Author Topic: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!  (Read 7559 times)

EngineerMum

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Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« on: June 12, 2015, 09:04:32 AM »
I need advice on how to make work suck less. My situation - I have a professional job where I really like the work, and I used to be (mostly) fine with being the only woman in my team. However, the team has been growing, and between certain new additions and my boss' attitude shift, the dynamic has become very difficult to take.
Today was a pretty typical day - at a meeting first thing my same level colleague and I were jointly interacting with a subconsultant, until boss turned up. From then on, I was not allowed to finish a sentence, everything I said was shut down and dismissed. Later, I found out that a different same level colleague and a grad were being sent on training I'd asked to do 6 months ago. I asked him about it and he hadn't even asked to do it, he'd just been told he was going. Asked the slightly senior person who organised it and he told me he'd put me forward for the training but boss shut it down and said the other two were going instead. End of the day - Friday arvo lots of people go out for a drink - same level colleague invites the others of my level and up out for a drink, pointedly ignores me.

My boss has not always behaved like this to me. At one stage he told me he wanted to train me up to take over his role in the company, which would have been huge. I would have been thrilled except that I couldn't do it. Unfortunately, that was when I was 11 weeks pregnant, and obviously I had to tell him I couldn't take on that responsibility.
I took 6 months mat leave, then came back part time. I'm still working 4 days*, and admit to being a bit erratic with being late and sick days**, but I generally get my work done on time and work at least my required hours. I've also had a marriage break down in the last year, so massive stresses and upheaval, plus I'm less reliable because I can't just work late and get DH to pick up DD - if it's my day, it's my responsibility.

I know the simple answer is to find a new job, but a) the market here atm is not good, we're in the early stage of a recession which is hitting my field very hard b) even in good times, no one wants to hire someone part time, c) my company are better at what I do than our competitors, and I'd find it hard to do the cheap and nasty work that some of them churn out and d) in spite of the arrogance, boss is extremely knowledgeable (there might be 2 or 3 people in the country who know more about what we do than he does) and I really like learning from him.
So my strategy is to instead make myself a better employee / colleague, until the rest of the team can't help but see that I am in fact not incompetent and start to appreciate me. If I fail to convince them, I might at least convince myself and be better placed for the job hunt anyway, so even if I lose I win.


The challenge is, what steps can I take? We have performance appraisals coming up soon, and I want to take strategies to my manager and get his help to make a self improvement plan, and I want to start making changes immediately.

What I've done so far
- Started working towards accreditation. This is not really required in my field, just a nice to have, but my boss thinks its important. I've written 11.5 / 16 sections, then I have to give a presentation and have an assessment.
- Took an online MOOC course (free!) in my field to get a difference perspective and also top up by CPD hours
- Made sure my boss was aware that I worked a public holiday, and on my day off, and from home to get a report done on time.

What I'm working on
- Boss mentioned something specific he thinks I'm not good at. Have found online course for it that I can take in my own time and planning to start that this weekend.
- write down every specific criticism so I can look at it later when I'm no longer upset and try to address it
- Find other courses to increase my expertise and knowledge
- My attitude. Aiming for more positive and friendly, yet also focused and working hard. Less excuses, more getting things done
- Trying to perfect the friendly-banter-but-not-wasting-time-chatting balance
- Trying to avoid pissing off the lead of the other group we work with (who seems to detest me with a passion. He frequently swears at me / at the work I have to ask him to do. This is tolerated in my workplace. I have to deal with him, there is no alternative. Trying to get out of it would make me seem incompetent. He won't be disciplined for his behaviour, he is too valuable to the company)
- Work out how to add a half day to my hours. Raise this proposal with manager at appraisal.
Additional things to start / do
- read "crucial conversations" and implement strategies
- upgrade computer software so I can work from home more efficiently when sick / if overtime required

In summary - Of the people at my level in my group, I am the least valued by far. My boss puts me down in front of everyone. Some of my colleagues have made it clear they don't like me. However, the work is mostly interesting, and I'm unlikely to find a better position in the current market, so I need to change the social aspects that are currently sucking. Because I work with INTJ personalities, I think the best way to be more liked is to be better at my job.

Please comment and add helpful suggestions. But be nice, I'm getting (emotionally) beat up on enough already.

* edited to add - "baby" is now 3, but we are very happy with her schedule of 2 days with GPs and 2 days at kindergarten, she hated day care when she had to go, and a third day of school is not an option. To go back to full time I would have to send her to daycare, which would be very hard on her.

