Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Boss J.'s e-mail about me

I managed to get ahold on boss J.'s e-mail about me. One of the people it was sent to knows Brad and told him so he could tell me, then got me a copy today.  I'll give you all one guess as to why boss J. started with me instead of some other operator.

"Subject: Network Control Operator Evaluation: Victoria Shephard

"As part of my desire to assist Network Control Operators in the professional development, I am currently developing an evaluation procedure...

"In this same vein I am currently in the process of evaluating Victoria Shepard's (sic) performance (I will be sending out the same request for the other Operators within the next month)...I would REALLY appreciate it if you could provide me with some information to work with. I understand that we are 'all in process', so there may be some occasions where she didn't perform as well as you may have liked. That said you are also welcome to give an overall assessment and/or specify certain incidents that you found either positive or negative..."

He then goes on to list specific areas of concern and that all information will be kept confidential.  The e-mail was sent to 25 different people, some of whom I have never worked with or ever even spoken to.

Peggy, the assistant secretary at the Sacramento office, hit "reply all" and fired back saying, "It is not my place to evaluate your staff. That is your job! When I have a problem with your staff, I will let you know."

So there you are. He is clearly on a fishing expedition, looking for reasons to fire me. The funny thing is that he will find nothing.  There are only two person on the list who might have something bad to say. One is "buddy buddy" with J., and the other gets mad at every operator, not just me. No one else will have anything bad to say because I do my job and I do it well. Seven of the people I know but have never worked with.  An eighth person I have never even spoken to in my 10+ years here.

The e-mail was sent to my former supervisors in the secretarial department where I used to work, but was not sent to the head of the French department where I subbed for someone for two months putting together the French programming (you don't have to speak French to do this). I guess J. is not aware of my time there.

At any rate, the e-mail was not well received from what I have heard around here, and as I said, few people will have even one bad word to say about me. If any do reply it will be with good things, not bad ones.

So, was this a professional thing to do? Would anyone out there dream of sending such as e-mail?  Your comments are welcome and appreciated.  Thanks.  :)

__________ Information from ESET Smart Security, version of virus signature database 4852 (20100209) __________

The message was checked by ESET Smart Security.



Anonymous said...

J. really needs some training in performance management. This is NOT the way to gather feedback. He's really displaying his own poor performance as a manager. And so publicly...ouch.

Hang in there. I think you are about to be vindicated!


Pendell said...

I, personally, would have spoken with each of these people individually, face-to-face, preferably over coffee, and sounded them out vis-a-vis their attitude towards you. I would have expressed my concerns privately, then sounded them out. Then, if I got the response I was looking for, ask it to be put in writing.

I would not have broadcast an e-mail with 25 or more addressees, because it would definitely have tipped my hand that I was on a fishing expedition, as this did. Who knows? I might even have got some advice on how to work more effectively with you.

But I agree; it's obvious that your immediate manager has decided to terminate you. He pulled your internet privileges because he fully expected you to quit when he did that. When you didn't, he's having to go through the process of a 'performance improvement plan' -- which he will ensure you fail, if he can.

So the question is: Will someone in management stand up for you?

If I were you, I'd start lining up character witnesses testifying to your good work and start building a case with witnesses and supporting evidence that you are a good employee and you want to stay.

Don't ASSUME that he'll find nothing on his fishing expedition. You may be surprised. Be prepared for the contingency that he's able to find enough molehills that he can build up a mountain to justify firing you on paper. That means you need to be able to take your case to management above him, and possibly to relevant California legal authorities to hold onto your job.

You should also be prepared for the contingency that you are not able to keep your job. I frankly would be looking for work elsewhere. Assuming you are 'vindicated' and allowed to continue working .. unless boss J also goes you're still going to be working in this poisonous atmosphere. So it's find another job, or grit your teeth and hope he finds another job soon.

But I agree it's obvious: He wants you *gone*. So if you're going to stay, you're going to need a champion in management who will stand up for you.


Brian P.

Pendell said...

One other thing: Get together your annual performance evaluations. If you didn't save them they should be on file somewhere. I assume that they indicate you are a good employee, possibly an excellent one. Be prepared to put these papers in front of management and say 'I've been a good employee for XX years'. That way, when you're accused of poor performance, you can point to the fact that all your past managers have found your performance praiseworthy. What has changed? Presumably you can then show that nothing has changed except the manager.

Contingency: He may discover your blog or your current living arrangement, which although platonic might be misconstrued by a hostile bent on character assassination into something else. I suggest you be prepared for the possibility.


Brian P.

Carol Bardelli said...

My Mom had a similar work issue while working for AAFES in Oakland. She took it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. www.eeoc.gov Her boss was found in the wrong and ended up reassigned to Germany. The EEOC had an office in SF then, they probably still do. You may want to see if your situation is something they look into. You're in my prayers.

Brucker said...

I agree with Brian. Don't assume his fishing expedition will turn up nothing; if he is really determined to fire you, he'll find something. I always love to tell people that I was fired a couple years back for doing exactly what I was told to do.

Anonymous said...

why not turn it around: try to get him fired? Obviously, you have more than a share of complaints about his professional behavior. You can stay away from being defensive and explaining your situation (i.e. being stuck in a corner) and instead point out his less than stellar professional behavior, write a memo about that, instead of just venting on your blog. He might back down. Because he has a different problem to deal with.

Pendell said...

I can't agree with the previous commenter. Getting anyone fired is a difficult undertaking, as J is no doubt discovering. I suspect that, if anything, it would only reinforce J's case that V is a 'difficult employee'.

The best thing to do is to start assembling as much of a paper trail as you can in your defense -- character witnesses, good performance reviews. Also a documented trail of all your dealings with J. I would not let a single word of blame or censure cross my lips WRT J's behavior. Simply lay out the facts and explain that you are, in fact, a good employee and be prepared to introduce evidence that this is so. Also keep a record of all your dealings with him. If someone ELSE should look at the record and conclude that J is unprofessional, that's one thing. But I suspect trying to get him fired will only reinforce his own argument that V is a 'problem employee'.

However, I agree with Carol in looking up the local legal authorities to see if there's a way to claim harassment .. of course, then you have to decide whether bringing in outsiders is the best thing to do. Not only because 1 Cor 6:1-8 suggests it's usually not a good idea, but for the practical reason that you still have to work here after you've won the legal battle. Working for a company you've just forced to accept you in a legal battle can give new meaning to the phrase 'hostile work environment'.

So it's better .. if at all possible .. to keep this 'in the family', if you can. I honestly can't imagine why it wouldn't be possible. If V is a good employee who just bumped heads with a boss, there should be ample paper trail and human witnesses to attest to the fact, saving her job.

Richard said...

Dittos with Pendell - you're right in NOT turning the tables, and trying to get the supervisor canned. That's not the Christian way, after all. Not "turning the other cheek."

In fact, as challenging as this sounds, you might try finding ways to do good deeds for your supervisor. The Bible refers to this as "heaping coals of fire on his head."