Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Reading Your Confidence Barometer



I am starting to have a better appreciation for the parliamentary system that votes leaders in or out based on public confidence. Yesterday I started to question the level of support I had among my peers and my superiors.

One of the reasons I was incredibly successful in developing the massive processing system for this mammoth survey was the fact that I had a boss who allowed me to work fairly independently and who backed my professional recommendations, trusting that I was in the best position to judge. But he left last January and my relationship to the two women who took his place is still being formed. Although they did give me a promotion this year, the jury is still out as to how far they will go to bat for me.

It’s been a long time since work matters kept me awake at night. In the earlier years, I actually found myself writing programs or coming up with solutions to elusive processing problems in my sleep. When you are having sex and an algorithm flashes before your eyes, you know you are in trouble. Last night was simply thrashing about for hours as I pondered the events of the day, occasionally thinking of the technical solutions required by the upcoming changes. As I wiped the sleep from my eyes this morning, I knew that something had to get resolved.

I had sent out a note to my bosses yesterday after the meeting, not laying blame but simply stating what had happened. I got back a cautious response from the senior person instructing me to set up a briefing meeting sometime next week. There was no promised support. Nor was there a condemnation.

But I am a person who thrives on pleasing others. I made straight A’s. I have always gotten outstanding performance ratings. It’s just in my nature to want the approval of everyone – family, friends, coworkers, bosses. So this uncertainty is not a comfortable position.

I replied to the e-mail message, agreeing to set up the requested meeting, but also outlining the larger issue of support. I mentioned that if I sensed I no longer had general support, I would probably follow in the footsteps of our agency director, who is leaving partially because he no longer enjoys the confidence of those to whom he reports.

In addition to vowing not to bang my fist on tables again, I will now add that unless I am given a thumbs up by those around me, I will opt to slip away into retirement. Who knows, maybe this is a fortunate turn of events that will give me that free time I have been craving just that much sooner.

It’s somewhat interesting that my last two posts have been accompanied by such diametrically opposing hand gestures!

8 Comments:

Blogger Kristin said...

Sex and algorithms sound like a dangerous mix... I hope that you find peace with whatever you decide and support from your coworkers.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous DRFS aka Sue said...

Good luck with this decision...sometimes when you are pushed to the wall about a situation it's the universe's way of saying...Hey You...it's time for a change. I'm sure whatever you decide it'll be a great new door opening.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Jamy said...

I admire you for taking a stand. Working for the fed gvmt, so many people just "go along to get along." What you are doing is so important, we're lucky to have you as a strong advocate. Keep the faith.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this a programmer vs. user issue? I am a user administrator and have been in that relationship since the late 80's. All I know is this when it comes to compiling data bases. It is only as good as the system is designed. The frustration that emmantes from some people is maddening because the only way they know how to deal with their frustrations is take it out on the programmer/architect/administrator, etc.

I have in the past banged my fist after trying to explain a systems capabilities and limitations. It can get ugly.

The important thing to have is a good buffer (boss) between you and the requester. I quit my job of administrator after 14 years at the hotel due to inept users who were freshly out of college thinking that being a manager meant putting me under their thumb.

Hang in there and by the way, those complex solutions always come when one's mind is on something else!

7:14 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Conflict, conflict everywhere, but conflict, too, is the language of the universe, trying to explain something to us. Thinking about you during this challenging week!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I can understand your frustration and impatience at not knowing what's in store for you. Your whole life direction could be hanging in the balance all hinged on the outcome of this situation. Your path will be clearly shown to you very soon. Just bide the time and try to fill it with things you love in the meantime.

Are you cooking a big turkey this weekend? Will your kids come home? Enjoy the special weekend whatever it entails!

8:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- "Sex and algorithms" just proves you can't control your mind! I learned today that my coworkers are totally on my side on this issue. They were just intimidated at the meeting yesterday.

Sue -- I am going with the flow on this one. Maybe it is time for a change.

Jamy -- You are the one person who has first-hand experience with the data I am talking about. I feel it is my duty to keep up the same high quality you and other users find right now. What a crusade, yes?

OL -- It's more a situation of some people trying to rush into something while I want to be cautious about checking things out to make sure everything is working properly. It's also about people trying to tell me how to do my job when I think I have a much better idea than they do. Sounds like you've been here just a few times...

Reya -- Shabat will not come soon enough this week. I can only deal with conflict for just so long without needing a break.

MOI -- I'm trying to take a break from the work problem as my daughter has just arrived from Boston. We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at a neighbor's house tomorrow. It's nice to be responsible for just a couple of side dishes! My son is in Arizona getting ready to move to California so he will not be home this time.

10:56 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

For me, the issue is not about pleasing others (although it helps not to displease others), it is about doing the right thing. Focus on the issue, not the politics, the glory (or blame). People need to learn to work cooperatively (and that does not necessarily mean your way).

Get rid of agendas, get rid of ideologies, just focus on getting things done for the benefit of all (or as many as possible). There will always be some (the majority?) who refuse to see reason.

Personally, I think it would be better to be let go, in this way you might be entitled to some severance package. Alternatively, if they are looking to reduce the work force, then see if there is some attrition package available.

3:30 PM  

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