Author Topic: Working with people who ooze negativity  (Read 3758 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

HoneyBee42

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 663
Working with people who ooze negativity
« on: May 11, 2013, 10:49:50 AM »
I have really become frustrated lately at work.  To begin with a bit of background, there was some restructuring where our hospital became part of a larger corporation.  I work in the business office side, and there had been questions about business office jobs (like whether they would all move to corporate HQ and anyone not willing or able to move would be out of work or if jobs would stay here).  Well, jobs stayed here, but they are changed.  So everyone who had a job stil has a job, it just is not the same job as before.

The job is, to be honest, not something that thrills me, but I am pretty good at it.  I have also gotten pretty good at just coming into work, going into "work mode" and getting the job done regardless of personal issues.  (Being stalked when I was not at work back when I lived in NYS, for example.). And as one of my more cheerful co-workers points out, "hey,every two weeks, they give me money!"

So, there are work queues we are assigned, and the work is very quantifiable.  Initially, it was more like learning on the job and they didn't stress about quantity finished.  Why would anyone expect It to stay that way?  So about three months ago, they told us we had a quota to meet.  At the time, the quota number was what I was getting done (they had asked us to track our work for a week and a half before we got the quota--again, who doesn't see the quota coming?). I now generally run about 20 to 50% above quota (sometimes I run into a bunch that are the same issue and quick to fix).  To hear some of my co-workers talking, it is just shocking that they are telling us how much work we should do and if everyone would just slow down they would "have" to lower the quota.  I totally keep my mouth shut about how much work I get done, but let's say quota is 6o units a day, my most recent number was above ninety.  I also had zero experience with most of the knowledge content of the job but I have been learning and getting it done.  As I told my supervisor in the first review after the quota was given to us (these reviews were in her office individually), I have a goal.  That goal is to make exceeds expectations marks on all my job review categories when that happens in December.  This is not a zero sum game where only one person can win.

They also said that they were going to crack down on excessive breaks.  We have two 10 minute breaks and a half hour lunch.  I know some people were clocking in, going down to the coffee shop to get something and then taking a twenty minute break later in the morning, a forty-five minute lunch, and another twenty minutes in the afternoon.  Like no wonder you're struggling to meet expectations, KWIM?

Then there's the new thing with mandatory overtime of five hours a week.  They let us do it however we want, so I do two long days and three regular days and it comes out right.  You can also PTO on "core hours" but you don't get paid the OT rate unless you have worked the full 40.  So say you used PTO to leave two hours early, you would get paid 40 hours straight time, 2 hours PTO at regular rate, and 3 hours OT.  Initially, I was having to take PTO regularly due to physical therapy (the physical therapy office almost exactly overlapped my regular hours, but by getting first appointments of the day, half an hour of my hour was before my scheduled start time)--so I asked because I still wasn't done with therapy.  I am now to the point of only doing my home exercises, but it's been three weeks between the start of mandatory overtime and my graduation to home exercises only.  The lady near my desk did the same thing, but didn't ask and when she took a day off, she didn't make the hour of OT up (you have to finish at 45 hours for the week and PTO only can be for your regular hours).  So she got written up, which I only know about because she has been loudly complaining to everyone about how the policy was unclear.  so we had another meeting where this was spelled out again.  Maybe I expect too much, but I think a adult should be able to ask questions of a supervisor and not expect the supervisor to say "Now, NegativeNelly, there's no problem with you taking Wednesday off, but you still need to have your five hours of overtime.  It is not one hour per day but five per week."

So the question is, what can you do when you're surrounded by negativity.  I have had people say things like how they're struggling, and I will suggest some of the tricks I use to organize my work and say something like, "I find I get more done when I (insert specific technique)."  The reply is always "oh that wouldn't work for me (resume complaining)."  Being non committal doesn't work, offering suggestions doesn't work.  Saying flat out that I am tired of hearing the complaints seems rude.  So how can I keep decent work relations with coworkers (obviously why I don't let anyone know how we'll I am doing) and solve the issue of being surrounded by negativity before they infect me with the grumpies?


daen

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 861
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2013, 11:10:40 AM »
If they're constantly complaining, and everything I'd tried wasn't working, I would opt for feeling rude (although, IMO, not actually being rude) and saying "I prefer not to get into this again, thanks,"* followed by bean-dip or departure.

