30 July 2008

My Big Mouth

Vacation posts are coming, it is just that what has happened since returning from said vacation is much more interesting and important right now. Regular readers know that the office I work for has some interesting personalities. It is also a fairly casual office, the uniform being jeans and sneakers or flip flops. Well, while I was on vacation, someone visited the office looking for the law office next door.  The owner of the law office next door is also TheOwner of our office. TheBoss, our day-to-day manager is out of town for five weeks fishing in Alaska.The visitor informed TheOwner that our office was unprofessional. Which prompted a flurry of stress and a few changes. 

Change one was that all time off such as vacation, absences, sick days, doctors' appointments etc. have to be cleared through TheOwner. Second, if we go to TheBoss first for these things, like we used to do, we will be dismissed. Finally, any conversation not directly related to work had to take place in the break room or the conference room. He told everyone that he was open to a response for two weeks and then he would consider it a closed topic. Monday, when I got back from vacation, I got an earful from everyone. Nearly everyone was prepping their resumes and planning to leave. There was an unspoken agreement not to ruin TheBoss's vacation, although he found out anyway and asked TheBarista what was going on.

Cut to me. I was completely annoyed with the turn of events and, having an eye appointment, I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and send the following:


I have an eye appointment scheduled on ------. I will be using my lunch hour to cover the appointment. I understand that we now have to clear all absences, appointments, sick days, etc. with you.

Since I was out of the office when the new system was instituted, I would like to get your confirmation on what was explained to me as the new system.
  • As stated above, any time away from the office between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM, excepting the lunch hour, needs to be cleared through you via email or phone.
  • If we speak to Mike about any absence mentioned above before we contact you, we will be dismissed.
  • All non-work related conversations must take place either in the conference room or in the break area by the file cabinets. Any such conversations taking place outside these designated areas will prompt our dismissal.
Have I missed anything? I understand that this new system was adopted in response to a complaint about the professionalism, or lack thereof, of our office. I also understand that you are open to a response on this system.

First and foremost, if I had not already given notice that I was leaving, I would be seriously considering my future with this company. While I do not know the details of what occurred, the results of the incident completely undermines any sense of employee well-being for the following reasons:
  • The institution of the new system while TheBoss is gone, combined with your insistence that TheBoss be excluded from any managerial decision-making not only professionally emasculates TheBoss, but puts all employees in a difficult situation. We are forced to choose between ignoring our day-to-day manager and boss or being dismissed by one who is, for the most part, absent on a day-to-day basis. If you have issues with TheBoss's management style or dislike how the office is being run, it should first be discussed between you and TheBoss and then discussed with the employees. It is uncomfortable to be stuck in the middle of an executive-level disagreement.
  • The new system is insulting to your employees. You valued the subjective observations of someone who spent a fraction of an hour in the office and who has absolutely no knowledge of the workings of the office over the record of employees who have worked for you for years and with whom you trust multi-million dollar deals, significant sums of money, and the related bank account information. Either you trust your employees with the future of this company or you don't. We can't do our jobs effectively if our skills, decision-making, work ethic, and integrity can be undermined by one individual.
  • If we did indeed do something wrong, we need more specific direction than 'unprofessional.' What, exactly, did the individual making these accusations find unprofessional? If we have only a vague understanding of what we did wrong, how can we ever hope to fix it? Additionally, without details we can never successfully defend ourselves.
  • I understand that hearing the title company pronounced 'unprofessional' by a valued client would be upsetting. However, the anger and rapidity with which the new system was instituted and the severity of its nature underscore that is was done in anger and with a sense of retribution. This is unjust. It is your company and your investment, but your employees also invest in this company. If we feel we have no recourse or voice we will have no alternative but to leave a place that, up until now, was a fulfilling place to work; a place where we felt valued. That has changed.
I hope that you take my suggestions seriously. I don't know exactly how the rest of the office is feeling, but I think it necessary to tell you how I feel. This has been a good place to work and I have been treated well during some very difficult circumstances. It would be a shame for this company to lose the personality and environment that made it unique.

Thank you,


I sent it at 9 AM yesterday. He apparently got it yesterday evening, as I was promptly dismissed before 9 AM today. I actually feel pretty good about it. I was expecting it, actually. Sure, it would have been nice to have two more paychecks before I leave for school, but I felt it was really important that something be said, and since I was leaving anyway and didn't have a huge pile of bills or a family to support I felt I could be the one to say something. So I'll have a lot more time to do things I enjoy, like blog and read,  and things I desperately need to do, like find a place to live at school. and yard work.  And I promise a vacation blog is next!


katharine said...

wow, that was a mouthful. you go girl!

Katie said...

What a jerk! But, I guess it is a good thing, so congratulations =-) I hope you have time to have tons of fun before school starts. GO YOU!

i i eee said...

*gives standing ovation*

I don't know you, but gosh darn that made me proud.

Treat Queen said...

Holy cow! Well, you certainly stated things the way they are. I hope you enjoy your time off and are able to get everything squared away for school. I wish we could have gotten the reaction of theOwner, that would have been quite interesting.
That was really great, seriously.

Heather said...

Dang girl. I guess we shouldn't have rehearsed that fateful SNL from 2007..

You forgot to call him a great big crabapple.. and inform him that he was off your Christmas list.. the gigantic drip!

I'm sorry you were dismissed.. that is insulting. While I'm sure you're going to be just fine.. maybe even better off in some ways.. what a Jack "A". I think 'unprofessional' hit a little too close to home for him.

Your response was poetry by the way.. standing ovation indeed.

cherbear said...

I can't believe he dismissed you for that. I guess you know now and other employees know how valued they are. Not very. You were just easy to dismiss and make an example of because you were leaving anyway. That also shows how much he values the guy he supposedly put in charge of the place. Man what a jerk. I'm glad you said it. Too bad it fell on deaf ears.

Heather said...

OK.. I totally said SNL from 2007.. But you know what I meant.. 1997.

Anonymous said...

DUDE! What a tool! Guess that means we're both celebrating the end of soul-sucking jobs this week. WOOOO!!!! Way to stick it to 'em.


aquamarine said...

there isn't much more that can be said that hasn't already, but I am proud of you!!! Talk about chutzpa!

~The fount of knowledge~ said...

I am so proud of you! Even though we differ so very much politically, I think we agree on this one...Too many company owners have far too much of an elitist and separatist attitude where they value their employees at 0%. I hope that my own experiences hold true and like some of my former employers who held such attitudes, he finds his company swirling down the drain with no one to blame but himself. Karma, Scully, will save us all!

Scully said...

Thanks for all your support guys! Sometimes you just have to take a stand. And now I'm enjoying a lot less stress and a lot more time to get everything done that needs to be done before heading off to school.

ZB said...

I told Farmboy all about this & he said he'd have him eliminated. So, no worries.

Seriously, we both think that you were right on the money. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Nemesis said...

Wow, holy crap! That's the best email I've ever read. Go you!