Office Dynamic Dilemmas

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by pygmalion, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Exactly, which is why, even though I've been the lead on this project for quite some time, I've tried to take a non-confrontational, non-blaming approach. When I've noticed issues, I've always notified the whole team, explained why things need to be done a certain way, etc. After all, it is a tough project. Anybody could make mistakes or missteps. I've never singled anyone out, because it doesn't hurt the rest of the team to get a friendly reminder.

    But, more than two years down the road, it looks like this lady either 1) just won't realize that she is the problem unless I single her out or 2) disagrees so strongly with the way I am doing things that she has chosen to do things her way instead.

    So sami's approach is a place to start. To address possibility #1, she and I need to have a non-confrontational conversation about some of the balls that have gotten dropped. To address #2, I've started adding my reasons for making certain decisions. I rarely make decisions for the team in a vacuum -- I talk with management, marketing, R&D, etc. But that doesn't mean that other members of the team necessarily know that I'm not making arbitrary decisions. So now I'll share more information, even for things that seem like common sense to me.

    What I will also do, however, is start building a portfolio of stuff -- not nit-picky stuff -- just the giant, expensive gaffes. That way, if I am forced to talk with her management, I have some ammunition and it doesn't look like a personal attack.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah and there have been a couple of issues that have had to be escalated to my management but I have never identified which team member has caused the problem. Accordng to my manager, I am "very protective" of my team. I kind of like it that way. Who wants a team leader that's ready to hang you out to dry? I want to be the kind of team leader that I'd want to work with.

    I'd rather try to resolve things person to person and leave management out, if at all possible.
  3. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you have a strategy. :)
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    im sooo glad im the boss:D
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Thinking it through clearly enough to explain it to others really helped. :)
    samina likes this.
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I'm sure that comes with its own set of problems.
  7. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    sometimes but im a great boss:cool:
    pygmalion likes this.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Modest, too.:p
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  9. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    ;):rolleyes:
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Not a dilemma. Just figured I'd share, since it is office-related. There are two young ladies being interviewed for entry level positions in the office today. I just walked past both of them. BOTH of them were surfing the web on their smart phones. Clue: If you can't be bothered to turn off your cell phone during an interview, you don't want a job, IMHO.

    Seriously. *shakes head*

    I do have another dilemma, btw. I don't have enough time to type it up right now. I'll check in later.
  11. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Seriously?!?! During?!?! Good god. Kids today! :)

    Not a dilemma, but since I'd shared about this in the past I figured I'd update: feared micro-managing now boss, who also tends to take over...has been WONDERFULLY great to work for/with since we had our frank conversation. No weirdness between us, she has backed off but remained extremely supportive, and is, in short, an absolute joy to work for. I feel so much happier at work since she and I spoke.
    j_alexandra, pygmalion and Purr like this.
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. During. Not while people were asking them questions or anything. While they were supposed to be watching/listening to a presentation about what our department does. Blatant mobile phone use. Blew me away. How can you not know that is unprofessional? *shrug*

    Nice. :)
  13. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Really??? Seriously??? I imagine they'd be lost of their cell phones died and they couldn't find their charger.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    oh yeah try taking them away from them!!
    Purr likes this.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    So glad it worked out this way, P. :)
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I had the talk with my team member on Thursday, btw. I gave her some specific examples of things that had gone wrong. Her first reaction was, "I'm sorry that happened but, to be honest, I have no idea what you're talking about." So I pulled up documented evidence of what I was talking about -- several examples (Computer history is a beautiful thing.) In response, she said, "Wow. I don't remember doing that, but, if I did, I'm sure that [manager's name] must have told me to."

    IOW, she took no responsibility, and she hinted that [manager] is in charge while I'm not. ** On the bright side, though, she's on notice that her shenanigans are being seen. I'm going to keep my documentation and keep on the watch. I suspect there'll be no more problems, for a while, at least. Will there be trust? No. At least, not right now and not on my side. Will there be more shenanigans? It remains to be seen. People don't often let go of power struggles easily. That's what I see, here. This is a thirty-five year old woman's version of "You're not the boss of me." Very mature. *shrug*




    ** What she doesn't know is that [manager] has too much doo-doo going on to pay close attention to the details on this project, and that he's come to rely on me for this kind of stuff. No way in hell he told her to go against procedure. She just doesn't have them *ahem* wherewithal to admit she's made poor decisions.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    And, on a similar note, I've come to the conclusion that the dynamics I'm dealing with on my team are the result of poor management. Not mine, this time. lol.

