September 3, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm

When I was being interviewed for my current job there was a woman who often came out to tell me ‘they’ would be with me shortly. I assumed she was the design department administrator. However after I started working she was the one who gave me a to-do list for the day. If I got up and chatted with other people in the department she would inquire, “OTRgirl, what are you working on now?”

Um, obviously, nothing at the moment!

I didn’t know where I stood in relation to her. She acted like my supervisor though that didn’t seem right. Our creative director (HeroMan) is someone who lives in LA and comes into the office two days a week. For those two days he’s usually in meetings or pitching things to clients, so he has very little interaction with those of us in the department.

I call this woman, “Stressed-out Eeyore”. She creates negative spin and can make a tempest in ANY teapot. Throughout the day she gets up to tell every single person in the whole department every single detail of the latest installment of whatever drama. And then often repeats herself. I can’t tell if she does this until she gets the answer or the sympathy she wants, but it drives me CRAZY! I feel like I’ve been slimed by the end of most days.

On Friday, she took a day off. I felt like the holiday weekend started early! While she was gone the two other designers both pulled me aside to tell me that she’s NOT my supervisor and I need to stop letting me treat me as if she were. She is just the traffic manager and is stepping into HeroMan’s void. She needs to be told to Back Off. They both said a variation on, “You are a fully qualified designer, you can manage your clients however you want and she should not be telling you what to do. I haven’t wanted to interfere but I can’t stand to see how she’s treating you.”

The day before she left, Eeyore created a show-down with the creative director. We’ve all been frustrated that he isn’t around much. She called for an all-staff meeting with him and fought with him over the phone about how neglected we all feel. She pulled everyone in the pit with her. I’ve never complained about him, I’m just riding it out and trying to let things sort out on their own, but she started telling him how I would need extra help because I have these two shows coming up, blah blah blah. Huh? I can ask for help if I need it and so far, I don’t. Thank you very much.

I’m concerned that the meeting where she expects all of us to jump on HeroMan is going to turn into all of us jumping on her. It feels like she’s setting herself up for a pick me or pick him option. None of us plan on going down with that ship.

Ahh, conspiracy theories, gossip and back-biting, what would an office be without them?


Rachel said...

That sounds like a hornet's nest. Maybe you could think through some sort of neutral ways to tell her to back off before you see her again? I don't envy you.

Inkling said...

Oh man, those situations are never fun or easy. It sounds like she really wants to be known as a leader, but has no idea how to do it in an intelligent and healthy way. Too bad there's not really a kind way to tell her to "back off" while giving her a book on leadership and healthy working relationships. Ugh. Eyeore people are so hard to deal with, primarily because they have such a knack of making you feel guilty for their attitudes and problems. You'd think they would want to figure out how to stop carrying around such a cloud with them all the time, but maybe they like the dark drama.

As for the comment on my climbing post, you were actually in my thoughts most of the day Saturday. The little picture you used to have on your profile reminded me strongly of a picture of a woman sailing up this climb at Squamish about 15 years after she had done the first ascent of it. Every time I look at that picture, you come to mind. I kept wondering if that was you. While common sense told me it wouldn't be, because you would have been on the East coast during that time, and the publication of the picture would have been too long ago for it to be you, my imagination still stubbornly thought it could be you. You and JRex would have fun in the Squamish area, even if he isn't into climbing. And maybe, just maybe, you could convince him to give it a try. That is, if you could tear him away from his research. Then again, one look at Squamish, and wild horses might not be able to drag him back to his research. =) I sure hope you get to go climbing again someday. There is something so special about that pursuit. I love the fact that someone like me - someone totally timid, uncoordinated, and incompetent at organized sports - can actually find success at climbing. The personal challenge of it also is a draw, and it's nice that it doesn't have to be about competition or winning and losing. It can be so empowering, and the internal lessons and analogies to life seem never-ending. Here's hoping you get to go climbing soon!

Sandra said...

I hate when you start a new job and you don't alrady know the people's personalities.

I don't know if you'd be interested, but, Max Barry (author) is having a design an energy drink can contest on his website.

Anonymous said...

I hate that office stuff, thankfully, I don't have it at my job, at my old job it was overkill, Hated it, and I've been in the meetings like the one you're talking about coming up, ugh!ugh!ugh! Good luck staying out of the fray and standing up for yourself:)

Mama Nabi said...

Is there a conspiracy out there that makes sure every office gets an Eeyore type? That's so weird that she's not even your supervisor... hmmm, plot will thicken, I assume (as I catch up!)