**lateness is not as big an issue in our workplace as it may be in some. We use timesheets and as long as we complete our required hours, we aren't required to be at our desks at a certain time. I'm not late to meetings, and I'm usually there before the boss except one day a week when I have school drop off and can't realistically manage that. Sick days - I have a chronic illness which lowers my immune system, so I catch every cold and flu going. Add a toddler and that is compounded. If I can make it though the day with a few pseudoephedrine tablets, I'll go in, it's only when I cannot get out of bed that I don't - I just have more of those days than most people.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2015, 05:19:46 AM by Southern Saver »

lil_miss_frugal

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2015, 09:18:15 AM »
Wow, this seems like an unfortunate situation. You're right the easy thing to do would be to take your talents elsewhere, but since that's not an option you want to take what you can do is work on yourself. You can't control the actions of others but you can control your work performance. Once you step up your performance they'll start to notice hey, she knows her stuff! I think you mentioned you had a problem with being late and a lot of sick days? This is definitely something you should work on as well. There really is no excuse to arrive late to work on a regular basis. I think you're doing the right thing by taking the initiative to learn things and take free online courses, that's a good step. Once you have your performance appraisal you'll see what other areas your boss thinks you should work on and you can go from there. 

StockBeard

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2015, 09:49:26 AM »
Sounds like a bad situation where your boss (knowingly or not) is underestimating your contributions because you're a female and you went on maternity leave.
I think no matter how ell intentioned, every manager has it in their bones that it is "less interesting" for the company to promote a person who can "leave suddenly because of baby" than the "young single guy who's gonna turn into a workaholic".

Based on what you have done, I think (if emotionally possible for you. I know it would be hard for me) to set up a meeting with your boss and explain exactly the points you mentioned below, the steps you have taken to prove you work harder and better than your colleague.

A colleague of mine once did that, simply told our manager: "look at what I've done. you've told me to improve on these points, and I improved within 3 months. Colleagues have only good things to say about me, let's agree today on what exact next steps I need to take in order to reach the next level". A kind of "contract" where the steps to promotion/consideration are clarified.

Good luck.

(My personal take: I was never promoted in my company despite getting top performance reviews for 7 years in a row. I gave up, and I decided I do not work for a "promotion" anymore, as long as the salary I get satisfies me)

Edit: I love your "quote": "Working towards moderate badassity" :)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 12:10:00 PM by wololo »

little_brown_dog

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2015, 10:23:35 AM »
definitely sounds like your boss's attitude has changed since your maternity leave. i'm going through this right now - before i got pregnant i was a golden employee, now my boss treats me like i'm the biggest drag on her life. we used to have a great relationship but once management gets wind that they can't be your number 1 priority in life anymore, the tables turn really quickly.  this happens to part time employees alot too - even if they do an awesome job in their scheduled hours, it is not uncommon for management to still assess them more harshly because they are not around as much as management wants/needs. even though it isn't fair, you will be assessed more critically because you took time off and because you might need more accommodations right now than an employee who can still flex their life around work.

as a manager myself, I agree you should definitely go with concrete measurable steps. first thing is to address the erratic attendance. you are coming off a leave, so your ability to show that you can still be just as reliable and dedicated is paramount. attendance is critical for any employee but especially for those who are already being heavily scrutinized due to a change in work schedule or a recent leave. in your performance review, it might be prudent to address this by indicating that you had been struggling every now and then with this due to the new baby, but you have made a plan to address this and are confident that it won't be an issue moving forward. if you know you need to leave early on certain days, be proactive about this immediately and make a plan with your boss to handle this asap. you never want your boss asking "where is so and so?". even leaving an hour early or coming in an hour late will be noticed.

also want to mention - from management's perspective, they often don't view allowing a new mom to come back and work part time as something that works in their favor, even though they should (often it is much better to retain a strong employee part time than lose them completely). whether it is right or wrong, typically management will view accommodating a new parent as a favor to the employee...even if that employee has demonstrated ten times over that they are worth their weight in gold for the company. as a result, they can be far less forgiving with sick days, leaving early, etc because they are coming from the mindset of "well we already did ALL THIS FOR YOU" instead of "hey let's keep this good employee around as long as we can."
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 10:32:06 AM by little_brown_dog »

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2015, 10:32:19 AM »
Thanks little brown dog, Wololo and Lil miss frugal for your responses.

LMF - I should clarify that being late at my company is not really a big deal, I consider myself late if I'm not there at 8:30, but the boss doesn't start until 9 most days. Some guys start at 7, others start at 9:30, and several have occasional school runs where they turn up at 10. Because we fill out timesheets (and clock in and out - I know, weird for a professional services company) we are pretty much allowed to start and finish when we choose. I guess it's something that bothers me about my performance more than its really something I'd be disciplined over.

Wololo - I do think that's a big part of it. The two guys who are on the same level of seniority are seen as more committed, because they are always there. And they are both good at their jobs, well actually I think one is pretty fantastic at his job. So in comparison, I don't look that great. I don't think I have been that great recently, which is why I think I can turn this around by becoming better.

I agree with your suggestion of a meeting with the boss, this is sort of what I had been planning to do - use my performance appraisal which we all have coming up this month to discuss with my manager (not the boss, so I don't have to confront him directly) how I can become more valuable / useful to the company. I don't think a promotion is anywhere near on the cards - from the level I'm at I probably need another 5 or so years experience, and frankly I'm not really ready for the extra responsibility yet anyway. I really just want to lose this "imposter syndrome" feeling, and regain my colleagues respect and my own self respect. (and a pay rise would be nice, but I suspect there will be very few of those happening this year).

