Author Topic: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."  (Read 23675 times)

Apocalyptica602

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 273
So I just got out of a feedback session with my manager. A few months back I got a stellar review, 'consistently exceeding expectations'. I nailed all my goals for the year and then some, I received an above average raise and bonus, etc. The only 'development' feedback that was on it was that I need to 'stretch' myself more, stating that you learn more when pulled outside your comfort zone (I agree with this statement).

Although the other day I think he was trying to phrase that in a way that made me cringe. "You exceeded all your goals without stressing out or pulling longer than 40-45 hour weeks. I want to see how you handle having too much work and not enough time."

Of course that's with no mention of pay increases, promotion or anything.

So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

jinga nation

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1282
  • Location: 'Murica's Johnson
  • Left, Right, Peddlin' Shite
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 08:18:21 AM »
He wants you to share his misery... coz it loves company.

"Stretch" goals... Corporate bullspeak for "do more for the same or less, or else, we'll be forced to make some drastic changes..."

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2016, 08:23:54 AM »
"It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation?"
-Office Space

thepokercab

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2016, 08:34:15 AM »
I've worked in environments like this, where if you aren't in the office after hours you're automatically pegged as someone who doesn't work as hard.  I even fell into this trap early in my career, working insane hours and weekends, just to feel like I was pulling my weight and keeping up with my peers, all of which was encouraged by managers.   

At some point though I moved to a new job, where the culture focused more on how do you structure your time so you aren't working all hours. The mindset was totally different:  If you feel like you have to work all hours, then maybe we need to examine the work and figure out how it can be delegated better, or if there are more efficient ways to do it.  Sure, I still pull the occasional late night or weekend, but its night and day vs previous jobs I've had. 

Now, when i see people sending me emails in the middle of the night and its not for something that is urgent, its almost a sign of dysfunction to me.  I'm no longer thinking "wow, hard worker"!!.  I'm thinking "wow, that person/organization must really not have their shit together". 

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2016, 08:35:37 AM »
Take some advice from George Constanza, and pretend to be angry/stressed whenever the boss walks in. When he leaves, go ahead and lean back in your chair and get on with your day.

Option #2: Tell your boss if he gives you anymore work you will start applying to other jobs. You are a valuable employee, and he does not to see you leave.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3235
  • Location: WDC
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2016, 08:44:47 AM »
He wants you to share his misery... coz it loves company.

I think there's something to this.   I had to fire someone once and the reason the boss gave me was "he walks too slow and always has his hands in his pockets".  It bugged him that everyone else in the office was stressed out, excited, or enthusiastic and this guy always looked like he was taking a stroll to the beach. 

There were other legitimate reasons for the firing, but the boss didn't know them.  He just knew that the guy looked unmotivated. 

Look busy for a while and walk with a sense of purpose.  It really does make a difference in other's perceptions of you. 

For instance, when I get home from a tough day at work and my nephew has been lying on the couch all day watching TV, it infuriates me.  It's his day off, so why should I care?  I want to just scream "LOOK BUSY!" but I know that's irrational.  Of course, it would be better if he would actually do work around the house that I want done and to my specs, but that's my own fault for not specifying what I want.  So Look Busy is second best. 

Chris22

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3210
  • Location: Chicago NW Suburbs
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2016, 08:55:01 AM »
For instance, when I get home from a tough day at work and my nephew has been lying on the couch all day watching TV, it infuriates me.  It's his day off, so why should I care?  I want to just scream "LOOK BUSY!" but I know that's irrational.  Of course, it would be better if he would actually do work around the house that I want done and to my specs, but that's my own fault for not specifying what I want.  So Look Busy is second best.

My wife has this problem too.  I structure my household chores around things I want to do, so if I want to, say, watch a football game on Sunday afternoon and lay on the couch, I'll get my stuff done early so I can.  She will often decide to hold her chores until later, and then is annoyed when I'm "just laying around."  Wah.  Not my fault, I planned this.

Smokystache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 338
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2016, 09:02:52 AM »
See Attachment: "It'll still work. That's the freaky part."

RamonaQ

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 893
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Midwest
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2016, 10:14:04 AM »
Ugh.  That reminds me of my first "real" job.

