Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brick wall

Have you ever felt that no matter how many times you've said something and no matter how many different ways you've explained that same something you're talking to a brick wall? Even though the person standing in front of you is very real?

That has been my life at work lately. I don't write much about my work. That is not the focus of this blog, nor do I want it to be. But sometimes, you just have to vent and today is that time for me. I have staff. I love my staff. They are a great group of women who for the most part work very well together and do a great job. And I feel as though they do respect me even though I am younger than all of them (and way younger than some of them). My staff have very specific things they have to do (as do all of us out there in the "real world"). We have guidelines for just about everything we do, whether they're in written form or simply known guidelines (tribal knowledge as some might like to say). I have put protocols or business practices in place over the course of the time I've been supervising them (close to five years now). And frankly I was doing that even before I started to supervise them. This helps them know just how to do certain things which don't come up every day and how to deal with the limitations of our database.

A large part of my job is to know how our database works, how said database works in tandem with our reporting system and how to make sure what we put into the database comes out of the database in a usable form. It is my freaking job to know how these things work. I put a protocol in place probably six years ago, sometime after we converted from one database and reporting system to a new database and reporting system, to deal with one of these limitations. I did not do this for my health. I did not do this to make my staff's job harder or because that's the way I thought it needed to be done. I did this because if we do not follow the steps as I outlined them (oh so many years ago) things break. It's as simple as that.

And when things break I have to contact our IT department to have them cleaned up. And when I have to do that IT may be able to fix things same day, but it might be day or two or more before they can get to it depending on what else is going on around campus. Let me back up a second. I work in fund raising for a college. My staff puts gifts into our database. So, if something breaks and I have to contact IT to fix it and it takes them days to get to it that often means that we have a live gift check waiting to be deposited into the college's bank account because my staff can't finish what they started. Because someone didn't follow our protocol and something broke.

I am a flexible person (and I am pretty bendy as well, but I digress). I am all for finding new, better, easier, more efficient ways to do things. Work smarter, not harder is a good motto. But, that simply cannot happen in this case. Things MUST be done the way I've asked, repeatedly, for them to be done. I have put this policy in writing on a number of occasions. And I had to do it yet again today because even after all these years people are STILL not following my instructions. Even blogging about it right now while I'm in my pajamas on my couch with my feet up makes my blood pressure rise.

Why is this one thing so hard for them to understand? It is no different in my mind than knowing that if someone is a doctor we don't address a letter to them as Mr. Doe, but rather Dr. Doe. Or even knowing that if we get notified that one of our constituents has passed away that we have to do things step by step to appropriately note that in our database. We have policies, procedures, business practices, protocols, whatever you want to call them, in place for those things.

I have had it with this whole situation. I have put the damn policy (protocol, business practice, whatever the fuck you want to call it) in writing a few times, including once yet again today. I have verbally explained it to each staff member over and over and over again until I'm blue in the face. I have argued with them, I have explained it every way I know how, I have have stood my ground on this for years and they still don't fucking listen to me.

I have called a staff meeting for later this week to talk about this situation and some other things which relate to it. I am at my wits end with this. Now, if they were my children and they didn't pick up their toys like I asked them to I could take away their TV privileges or their dessert after dinner or not let them have a friend over or ground them. There could be consequences for not following the rules is what I'm trying to say. But there are no consequences in this case. There really can't be. Because person A might not follow my instructions, but it won't affect them. Instead it'll affect person B who goes to something else and encounters the problem that person A created. And you never know when that's going to happen. Arghhhh!

As I said before I love my staff, but when they fight me on this (and they do, believe me I've had to go toe to toe with them on this many many many times) I just want to shake them and when they ask "why do we have to do it this way?" say to them "because I'm the boss that's why." And that is simply not my style. It's not me at all. But that's the point I'm at right now. And that's the bottom line. I know best in this situation and that's the end of it.

Today's song is Fuel by Ani DiFranco. I love this song for many reasons, but I think this part of it is fitting for today's post.

Am I headed for the same brick wall
is there anything I can do
about anything at all?
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
and dig deeper, dig deeper this time

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