Women in the workplace

This is going to ramble. I’m experiencing all my triggers right now. It’s all due to a work thing.

I even just realized why it’s been so hard to cope in this situation.

Premise:

There are four of us who are supervisors; three women, one man. Our immediate supervisor is our manager who is a male. There are lots of management shenanigans that we just deal with. Two managers are women and one is a man. The woman-to-man ratio is pretty high. Below the supervisors are mentors, also high ratio of women-to-men. Below the mentors are senior staff (folks who have been with the company over a year) and below them are staff (with the company under a year) and then trainees. Above our managers is the corporate department. Everyone offices in the same location in a series of offices. There are a wide range of personalities that will come with so many people.

Recently, my manager has had some medical issues. My senior supervisor and I have taken to looking after him and his interests. He’s not himself and we’re trying to shield the staff from his current status. We’re also trying to make sure we’re handling all problems so he doesn’t have to be so involved. She and I are spearheading this effort as our third female supervisor is the self-labeled pit bull. She’s the hard hitter who does everything by the book. Our fourth is our dude who is laidback in his approach to most things to a point but is able to get his point across when things need changing. Too many people. Let us name them all.

“Gloria” is our senior supervisor. She’s been with the company 5 years and has been a supervisor for over 2 years. She’s recently earned her M-F schedule as she’s been working alone for six months before the rest of us were promoted. “Plato” is our dude who ran the department by himself when Gloria was out sick last summer. He and I work the weekends together as we are chronologically low on the totem. I was promoted in January though I was not even technically senior staff but was a mentor so it evened out. “Miranda” has been with the company 5 years and was a supervisor early on but stepped down some point before Gloria was promoted. She was promoted after I was. According to the heirarchy as it stands, I’m “over” Miranda. Miranda doesn’t like that anyone is over her as she believes she is the oldest member of the staff.

A bit about Miranda. She is a year younger than me but lied to me once that she was a year older than me. She likes to speak to Gloria and myself as if we are children. We do have a company policy about “sweetie, honey, darling” and so these are not terms I’ve ever used with my colleagues of any station. Gloria and Miranda feel a bit freer with it. I am always referred to as “sweetie” by Miranda. Now Miranda was tapped by the boss, and by boss I mean owner, to be a pit bull. This has created issues in the past as complaints have gone to HR about her violating space by putting her belly and breasts into the private space of some of our workers. I’ve tried to model better behavior. I’ve gone to other people for advice on how to address this with her. I was specifically asked to address this issue as one of my prominent features is my chest. I’ve also have 5 years experience in telling people how to deal with people. Nothing worked and I told my manager this. She eventually stopped.

Gloria and Miranda have a strained relationship. It is due to their longevity with the company and the roles that have flipped and flopped over the years. When I was promoted, I was instructed to shadow. I was unanimously approved and everyone was eager to train me and I was eager to learn. One of my selling points was my familiarity with software that was slowly creeping across the company that has become our most important operations tool. So, when I was promoted I was put in to oversee the rooms where this software was being used exclusively before it rolled out. When it was rolling out, I was set in each room to oversee it’s transition, despite where I was “placed to post” on that particular day.

Now, I am an amiable person. I’m amenable to any circumstance. Most people think I’m a doormat because I’m quiet but what people who work closely with me have realized is that I choose my words carefully. I believe that words are important. I recognize that “gloating over” and “gloat it” are not actual phrases and I ignore them when used because these are not real things. The terms should have been “sassing” and “sneering” but that’s not the topic here. I am a professional. I can work with anyone whether I like them or not. I am cordial and friendly. When I have to be stern, I am. If I can’t handle the situation, I go up the chain of command. This means that on Saturday and Sunday, I go to Plato. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, I go to Gloria. If it’s bad enough, I go to my manager with it. This is the procedure.

