror in the morning and say, ‘Today’s the day.’ talk ourselves up, drink a lot of coffee, what’s, what’s kind of your strategy?

Melanie Pump

I do not recommend drinking a lot of coffee. You want to try and be as in control as you can. I mean, and I know for me too much coffee does not result in that. But definitely like, you know, giving, giving yourself a pep talk is definitely valuable. You know, making sure that you assess the situation and you go in prepared and this is different for each person, you know. 

You know, some of us, you know, genuinely are in toxic work environments where it may be is just better to move on. But I do believe, you know, in most cases with transparent conversation you can get to a good result. You know, prepare your, prepare your leader, don’t just blindside them.

I generally recommend letting them know you want to have a discussion about your career and what the expectations are and set that meeting aside so that you really have time, a time to talk about it. And, you know, most leaders will be receptive to somebody wanting to talk about how they can improve their performance at work.

So just make sure you’re approaching that in a positive way, sort of about approving a performance, not sort of setting it up as if it’s just going to be a negative discussion. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. Yeah. And I would echo that, and I would add that if your organization is of a size where it has a people and culture team reach out to your people in culture leaders, reach out to maybe a leader in the organization that you have a great rapport with and strategize. 

Or there’s opportunities to if you’re feeling stuck or feeling unsure, insecure, finding a coach, I know a coach in my life, in my career had been so helpful to, to unpack what’s holding me back. 

Melanie Pump

Yeah. I agree. And it’s just talking about it because we, if we hold these things inside, it just makes us more and more insecure. Like the longer we let something spin in our heads, the more of an impact it’s going to have on our psyche.

So whether you’re talking to your partner about it or a coach or friends that it really is helpful to just talk things through and that then eventually, you know, make sure that you’re talking to your leader and figure out how to improve the situation. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, it definitely. It’s a, you know, I was saying in, in kind of our brief intro that I was talking to people at work about insecurity in the workplace and I’ve started a new role, and I’m definitely into that into that head space to the point where… did I sleep well last night? No. And do I need to have a conversation? Absolutely. 

Melanie Pump

And then that’s a cycle, like that’s the hard part, right? Yeah. ‘Cause then now you’re tired and that makes it even worse. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. So I just very publicly said, Hey, I’m feeling insecure in my role and and so here’s some strategies on how to overcome that.

So, so that’s great. And so, you know, as we think about, you know, as you think about your career and where it’s going, you’re a CFO in an organization you know, what kind of comes up for you? Is there still, are you past insecurities now? Are they still coming up on a regular basis? Are they, you know, how do you, you know what’s kind of your approach?

Melanie Pump

Yeah. None of us are past insecurities. There, there’s always, we’re always dealing with new people and dealing with new situations and they do come up. And so I am, you know, that I am included in that. I try to, you know, really remind myself of my successes. Like I, I think many of us too often sort of we, we succeed and then we just bypass right on it.

When I’m dealing with challenges, I try to remind myself of what I’ve already overcome and what I’ve done as a, as a way to manage my insecurities and have some belief in myself. That really is you know, one of the main ways is to build your confidence and that will help with insecurities. And then also I do talk about it.

Like, I don’t hide that from my peers, if I’m feeling like I don’t have the experience or something about the situation is making me feel really uncertain. I share that and, and talk that out with the people that I’m working with. And then they do the same, and that’s how we create a secure environment where we know that we can be ourselves and share when we’re, you know, when we’re feeling uncomfortable.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. The trust that builds as well.

Melanie Pump

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And, and then none of us are, none of us are perfect. None of us know all the answers and we’re all better when we’re working together and your peers have an understanding of where you might need support. 

Tim Reitsma

And so, so I love that you said that just to build your confidence and it’s not just, confidence and being over-confident are two very different things, but it’s building your confidence in saying, Yeah, I know my craft and I know what I don’t know.

And that’s also being confident, in my opinion. 

Melanie Pump

I totally agree. Like there’s, you know, we’ve been talking about that cause I, you know, I am in a small organization and when you’re in a small company, you want people to do, to wear many hats. And that’s not always the most effective. Sometimes you’re better off to try and you’ll get an expert for a small engagement rather than making, you know, one person feel insecure because they’re just kinda mediocre at a task. 

So, you know, I do that as well. I say, okay, we have this project. I’m not the best person to do it. It’d be better for us to have somebody else who is an expert. So I’m not afraid to say those kinds of things and really admit when something is not. I’m not the best person to do.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. That’s so great to hear, ’cause I can just imagine that your team that’s working with you and alongside you almost take a sigh of relief or like, Okay, this is, Melanie is leading by example here. And so it’s okay. It’s creating that, like we talked about psychological safety.

We’ve talked about trust, and you know, trying to put words to that narrative that plays around in our brain of saying, you know, those, those insecure the insecurity, those insecure thoughts that are coming up. 

Melanie Pump

Of course, and just recognize none of us are, you know, even you I’m an, I, you know, my background is accounting, but there’s so much to that.

And same thing, you know, is that somebody who’s in HR in any field, there’s no way one person can know absolutely everything about their field. It’s a, it’s just not possible. So yeah. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, you can only Google so much and then you need to bring in the experts. Yeah, for sure. 

So that’s, that’s great Melanie. I think there’s a couple of really key takeaways for people listening who have gone through some insecurities or going through some insecurities right now.