I think I will add to my to do list - take note of anything Boss criticises me for so I can work out how to address it rather than just feeling bad.

LBD - I should clarify, this is not a short term thing, I'm well out of new baby territory - she's 3. But maternity leave is when i went from obviously being valued to feeling like I'm always trying to catch up. I thought it was improving but a recent reshuffle of management has made the boss a lot more hands on, and has made it increasingly obvious that he's not happy with me.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2015, 10:38:36 AM »
hmmm could it be your part time status? are you the only part time employee on the team? you could be dealing with that unusually harsh assessment of part timers vs. full timers issue. the sad thing is, part time employees are often just viewed as less dedicated, less reliable than their FT counterparts, even if they are just as productive per hour worked.

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2015, 10:49:30 AM »
LBD - I definitely think the part time thing hurts me. Even though it's only one day I'm not there, people - including boss - forget all the time, so they'll ask me to do something tomorrow at 5 on a Tuesday and I have to remind them I won't be there. You'd think after having this schedule for 2 full years, they'd be used to it.

milliemchi

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2015, 01:16:35 PM »

I think it's commendable that you are taking a proactive approach to this problem and instead of whining, doing the best you can to help the situation. Just bear in mind that you may not have that much control over the situation because it may not be based on objective measures that you can improve. Besides, being a single mom, you can only improve so much before you hit the objective restraints of needing to be at two places at once and doing two things at the same time. But even small improvements will help you feel better about yourself, because you are ultimately making these improvements for yourself, to make yourself more valuable, and not to please the men at work. When you bring the most value you can, you will be able to position yourself for the best job you can find, be it at your current company or somewhere else. You will be giving yourself more options.

BlueHouse

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2015, 01:48:16 PM »
Quote
...Someone once said to me that if you lock up a bunch of highly competitive, highly competent people in a small room for up to 12 hours a day, it's inevitable that somebody's going to end up hurt. Well, your job is to make sure that person isn't you, and the way you do that is by winning the mental game.

Meanwhile, establish and maintain strictly professional boundaries in all your workplace interactions, which means you avoid socialising unless attendance is mandatory, and you remain resolutely friendly, professional and polite while keeping all workplace interaction work-related and cordial. Become a beacon of correct conduct in a workplace that could obviously do with one.
+1.
You are being bullied by your boss, plain and simple.  Whatever the reason, you fell out of disfavor with him and his shoddy treatment of you in front of others is a cue for them to treat you disrespectfully.  Don't take it personally, they are weak, spineless jerks who just don't want to be the object of derision, so they don't do anything to stop it or discourage it.   This is typical bullying behavior and it sucks.  I'm sorry you're going through this.  I totally agree with the other poster.  Be as correct as you can, but try to really stop giving a shit.   Get in, be professional, and get out.  Don't even try to play in that small-minded world.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2015, 04:03:43 PM »
from my experience and talking with those in the organizational psych field, it is really difficult to halt bullying or inappropriate treatment at work by a superior, especially if they are targeting you for things outside your control like simply working your approved schedule. definitely try to do your best during the hours you work, try to avoid giving them any more "reasons" to be difficult (for your sake, not theirs), but be prepared that anything you do improve will at best prevent future abuse rather than dramatically change their behavior towards you.

my friend received some good advice from a career coach. she was seeking help because she felt stuck at her current job, not miserable but not happy, and didn't see herself going anywhere in her position. the coach told her to use the time in her current job as a time to really figure out what her long term career plans were and how she would achieve them.  basically, you know there isn't much for you here now but you need the income so sit tight, do good work, and start planning your exit strategy. that strategy may not get you out of there immediately, but it will help you cope with your current treatment for the time being.

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2015, 11:12:26 PM »
Quote
...Someone once said to me that if you lock up a bunch of highly competitive, highly competent people in a small room for up to 12 hours a day, it's inevitable that somebody's going to end up hurt. Well, your job is to make sure that person isn't you, and the way you do that is by winning the mental game.

Meanwhile, establish and maintain strictly professional boundaries in all your workplace interactions, which means you avoid socialising unless attendance is mandatory, and you remain resolutely friendly, professional and polite while keeping all workplace interaction work-related and cordial. Become a beacon of correct conduct in a workplace that could obviously do with one.
+1.
You are being bullied by your boss, plain and simple.  Whatever the reason, you fell out of disfavor with him and his shoddy treatment of you in front of others is a cue for them to treat you disrespectfully.  Don't take it personally, they are weak, spineless jerks who just don't want to be the object of derision, so they don't do anything to stop it or discourage it.   This is typical bullying behavior and it sucks.  I'm sorry you're going through this.  I totally agree with the other poster.  Be as correct as you can, but try to really stop giving a shit.   Get in, be professional, and get out.  Don't even try to play in that small-minded world.

Yes, you are right, it certainly feels like bullying. I have been going down the line of get in and get out, don't socialise etc, and I think it's time for a new tack.

One thing I have considered doing is taking the two guys who are at my level out for lunch (my treat) and asking them what they feel I need to do. I'm holding back on that because I don't want to make things worse by drawing attention to it.

