Social Enterprise

Got a problem in the workplace?

Got a dicey situation at work that you're not sure how to handle? If so, throw it out to your peers, and see if they can help you come up with a solution.

Got a dicey situation at work that you're not sure how to handle? If so, throw it out to your peers, and see if they can help you come up with a solution.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In my last few blogs, I've included an editor's note at the end asking you guys to send in any perplexing issues you have about life in the IT world or just the workplace in general. But then I thought, there's a good chance that people reading my blog might fall asleep or punch their fists through their monitors before they get to the end. So I'm going to reiterate the call to action here.

Is there an issue that is currently keeping you up at night? Is the boss asking you to do something illegal with data? Maybe one of your co-workers makes a living by stealing your hard work and taking credit for it. Whatever the case, just send the story or description of the situation to this e-mail address and, if it's chosen, I will present it in my Friday blog, and we'll open it up for discussion among your peers. (You will remain completely anonymous.)

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

36 comments
RayJeff
RayJeff

What about those of us that don't have a problem currently, but had a problem?

santeewelding
santeewelding

.

seanferd
seanferd

Kerosene. There's kerosene around, nothing to do. There's kerosene around, find something to do...

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Who looked anyway? (Borrowed from OTR, I think it's funny.)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Had many but they are usually workable, if I run into issues, there is almost AlWAYS a legal way out. Canadian companies are under the strict employment standards thumb and that really allows employees to put their foot down with no fear of repercussions. I find people here have no issue telling their boss he's wrong, or sorting out issues between staff, as nobody has enough clout to can them for it. I had one company that was run under Quebec law (which doesn't apply in BC even if you sign a contract, it is simply null and void as it is inapplicable). Even AFTER pointing this out to them, and having my lawyer contact them, they still insisted on running things a la Quebecois. Okay so what's so different? In Quebec, people work INSANSE hours and never get paid for it. They also have a completely different demeanor and way of dealing with people, which in BC simply pushes customers out the door. The problems came when customers kept disappearing, new, major clients that we brought on board were also leaving after just one or two orders as they didn't like the way the company was run out east (which effects them too). It's pretty disheartening to work a year on a multimillion dollar deal with one of Canada's largest corporations only to have their credit app denied, their level of influence ignored and some French Canadian who thinks he's the bees knees tells them "no dis is not de way we are going to do it for you, okay" No matter WHO said what, it still didn't sink in. "We've done it dat way since da beginning and it works, you know? You just 'ave to do better job at selling da product!" the condescending attitude was the worst though, a drunk boss at home in the evening (Eastern Time) calling out west to bitch during our business hours is not exactly professional nor acceptable. Well, they cleared out our office one by one,and were sued repetitively by former employees for many different reasons, they then merged by buying out a starving BC company and saying they'd let them do their thing, their way. Well it wasn't long before that customer list (bought for many millions) was also disappearing on them. I was asked back to try and turn things around, which I turned down, knowing very well that they would not meet the demands and needs of BC customers. Today they sit and wallow with but two local employees, ALL the major accounts are now with their main competition (a US based company with an office in BC). I guess I learned nothing from them except who NOT to work for; no offense to people in Quebec, many were very kind and helpful but the business mentality between the east and west may as well be night and day. Guess that doesn't work for you here though, we sorted that one out and simply settled for breach of contract and employment standards issues. hmmmm, oh well, sorry.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

