My alarm woke me up to the Barenaked Ladies’ cover of “Fight the Power” this morning, so clearly this means I will have a great day.
There was some extreme unpleasantness at work on Wednesday. The tears shed below weren’t ones of frustration so much as they were tears of utter humiliation – without going into too many details, I was ripped a fresh and shiny hole by a fellow manager via conference call, in front of a large room of people .. for two hours straight.
When everything was said and done, I steamed and stewed and yeah, I cried in a bathroom stall. I’m at the tail end of a huge project and I’m just as stressed as the next person – look at my calendar below; that one is fake but my real calendar is actually worse and not coloured like a pinata – but this was a verbal lashing the likes of which I hadn’t received in a very long time. Hindsight has shown me several ways I could have better dealt with the situation other than my chosen method of “utterly freeze and lose my focus”, but now I know what to expect and you know what it is they say about knowing: it is half the battle.
I’d feel better if I were armed with red or blue lasers, though.
After my tears had dried and my nose stopped glowing, I paced around the Lab for a bit. I was fine with keeping everything to myself until I walked through one of the departments that had been witness to the brutality of the verbal lashing – people were asking me if I was okay, and what was the deal with that, and boy he sure was angry, and and and –
It made me realize that I didn’t care (much, after I cried it out) that he had yelled at me over things I can’t control (seriously; I have NO SAY in whether or not a Microsoft product will work in Firefox and no amount of screaming is going to change my lack of power over Bill Gates) but rather that he had done so in front of SO MANY PEOPLE – 5 departments I work closely with were all represented in that room by multiple co-workers, in addition to the new girl I was training that had started that morning. Yell at me privately if you’re upset that I can’t strip a mandatory field out of the software, but don’t humiliate me like that in front of my minions. It is Not Cool.
So, I went to my boss. I had previously gone to him and offered him a puppy if I never had to work with the Nasty Man again, to which he laughed – he had heard it was a rough session, but that was it. When I went back a second time, I expressed my extreme displeasure that Nasty Man had done this in front of so many others and shared a few things that were said. He was disgusted, and suggested we immediately go see Vice President and let him know – so we did. VP was even MORE displeased, and apologized for Nasty Man’s behaviour, assured me that I was doing a great job, and said he would be dealing with it the next day.
As soon as I got to work yesterday, HR came to see me. VP had gone to her right after our conversation and relayed the situation, and she wanted to let me know something that floored me:
They had my back.
My back hasn’t been had in a very, very long time. Through all my years at Space Stations 1 and 2 I sometimes had a person going to bat for me, but ultimately my choices were to take the abuse or leave. Illegal practices? Name calling? Telling me that customers complained about my work because you needed something to reprimand me for? Lying to my face about my job? Taking credit for my work? Too bad, so sad. I was a contractor, a commodity, a replaceable (except not) drone – if you don’t like being treated like garbage, you’re in the wrong industry (said industry being any industry). If you complain, we’ll get rid of you.
Maybe this is completely standard, but to me it’s like winning a fabulous prize. Someone did something really, really nasty and I rightfully brought it up to my boss – and now there are consequences. Not for me, even, but for the Nasty Man. This is nothing short of incredible to me – you mean people are held responsible for their actions? You don’t condone abuse or humiliation as a tactic? Someone cares that I was upset and they’re doing something about it?!
Colour me completely floored, and very grateful. The word had gotten out – the people in the room told their managers – and my co-workers are coming around to say they’re sorry for what happened and they think I’m super. This, too, is great – as of Wednesday afternoon, I had pretty much lost any confidence I had that I knew what I was doing and was at all good at my job. That confidence is starting to come back though, and I’m fairly certain I’ll be back to my unorthodox methods in no time – like today, when I have to break the news of a process change to the team but I am plying them with a pizza lunch first.
It feels good to have my back be had.