Office Dynamic Dilemmas

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

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    lol. My sanity is in much better shape than it was when I first realized there was a problem. Back then, it was a race between me and J to pick up the voice mails. If I got there first, I called people back. If she got there first, she deleted messages. It was crazy. My talking directly to her really helped. She didn't want to do call backs. I was willing to do them. Win win.

    I'll ponder how to select a team member to kick off the training and get J (and me) off the hook. That's a great idea. :)
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Update: It looks like there's something afoot. I was out of the office on Friday and Monday. Apparently, in my absence, CM (clueless manager) assigned J to pick up customer messages and do call backs. She didn't delete them this time.** All of them were waiting for me when I got into the office today. 13 messages from Friday. Another 23 from yesterday. Yay. Talk about getting punished for taking a day off. *sigh*

    Anyway. J was in the office Friday and out of the office Monday, so there should have been only messages from Monday. At the end of today, when I updated CM about the fact that the entire backlog was cleared, he asked some unusually probing questions about how many messages came in, on which day, and at what time. Hmm. It looks like somebody has finally connected the dots and realized that things are not adding up.

    That kills two birds with one stone. The problem will finally be addressed, but I won't have to rat anybody out.

    Works for me.

    I'm still going to pursue the plan of cross training more team members, though. Calling 36 quasi-irate customers in one day was no fun for me and I wouldn't want to subject anybody else to the same. What's that old saying? Something about a shared load being lightened? I think it's time to divvy up the work. :cool:


    **This raised a flag, by itself. I suspect someone may have already talked to her about the Great Disappearing Message Mystery.


    ETA: I meet with CM in the morning. I'll keep y'all posted.
    singndance likes this.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Update: CM apparently confronted J about the unanswered messages and she made up an excuse on the fly. The good news for J is that it seems no one is connecting the dots to all of those deleted messages in the past, and I have no intention of telling anyone. That could get J fired. The good news for me is that J now knows it's being looked at, so she'll be less likely to delete stuff in future. This works for me.

    As a follow-up, I met with my CM to propose a new voice mail procedure. i suggested some changes that would help alleviate the problem in the first place. (Fewer voice mails = fewer call backs, right?)

    I also met with J's manager, informally, in the hallway on Friday, and strongly suggested that J be taken off the project. I told J's manager the truth, which is that I think it's unfair to J for her to be on this project at all. She's just a back-up. This project is complex, it's ever-changing, and this puts J at a huge disadvantage, because she'll have to keep up with everything as much as the full time team members, even though she's only on the project maybe 5% of the time. That's not right.

    Short answer: The situation is not resolved, but we're getting there.

    Thanks for your input and support, folks. :)
  4. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    If you didn't tell J's manager about all the deleted messages, you didn't really tell the whole truth.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    You're right. Telling the whole truth isn't my goal. My goal is getting the issues addressed with minimal collateral damage. Truth can be overrated, IMO. It can also be slanted or used as ammunition. I want the customers taken care of without J getting fired for doing something arguably wrong but also arguably justified.​
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I guess I should clarify, because it sounds like I'm cool with lying. I'm not. What I am saying is what's in a scripture that goes something like, "All things are true, but not all things are beneficial." Or something like that, depending on the translation. Meaning, just because I know what J has been up to doesn't make it a good idea for me to blab.
  7. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Well, it's also punting the problem to someone else, i.e. if you sweep J's issues under the rug, whomever has to supervise her in the future will inherit them.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Very true, and I did think about that. I guess I'm naively hoping J's realization that her actions are being noticed will convince her to cut out the deception.

    Not only that, I'm very distrustful of the way she and I both are being managed. I think that, given the whole truth, J's management would use it to destroy her career. I believe that and I'm not on board with giving them the ammunition to do that. I think J was childish, passive aggressive and a little stupid. But I don't think that her finding a way to survive ridiculous management demands is something worth losing her job over.
  9. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Has she been made aware of that?
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Having that conversation today. :)
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Perhaps she'll straighten up and fly right now.
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Or find a better way to game the system, *shrug* I've done the best can. Next time, she's on her own.
  13. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    It just sounds to me like she is sabotaging your project, so you are being quite gracious in protecting her. Plus, you are dealing with all the irate customers that haven't been getting their phone calls returned. Are you sure she doesn't deserve to stand up to the consequences of her actions?
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    No, I'm not sure. And you're right. I have been told that I am "very protective of my team." Am I too protective? Maybe. But now all the cards are on the table between me and her at least. My impression is that, in the past, J didn't see the impact of her actions on the other team members. All she saw was the impact of management's (IMO poor) decisions on her. Now that she and I have that straightened up, I am going to give her the opportunity to get her act together. At the very first sign of more shenanigans, I'll go to management.

    I don't think it will come to that. I hope. :)
    singndance likes this.
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst?

    ++++++++++++
    Update: things between me and my temporary manager continue rather well, I think. I feel more comfortable going to her with problems or questions than I ever have with my "real manager." She is extremely helpful. I am left, once again, to my own devices...which is how I work best. (Key to Peaches as an Employee: mix of responsibility + independence will work wonders to motivate me more than anything else in the world.)

    I have decided to be more proactive (I wrote "aggressive," but deleted it.) in my own self-promotion. I am quite actively making it known that 1)I want a promotion, 2)I am bored and want different assignments, 3)I know my own strengths (independence, process revision, behind-the-scenes getting [stuff] done--what I like to think of as "quiet competence," documentation) and can put them to very good use, and 4)I am seriously looking to exploit what I have to offer for the good of the division. I'm pushing hard for temporary assignments in the Director's office, which would give me increased visibility and a different skillset.