I had a basic corporate job, my first "real" job out of grad school.  The workload was intense as the department was short-staffed.  Because I didn't make much and was still broke, I was also waiting tables.  So I'd work from 8-5, then wait tables from 5:30-11ish, then usually go back to the office from about 11:30pm - 1 am.  Then back the next day at 8 am.  It sucked.  When I was going for a promotion my boss's boss questioned my dedication, saying that I was usually leaving right at 5.  I mentioned that I was almost always back there in the middle of the freaking night and on weekends.  He said, "well, nobody sees that."  Ah, the importance of face time.  And apparently stressed-out face time.

Gone Fishing

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2754
  • So Close went fishing on April 1, 2016
    • Journal
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2016, 11:55:23 AM »
I've been accused of the same.  In my book, most stress is a result of piss poor planning. Next time tell them you are like a professional athlete, you only make it look easy because you are good! 


Red from Shawshank Redemption:

"He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place."

What Red didn't know was Andy had a stache!


okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9093
  • Location: Canada
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2016, 12:18:42 PM »
Well he also needs to look good (which probably involves the perception that he's squeezing every last bit of productivity out of you.  If you're not crying, he could probably work you harder.)

Option 1: make a big show of "doing more/working harder" and all the time and stress involved.  You may need to put in more face time and put up with more bullshit.

Option 2: find a new company to work for.  Your current employer has already formed the expectation that your awesome performance is only baseline for you.  They will naturally want more out of you.  A new place will be wowed by your normal efforts (and you can hold back a little so there's "improvement" you can show over time).  Possibly a pay raise or promotion in there.

I'd put some time and energy into exploring option 2, since your boss has shown himself to be a dickhead.

Drifterrider

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1119
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2016, 12:46:30 PM »
So I just got out of a feedback session with my manager. A few months back I got a stellar review, 'consistently exceeding expectations'. I nailed all my goals for the year and then some, I received an above average raise and bonus, etc. The only 'development' feedback that was on it was that I need to 'stretch' myself more, stating that you learn more when pulled outside your comfort zone (I agree with this statement).

Although the other day I think he was trying to phrase that in a way that made me cringe. "You exceeded all your goals without stressing out or pulling longer than 40-45 hour weeks. I want to see how you handle having too much work and not enough time."

Of course that's with no mention of pay increases, promotion or anything.

So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

So you got an above average increase and an above average bonus?  Perhaps your boss is telling you that you are under utilized.  Do you want another above average raise and bonus?  It seems you keep your cool, manage your time well and accomplish more than others.  Perhaps your boss used a poor choice of words to tell you that you are on the track for bigger and better things and wants to see how much more you can do.  Remember, the hotter the fire the stronger the steel.


Uturn

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 672
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Holly Springs, NC
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2016, 12:53:53 PM »
About 5 years ago, I worked for a man who graded his people by hours worked, not work performed.  One night we had an equipment failure, so I went into the office and took care of it.  The next day I was leaving for the day around lunch time.  Boss mentioned that the workday is not over yet.  So I looked at him and asked, "did you hire me to run your network to the best of my ability, or did you hire me to occupy a chair for exactly 8 hours a day?  You only get to choose one."  He never watched the clock with me or hovered over my shoulder after that. 

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7012
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2016, 01:49:04 PM »
Quote
So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!
Well, yeah, sometimes you have to play these games with bad management.

Quote
"Stretch" goals... Corporate bullspeak for "do more for the same or less, or else, we'll be forced to make some drastic changes..."
Yep

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1447
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2016, 02:19:21 PM »
Although I don't know where you work, the 'consistently exceeding expectations' is/was one of the performance ratings when I was at Google. There it wasn't a 'stellar' rating, it was above average meaning that you're doing quite well but not ready for promo.

Generally it's a good thing for your manager to look to stretch you a bit. You want to be past your comfort zone but not at your breaking point. Taking on new challenges is how you grow, and this is usually a prerequisite for promotion (unless you work somewhere strictly seniority based), assuming that promotion is something you're interested in.

That said, the focus on number of hours and perceived stress is a huge red flag to me. IMO, if he is basing your performance and growth on these things (and it's not the case that you misunderstood/misheard) then I would look to transfer to another team if at all possible and ASAP.

