Work Problem

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by puma1552, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. puma1552, Dec 24, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016

    puma1552 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #1
    I don't usually post stuff like this on forums, but this time I feel I must. This will likely be a long read, so grab a beer and settle in.

    I have a coworker with whom I graduated college (same engineering program). In fact, there are several of us from the same class in the same office of around 20 people. There are less than 100 people in the company, across three offices. I have been with the company over five years at this point.

    I am currently working on two projects. One for my boss, who is the office manager, and one for this coworker I graduated with. She has been there a little bit longer than me, and is one career stage higher. Note however that she is not my boss - the office manager is. I just happen to be working on her project at this time, so with respect to the project you could say she is my manager.

    Dealing with inclement weather has never been a problem at this company; if you awoke to foul weather, you were always trusted to make your own adult decision about working from home. Earlier this year a severe weather policy was developed, which is a pretty incoherent policy that fails to stay on message. It's not entirely clear what the policy really is anymore - it's like nobody proofread it.

    What I gathered from it is that now we are to ask our project managers for advance notice to work from home in the event of bad weather. On Thursday, the Friday forecast didn't look great - not a ton of snow, but rain/sleet beforehand that would cause slick roads. I sent an email to both of them asking if it would be ok to work from home Friday due to the forecast.

    My boss replied quickly and said "No, that's what vacation is for." Think what you will of that, I then wanted to make sure I understood the unclear policy, so I hit reply all (myself, my boss, and my coworker managing my other project) and said something to the effect of "Ok, so then if I understand right we are no longer allowed to work from home in inclement weather unless you close the office?" There is some discussion (again, unclear) of this in the policy, and I wanted clarification. He replied in his typical one-liner management style, "Read the policy."

    Getting frustrated with the lack of proactive management, I wrote back and basically said that with all due respect, I have read the policy several times, and noted that my asking for approval basically was adhering to the last paragraph of the policy. I then also pointed out that I had actually asked our one and only human resources guy to clarify something in the policy the day the policy was released, and that I never heard back (which is unfortunately very typical). So, yeah, I've read the policy and made that clear. I then said thanks, forget that I asked.

    And that was basically the end of it (you'll note that my boss never offered a clarification for the part of the policy HR didn't clarify - again, no proactive management, strictly reactive).

    So I went to work yesterday, where I was one of 5 people in the office, including my boss (but not my coworker who is managing my other project). Sat in the corner at my desk and had virtually no communication with anyone since what I'm working on does not require me to speak with anyone and the other four people who were there all sit on the far other side of the office. But whatever, I went to work like a good employee.

    Around noon I receive an email from that coworker/manager of my other project (she was out on vacation yesterday). She basically told me that she stayed quiet the day prior on the topic, but that she agreed with my boss. Fine, whatever, should've stopped there. But she then went over the line, and went into some diatribe about how yesterday was my last work day before 10 days off, and literally accused me of trying to start my vacation early, calling into question my work ethic, character, and integrity. She literally challenged my ethics to work from home:

    Hey, it's cool that she's an expert on where I'm most effective, in the office at work or in my home office at home where I'm alone with no kids, no TV, no distractions whatsoever. But she knows it all I guess.

    She then started droning on about "opening the floodgates" for working from home, insinuating that I was about to start abusing working from home privileges, just now after five years of not abusing it? WTF? The reality is that in five years of working there, I have ALWAYS ACTUALLY worked from home when I needed to, I have never sat at home and screwed off. I have hit every single deadline I've been handed in five years, I've stayed as late as 9:00 PM, worked weekends, you name it. I've busted my ass at this place the entire time I've worked there. At the end of her email, immediately after her accusatory insult, she had the audacity to say she isn't trying to stir the pot, and that she doesn't want any more time spent on this discussion over email, and that we can discuss it in January when everyone is back. Sorry, it's not up to you to decide when the conversation is over, especially immediately after insulting and offending me - again, know your role - you simply aren't my boss. Her and my boss live a couple blocks from work, within walking distance in the inner city. I on the other hand plan on having a family and putting my kids in schools other than crappy inner city school

    It's important to note that when she replied to my email, she dropped our boss off the chain so it's now just her and me. My boss didn't see what she said to me.

    The problem with her accusation is that not only is it inappropriate, accusatory, presumptuous, and borderline abusive, it simply isn't true and she literally has NO reason to think that. I've worked directly on TWO projects with her in five years - the very first project when I was brand new, and the project I'm working on now, that I've been on for one month. Both projects have went just fine, no problems at all. NO basis to make such accusations. I mean this is literally the most out of left field **** I have ever had to deal with here. Merry Christmas to you too.