Opinions?

deborah

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2015, 11:38:09 PM »
I'm not sure about bullying or not bullying. You may not have been sent on the course because it was a full week course, and you are part time, and are in a difficult situation where you have to be there for your child on the other day. If your boss knows this he may be trying to ensure that he doesn't make things any more difficult for you than they are already. This could be especially true if you are sick a lot. He knows you have to pick your child up, so he may not have asked you to drinks for that reason. 

The other examples do indicate that he has less confidence in you than in your team mates.

However, I think you are concentrating on the wrong things. You were employed for your strengths, not your weaknesses. If you are concentrating on improving what you (not he) perceive as your weaknesses, you may be throwing your strengths away. You appear not to have found out what his views are, and asking your team mates is still not finding out from your boss. Are you too afraid to even talk to him? It is possible that he doesn't even know that he is causing you angst. Get a time with him. Tell him that you are having problems communicating with him, and would like to work through any issues. Ask him what he appreciates about what you do, whether you need to enhance these qualities as well as what he would like you to do better.

If I was him, I would be concerned that I had a constantly sick employee. It wouldn't matter what she was doing to improve in other areas, I would just want her to get well again so she could function as well as she did before all this happened. Yes, there could easily be other things going on, and he could be discriminating against you as a part time worker with a child, like the other respondents are saying, but it is probably worth exploring these areas as well.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2015, 12:01:06 AM by deborah »

okits

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2015, 11:42:59 PM »
When did you last attempt daycare?  Kids grow and change so quickly, she might have struggled with it six months ago but may possibly be okay with it now.  Or, she may struggle with it now but love it in six months.

You're in a shitty and unfair situation, and while you shouldn't have to twist yourself into knots and pander to the bullies the reality is that you have to deal with it.  I think it's highly likely you're not being taken seriously anymore because you're a mother and working part-time.  Discriminatory, but that's the reality so really consider going back full time.  It is only one extra day a week.  And I feel disgusting saying this, but you could let it be known that since you're separated/divorced, you don't plan on any more children.  It's wrong but I expect you'll be treated a bit better if they don't think you'll go on maternity leave again and have more family obligations.

The boss sets the tone, and we already strongly suspect what their problems are with you.  So I don't see it being useful lunching with your peers.  You need to meet with your boss (and maybe the boss another level up) to ask what you can do to advance your career.  (Even if the next promotion is five years out they'll want to see that you're hungry for it and committed to work.  You don't actually have to be, but you're creating an image to improve your current work conditions.)

I wish I had better solutions for you.  My (imperfect) solutions have been FU money and a husband who has confidence in me, even when I feel beaten down by the rest of the world.  Little_brown_dog brings up a lot of great observations.  Companies can be short-sighted and dumb, and great employees with skills and experience end up leaving as a result.

former player

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2015, 01:16:57 AM »
I am afraid that I think it's a fairly simple problem at heart: you used to be your boss's favourite and he wanted to train you to do his job, but you turned him down.  I suspect that either he took this as a personal rejection and resents you for it or that he has taken an objective organisational view that you are no longer promotion material and so have become someone who is fulfilling a routine job and no more.  It will be difficult, and probably impossible, for you to get him to see you again as someone on track for promotion, and he probably also now has others in mind for that role.

If I am right, I suspect that you have two choices: you recognise the benefits of your current job (it does seem to have quite a number still) and treat it as a job rather than a career until your current boss moves on and you have a chance to show your worth to a new boss, or you look for new opportunities in different organisations.

I'm sorry if this is rather a downer of a post: I'm not saying that what has happened to you is right, just that it is the sad reality of the way employment actually works rather than how it should work.

Alabaster

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2015, 01:45:27 AM »
Wrote a giant post. Deleted it because it looks like pretty much everything has been covered.

I think you have a good attitude (do what you can to improve your performance and stay positive). I don't think its fair, but I do think you should regain every bit of normalcy possible (get in early, stay late, get back to 5 days a week (well, its normal for me at least)) as soon as you can. I do think INTJs will improve their opinion of you when you are doing a really good job and look as committed to it as anyone else (perception, not reality unfortunately, drives opinion for most people...)

Above all, I wish you good luck!

Rezdent

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2015, 06:33:03 AM »
Ok, long post warning ahead...
It sounds like you are taking some facts in, analyzing them without getting more information, and then filling in motives for the other people.  That's okay, everyone does this.  We do it all the time and we almost always guess the wrong motive.

There's a pretty good book/CD course called "Crucial Conversations" that I highly recommend.  The authors define a crucial conversation as anytime the stakes are high, the emotions are high, and opinions differ.  They outline how to analyze a situation, diagnose the real issue and how to approach the other person (very INTJ approach to relationships).

The goal is to be able to have a conversation with anyone about anything - be able to address the cursing safely and come to an agreement; clarify what has changed about their opinions since you came back, get clear on the role of part timers, etc.

For your situation I'd recommend staying currently and working on communication - the actual job seems to be a good fit.  If you can steer the relationship back on course it sounds like you'd be happy at the job.