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2016, 02:23:48 PM »
So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

Stick to your guns.   I used to work at a big consulting firm, and there was some pressure, mostly unspoken, to bill lots of hours.   So people spent lots of hours in the office.  It was almost like a badge of honor to see who could be there the most.

But here's the thing:  The people who really kicked ass, the people you wanted to work on your projects, the people with the most competence...all basically left at 5:00 every day.   

Constant stress and crisis at work are signs of failure.   They are symptoms of poor work habits and lack of priorities.  Humans can concentrate effectively for about one to maybe four hours a day on the outside.  And that's about all the time people in office jobs spending doing effective work.  The rest of the time is dealing with email, going to meetings, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn't count for much.  You might have to deal with lots of email, but that's usually part of your job, not the job they actually hired you for. 


Apocalyptica602

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 273
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2016, 02:47:08 PM »
Although I don't know where you work, the 'consistently exceeding expectations' is/was one of the performance ratings when I was at Google. There it wasn't a 'stellar' rating, it was above average meaning that you're doing quite well but not ready for promo.

Generally it's a good thing for your manager to look to stretch you a bit. You want to be past your comfort zone but not at your breaking point. Taking on new challenges is how you grow, and this is usually a prerequisite for promotion (unless you work somewhere strictly seniority based), assuming that promotion is something you're interested in.

That said, the focus on number of hours and perceived stress is a huge red flag to me. IMO, if he is basing your performance and growth on these things (and it's not the case that you misunderstood/misheard) then I would look to transfer to another team if at all possible and ASAP.

Don't work for Google, I'm a Mechanical Engineer at a Fortune 500. In our 'system' this is the highest rating you can get. There's some 'seniority' involved in promotions because higher tier job descriptions have an education and years of experience associated with them. I make enough money now and our gross HHI just clears $200K, although I'm willing to accept promotions as long as the pay/stress is worth it to accelerate FI even more.

I hope I misheard. Someone else commented well at least this is corroborated with a higher increase and bonus, implying that he's not just getting on my ass for 'slacking' as much as he might be saying 'you can do even more because you're effective at your job'. I just want to make sure I'm not rationalizing or in denial. I don't consider my workplace very toxic, although apparently I'm not prone to stress out anyway so maybe it is and I don't realize it haha.

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1447
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2016, 03:02:27 PM »
Don't work for Google, I'm a Mechanical Engineer at a Fortune 500. In our 'system' this is the highest rating you can get. There's some 'seniority' involved in promotions because higher tier job descriptions have an education and years of experience associated with them. I make enough money now and our gross HHI just clears $200K, although I'm willing to accept promotions as long as the pay/stress is worth it to accelerate FI even more.

I hope I misheard. Someone else commented well at least this is corroborated with a higher increase and bonus, implying that he's not just getting on my ass for 'slacking' as much as he might be saying 'you can do even more because you're effective at your job'. I just want to make sure I'm not rationalizing or in denial. I don't consider my workplace very toxic, although apparently I'm not prone to stress out anyway so maybe it is and I don't realize it haha.

Haha, funny that such oddly specific performance language is used in at least two totally different places. Wonder if this wording is shared in HR circles across large corps?

In any case, performance should be based what you do, actual accomplishments. Not how many hours you put in, or how stressed you get for the cause. I dunno, perhaps I'm an idealist. I managed for a good number of years and I always valued those who could get their job done without a lot of drama and without having to pull long hours. A charitable interpretation may be that your manager just wants to see what you are capable of, and perhaps he just didn't phrase that very well. Still, I would be on alert for any other indicators that he is looking for long hours or outward expressions of stress, since unfortunately some people view these as indicators of dedication/loyalty - I just wouldn't want to stick around for that type of crap.

Making Cookies

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1648
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2016, 03:32:20 PM »
I've worked in environments like this, where if you aren't in the office after hours you're automatically pegged as someone who doesn't work as hard.  I even fell into this trap early in my career, working insane hours and weekends, just to feel like I was pulling my weight and keeping up with my peers, all of which was encouraged by managers.   

At some point though I moved to a new job, where the culture focused more on how do you structure your time so you aren't working all hours. The mindset was totally different:  If you feel like you have to work all hours, then maybe we need to examine the work and figure out how it can be delegated better, or if there are more efficient ways to do it.  Sure, I still pull the occasional late night or weekend, but its night and day vs previous jobs I've had. 