    Here's the real problem with this situation: she's dating my boss. Like several/most in the office, I've never had a great relationship with my boss, but it's always been functionally tolerant. He simply is not a people person. She thinks he's the greatest thing ever, and that's fine. They are two peas in a pod.

    To be honest, I couldn't care less that she's dating my boss, and haven't for the two years or however long it's been as long as there were no problems between her or any of the rest of us who are subordinate to our boss. But now that I find myself in a bad position with her, I'm a dead man walking no matter what I do.

    I have not done anything yet, except fume about the situation and think about my options. My options as I see them:

    1) Do not respond to her email. Forward her message to my boss (and possibly the HR guy), highlighting the relevant problems with it. Given the quality of our relationship compared to his relationship with her, I'm on the losing end of this battle. I genuinely do not feel I can get a fair, objective shake on this option.
    2) Do not respond to her email. Forward her message to the HR guy, highlighting the relevant problems with it. Hope HR does something about it, but she is everyone's favorite, right up to the CEO, so that isn't going to happen. HR will likely be apathetic, given the track record of not even responding to emails about policies and insurance questions from employees.
    3) Respond to her email, basically tactfully and professionally laying out the situation and the problems I have with her accusations; I need to stand up for myself and set things straight. This will either be the end of it as nobody else will be involved, or it will just get uglier thereafter and come undone and everyone will end up involved anyway. I can almost guarantee it will be the latter and not the former. She will likely tell my boss about it at some point, if she really truly hasn't already - I'm sure she told my boss she replied to my email, but likely left out the part about the insult (remember, she dropped him off the email chain at that point). I'll likely end up getting fired since I'm an at-will employee who doesn't have the favor of upper management like she does, despite not being in the wrong here. Anything I say will likely work against me, no matter how tactful and/or correct it is.
    4) Respond to her email with a very, very short one liner saying something to the effect of from this point forward our relationship will be strictly professional since she has such a low opinion of my character and just make it clear that what was said was not appreciated, and don't address it any further with her. Forward her message to HR like above.
    5) Do nothing and take her abuse. Not happening.

    I figure whatever I do, short of option 5, I end up shitlisted or terminated. Bottom line, while she's managing my project and I'm happy to work with her and follow her direction on that project, she is not my boss, she is not my meal ticket, and I don't have to take abusive garbage like that from a coworker. She may be a career stage above, but she's not my boss and I know for a fact she would never say to some other people in the office what she said to me. I also know that if I said to her what she said to me, she would absolutely bite my head off and I'd be instantly terminated. But since she's the star performer in the eyes of both my boss who's dating her as well as the CEO, in the wake of ineffective and seemingly apathetic HR, I honestly feel like I have ZERO recourse. What do I want to do? Option 3. What I should do in a normal company? Option 2. What should I do at this company? Option 5, which to me isn't an option and just flat-out isn't right.

    I think she didn't like that I responded to my boss, "With all due respect..." and then clearly laid out my case for having read the policy and stood up for myself and didn't allow myself to be treated like an idiot, and she felt the need to jump in and defend him. And therein she decided she'd get a couple jabs in. She should've just said nothing like the day prior - the whole thing was done. But if she really wanted to tell me she of course sided with my boss, then fine, do that, and leave it at that. Anything further is just destructive and asking for problems.

    Funny, there's no policy against intra-office superior/subordinate relationships. This is a prime example of why most companies don't allow it - I truly feel I have nowhere to turn.

    Options? I am actively working with a recruiter to get out of here ASAP - along with a quarter of the office. But in the meantime, I need to do something about this situation. Her and I were friends on both a personal and professional level for a decade, but not after this. Not sure when I fell so unbelievably out of favor with her, when I've barely ever even worked with her. Whatever.
     
  2. OLDCODGER macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Location:
    Lucky Country
    #2
    Reality: she's the cat that got the cream.
     
  3. curmudgeonette macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Location:
    California
    #3
    You have to assume the boss knows what was in that email. Quite likely the two of them discussed the matter. He may be using her to "deal with the dirty laundry." By having her send the diatribe, he doesn't look bad. In fact, he likely can't legally say all those things.

    Keep looking for a different job. And in the interim, see if you can be moved off of her project.
     
  4. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #4
    That's more or less what I figured, they may be trying to push me out. I'm sure he knows the email occured, even if he does or doesn't know specifics
     
  5. D.T. macrumors 604

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #5

    And/or trying to elevate her to a higher position in the company, whether it's a formal role or just an implied "I'm your boss because I'm dating the boss"

    @puma1552 I feel for you man, work related drama is painful - I've fortunately haven't had to deal with it much since I've always pretty much rolled my own, so to speak.

