Another Jojobobo thread... (feat. hostile work environments)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jojobobo, May 4, 2020.

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  1. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    So I'm currently more or less in poll position for a promotion. My own line-manager is leaving, the job is being advertised internally, options are limited with coronavirus lockdown and I'm literally the only person who has the overlap with her knowledge base in certain key areas - everyone else would (I would say without exaggeration) require more training than me. I also have a reputation of being both very hard working, and (as I'm sure some of you will find ironic) level-headed. All of these things don't mean to say I wouldn't mess up an interview, or anything like that, but odds on I would put myself as the favourite and certainly have heard encouraging things on my chances from the rest of the team.

    However, the work place is pretty terrible. Managers in equivalent roles in the team have been made to cry in the office. We had flexible working for the first week I started, and then it was removed as a psuedo-punishment for missing a particular deadline (which boiled down to historical shoddy record keeping from before 90% of the team started) - citing a business need for fixed hours as a means to "bring us together and improve teamwork". The department's director has shadowed people for whole days for them to demonstrate what they do for the department (i.e. justify why they shouldn't be fired), and they have also written emails for people in other teams for them to send out as she didn't trust their abilities to put one together.

    Three days in my previous work week I worked over my contractual hours, twice until past 9pm, and while on paper I should be able to claim that back as toil and my line-managers say I should take it - they would and have encouraged me to list it as something else in my work calendar to avoid questions from senior management. I was asked to forgo my annual leave for an hour last week to attend a pointless departmental meeting (I "didn't see the email in time"). This is a fairly large no-no, but the request was only made through implication (obligatory link), and never explicitly. The turnover in department is extremely high.

    What you're probably thinking is that these are contractual breaches, so I should speak out. Even the fact that we're working overtime without prior approval is a contractual breach. However I've heard a lot of personal accounts of HR handling situations very poorly, and plus it means actively taking the decision to escalate the situation, put a massive target on your back and stress yourself out. Also, senior management would say that we were never asked to do this work so it would be hard to pin them down from an HR perspective, yet if the workload is not completed they would start to cite a lack of professionalism and over-blow even the most minor of infractions which everyone is guilty of making. As these are "legitimate" forms of criticism and do highlight personal instances of wrong-doing for the individual raising the concern in classic ad hominem style, you can see where the fun begins. I certainly have no interest on going on what I feel could turn into a personal crusade against my own will.

    However however, as a manager I'm sure I would see things differently, and wouldn't be happy for people to take the fall for me or to see their wellbeing suffer when I know I have a direct hand in that outcome. While I am fairly firmly pragmatic in picking my battles and don't really care about speaking out for my own welfare, when it comes to a situation where I have personal accountability for someone else I feel like it's thoroughly different.

    So we're clear though, my first port of call wouldn't be to go to HR in the first place (only as a last resort), it would be firm and rational appeals to reason and not giving ground in conversation. But as you can see from how the department conducts itself, I might not be in a position to avoid unnecessary escalation. Potentially I also differ in that I'm not easy to intimidate in these situations (petty office bullshit really isn't all that), so I'm good at keeping a cooler head. As such there may even be an outside potential I could make a positive difference where most people can't, but this does feel a bit like a long shot.

    Ultimately, if I want my career to accelerate (and to get paid £15k more) I would be a little crazy not to go for it. I also can't really look elsewhere with the current pandemic situation, so either I sit around and watch my career not advance while working a job in a place I don't like for too little pay for who knows how many more months, or I swallow down the badness like Smuel's mum on a Friday night. I guess the adage is my line-manager who is leaving after only a year has now taken a pay-cut (but still a pay grade above me) to work in a related job that she is really passionate about and also in a non-toxic environment - so if I can tough it out the opportunities it can create are real.

    On the other hand, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself and setting myself up for a serious fall. The whole situation makes building the positivity that would be required for an interview a struggle to say the least.

    Any similar experiences or insights? I know, I know, it was TL-DR and you're going to cast aspersions about my mother.

