Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Office Drama - Get Out the Popcorn

You have an early am appointment before you go to work. You call your co-worker to let him know that you'll be in the office. He knows you're coming in a little late. No problem. You get to work and as soon as you sit down, your phone rings. You just found out that another manager (who you don't report to) noticed that you weren't at your desk your normal time and they called your manager to find out where you were. All of this happening before 9:30 in the morning and I haven't had my first cup of French Vanilla coffee yet.

How should you react? Should you get mad or on the defense with this particular manager? How would have handled it? This happened to me a few weeks ago. My first thought was, 'Who does this person think he is, especially since I don't report to him'. After steaming for a few minutes, I got my thoughts together and I composed an email asking the manager what was his concern. My email was firm but professional. Just because I wasn't there my normal time didn't mean I wasn't coming in and I tactfully added that I was an adult and being treated otherwise was not acceptable.

His response? A long, drawn out email explaining that if I was in the same scenario, I would do the same thing. No buddy boy, I wouldn't have done that. I wouldn't have asked where he was. We're not in the same group, I would have just assumed he'd be in sooner or later. I wasn't my place to ask about his whereabouts just like it wasn't his place to ask about mine. Of course, he failed to see that. Sounds like a scene from some kiddie soap opera or from Romper Room which the workplace is neither. My coffee is getting cold now.

It's a sad but true fact, the workplace can be an area where you have to watch your back. We have to cover ourselves and be mindful that for whatever reason we will come across folks that want to start trouble - because of their own unhappiness. We're at our jobs 8-12 hours a day. Most of our 24 hours is spent, sadly, at the workplace. We have to rub shoulders with these people and often times, it's a rubbing of the wrong way. Some things to keep in mind in the workplace:
  • keep in close contact with your immediate co-workers and immediate supervisors of any changes in your schedule
  • watch your association in the workplace - question whether you'd want to spend time with this person outside the workplace, your answer will determine whether he/she needs your time and attention in the workplace
  • avoid gossiping in the workplace - it can turn back on you and if it does, it's never a pretty picture
  • do not share personal and/or confidential information about someone you know to someone else
  • always be professional and polite
  • keep your cool in tense situations, show your maturity while others reveal their immaturity
  • document any incidents that come up that may affect your job performance and inform your supervisor immediately (threats, altercations, etc)
  • whether we manage a team or are part of team it's beneficial to be neutral, do not single out others as your 'favorites' as everyone should be equal and treated equal. Doing otherwise can create tension and divisions and work relations can worsen
  • if you have a issue with a fellow co-worker/team member/supervisor, discuss the issue with that person, don't make it public

I've come to realize with the ongoing threat of layoffs, down-sizing, etc. folks are actually in fear of losing their jobs. That's a sad, but true fact. And that fear can be crippling, to the point that people will do anything, turn against another co-worker, start trouble, lie, whatever it takes to try and save themselves from losing their jobs, but we know better. So, since we know better, we're going to make that we watch our back and stay away from the drama. It's better to watch it on TV than to be a part of it at work.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Good information to absorb. It brings back memories when I use to work. Being on disability and all, I have not had to worry about where the money is going to come from, but I do remember what you've been writing about. In the near future, I will be returning to work, part-time and it's nice to be able to be warned of the various situations that can arise in the working world. Your blog is a good resource of Employment scene. Thanks!


IBlog said...

Thank you Lori! I blog/write about personal experience and I think when we share, we learn from each other. Thank you again! Feel free to subscribe if you want.

Best of luck to you on new part-time job. Actually, I will blogging about my latest office going-on's over the weekend.