Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ah, work

I have something queued up--maybe I'll post it tomorrow, maybe not.  I'm afraid that I have a lot of complaining to do. Before you tell me that I need a new job--don't. Resist! I know I do. I know my boss is awful, insecure, anxious, paranoid, and ridiculously bad at her job. We are also stuck in a negative feedback loop and I don't know how to break out of it.  I also think that it's terribly unfair that at this critical point in my career, a moment that will make my reputation, I am subjected to such horrible, disrespectful treatment. I should rise above or get out. Neither is easy.

I don't know that talking about my issues will help, but maybe I can come up with some way to break our cycle.  If you have ideas about that, they are more than welcome.

Incident 1: yesterday, around 12:10pm, while I was at lunch, my boss called me on my cell phone. I was at the office, just away for lunch (she thought I was working at home, but still). While I was away, an email had come in from the big boss--ten (10!) minutes had passed and I hadn't responded. I did answer the phone and I said, "I'm at lunch. I'm here, but I'm at lunch. I'll be back soon."  When I got to my desk, about five minutes later, I answered the email.

Now, even if I had been working at home, must I respond to every email in less than 10 minutes? Do I not get to take time for lunch at NOON?  Bizarre.

Incident 2: this is ongoing but started yesterday. The basic issue seems to be that she doesn't like the way I'm handling a particular situation. However, I have serious ethical problems with what she wants me to do. It's also come to light recently that she thinks that I come off as morally superior.  In a nutshell, we received a final report from a contractor. I showed it to a co-worker (at his request), and he pointed out what seemed to be a probably minor, but potentially serious, methodological (related to the analysis) flaw. When a contract is over, you cannot ask the contractor to do more work. Instead, I went to the contractor and asked them for some additional data, which they should have, which would have allowed us to do a re-analysis to figure out how serious the problem was. As I expected, they volunteered to do the reanalysis. So far, so good. Somewhere in there my boss told me to insist they hurry up and get the work done. Of course, I said I would ask them when they could get it done, but I couldn't insist, because I can't actually ask them to do anything without paying them.  This was resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Yesterday, the contractor sent me the corrected tables--however, they didn't send me the data or code, or provide a narrative about the tables (so what?), so I can't really tell HOW they fixed the problem. If they did it right, we're in good shape, though. So, I wrote back to them and asked for the data and code. I also asked how they would like the new information incorporated in the report.  I let my boss know I had the tables but was waiting for the data and code.

Her response was that I needed to get a narrative that explains how they addressed our concerns. I politely disagreed and said I considered that to be asking them to do more work. I also said that if I had the data and code, that would be sufficient to indicate if they'd done things correctly.  We went back and forth a little, and finally she cc'd her boss, again stating that she hoped my response meant that I expect a written statement from the contractor. Um, no, how many times did I have to say that? Isn't they fact that they produced new tables enough? Apparently not, because the rest of message said, "I'd like to have this because it will provide important, unequivocal, written documentation about their performance for this contract..." But actually, it won't, because this is about work performed AFTER the contract ended. We can't use anything that happens now in a performance review directly. We can obliquely state that they remedied something that occurred post-expiration, but given that no one (us or them) noticed this problem while things were running, I can't beat them up too much about it. 

She ends with, "That's how I see it and I thought that's what you agreed to request that they provide to us."

Of course she knows that this isn't how I see it. Duh. I never agreed to ask them to do more work, which I can't, because it's illegal to ask contractors to work for you for no pay.

Oh well, maybe I'm wrong.  What do you think?

Grateful for: some good advice.

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