    Perhaps #2 isn't something I should be mentioning, but what do I have to lose? My evaluations are flawless. Literally...I'm rated on a scale of 1-5 for a variety of areas, and mine are always straight 5s. I meet all deadlines on time or ahead of time. I produce fantastic work. I am organized. I've got my head up and am looking for ways to lend my skills (such as they are) to the division. I can't be demoted without reason, and there is no reason to demote me. I realize this sounds like bragging, but it's reality. Besides, if I don't put it out that I'm not entirely happy with what I'm doing, how will anyone ever think to ask me to do something different. (Not that I'm waiting to be asked any more; I'm being the one to ask for different projects.)

    It feels good. I feel much more in control of my career. I'm not, but I feel much more like I'm actively working to make things happen for myself, rather than waiting for someone to recognize what I do. And I've promised myself that I'll stop apologizing for, or minimizing, my own strengths. I know what I'm not good at (public speaking, training--although I make fantastic training materials, with thanks in no small part to Pygmalion, writing). But...gosh darnit!...I have things to offer. OK, so revising processes and creating documentation isn't nearly as sexy as presenting to professional organizations. Well...it doesn't mean it isn't useful. OK, so being "quietly competent" isn't nearly as sexy as being the one who leads meetings in front of the director. Well, then I'm finding ways to put my skills out there where she's more apt to notice them. gosh darnit!, I have things to offer...and I'm bloody well offering them. And I'm looking for ways to outright exploit them.

    It feels really good. I've been working on things that make me happy. (SAS! Yay! It tweaks every part of my instant-gratification-needing brain to take an outdated, cumbersome, undocumented process and turn it into something easy, efficient, and fully documented.) I'm much happier.

    Things are good. But, at this point, many things are in progress.

    Like the last time I didn't get a promotion (for very good reasons--I wasn't ready then), I'm using this lack of promotion as a kick-in-the-pants to kick my own performance up a notch, so to speak. That can only be a good thing, right? Sure, I'm still bitter...but I'm working through that. And, as gets said around here, if you're going to criticise the process when you lose, then you can't accept it when you win. So...time to stink it up, and bring more value. It may not be fair, but it's the process I've got; I knew that going in, so I can't be upset when someone else played the game better than me. This is good...I'm going to be a much better employee... (We'll just ignore the fact that it took me three months to really get my attitude back in line...)
  16. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Good for you.

    $0.02 about the snippet above:

    At least at my company, the above would be most convincing if numbers were attached. Number of hours, number of people, number of files processed, number of person-years saved, etc. etc.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    That's about it. Yeah. *shrug*




    I think this is great input.
  18. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    That's good advice. I'll have to ponder how to apply it, though. As strange as it seems, that's actually a really difficult thing to gauge. A lot of what I do (and what the division as a whole does) is have things ready for "just in case." An annual dataset may not be of interest for 15 years...until suddenly it is, and you've got someone wanting data for the last 20 years. You can put in the effort to produce the data annually, and to make sure all of the years play well together...which may turn out to be a complete waste of time, or it may turn out to make your life (or your successor's life) infinitely easier. It's impossible to know. Most of our things are like that. Fewer files/more files, fewer hours expended...well, not many, unless the one person who does that certain thing you're redoing gets hit by a bus, in which case we're screwed because no one knew what he was doing. But while he's here and healthy, it's no big deal.

    I'm not trying to make excuses. I'm pondering out loud how to apply your advice to my situation. I'll admit coming from a very biased position: my pet peeve and personal crusade at work has to do with documentation and succession planning. I've had to pick up the pieces from other people too many times, and it sucks and it's a waste of time; I'm a firm believer that organization, streamlining, and documentation can seriously help that situation. Hence my single-minded focus. (And I'm good at it, which is a bonus.)
  19. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    How much time did it take you to pick up pieces in the past? How much time would it take you now that all this streamlining has been done? Multiply by the number of times people in applicable roles in your division have changed jobs.

    How many potential 20-year analyses have you eased? You can quantify the explosion of complexity of the just-in-case problem space, then quantify the percentage of it that you've made "infinitely easier". If you know folks with computer science background in real life, they'd be good resources to help you with this.

    How many more people could get hit by a bus than previously, without causing inordinate strain on your division?

    If you think about this from the right angle you can *always* come up with a quantitative description of the sort of work you describe; often with impressive-sounding big numbers.
  20. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    Yes, good advice. The streamlining you've described has to have quantifiable benefits such as reduction in time to produce the reports from xx hours to xx minutes, or with xx% fewer errors, eliminating xx numbers of re-runs saving xxx amount of time.

    Another thought. My old company tenaciously adhered to a bell curve when it came to performance ratings. Most everyone got the average 3, and as managers, we had to rate a certain number of people 1's and 2's. It was done through a rigorous ranking process. Very few were rated 4, and the truly exceptional were rated the 5. The 5's then became your "high potential" people, and we had to put a performance plan together for them that allowed for rapid growth and promotional opportunities. We were failing as managers if our 5's were not recognized, rewarded, and moved up. So, you have every right to toot your horn because you are doing a lot of things right. And, you deserve to be told what you need to develop to move on and up, because you obviously have a lot of potential that should not be wasted.

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