Last week:

Mondays are the beginning of the new work schedule. Plato makes it out on Thursday and makes changes on Sunday before it’s published by one of the other managers (usually after 5pm on Sunday night). The changes are always due to terminations and floor issues. So, the trend has been that because the schedule is published so late, not everyone gets their schedule on time (our shift lets out at 3pm) and there is some confusion for trainees. Gloria and Miranda threw Plato under the bus for it four weeks in a row. On Wednesday, Plato work a strongly worded email to management about the issue he faced and his proposed solution, that in addition to all his extra duties, he would also be composing a weekly email to explain his changes, where the input came from and who authorized them and this would eliminate the confusion.

Thursday:

My manager asked if I was mad at him to. I had no idea what he was talking about but I was busy working and wasn’t too concerned with it. Gloria and Miranda were furious with Plato. Thursday is the only day of the week that all four of us are on the schedule as well as having our manager in the building. Our manager asked that I be more vocal in my opinions on where people should be placed for efficiency and effectiveness. I ran with it. I’m just really getting comfortable with this part fo the job as I now have enough experience with the pods and the staff to make these decisions without conferring with someone else.

Miranda didn’t like that I shot down her nomination for a pod lead. I didn’t just veto, I explained that while this person was a hard worker and could get the job done, she skips steps. Not vital ones but ones that are important to vocalize when teaching someone else. This part is very important. Skipping steps in the teaching process produces workers who don’t work the way we want them to. You have to be aware of all the steps before you can prioritize which steps you will need and which you will skip.

I developed a migraine and rode out half my shift with sunglasses (I had permission) and I don’t remember a whole lot of that day.

Saturday:

There was a system crash and the software that houses the billing implements was not negotiable for the entire day. Work was completed but it was not put into the billing systems as there was no access.

Sunday:

I spent the whole day transferring billing information while my manager, in his medically-induced haze, tried to joke around and figure out if I was mad at him. I told him that I wasn’t mad but I was trying to get the billing entered. It was a short-staffed day, as all Sundays are, and there was an overwhelming amount of work to be done. Plato and I discussed the dissention with Gloria and Miranda. We discussed the changes that needed to happen to the schedule. I thought it was putting a good start to the week.

Monday:

The call-ins were overwhelming. Gloria had to send an email out about any changes that were no implemented. She and I had a brief discussion about our manager’s health and mind set. He was in the building already but was unsteady on his feet. My concerns were about him, all day. I told him to stay at his desk and we would get him if we needed him. Miranda came and found me in the room where I was working and asked why she was being “boycotted.” I was sitting in a pod with one mentor, one dispatcher and one trainee. There was so much work that we should have traded out some folks but I powered through it. I pointed to the workload and stated, clearly, that I wasn’t “boycotting” anyone but I was very busy. She asked me this three times throughout the day. I didn’t have time for that. Then our manager disappeared. It took forever to find out he went to lunch with someone in an adjacent department and just failed to let us know where he went.

Tensions rose and there was a lot to get done. The software issues continued to slow down billing but the productivity never slowed so the remaining billing just kept piling up.

Every Monday, the same thing happens as shiftchange. I get caught at a desk and when the relief comes, I go to Miranda and ask if she needs help. She always says “You know, I’ve got this. I don’t need anything. It’s 2:30pm, you can go.” Then I turn to our manager and let him know I’m leaving.

This particular Monday, it was 3pm before I could get up from my desk. Shift change was happening rapidly and successfully. I walked the floor three times. I saw that Miranda had everything under control and I could not find my manager, I checked out with the next shift manager. I got a text from Gloria just before 7pm saying that Miranda texted her to say that we ditched her. First off, there is no “ditching.” The work that I was responsible for was completed and I checked out with a manager after making sure everything was going okay. That is my job and the protocol. It turns out Gloria had to do the same thing I did.

Tuesday:

We all got an email from our manager in all caps that we were not to leave the building without his express permission ever. Then we got an email from Miranda stating that she didn’t mean to get us in trouble. It caused immediate chaos. Bossman was not in the office all day due to his illness. Miranda was stalking Gloria. I was WORKING. I was trying to get on top of the billing issues and Miranda was demanding to know, on the floor, why I wasn’t talking to her. I was BUSY. I was WORKING.

