Are They Trying To Make Me Quit?

Question:

I have worked for this company for 11 years. I am now an area manager. I work very long hours, and lately I have not been thought of as a human but as a machine, and it has led to this incident: About 2 months ago, I put in a request for vacation. As I was faxing it, a co-worker noticed I had filled it out wrong. So he helped me to fill it out correctly, and then I faxed it. Now my boss said he never got my request, and tried to verify that I had sent it with co-worker, who helped me. He denied any knowledge of the request. So now it is the end of the year and I will lose my vacation time. I asked at least for my pay for it, but that was also denied. The weather is very bad now. A lot of people are not going to work. I drive at nightlong drives between work sites. I called in one night because of road conditions and I was told, “I drove in it all day. Its fine,” and the following day, I was given 17 sites to care for, ranging from the top of the state to the western most border and to the southern most part of the state. The roads are compact with snow and ice and 2½ feet of snow all over. I think they are trying to make me quit. Any advice?

Signed,

Trying to make me quit?


Answer:

Dear Trying to make me quit?:

Your tale certainly gives the impression that your boss and work organization doesn’t care if they lose you; their rigidity about losing vacation time sounds like government adherence to red tape rules. Your coworker’s denial tells suggests that you can’t depend on him/her. The heavy assignments may be part of your job description as a manager, but it strikes me that your boss lacked of empathy when you called in about the bad road conditions.

Soooo what can you do? Eleven years should have earned you seniority and an understanding of what is reasonable for your assignments. If you think what has happened of late is unreasonable, you must weigh you options. Now with the massive downsizing, voting with your feet is not an easy option. But if you have special expertise that is much desired, you might want to quietly explore jobs elsewhere. Good sense should dictate when and where you drive. What does your policy book and management say about travel in very difficult weather? Surely you are not expected to plow ahead if the roads are not plowed or if they are sheeted with ice. Your good sense should know better than to take dangerous risks. I have skidded across a four-lane highway and crashed into an oncoming car. I know now it was unwise for me to be on that highway. The recent multi-car accidents on snow and ice should tell you and your management that travel no matter what the conditions simply doesn’t make sense. You should be able to speak up for good sense with your boss and management. You are not at war and not driving a tank. So don’t allow yourself to plow ahead no matter what. Write out the kind of road rules you think are reasonable and make a case like a lawyer for them. If your voice is discounted, should you give up? No. You have a voice and you have earned your right to voice. Speak up again up the chain of command–politely, firmly, and professionally. Might you be fired for this? Possibly, but also might you be killed or permanently disabled in an accident driving in bad weather? Your evaluations must have been good or better to be made an area manager. Possibly that kind of job is not the kind of job for you. Have you considered requesting a transfer to a position without so much travel? Did you have the same kind of unreasonable assignments before you were made area manager? If not, wouldn’t less responsibility and less pay be better than the kind of work life you now are in?

Lastly, it probably is true that your boss has rules about when vacation request must be in, but what will you lose if you send a letter and request that the refusal of vacation be investigated and reviewed? Even bad managers and bosses don’t want unhappy workers, especially if those workers have a record of doing good work. Unions were formed because managers took advantage of employees; the assigned unreasonable loads, hours, and life-threatening work. You probably don’t have a union, but you do have a voice. So before you see yourself less than human and voiceless. Speak as you would if you owned the company and could make reasonable rules. Don’t assume that your boss and his/her boss are evil. Assume they want to do what is right and speak that way to them. Speak to your boss, as you would like him to speak to you.

If all else fails, you will be fired or simply give up. Check your best friends to see if this makes sense. Realize that you have to live with yourself and for your family. So only do what you think makes sense. Working with others with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS; and that takes courage.

William Gorden