So, what do I do?(19 Posts)
I have a line manager at work. Nice bloke, approachable and friendly but a little ineffectual TBH. Over the last 12 months or so the entire company and our dept in particular has changed a great deal. 18 months ago an IT consultant was appointed to assess the department and all our roles. We?re all still here but every one of us has taken on plenty of new projects and responsibilities - which is great and life is definitely more interesting . But the consultant that made all these changes has now been appointed full-time at a very high level and because of the nature of one of the major projects he and I have been working together a great deal. I am feeling completely overwhelmed with work atm - I am struggling to learn all my new skills, use them to build a new system and keep maintaining and developing the old 'live' system. We have had some problems on the project we are working on which are not down to me but to a third party. We're getting there but there have been some issues largely due to the thing going live well before it was ready - against my better judgement and my advice (I know this business and the way it works much better than he does). He is also hardly ever in the office as he works from home a great deal, but also doesn?t reply to e-mails. When there are problems I have to deal with them even though my knowledge of the project is limited to one area. I have found out that he has been speaking to my line manager telling him that I am too negative, too cautious and I need to be better at managing my tasks. I've been called into my line managers office about 4 times recently - he hates it and gets very embarrassed but feels obliged. I am so angry. I have been here for years, have always had a glowing appraisal and have a good relationship with everyone I work with. I even got a rap over the knuckles for 'not putting a positive spin' on an e-mail I sent out to some users that were having a bad time due to project failures . I refuse to tell lies to people I work with and who are much better able to do their jobs if they know what's what. I am also scared. I can't afford to lose my job - I like it for a start and its fits in with my life - but more importantly DH is going to be out of work for a while and we need my salary.
What can I do? I feel as if I'm not being given much choice. Adapt or die. Which is fine but I am being asked to adapt too much and too quickly and in the wrong direction. And I feel as I've been made a scapegoat for things that are beyond my control.
Sympathies Orm. Managers who talk the talk but don't actually deliver are a pain.
Are you in a union? Is there a rep you could talk to?
No union here. I'd be OK if I worked in the factory though.
I might be worrying about nothing but I just have this niggling feeling. Problem is this chap just bypasses my line manager when it suits him so they only way he knows what is going on is when I tell him.
Is there a decent HR person to talk to at all? Sounds awful for you.
Sorry to harp on but is there a general one you could join even if not directly related to your actual workplace?
First thing you need to know to set your mind at rest is on what grounds you could lose your job. I think it's unlikely that this could happen, but it might feel better to know your rights etc. If not from a union rep then from some other source. The glowing appraisals for starters are evidence that you are not slacking.
Sounds to me like you need to take the initiative with your line manager and explain about the working from home/not communicating thing and make sure he realises everything you are having to deal with rather than being put on the defensive all the time.
I do know the HR manager quite well. But I don't quite know how to formulate my complaints. It's just a vague feeling of unease that perhaps I don't fit here anymore. Perhaps I should start noting things down.
So, as someone in the middle of a rubbish process right now, I would say always keep everything in writing.
You could talk to your HR person informally - talk about your concerns and see what s/he offers as advice.
Vague / gut feelings are always right IMO
Been thinking about this during a pointless tube journey I've just made...
From my own perspective, ie working full-time and also having children, the work-life balance is all-important and always on a bit of a knife-edge. I generally have it where I want it though. However, management being management they do like to keep changing things and every time we have a shake-up I panic and think "that's it, I'll have to resign, it's not going to be possible" and then in practice it turns out to be be fine.
I've also got quite good at not just accepting any old thing they give me.
I think in your case, Orm, this chap is imposing his own working pattern/style on you and it's causing you to feel uneasy. There is a fine line between moving along with the changing workplace blah blah blah and having people impose things on you that might work for them, but which aren't necessarily best for everyone, and often, these people can't see the difference, and you get all this crap about being negative and not forward looking. It's also hard if you don't like talking things up which ought not to be talked up.
So what I'm trying to get at is don't just think that you are not right for the place any more. It may just be that this chap needs addressing - preferably by your line manager. Between them they need to ensure that you are getting the support you need, and the one who works at home MUST ensure that doesn't mean more work for you. (This is a bugbear of mine - I do work at home a couple of days a week but always answer emails straight away.)
I think you need to jot down a few concrete examples and have a proper talk with HR and/or line manager and nip this in the bud before it gets too far and you lose confidence in yourself.
End of ramble, sorry...
I've been making some notes (in my head to start with) to take to my HR mate.
I also work from home 2 days a week and it's a godsend. But like you I make damn sure I'm always available during my contracted hours and quite a few extra too. This chap seems to be taking the p*.