And it’s really check in with yourself. I think that’s, that’s an important one. You know, how am I doing? What’s coming up? What’s the root cause?

Melanie Pump

Exactly. And then address it like that, that really is recognize the impact that it has in your whole life. So if we are feeling really insecure in that work environment, we do carry it forward into our personal lives as well.

So as much as we can, try to address it. It will improve our overall life, not just our work life. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I’m going to throw maybe a little curve ball at you just something popped in my mind. And so I’ve worked in an organization where my boss had said, ‘Get over it.’ How do you respond to a leader, maybe it’s a, your leader or leader in your organization with a feedback that just says, “Get over it”?

Melanie Pump

Well, I mean, I, it sounds like that leader maybe needs some coaching ’cause you know, that is a way to shut down and in, an employee and they, you know, they’re not going to continue to open up if they’re being told to, to get over it and therefore their feelings aren’t valid. That’s you know that’s difficult.

Obviously, it depends on the situation as to, you know, what is your relationship with that leader? You know, is that leader just having a bad day? Because sometimes people are reactive because of what’s happening in their own life. So, you know, diagnosing that and then potentially, you know, going in and seeking some coaching yourself from somebody in HR.

If you have that department or another leader as to how you can approach it with this leader, because that is quite dismissive behavior. And so, you know, then you need to assess if having a frank discussion with this person about how that made you feel is actually going to be effective.

And that, that does depend on the leader. So that is something that’s a bit hard to give direct advice on until we sort of assess the overall situation on it. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, absolutely. 

Melanie Pump

Yeah, but being my general, you know, if a leader is just telling you that you need to get over something yeah that’s not being very respectful of your situation.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. It’s I’ve, I’ve had colleagues, I’ve had friends who have been in these situations where emotion doesn’t belong in the workplace, but, you know, we can’t hide our emotions. We are who we are. 

Melanie Pump

And then, you know, those are, you know, that’s probably, you know, all of us have learned, you know, even our leadership styles we’ve learned from earlier aspects of our life.

So somebody who is that is probably learned that behavior from somebody else that it’s better to just not have emotion. And they have learned to function that way but now we can’t hide our, we can’t hide our emotions. And when we do that just makes us insecure because we’re hiding part of ourselves.

Tim Reitsma

Absolutely. Yeah and if we go to that approach of figuring out that root cause of those, that those insecurities it’s, you know, we can almost self-diagnose pretty quickly. And then we have to decide what are we going to do about it? 

Melanie Pump

Right. And, and that is the hard part. And then, you know, it’s not always easy ’cause you know, many of us have, you know, commitments and dependence and, you know, changing to a new job is always risky.

So it has to be a balancing act of the risks and the benefits to it. But you know, and I can tell you when I’ve made the decision to leave toxic work environments and move on to other, a better environment I’ve never regretted it. It’s a real weight lifts when you move out of environment, that is creating a lot of insecurity for you.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, absolutely. It’s looking for that environment where you can be safe, where there’s trust, where’s this psychological safety, where you’ve got a leader who’s got your back, who has your best interest. And that’s how we can manage our insecurity in the workplace as a leader, as well as a team member.

Melanie Pump

And there’s so much more likely to reach your full potential in an environment where you have those things. Like, you know, I do have already said earlier, I think back sometimes to, if I hadn’t gotten into that first job, that, that ended up leading me down on the path of, you know, 14 years of supportive leaders.

Where, where would I be today? You know, I might still, you know, not, you know, I might still be at the front desk. I may not have gone back to school. But I did. And I’m very fortunate to have had those leaders. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. Yeah. And they’re out there in every organization. And so yeah, if somebody is listening today and says, I do not have that supportive leader. Well, guess what? There are supportive leaders out there’s, there’s a lot out there.

And so it’s yeah, don’t suffer in silence, you know. Bring a voice to how you’re feeling, to the insecurities, like even not, even feeling like you can have a voice is in itself an insecurity. So… 

Melanie Pump

Absolutely. And in sometimes we don’t know what talents are hiding within us until we get to an environment that, that allows us to open up and feel safe.

I mean, I could definitely say that for me. I didn’t realize that I would be able to grow my career to the level that I have until I got into a place where I realized my talents and my abilities. But we do need to be in a safe place ’cause you know, taking learning is risky. It can feel risky and and you need to be in a safe environment to do that.

Tim Reitsma

Absolutely. Well, Melanie, thank you for your time today. I think this is such a terrific topic. Your book is fantastic. For those who are listening again, it’s called “DETOX: Managing Insecurity In The Workplace”. I highly suggest going and picking that up and having a read. And then drop us drop me a note drop me an email or a comment on social about your thoughts on the book.

Also check out Melanie’s website at melaniepump.com and you can connect with her there as well. So thanks again, Melanie for coming on and talking about this, this topic that we need to put a voice to. 

Melanie Pump

Thanks so much for having me. 

Tim Reitsma

All right, take care. 

We covered a lot of ground in today’s podcast. Melanie shared a lot of great insights from her new book, DETOX: Managing Insecurity In The Workplace. It’s such a relevant topic because there isn’t a single person that I can think of who has not been insecure at some point in their career. 

If you’ve liked what you heard today, check us out at peoplemanagingpeople.com. 

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