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Rusty whinge - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Rusty whinge
The thing is, while I can imagine not coming into work until mid-afternoon (or not coming in at all), and not notifying anybody of where I am (not even by updating the shared calendar), and not redirecting my phone calls to voicemail or my work mobile ... I don't actually do it. Not even once. Even when I was at my most avoidant, I actually went to the trouble of inventing a reason to call in sick every time. I mean, you know. I have standards of avoidance.

I'm no stranger to the temptation of digging my heels in and preferring not to. I imagine, most mornings, as I drag my exhausted body up the two flights of stairs, the possibility of sitting down on the stairs and going back to sleep. (The events unfold in my mind, taking on the concreteness of a whole alternative universe, so that even now, part of me probably is sitting on those stairs.) I imagine the first person to walk past me. "Are you okay?" "Yes, thank you." For many people, enquiring further would mean breaking out of the comfort-zone of small-talk. It's a vivid and persistent fantasy. But every morning, instead of sitting down on the stairs, I drag myself into the office. I hang my coat up. I try to breathe life into my frozen fingers. "Morning," I say. I make coffee.

I suspect it's partly because of the vein of avoidance and giving-up that I can feel pulsing through my own conscious (and down into the subconscious, down like the rotten root of a tooth) that I am SO UTTERLY SICK AND TIRED of trying to make excuses for somebody else, trying to phrase emails tactfully so that they don't actually say "I haven't a clue because this hasn't been communicated to anybody by the one person who knows anything about it, who isn't here and whom we have no means of contacting," so that we don't look utterly hopeless as a team. I am sick of listening to the phone on the next desk along ringing, and not daring to answer it (not that it's my job to answer other people's phones, but it stops the damn thing ringing) because I know it's the same people who yelled at me last time I picked up their call because their emails (which I didn't receive) weren't answered and because I'd failed to deputise efficiently for somebody who doesn't communicate with me.

It's not even about the discrepancies in pay and effort. I get paid enough (though I'd like to get paid more), and other individuals' salaries don't really have a direct impact on mine. I don't even care, at the end of the day, if other people avoid doing work which is their responsibility ... so long as they get on with their procrastination quietly and don't actually obstruct me when I'm trying to work. I procrastinate too. I don't work as hard as I might. I could argue that it's hard to stay motivated when so much of my work is obstructed by lack of communication, lack of knowledge, and lack of authority; but that's not the only reason. I have tendencies towards laziness which I fight to the best of my ability. I guess we all do, sometimes; inertia is a powerful force.

In the end, it's about independence and motivation. It's hard to keep motivating myself to work when every small task (and I'm talking here about tasks which may take as little as 30 seconds) throws my brain into a loop of worrying whether acting on this request will simply result in my work being undone, undermined, or objected to; whether I can legitimately ask anybody else for clearance without it looking like I'm going over people's heads or behind their backs -- or just making a fuss about nothing; whether I can, in fact, assume any degree of autonomy in my work. And the easiest answer is always "Do nothing." Easiest... and unacceptable. If I'm not going to action people's requests, I know I should at least tell them that their request has been received and is in some kind of queue. If I can't action them, I should be able to delegate them. If I can't do either, because all the relevant personnel are absent, I should at least be able to a) say so, and/or b) give an estimate of when that person will return and the task can be actioned. If I can't do anything, my brain just goes round and round like a stuck record.

And of course, I can't raise any of this with anybody (again), because I've been told time and time again (again) that it will all change after the Big Review which will take about 3 months from the starting point (with "flexible" deadline) of finding a consultant. And, to be honest, the current situation has already gone on too long for anybody to confront it in anything other than an apocalyptic manner. We've long missed the point where somebody could have said "I say, chaps..." or "It would be helpful if you could..." or anything like that. People have tried to say things, but it's always met with the say-yes-and-do-nothing technique... or simply a wall of silence. And nobody quite dares be the one to point out the elephant in the office. To say, firmly and clearly, "This is unacceptable." Perhaps nobody feels (I certainly don't) that they have quite enough moral high ground to be the one to throw the first stone. Perhaps everybody realises (and I certainly do) that anything which made a difference would also destroy any pretence of good working relations between people.

Perhaps this is all far too heavy for something which, at the end of the day, isn't killing anybody.

But I'm just so tired.

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jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: March 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Crikey. That would grind anyone down.

At least it's not your last job, not that that's much of a consolation. All the other "at least"s I can offer would make no difference either; people do know about it, things are scheduled to happen, but very, very slowly. I hope that management get their bottom kicked for not sorting this out themselves - after all, that is what management is for.

Unrelatedly, I suspect you would make a far better manager than you think you would.

Would some books help?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 15th, 2006 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope that management get their bottom kicked for not sorting this out themselves

Ach, they (think they) are sorting it out, but they're playing a longer-term game.

I think I'd've done things differently if I'd been in charge, but I don't know what all the other pressures being exerted on them from boards/committees/etc may be, so it's hard to tell whether I'd've been able to -- perhaps I'd be just as frustrated as I am now but with more people blaming me for the situation. :-/

I suspect you would make a far better manager than you think you would.

I think I'd make a reasonable manager, with some training and a lot of practice. I'm not sure I'd enjoy it, though. This is one of the reasons why I got stuck in a hole in the previous job. (I could have had a promotion to team-leader kind of level within ~2 years of starting there, but I didn't want to, because I wanted to do the stuff I was already good at and enjoyed doing. And there was no shortage of managers, but there was a shortage of people who were good at the stuff I was good at.)

Would some books help?

Heh -- ordinarily I would say yes, but we bought 95 books at the weekend, and I have no idea where 95 books' worth of space is going to come from in our house, particularly given that there's going to be exactly one piano's worth less space in said house by the end of tomorrow...
keirf From: keirf Date: May 3rd, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, was it 95 in the end? I found myself wondering the other day.

It tursn out the remains of my books went to a scout jumble sale and never came back. I've no idea if they sold them or ended up throwing them away.
j4 From: j4 Date: May 3rd, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Start to Finnish

Oh dear! I hope they at least took them to charity shops (or saved them for the next jumble sale...) if they couldn't sell them.

I'm awfully behind on LiveJournal (reading, I mean; I'm slowly catching up on posting, which is a bit selfish, I suppose -- sorry!) but have been catching up on reading your journal posts about weird & exciting Finnish stuff. Unfortunately I can never think of much to say except "Gosh!" and "That sounds cool". So maybe I should just say that a few times now... :-)

Anyway, I'm glad the move went okay, & I hope you're all settling in well by now. And if you want some more books over there, we can probably post some over -- it's not that we don't appreciate them (we do! we do!) but we are rapidly running out of space*... :-}

Meanwhile I look forward to reading more about your new experiences (and of course anything else you choose to write about!).

* This is a lie. We ran out of space about half an hour after moving in. We just haven't really admitted it to ourselves yet.
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