The Coming Of Change – Part I
You want to know something? For all my talk about a need to change, I know for a fact that change is a scary thing for most people. A lot of people would prefer to stay in their comfort zone where things are familiar but miserable rather than take a chance on anything better. We don’t make change unless we know for sure that something is better is waiting. And for some people, they won’t even change then. That’s part of the reason why despite changes that are made, everything has a tendency to stay the same.
A prime example is the way a lot of people responded to the agenda put forth by President Barack Obama. How many times I heard somebody say that they wanted change but he’s trying to do too much too fast. Sometimes you just have to ease people out of their misery. I am by no means an exception. I understand that not everything moves on a dime and sometimes it’s better to be eased out of my predicament. But I also know that sometimes you get to a point where you just don’t care to wait any longer for change, or you can’t wait for change to happen naturally and you just got to take that bull by the horn and make change happen one way or the other.
At my immediate supervisor at my job and I get along very well. We have a similar sense of humor and we interact smoothly for the most part. But when she is disappointed, she throws a tantrum and can become an office bully. While we may not be the best of friends, I appreciated our relationship and, like I do with all my managers, I do my best to make her look good because when she looks good, I do believe our team looks good, and therefore if you drill down to the smallest component, I look good. My knuckles don’t go white when my supervisor walks into the vicinity. At least they didn’t before last week.
Last week my boss was out of town for a conference. She would be gone for the entire week. She left specific instructions for the management of the software projects that I was working on. But in her absence, I modified the plan. Not that I was trying to do something behind her back. I was making changes to address the needs of our customer, another department we were developing the software for. My supervisor sent me an email asking for an update for the project. I sent an email back explaining that the job was going well but there was a change in plan. I also gave her an update of all my other projects. I’m doing my best not to break my arm to pat my back.
She was not happy and made it clear. I found her email both demeaning and demanding. She was tired of my insolent behavior and expects her directions to be followed to the letter. I replied that I found it difficult to do my job with her micro management style. She said that her processes are neither negotiable nor debatable and that she would discuss it with me when she got back into the office. Silly me agreed that we should discuss but instead of a one on one session where she feels entitled to belittle, I asked for a mediator. She agreed and arranged for human resources to be there.
Now, anyone who works in corporate America should know that human resources is like the company’s separate little Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation rolled into one department. Chances are if somebody from human resources darkens your path it is not because things are going well. They show up to snuff out your dreams and to suppress anything that threatens our smooth working environment. And an employee that refuses to be micro managed by his or her immediate supervisor, that has the nerve to openly disagree with his or her manager.
When my manager came back I wanted her to know that I would not be bullied by her anymore. I told her I have no choice but to do whatever she tells me to do. But she needs to understand that I don’t agree with her processes and that we should take steps to work out a compromise. She refused. And shit went down hill from there. Human resources intervened. We initially spoke to the HR representative together. It was almost like being in front of a marriage counselor. She shared her version of the story, I had my own. She became openly emotional and told the representative I refused to do the work. I said that wasn’t true. The HR rep made arrangements to speak with us separately.
The woman from HR was nice. She had family photos on her desk and walls. A picture of her pet dog golden retriever sat on her credenza. It was a very pleasant, inviting environment. But I never lost the fact that I was in the pit of corporate hell. I presented my case. The rep said that my boss wasn’t implementing any policy that was different from anyone else. Her style was her style and she was entitled to it. I should try to work out a solution with her. I showed the rep my boss’ email saying that there would be no compromise. The rep shrugged. We talked for a while longer and I asked the question if I was going to be written up. The rep said more than likely. We can’t condone this kind of behavior.
I went back to my desk with feelings of relief as well as fear. My son needs the medical coverage my job provides. I may have screwed up big time. I couldn’t put my ego aside just one more time for him. I felt like shit. But change was coming. It wasn’t the type of change I was looking forward to. But change was coming.