    What I am witnessing is a lot of passive aggression, IMO. Oppositional Chick is not the only example.

    Same project, another example. One of the things my team is responsible for is customer contacts. People can call in or email to ask questions, set up an account, order products, etc. We're supposed to give a quick response, but, if there's nobody available to respond immediately, customers can leave a voice mail. Somebody on my team is supposed to call them back.

    Calling back customers is a really crappy job. If a customer is calling, usually, they have an issue. Happy people don't call companies. When a customer call goes to voice mail, that makes it even worse. Customers are often absolutely ticked. Nobody wants to do call backs.

    When I got sick last year, [Manager] decided to recruit someone who's NOT officially on my team, who has a billion other responsibilities, and who explicitly stated that she doesn't want to be on this team, to do all of the callbacks. She told him over and over again that she doesn't want to do call backs.

    Last summer, when I returned to work after a month on disability, I started getting tons of issues escalated to me. Customers were ticked. They said they'd called and left messages and never gotten called back. I shook it off at first, but it kept happening. Finally, I started keeping track. When J, the woman who was supposed to be doing call backs, was in the office, we had maybe one voice mail/call back a day. When J was out of the office, it was more like twenty. (Every customer contact is supposed to be entered into the computer system for tracking.) This didn't happen once or twice. It went on for months, until I finally had to admit to myself that J was deleting customer voice mails but not calling people back. (Do I KNOW this is true? No. Can I positively KNOW it's true? No. But fifty coincidences in a row != a coincidence, IMHO.)

    This put me in a terrible position. I get where J is coming from. [Manager] is young and new and really likes being in control, so he's decided that, despite good sense, good fit, or employee preference, he's going to make J do call backs. J has decided that she's not going to do them, so she doesn't. [Manager] hasn't learned rule one of human interaction. Nobody can make anybody do anything.

    Problems? I know what J is doing. I know it's actionable, from a disciplinary perspective. I get where she's coming from. I think [Manager] is acting like a jerk. I don't want to see J disciplined for working around a jerk.

    I confronted J, gently, when I first realized what was going on. She did what anybody else would do. She played innocent. But the trend continued. When I was in the office, there were fifteen to thirty call backs a day. When I was out, somehow, every single time, there were only one or two.

    So what do I do? Call backs. The only problem is times like this long weekend, when I'm out of the office and J deletes to her heart's content. I'll be feeling repercussions of this for weeks to come, guaranteed.
  18. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    Oh, P, your manager is making such a huge mistake forcing this person to do this work, and you are suffering for it, but so are your customers, which is just dead wrong. Is there some way for you to suggest to your manager that you want to reassign the work to someone else as a learning experience or a growth opportunity -- like, Sally would really benefit from taking over the customer call backs because she needs to understand key customer concerns or learn how best to address customers....We would often assign back office people to work with field representatives for that kind of experience, which made an amazing difference in how they did their real job because they now understood the impact on the customer.

    Anyway, to get back to your dilemma, your IT people should be able to tell how many calls are going to that voice mail box, when they came in, when they were listened to, and when they were deleted. They may even have a record of the actual voice mail item saved on a backup. Not that you want to get this person in trouble, but it would give you proof of what is happening so that you can take steps to deal with it.

    It is a challenge that you are responsible for this team, but not their direct manager. Now you are responsible for the actions of someone who isn't on your team, but is doing the work of your team and leaving you to pick up the pieces....matrix management all over the place.
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes. It stinks.

    I'm sure that the IT people could tally how many voice mails there are. I really, really don't want to go down that path, if I don't have to.

    I think I'm going to make a point of "cross training" the whole team to back each other up for call backs and a few other functions. Once that's done, it's just a matter of getting J officially unassigned from call backs, somehow.

    What I did, when I confronted J initially, was tell her not to worry about it. I said that I really don't mind covering call backs and that I know she has a lot of other things to do. I'd do call backs. ** It was an agreement between me and her, with no management involved. The only real problem, now, is when I'm out of the office for more than a day, and my manager insists that she be my backup.




    ** Truth? I have too much to do already and I don't like doing call backs any more than anybody else, but 1) The customers are being mistreated and 2) I'd rather do a timely call back than have to take escalated calls from irate customers who never got one.
  20. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    I like your plan of "cross training." I have a question--since you are the team leader and being held responsible for this project, can you have a frank one on one with your manager and tell him you want to have another team member cover you for call backs to get that training kick-started? In the interest of getting the customers serviced at a higher level and saving your sanity....

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