Author Topic: Potential Powder Keg Explosion - Update#10 - Silent Treatment  (Read 6847 times)

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DollyPond

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Potential Powder Keg Explosion - Update#10 - Silent Treatment
« on: August 14, 2014, 08:45:23 PM »
Dear E-Hellions,

I need some help with a situation that has the potential to be blown way out of proportion.

Background:
Our Division underwent a major reorganization about a year ago.  Group A and Group B merged into one unit.  Even though we were supposed to be “one big happy family” the members of Group A have never been fully welcomed by Group B.  A lot of this came from the attitudes of the Director and Associate Director who fostered and encouraged the “us and them” situation with Group A being treated like outsiders.  I was originally part of Group A, was moved to Group B a few months ago but was not included on their e-mail lists, calendar announcements, etc. for many weeks.  Group A originally consisted of 12 people but now numbers only 7 because of people leaving and not being replaced and my being moved out of the group.  It should also be noted that Group A has been together as a unit for over 10 years (one person with the organization for over 40 years, another 35) whereas Group B has a high turnover rate (longest employment term is 5 years).

The Situation:
There are service awards offered by Corporate.  Nominations for these awards can be made by anyone within the organization.  Group A (including myself) nominated their supervisor for the award – so Supervisor received 7 nominations.  Today our Administrator and our HR representative announced that Supervisor won the award (Yay!! She was most deserving.) at a small dessert ceremony (both Group A and B were included).  There were many sour faces and eye-rolling on the part of the Group B members.

The (Potential) Problem:
Director is out of town at this time and when she returns there is a high possibility that she will not be excited and honored that one of her employees won this award but rather ticked off (even furious) that Group A nominated Supervisor without her “permission.”  Director tends to be very controlling and had she been told of the nominations she probably would have quashed the effort so that Supervisor would not have been nominated at all.  It is inconceivable that she would have nominated Supervisor on her own.  There is a high possibility that Group A will actually be reprimanded for nominating their co-worker.

Questions:
How should Group A proceed if this reprimand does materialize?

I think that, if the reprimand occurs, Administrator and HR rep should at least be informed as they were the ones who presented the award and their efforts are being undermined.

Any comments or suggestions will be welcome.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 03:06:52 PM by DollyPond »

jedikaiti

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2014, 09:36:09 PM »
If HR & Administrator don't know what all's been happening with Groups A & B, especially the actions of the Director and Associate Director, they need to be made aware, ASAP. Document and relay.
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Another Sarah

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2014, 04:42:32 AM »
If HR & Administrator don't know what all's been happening with Groups A & B, especially the actions of the Director and Associate Director, they need to be made aware, ASAP. Document and relay.
^^^Absolutely.
If director does make comments, you can't go wrong by sticking by the book
"but I thought this award was a secret nomination? I couldn't tell you, could I?"
"I'm sorry, I don't understand, why would I need your permission to nominate someone?"
"I nominated supervisor because she does this, this and this. Don't you think she deserved it?"
All said in a tone of the utmost blank-faced innocence.

One thing though, OP, I've been involved in a lot of reorganisations (it's part of my job) and as an outside party, the "them and us" culture is rarely so one-sided as you describe. I guarantee that if director is horrible to Group A, she is horrible to Group B too. Maybe in a different way, but still horrible, nonetheless

It might be possible to start building bridges on the co-worker level and you are in a good position to, being a former group A who now has to work side by side with group Bs. Group A sounds like a pretty tightly knit group, and you're bound to stick together in the face of adversity such as this, but if Group B is more disparate and has new people joining, you might find that part of the separation is that people didn't know how to approach the group. Your move could be a chance to change people's perceptions "them and us" and break down some barriers.

Either way, I hope things gets better. It sounds like a terrible situation to be working in, so ((hugs)).

DavidH

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2014, 05:11:41 AM »
Another Sarah has made some great points.  I think the longer one thinks of groups A vs. B rather than New Group, the longer this will persist, but that's another issue.

For your question, I'd respond, "I'm sorry, I don't know that I needed your permission to nominate someone." and then promptly tell HR you were reprimanded and are sorry, but that you were unaware that Director's permission was needed to nominate someone.  Either they will confirm that permission was needed, in which case you know what to do in the future, or they will say that is not the case and handle it from there. 

bopper

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2014, 08:55:01 AM »
"I thought we could nominate people who we thought were doing a good job and didn't have to get permission.  I can go talk to HR to verify."

Hmmmmm

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2014, 09:25:14 AM »
"I thought we could nominate people who we thought were doing a good job and didn't have to get permission.  I can go talk to HR to verify."

I agree with this. Except instead of 'I can go...". say "Let's call Ms. HR rep who administers the program to discuss.". Let her explain to HR that she's reprimanding her team for nominating someone.

checkitnice

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2014, 09:37:52 AM »
Doesn't an official reprimand need to address an *actual* breach of policy?  How would the director even word this reprimand???  If it were me, and it weren't a disciplinary action that went in my file, I would probably accept it with an "Oh, ok," and then go straight to HR.

