Tag Archives: management

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

On June 8th, I did a post called “Why Are There Evil People?” I’ve been going through a situation at work where an employee (specifically, the assistant manager) has been trying to get me fired since the week before Memorial Day in May. She wrote an eight-page letter to my Corporate office, detailing all my alleged failures. She convinced three of my employees to sign on to the letter. She tried to get at least three others to sign on, but they refused. The rest were either too new, or in one case at least, too loyal to me, for her to even ask. I’ve never seen this letter in person, but I know what’s in it due to her having shown it to one of the employees who refused to sign on, who was perfectly willing and eager to share the contents with me.
In addition to listing my alleged shortcomings, part of the letter extolled her qualifications. She claimed that I didn’t do much of anything anyway, and what little I do, she knew how to do it too. Because of her dedication and laudable work ethic, she would be more than happy to take on additional responsibilities, which would have the added bonus of saving the company money (my salary). Showing a complete lack of understanding of my role, which isn’t that uncommon. She believes that work is made up of a series of tasks, and she has always missed the big picture…which is called “management”.
Have you ever seen the TV reality show “Big Brother”? This is one of this person’s favorite shows. Here’s how it works: A large group of complete strangers are placed in a house (the “Big Brother House”). They can’t leave the house except for going into the back yard. There are competitions, and the winner is named Head of Household (“HOH”). The HOH then nominates three people to be evicted, and a vote is taken during a house meeting, and one person gets thrown out. The objective is to be the last person standing. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the level of deception and scheming it requires to “win”.
For the purposes of this post, we will call the assistant manager person “Catherine”, and here was Catherine’s first mistake: she believes that real life is like Big Brother. That you can form an alliance with other people and “vote out” somebody you don’t like.
Cutting to the chase, on Thursday afternoon at 4:45 my boss informed me that on Friday, they were eliminating “Catherine’s” position. And that took place on Friday morning. He said that his observations and analysis of my operation (based on two visits of one day each in six months) did not require an assistant manager position.
I think this means one of three things, or a combination.
1. He really believes this, in which case he’s wrong.
2. He’s under pressure to cut expenses, making the company appear to be more profitable. Rumor has it that the company is quietly for sale.
3. This is the safest way to resolve what HR called the Fakename versus Catherine camps. Now everyone has to depend on me, whether they like it or not. And some of them won’t like it. “Catherine” was sweet, or apparently so. She has this sweet little girl voice, which grated on my nerves every time she opened her mouth in the last two months. But HR correctly described her as passive-aggressive. Her apparent sweetness hides the heart of a rattlesnake. I’m not mean, but I’m not sweet. I’m fair, and I’m straightforward.
Eliminating the position will mean I have to work more and longer hours. Is it worth it? You bet it is.
If money were the sole issue, my company could have saved more by eliminating my position instead, but they couldn’t really have done that. Every city has to have a General Manager…you can’t eliminate that position. So they would have had to fire and replace me…without cause, other than allegations made by employees that are emotionally based, speculative and unprovable. In addition, I have the double protection of being female and over 40. Not that I think I need to rely on that, but if forced, I would be in the lawyer’s office tomorrow.
The real deal is, I’m good at what I do. Yesterday, I talked to my old boss, whose position was “eliminated” back in February. He said, you’re safe for now. Your main client would have a coronary if they replaced you. Nice. But, he said, don’t feel too safe. Well, who ever does feel safe in corporate America?
But there are some secrets for surviving corporate culture. One of them is, Don’t draw attention to yourself in some negative way. Whether it seems that way to you or not, your bosses are busy. They don’t need the added interruption of dealing with a personnel issue that you created. And they do have to respond whether they like or not, and they will resent it. “Catherine” is not smart enough to understand that.
In the end, here’s what I think: I win, you lose.

So Sue Me

Oh wait, did I mention that’s already happening?  Well, not me personally, but the company I work for, because they can’t really sue me personally under the circumstances, otherwise, I feel sure they would.  I am the face of the company around here, and get to be the deliverer of all the bad news.   As well as the good news, but somehow, that doesn’t register. 

So last week, the Assistant Director of Human Resources conducted a webinar on progressive discipline.  In a phone conversation prior to the webinar, she told me that either I or my friend and counterpart Brenda could probably teach it ourselves, having had so much experience with the subject.  Sadly. 

In advance of the webinar, they sent out some written materials to review, and I was fascinated by the beginning of it, which discusses “at-will employment”.  As the attorney for a company I used to work for used to say, that means you can fire anyone for any reason, except an illegal reason.  In most cases, that means discrimination on the basis of any of the basic protected categories: age, sex, race, religion, or nationality.  Just about all of those are very hard to prove these days.  All it takes is one other example of someone your age, your sex, your race, your religion, or your nationality who is still employed to negate your claim.

States and the feds have expanded on or clarified those basic rights. You cannot, for example, fire a woman who gets pregnant or  is pregant based on that alone.   You cannot fire someone who is or becomes disabled, based on that alone.  And when I say “based on that alone”, you better have your ducks in a row if you do it anyway.  Because timing counts. 

You cannot fire someone for bringing a complaint of  sexual harassment or of being paid less for equal work.  And you can’t be fired in retaliation for making those complaints.  I’m completely in agreement with that. 

So broadly speaking, it appears to me that there has been a shift in the focus.  Because discrimination is so difficult to prove these days.    Both of the ex-employees who are suing the company are doing so not on the basis of discrimination, but on the basis of our allegedly violating the Whistleblower law.  In other words, they provided information which led to them being fired.  This is such complete nonsense that I want to scream.  This puts me between a rock and a hard place.  I completely support the right of anyone to sue anyone for anything, but on the other hand, I just want them to go away and crawl back under their home rock.  Immovable theory meets irresistable reality. 

So the latest suit involves a guy who claims to have injured his wrist on the job.  His worker’s compensation claim was denied.  His unemployment claim was denied. In other words, lots of other people thought he was full of shit too.   So now he’s suing us under, you guessed it, the Whistleblower Act.  There is no mention of his wrist.  He’s suing us because he says he complained repeatedly (to me, of course) about the air quality in his work environment, which I did nothing about, and he was fired for calling OSHA. 

He called OSHA?  First I heard of it.  So the Assistant Director of HR asked me, Did you ever hear from OSHA?  Arghh, I thought.  He will not win this.  But in the meantime, I have to answer questions from HR and talk to the lawyers. I am way too busy for this.   NO!  I said.  I never heard from OSHA!  What kind of idiot do you take me for?  If I had heard from OSHA, you don’t think I would be burning up the phone lines between here and Corporate to let you know?  You must be mistaking me for someone who plans to go it alone due to my superior intellect, as opposed to a person who plans to take you down with me if it comes to that. 

Of course, I said nothing of the kind.  I just thought it.  My outrage is always tempered by self-protection.