Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Developments in the Nice Office

I did not explain in my last post that I have an intermediary boss between me and Marmie, the big boss. I will call her Beth. Beth is also extremely nice to the point of detrimenting her herself and her family. She and Marmie are very close outside of work. Marmee went to Beth’s house at least once a week during work hours to see her and the new baby while she was out on maternity leave.

Beth quit her job last week - she chose her real family over Marmie’s work family. She said she was feeling like she wasn’t a very good employee or a very good mom. Beth has three children under the age of five, her youngest less than a year old. She was having trouble with reliable childcare, like I was over the summer. I see this as a bit of a crack in Marmee’s armor, not Beth’s.

Our jobs require being on call 24 hours, so we carry Pocket PCs. This is a device is a smart phone that can do email and take calls. I think there is a lack of boundaries on the use of the Pocket PC, which causes a lack of respect for personal boundaries. For example, if Beth couldn’t find a sitter, she worked evening hours, then emails or calls during the evening to ask questions or ask me to do something for her. I wouldn’t mind this so much if we were on the same schedule. I have had to nicely say no, or I will get back to it when I am in the office.

The purpose of carrying these devices was to be able to support our clients and employees after hours. In other words, in case of emergency. Unfortunately, I have been supporting my bosses more than anyone else. This is a real problem for me, especially since my job is only part time. When I took this job, I had plenty of naysayers who said part time management is impossible. The term part-time management is an oxymoron, they said. I worked hard to prove to them that it can be done. I am finding out that they might be right. I’m not ready to give up on it though.

Part-time management could be done better with a few more boundaries added to the job description, especially concerning the use of the Pocket PC. We need some criteria that define an emergency. I like the emergency management definition in Bismarck, SD – it would fit well where I work. After all, the reason that most people choose part time work is a boundary in itself. They can’t work more than the hours that were advertised for the position. There are lots of part-time management jobs out there, but I haven’t seen any part-time management jobs that are also on-call jobs.

Usually I have put in my hours for the day when I get these evening emails. I put out a schedule on a Monday for the week. I try not to bother anyone at home before sending an email or making a call on the Pocket PC to another manager, by looking at their schedule before making a call or asking a favor. If they are supposed to be off, I ask myself can it wait until tomorrow. Usually it can wait a while longer.

Beth is going to stick around at Marmee’s plea to do some analysis and reporting and phase herself out when she is ready. She will continue to work evenings while her husband cares for their children. Meanwhile, the person who I used to supervise is now going to be my new boss. I will call her Denise.

Denise should have had Beth’s job (and mine) a long time ago. Denise is very knowledgeable and organized. Denise does not have a college degree, but she has been doing the job for a long time and is the natural choice for a leader. She is also extremely nice and has trouble saying directly what is on her mind. She often goes to the supervisor to complain about something that could have easily been said directly to me. I think it is because she feels inferior that she doesn’t have a degree. I think I will tell her a lot how much I value her knowledge and that I am very comfortable with her being the supervisor because of her expertise.

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