I tend to think that consultants have a birds-eye view of companies - how it looks from a great height and without the messy detail - such as real people for example
Ormirian, try not to worry too much. There is a whole lot of stuff going on here that is affecting you and none of it is your fault:-
1) You are going through constant change by the sound of it and the change 'management' aspect of it has been forgotten by the people doing the changes. That means that even if you can see the point of the new systems, yadda yadda yadda, all the knock on effects of extra workloads to install, uncertainties about where this one change will lead to in terms of other changes, and so on mean that you have been placed out of your comfort zone, and this is a failing of your managers, not you.
2) Because everyone else seems to be feeling the same, it seems that mgmt are trying to force people to come over to their side in terms of seeing how fab this all is; your lack of bouncing up and down with excitement is seen by them to be an implied criticism, hence their comments on perceived 'negativity'. Not your fault again and perfectly understandable.
This kind of reaction is very very common and does not mean you are failing in any way - rather the implementors are failing in not anticipating and dealing with the stress factors that change brings. But that is very common too - solving a systems problem is easy and it is also easy to show how much money you save by doing this and that is what a consultant gets rewarded by - the difficult bits like managing this properly and not alienating staff don't get the priority and visibility and are then seen as someone elses problem. Not fair - your consultant should be getting the flak for not doing his job properly.
that's the kind of stuff you need to discuss with your HR friend. It is a legitimate concern and you are saying/doing nothing wrong or unexpected. If you want me to send you some links to academic studies on this kind of stuff to back up any of this and give you more reassurance let me know.
By the way, union representation is generally not an option unless your company already recognises a union, so I wouldn't wonder about pursuing that route.
Thanks squiffy. It is reassuring to read that. I particularly like the 'bouncing up and down with excitement' comment . We are a grizzled old bunch of IT bods - trying to get any of us to bounce up and down with excitement is a bit absurd. The most you would expect is a raised eyebrow - and that's on a good day. But we get things done.
I have rung HR this morning to ask for an informal meeting. She isn't there atm and I didn't want to leave a message but I'll try on Monday. It's most unlike me to actually do anything which shows just how shaken up I have been.
Funnily enough my HR mate asked to see me about an IT matter on Weds. So I will take the opportunity to have a word.
This bloke is getting to me so much that I am actually working at this hour to solve a problem. Just so I can send him an e-mail at 10pm to prove I work hard. That is quite sad isn't it?
Yes, but we've all been there <emapthy emoticon>
Had an other awful day. Training for some software that went way over my head! And I'm not stupid..honest . But I'm already stuffed up to gills with new things to understand. And my cat was ill today... DH just took her to the vets and she was put to sleep So that was hanging over me all day. And school called me in because DS#1's hayfever was bad
I feel pathetic, inadequate and out of my depth. Not something I'm used to.
And the washing machine has just flooded the kitchen. DS#1 said it was crying for the cat...
for you having a rotten time but very sweet of your DS to rationalise things so well.
When I had legal battles with my last firm I found that I was much more 'vulnerable' (no better word I can think of to use), even though I 100% knew I was in the right and would win my battles. It is a tough old road to walk.
Just an alternative suggestion here...
What about arranging for a coffee with the guy that is giving you the grief? You could then, informally, test the waters about how he is experiencing things - from the horses mouth - NOT via your line manager. You may also be able to share some of your concerns with him, that face to face and relaxed, he may be more willing to take on board, rather than the official route.
It sounds like your confidence is taking a knock at the mo, and if you tell him you need a bit of a pep talk about the projects you are on, ask him for an overview of how he perceives the progress, you may be able to build up a better rapport, which would enable you to address the issues that are concerning you in a more constructive way. Getting HR involved could be a real snub and get his back right up, which could put you in the firing line for lots of other stuff.
You never know (not defending, just looking at it from the outside) this guy may be under tons of pressure, be hating every minute of his job and actually struggling himself.
I have recently been advising a friend on a similar situation at a place where we both used to work (so I know everyone). She was paranoid that she was being victimised by her line manager and her line maanagers boss. To the point that every reaction to even a basic enquiry from either of them was "OK so what have I done wrong now - when do you sack me". SHe was totally wrong, things weren't perfect, but they wanted her to succeed - if she didn't then it meant they didn't as well. SHe is over it now, still a bit cautious in some areas where she is still developing her skills, but realises that she was so defensive that even when help was offered she wouldn't take it for fear of being seen as weak.
By having a chat with her boss and line manager and explaining all this (took me a while to convince her...) she is now much much happier.
Just a thought, keep your chin up. HTH
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