An accounting manager transferred to our location from corporate headquarters just before a physical inventory. Those who have every worked an annual inventory know it's a stressful time on all involved. On the second morning of the inventory he asked me to install two additional computers in the inventory data entry area. I took two machines to that office but the clerk in charge of data entry said the three machines she had were sufficient, and she didn't have any where to put them. On my way back to the computer room I ran into the Materials manager and another accountant on the inventory control team. They agreed additional computers were not needed. They said the control team had discussed additional computers after the first day but decided against it, and that the new manager must not have gotten the word. No problem until the new accounting manager comes by and asks about the computers. I said I was getting conflicting information and that three other people, including the person supervising data entry and the manager in charge of the inventory said the systems weren't needed. The accounting manager asked me to come with him and we set out down the hall. I -assumed- we were going to see the materials manager or the data entry supervisor to clear up the confusion. Instead we stop in Human Resources manager's office. "I asked to have additional computers put in for the inventory and he's giving me grief! Is this how things are supposed to work?" I was literally speechless for several seconds before I could explain the situation as I saw it. HR said he would talk to the materials manager and get back with us. Half an hour later the materials manager called me. Very politely and apologetically he asked me to install the computers. I did so. I followed up with HR a couple of days later and was basically told that was just the way the new manager operated. I got the feeling I was asked to install the hardware just to placate the new accounting mgr. This was in early July. I have since limited my interaction with the accounting manager to the briefest of professional responses via e-mail to his questions, and otherwise avoided him like a Hannah Montana concert. I wound up sitting beside him at a retirement luncheon yesterday, 60 of the most uncomfortable minutes in my work career. At least, they were uncomfortable for me; he acted like I should be interacting with him as I would any other employee who hadn't tried to hang me as insubordinate. Am I making too much of this? Is there something I should do to clear the air, or does it even need clearing? Neither of us is going anywhere anytime soon, and I have to pass his door several times a day.

magic8ball
magic8ball

Physical inventories have to be one of the biggest headaches a company can go through. A company I have worked at has on the order of 28,000 parts in their item master. I was buying a valve and talked to plumbing distributor recently about their physical, which was a few days away, and they have about 10 times the skus to inventory. They weren't looking forward to it to put it mildly.

magic8ball
magic8ball

You could always bare knuckle box him. Seriously though, managers with a complex can be some of the most difficult people to deal with. I have seen several with ego trips or other social interaction problems come and go at various companies. He may just be having a tough time adjusting to the new scenery or could be a complete prick, but given enough time things should settle down just keep your cool and avoid any unneeded interactions with the guy.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Thats is the problem, he was new. In an attempt to get what we wanted done he perhaps took the wrong course of action, but then he is the new guy. We have all been that guy or gal at some point. Best bet is to put it down to that and move on.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I appreciate the feedback. I'm still not sure how I'm going to handle this guy. Neither of us is going anywhere anytime soon. My boss is aware that the acct. mgr. can be difficult to work with, so I'm covered there. I just have absolutely no idea what to do or say when this guy smiles at me in the hall and asks, "How are you doing?" Maybe he's a pod person. Watch the skies.

seanferd
seanferd

I have no idea what your demeanor is like at work, or if this guy bugs you so much that it is nearly impossible to be polite without looking like you're lying, but this is my suggestion. While doing this, keep the mindset that this is a joke. Just use that internally, while, in your peppiest affect, you say, "Good, good. How are *you* doing?" Did I mention that you should be walking as quickly as possible past this cretin as you do this?

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...I'm not up on my psych terminology, but there is a term that is applied to partners/spouses that are abusive, and then after an outburst, proceed as if nothing wrong ever occurred (which lulls the battered spouse/partner into forgiving them time and again). I'll have to Google it later, since it will bother me until I hear/read the term. At any rate, the new guys seems a LOT like that from what you've written. Aggressive, demanding, seeks immediate punishment/retribution...then the nicest person you could meet. Be wary. Be very wary.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Confusion and lack of trust is the default human condition.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I think your best bet is to be professional on the job, smile and politely decline from ANY non-business interaction, and just be professional and do your job. He makes a better ally than enemy, why give him ammo by being distant and/or rude? Be polite and nice and leave it at that" I don't think I know how to be polite and professional without being distant. I'm trying my best to not be rude, but it's possible my attempts to remain at a professional level are coming off as distant and possibly aloof, superior, or cold. I don't want to be hypocritical myself by acting as if I like the guy when what I feel is confusion and a lack of trust.

