Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dealing With a Pain

My boss called me a little bit ago. Yeah, around 9:00pm. Would you be worried?
He called to ask me to document the behavior of another employee. Yikes.

This will feel a little strange, considering I'm the newest hire. The person I'm documenting has been there for about 7 years.
I want to be careful and fair, because I tend to write these sort of incidents in a matter-of-fact, dispassionate, emotionless sort of way. Which seems to be the right thing to do - but usually comes across as harsh rather than the neutral message I intend.

Here's what happened. My job is to prepare the material for a weekly 'event'. Then it gets handed off to another part of the team. Typically, the same person sees it through to the final product - but today it was handed off to yet another person. This person is difficult at best. We'll call this person Bozo.

As Bozo completed the first phase of the project - it was time for me to weigh in with any changes or adjustments. Bozo told me that part of the material was changed. That the first part of the team made this change. This was a change that, with the resources at hand, I could not accommodate. I'm great at troubleshooting - but this one had the deck stacked against it.

The really strange part, is the first part of the team would NEVER make a change like this without checking with me first. This was very concerning.
Bozo says no... "They do this all the time."
No - they've never done this to me before. It doesn't make any sense.

Then I ask Bozo to show me the change in question - Bozo makes a veiled effort, but then stops and offers another explanation - in an effort to distract me - which is Bozo's preferred Modus Operandi. I ask again, and Bozo instead offers two suggestions to cover the material - both of which will not work. I never did get to see the problem in question.
I chose not to press the issue since I was dealing with Bozo after all.
I called my boss and explained part of the problem and asked for a suggestion. He couldn't help.
Finally, I determined a suitable fix and left for the day.

Forgot about it.
Until my boss called. He spoke with the first part of the team who confirmed that they did not make the change. This in turn confirmed that Bozo made the change. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
Did Bozo make the change just to watch me struggle with an unsolvable problem for no reason? Is this something Bozo would then take pleasure in... watching me spin around trying solve the unsolvable?

Doesn't matter. My boss is ticked. Bozo pulls this stuff all the time. Especially on people like me, my job title, my gender. Mmmm hmmm.
My boss is totally on my side. Which is great. But it also makes me feel bad, because it's something that shouldn't be a big deal. Something I can handle - but shouldn't have to. I could have pushed Bozo to show me the change - (the change that wasn't really there after all you see) but I didn't because I felt pushing the issue on something of this level would be foolish, and just cause more trouble.

And that, my boss pointed out - is the rub. Shouldn't have to. It doesn't have to be this way and the only way we can make it stop is follow the bureaucracy, document it and maybe in 2-3 years we don't have to put up with Bozo any more. Furthermore, if I had been dealing the other person on the team - and asked to see this problematic change - boom - I would have seen it in two seconds flat. The fact of the matter, the problem Bozo was presenting wasn't there. Bozo was just causing trouble.

Sheesh. This is ridiculous!!
Any suggestions for me so that I don't come off sounding like the whiner in this situation?

sorry if this is boring - I just needed to get it off my chest before I write up the real thing. Thanks for letting me vent.


milissa said...

Girl I hear ya. I'm having a very similiar problem at work. Except the Bozo at my work is my boss. (I wrote about my situation recently too.) I don't have any suggestions for you. I think your method of a "factual write-up" is on-target. You can't read tone of voice or body language so of course it may sound a little harsh. But it won't sound colored with a personal vendetta if you stick to the facts...and that's important. Glad to hear your boss is on your side! Good luck.

J said...

Ooooh yes this happens all the time where I work. I am just thankful that my boss is like yours and does not believe I should have to take crap from someone who is passive aggressive/doesn't know what they are doing. I just let it go once it has escalated to my boss and he has confirmed that I didn't do the wrong thing, because at that point it's out of my hands. I still have to work with the same people over and over and they still keep doing the same mean/stupid/thoughtless things but at least I know he understands the challenges I'm working with. I am thankful for that because I have had bosses in the past who wanted to blame the others' behavior on me not being accommodating enough, which was tough to swallow when it wasn't my fault.

But yes, agree with Milissa - I always have all these incidents in writing (usually in the form of emails between myself and the other person). I don't take phone calls unless they follow it up with something written so I can document it. It's just good to have a paper trail. CYA.

TRS said...

Thanks ladies!

From my boss today, via email:

"Thanks again for your review of the ___ situation from
yesterday. I heard a completely different story this morning...of
course to no one's, and I mean NO ONE'S surprise.

You did good, you were correct in all of your responses. And your professionalism and work ethic is definitely noted and appreciated here."