Uh… Have You Tried Restarting Your Manager?

, , , | Working | May 21, 2021

Manager: “I sent a document to some of you, and I would like to know if you received it, except of course for those that weren’t meant to get it; they don’t need to tell me anything, okay?”

I did not receive any document, and I haven’t the faintest idea of what I should do.

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Pool Your Brain Cells Together

, , , , , , | Working | May 19, 2021

I have a coworker who fancies himself a handyman. The trouble is, because he leads a very busy life — in addition to having a full-time job, he’s the father of two young boys and coaches junior-high soccer — he has trouble finding the time to handle construction projects.

One day, he announces that he is going to install an in-ground pool at his house himself. All of his coworkers are a bit worried, because that’s a huge job. He waves away our concerns.

Coworker: “I can do it, and it’ll be a lot cheaper than hiring a company.”  

At the beginning of the summer of 2014:

Coworker: “I’ve started working on the pool.”

At the end of 2014:

Coworker:  “I didn’t manage to finish the pool.”

At the end of 2015:

Coworker: “Still working on the pool.”

Mid-summer 2016:

Coworker: “I finished the pool!”

Mid-summer 2017:

Coworker: “My pool is leaking.”

At the end of summer 2017:

Coworker: “I fixed the pool.”

At the beginning of summer 2018:

Coworker: “My pool is leaking again.”

At the end of summer 2018:

Coworker:  “I fixed the pool.”

Then, one day, a few months later:

Coworker: “My wife wants to put in new front steps, and she wants to hire a company to do it. I keep telling her that I’ll do it. Why on earth would she want to hire someone?”

Everyone: “BECAUSE SHE WANTS IT DONE FAST AND DONE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME?”

Coworker: “Shut up.”

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When You Don’t Know What You’ve Got, You’ll Lose It

, , , , | Working | May 19, 2021

I have worked for a small business for about ten years. I trained myself, implemented the system, trained the office, and ran the place for years. I had great relations with my boss even outside of work for a long time. Even though I had a lot of resentments, I had such a good relationship with her that I never voiced anything. However, things started to change.

It started when she gave me an official manager’s title with a small pay raise… but gave me zero authority. Even though I was managing the employees, keeping the office running, taking all angry client calls, etc., I had no authority over any employees there and the employees knew it. I was consistently disrespected and walked all over and my boss never had my back.

One employee left, and a year later, I learned that she quit because of me. She was mad that she didn’t get the position and I was younger than her, even though she constantly had to come ask me questions on how to do her job and had only been there for two years.

Things got worse after that with another employee. She would give me glares every day and always gave me the silent treatment. I came to my boss countless times asking her to either discipline her or fire her. Her work was an entry-level job and she could be easily replaced. Although my boss agreed, she would never do anything about it.

Things finally came to a head, and this employee and I had it out in my boss’s office. I tried to remain calm and respectful even though she was angry and emotional. The only reason she said she was mad at me is that I “treated her differently” than the other employees. When I asked for specific ways I treated her differently, she couldn’t state any specifics. I told her she was consistently giving me silent treatments, so yeah, she was going to be treated differently. The conversation ended with me getting reprimanded by my boss. I was baffled.

After the employee left the room, my boss told me that she completely agreed with me but thought that was the best way to handle it to keep things calm. I couldn’t believe it. From that point forward, that employee gossiped about me and treated me terribly until the day she finally left. 

There were some other terrible things, but I stuck around because I got to work from home. 

Fast forward to 2020. All my boss’s hires have either left or been fired. My hires still remain. My boss always hires friends of friends and it never works out. We need another employee as I am pregnant. I beg her to let me hire someone, but she has another “friend” that she wants to bring in. She says she wants me to interview her, so I do.

There are red flags, but before I can bring anything up, my boss says she is already hired. She has taken so long to bring her on board that I’m a few months from having the baby and I have minimal time to train her. I do my best and give her all the tools she needs to train herself if she needs refreshers.

Days after I have the baby, I start getting phone calls from work. I end up working from home and continuing to train her, but it’s like nothing is sticking. No matter how I say it or do it and no matter how many notes she takes, she always come, back to me saying, “I’m still green on this.”

At this point, I’m just checked out. I’m so frustrated with everything and this employee is clearly not working out, but she is my boss’s friend, so what can I do? They keep calling me asking questions on simple stuff they should know and then argue with me about the answer. I always keep the conversation short as my frustrations are high.

In November, it all comes to a head. My boss calls me and she is pissed. She has never raised her voice at me, but she is berating me about contacting an employer.

Boss: “I told you not to contact [Employer]! I told you to only let me or [New Hire] contact her!”

Me: “You never told me that.”

Boss: “It’s been an office policy for months.”

Me: “Well, that would have been nice to know.”

Boss: “It just really seems that you don’t want to work here anymore.”

I am fuming at this point and I can tell that this is her way of firing me without actually firing me. She is trying to get me to quit.

Me: “If you don’t want me there, I will quit.”

She said it was probably best that she have an employee in the office instead of working at home, and she asked me to do a few things before I quit. I got those few things done that day. I sent her an email and presented her with the work she asked for and asked her to tell me when she wanted my last day to be.

She took several days to respond. My husband told me I should have just quit that day, and I should have. She ended up realizing that the office couldn’t handle me just quitting that quickly, so she asked me to work through the end of the year. I agreed. I trained the ladies who worked there, and on December 31, I was done. 

I spent the next month wondering if I was wrong. Maybe I didn’t do things as I should. Maybe my frustrations were selfish. Maybe the office was better off without me.

