Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Does this pass the smell test?

The days fly by and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. I couldn't in good conscience stop to write on this blog while there was mountains of work to do could I? Or maybe I just wasn't motivated to write about girl-power. I was busy learning some new technology, busy being fabulous at my job, and saving the world. But today, I was brought back to earth. Yowza, was I ever.

I have been feeling very productive and powerful - doing a good job at the office, accomplishing things, being a good colleague. I took a new job this year, same career, but very different location. I am in a much more "traditional" work environment and I am not used to this. So I have had a nagging issue since October. I have dutifully tried to run it up the chain of command and every time I pushed it up, it came back down. I finally had to push it up to the 2nd in command and I knew he had the power to fix the problem. I carefully laid out the issue and asked for his assistance. He pushed it back down with a really silly read on the situation. I pushed it back to him pointing out some additional information and making my point firmly, but politely - asceding to his position. What's the title of the popular book about women execs - something like Good Girls don't get to the top. Yeah, in spades.

So I had kept a colleague apprised who used to have my position. He has been very helpful in helping me navigate this organization and helping me understand the river of decisions and projects that I was jumping into. Now the problem that came up in October, started on his watch and it was up to me to finish it up. So my colleague swoops in and sends a very chummy/clubby email to the #2 honcho and offers "let's go have a cup of coffee and I will spell it all out." Next thing I know the honcho has done exactly what I asked and gets the problem solved. He follows it up with an email to my colleague - thanks for the explanation. Once I understood the situation it made sense to take action. Uh, hello? I did the same thing and got slapped down. The guys get together and gee, Beaver, everything is great!

Ok, so I understand the old boys network is part of my current environment. I can deal with that. So I see the honcho today at an event and thank him for taking action and solving our problem. He says, and no kidding here - to my face, "oh that was xxxx (my colleague). He got this settled. Once he offered the solution and laid it out, it was easy. I didn't do anything, blah, blah, blah."

Did I mention that I am the unit leader and my colleague works for me? It's not quite that rigid, but there is at least a modicum of chain of command in my workplace. So maybe I should have soft sold the honcho and invited him to coffee and explained all this to him so he would feel ok about doing his job. Or my colleague could have suggested the strategy to me as the preferred method in our workplace's culture. But just swoop in, fix it, cut me out of the deal (which I had made peace with and could let go), but then slapped down AGAIN by the honcho and infer that I was not capable and if not for my colleague with the brilliant answer (the same one I proposed) - well who knows what would have happened.

I really don't have time for petty stuff and I am not trying to blow this up into a wah, wah, I was ignored. But this has the distinct whiff of sexism. I may not be the worlds greatest manager and I certainly don't have the same style as my colleague and the honcho. I could certainly use some work on adapting to a new workplace culture, but I can't help but think this one does not pass the smell test. Am I being too thin skinned here? After all, the problem was resolved, just as I wanted, but what about next time? How do I handle the honcho next time? Starbucks, I guess.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Port in a Storm?

I just talked with a friend who has been preparing to leave her husband. She had planned to get all her "ducks in a row" before dropping the bomb. But as these things usually go, she got into an argument with him, and let it rip. He made some dumb statements because he is defensive. She took up a position that is righteous, but unproductive, and you probably can see where this is going.

I told her that I wished I had gotten better advice before I legally took the plunge only because I thought it would be easy, and the aftermath has been less easy. I didn't have kids or much property and she has both. My spouse and I found a way to split in an amicable way, but it didn't mean we knew what we were doing. I was penny wise and pound foolish and should have gotten a good legal consultation. Would have made things less traumatic.

My friend has discovered that her family finances are not completely in both of their names. Seems that accounts for the kids are only listed with him and there is at least one bank account that is his only. She was surprised when the bank would not give her any info on those accounts. Hello! If you don't know those basic facts, you really need legal representation. It's a minefield she is walking into. I'll be her friend and support her emotionally as best I can. She did that for me and I have done it for her before. It is what friends do.

So she had this funny take on things. She said she expected to be alone in her later life because she just hasn't met men who have it together, can keep up with her, and are worth having around. I hear ya, sister. But her solution is to make a pact with a female friend to be there for each other. She said, "it would be like a lesbian relationship without the sex." I don't know that she has made a very good analogy, but it got me to thinking that as we all get older, we may need some kind of communal lifestyle. Who wants to live isolated in some bee-hive of a condo in Miami, alone. Not me. And I have no interest in living in a secluded "retirement" community. I want to continue being actively engaged in the world. I also don't want to be alone. I like being around people. I may or may not find a man to be in relationship with, so why not form a pact with women friends? I would love to hear about other women's experiences in this type of arrangement.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Online Dating v. Bumping in the Pool

So after my train lethario told me of his internet dating issues, I thought about my own experiences. It never seemed to work out for me, but it may be because I wrote intimidating personal statements that dared even the bravest man to ask me out. But hey, I was out there!

I have a friend who had a bad experience on e-harmony (bleh!) and has now taken the plunge again on match.com. Now "Must Love Dogs" is one of my favorite movies, and wouldn't we all love to meet John Cusack on match.com! But my friend said getting on line is more likely to help her meet someone than just sitting at home on her couch. She also said friends had suggested she troll the supermarket for dates. Ummmm. no. Like the old Animal House scene where the handsome playboy U student props Mrs. Wormer in the produce section by showing her his cusumber. I want to be able to return to my market and not make it off limits because I found a lemon there.

I tell friends that when you open yourself to others, you will meet people. When you are closed and suspicious, no one is going to talk to you. It's kind of like bumping around in a crowded pool. You can bob around and not talk to anyone or you can have fun and play with whomever you bump into. I would rather take my chances with an in-person, live encounter than putting up a persona and asking people to review it for compatibility. Ugh.

I have another friend who met her husband in the personal ads (long ago, before the internet...). I never did a personal ad. I guess I just prefer looking for in-person chemistry. I'm a hopeless romantic. My best friend and I each distinctly remember the moment we met. Kismet :)

So I embrace all the modern technologies - like blogging, twitter, facebook, linkedin, email, web page...I'm out there! There must be some guys out there for me that don't wear ill-fitting suits with wild hair or at least if they do, they have a great wit and intellect!