I went to work dressed in a button shirt over a tank top and slacks. I was so uncomfortable with the energy and the situation, that I put on a hoodie. Did I mention it’s Texas and also summer? A zipped up hoodie, all day. At one point, I looked so distraught that my buddy (a mentor and replacement for my previous position) had to keep telling me over and over that it would be all right.

Right, didn’t I mention that due to all of the above stress, I’ve been broken out in hives and my shoulders are knotted up and my usual affable demeanor is no more? Everyone on the floor could see that there was something up. Then Miranda came at me on the floor to bitch about being ditched. I had nothing to say to her. I was done.

When my seat was relieved, I walked the floor until 2:30pm and then let Gloria check us out with the boss via text as he was still not present. Then I went to tell Miranda we were leaving and she acted confused as to why I was standing there. As if she had not created a situation where I had to supplicate myself to her in order to leave from my shift.

Today:

I’m still knotted up. I colored my hair last night. I tried out some rollers. I tried to detoxify from that situation. I’ve been planning what I’m going to say to my boss tomorrow because there’s a conversation that has to be had. There’s a lot that needs to be said. I’m in a precariously life position and work was my safe haven. Work is no longer that. I have to watch everything I say and do or I offend Ms. Miranda. The situation is toxic. There are changes coming to the company but I’m not aware of all of that. I just know that we’re in a place that will break half of the supervisors.

I was reading an article about how girls are taught to listen and not speak. Generally, I agree with that. I do not speak unless spoken to. I have to be prompted to say what’s on my mind because other people realize I need to talk before I do. Miranda has never been that. She has always said what she’s thought and she always feels like no one hears her. I identify with that only… I never speak up. I started speaking up and it freaked her out. My opinions are not hers and she’s upset that we don’t agree. I often feel this element of pressure to be her friend but I don’t friend well. I got used to be friends with people who decided to be my friend rather than people who I wanted to be friends with.

Gloria and I get along. We’re both single and trying to date in this world. She’s got a kid. I have experience with being responsible for people. Plato and I are readers and we don’t do conflict but he’s much better as resolving conflict than I am. I’m still learning this management thing. I developed a lot of tools for doing my job. On my own and with the advice from my boss.

Every day when I go to work, I let people get settled into their seats. I rush people along with a friendly “go, go, go. hurry, hurry, hurry.” Then I walk the floor. I chit-chat a bit to get a feel for their moods. I confer with my fellow supervisors. I check in with the pods that are busy. Then I post somewhere where I can be effective. Now, I get some shit from Miranda because I default to a particular room. I am most effective in that room for these reasons; when an employee gets really good, we pull them from that back room into the front room. It means that we have a few seniors and mentors that run things and the help is always coming and going. I know all the markets, I can run the whole room from one desk if I have to. I am most EFFECTIVE at doing that.

A previous issue with Miranda was that she be in that room for a week. All the markets tanked. She wasn’t helping them. She was just yelling at them.

I’ve been known to yell, to bark. But I am most known for my quiet manner. That I will take a seat and keep my voice low when I address an issue. I will pull a person out of a room, quietly, to have a lengthy discussion about demeanor. I will pull a person out of a room to address attire. My diplomacy and my way with words are my best weapons. I use them daily.

I feel attacked and violated. There’s this competition going on that I’m not aware of. I don’t know what the prize is. I don’t want to leave the job. I love my job. I love what I do… when I am left to do my job. I almost want to go up there today to have that conversation that I need to have with my manager. I need to check in with him as I haven’t heard how he’s doing.

I do know that if the toxicity continues, I will not continue to work there… or I will definitely go to HR with my concerns about the ability of anyone to effectively do their jobs when they are not at liberty to speak at anything regarding their jobs with each other.

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