You may find that the company doesn't invest heavily in training for part timers and that your immediate supervisor can't change that.  You may find out that your lead trusts you more than any of the others - and this leads them to use more relaxed language (cursing) BECAUSE they value you so highly.  Maybe you find that they didn't realize they were only doing it to you.  Whatever you find, you both come to an agreement that they don't curse you and it stops.

If you still are unhappy later you will have more skills going forward in a new job so the time isn't wasted.
These skills can also help with other parts of your life.

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2015, 06:38:33 AM »
Yes, the behavior sucks, but I think the real kicker is part-time. Companies will almost never devote resources (training, promotions, etc) to PT employees over FT ones.

Until you can go FT again, much of this is out of your circle of influence. Even if you have to stay 4 days a week, can you negotiate a 4 day 40 hour (or equivalent FT hour for your country and industry)? Do telecommuting on that 5th day?

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2015, 06:42:18 AM »
Thanks all for the comments. I appreciate the time and effort.
However...
A lot of people seem to be focussing on the stuff I can't change - being part time and getting sick.
I can't do much about getting sick - years of steroids and imunosuppressants have lowered my immune system, but I'm not constantly off work - I take more sick days than most people, maybe 12 - 15 a year (sick leave allowance is 10 days, so I use a bit of annual leave or LWOP). One or two colds / flus that take me out for a few days and a day here and there. This is not new, he knew about my medical issues when he hired me and was understanding of it before. I am trying (and doing ok with) to exercise, eat well, sleep enough, reduce my germ exposure, etc. I did buy some multivitamins today to see if that helps. But realistically, I have to accept the limits of a flawed body.
I am not willing to change being part time yet. Partly because of our separation and partly because I had to return to work fairly early (by Australian standards), DD has now been in 3 different day cares, now kindy, along with 4 or 5 different places she calls home, and she's only just 3. She's going to change again at the end of the year when she goes to big school, and that is enough upheaval for a very little girl.
What I can change is what I offer when I'm there, and that's what I want advice on. I am really pleased to have discovered MOOCs, and they are a great tool in my arsenal, but I need more. I'm sure there are other resources that I haven't thought of that I can use, I just need help finding them.

Deb, there was so much in your post its easier to comment on it directly - see below:
I'm not sure about bullying or not bullying. You may not have been sent on the course because it was a full week course, and you are part time, and are in a difficult situation where you have to be there for your child on the other day. He wouldn't have considered that. When my colleague put me forward it was for one of the two sessions, which was within my working week.
 If your boss knows this he may be trying to ensure that he doesn't make things any more difficult for you than they are already. This could be especially true if you are sick a lot. He knows you have to pick your child up, so he may not have asked you to drinks for that reason.  Again, that wouldn't have even crossed his mind. If he'd thought about it at all, he'd have known that Friday is a kid-free day and I often work later that day. As it happened I was in the office until 7 anyway.

The other examples do indicate that he has less confidence in you than in your team mates. It's not imagined. Others who don't work under him have commented on the way he puts me down - we have cubicles, and he tends to raise his voice so half the office hears it.

However, I think you are concentrating on the wrong things. You were employed for your strengths, not your weaknesses. If you are concentrating on improving what you (not he) perceive as your weaknesses, you may be throwing your strengths away. I understand what you're getting at, but in this case, he commented on a specific aspect of my job. It's a component of everything I do, and it always will be. Hard to explain without explicitly stating my job, but imagine it as the equivalent of improving writing skills - it's a general skill not a specific one that I could just work around.

You appear not to have found out what his views are, and asking your team mates is still not finding out from your boss. Are you too afraid to even talk to him? I wouldn't say afraid, more that I don't think it would be a good approach with him. He's old school, if i talk about feelings and tell him his behaviour is upsetting me, he'll either feel so uncomfortable that he'll end the meeting, or he'll think I'm being a whiny baby. Which is likely to have the opposite effect from what I'm going for. Whereas if I speak to the guys my age, who are a bit more able to express empathy and understanding, I might get some useful information. It is possible that he doesn't even know that he is causing you angst. Get a time with him. Tell him that you are having problems communicating with him, and would like to work through any issues. Ask him what he appreciates about what you do, whether you need to enhance these qualities as well as what he would like you to do better.

If I was him, I would be concerned that I had a constantly sick employee.see comment above - I'm not ALWAYS sick, just more than average It wouldn't matter what she was doing to improve in other areas, I would just want her to get well again so she could function as well as she did before all this happened. Yes, there could easily be other things going on, and he could be discriminating against you as a part time worker with a child, like the other respondents are saying, but it is probably worth exploring these areas as well.

ETA just saw Rezdent's post. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will try to find a copy of that. Yes I do tend to read too much into things sometimes, but in this case I do have confirmation from others.
The swearing is not that big a deal. I accepted long ago that I was never going to be friends with that particular person, and he's grumpy to pretty much everyone, it's not only me he swears at (actually I don't know that there's anyone he doesn't speak like that to. Wouldn't be surprised if he did it to the CEO.) I'd just like to make it to a point where he is no more grumpy at me than he is at the others in our team.

