Back at work today, I dropped by Brother Baba Budan on the way in to get my morning coffee. It was just on 8am and people were slowly filtering into the CBD. Brother Baba Budan has some of the best coffee in town, but there was no-one in queue and, other than a few bohemian looking types, not overly busy. It was that time of day I guess.
I was in suit and my bohemian days, sadly, are behind me. I do have a beard now though, which is a small concession to individuality.
At work I’ve been busy doing things. I’m focused today, sharp, which is a departure from recent times. I’ve been restless and unmotivated, and there have been issues to work through. They came to a head Friday when I returned to work.
I had sent an impatient email from home a few days before, which had the belated effect of hurrying HR along. I was told they had come to a decision. Friday afternoon I was led into one of the meeting rooms by my manager, whereupon she began reading from the HR judgement.
There were no surprises. They had basically ignored my previous application and arguments in favour of a different classification, and reiterated their standing position. To that extent I had the award read out to me in all its vague and generic detail. My argument from the start was that my role was not an award role, and even if so, it had been applied to the wrong award. They couldn’t come at that, and so the outcome was pre-ordained.
The one concession they made, possibly inadvertent, was to state that my role was rated a classification higher than the band I had been paid within. My recent pay-rise took me to the very bottom of the award – ergo, for the previous 8 months I had been underpaid. I asked for that to be followed up, and also enquired why if I was now within that band why I was due the minimum amount? That too I want followed up.
It was a testy day. The episode has started to wear thin all round. My own manager has begun to take it more personally. I left deflated, and pondering my future.
I went to catch up with friends for a quick drink at Collins Quarter. I wasn’t really in the mood, but I was happy to catch up. In the end I was there for about 5 hours.
The people I met with was mum’s best friend, and her husband. To her I am my mum’s proxy, and so she is attached to me. He is an intelligent and interesting man, a self-made millionaire who now tinkers with business more as a hobby than a profession. We all get on well.
Two important things happened on Friday night. Firstly, I admitted that I had ‘been struggling’. I have never done that before, with anyone. I’m old school Aussie bloke. I keep it buttoned up. It’s become clear to me that I can’t do that much longer, for a variety of reasons. I need to let some of the air out.
The second thing was a surprise. Perhaps related to my admission I mentioned how I want to do something meaningful. I mentioned the social mentoring project I’m trying to get off the ground, and their ears pricked up. Turns out he’s been looking around to find a vehicle to give something back. Charity doesn’t interest him as he doesn’t see what happens with his money, besides, he’s a man who likes doing things. My idea intrigued him. He agreed there was nothing else like it out there. He could see the value. And he asked me to send him some details with the view to getting involved. (His money would be handy, but really it’s experience and network which would be invaluable).
So today I’m back at work with a bit more go forward. I’ve asked to catch-up with my manager later. I’ll reiterate my requests of HR, and I’ll seek to clarify some comments.
One of the things I’ve noticed in recent times is that my manager has begun to take some of my questions as personal challenges. That’s a surprise to me as I’m talking about ‘things’. It’s also ironic as earlier this year I was encouraged to keep pressing my claims with recalcitrant members of the business. Unsurprisingly, it’s different when my focus shifts to them.
What needs to be said is that I am logic driven. I look at things, what they are, how they work, where they belong, etc, and unpick them logically. If I find flaws or anomalies I’ll bring them into closer focus, or comment on them. It’s very much a cool, rationalist approach, independent of just about everything else. It’s certainly not personal.
It’s like a car with a dodgy engine. I might comment on the poor engineering or the previous mechanic’s lax efforts, but I won’t blame the driver. And I’ll set about repairing the engine properly – if not replacing it altogether, and finding a new chassis for it while I’m at it.
What complicates this is that I’m confident, and I pay little regard for position or title. It’s not that I’m oblivious, it’s just secondary to the logic. I don’t play games, I’m not into politics, it’s all about the job.
I don’t expect people to understand it, and I know by now that people get their nose out of joint occasionally because of it – but no-one who knows me well can doubt my fidelity when it comes to implementing the right solution.