    Also watch me not even get an interview, at which point I will start to question what may be some serious narcissism...
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2020
  2. The_Bob

    The_Bob Administrator Staff Member

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    By now it's been three times that I decided my job is a stupid waste of life and quit working for a few months. The older I get the more disdain I feel toward toiling for someone else's gain - at this point I can't imagine putting up with any of the bullshit you described.

    If you have marketable skills and experience, look for a place that will give you the best deal for your time, or best fit your current life situation. It may turn out that's your current job, but you won't know until you look around for other options. A large paycheck is great if you need it, but maybe it's more like working a shitty job you hate in exchange for extra money you spend on shit you don't need. Although from your post it seems you actually like how it sucks there so maybe getting a management position will give you exactly what you want from life. If not, at least you'll be able to list that as job experience when going somewhere else.
     
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  3. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the insight The_Bob, and nice to see you on here again.

    As mentioned I will highly likely search for something new in the future, however given I work in higher education and all universities are taking a massive hit through coronavirus new jobs in the sector are going to be few and far between - maybe even for a couple of years (my line-manager is only moving because it was agreed before lockdown, and her position is only being filled as it's judged as operationally essential). While I could look outside of higher education, research and education is a cause I can back in principle so I would rather not drift to other sectors - but I'm not entirely closed to it. Maybe other third sector work would also be a good fit for me.

    In terms of the large paycheck, it's hard not to feel a bit behind the curve in terms of other people due to how long I spent in education - and I do want to be a homeowner at some point. My current wage doesn't allow me to accumulate enough savings to buy anything but the shittiest of houses a few years from now, and that's on top of living in a shitty city to begin with (therefore, I wouldn't feel happy or safe in doing so). I also never bothered learning to drive in my youth, which is in hindsight completely stupid if you ever want to look for jobs further afield that a city or two over.

    I'm certainly not a fan of how it sucks and I don't like how they treat people, but I'm too cautious to easily invite grief into my life and I'm not conscientious enough to save people from situations they got into with their eyes open (unless it's a really severe abuse right in front of my eyes, in which case I usually wade right in). However I also don't want to be the person who perpetuates the cycle for people who rely on me, so if I did get the job I won't be holding my tongue anymore at least on the behalf of people I manage (unlike the other managers in my team who are far too fearful).

    Practically, despite how shitty the potential job is I think it's preferable to working at a level at less money, and with even less agency in terms of what happens to me and what I have the authority to reasonably challenge. The duties of the job itself is also something I would enjoy day-to-day, it's just the environment itself that's fairly rotten.

    As per usual, I was just looking to vent. Well I can speak to friends and family about this (and have), it is a lot of information to neatly unpack, and I don't usually consider them as impartial as the internet. Thanks again for the confirmation of "this shit is fucked".
     
  4. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    I kind of don't see a downside here. It sounds like you already don't like working there. So now the opportunity in front of you is to continue to not like working there but for more money. I mean... duh?

    Plus when you do come to actively look for a better job, being a manager with a higher salary will look more impressive to your prospective employers. See it as a stepping stone rather than a final destination.

    It's "pole" position. Pole. Like the kind your mom dances around on a Friday night.

    (Normally I wouldn't nitpick like this, but the joke opportunity was too great.)
     
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  5. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    Better a poll dancer than a badness swallower!

    And agreed, it might end up biting me in the ass if I get into some serious confrontation with the upper management but I'll try not doing that and the selling points are too great. Having spoke to other managers in the team about it, they've said I should take it if offered and then move on at my first opportunity if I want to (then again they would say that, as the extra work load will fall to them - and a little to me in my current role anyway - if someone doesn't pick up the slack). It does go to show that even the people who are sticking around do pretty much hate it, which is a strange situation to carry-on in for years and years.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
  6. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Sticking around in a job you hate, surrounded by people you hate, in order to make some rich asshole you've never met slightly richer is the modern capitalist pandemic. I detested a job I had for a 4 year stretch at one point, and I consider that I got off lightly. A lot of people do it all their lives. If you enjoy more than, say, 20% of your job, I reckon you're doing well. The reason The Office is so popular is that so many people can relate to it.

