First Time In 20 Years I Hate Going To Work

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a Director’s deadlines :

I’d like to describe for you the current situation at my workplace, and ask for any advice you can offer. I work directly for an Area Director of Management with a “dotted line” to a new Corporate Area Director of Technology. It is this dotted line and the Director of Technology that I am having a problem with.The ADT sets unreasonable deadlines, schedules conference calls, out-of-town meetings and Gant Charts/projects which monopolize my time, making it impossible to do the duties required by the ADM. He lauds his “corporate designation” as his right to first dibs on my time. Also, the ADT consistently calls my home after hours (sometimes from a local bar where he has been spotted by numerous employees) with petty questions and concerns that are able to be addressed during work hours, makes job threats that if his “deadlines aren’t met heads will roll,”, these deadline are consistently 30 days earlier than our corporate deadlines which has been pointed out, to the response that “this is his system, not corporate’s.” This behavior has made it impossible for me to perform my duties effectively and caused undue stress at home as well at as work. For the first time in 20 years at this company I hate going to work. What legal recourse, if any, do I have in this situation? Thank you.

Signed, Divided

Dear Divided:

Yes, the situation you describe is a difficult and frustrating one. It’s something I’ve been through and it was very tough. They’re some things that might help, if you haven’t tried them. Is your company a smaller one, say under 100 people? These things are more common in smaller companies (often less formal and prone to create these blurred boundaries), though they can occur in larger organizations as well. The fact that you have been there 20 years might be very helpful. You also seem to understand the problem and have credible information to offer about it. That should help too.

First, do the different managers know that you are torn between them? And especially, does the ADM, whom you work directly for, know that the ADT is interfering with your regular work duties? That’s the first place I would start, if he or she doesn’t already know about the severity of the problem. Ask if there is anything the ADM manager could do to create a more effective work flow/assignment policy.

Second, if the ADM already knows about the problem and has no suggestions, who else is in a position of authority that you trust? Do you have an HR department? Is there another person in management you know that would be sympathetic to the problem? If so, document the problem as you have here, and continue to document what’s happening.Try to explain that you can’t be productive because the managers are competing for your time, pulling you in different directions. Ask if the two managers could work out a plan to give you a more reasonable working situation–it’s really a problem between them. Are the ADT more aggressive and the ADM more low-key? Have you ever asked to meet with the two managers and stated directly that you can’t function with them fighting for your time and to work out a better plan?

Third, it sounds like there is a problem with the ADT. The fact that he calls you at home, after hours is troubling and a possible sign of inappropriate behavior–especially with the threats and possible harassment. Overall, it sounds like you might be experiencing a possible hostile workplace situation. Does your company have any guidelines on that? It is generally not allowed, except in case of emergency. Maybe the company owners or executives could create some written guidelines. Many states also have rules and guidelines about that. You can contact your State Department of Labor and see if they have any advice or help for you. Also, the EEOC might offer some insights: www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html.

Fourth, Is there any possibility that you could be reassigned? I don’t know if your skills are more specific to the area of if there might be other areas where you could work more effectively. Have you talked to your ADM about that possibility, assuming they know about the problem? Or, could your title be changed to reflect more specific duties or assignments? It sounds like the ADT isn’t very responsive to the issues. Have you ever talked to him directly in a non-problematic moment about the stress and difficulty it is causing you? Have you made any suggestions to see if that helps? I don’t know all these details so I’m guessing. Maybe some of the ideas or questions will be helpful. Let us know if things improve.WEGO knows how we can all work together more effectively.

Steve Carney