I don't think it's rude to make an I statement about what I prefer not to talk about, especially if I offer an alternative topic of conversation or remove myself (if practical) so that my co-workers may continue their negativity unimpeded by my presence.

*There are probably many better ways of phrasing said I-statement, so I invite any and all E-hellions to improve on this.

Amara

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2409
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2013, 03:29:28 PM »
"You need to decide how you are going to deal with [situation/issue] and then do it. Good luck!"

Miss Marple

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 469
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2013, 05:18:27 PM »
What I would say, is "I am happy to share some of my shortcuts with you if you are interested. Please let me know and we can set aside some time." With the proviso before I offer I check it is OK with the boss to spend the time mentoring. Then the ball is in their court. When they grumble again, I would say "As I offered last week, I am happy to show you some quicker ways, it is up to you. But if you are not interested that is cool." After that I would ignore them. If you say anything no matter how politely about not wanting to listen they will tell everyone how mean you are and turn people against you. As they are not as invested in the job as you are, they have more time on their hands to undermine you.

Unfortunately some people are invested in being victims and not meeting the boss's expectations. It is always someone elses fault never theirs. You are wise to keep your productivity to yourself because if they catch on it will be your fault the quota is so unrealistic.

Just keep doing what you are doing and you will exceed your targets and get an outstanding review.

onikenbai

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1162
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2013, 12:19:59 AM »
If everybody is forced into mandatory overtime to get the work done, it begs the question why aren't they hiring more people?  45 hours a week with very little in the way of breaks grinds you down fast and it's surprising how much it feels like an eternity more when it's really just five more hours per week.  Seems kind of ironic that a hospital is doing its best to promote a work place full of potential for carpal tunnel, back strain and eye fatigue, and has put in measures so that its employees are limited in their ability to take breaks to prevent these office hazards.  I'm not advocating spending your entire life en route to the doughnut cart, but there may be some legit grumbles behind the hours they are being asked to put in.  This would be especially true if you are annual salary employees rather than hourly employees as it would essentially be a big pay cut, but you don't say in your original post what your pay structure is.

Also, what's the deal with the quotas?  Do you get any sort of perk for making or exceeding your quota?  Because if you're there doing 150% of quota on a regular basis and they're still making you do mandatory overtime, it does seem a tad harsh.  I would start looking around for the manacles and a set of oars out the window.  I could understand if they dropped the mandatory overtime if you made your quota for the week, giving you the perk of the shorter week and them the benefit of the volume of work done they expected of you, but to have you exceeding quotas and still requiring the mandatory overtime regardless does seem excessive. 

It sounds like your coworkers are miffed at the hospital playing the "you're lucky to have a job" card and are feeling taken advantage of, and I'm somewhat on their side, although they do sound like they're being whiney and annoying about it, which I do not support.  There isn't a whole lot you can do as it's not likely they're going to change.  I say invest in good headphones and use them if you can.  Good tunes make paperwork go faster.

HoneyBee42

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 663
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2013, 01:18:29 AM »
OK--basically, we are paid hourly, and the 10-minute break (2 per day) and 30 min lunch is standard employment rules (and more than legally required).  When our jobs changed, I got a *huge* pay raise (almost 33%), and we are all (except for the supervisor) hourly people, so the OT actually does mean an increase in pay (even if you do the PTO thing and end up w/ 45 hours at straight time rates).  I don't know how others' pay compares between old/new job, but I do know that it's nearly impossible to replace this kind of income in my area.  I know they're looking for people, but until they announce someone has been hired, I won't know about it.

Basically, the quota is something that I could see coming--what with people taking excessive breaks and all, plus the whiny "it's not the job that I used to have, and the only choice they gave us was take this one or have no job" attitude (true, but then they *did* choose to take the new job), the "if we all do a lousy job, they'll expect less" attitude ... I mean, in an eight hour day, there were some of my co-workers who were *still* only doing about 1/5 of what the quota ended up being.  Honestly, I do think it's normal for there to be expectations, and the fact that I'm able to exceed so much means that it's really not an unreasonable standard.  In essence, what it has come to is this--if you meet expectations, you'll be able to expect about a 2% raise when we do the annual reviews, exceeding expectations will get you around 5%.  What they've said now is that people who fail to meet 80% of quota/goal will be put on an improvement plan (and not improving will end up leading to losing the job altogether).  I'm not sure what would be the case for people who are consistently 80-99% of quota/goal.

