So I find myself in a bit of a pickle. It’s work-related and difficult for me to sort out. There was an episode at my workplace that went sideways on me this week. It wasn’t the work itself, it was the interactions between people. It involved an unexpected nastiness and a peek at some rather unattractive behaviours.
Things like this have become a challenge for me because I don’t have Kevin to chat them through with. He had an amazing way of cutting through the garbage and hitting on the truth. Without him I have to do it myself and, needless to say, I get myself all twisted out of sorts because it’s my perspective and only my perspective that I bring to the situation.
I work for a large organization and change is a constant. Managers come and go; we have a lot of retirements as the baby-boomers move into retirement. So there is opportunity and that can be a good thing – but only when it is equal opportunity. In my home section it really isn’t.
It has been apparent for some time that the section manager had a favourite and that favourite was untouchable. Training opportunities were directed towards the favourite, and when questioned (which I did on one occasion only) the manager aggressively defended the choice, stating it was management’s choice. The discussion became so heated as I reacted to being yelled at that I actually thought I was going to be written up. And it hasn’t only been me in situations like this, my coworkers have experienced this too.
Its more than that though, it’s the blind devotion that is given to the favourite. Our manager constantly tells all of us, peers of the favourite, what a natural leader, what an incredibly articulate and intelligent individual the favourite is. They meet every morning for coffee in the manager’s office, of course anyone can join, but not really. I remember sitting at a table in the cafeteria with them quite innocently one day – I recall the the furtive looks as I sat down, the stalled conversation, the sheer uncomfortableness I brought to the table. They made it abundantly clear that I was not part of the A-team. I stayed a few minutes to spite them, and when I got up to leave no one insisted I stay. If Kevin were alive he would have told me I was on the C-team, “see you later”.
Recently, I applied to a temporary job opportunity elsewhere in the organization and was allowed to go, so off I went – as of last week. I was pleased to have the permission and support of my manager and the entire management team, as well as the chance to enhance my work skills. My new job intersects with my old job in some respects, so there is great continuity. Around the same time as I was informed I got the new job and before I left my old one, we (my work department) was informed that the section manager in my home department was also leaving for a temporary assignment. We were informed that the favourite would be taking over the section manager’s role.
So here’s the problem – not even the first week into the job and the favourite, acting as the manager, messes up. Unfortunately it involves the new department I have moved to (remember our work intersects – what luck). Things escalated way past my pay grade, because of a bonehead email the favourite sent and which I had no part of. Rather than say, ‘sorry, I messed up’, the favourite engages the former manager to ‘sort’ things out with me – implying I caused the trouble. They both seek me out and blindside me in a hallway. Not only does the former manager have a little talk with me, all under the guise of smoothing things over, but as we move out of the ‘sorting out’ conversation, the former manager also tells me that we need to finalize my annual performance appraisal. This is done in front of the favourite who stands silently by.
I processed things politely but I did recognize the veiled threat. How disappointing. How stupid. Mentioning the performance appraisal as part of that discussion, especially considering we were dealing with a ‘situation’, was completely inappropriate. It had to be a deliberate statement designed to intimidate me. The delivery was beautiful too, leaning in towards me, fixing me with an unwavering piercing gaze, hoping that I break the connection, blink or maybe even break out in hives (I don’t know!!!) but sheesh, I get tired of that stuff. Anyway, how does one go from ‘I’m pissed with you, my favourite looks bad because of you, let’s make this go away,’ to ‘Oh yes, we have this admin piece to finish’, all in one conversation? It’s not a natural segue, therefore, it was deliberate and with intention.
If Kevin were around he’d likely have a different spin on this: he’d either tell me to take the high road or that you can’t make stupid smart. He’d have had me laughing at some ridiculous aspect of the whole scenario. Instead here I am twisting on this. God I miss him.