Wilson Hall

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2015, 06:55:00 AM »
Wrote a giant post. Deleted it because it looks like pretty much everything has been covered.

I think you have a good attitude (do what you can to improve your performance and stay positive). I don't think its fair, but I do think you should regain every bit of normalcy possible (get in early, stay late, get back to 5 days a week (well, its normal for me at least)) as soon as you can. I do think INTJs will improve their opinion of you when you are doing a really good job and look as committed to it as anyone else (perception, not reality unfortunately, drives opinion for most people...)

Above all, I wish you good luck!

+1 to what Alabaster wrote. 

I think you've gotten some great advice so far in this thread. As someone who is going through a somewhat stressful phase dealing with a supervisor, I feel for you, though your situation is much more complicated. Regarding the INTJs: I work with several of them and am good friends with a few others, and while they may pull no punches in showing their displeasure, the up side is that when they express approval, it's for real.

You are off to a great start in improving your work situation: keep it up, and I believe you may begin seeing positive results.

DeltaBond

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2015, 06:58:32 AM »
OP, I feel like I was in a very similar situation to yours.  Divorce happened, my personal life and child had to come first and doing extra things at work had to be put on hold.  I didn't realize at the time that everyone who shifted focus around me were basically doing so to be considerate of all I was going through without bringing up the uncomfortable subject.  I even thought my boss had started disliking women.  At the time, thinking it was all negative towards me, I just did the work I could do, and keep an eye out for other positions within my company.  After a few years, the work I had done within my capacity was recognized and respected, and I ended up getting promoted.  Looking back, although I had the wrong reasons for doing what I did (nose to the grindstone and ignoring things that came up that I couldn't do anyway, feeling hatred for those around me sailing by all happy in life and career) it was the best thing I could have done.

So you can explain to your boss that you're going to continue to do your best through this time in your life and hope there is an understanding, or just continue to do that anyway and not worry about anyone's opinions ofyou, because odds are, they aren't holding any negative opinion.  They might just not know what to say to be supportive, or may not want to bring up personal stuff at work.  Cut them some slack, and understand they are already cutting you some slack.

I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do to handle it, I sure hope it turns out well.  Hugs to you!!!

deborah

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2015, 07:16:11 AM »
I'm sorry that I came across as trivialising things. I have been on both sides of the fence - having been very sick myself and having had staff some of whom were very sick. I was trying to put an alternate point of view so that you could see that there may be other perspectives, particularly as bullying started to be mentioned (I find that when people start to feel that bullying is involved they seem to stop looking for other possibilities). I was sure some of my suggestions would be wide of the mark.

There are several people in the forum who have been sick for a while. I certainly lived for years wondering whether I would be given the boot because (like you) I took more than the standard number of sick days. It certainly didn't help my career! I eventually managed to reduce this by making my health a high priority and really working on methods to reduce my days off. A workplace will be happy to accommodate a person who is sick for a while, but after a couple of years it becomes a real issue to an entire team when the person simply doesn't get well. The trouble is that when you have a chronic unwellness, it is very difficult to find anything that will help you. You may want to do a search for the spoons theory - I think it was HappierAtHome who was talking about it in her journal.

Rezdent

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2015, 08:17:02 AM »
 Southern Saver
Sorry if I wasn't clear with my examples.   I used the cursing problem as just one example of how an honest, open, safe conversation might reveal that the motives and perceptions of your lead might be very different than what you originally believed.  No matter what they are, you can (almost always) come to a mutual agreement on what's acceptable going forward.


I didn't focus on sick days, work hours, etc., because you don't seem clear on which of these are really impacting the situation.
It appears to me that you'll get the most bang for your buck by skilling up in having difficult conversations.  Those conversations will help you focus on exactly what's needed to get the results you want.

I definitely recommend the course before having the conversations based on what you wrote in this snipped sentence:

I wouldn't say afraid, more that I don't think it would be a good approach with him. He's old school, if i talk about feelings and tell him his behaviour is upsetting me, he'll either feel so uncomfortable that he'll end the meeting, or he'll think I'm being a whiny baby. Which is likely to have the opposite effect from what I'm going for.

If he's uncomfortable and ends the discussion it would most likely be because you fail to establish a mutual purpose and/or fail to create enough safety.  The course I recommended outlines the steps for creating and maintaining both. The desired outcome is that he feels comfortable enough to be frank with you - and that both of you walk away with a clear understanding of what's going on and what the expectations are.

You can strengthen your skill in this area to a place where you can have difficult conversations with anyone - old school, toddler, ex. You will be speaking with people for the rest of your life.  It pays to work on this.


MsPeacock

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2015, 07:01:16 PM »
I have been is very similar shoes. Worked part time, divorce started, company wanted me full time, I had to cover 3 people with my sick time (me and two kids) and basically felt like things were going to hell in   hand basket. Boss was pressuring me to do some advanced certification set the same time, etc.

