One of the things I've finally learned the last few years is to not bury and internalize all my feelings. Like anyone, I still suppress some things, but no longer as a rule. I've not been having fun at work lately. I've been analyzing my frustration and anger the last few weeks.
Well, there's the obvious. I turn fifty next Friday, and that may be bothering me more than I'm letting on to myself. I've had crap going on in my personal life before, much worse just in the last year, but I still enjoyed coming into the office, which makes me think that isn't much of it.
In the latest executive initiatives I've felt the company as a whole may not be moving in the best direction, but I know I have a limited and probably naive perspective so I've always discounted that.
In the latest office move I felt treated without respect. I enjoy sharing an office with another person, and as a result didn't ask for a private office when it was determined I qualified for one over a year ago. I'd have my own office now if I'd requested it at the time, as they were too lazy to do anything but move singles to singles, and shared to shared. We were warned if we asked questions or made any requests that we'd get the worst digs conceivable. The admins were too busy. I met my prospective office mate, and I figured no problem as we got along very well.
Being crammed into an office so small you can't both move you're chairs a couple inches to stand up at the same time made me feel like I have no intrinsic value to the company. I told myself it was nothing personal, then responded to myself that is in fact the problem. We had our desks converted to very small tables, so that was dealt with for now while giving me an excuse to shred all the old docs I'd filed, and my manager offered to switch in a month or so giving us better digs. Right now he is sharing an office too. So this is a temporary situation, but the capricious nature irks me when I've never made an issue about my digs at work out of a spirit of cooperation.
The latest two straws were other matters of respect, but this time personal. I'm working on a couple projects with critical time lines outside my control and created by the parties involved. I actually delayed solidifying my vacation plans until the day before I left as I felt I could delay my visits if needed for either project.
One is a case of a fellow employee attempting to move to another company without a blotch on his record. I sympathise as I assume he is stuck dealing with a vendor that is inflexible rather than an unwillingness on his part. The vendor has been incomplete if not downright inaccurate with their specs. As a result 80% of the work has been scope creep. At one point my manager asked if we should pull the plug. I said I thought we could manage it.
The short timer overreacted to a routine E-mail exchange I had with the tester, thinking a test setup problem meant the sky was falling, and called me thirty seconds after the E-mail. I finally told him after more than ten minutes I couldn't analyze the situation, much less fix it, and fully explain it, while I was being randomized. I tracked down the problem in less than two minutes, and before I even had time to let the tester know how to fix the stale test data she was working with he sends me an E-mail saying if this problem delays the project it will have to be canceled and important people will be bent out of shape. My humor circuit kicked in for that one. I told him I understood the problem, that my personal feeling was we should find a technically competent vendor moving forward, and that I had already prevented my manager from taking me off the project which would have pulled the plug on it. I'm sure he missed the humor, but I expect he got the hint that I'd gone to bat for him to keep the project alive. I haven't heard from him, much less further dire threats without substance for making up for delays which were coming from his arena. He's basically a pretty good guy, and I know the disrespect there was unintentional, just a bit of panic.
The other project is one where I created a design, and some of the internal data consumers needed changes to the design. We came to a nice compromise, I updated the design, got a conditional buy off, which would be confirmed within two days and I coded the solution. Two WEEKS later and several days after my vacation the internal data consumer decides he can't possibly live with the solution. More meetings, in which I am shouted down to the point, where I had say stop interrupting, let me finish my thought so you know what it is I'm asking or proposing, then you can dismiss it. Twice I had to do this. Then I made a technical explanation, and then I made a layman's explanation. Neither was listened to, rather they were willfully ignored resulting in bizarre interpretations. Imagine saying something like, "These shoes are pinching my feet." Then the reply is "You need to walk a mile behind a camel." It was that surreal. Then after being ignored, shouted at, interrupted, and ordered about (by puffins) the most obtusely arrogant of the bunch said, "That was a pretty good meeting, wasn't it?"
I'm good at communicating ideas, but it is a special challenge when there is not a whit of desire to understand or return respect on the other side. I was not able to scale that wall. Virtual shouting matches are not something I find productive or enjoyable, and when I realized it was a pointless exercise I relented. (For anyone familiar with enterprise data systems, having reporting system folks demand data transformations on production systems defeats the whole purpose of having a data warehousing process. It's way beyond idiotic.) A follow on meeting was much the same the next day.
I've coded what seemed goofy requirements from my perspective before. I've run into situations where there was no flexibility from other the side before. It's never gotten me really angry before, just a passing "Geesh." I've never had a situation in this business where I was deliberately dismissed and demeaned. If we weren't up against the wall with regards to meaningful deadlines I would escalate. I might after the fact.
Is this all a perfect storm? I hope so. As a result I haven't been referring people to my employer as a terrific workplace lately, which I usually do all the time. For the first time since I started working here over three and a half years ago I didn't give a recruiting inquiry a polite brush off. As out of sorts as I feel, I'm hoping, expecting it is a short term thing. So I forwarded the opportunity to a few people, and suggested checking back with me in a month. Plus, I have a reminder on my calendar for a month from now.
I am really distressed with the current situation. I've had three and half wonderful years here, and frankly the only reason I put off the recruiter for a month is because of my new manager and my old manager. I've had terrific managers here, and I feel I can be pretty forthright with them. Hence my loyalty to them. Another round of complete disrespect like this last, and immediately I will be active in exploring options despite my high regard for my peers and managers. Once might be an anomaly, twice in a short period of time unacceptable, and if there is a third occurrence I'd better damn well be in the midst of interviews. I know from the past I can't tolerate those who abuse their arbitrary power. I tend to internalize the other person's apparent disregard. I'll never do that again if I can help it. It may be that I lived in that mode of despair for so long that I'm more sensitive to it, and would walk away from an otherwise good situation rather than damage myself. My resume, reputation, and long term goals also preclude letting myself feel demeaned.
The institutional disrespect is easy to deal with. I was in the Navy for ten years, and worse, an IT contractor at Microsoft nearly that long. (Ironically IT folks at MS are treated like crap, and contractors worse -- making me appreciate all the wonderful managers and co-workers I had.) It's the personal disrespect I don't tolerate well.
I pray I'm doing nothing more than venting here. I still remember my first interview round here. I'd left a contract at Microsoft rather suddenly thanks to a political spat, and my manager there felt so incensed about the situation that he proactively got me leads, one which got me to that interview. I was only half interested in starting a new job so soon. I had planned for a bit of a break. As I was waiting for the last person in that interview loop I realized I was getting very excited about the prospect of working here. That certainly bumped up the stakes for me. I was delighted to accept the offered position. That same excitement has been with me for most of my time here. There's the conflict. It creates a great deal of loyalty. It also creates an expectant desire for that kind of a healthy work atmosphere. See the rub? The great environment creates loyalty, but it sets an expectation as well.