b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: This is a No-Win Situation

12/04/2005

 

This is a No-Win Situation

Once the normal methods have been tried - unsuccessfully - to get through to another human being, it helps to know when to quit.

Just this past Friday I had a usual encounter with my bat-S&$*# crazy boss:

We had a conversation that quickly brought my blood to near-boiling level. If it was measured in whistling tea kettle terms, the kettle would have been clearing its throat ready to scream in complete readiness.

So it's Friday evening at 5:55pm and I'm about to leave work for the weekend. Against my better instincts, I answered a call from my manager at that time. She asked me to stop by before I left. Ok.

When I stepped into her office she said to me, "I know you don't want to hear it but I need to know where you're at with your quarterly report."

What an interesting way to start a conversation. And I don't mean interesting-good. It's true, she did know that this report has been a thorn in my side but that was due to situations out of my control. As per Murphy's law, if it could go wrong it would - and has, which I was now being blamed for. Of course, even if a meteor demolished the city block where our office was, I'd be blamed for not getting the report completed. She wouldn't want to hear it that the office no longer existed along with the rest of the Manhattan's east side.

"That's not accurate. I don't mind "hearing it" about this report, and I don't mind discussing it. By all means, as my manager you're entitled to ask me about it. So let's talk about it."

"I need to know where you're at with it. As you're aware, this report was due on Wednesday. When can I expect it to be completed?"

Perfectly valid question.

I shrugged my shoulders, "I'm not sure". Not what she wanted to hear but it was an honest response.

She looked exasperated. "Why not? You knew in advance when this report was due. Why didn't you plan better to get it done?"

Hmmm, let's see...

For starters, since starting the report was dependent upon receiving quarterly information, I was only able to start the report three weeks prior. If I don't have the data, I can't work on the report. With me so far? Ok.

I'm short-handed, down one assistant. Now on the same day that this information became available to us to start work, my second assistant put in their 2-week notice. Management decided to keep assistant #2 since I was already short-handed. So, aside from the fact that I'd already been covering my managerial responsibilities and the 1st assistant's responsibilities, I then had to pick up the responsibilities of the second. That meant I had to carry the workload of 3 people. I don't need to tell you that a person who hands in their notice is a lame duck. But on the day our data came in, I began work on the project and I asked assistant #2 to please work on it as well (I told them, "You're not being escorted out the door so you may as well do something while you're here"). As you can imagine, I should be grateful that Asst#2 did any work at all on it.

Every day I checked in with idiot boss to give a status report on what was completed and what had yet to be done. In her universe this was all ok.

That was 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving. Now, I happen to work quickly on this particular project but the fact remains that there's still the day-to-day workload of 3 people to handle. So I'm handling that workload plus working on this in the meantime. Then I had the “one-vacation-day-left” debacle which I wrote about in the post on 11/29 entitled, "It's NOT my call!!!"

Additionally, prior to taking the 3 days off before Thanksgiving, I confirmed my new hire's training schedule with the internal training group. My new assistant (scheduled to start work on the first Monday after Thanksgiving) was slated to be in training ALL DAY Monday, Tuesday and partially on Wednesday. That meant that I would have Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday to work on this other project – and potentially get it done.

Ha!

What actually happened: The internal training group completely changed the training schedule so I had to train the new employee ALL DAY Monday, 1/2 day Tuesday and 1/2 day Thursday. But of course I had no prior knowledge of this as I don't check emails on my vacations.

My manager knew and did nothing.

On top of that, my manager – who is my back-up – didn’t back me up on ANYTHING while I was out. It took me 4 days to catch up on all the nonsense that went on in my absence that she did nothing about. In that 3 day span of time, I received over 600 emails.

So when was this report supposed to get done? I didn't even glance at it when I came back - it was not physically possible.

I explained to my manager about the 600 emails, piles of report requests (that were not handled in my absence), the training schedule and daily workload of 3 people that I was carrying. None of that was good enough.

“But you knew ahead of time and you should have anticipated that obstacles would come up.”

No - I could not have anticipated that I would have over 600 emails in my inbox when I returned.

I could not (but should) have anticipated that she would not have lifted a finger to help me – after she said she would.

I could not have anticipated that the company’s training group would have totally altered the agreed-upon schedule for my new employee.

These were obstacles that could not have been anticipated.

I could however, anticipate the heel of my boot making contact with her two front teeth if she didn’t cease and desist.

“Well you know, we have a problem then,” I said. “Although I’m telling you on a daily basis everything that goes down and how I’m handling them, you don’t tell me until it’s too late that it’s not okay.” I took a deep breath, “You have expectations that I don’t seem to be living up to. So let me ask you, what should I have done instead of doing what I did?”

A smirk swept across her face. I anticipated choking her with steel wool to wipe it off.

“Seriously, I want to be able to do things your way – but you need to share with me what that way is. If you have any suggestions as to how I could have handled this better, then please share them with me… I want to be able to work better with you. Let’s discuss this so that you have no further disappointments in the future.”

In return for that nice little comment I received nothing but a blank stare. She said nothing. Nothing. I have thought of every last way to get through to this woman and they have all failed.

Folks trust me – if you’ve reached this point with your managers and hit nothing but brick wall after brick wall… then it’s time to cut your losses and find employment elsewhere. Find a job where your input and performance are valued. Nobody should have to endure abuse like this.

Good luck.

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Comments:
Seriously...get the hell out of there before someone gets hurt.
 
You'd have a decent case- "temporary insanity"- if she turns up missing! Time to speed up the end-game!
 
Thanks for the comments folks. It's not a jungle "out there", it's a jungle in my office! This woman does not cease to amaze me. I still cannot get over some of the things she says and does.

And yes - I'm doing my best skedaddle. Taking up smoking again would be better for my health than dealing with this every day!
 
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