    Glad you've got the ball rolling for some new work, sounds like this place is a mess.
     
  6. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #6
    Reminds me of a place I worked many years ago after school. We had this girl working on the factory floor. She used to iron plastic on to speaker cabs. It was the sort of mind numbing job where people earned minimum wage and didn't stay long.
    Then one day she transferred to the office. She was now the HR manager. Previous to that we'd never had any HR manager (or any HR!).
    Anyway a few weeks later I bump into her and the general manager (who was married) coming out of the cinema.
    They looked very embarrassed to say the least!

    Anyway to the op I say arrange a meeting with your boss, his girlfriend and the HR person. Bring someone to the meeting you trust if your allowed.
    Keep calm and just explain you were not trying to take an additional vacation day and we're seeking clarification on the bad weather policy. Tell them that you have always worked hard regardless of if you are in the office or not. (Hopefully you have annual appraisals to back this up).
    Then basically ask them to let you know how you should approach future bad weather days.
    Don't get into an argument or start throwing accusations.

    And as you already are doing, keep looking for a new job.
    Good luck with it.
     
  7. Scepticalscribe, Dec 25, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #7
    That is a good post, which gives good advice, and would echo the advice I shall tender, too.

    Thus, confine your response to seeking a clear clarification on the policy of working from home in bad weather, and seek to do that through formal channels, with a witness at your side.
     
  8. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    #8
    You read the whole email??

    I would have gotten to the first whine and hit delete. I'd ignore it and move on.
     
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #9
    Candidly, I think the OP's actual original post is also poorly constructed, - argued and expressed.

    Re the email, I would be surprised if the contents had not received some sort of prior approval from the boss, in which case, a prudent employee would not just read it, but would keep a note - or file - of it.
     
  10. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #10
    This strikes me as a no-win situation. Even though you don't favor your #5, that's what I'd recommend. Let it go. Sit tight. What's that saying? Sometimes you're the bug, sometimes you're the windshield. Pushing anybody can only work out badly for you. Certainly it's very hard to take what they did to you; I understand that. But they're holding all the cards.
     
  11. D.T. macrumors 604

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #11
    If it were me, I'd arrange a meeting with the boss, not the girlfriend, and HR, to simply "discuss the policy" (and be clear it's not as an HR issue between you and him, it's to help both of you navigate the HR confusion). I wouldn't try to make a stand about how hard you work, or bring up any conversation that occurred with the girlfriend - I'd make it clear, she's _not_ part of your chain of command by not including her.

    If she does get included, I'd bring up that she was also confused about it, and since you +both+ report to him, it's probably good you're both there :)

    Basically I'd engineer it so that HR clarifies the policy, but is also indirectly made aware of the situation :D You might get a little breathing room while you find a better employment opportunity, and it'll put them into a slight defensive position.
     
  12. curmudgeonette macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2016
    Location:
    California
    #12
    Conduct an experiment:

    Send an innocuous message to the boss regarding something minor to do with the girlfriend's project - a message that normally would never go to the boss. Something like: "On page 42 I'm going to use a different font in place of italics". Some hours later, follow up with: "Oops, I meant to send this to [girlfriend]". Never actually send a copy to the girlfriend.

    Or better yet, If there's some long normal communication with the boss, slip in the page 42 comment.

    Then, wait to see if the girlfriend brings up this matter. If she does, you'll know they're discussing work issues outside the office.
     
  13. Rhonindk macrumors 68020

    Rhonindk

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2014
    Location:
    Bloom County: Meadow Party
    #13
    and get it in writing.
     
  14. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #14
    I would quit before I'm fired. And state it's due to family circumstances rather than any issue with coworkers/manager/boss.
     
  15. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #15
    Never quit before you have your next job lined up.
     
  16. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #16
    Sometimes, you are left with little alternative.
     
  17. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #17
    Only done it once. Always better to find another job first if you can.
    Also never vent your spleen when you leave. Always leave on good terms even if your boss is a jerk.
    The 30 seconds of satisfaction isn't worth the years of not being able to put them down as a reference.
     
  18. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #18
    Believe me, I would've loved to have just walked out on Friday never to return, but I am either going to line up another job first, or they will need to fire me/force me to resign so I can at least collect unemployment.

    Still haven't done anything, like the suggestions thus far.
     
  19. BeeGood, Dec 26, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016

    BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    Location:
    Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
    #19
    I'm glad you haven't done anything yet, aside from beginning your job search.

    My advice is don't reply to the project manager's email. And don't forward it to your boss. Do nothing else in this email thread.