Now, when i see people sending me emails in the middle of the night and its not for something that is urgent, its almost a sign of dysfunction to me.  I'm no longer thinking "wow, hard worker"!!.  I'm thinking "wow, that person/organization must really not have their shit together".

I worked at the "gotta-be stressed out" company. Used to have a team-leader that I answered to who liked to delegate "urgent" projects that had to be done as he walked out the door on Friday afternoon.

Might be one thing if I was hourly and able to get some overtime like part of my team but I was entry level salary. Then that urgent project i delivered might sit for several weeks after it was ready to ship. There are SO many reasons that leaving that places was the right move.

The older I get the more attached I get to leaving on time b/c there is little reward to sticking around and tinkering with tasks that can wait until tomorrow. I do work the occasional long days but its worth it b/c I respect my current employer and like my job.

Whatever career you choose, you have to choose an employer you can live with for a while. Don't want to take a job, pile on the grownup debt only to find that you hate your employer and you can't leave b/c of the debt that you can't float for a while. I knew some of these guys at my last employer. Stayed b/c they couldn't afford to leave or it was the best gig they could get in this town and the extended family lives here so they have to live here too.

Spiffsome

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 209
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2016, 04:12:54 PM »
A woman I used to work with said she knew it was time to leave the big law firm (she was HR) when she was working back at 8 pm one night, and she heard voices. It was two junior lawyers, each dictating loudly into a recorder with their office door open for the rest of the office to hear, but the only people there were the three of them.

LeRainDrop

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1841
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2016, 07:59:18 PM »
I work at biglaw and we had a partner who was a big bully.  She actually was rarely in the office, didn't really communicate when she would be, and often did not respond to emails -- because she was "so busy" and had "too many emails."  She claimed with a straight face that she didn't care about "face time," but god forbid if you were ever away from your desk during the short time that she was present.  One time she told me she sent herself an email at 11:45 a.m. to document that I was not at my desk at that time and my light was out; I guess it didn't occur to her that I could be in a meeting or out getting lunch or something.

Anyway, the OP's post reminded me of this time that the partner was yelling at me for something ridiculous.  At the end of her spiel, she looked at me, and was like, "Does any of this even matter to you?  You're not even crying!"  It really bothered her that I was just sitting there watching her rave like a lunatic.

Story ends with a long time of abuse, I reported her and had several critical talks with the higher-ups, and then she "coincidentally" resigned without another job lined up.  Environment is so much better without that b.  Thanks for letting me vent!

Squirrel away

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2016, 05:00:00 AM »
I work at biglaw and we had a partner who was a big bully.  She actually was rarely in the office, didn't really communicate when she would be, and often did not respond to emails -- because she was "so busy" and had "too many emails."  She claimed with a straight face that she didn't care about "face time," but god forbid if you were ever away from your desk during the short time that she was present.  One time she told me she sent herself an email at 11:45 a.m. to document that I was not at my desk at that time and my light was out; I guess it didn't occur to her that I could be in a meeting or out getting lunch or something.

Anyway, the OP's post reminded me of this time that the partner was yelling at me for something ridiculous.  At the end of her spiel, she looked at me, and was like, "Does any of this even matter to you?  You're not even crying!"  It really bothered her that I was just sitting there watching her rave like a lunatic.

Story ends with a long time of abuse, I reported her and had several critical talks with the higher-ups, and then she "coincidentally" resigned without another job lined up.  Environment is so much better without that b.  Thanks for letting me vent!

OMG!

Malaysia41

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3314
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Verona, Italy
    • My mmm journal
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2016, 05:33:53 AM »
Y'all make me so happy I'm retired. I write for 4 hours a day. For myself, for no one else. No need to look busy.  Just brewin' coffee and tappin' away at scrivener.

Thanks for the reminder of why I retired, and why it was a good decision.

Josiecat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 305
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2016, 03:28:44 PM »
The crying post is interesting.

At the age of 48, I find that I don't cry anymore.  I have been yelled at and today I got laid off and nope.... no tears.  I used to, but not it's just a job to me. I don't do drama.  There are other jobs out there.

