Weird, how a week or two ago I was filled to the brim and overflowing with stress and anxiety and this week? Total turnaround.
If you didn’t read the posts and wish to spare yourself, I wrote three posts; one about how stressful my workplace is and the bosses that make it all the more difficult; one about my son and his disabilities – looking forward to the future and having his abilities retested and so much raw reality hitting us all at once; and finally, there was a post about family, my general health and the stress connected there.
A while back, the bosses were eating me alive on a daily basis. I had many days that I ended up in tears in my office, scrambling to get everything done. I worked many free hours, and was ultra exhausted, trying to keep up. Dayne had some very late nights at work so I was stuck being the only caregiver for Colt and that made it all so much harder. I used the time to clean though, and wow did I ever get this house clean. Last week I ended up being the on working late and Dayne picked up nothing at all so it’s all still sitting here waiting for me, but my back is hurting so much today I don’t think I’ll bother. Small burst seem to work best.
Anyway, the bosses. Boss number one, the aggressive one, lost a close family member at the end of last week. Not only did I take over everything I could for her, the support team and I managed to attend most of the meetings, rather than cancel. It was hard and I had a lot of my own job to do, but in the end, it all (mostly) got done and she thanked me so sincerely I nearly fell over. One of the other coordinators and I went to the viewing on Friday together, through the day so it would no be so busy, and the hug this boss gave me was so real. She held onto me when I tried to pull back….that kind of hug. She whispered in my ear a thanks for keeping things okay at work and for letting her take care of life without worrying about the rest. This is extremely unheard of with this woman..she is the Queen of Micromanaging and spends half her time checking over every task everyone else does just to be sure sure sure it’s all as she’d like it to be. I got over that years ago, feeling untrustworthy and like she was hunting for mistakes, but she let go of everything and handed it over to the three of us, my colleague, my other boss and me to take care of. Mind you, when she comes back on Tues there might be hell to pay but I was there at the right time and to me, that’s what I’m proud of.
This department that reports to her had a conference last Wednesday that went off really well. The staff loved it and even the catering was great. My boss got a call on her personal cell mid way through the event to be told about her family member entering the ICU and she left the conference, letting my colleague and I run the show until it was over. The one thing she did before she left was awarded the “Staff Recognition” awards we hand out each year. They nominate their colleagues and we usually have one winner and two nominations that had enough votes to be considered ‘runner-up’. First runner up…as expected; a staff member who has had some amazing achievements over the last year; becoming an associate professor at the medical school, heading a few very good studies and authoring several papers. Second runner up was being announced and the boss was doing her little slide show thing, highlighting the great things done by this person, when I heard something about Excel and HR stuff….welcoming to new staff, a dependable, knowledgeable and talented person who went way above and beyond to ensure the program was run like a well oiled machine….and then she called MY name. I was in the middle of jamming a nanimo bar into my face, camera ready to take a photo of the winner (I was the photographer for the event) and I barely knew what to do. The place erupted with cheers and applause, like I’d just been nominated for an Emmy and I gratefully accepted my certificate that was delivered with a GIANT hug from the boss. I later discovered that she had pushed my nomination up so I would win. **here come the floods of empathy** It was the next day her family member passed and then all of the previous info happened so, for now, I feel very lucky to work with the team I have and I feel deeply appreciative that the boss went out of her way to make sure I knew I was respected…even by her.
There was another entry, some time ago, about the second boss, the passive aggressive one, who came into my office mid-morning and tore me a new one after she got bitch slapped by boss number one. She took every drop of frustration out on me, reducing me to sobbing tears, trying to calm down and remind her of how much work I had been trying to keep up with. It was all over an unscheduled meeting, by the way….and not an urgent one in the least. She did apologize…twice that day and then we met to discuss how to work better as a team. She’s been pretty understanding since then and delivered a flower with a card the following week thanking me for all I do for her. She wrote that she realized how she sometimes forgot how much I do for her on a daily basis and wanted me to know I was appreciated and she was very thankful to have me supporting her in any way possible. It mended fences. Nothing else has changed in my workload, aside from making it less possible to accomplish, but the gestures were appreciated very much.
So. Work is okay again. For now. I have no expectation that things will go perfectly but the fact that they both went out of their way to make me feel appreciated (whether it was a plea to not turn them over the HR or otherwise) helped greatly.