    I realise this doesn't help in any practical way, but don't feel like you're missing out on some perfect job out there where there's no corporate bullshit and no pointless paperwork. You can probably ultimately improve your situation, but that involves playing the game, i.e. going for the promotion and then using it as leverage for the future. It looks like you're already on the path to do that, so... thumbs up, old chap.

    Good luck, and good morning.
     
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  7. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    I mean I don't hate people in my direct team (senior management is higher, it's a big team), but for a fair few of them I have very little in common with. They are all mild mannered and decent people, and apparently have nice gardens and like cookies and other snack goods a rather obscene amount. And I've tried to scratch the surface, and I really think for some of them that's all that's there.

    Like for example, apparently I'm weird for liking horror movies and video games. Yet both my current line-managers don't like anything remotely dark (or dare I say, properly cinematically dramatic), as it's "too stressful". And then in the natural back and forth over movie tastes, I've been told as one of their favourite movies - as a "wholesome" movie - is the Blind Side.

    I was made to watch the Blind Side with extended family at Christmas, and I fucking hated it. It's the epitome of a White Saviour Complex, cap-in-hand black guy movie as you could want to see - where a young homeless black teen needs to be adopted by a rich Sandra Bullock to have a good life, and it also has an insipid lack of dramatic tension as his life just gets better and better. I see nothing "wholesome" about this movie, as it always Christian charity wrapped up in unseemly racist undertones pandering to the masses who blindly ignore that subtext, yet I'm the oddball dark-horse for saying any movie with even a lick of stress or worry is better than that movie.

    Some of my partner's work friends told a story of when they tripped up a guy at school and broke his arm and yet never owned up to it. And they also like horror movies and games. There's a massive sense comparatively of "here's my people". I guess I gave up on looking for BFFs quite a while ago, so I'm not too sad about the personalities at work - but there's a lot of room for improvement.

    I think I differ because my PhD was so shit really nothing could have been worse - so my bar for workplace perfection is far, far lower than any of my coworkers. I mean for a science PhD it doesn't get much worse than going in like you're all bright eyed and bushy tailed, thinking you could be like Ian Fleming... inventor of Penicillin... and realising your just a bit a moron.

    In all seriousness, one of my line-managers has spoken of "playing the game", and other people in an equivalent role were spitting blood. I'm guessing I'm mildly, optimistically, hoping to play the game while adhering to some nice quiet sedition along the road. If I even get the interview - it will be rather a knock if they pass on me in the 3 or fewer people who will likely apply.

    If you're going around saying good morning in any thread Smuel it cheapens it. By thanks for the well wishes, it's appreciated.

    Good morning.
     
  8. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Oops, haha, I thought I was in the other thread there for a moment.

    Good luck, and up yours.

    There, that's better.
     
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  9. Ruda

    Ruda Active Member

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    Yeah, the Blind Side was fucking terrible. Anyway, three years ago I got fed up working for minimum wage and enrolled in a Computer Science program. With that soon to be out of the way, my experience working within the field has been near insufferable - mostly due to obnoxious coworkers and managers. I'm contemplating going back to my old job, serving food and scrubbing floors at the infection ward. It doesn't matter that the salaries is almost 2000 pounds lower or that the infection ward isn't the ideal workplace during a pandemic; I fucking hate these people.

    Having read the above paragraph, I realize that the only the opening sentence can be construed as a reply to your troubles, the rest is vaguely related nonsense. I'll make up for it with vaguely related comics.[​IMG]
     
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  10. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    That is an extremely applicable comic, unfortunately my beard isn't anywhere near as good.
     
  11. Ruda

    Ruda Active Member

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    None of us mere mortals can really compete.
     
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