Honestly, the job is not that hard and we do have pretty good benefits (insurance, PTO time, etc).  The problem, I think, is that while corporate understood that we'd be slow while learning the job, it did mean that the work was piling up--and people digging in their heels and saying "let's just not try that hard" are not helping it get better.  Honestly--if everyone worked to quota-level, we could probably be out of mandatory OT in about 3 weeks. 

There's no reason why I couldn't get headphones (that is, there's no rule against it), so I may do something like that, just so--if nothing else changes, at least I'm not hearing it. 


iridaceae

  • Boring in real life as well
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3918
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013, 08:06:02 AM »
Change at work is something some people handle better than others. Corporate switched our hotel software last year and we went from a very simple software to a more complex one. A few of the people simply shut down and one was so adamantly against it she basically lost her job because she refused to learn to use it.

You can't help them; they don't want it.

Mikayla

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4076
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2013, 02:04:18 PM »
I just have a very general suggestion:  Do what you can to separate yourself from the pack.  There may be a reward waiting in the end.

What I mean is, find good bean dip phrases to detach quickly. Mainly, you want to cut back on offering help and suggestions.  I say this because, in an atmosphere like this, it leads to one of 2 things.  Either you'll get so good at it that it negatively impacts your own results, or you'll just be spinning in circles absorbing negativity.

Instead, keep your head down, keep working, and also keep gathering intel.  When you reach a point where you can report your general observations, and at the same time offer possible solutions, have a sit down with your supervisor.  It's not about naming names or pointing fingers.  It's about a deteriorating environment that someone will rise above, and it might as well be you.




RooRoo

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 705
  • I’m out of my mind. Please leave a message.
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2013, 04:43:05 PM »
Something I have learned on the forum about dealing with the “powerless” whiners is to respond by asking them what they’re doing to change things. You can do it in a sympathetic tone, or, if you don’t care about what they think of you, in a cool and superior tone. (Not rude. Telling them they’re a bleeping lazy bleep, and too stupid to figure it out on their own, now that’s rude.)

If they ask what they can do (in that powerless-whiny way) you could say something like, “I wonder if we’d have to work all this overtime if everybody took only ten-minute breaks and ½ hour lunches?” Or something more direct. “You and your friends waste about an hour a day taking extra-long breaks. That adds up to 5 hours a week. We have 5 hours a week of mandatory overtime. It’s not a coincidence.”   (**This is something you can use in Mikalya's suggestion.)

CynicalRoo has a warning for you. You now work for a corporate machine. Don’t work too hard.

“They” may look at your consistent earning of merit raises, and decide to save money by increasing the quota.  >:( Or they may “reward” you by firing someone and making you take on their workload, too. “Cause HoneyBee can handle it, no problem!”  >:( Last but not least, you may be kept back from deserved promotion by a manager who doesn’t want to lose you.  >:( All three things have happened to me; most often, the last.

“Fair” is not in the typical corporation’s dictionary. The competent, efficient, productive employee does not get rewarded, unless your corp. has especially intelligent management. Yours seems to - but that can change overnight.

Sorry to be so negative. Feeling whiny myself right now. Working on “accept the things I cannot change.”  :-\
"Someday we must write a book of Etiquette for sensible people," said Mrs. Morland, "though apart from a few rules it really boils down to an educated mind and a kind heart." ~ Angela Thirkell, Never Too Late

Miss Unleaded

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1725
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2013, 04:00:39 AM »
Something I have learned on the forum about dealing with the “powerless” whiners is to respond by asking them what they’re doing to change things. You can do it in a sympathetic tone, or, if you don’t care about what they think of you, in a cool and superior tone. (Not rude. Telling them they’re a bleeping lazy bleep, and too stupid to figure it out on their own, now that’s rude.)

If they ask what they can do (in that powerless-whiny way) you could say something like, “I wonder if we’d have to work all this overtime if everybody took only ten-minute breaks and ½ hour lunches?” Or something more direct. “You and your friends waste about an hour a day taking extra-long breaks. That adds up to 5 hours a week. We have 5 hours a week of mandatory overtime. It’s not a coincidence.”   (**This is something you can use in Mikalya's suggestion.)

