Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Latest Crazymaker

For the first several years that I was here, my department had a challenge being taken seriously.  We seemed to have roadblocks to getting anything of substance accomplished, and I didn't understand why.  My Old Boss would tell me it was because of the political climate, that our VP was against us.  I didn't know better.

Then came the shake-up, which led to the hiring of my new Boss.  That's when the depth of the harm he was doing was revealed, along with a few things about how he handled me.  For instance, I apparently should have had a title change years ago, but he was against it.

Long story short, we've spent the last couple of years rebuilding the department's reputation.  We've put forth a more professional front with our new leadership, and we've become part of the campus conversations on the quality of education.  We're known for doing good and being good to work with.

But it's new and fragile and easily smudged, if we're not careful.  Too many people in higher ed just want to best you and complain and argue.  We battle that all the time.  People try to bait us.  I often go to Boss for advice on how to respond to a potentially sticky question.  She's very good at maneuvering those situations.

Blogget might not be the most politically-savvy person, but I know how to be professional!

When Boss started, the staff consisted of me and one other person.  We started a search for a third staffer.  In the middle of that search, the other person quit.  That left just me on staff.  We hired two people.  Finally!  A full staff for what we needed!  Let the work commence, we said!

Then one of those people got fired.  That was a good and bad day.  Bad that we were now understaffed again.  Good because even with that person, we were in essence understaffed.

We have just finished a search for another new person.  If she takes the job, I worry about the influence this other staffer will have on the newbie. I mean, her work is okay, but she makes noise about wishing she was part time.  Essentially, she is, with the way she does her job.

I'm worried about a person like this, with a serious lack of professionalism and dreadful work ethic, and the impact she can have on this reputation we've scratched out over the last couple of years.  Some examples....

She doodles in meetings, then asks questions that make it obvious she wasn't paying attention.  And when I say doodles, I don't mean little inconspicuous sketching in the margins that no one will notice.  I mean broad scribbling across the page, arms waving, and holding up her handiwork to survey and admire.

And doing so while sitting beside that VP previously mentioned.

Then there was Monday.  I came in Monday to find that she was already in the office.  Good, because Boss was out of town, and she usually takes advantage of that situation by coming in late, taking generous lunches, and leaving early.  Except...

...she was filing her toenails.

...and then painting them.

...and then she announced she hadn't gotten enough sleep and went home for a nap.

...and came back later to do her nails.

Keep in mind that our offices are not isolated.  We're in a building with two other departments, and our offices get lots of foot traffic past them.  We are visible.  And Boss had just warned us that when she'[s not here, others in the building take it upon themselves to watch us.  The walls have eyes, indeed.

This coworker said to me, "Why should I care about that?"

I would have thought that answer was obvious.  Not only do they report to your boss what they see, chickadee, but they formulate opinions about your professionalism based on what they see.  That impacts our reputation, as a group.  Which impacts our effectiveness across the campus.

Have some damn common sense, why don't you?

Besides our reputation, I just find it personally irksome that I'm busting my ass, while she goes home to take a nap.  We have several projects going on and needed to report on some of them in a department meeting.  I had two pages - TWO feckin' pages - of notes for one project, while she had just printed a page of a web site.

I didn't let her talk, that meeting.  She opened her mouth, and my brain went "Hell no!" and launched into my notes.  And my ideas.  When I was done, Boss tuned to her.  She said, "Blogget covered all of the ideas I had."


Filing her toenails.  I mean, come ON!

You are not taking down me and all of our hard work because you want to give yourself a pedicure in the office.  I need to have a conversation about this with Boss, but choosing the right time and tone is essential.  Otherwise, I'm just running to tell Mommy, instead of pressing genuine concern for our department, work, and reputation.

I'll be a good Blogget, and I'll be careful.  But it will be said.

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