1. Figure out how to get back to full time. Maybe do four 10 hour days (which was my solution) or super early some days so you can leave early. The part time aspect may be hurting you. As pp noted companies may be reluctant to out resources into someone they think is less devoted than a full time employee

2. I think the remediation on skills is a very good plan. Keep pointing it out via email ore memo as you complete it. Include it in your annual reviews and such


The other note is that subtle exist, or not so subtle, exists in the workplace as a very real thing. I am now fortunate to have a chain of female single mother bosses above me, and it has drastically improved my work situation. This is obviously outside of your control, but might be worth your time to keep an eye out for friendlier work opportunities as the years go on. I have had good male bosses w/o children and I have had horrible hostile to moms males bosses w/children.  As much as possible keep any illness, family drama, etc out of the awareness of coworkers.

Bearded Man

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2015, 07:12:04 PM »
This is a no win situation. The odds are stacked against you at this poorly managed company where bullying behavior is allowed. Time to move on and take your skills to their competitors.

Zamboni

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2015, 08:22:45 PM »
Make a plan for the future that doesn't revolve around your current job or current boss.  Seriously, once a boss views you as a bottom feeder, it is difficult to recover. Of course, bosses can change, but right now it reads like no one on the team really is respecting you. So if he goes it's likely his replacement won't treat you much better. Yes, it is probably mostly because of things you can't change (like being female, part time, sick a lot, viewed as not serious about your career).

Your child will be in 5-day a week school in 2 or 3 years?  Since you need the part time job for the moment, and those can be difficult to find at a new place, I say just tread water at work until then but keep doing primarily things that will add to your resume/CV. In my field this might include presentations, publications, formal training so that new skills can be listed. There are other work things that you might spend time on that won't really add to your resume, so minimize your effort on those. Once you are ready to go 5 days a week, then really do a full court press to get the type of job and respect that you want. There may or may not be an option for that at your current place.

Meanwhile, please keep reminding yourself that you are a goddess. If they don't see it, then fuck 'em. Seriously. Stop trying to please and get to padding that resume.

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2015, 05:17:01 AM »
I'm sorry that I came across as trivialising things. I have been on both sides of the fence - having been very sick myself and having had staff some of whom were very sick. I was trying to put an alternate point of view so that you could see that there may be other perspectives, particularly as bullying started to be mentioned (I find that when people start to feel that bullying is involved they seem to stop looking for other possibilities). I was sure some of my suggestions would be wide of the mark.

There are several people in the forum who have been sick for a while. I certainly lived for years wondering whether I would be given the boot because (like you) I took more than the standard number of sick days. It certainly didn't help my career! I eventually managed to reduce this by making my health a high priority and really working on methods to reduce my days off. A workplace will be happy to accommodate a person who is sick for a while, but after a couple of years it becomes a real issue to an entire team when the person simply doesn't get well. The trouble is that when you have a chronic unwellness, it is very difficult to find anything that will help you. You may want to do a search for the spoons theory - I think it was HappierAtHome who was talking about it in her journal.
That's ok, it didn't come across as trivialising, just that I hadn't explained a few things clearly enough. I agree about labelling it bullying. I don't like the way he treats me, but in my experience once someone is openly called on bullying behaviour, ultimately either the bully or the victim has to leave.
Since I suspect the department would disappear overnight if the boss left, that means it would be me finding a new job either way.

Zamboni - WRT making a long term plan that doesn't involve this job, I have a 3 year plan that involves saving for another 18 months then retraining into a totally different field. Something I have always intended to do eventually, when I'd had enough of this job. It will be a hit to the FIRE plans as it will take 10 years to get back to my current salary and would go no higher, but more years in a job I enjoy more is the trade off. If I can get back to enjoying my work I can stay in this field and accelerate savings instead. As you say, DD is in FT school in 18m, or I may be able to get another day of care from GPs now they are all retired, and go FT at work.
As far as things that look good on the resume, mostly in my field it's more about the project than things like training. No one cares what training you do. However, Boss has been talking about getting papers and conference presentations happening, he just seems to expect us to do it in our own time. And I would really struggle to get a paper out of my current work, other than a project that I have serious concerns about whether it will eventuate. Although, I guess there is still a paper in - we tried this novel thing and here's what we learnt about why it won't work.

Right, adding paper / conference to my list. eek!

Bearded man - there are certainly some issues. However, at this stage, I need to rebuild my self worth before trying to go out and convince other employers how awesome I am. If current workplace still sucks after I give it my best shot, at least I'll be confident and well equipped for a job search.

Ms Peacock - Realistically, full time is not possible right now. My illness is exacerbated by stress and tiredness, and if I push myself too hard, I'll have a relapse. Deborah mentioned the spoon theory above, and it rings very true for me, though not as extreme as in the description.
However, I am rethinking whether I can add a half day equivalent - work late on my two child free evenings, maybe an extra hour on GP day (if they agree), set myself up so i can work in the evening if needed, get AH access to work on Saturday morning.  It will be cobbled together but it will mean more hours billed and my face in the office a bit more, and showing commitment to the team.
The message is coming through loud and clear that the part time aspect is likely to be a big factor working against me, and possibly not something I can just write off as unchangeable.
As far as looking in the future for jobs with women up the chain, I've never encountered a woman at middle management level or above in the 2 companies I've worked for. 2 of those were multinationals, and I don't know that they actually had any. Unless I go public sector (massive pay cut - like 30% or more) there are slim pickings of jobs with women bosses.