The best part of last week, even though I was working nonstop for up to 12 hours a day, was that everyone in the department of staff who pretty much hate boss number one, all cared enough when she suffered a family loss. It’s been said over and over again … she’s a crappy boss, but still a pretty good person. We ended up collecting over 500$ for her – some went to a gorgeous flower arrangement for the viewing and funeral, filled with flowers from the country the family originated from. The support team and I went in on a gift certificate to a lovely nursery so she could pick out and plant a tree or flowers in her garden in memory of her loved one. The rest has been transferred to a pre-loaded VISA card so she and her family can donate to whatever charity they wish, in whatever denomination. There are five cards I’m collecting on Monday filled, inside and back, with messages from her staff. She’ll feel loved….that one is for sure. Many, many people went to the viewings and it felt like family; in fact, the flowers we sent had a card attached that said: With love from your (Department name) family.
Just that moment of watching so many people drop their grudges to reach out to a fellow human in need melted me. I’m so proud of the team….she treats a lot of them rather poorly in the workplace but each of them recognized the pain of losing a loved one and wanted to be a part of the healing we were trying to provide her.
We’re all the same after all. Under the walls we use to cover our fears and the behaviours we adopt to do the same, we still all love and with love comes loss. When people rally together to support one soul who has lost another….it’s pretty magical.
Update on Colt coming up next…..
Where shall I start?
Well, first, I’ve just arrived home after throwing my hands in the air and leaving work 30 minutes early after a terribly unproductive meeting with one boss who couldn’t get out of the room fast enough, after having spent an entire day in meetings for them (FOR them, not with them) and then got back to a smiley bitchy boss who, oh so kindly, told me that everything in last fiscal year’s info on workload measurement was fucked. This is a point of contention between me and my bosses. I am tasked with ensuring the staff are accurately capturing their workload which is reported to the Ministry of Health (who allocates our funding in this socialized healthcare system we hold so dear in Canada – and SHOULD, mind you, in my humble opinion). I accept this willingly and I’m very, very careful when I audit to ensure we’re accurately reflecting the right numbers so that we don’t suddenly get our funding decreased. I happen to like a great deal of my coworkers and really have no desire to eliminate their job because of an entry error. Now, one would think it would be their accountability to ensure they are entering their numbers correctly but that’s an argument with one boss and a bitter point with the other. They like ME being the accountable one. Okay….I’m alright with that. I really am. It’s a part of my role and it has to be done by someone so I really, honestly, truly don’t mind spending three days slaving over the numbers to make sure we’re not missing anyone or counting things twice thanks to some student or new staff member….it’s all good. But here’s the catch: I have way too much to do in the rest of my job to get even half of it done on time and I have to drop everything to audit once a month. Logically, the bitchy boss tells me this has a simple solution…..just don’t do so much work for the second boss and audit twice a month. It sounds great in theory, until applied to boss number two (who actually does a lot of her own stuff, knowing the venom of number one).
Stopping. Breathing. Focusing.
The point here, is that it’s a shit-ton of auditing and I can barely squeak out a freaking bathroom break in my day, let alone a full half month audit. I go in early, I sit down at my desk, I work like a fiend, occasionally eating or drinking something one of my awesome coworkers brings me out of fear that I’ll die of starvation in my glass cage of an office (okay, a bit dramatic. I do bring food and have the ability to make tea so I’m not totally their prisoner) and then I look up and I’ve missed my lunch and it’s suddenly time to go home. Actually, it’s almost always 30 minutes after it’s time to go home. I only leave because I have to pick up Colt….seriously. If I didn’t have that to do, I’d likely be there until the next day….every day.
I’ve had so many meetings about this in my three years there it’s sickening. They KNOW i’m overloaded. They admit it. They tell the staff not to talk to me because I’m too busy to even say hello (yes, seriously, that is a standing agenda item on one of the staff meetings). The two bosses HATE everything I do for the other so it’s a bit of a game between who I tell what and Heaven help me if I happen to get dragged into a project for one and then don’t have the time to listen to the other one complain about their day while I’m trying like mad to get payroll in, audits done and my ten page to do list started. I have 300 unopened email in my inbox. Of those, I have something to do with about 90% of them (add this to that list or move this to that folder or change this to that schedule or budget this to that cost centre etc etc etc). Every day at least ten people say to me:
“Did you get that email I sent you?”
I smile. I answer. “Probably, yes, I’m sure it’s somewhere in there.” and just hope they go away.
