19 October, 2007

I Rant About My Library Manager

Work is currently not a fun place to be and I am not alone in this. Most of my co-workers have confided in me a dissatisfaction which mirrors to a large extent my own. During my six month reign of terror as manager we had a fantastic sense of team unity, everyone was doing above and beyond the call of duty and despite all the problems that came upon us at that time (under staffed in most professional positions) the library performed admirably. Indeed the loan figures and door count figures at that time are still amongst the highest we have had. I lacked somewhat in the administrative side of the role (inexperience) however at the end of the six months I was getting it organised. For six months after this, under the new manager I acted as the library 2IC and once again I know where my weaknesses in the job lay, I admitted them to the staff and received an enormous amount of help in those areas. Now however when I look at the staff I see a complete and utter lack of motivation to do anything but the bare minimum required by their jobs. Why? Well, lets just say 'management' and leave it at that because I don't want to speak too much for others on an open forum like this blog (especially now that it is no longer anonymous).
So rather than post about others I will post about some of my most recent experiences, experiences which have made me furious. I am still considering what action I shall take, yesterday I wrote an email which I was going to send to my manager and CC to the Director and the CEO. However I have a don't press send when you're angry policy, so I have calmed down enough to not send it.
However while I am deciding I shall post this bogified version of it here because:
  • I have an urgent need to vent
  • This is an example of crap management which my readers can learn from
  • I can't think of a single other thing at the moment so with luck writing it down will clear my head and let me work

So, the short (edited) version (names removed to protect the annoying).

I took a short lunch because I had nothing to do at lunchtime
I went back to work and was doing some cataloguing
I got bored cataloguing and decided to take a break
I couldn't be bothered going out back to the tea room so I picked up a book and read it at my desk
The boss walked in and went off her trolley at my audacity?

"John this is the second time I have caught you reading a book at work"
yes that is right, in two and a half years she has twice seem me reading, oh it is true I am a criminal mastermind. I was told to come to her office where I was treated like a naughty little boy. "John you are a senior member of staff, what sort of example is this. How dare you, give me one good reason why I shouldn't have this written up"
an opening,
I get to talk?

Umm, well I was taking a break?
It's no big deal etc

She it seems was very unhappy with this and became quite heated.
I stood up, told her I'd talk to her when she calmed down
and walked out.

She followed me, through the library back to my office shouting at me to get back in her office this instant. Yes, through the Public Area of the library, where the patrons are

Eventually, she had the sense to say she would stay quiet and let me speak. So to shut her up I went back to the office and, well she didn't quite shut up and she was still acting less like a manager and more like a mother talking to a naughty child. As I left, she had a nice parting shot, don't ever walk out like that again.
I managed to hold my tongue, but I certainly wanted to shout back that I'd walk out whenever she decided to get personal, condescending and unprofessional. But I didn't.

A stupid altercation? Yep, so I thought, after all despite personality differences we've worked together for two and a half years with only a couple of dustups crossing the line of professionalism. So, this was another one and it was over now, no big deal.

Wrong, three days later I was called into her office and told I was going to have a session of Performance Counselling for my poor time management. WTF? I know I have time management problems, I have put that down on my annual appraisal every year for the last four years, but she had never mentioned my time management, never indicated a problem, not questioned it informally in our fortnightly meetings, not sent me on a training course (although I did get to do one while I was acting manager).
I talked to the HR manager (acting) and decided I couldn't be bothered having my union rep come along. It was just going to be informal and a bit of a discussion of future issues. OK, I could cope with that even if I don't believe it is a coincidence that this crops up after an argument got a bit personal.

She asked if it could be that afternoon. What? Not a chance, Tuesday next week because she was going on leave? I reluctantly acquiesced. I worked the weekend, so I had Monday off. I got a phone call (at home) from HR to reschedule because he had an interview for the HR manager's position. I said I'd sort it out on Tuesday when I was at work with my roster at hand and hung up. An hour or so later I got another call (at home, on my fucking day off) telling me what time the meeting was going to be. I still don't know why it needed to be so rushed, couldn't it wait until she came back from her two week break? After all it had never been mentioned before.

So, the meeting came.
It consisted of a list of four tasks and a blank with date for completion. I was asked about when these tasks would be completed. I replied that two of them basically were and that the other two would take me a couple of hours. I was told to have them done by Thursday. Meeting over.

a new meeting have the tasks been done? Yes. They go over the details, then comes the moment I was waiting for.
"John what have you learned from this?"

I lean back in my seat, I relax and take a deep breath and open up with both barrels. "Nothing, this hasn't been performance counselling. I haven't been told where the problems are, I haven't been given any tools to use to change things I haven't been offered any help or asked why there are problems. I have done four tasks, which has meant some other things didn't get done but I did them the same way I would have done any task..."

Shocked faces looked back at me. Mouths opened and closed with nothing to say. I had an urge to say "this is more about performance counselling for you, because as manager you are obviously unable to explain to me your priorities without having HR involved in the process" but I decided I had said enough, for now. I'll save that line for later.

HR wanker spoke first, "Perhaps performance counselling is the wrong term, but lets still see where we can go from here"
He asked what priorities were next, she started to speak but I spoke louder. I listed my priorities, I gave them a ranking and the two guppy faced morons sat, nodded and said we'll have another meeting to go over these things when Mrs Manager gets back from her two weeks holiday. Not the outcome I wanted, but still.
They also asked me to set up the meeting request.
I did, under the heading Follow Up Meeting (not performance counselling)

And now I am still wondering whether to get the Union involved or to go talk to the CEO (who I get on well with) because I don't want to have to put up with this shit just because the boss and I have different ideas on some things (like how to treat your staff and patrons).

This post was invisible for some time, but it has reappeared because the manager who I spoke of is retired, I no longer work for the organisation in question and because I want this blog tobe honest (even if it doesn't always paint me in a perfect light - please not potential employers, I am imperfect). That said, hiding it at the time was probably expedient.

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