Coley

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 12:46:30 PM »
DH has dealt with some similar issues at work with his boss, who likes to rewrite corporate policy to suit his own preferences. This is one example. Bear with me here ...

There was a temporary change in the dress code policy for the summer. The policy was relaxed, and jeans were allowed. HR sent the directive to all staff stating that jeans could be worn. DH (a mid-level manager) and his peers began wearing jeans, as did their subordinates.

DH's boss, upon seeing that management staff also were wearing jeans, stated during a meeting that they should not be wearing jeans; the relaxed dress code applied only to subordinate staff, he said. He reprimanded them (as a group) for wearing jeans, saying they should have known better, it was unprofessional of them to wear jeans, and they should have asked permission as managers. They weren't written up, but Boss did admonish them.

The problem was that HR's directive about the relaxed dress code made no distinction about management vs. subordinate staff wearing jeans. DH and his peers went to HR and asked for clarification about the dress code, stating that Boss had indicated it didn't apply to management. If Boss's take on the policy were true, then some directive should be put out to indicate that. HR confirmed that the relaxed dress code applied to *all* staff, management included. They took that response to Boss, who was forced to backtrack and admit he was wrong in admonishing them. DH and his peers enjoyed the benefit of the relaxed dress code throughout the summer just as their subordinates did.

Based on that experience, I think if Director reprimands anyone for nominating Supervisor for this recognition, the first step should be clarifying the nomination process with HR. If there is no requirement that Director must approve nominations, then HR will indicate that. If there is such a requirement, you'll know for the future. I would ask HR to clarify the process with Director. My assumption based on your description is that there is no such requirement. Otherwise, I can't imagine why HR and Administrator would have accepted your nominations of Supervisor in the first place.

DollyPond

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 10:34:32 PM »
OP Here -

Thank you all for the responses so far.  There is a lot of valuable advice here.

To clarify some points:

Workers in both Group A and B have tried to forge better relationships only to have the efforts thwarted by Director (aside: Associate Director recently left for another position much to everyone’s surprise. So she is no longer an issue.).  It’s hard to describe how she does this but it takes the form of the Queen Bee controlling her clique.  If you befriend the outsiders then QB and the rest of the clique treats you poorly until you retreat.

Permission by upper leadership is definitely not a requirement for nominations for this award.  I doubt that Director understands this.  Administrator and HR rep specifically commented on how impressed they were that all 7 nominations came from Supervisor’s co-workers.  The advice to clarify the nominations process with HR in the event of a reprimand is good.

Director says that she wants to be informed about everything that happens in the Division because “I am the Director – no one else.”  And if that sounds like a completely insecure person to you it does to me as well.  This also fosters snitching behavior.  Director readily accepts snitches’ information and I’m fairly certain that, even though Director is out of town, she has already been informed of the award.

Director is back in the office on Monday and Monday is also Group A’s weekly meeting with her.  There is another joint meeting scheduled for Wednesday.  I will update with her reaction whether good or bad.

bopper

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2014, 12:00:08 PM »
'The let's check with HR" isn't REALLY to check with HR, but to call the director on what she is saying. If she is confident, then you check with HR and they agree that anyone can nominate and HR is clued into what Director is up to.  If she is not confident and knows that she shouldnt be saying anything, then she might back down.

DollyPond

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion (really long)
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2014, 03:05:59 PM »
UPDATE

So there was a Group A meeting on Monday and a joint meeting of both Groups today.  Director made no mention whatsoever of the award received by Supervisor.  Seriously????  There is no way she can claim ignorance as it was publically announced to all Departments on Monday afternoon.

Are you so insecure that you cannot even publicly acknowledge the accomplishment of one of your employees?

lilfox

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion - Update#10 - Silent Treatment
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2014, 03:21:21 PM »
Sounds like the Director is at least following the advice: "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all."  Apparently she couldn't muster even the blandest nice thing to say, "Congratulations on the award, Supervisor."

A former manager of mine received a special award once.  It was the type of thing that usually merited a special meeting and presentation of a plaque by upper management, or at the very least, a special mention/presentation at the quarterly all-hands meeting.  His manager dropped the plaque off at his desk while he was at lunch, and no mention was ever made by anyone.  Ouch.

Ginger G

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Re: Potential Powder Keg Explosion - Update#10 - Silent Treatment
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2014, 09:21:46 AM »
Reminds me of something that happened many years ago with my now former best friend.  We worked for the same company, I had been there longer and actually helped him get the job.  We were both nominated for an award which I ended up winning.  After the awards ceremony, our coworkers were congratulating me and I realized he was nowhere to be found.  He gave me the silent treatment for at least two weeks, which was made even more awkward by the fact that he was my roommate at the time.  That was one of the nails in the coffin of our friendship.