Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Acceptance At Work

I realized today I have become accustomed to being a little trodden-across in my work life. It's an interesting thing, because I was handed a tray to carry by someone with no right to determine my workload, and I was a little apologetic (let us say "tactful") in pressing the shyest question about this to my manager.

With the economy as it is, and as confident a woman as I am - I am still a new kid at a very large establishment. I learned from my last employer that questioning was not allowed (for secretaries), and that additions would be given to my job both without warning, and certainly without pay.

(What is most interesting about that is any sort of *initiative* or attempt to provide value-added service on my own was greeted with pearl-clutching horror; but that is a whinge for absolutely no other time and beside the point here. Mostly.)

I learned that from one day to the next, not only would I have multiple managers in the first place, but several others were also going to be allowed to call upon me.

Boys and girls: this is one of the reasons a multiple-manager operating structure is to be avoided, if at all possible. It never works very well, the politics become deeply tedious, and sooner or later, the thought occurs to higher-ups, "if she can support two, she can support three more a little in addition ... but not for additional pay of course."


I have always loathed multiple manager setups, since the time I worked for three guys, one of whom backed out on his WRITTEN promise to provide bonuses, with the other two, and the PRESIDENT OF THE FIRM had to step in and pay me one because all of them ended up collapsing on the thing when one decided to be tight-fisted.

Le. Sigh.

So no small joy in my current job is that, while I am core to the team, and we HAVE multiple managers I support, my actual reporting structure is clearly to the top banana, and there is no question that my provision of work for EVERYONE in my group leaves him still and unquestionably at the top of my priority list, every day, no dibs-calling on my time he can't trump.

I love the way I work on special projects with the manager who calls me Tenacious D. I enjoy working with the guy in the midwest, with the local officer, and sitting back and watching as my whole group, nationwide, comes to understand - and act on - the fact that I am to be depended on for certain functions. They seem to like having someone to turn to, and I at almost-six-months-in am reveling in the ways this educates me, entrenches me (frankly), and begins, bit by bit, to make a difference for everybody. An explicit part of my role is to be a core unifier, and this is coming to be, just a little faster and deeper as time moves me more "in" my job.


And so.

When someone outside my team, whom I've begun a new relationship with through providing regular deliverables he compiles, turned to the admin he thought was there to support his team - and she turns out to be offloading her administrative duties in favor of more project management, or analysis, or whatever-it-is she thinks is more "worthwhile" than administrative work - they both turned to me. I took on a small to-do, and then, innocuously, the guy's boss emailed me to ask if I could help out administratively.

I didn't argue my way out, but I did consider the senior level of my boss, and emailed him a quick FYI.

Then the admin-who-isn't-doing-admin-work-anymore emailed two of the senior admins explaining to them that my name needed to be put next to other-manager's as his assistant.


"Yeah: no" was the gist of the diplomatic email I sent right back, explaining that unless and until my actual manager says I need to be given a new job alongside my own, I'm not interested in formalizing my support of someone who in fact told me he has an admin actually.

(To which I say: what is it she does ... ? Maybe I missed that bit.)

Anyway, so another quick FYI to my boss, accompanied with "I don't mean to create politics where there are none" but the clear understanding I defer to him, not just anyone with a tray to hand off, no matter how lightly laden it might be for a minute.

I got an actual thank you from one of the seniors, who felt I had expressed a very proper expectation, that MY boss decides my job - not an admin who doesn't want to be an admin, and who isn't even a part of my group, and assigning to me people not part of my boss's.


There isn't a good coda here, other than my ruminations about my newfound (since the last/cr*ppy job) willingness to get myself handed-off on. It brings to mind an interesting train of thought about the last GOOD job I held, which so often I actually find myself thinking of more than the one more recently held - the one I keep passively-aggressively half writing out of my work history, in conversation and in my consideration. The last good job provides a very interesting view of me as a worker, indeed.

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