Friday, August 20, 2004

Curve Ball

I presented my manager with our suggestions for improvement this afternoon. After completing it Wednesday night, I revamped it Thursday morning. The original memo was a bit dismal, presenting problem after problem, including sometimes lengthy examples. When I reworked it, I shifted the focus from the problem to the recommendation to make it more positive.

On Thursday, I ran the memo past co-workers that were involved in its creation and, eventually, showed it to my supervisor. Some made suggestions to remove possibly accusatory language and some made suggestions of one or two more suggestions to add but most - including my supervisor - agreed that it was a well-presented argument. After getting some advice on the best way to present the memo, I placed it in memo format, printed two copies (one for my supervisor, one for the manager), and handed it to him.

Understand that, if I left these issues without a voice, we would continue to bitch to each other, raise our blood pressure, develop ulcers, and all eventually quit. I have been ready to walk out the door and not give the place a second look - don't think I won't do it. No job is worth my health.

Even though I knew it would, my intention was not to stir up a tempest. My intention was to open a dialogue. Perhaps my words had a sting behind them - any two-page laundry list of issues would - but the time for subtlety is long past.

I expected one of many reactions to my words. It was possible, though unlikely knowing my manager, that they would have the desired effect and open a dialogue. More likely, he would try to explain them away using his calm, easy, "you have to understand my position" tone and, toward the end, would blame everything on someone else (but not in so many words).

Don't get me wrong. I had every intention of escalating these recommendations through my management chain if necessary. But I wanted to try to keep this in the family first. There was no need, at this stage, to include anyone but my immediate supervisor and him. What I didn't expect was for him to escalate the recommendations.

After spending all day presenting orientation sessions to incoming students, I returned to find an email addressed to our director (my manager's boss) and carbon copied to the campus CIO, the interim Vice President of I.T., my supervisor and myself. What it said was that I had presented him with the memo and, "Given that I believe that I have been performing in accordance with managements wishes, I am forwarding this issue on to you for further investigation. I will place a copy of the memo in your mailbox." It goes on to say, "additionally if I am not acting in accordance with managements wishes please let me know."

What the hell does that mean!? I don't know whether to be worried or glad that upper management is involved. I'm going over in my head how I could have done this differently and trying to play out the scenario within the new parameters... it doesn't compute. The root of the problem is that things are bad and I took the risk in telling him.

I have an appointment on Monday with someone whom I can talk this through but that's not helping me get to sleep tonight.

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