Thursday, July 15, 2010

Really Boring Staff Meetings....

Today was a sort-of interesting day at work. Lately, I've been feeling frustrated by my job. I've mentioned before that there's a high-school mentality to some of my coworkers. They have a little clique and they're very exclusive. Recently, one of the clique was promoted to a manager level. Now, if it had been me, I would have thought, "Crap, I'm a manager now. I should probably start acting like one."

Let me explain. Like most companies, most of our managers tend to have management meetings. They discuss confidential affairs only with those who need to know. They might be friendly with the staff but they're not super-best-friend-pals at work. There's a line drawn when someone becomes a manager and, unfortunately, if you want to be a good one, you have to stay on your side of the line, occasionally getting close to standing on the line but never crossing it.

Our new manager hasn't learned that yet. She continues to have loud, obvious, whispered conversations with people when she's obviously trying to make sure no one else hears but, by the mere fact that she's obviously whispering, she's getting people's interest. I'm not saying she's not nice because she is. She's very nice.

My problem with her is that because she's part of the clique, the clique tends to benefit from her manager status. My coworker, for example, often spends up to an hour or so just chatting with her friends. She starts with the intent of talking about work but she's very, very easily distracted and she's a chatter. As a result, she comes back from her friend, the manager's office, loaded down with 'inside information.' As a result, she somehow ends up on every project before I've even heard that there is a project. Naturally, I get frustrated. I've contemplated talking to this manager but, sadly, I know that while she might politely receive my comments, it would end up being another closed-door, whisper session with my coworker.

I've let it bother me until today. Today, you see, we had a staff meeting. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I often take a slightly sadistic joy in Awkward Staff Meetings.

Sadly, today's was not an Awkward Staff Meeting. It was a Really Boring Staff Meeting. Really Boring Staff Meetings consist of our president standing in front of the room and talking about numbers. He also talks about projects but since our department manager went over those with us the other day, having to listen to the whole thing again gets frightfully boring.

So, I did what I always do: I tried to listen but found my mind wandering. It wandered to food, of course. I was craving a chocolate milkshake. I don't even like milkshake's that much so I began to wonder why I was craving a chocolate milkshake. The result? I have absolutely no idea why I was craving a chocolate milkshake.

Then I began to think about my work situation and the annoying manager. I contemplated my options. I could speak up or shut up, is what it came down to in the end. Since I've already spoken up several times to by nice-but-slightly-ineffectual boss, I contemplated the reason I was annoyed in the first place. What it came down to is that I do a lot of work and get no credit while my coworker does a lot less work and gets a lot more credit. Then I began to wonder what I would achieve if I got put on more projects. I'd be busier. I'd have to do more work. Then my coworker would find a way to get put on the same projects as me which is how it always is.

Then, as I have several times before, I realized that, really, I suddenly didn't care. I know I'm a good worker and I know I'm quite good with clients/coworkers/customers. I just don't ever get to work with them. If my coworker wants to be the visible one, let her. Eventually, she's going to be so busy that they'll realize that it might be better to spread the wealth. My coworker isn't good at being an independent worker. She constantly has to have meetings or consultations with people to discuss projects. Me....well, I'm not a fan of meetings. I'm a fan of knowing what needs to be done, knowing what I have to do to get that thing done and doing it.

I simply realized that my coworker and I are wildly different- I like to make decisions and take responsibility for them and she likes to get people to help her make her decisions so that she doesn't make a wrong one. There's nothing wrong with that. I just have to accept that things won't change and I either have to change instead or I have to find another job. Since there aren't any jobs out there, methinks I'll just suck it up and let her get the glory for a while. In the meantime, I'll do the work that she's not doing because she's off in the manager's office, having a chat.

Anyway, this thought process took up a large percentage of the Really Boring Staff Meeting. The other percentage was spent listening to our nice-but-not-terribly-great-at-her-job HR manager talk about building safety. We then had to take a tour of our building so we knew where the fire exits were. Since most of us knew, it was an odd thing to do. It really was for the new people just in case they didn't know but since the newest people were pulled into a meeting, it was a wee bit redundant. Still, I did get to enjoy the small signs of our Office Olympics from a few weeks ago during the tour.

After the tour, we were sent back to our desks to "pretend it was a normal working day." Yes, that's exactly how it was put. I think most of us took her seriously and pretended so hard we did some work. We were that into our roles.

Then, after about five minutes of pretending it was a normal working day, our HR manager came over the intercom and informed us there was a "fire in the kitchen. Please evacuate." Most of us in our cubicle farm strolled the 20 feet to our fire exit and went outside. Then we had to walk around the building to our 'rendezvous point.' Then we went back inside to the nice air conditioned building because it was very, very hot and sticky outside.

We went back to work. Five minutes later, our HR manager came over the intercom and informed us that "A tornado has been spotted. Please evacuate."

We dutifully walked around to the exit we'd been informed was the tornado evacuation exit because it had stairs leading down to the basement. We all did as we were told and headed down to the basement. Except...the door was locked. We were stuck on the stairs. A few minutes later, the HR manager comes down and says, "it's locked." We knew this. She informed us she had the only key and proudly unlocked the door.

Once inside the rather hideous, extremely musty basement of our building, we politely asked our HR manager if there could possibly be another key just in case, you know, there was a tornado and she wasn't around.

"I'm always around," she said.

We tried not to look at each other as we politely suggested that she might a) go on vacation (if she did, she promised to leave the key at the front desk), b) go to lunch ("I never go to lunch if there looks like there's going to be a storm" or c) just had to leave unexpectedly ("I'd never do that".)

She didn't get our concern. Now, if you're an HR manager with the ONLY key to a locked basement that's the sole hope of our company in case of a natural disaster in the form of a tornado, don't you, you know, think it might be good to have an extra key made? I appreciate that she wants to be responsible and not risk a security breach of someone getting hold of the extra key that shouldn't but, well....there are ways around security breaches.

Still, we finally went back to work without having to pretend it was a normal working day. I asked my boss if that meant it wasn't really a normal working day since we'd had to pretend and if we could leave. He said no. I was quite sad.

All in all, it was an interesting day at work what with milkshakes, workplace revelations, a fire in the kitchen and a tornado.

Of course, I never did get my milkshake.

Oh, well, maybe tomorrow.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.

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