I would be thinking those things, but saying them probably wouldn't accomplish anything apart from making the workplace even more negative.  I'd just bean dip.

Quote
CynicalRoo has a warning for you. You now work for a corporate machine. Don’t work too hard.

“They” may look at your consistent earning of merit raises, and decide to save money by increasing the quota.  >:( Or they may “reward” you by firing someone and making you take on their workload, too. “Cause HoneyBee can handle it, no problem!”  >:( Last but not least, you may be kept back from deserved promotion by a manager who doesn’t want to lose you.  >:( All three things have happened to me; most often, the last.

“Fair” is not in the typical corporation’s dictionary. The competent, efficient, productive employee does not get rewarded, unless your corp. has especially intelligent management. Yours seems to - but that can change overnight.

Sorry to be so negative. Feeling whiny myself right now. Working on “accept the things I cannot change.”  :-\

Yes, this.  Sad to say but I think CynicalRoo is right.

AnnaJ

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 741
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2013, 11:48:45 AM »
OP, I work for an institution that currently has a lot of issues and a series of policies that have angered and frustrated most of us - morale is very poor.  There are a few people who are extremely optimistic - lemon into lemonade, glass almost full - and frankly they are as irritating to me as the negative people are to you.  It sounds harsh, but honestly after the last round of shafting students, cutting our pay, adding to the workload, and making four new administrative positions, I have no desire to listen to sunshine talks.

You say that your workplace is just fine and that these whiners are wrong, and that may very well be the case; I suspect they would disagree.  That doesn't mean you should stop being optimistic or that you should start complaining, it just means that you might consider finding a group of people who feel the way you do about your job and spend more time with them.  And probably head phones are a good idea too.

Roe

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6474
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2013, 12:04:21 PM »
Another POD for CynicalRooRoo. 


cwm

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2427
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2013, 01:19:50 PM »
HoneyBee, I know how you feel. I've worked several jobs where responsibilties shifted and new quota systems were introduced, and most people were more caught up in complaining than actually working.

To be fair, I had (and still have) a great deal of anxiety when job responsibilities change and it may take me a while to get up to speed, but there is no reason for bringing that negativity around and loudly complaining about it.

What's worked for me is to offer help the first few times someone complains. If they don't accept, then the next time they complain about the same thing, politely comment that if they put as much energy into doing their jobs than they do complaining about their jobs, the backlog would let up and the mandatory OT would end sooner and everyone could get back into a more relaxed workplace. Don't be condescending about it, say it with all the innocence and honesty of a small child. Act surprised if they respond unpleasantly, say you're only looking out for the group as a whole.

Coralreef

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2316
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2013, 04:47:56 PM »
On the exceeding quotas.  Exceeding a little is good, too much is not so good.  The second you fall behind for any reason, you'll hear about it.

When my EX started working for BigFirm, he did a lot of extra, unpaid hours, because he was learning, "paying his dues", etc.  I warned him that the day he started doing 40 hours weeks and getting home at decent hours and not working weekends, they would be on his case like misery on poor people.  After a while, he cut back his hours.  Guess what?  They complained his performance was down.  And he was back to insane hours (often unpaid as he was "management") which became a bone of contention between us. 

[/right

camlan

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8728
Re: Working with people who ooze negativity
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2013, 10:59:13 AM »




Honestly, the job is not that hard and we do have pretty good benefits (insurance, PTO time, etc).  The problem, I think, is that while corporate understood that we'd be slow while learning the job, it did mean that the work was piling up--and people digging in their heels and saying "let's just not try that hard" are not helping it get better.  Honestly--if everyone worked to quota-level, we could probably be out of mandatory OT in about 3 weeks. 



Are you absolutely positive about this? (the bolded) Do you have it in writing?

Then your colleagues are pretty blind to basic cause and effect. If they complain about anything related to the quotas or the mandatory overtime, I'd just refer them back to this. "Well, as soon as the backlog is gone, the overtime is, too. If everyone met their quota three days a week, we'd probably be out of overtime in a month. Hey, I'm getting back to work! Summer's coming!"

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn