Office shenanigans

After a couple of very industrious weeks I get into work and it feels very much like a Monday. I feel washed out and unmotivated. I’m sure I’ll fire up, but it might take a few cups of coffee before I properly rouse.

It’s been a very cool start to the month, but it’s warmed up the last few days to become very pleasant. I was in shorts yesterday and last night ventured over to the Cheeses for a few cold beers, a barbecued meal, and a bottle of red watching the soccer. The problem is getting home my place has no meaningful insulation. If it’s 25 outside it’s 25 inside. Unfortunately it takes longer to cool down than it does to heat up, and so it was a warmish night.

Right now my manager is on annual leave, which frees me up a bit. We get on well, and banter quite a lot, but I’m glad to have the place to myself. When she’s here my perspective is almost entirely filtered through her. Things I plan to do are interpreted by her and explained to her manager. Her manager responds and shares other news and I get it through her. It’s rare I get the direct interaction, which is frustrating.

In this situation Chinese whispers plays a part. Whatever I intend is always abbreviated in the telling, and often skewed, deliberately or otherwise. I’d love the opportunity to sit down and explain what I’m doing and what I plan, and give some context to it. None of it is accidental, all of it has purpose, and in theory it fits into a strategy. None of that is shared, and by and large no-one has any idea of what I’m but for what they see.

Leaving the office the other day I bumped into the manager of the Business Intelligence team. We used to sit close by and formed an appreciation of each other. He’s a smart man, and shares some of my opinions about the best way forward. Though by comparison I’m a lowly peasant, as has been made abundantly clear, he always takes the time to share his initiatives with me, often seeking my perspective.

What do you think of so-and-so? He asked me, referring to the new big manager. Seems alright I said, though I haven’t had much to do with him. Why’s that? He asked. Because I have to go through my manager, I told him. He asked about that, wrinkling his brow. That’s a pity, he said at the end of it.

I don’t know if I’m paranoid, but sometimes I feel that there is a deliberate ploy to keep me from the key power-brokers. I wonder why that is. I’m excluded from meetings everyone else believes I should be part of, and hear of important things by chance, when in my role I should have been consulted from the get go. And any opportunity to expose me further is quickly closed off.

Sometimes I think that my manager wants to keep me for herself. Sometimes, less charitably, I wonder if she hopes to take credit for things I do. I’m not a big one for getting clapped on the back, but I believe credit should go where it’s due. There certainly appear some instances of this. Whatever the reason I’m effectively kept in a box and well away from anyone I might influence or impress.

By now I have established a sort of network through the business. In general I know which people to go to, and have well and truly sussed out who’s savvy and who isn’t. By the same token I think I’ve earned the respect of those people myself. They’re not necessarily the people who make decisions, but they’re the people who’ll get things done. Once more though I feel as if my contact with these people, which is generally informal, but formalised in some instances, is frowned upon. It’s like I’ve strayed from the path they’ve set for me.

This has been moderately frustrating to me throughout, and I’ve made representations occasionally to correct it. I’m listened to, sometimes I even get agreement, but nothing ever changes.

There is wrinkle to this situation which may have ramifications down the track.

My manager and her manager, who is new, are very different characters. She’s a jolly type, very capable, sometimes quite direct, but very pragmatic to. I’ve had limited interactions with her manager, but he appears a very precise type, fastidious in appearance and with great energy and resolution. He clearly knows his stuff, and is now in a situation where he wants to make his stamp. He’s certainly more dynamic than his predecessor.

I sensed very early on that they were not sympatico. Observing from the outside there appears a basic mismatch of energies. I work close to my manager and she has made the odd comment suggesting she was unconvinced by him. He’s not nearly as blatant as that, but observing some of his reactions and the look in his eye I thought he was just as unconvinced. Then, on Friday, I heard something more substantive.

I may be a cynic, but I don’t think situations such as this are sustainable. If there isn’t complete trust something will break down. It either needs to be mended, or a decision must be made lest there be ongoing dysfunction.

This impacts upon my role. If something happens to my manager then my position could become precarious. It may also result in a more productive re-structure (logically my role should be reporting to him anyway).

In the meantime I’ve been drafted onto another project to implement a KMS. That will be interesting, and probably secures my tenure to completion (mid-Jan supposedly, but I can’t see how they can get it done by then). This project, as is another I’m a part of, is part of a corporate initiative which I had been proposed to join as a full time member, with pay rise. Nothing has happened with that, but it looks like I’ll be doing the work anyway – just not getting the reward for it.

With Christmas coming up I’m not awfully fussed just now. I’m doing a bunch of things I enjoy, and despite constraints blazing my own path. It’s gone well beyond the point where I much care about toeing the corporate line. As a result I’ve raised informally and become involved in a serious proposal to implement a major initiative to automate many of the current manual processes. As always it’s very much the tail wagging the dog in this place, but I’m learning the political game and have partnered with the Finance manager to champion this (surely my manager would disapprove, but she doesn’t know can’t hurt her).

On top of that I got cornered by some guys looking to implement a continuous improvement framework in the business seeking my counsel and experience. I’ve been happy to share, and they’ve hung off every word. Some of it might be controversially blunt, but it’s practical and correct. Theory is fine, but if you don’t create pathways nothing will ever change.

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