For those who aren’t paying attention (frankly I’m talking to future self, since there are 2 other people who’ll ever even see this at this rate) I’ve been writing a post FOR every day, but not ON every day. I’m now about a week behind.
I mention this YET AGAIN only because it’s Monday, 2/6 as I write this, having long given up on mapping posts of days to events. So this is really “post 31 for 2017” more than anything.
Probably two months ago, el jefe pulled me into a tiny little conference room for two (they call it “the huddle room” but we call it “the cuddle room” because…duh) not because I was in trouble (he’s rather given up on my personality) but because it was time for Year End Reviews.
He opened up with his piece of paper and his panic, giving me yet again the practiced speech he’d recited during every morning meeting since ‘year end reviews’ came up. It was short, and always went pretty much as follows: “now remember. This is NOT tied to bonuses or compensation in any way. There are just SOME people who’ve said we need to do this” with a smirk that looked like a puppeteer had drawn the threads on the left corner of his mouth too tight. I’ve come to understand this expression of naked derision to mean one of two things: Either “grudging acquiescence”, as when we’d tell him that things were just gonna take longer than he wanted, or “conspiratorial scoffing” (which have about 80% overlap, I understand.) This (these) time (times) it was definitely the latter. He scoffed as if to all but say he thought management was stupid and he was one of us, having to do what The Man (who actually was in the room at the time) told him to do.
I couldn’t help, after every one of these recitations…”Why not?” I’m pretty good at what I do, but I’ve got a lot of wacky blank spots. I actually am interested in the improvement process. I want to know that when I sit down with a manager and go over goals and expectations for the year, that these are going to be tied to a very specific kind of result at year end. I’m not hear because I’m a true believer in The Cause.
So he was saying that compensation was based on some other set of factors that he wasn’t going to condescend to impart. Prick.
I sat there,
not quite glowering at him (oh, who am I kidding) trying to be encouraging because he’s clearly shitting himself at having to have this much of a personal conversation at ALL. He’s the single most conflict averse human I’ve met in a very VERY long time. Which, I have to tell you, is RATHER saying something coming from me.
So he hands me a copy of his 5 little points with the 1-5 scores on them. I looked down, saw “Teamwork” and all but ‘uch’ed right in his face.
Not because of the management buzzworditis.
Because everything was 5/5.
He proceeded to gush at me for 20 minutes about my contribution to the company, etc.
One thing he said that really stuck out as being positively adorable was that “Despite what you seem to say over and over again, you’re really not …uhm… an asshole. The team really respects….” whatever. He went on.
Now this whole thing sounds like a humblebrag, I get it.
But the thing of it is: He was lying. I mean, maybe not about the asshole thing. I put up a good front, but really try to help people and I’m only ever bitching about people in the abstract. I guess he didn’t realize that it was a game I wore on my sleeve, not in my heart.
But he was so terrified of having to have a difficult conversation, that he just made shit up so that he wouldn’t have to.
“Oh, now, you’re selling yourself short again.” Yes, I have that predilection. But no I’m not. I argued him back on working with others; I don’t. I get ALONG with others. But that’s not the same thing. I do all of my work on my own, unconditionally.
I had to argue him back on “timeliness.” My projects can linger for weeks of me being lost, unwilling to provide estimates as I’ve little faith I can keep my focus long enough to accomplish anything.
By the end, I was generally unable to shake him off of his Polyannic assessment. Which was academic as far as compensation goes, so what the hell was the point anyway.
The way things work here is: You set goals, you have a year end review to talk about them and how you’ve done across the board. The result of that assessment multiplied by “how well the company did that year” (a suspiciously vapid metric) equals “compensation increase plus bonus.” That’s how I’ve worked for, shit, 30 years. Except, of course, when I’m a conslutant (…okay, time out. That’s the best fucking typo ever and I’m leaving it…)
And when I say “here” I mean: Modern American, technologically savvy companies. I have no idea how widespread the practice is. I’ve only worked where I’ve worked. But it’s a deep part of the culture where I HAVE worked.
But Christmas was coming and I was driving up to Pennsylvania and upstate New York. People came and went in the office, out for a week here, two weeks there. Nobody much thought of much.
Come January when things are finally settling down, we’re all starting to look around the room with an implied “…uhm…” I don’t remember who said it first. I don’t THINK it was me, but it is the kind of indelicacy of which I make a delicacy.
“So…anybody heard anything about bonuses and raises?”
Nope. Nobody had.
Another week or two goes by. It’s getting pretty conspicuous. That was handled the previous year by mid December. Finally word goes around (covertly) that the first week in February was the board meeting, and it was all getting put off until then.
Yadda yadda, board meeting, bisque. “We’re going to have a party on Friday to make a big announcement.” Well that seemed encouraging. But as the date started to roll up and the ‘party’ was “they’re buying us lunch”, we realized it had nothing to do with the topic of concern.
No no. The big announcement (which I’d theorized was a retirement announcement) was a vapid “we want to recognize soandso’s contribution on the frob project” sentence.
Everything dispersed, nobody quite knowing how to handle the 800 pound gorilla in the room. This is where I’d love to say I pulled up and just blurted something out. But I didn’t.
Friday goes by largely uneventfully, except for a preponderance of static shocks just from the heightened ambient energy.
I get an IM today (Monday, 2/6 remember):
“You didn’t hear it from me.” (I never hear anything from anybody)
“But it was all settled on Thursday, but el jefe didn’t want to have to deal with it, so he asked el presidente to do it for him instead. He delayed so long that raises are going to just go in to effect without a word, but bonuses will be hand delivered checks by el contador.” (and you thought watching Archer wasn’t educational.)
It absolutely fits. All of the puzzle pieces fit into place. The craven fucknut, el jefe, was too afraid to actually be directly involved with something as emotionally charged as compensation, even when it comes down to a raise and a bonus. So he punted, skittering behind his boss and asking him (by text, no less) if he could handle it instead.
Every time I think, and it’s more often than one might expect, that I’ve got someone wrong, or I could stand to give someone another chance, some shit like this happens. I have a lot of bad personality traits. So do most people. But you figure out where those warts are in yourself and them and work around them. But when something so central to someone’s position in your life is the point at which they are the most crippled, it gets very VERY hard to gloss over it.
How can you, in your mid 40s, NOT know that you’re so conflict averse that basic duties of management are emotionally beyond you?
This man is no more well equipped to manage people than I am to give fucking birth. And it makes me. fucking. angry. Every time I look at him. Every decision he won’t make because he doesn’t want to upset anyone. Every time he knuckles under to whoever spoke to him last about an ongoing difference in opinion (oh wait. I’ll get to these one some day soon) I feel, not vindicated or righteous, just disgusted.
Because as craven as he is?
I actually am an asshole.