Rezdent - I do agree this is something I can improve, have added book to my list of tasks.
Wilson and Delta bond - thanks for the support.

Misstachian

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2015, 08:44:13 AM »
I think the conversation people are talking about is not for you to go in and say, "I'm being bullied, stop it," because you're right, that probably wouldn't be very productive. I am picturing more of a sit down in which you say, "I know you have wanted me to improve abc, and I want you to know that I am doing xyz to fix it. If you have additional advice or steps you think I should take, I would love to get your advice."

People like giving advice. (See: this forum.) Maybe if you show him that you know the issues, you're actively working to improve them, and you're open & thoughtful about taking his advice to be the best you can be, that could help in both the actual performance of your job and, perhaps more importantly in this case, his perception of it.

EngineerMum

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2015, 05:39:45 PM »
I think the conversation people are talking about is not for you to go in and say, "I'm being bullied, stop it," because you're right, that probably wouldn't be very productive. I am picturing more of a sit down in which you say, "I know you have wanted me to improve abc, and I want you to know that I am doing xyz to fix it. If you have additional advice or steps you think I should take, I would love to get your advice."
Yes, I was thinking more of a "I feel like I'm not adding value to the company as much as [star employees] and wanted to know what I should do to improve that"

asiljoy

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2015, 09:31:14 PM »
I would just be very careful of starting/mentioning in any conversations with management your "weaknesses". It'll bring confirmation bias into play for your manager and your "weaknesses" will be reinforced and front of mind for him again, instead of fading away. Which is always why I hate doing the "what's you weakness" part of performance reviews; if you don't know/remember what my weakness is, I'm certainly not going to tell you!

It's a bummer about the assholes you work with and way to have a good attitude about trying to deal with the situation. Sometimes the best way to deal with an asshole is letting them know you recognize them for what they are and move on. I'm sure you're not the only person made uncomfortable by your co-worker/boss' antics. Do your thing and let the rest happen.

I second the comment around padding your resume and then moving on when able; I don't see the point in salvaging this situation beyond that? Do you really want to work with a-holes long term?

**Side note, I've never worked in an environment where part-timers were given perks like travel/certifications/training, or given projects that would put them in a position to be promoted. It just was expected that they were there for the pay check and in return they kept operations moving. So perhaps a slight from your boss, but maybe not as huge as you think?

urbanista

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2015, 11:20:07 PM »
I am in Australia too, working in a professional occupation. I too took a maternity leave 3 years ago. So did my sister, my best friend and several other women I know.

All of us had issues at work after returning from leave. For me, when I say 'bad', I don't mean hostile or nasty. People were still nice to me, however, completely ignored me progessionally. Mind you, I returned full-time and almost never took any sick leave (about 2-3 days a year which is considered normal).

All my friends, 5 women - had to find a new job after a while, or became a SAHP.

In my view, there is no way you can repair the situation. I simply stopped care about anything work-related. I concentrated my efforts on getting a better job. It took me 2 years of study + full-time work, but I recently found my dream job.

My advice would be to stop caring at all. By all means, try to be a better employee, but understand that the perception is reality. Your boss formed his perception of you, it is very, very hard to change now. I wouldn't even bother to spend my energy on it.

Tough it out for a couple of more years and get a full time job when your child is at school.

BlueHouse

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Re: Help me improve my treatment in my workplace!
« Reply #30 on: June 15, 2015, 06:19:05 AM »

My advice would be to stop caring at all. By all means, try to be a better employee, but understand that the perception is reality. Your boss formed his perception of you, it is very, very hard to change now. I wouldn't even bother to spend my energy on it.

Tough it out for a couple of more years and get a full time job when your child is at school.
I agree with the first bolted sentence, but I do think it's possible to change it. When I said bullying before, I mean it as in the group picks on the weakest. I've seen many many times where the newest person isn't accepted into the group until there's another newer person. It sounds to me as if you were moved down that totem when you left for maternity and the others filled the void. They know it instinctually and will do a lot to avoid giving up their spot on the favorites list.
One way to change your situation might be to change the dynamic in the department. You can do this by getting rid of one of the people between you and the boss. I am not advocating sabotage or a direct attack on another. What I mean is, when you're out looking for jobs and see one that you don't feel you're quite ready for, make sure your coworker knows about it. You don't have to even say anything directly. I've given referrals to recruiters for my co workers and insisted that the recruiter not reveal who recommended them. I've even gone so far as submitting a problem supervisor's resume to a competitor. It worked and I can only assume that all parties were happy at the time and the supervisor thinks it was just dumb luck that they found an old version of his resume.
In any case, if you can find a way to upset the apple cart, then you're no longer on the bottom and the entire team dynamic has changed.
Some people don't like this approach, but I've used it successfully twice in the past and I've never felt guilty about it.