[how would you handle the situation?]
I need your wisdom, dear readers. (Yes, I am praying for God’s wisdom as well, but you might as well be the instrument He chooses to be).
I am tired of thinking how to handle one situation at work (besides praying for it) and the advice “Just don’t pay attention” does not work because the situation arises every 3-4 weeks (Hmm, a pattern?)…
A certain gal at my work (whose position is higher than mine, she’s a manager, thankfully not of my team) manages to drive me up the wall.
As some of you know, I work at the Chamber (AmCham) as a Coordinator of E-Publications and Web-Content. I have been truly blessed with the best assistant that I could ever dream for (seriously folks, she’s amazing). I love what I do and since we mostly communicate with 10,000+ members of the Chamber via e-mails, I try to deny my boss’ teasing nickname for me “Spam Queen” and coordinate all the publications so they are nicely spread out because if we spam the heck out of people they will never read anything – it would simply be TMI.
This gal with whom I got problems (well, I don’t have problems with her, she obviously has problems with me… or maybe that’s pride on my side?), sometimes I seriously wonder if she understands what are the priorities and how the things work at the Chamber. I feel quite like an idiot trying to explain that policy stuff isn’t the only thing the Chamber does and that I am not just at her beck and call, but I actually PLAN stuff.
At the staff meeting on Monday, they were saying that we’re gonna have a meeting with one of the government officials. As a coordinator of the Chamber e-mails, I put it in my schedule to announce it a couple of times during the week since that’s the standard protocol. I have asked my assistant to send the e-mail on Wednesday because I had time to send it (and the event is next Tuesday, Monday is a day off). We were peacefully drinking tea with my admin and HR managers when the gal strode into the kitchen.
“So… you have sent the In-Focus meeting reminder today?”
Not suspecting anything, I replied, “Yep.”
“Did Sveta ask you to?” (Sveta is the owner of that event)
“Well, not today, but I did mention on Monday that I will plan it accordingly. My Outlook calendar has been updated with all the e-mails scheduled for the week.”
“So she hasn’t told you to send it today?”
“I don’t remember what she told me. We have discussed it on Monday, I said I will schedule it.”
“And you think this was okay to send it today, right now?”
“Yes.” I already understood where it was going so I was taking my time to enjoy the Coke, calming myself down mentally.
“I don’t understand then – who is in charge of scheduling the e-publications?”
With the side vision I saw my friends roll their eyes and stare at each other incredulously, but they remained quiet.
I felt like an idiot saying it, but I knew I had to say it, “Ilona, I am the Coordinator of the E-Publications and Web-Content. That is my job title. That means I am coordinating the e-publications… i.e. means that I am the one responsible for the schedule.”
“And you think it was right, yes? To send the reminder today?”
“Yes, Ilona, I do. Like I said before, my Outlook calendar is shared with everyone and everyone can see the list of e-publications to be sent out on any given day this week.”
“And our opinion as the policy team doesn’t matter?”
“You told me that we need to send this reminder. That’s ALL you have told me.”
“We were planning to send it tomorrow.”
I was really tempted to explode and say “Well, WHY THE HECK DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THAT?! Or you would write me an e-mail in the morning saying ‘We need to send this now.’ WHY THE HECK AM I HERE? TO KEEP ASKING EVERYONE WHEN SHOULD I DO MY OWN JOB?!”…. I didn’t. I surprised myself, but somehow I remained quiet – perhaps God has answered my prayer and put His hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t say something I’d regret later.
She asked a couple more dumb questions, I strove to politely yet definitely answer them, and then she strode out of the kitchen.
My friends looked at me.
Still rattled from the conversation yet trying not to show it, I squeaked “I was polite, wasn’t I?”
Our admin manager grinned at me. “You were great – I was thinking about intervening but then saw that you were answering as the question should’ve been answered.”
Although during the Q&A time I was pretty calm, I raised my Coke glass to take a sip and realized that my hands were shaking. Thankfully there were herbal pills that helped me calm down yet this is not the answer.
The thing that bugs me the most – this happens every so often. She keeps asking me the same questions. Gets the same answers every time too (since my job description hasn’t changed ever since I have come to work with the Chamber 2 years ago – well, I did get a few more projects to coordinate but those don’t interfere with my primary job)…
Several people have told me that maybe I should treat her like a child with special needs. I retorted that she ain’t got no special needs and she’s no child – she’s at least 10 years older than me. Why am I supposed to be smarter than her?
Sometimes I wonder if she’s just jealous of me. I get along quite nicely with most of the Chamber staff (with exception of the Policy team), I am not afraid of my boss (she’s terrified of him for some weird reason) and I can chat with him about different stuff and clarify when I don’t understand what he wants from me.
The thing that she does NOT realize though is that I am not there to fight for power. All I want is for the Chamber to be the bestest business association in Ukraine – and a big part of that means COMMUNICATING well (read: not spamming people yet informing them about stuff that’s going on).
Sorry for the long-winded post… I guess I needed to vent.
I seriously have no idea what am I doing wrong and why Ilona can’t get off my back. I am trying to make her job as a policy manager be more useful because they do all these kinds of lobbying and policy stuff and meetings… and sometimes I think their idea about me is that I am trying to make it all go to trash because I am trying to be strict with deadlines (although only my boss thinks of apologizing and usually it’s not his fault that he’s late) and scheduling of the stuff.
Any ideas how to fix this problem? I want the relationship to work – but sometimes I truly dream of giving up because after two years they still don’t know what the word COORDINATOR means.
Seriously though… If you would be in my shoes (if, of course, you have had time to read the story through), what would you do? How would you handle this situation?