Everyone understands. The staff are amazing….they constantly rally behind me and try to make a difference but the end issue is that my bosses aren’t really just assholes who want to take advantage of me, they have no funding allocation to help me. I know this because I do the fucking books too.
So back to today – The one boss came to me and informed me, smiling but not really, that ALL of her *particular stat I shouldn’t mention for confidentially* are WRONG for the last fiscal year. Funny thing that. The stat she’s talking about is audited monthly by my predecessor who only came back as a casual after retiring to help me out because she felt so bad about leaving me with that mess of a job. I don’t know what the hell is happening, but I know it’s not her. This puts me in a bad spot because I have to tell the bosses that she is the one doing the audits. I don’t want them blaming her because ultimately it’s my responsibility to ensure it’s all done correctly. So….I get to have a meeting with them so we can sit down, go over the audits (for the tenth time) and identify (for the tenth time) which ones absolutely must be done before the month closes so it doesn’t affect our budget. I’ll do it (for the tenth time) and tell them (for the tenth time) that the reason I can’t get them done along with the other 11 general and 200 staff audits along with the rest of my role for the two of them. And, we hit deadlock again…no funding. No help. No solution. I know it’s not them, but there is definitely an element in there that is me not fixing this problem. I don’t know what else to do but tell them, again, that I can’t do what they are asking of me and show them again the number of free hours I put in, trying hard to do what I can.
The mental health part of me that malfunctions here is that I feel like a failure when they are pissed off….and they are always pissed off. I can’t seem to get them to communicate and when I do manage to get them on the same page, they just start fighting against each other. I went from one, simple payroll system to two terribly divided systems with multiple issues and access points that is confusing everyone and they both insist that it is intended to HELP me somehow and get the timekeeping off my over full plate. Now, not only do I have a bunch of payroll to enter, I also have a half dozen timekeepers messing up everyone’s pay, asking me questions ten times a day (by email, which I can’t get to) and a whole bunch of irritated staff who feel like they’re being micro-managed. It’s chaos betwen those two. They don’t even have anything to do with each other aside from having to share me as an assistant so it comes as no surprise….just a lot more work for yours truly. I’m not even sure how I’m managing to get anything done, at this point.
And…..that’s just work. The rest of my life is still ongoing and I can’t quite find any solace there either. (to be continued next post…..)
This cutie sang his song all through the rain showers today. I could hear him from inside the house (the windows are open because it’s lovely out, despite the rain, and we want to smell that turkey cooking outside on Dayne’s smoker. The entire neighbourhood smells like my dinner and it’s such a kick to hear them walk by saying “Oh that smells sooooo good!” 🙂
I feel a little weird, smelling a delicious turkey cooking while enjoying another of it’s species singing away in the trees, but….life right?
I’m so glad I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. Another day will be spent around the house, relaxing and maybe a run out somewhere pretty for more photos. The camera is taking away the stress from work…..I become absolutely present in that moment before the shutter snaps; nothing matters but the beauty in front of me for a few seconds. It’s important to me and was badly needed. I spent one day in tears in my office last week but it was more a matter of one boss taking a swipe at the other one, where upon the weaker of the two sprinted to my office to take it out on me. She had me sobbing by the end. She’s the type who will say stupid things that she already knows the answer to so that you feel like you’ve done something wrong. She told me she had NO IDEA what was keeping me so busy at work since she was not giving me much in the way of additional tasks while spoiled/snotty number two was on vacation for a couple of weeks.
“You can’t honestly stand here and look me in the eye and pretend you have no idea how much work comes through this office?” I tried her a bit. Pushed back.
Her arguments were crap and were easily dispelled by the dozens of meetings we’ve had on the topic of my job (just the running of the two departments, without the ‘additional tasks on top’) being far, far more than what can be accomplished in a 40 hour work week. But, even though I stood my ground and allowed her to vent her frustrations all over my office, she eventually got to me and broke down, sobbing. In the end, which didn’t take long to come after I easily showed her exactly what work I had accomplished in the previous 10 days (more than seems possible, I assure you) and then she apologized, told me that was not the way she had intended to handle the situation and started backing out of my office.
“If it’s any consolation, she comes at me like that at least once a week.” I said, making damn sure she knew I knew what was going on.
“No, actually, that only makes me feel worse.” was her reply as she closed my door.