    When you get back to the office, explain to the project manager and your boss separately that it wasn't your intent to begin your vacation early, but you understand how it could have been taken that way. Add that you were trying to seek clarification on the telecommuting policy. If they offer a rebuttal/critique or continue the discussion, simply acknowledge it and move on. Do not push the conversation any further.

    I know you want to "clear your name/stick up for yourself" and all of that, but that is irrelevant at this point and will do you no good. Whatever opinion of you they have was developed long before this issues arose. Nothing changed during the course of this event in terms of your job security/managerial relationship so there is nothing to "fix".

    What is different now is your understanding of how dysfunctional your chain of command is, so priority #1 is getting a new job. That means that the only thing you need from your current job is time, and amicably ending this issue helps you get that. Even if you wanted to stay (trust me, you don't), the things that you are thinking about doing won't improve your situation. If your boss and this project manager aren't on your side, it's probable that no one is, right up to the CEO. The last thing you need to be doing right now is jumping into a confrontation with zero support.

    Hate this is happening to you, but it can still end well if you're careful and set your emotions aside. Good luck.
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #20
    Some might think that this is easy for me to say as an outsider, but here it is: it would be foolish to quit a job after five years over something like this. This is one of those situations that was needlessly escalated into a playground episode.

    You asked about working from home. Boss said that's what vacation was for. It should have ended there - or at the very least, take the vacation day and ask the boss or HR for clarification in person when you get back. Something often gets lost in translation when too many emails go back and forth.
     
  21. puma1552 thread starter macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    #21
    Think of it more like the straw that broke the camel's back. I had already committed to starting a new job search before this event (and began working with a recruiter around a month ago), this is just the last straw. When I started here 5 years ago when our office was about half the size it is now, it was a pretty good gig. But the longer I've stayed, the more corporate and less flexible it has become; the more focus there has been on 100% billability and the more morale has slipped into the toilet, and nobody who is in a position to do anything about it seems to care. The writing has been on the wall for some time.

    I think I'm going to do nothing...for now.
     
  22. Roller macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    #22
    It seems as if the OP has already decided to leave the company, a decision that should be informed by (a) how unhappy he would be if he were to stay and (b) the likelihood of finding an equivalent or better position elsewhere. I'll assume that both factors have already been taken into account.

    So the question is how to make his remaining time tolerable and how to leave without adversely affecting his employability elsewhere. Of the two considerations, I'd say that the latter should predominate. Prospective employers will almost certainly ask the current boss for an opinion, even if he isn't listed as a reference. So I think that the best course of action is to meet with him and HR person to clearly enunciate your understanding of the work-at-home policy and your intent to follow it without casting aspersions or otherwise escalating.
     
  23. BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    Location:
    Lot 23E. Somewhere in Georgia.
    #23
    Best course of action IMO ;)

    I agree with all of this except the part about going to HR. I wouldn't do this for two reasons:

    1. The OP has already stated that HR is pretty impotent at his company. I suspect that the telecommuting policy (and probably everything else) is purposely ambiguous so that it's basically "managerial discretion" without having to say it. I don't believe that the OP will get any clarification from HR and at best will be wasting his time.

    2. At worst, this could be seen as an escalation or an attempt to "prove his boss wrong". The communication between him and his bosses is clearly poor so this could turn into a huge mess if they start making any additional assumptions about him. Just isn't worth the risk, especially when there is probably zero upside.

    He just needs this to die so he can exit smoothly on his own terms. Like @Tomorrow said, it never should have gone to this in the first place.
     
  24. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #24
    Two excellent posts.

    While it can be argued that it should never have gone to this in the first place, very often, in such situations, the issue about which there appears to be disagreement may not be the real issue at all.

    If - a big if - this issue of working from home in inclement weather is to be pursued, I would recommend that it be pursued, 1) in writing - and only in writing, and 2) with the boss, and only with the boss, although HR may be copied.

    Paper trails are necessary, and, in this sort of situation where instructions are (deliberately, I suspect) ambiguous, or discretionary, the spoken word is close to worthless, and can easily be explained away on the grounds that it was not understood, or comprehended, fully.

    Moreover, as even the OP has admitted, things have become 'more corporate' and that this 'is the straw that broke the camel's back'.

    If that is the case, and as the OP was already contemplating the planning of an exit, I would be of the opinion that this is management setting out their stall, and preparing the ground to be able to make the argument that the OP was a less than ideal employee.

    In other words, I get the sense that this may be mutual.
     
  25. D.T. macrumors 604

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #25
    That was what I got from your original post (and I believe another post you've made about this company).

    Yeah, keep your head down, get the new job, depart amicably, enjoy life :)
     

Share This Page