mdiaz
mdiaz

Palmetto - it is really a drag to be in your position. These kinds of work related problems are really aggravating, but try to make the best of it. It is juvenile to lower yourself to his level, tempting though it may be. The guy sounds like a jerk, and there may be ways of "managing the boss" that actually get him to be a little more sensitive. Check with your organization and see if they have any for managers. Sounds like he needs some remedial help. Hang in there.

mdiaz
mdiaz

Palmetto - at the risk of being superficial, why bother trying to analyse him? I doubt he takes the time to do that himself, other than to make sure whatever he does has minimal backfire effect. I'm willing to believe the guy has a memory, felt justified reaming you at that moment at least. I'm willing to believe he might feel a little remorseful, can't bring himself to apologize, and sees being nice to you as partial recompense. I think your best bet is to be professional on the job, smile and politely decline from ANY non-business interaction, and just be professional and do your job. He makes a better ally than enemy, why give him ammo by being distant and/or rude? Be polite and nice and leave it at that. Hang in there.

seanferd
seanferd

This kind of behavior, among others, is why I have to freak out on my boss occasionally. Just to keep things in check. I can understand, from much experience, what it's like to have to respond shortly and run, since no other action is safe from mutating into something else less appropriate. Perhaps, for this guy, it is "just business".

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

be careful. That guy has 5 faces. At least. If he manages those 5 faces well, you'll be the one to get forked. etu

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I better not try that. The circuit breaker on my "Brain to Mouth Filter" trips out -very- easily and can be difficult to reset. I really can't figure this guy out. This afternoon at quitting time he came back in from outside to let me know my car windows were down and it was about to rain. I appreciate the notice and said "Thank you" calmly but rather flatly. I'm left with three possible conclusions: 1) The guy has no memory at all. 2) The guy is incredibly callous and doesn't realize reaming someone out isn't endearing. 3) The guy is a total hypocrite willing to go to incredible lengths to conceal it. I can't buy #3; if that's the case he's working at levels I don't care to be involved with if I still want to look in the mirror.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Zip that last part shut. My mind is already racing ahead into...realms.

rosewoodstimlee
rosewoodstimlee

I had a Manager in San Francisco several years ago that would tell employees that other employees had come to him complaining about something they had supposedly done, which was totally fabricated we ultimately discovered. His style of management was to pit the employees against one another. I think it was to take the focus away from his own incompetence. I think he had a Captain Quigg mentality. I often chuckled to myself envisioning him walking around clicking steel balls in his hand while looking around suspiciously wondering who was out to get him.

Ariadne147
Ariadne147

Oh my God - I think that guy works here now!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But if you don't need to interact with this person don't. You are only required to do as you are told to by this person regardless of if it is correct or not so just do it without question and when complaints are made you can quite honestly say you where doing a you where told to. Of course it helps no end if you have it all in writing which you appear to. :D Maybe I'm not the ideal person to take advice from here as I never tolerated Fool Easily and I have never played Politics inside th Office I just ignored everything that happened and went about things my own way to suit both he Department that I ended up running and the Customers that I was servicing. You can ignore the rest of the people inside the office who feel that they need to play Politics to advance or keep their little piece of Paradise alive. Let them hang themselves with their own incompetence. To be quite honest if this person was any good they would never have been allowed out of Head Office tot he Burbs so to speak. Think of things this way that they are on a slow road out of the place and you'll be right. Just forget this one idiot action and get on with things. You are after all already know there and a Known Quantity unlike the new guy who is nether known or appears wanted. Let him make a fool of himself you don't need to help him look like a fool. I used to have the General Manager, CEO or whatever you wish to call the guy of a Place that I absolutely hated the guts of but I could deal with him at Social Events and quite often ended up sitting next to him at Meals at Social Gatherings. He actually thought I was supportive of the way that he was doing things and I was till it started to affect the way that my department worked. I then just did as he wanted and had all my staff standing around doing nothing while being paid vast amounts of Overtime because we didn't have the parts available to do the work in Business Hours. So for 3 days per week we could sit around int he office picking our noses clearing up the paper work and so on and then for the next 3 to 4 days we slaved our guts out doing what we should have been doing while sitting around. The Excess on the budget when I was confronted over this was very easy to explain to the Accounts Section who couldn't fault my procedures. Of course I left long before that person did but not because of any problems with him directly it was when I was in a position where I felt I had to lie to customers to keep the company looking good that I left. The Person in question left about 12 months latter and that place instead of being a Leader of the Field is now a Also Ran who keep the Fools mentality alive. :^0 Strange thing is that all our customers still see me as the guy to ask who to buy from even now and that is something like 25 years after the event. I really should be on commission here but I'm not that worried about it as the customers are looked after and I get new customers who want me to solve all of their problems now so I'm getting paid for it anyway. :D Col