I collected myself and returned to my endless list of tasks after completely covering the little window in my door that people peek through to see my face. They could all see me from the floor to ceiling windows behind me, but it’s the door window that gets the most peek ins. I locked my door and plastered pink paper requesting privacy as I was very busy. She came by, knocked, then went to get her keys after I didn’t answer. She came in to apologize again, several times; now in tears herself. I barely looked at her aside to say “Okay, thank you.” and kept working.
I know the other boss is hell on wheels when she’s pissed about something, but the fact that boss number one can’t even stand up to her and had to come ruin my day over getting her ass whipped by the taskmaster just shows bad leadership, judgement and emotional intelligence. Mind you, my bawling episode wasn’t exactly professional but the shit she was accusing me of! It was ridiculous.
The worst part was what the entire thing was over: a meeting I didn’t book. A fucking meeting. No word about the hundreds of things I DID get done….just one meeting that didn’t get booked. The other boss ended up doing it (taking all of 60 seconds from her day) and was mad about it. Enough so to attack the other one who MUST be who is keeping me so busy. ??? We’ve been over this ground so many times. I wish I could retire. Only what? 15 years to go? *Sigh*
Anyway. Back to the present and the delicious smells of turkey, stuffing, gravy, baked potatoes, steamed brussle sprouts and roasted rosemary carrots. It’s a heck of a lot nicer in here than rolling those thoughts around my brain.
Here’s another few lovely photos from one of my recent photo excursions:
Ahhhh now that was a nice morning. You know when sometimes things just all come together and you end up feeling rather supported and whole again? This week has been wearing me down to the bones. Well, hah, month/year, really. Work is impossible and continues to get more impossible as the days go by. I’ve adopted a new stance after going’s on over the last week where one boss hammered me into building an entire website while the other left me pretty much alone, thinking she was helping me resolve the overflow of workload to let me catch up. I don’t like to play one against the other but by the end of it all I had an entire website created and populated with dozens of policies, procedures, guidelines, medical directives, staff resources, order sets, directories and pager listings galore. I had all the teams split and reporting payroll and vacation time weekly….there were some excel formulas so complicated I’m not sure I could even repeat them, but fuck it, there it is….you can now enter your shift and my spread sheet will auto-calculate your hours, unpaid breaks, flex time, benefit hours, patient workload, attendance ratio, treatment ratio, service and non-service time percentage and will even tell you the time frame you have left to take your accumulated stat holiday banked hours, paid and non-paid vacation, and accumulated flex time. There’s a nice rolling total too which will help when I have to pick through the finances at the end of each month.
It took overtime hours to get that up, for which I will not be paid as I have maxed out my flex time bank again. Whatever though, it was worth it to get her off my back about it…..or so I thought. The very day it went live (after she fucking deleted all my fucking files that were originally linked to redirects on the website effectively making half the shit up there not work) she sat down in my office to nitpick over the font I had chosen for the staff directory. Haha…soooo whatever. It was up, it was current and all documents were up to date, reformatted into better shape and it looked good too. After that, she wrote out her announcement to the staff about how we were finally able to launch (she actually wrote “finally” in her announcement…(sigh)) and then called me to ask me to do something specific when, after the mention of a meeting came up, she decided to take the opportunity to remind me of the other meetings she’d asked for that I hadn’t yet booked, like her meeting with a small set of staff over at the other campus that she has quarterly. ??? Seriously? There’s a secretary over there who knows the staff’s schedules and does NOTHING all day but, after taking up my entire weekend and week with her stupid, redundant website (all the info I put up there is already out there available to staff on our shared drive. It’s just that most of the staff don’t know how to click on the fucking S in the drive list to find what they need. Yes, I’m serious. I had to gather all that info to make it ‘easier’ for the staff to find) she wants to start picking at me about a staff meeting she’s been waiting a month for me to book???? I’ve SEEN her make her own meetings many times….why she’s just left this one floating so she can bother me about it is beyond comprehension.
