A few weeks back, I was quite frustrated at work because it appeared my manager would ultimately gazump everything I set out to do. It felt as if she resented me doing these things, even though it was my job.
There were many examples of that, some of which became quite amusing – such as the time I had done 80% of an initiative when she decided to do her own version of it. I sat there as she spoke to a guy upstairs explaining what needed to happen, then floundered as he asked some well-considered questions about it. It got so that she stood up and asked if anyone had the information he was asking for. I considered remaining silent, but piped up: “actually…” and I handed over a comprehensive briefing document I had prepared as part of my work.
A minute or two later, she stood up again, pleading for help. I waited a beat or two then piped up again. “Here you go,” I said with a smile to her questioner, handing him a calculator I had created as well. Of course, what happens now is that he will take my work, complete the job as required, and she will claim the credit.
At one stage this riled me up. Frustrating as it was, it was the ethics of it that really troubled me. I would put in most of the intellectual work before she would swoop in and, in the words of Beyonce, “put a ring on it.”
Then I let it go. It was making me unhealthy, and one day I figured there was no future in it and decided just to let it go. Be it on her conscience. Let her God deal with her. I would do my work as ever and refuse to be drawn into it. Not as if I could do much about it anyway. I felt immediately better.
Then today I had a much-delayed one on one meeting with her. There was no unpleasantness, but it left me feeling very sour.
My theory had been that she felt under pressure with a new boss and wanted some credits in the bank, which is why she came over the top of my work. I think there’s some truth in that, but there is a more fundamental reason also. She is a bit of a control freak. She wants hands-on, wants to get things done just the way she wants, and, as I’ve experienced many times before, can’t help but interfere.
There’s something very egocentric in this. She’s one of these people who uses ‘I’ when a ‘we’ or an ‘us’ or something less specific would be better used. It’s not necessarily claiming ownership of these things – though it sounds like it; rather it is the way she views things, from the first person-specific.
Even though I have let things go, there remains a tension in our relationship. I’m a strong character too. There is something of the control freak in me also, but in this case, at least I can excuse it as she’s interfering in my work, rather than the other way around. She knows that I’m not as compliant as the others who work for her. I have my own opinions. Sometimes I’m forceful, and mostly I’m confident. I respect ideas more than I do titles.
It happened again today, and the problem is (among many) is that she does from a position of power, but not knowledge. She’s a smart woman, but this is my profession, not hers. I don’t have all the answers, but I understand the process to get them. I start ambivalent. I’m not a dilettante, I’m a professional. And so it’s very frustrating having to deal with what I think are uneducated directives.
Then there was a moment when I was explaining how I planned to sit tomorrow with someone to listen to their customer conversations and understand how they go about their job. She looked at me, sceptically. “What benefit is that going to give me?” she said. I took a deep breath. It starts with knowledge, I said. I need to understand something first before I can look to change or enhance it.
It’s an elementary concept, and a void opened in me having to explain it. Suddenly I realised there was little future in this relationship. If she cannot understand this, then there is a whole world of knowledge we have at odds. And if she continues to question and look to dictate all I do, constraining me from other activities, then there can be no productive future.
I already knew this in a way, but I had put it off. Now I felt it in my chest.
About the time I decided to ‘let it go’ I also decided to set myself to get a new job by March next year. It was simple to me. Life is different things to different people. For me, it’s about experience and learning. Cliché as it is, it’s a journey, and I’m conscious of starting in one place and progressing through time and location. I’ve been lucky, I’ve experienced a lot, bad as well as good, and though I’ve forgotten a lot, I still retain much of what I’ve learned along the way.
I’m not learning anything here, though, and the experience is mediocre. I haven’t got the time to waste.