- 4 years ago
- Wedding: August 2016
I have a degree and years of experience working in a different industry, but utilizing very similar skills and doing many of the same things that this new job requires. When I saw this new job advertised, I thought it looked like a dream, and after 1 interview, the they hired me. I liked where I previously worked, but was looking for more money, and this new gig paid $20K more a year.
The only thing really about the new job was it was a lot of responsibility – I was going to be the boss of a staff of five(I had no manager experience), and responsible for a lot of legal things I was going to need training for. At my interview, I asked about the training available and they assured me that my predecessor (who was retiring) had agreed to stay on board to train me for a month, and that I would have access to a large assocation and network of professionals that would offer support and training. I also asked about the workplace culture and was grinned at and assured it was a great place to work, with people who stay a long time and enjoy many great benefits and a positive team environment. I was also assured the staff were well trained, had long tenure, and were experts in their field.
So, when they called to offer me the job, I didn’t hesitate — I accepted on the spot.
Three days later, the hiring manager and my predecessor (who I was replacing), took me out to lunch and explained that I had been awarded the job over one my subordinates, who is a technical expert and has years of experience (but a history of behavior problems) and was likely going to leave or give me a hard time, but they “hoped I could smooth out the relationship”. Other than this challenge, the outlook still was very positive.
As I shadowed my predecessor that first week learning the job, she spent considerable time complaining to me about the office politics and how much of a pain it had become (over the years) to work with her subordinate and how she expected her to not be very kind to me and to put up a fight about everything. She joked that I should consider asking if my old job was still available.
Then, after that week, she left. For good.
And I was on my own. When I was told she’d be there another 3 weeks.
But I didn’t let it stop me. I took it as a way for me to begin forming a bond with my new team. I asked them all to lunch, indivdually, to get to know them.
They all refused. I expected a rough go at first. I gave it a week for things to cool down. Things were still pretty rank, so after a week, I brought Monica (we’ll call her Monica) into my office to explain that I was aware that this situation was diffcult for her, but I was looking forward to working with her. She was professional and I had hoped our conversation would help break the ice.
Nope. Same rank attitude.
I began training and joined the professional associations and was met with considerable attitude from the people and other staff who were supposed to be supporting me: “I’m surprised they hired someone with no experience” and lots of sarcastic “good luck”s when “congrats” would have been more appropriate.
I learned that Monica was sort of the de-facto leader for the rest of the staff; they looked up to her and she knew it all and she had them on “her side” when it came to office politics. She feels I am unqualified — which I am — and she effectively had the whole team going to her for everything, so she was in a sense the leader, without the title. This was proving to be a very difficult start to my new job.
Every morning, I come in and I say “Good morning!” and I’m greeted with blank stares and sometimes a terse “hello” from one of the other staffers. I ask questions and I’m given 1 word answers. I pushed my way in, spending tense moments in their offices learning their jobs.
In speaking with HR and in figuring out my own job, I learned that my predecessor was a fairly poor manager, was conflict avoidant, and had really set Monica up to be the “heir apparant” by giving her increased responsibility over the years. Monica had so much power, she actually managed the schedules of the other staffers and they came to her for their reviews and notified her when they were going to be out of the office. She essentially already was doing the job I was hired to do, and in my opinion, doing a great job. She resented not being in my position – a decision I realized was a purely political move made by my superiors who felt she was too “unprofessional” for the position. Each day her passive-aggressive attitude posioned the office and made me feel as if I was hated by my own staff.
It was tough, but I made it another few weeks, and then decided to have another conversation with Monica. I asked her how things were going, and what she needed from me. Then I told her what I needed from her – to be brought into the loop, and for us to have a solid and (better) communicative working relationship. She agreed and we actually had a very pleasant discussion about her responsibilities and my plans for managing the office. I was so happy.
But, then next day, my “Good morning!” fell on her not even lifting her head from her computer.
I met with HR again, for tips on how to manage the conflict in my office. They agreed I had been dealt a tough hand, agreed that I had been doing the right thing by observing and pitching in (versus coming in and trying to take contol) but and they suggested I do more to assert my will.
I waited for an opportunity, and last week, an opportunity presented itself when a workflow process began to cause confusion and tension in the office — I stepped in and began investigating. I let my staff know that I was going to be looking into how to improve the process, but confirmed the current process. I was met with backtalk “this is an ongoing issue, we need a better solution”. I told them I was working on it, but asked for suggestions. Monica was silent.
Then the next day, I learned Monica had sent an e-mail in the afternoon, cc’ng the rest of the staff, and going over my head asking another department for clarification on the process and what our office should do. The employee who received the email in the other department noticed I wasn’t on the e-mail and fowarded it to me.
Needless to say, I was really pissed. She knew I was working on this, I had just confirmed the process with her, and she deliberately acted to undermine my authority. So I decided to give her a formal verbal warning with HR present as a witness. She was really upset. But I felt I had to put my foot down really strongly – especially because it had seemed our prior discussions didn’t have much of an impact, I figured this would. She needed to know I wasn’t going to tolerate this.
HR supports me, but now I’m left with an even more terribly disgruntled employee who will now work even harder against me. And, she no doubt has informed the rest of the team and they are pitted against me, too.
When I announced the new process, the rest of the team came up in arms in my office, saying how it was a bad idea.
I need to get rid of her (and maybe the rest of the team, too), but I can’t, because I do not know what she knows — nobody else does — and there is a large upcoming project this year where her expertise will be a giant asset and I’m not sure we can do it without her.
I love the work itself — but I’ve been so unhappy at my new job over the past 2 months I’ve been there over the office environment, I’ve considered that maybe it’s just not worth the stress, and maybe I should quit. I feel like I was lied to about the job, brought into a political snake-pit that I’m not experienced or skilled enough to manage, and used as a pawn by a predecessor who knew exactly the time to leave. It just makes me look like a fool for accepting a job I THOUGHT I was qualified to do – and should have been able to do, as described on paper – but turns out I’m not qualified to handle in practice.
What would you do? Am I handling this all wrong? Should I bow out?