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.

1 comment:

  1. Smells like a skunk to me! And no, you are not thinned skinned. Sadly, it's still a man's world. A woman can go from A to Z in a second to offer a solution but if the guy doesn't go through the ENTIRE PROCESS the woman is suspect. Later after the guy has (finally) figured it out, suddenly HE'S the smart one and all us girls are sitting around rolling our eyes at him. Hang in there!!!! PS LOVE YOUR BLOG