mdiaz
mdiaz

ok - here's the problem, you, (lowly you) are just in IT and have no grasp of the devious and complicated machinations a MANAGER must engage in to properly run a department/division/whatever. To be serious, the guy sounds like a total retard, who probably has enough on the ball to not totally eff up his goals, can suck up to his boss, and will remain under the radar unless there's mutiny or he really screws up money-wise. I would definitely avoid him like the plague, and check VERY carefully when there is the remotest possibility of being seated next to him. Clearly, he has no clue. Avoid, avoid avoid...

rancho
rancho

Palmetto While there is absolutely no excuse for his behavior, as Mae said if he has forgotten it then let it go. I once had a co-worker get very jealous over a promotion. They went to my supervisor, then the supervisor's supervisor and HR to complain about the unfairness of it all. I had a very hard time working with this individual for the rest of the project. I was constantly re-assured by my supervisor everything was ok on my end. But I kept worrying about it. That individual eventually found some thing else to be upset over. We get along fine now, and I wasted several months agonizing over nothing. But get me once shame on you. Get me twice shame on me.

maecuff
maecuff

If he's acting like nothing happened, and there haven't been any new instances, then I'd just let it go. Keep both eyes open and don't trust him any farther than you can throw a piano, but let this incident go. I wouldn't try to clear the air. Just act like it never happened. People can be such self important a$$holes. Sucks, though. What a dOuche bag.

toni.bowers_b
toni.bowers_b

Sounds like he's one of those people who blow up, get over it, and expect things to return to normal. Sounds to me like you were put in the trick bag on that one by the other managers. Maybe they didn't want to be the ones who told him so they left you in the middle. Under normal conditions, I would probably recommend that you talk to the guy and clear the air but it doesn't sound like he would be very responsive to that.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't feel hung out to dry by the other managers involved. While I get the impression they were willing to have me put in the labor just to quiet him, it wasn't that much trouble. I never minded installing the hardware. What I didn't like was being called insubordinate (at least, that's how I interpret his statements) because I asked for clarification between conflicting requests.

RayJeff
RayJeff

No, I'm not. I left that job a little over a year after that incident.

RayJeff
RayJeff

How about being berated in front of customers..in this case the customers were college students in a computer lab I managed by the college's IS director who I was "working with" on a campus-wide project. And berated because of a difference of opinion of something I did on a database I created that he had no hand in.

jedmundson
jedmundson

Sounds to me like you may have had a manager who was, what I call, Tripping Down the Sociopath. I've had bosses who were, on the surface bright and friendly until they decided that they didn't like what a subordinate had done. Then they catch the so called offender in the lunch room and berate him or her for 15 minutes in front of your coworkers and visitors. I quit there before they had to take me out in an I Love Me Jacket.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

She was manipulative, nasty when out of 'public view', worked very hard at making her subordinates look incompetent. But 'publicly' she was all peaches and cream. Working for her was an exercise in mastering discordance. Very unsettling. I was fortunate to be able to move to a different division on campus. I rarely even see the woman any more. What are the odds on being able to sit down with this person and discuss the situation? They were nil in my former situation.

santeewelding
santeewelding

He may well have earned a mark in his wrong column, and be on probation without knowing it. He did, after all, douse you, then fumble the match.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I get the impression most of the liquid wound up on him, not me. Wish he'd used a lighter instead of a match.

Editor's Picks