So, the other boss, now realizing that my free time that she’s given me by taking on more work herself has been eaten up by the first boss, is now on me to get all of her stuff done. As I was struggling yesterday to get that done, plus stats audits and the rest of my too-goddamn-busy job, the first one comes in and asks me about what we will do over this period of time where the part time secretary role at the other campus is being covered. You see, part-time-do-nothing secretary has found herself a new job out of sheer boredom, I’m sure, and now there’s a vacancy. The boss decided to take my casual, who is the only reason I get payroll and stats audits done each month, and have her fill in there, making her totally unavailable to come help me. This will go on until May because the boss is taking two weeks’ vacation at the end of April and can’t interview people. (I’m tempted to apply. Seriously. If I can find another part time job and keep my benefits and pension I’m doing it.) So, not only will the girls here and I not get vacation this summer unless I am willing to cover them at registration (cries…no one covers me..), I can’t get any help while the casual sits across town doing nothing. THEN….oh then….the boss comes to me yesterday.
“Uh Grainne? Oh…hahaha…look at this. You’ve closed and locked your office door like we told you to and here I am walking right in anyway. Sorry. I’m sorry.”
(I had closed my door in the morning but the two of them just kept coming in so I locked it in the afternoon. They started bringing their keys after that.)
“So..Grainne. I’m sorry…I know you’re really busy but with *secretary* gone and *casual* covering, I have some access requests I need to get done before the next set of students start. Can you do those for me? Today? I did one but now I can’t find the form anymore.”
The online form. She can’t find the online form she found only moments before to do the first one and….okay. Whatever. I contemplated getting the casual access to the management side of the network but the hassle involved would take longer than doing the fucking thing myself, so, I did all the necessary paperwork to get the students cleared to work in the hospital.
“*Boss?” I tried to ask in a friendly tone. “Do you think it a good idea to get *casual* ordering access for the other site – just so she can take care of equipment and supplies without having to go through me while she’s covering?”
“Oh, well. We’re pretty lucky that she’s agreed to cover the hours. I don’t want to take advantage of her.”
My jaw literally dropped. WHAT? THE? FUCK?!! You don’t want to take advantage of HER? What the hell makes that your go-to when all you do is take advantage of me??? So you’ll put all that additional work on my over-full plate just so the casual doesn’t feel taken advantage of? Holy hannah…. I nearly hit her.
*Breathes iiiiiiiiiin Breathes ouuuuuuuuut*
It’s now Wednesday and I’ve not started payroll that closes Friday morning. I closed my door upon arrival and posted a sign that said: “If you’d like to get paid, please do not disturb” lolol. It works like a charm for the staff. The bosses….not so much. They’re both in meeting now though so I’m taking the moment to vent my frustrations.
Oh, the good part! Back to the beginning of this post 🙂 I had three staff members stop in to say hello to me this morning and all three came to see how I was doing and to ask how things were going. I don’t complain to many here….I’m not stupid enough to put my job in jeopardy….but these guys can see I’m struggling. Two came in because they were worried aggressive-boss was mad at them for something. One was near tears when she told me about how the boss had yelled at her because she titled a vacation request email “vacation request”. The boss wanted it to be called “Time off request” (only because that’s what she happened to search at the time when she got caught with her pants down and likely told the other managers that the staff member had made no such request and went to prove it by searching her email). There was an email war that waged for a few days, back and forth. I shared my story about how we recently had a 25 minute argument over the name of a file that’s been called the same thing for the last five years and the staff member felt better.
Talking to the three of them, two of whom made me laugh so hard I nearly choked on my coffee several times (I adore these people) and one who had an even worse story about the boss than I have ever heard….she’s so unprofessional, aggressive-boss. She said the most outrageous things to her staff all the time. After they left I felt better…lighter. I’m human I guess; I like knowing I’m not alone in things and that the nasty behaviour isn’t only directed at me. Several insist on calling it ‘abuse’ and I can’t go there. I’ve know the angrier sort in my life and although my ways of coping with this are definitely linked to my past experiences, it’s really just a shitty work environment. The huge department filled with amazing people who all work under this shitty umbrella, like me, make it worth it enough to deal as long as I can. Both of them are nearing 60 anyway. They won’t be here forever and my career will well outlive theirs.
Now that I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of working for two asshole doctors who screamed profanity at me on the phone, a director who eliminated my job because I was sick, two horrible bully secretaries who made me cry every day (when I first started here nearly 15 years ago) and now, two deranged, miserable women who get a kick out of being in charge, I can take just about anything. I even had a manager who once did nothing but stare directly at my chest every time he spoke to me. Every time. No wavering. I called attention to it and he started avoiding me in every way he could. Happily, I managed to get myself out of there before anything got worse.
Now. Onto to pay a hundred people so they don’t all turn on me when their mortgage payments come due.