And then last night, I got a call from one of the girls I hired. Ever since I left, my boss’s friend has turned into a tyrant. My boss has completely changed and is now angry and mean. One employee quit a few weeks after I left and the employee who called me is also thinking of quitting, as are others. She also said things are falling apart there. I’m not a vindictive person, but it makes me feel so justified that the business isn’t holding together since I left. I also know that if even one more employee leaves, that company is done for. It’s a small business and it won’t be able to manage.

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This Commanding Officer Really Nailed It

, , , , , | Working | May 18, 2021

One of the most annoying things in the army is the inspections. You have to shine your boots, cut your hair, iron your clothes, wash your clothes — you do NOT want to know how many soldiers don’t wash their uniforms — mop the floors, sweep the floors, brush your teeth — again, you do NOT want to know — clip your fingernails…

Long story short, there’s a whole laundry list (literally) of things to do, and because we’re guys, we never do anything until the last twenty-four hours or so before inspection.

My platoon made it out okay. But then, after we were done, our commanding officer came in.

Commanding Officer: “I have good news for everyone. Our order for new dividers finally came in. I need Section 11 to go outside and bring it in. Section 9 will remove the old dividers. Section 13 will assemble the new ones.”

You know that old joke where the military always goes for the cheapest bidder? It’s true. Our computers are secondhand 2002 models. Our chairs are falling apart, and instead of getting replacements, we’re forced to cannibalise broken chairs for parts to repair the dwindling number of less broken chairs and dig up cheap plastic ones from storage. And instead of actual cubicles, we have styrofoam dividers between our desks, held over the gap between them by ice cream sticks stuck through them. We’re even so cheap that once we ran out of ice cream sticks, we used old pens instead.

Finally, after an eternity of putting up with disintegrating styrofoam, we have new dividers.

The new dividers that we got are plexiglass, which means that they have an adhesive paper covering stuck onto them for protection. Which means…

Commanding Officer: “Section 13, what’s the holdup with the dividers?”

Me: “Ma’am, none of us have fingernails right now. Did you really have to schedule the inspection today?”

Commanding Officer: “Uh, oops. Right, in hindsight that was not a good idea.”

Me: *Sarcastically* “You think?”

Commanding Officer: “Sorry.” *Sighs* “Pass me that. I’ll peel the paper off.”

We eventually got a system working. The people with fingernails, pretty much only our superior officers, would peel off a corner before passing it to one of us, where we would peel off the rest.

Commanding Officer: “Good work, everyone. Again, I apologise for the inspection this morning. As was pointed out to me, it was a very foolish timing. As an apology, I will give you all one hour to smash up the styrofoam boards.”

Platoonmate #1: “Really? We’re not recycling them or something?”

Platoonmate #2: “Who would want them? They’re all falling apart.”

Officer: “And a lot of them have classified information written on them, so we will be destroying them anyway.”

Commanding Officer: “So go destroy them, boys!”

Everyone shrugs and starts smashing stuff. Section 9 carved up the most intact boards into weapons and tried to murder each other. Section 11 balled up the adhesive paper into a ball and used the boards for target practise. Section 13 embraced our inner Kung-Fu and made a game of smashing them apart with the most absurd martial arts moves. Even the officers joined in on the fun and acted as “judges” for our impromptu events.

Commanding Officer: “Did everyone have fun?”

Us: “Yes, ma’am.”

Commanding Officer: “Was that sufficient apology?”

Us: “Yes, ma’am.”

Commanding Officer: “Good.” *Pauses* “Because you now all have to clean up the mess.”

She then walked off with the rest of the officers, leaving us behind, smirking as we all protested and complained about betrayal.

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Selling Themselves Short — Or Not At All

, , , , | Working | May 18, 2021

While job-hunting, I read about many kinds of vacancies. There are a few things that make me critical about them. Many of them seem deliberately vague about the salary, for instance, by calling it “in line with the market,” as if that means anything. They don’t realise that this makes them seem unreliable.

Others try to overcome their fear of not being professional enough by using typical poor buzzwords like “early adapter,” “career tiger,” etcetera. They don’t realise that a good professional doesn’t need this over-the-top language.

The worst offenders, however, are the ones that try to be cool and hip in the hopes of attracting young people. They do this by describing the job in a very joking fashion in the hope of making their workplace seem funny and exciting. In the end, they make themselves come over as some kind of David Brent; i.e. someone who desperately tries to be funny in order to hide their lack of professionalism, while actually coming off more unprofessional.

One of these I will never forget. It started with a typical, “What you are going to tell about your job when you’re at a party?” as if I am not capable of deciding what I tell myself, followed by, “What your job is actually going to be.” Right… And of course, there was a description of the typical workday, filled with clichés like, “In the morning, you join the team for a talk about today’s business, while enjoying a great cappuccino!”

This was followed by a list titled, “What do we offer you?

– Every week a Friday afternoon drink

– In December there’s Ugly Xmas Sweater Day!

– A salary – not too unimportant, either!”

There was more, but I stopped reading. While a Friday afternoon drink is nice, it’s not a reason for me to apply or not, let alone an Ugly Xmas Sweater Day. I decide based upon hours, distance, required qualifications, and… salary! It’s bad enough that you put salary after two quite unnecessary items. But if you’re not mentioning any amount and try to hide that behind a weak joke, you seem worse than a little bit unprofessional. It makes you seem unreliable. Good luck finding someone who is unwise enough to fall for it.

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