Also, years ago I used to work with a woman who all day long walked around and told everyone how busy she was.  She was never at her desk working during the day.  Just moaning and sighing about her workload.  Then she had to work every night and weekends too.  I always thought that if she just sat at her desk during work hours and WORKED, then she wouldn't have to work her fake overtime.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2016, 03:30:22 PM by Josiecat »

FrugalShrew

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 585
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2016, 05:21:36 PM »
So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

Stick to your guns.   I used to work at a big consulting firm, and there was some pressure, mostly unspoken, to bill lots of hours.   So people spent lots of hours in the office.  It was almost like a badge of honor to see who could be there the most.

But here's the thing:  The people who really kicked ass, the people you wanted to work on your projects, the people with the most competence...all basically left at 5:00 every day.   

Constant stress and crisis at work are signs of failure.   They are symptoms of poor work habits and lack of priorities.  Humans can concentrate effectively for about one to maybe four hours a day on the outside.  And that's about all the time people in office jobs spending doing effective work.  The rest of the time is dealing with email, going to meetings, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn't count for much.  You might have to deal with lots of email, but that's usually part of your job, not the job they actually hired you for.

This is spot on, and yet I find it incredibly difficult not to conform to the long hours pressure.

Blonde Lawyer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 739
    • My Student Loan Refi Story
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2016, 06:16:50 PM »
I work at biglaw and we had a partner who was a big bully.  She actually was rarely in the office, didn't really communicate when she would be, and often did not respond to emails -- because she was "so busy" and had "too many emails."  She claimed with a straight face that she didn't care about "face time," but god forbid if you were ever away from your desk during the short time that she was present.  One time she told me she sent herself an email at 11:45 a.m. to document that I was not at my desk at that time and my light was out; I guess it didn't occur to her that I could be in a meeting or out getting lunch or something.

Anyway, the OP's post reminded me of this time that the partner was yelling at me for something ridiculous.  At the end of her spiel, she looked at me, and was like, "Does any of this even matter to you?  You're not even crying!"  It really bothered her that I was just sitting there watching her rave like a lunatic.

Story ends with a long time of abuse, I reported her and had several critical talks with the higher-ups, and then she "coincidentally" resigned without another job lined up.  Environment is so much better without that b.  Thanks for letting me vent!

OMG!

Must be a legal thing.  I also worked at a firm where two mid-levels, one male one female, would lose their shit if they couldn't upset you with their tirade.  One even told a partner that I didn't take my work seriously enough because I didn't get upset enough when criticized. 

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
  • Location: Germany
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2016, 03:59:44 AM »
That's rather typical for biglaw. Only one of my bosses specifically congratulated me for 'not taking things personally and having such a mature and healthy attitude'. All others thought it suspicious at best that I just don't do office drama and simply answer 'yes' or 'honestly, I'm pretty busy with x but I heard y has free capacity because project z just died' to 'can you take care of this/work on that project' instead of publicly complaining all day long about my workload (whether real or imagined) but still grab as much additional work as I can. Since the financial crisis very few partners have been made in the German offices of international firms. The sad truth is that in almost all cases it has been the 'drama queens' getting the promotions. I know it would be better for me to create artificial stress when I feel none and time pressure where there really isn't that much urgency but I just can't bring myself to do it. I did a lot of introspection and (for a long time unknowing that I did) practised stoicism for years to be calm in all but the most extreme circumstances. I just don't want to run around like a chicken with it's head cut of to get recognised as a good attorney.

Anje

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 200
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2016, 06:42:55 AM »

I'd see this as excelent momentum. Work says you're a gem. Use it to get offered e new job elsewhere. Then either use that to re-negotiate pay where you are (you know you're valuable, after all), or to smile sweetly while you thank your current boss for the years of cooperation and think "I'm stretching myself alrigh - towards new and better pastures".

 If you're good enough you don't have to settle. People known as really good have people lining up for their expertice. And with a line you set the terms.

Tjat

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 562
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2016, 06:51:17 AM »
I received similar feedback a few years back. "You really don't seem the type to pull late hours"

I replied that was because I focused on my job during work hours and managed to be more productive than coworkers. And further, I mentioned I'm in the office two hours before him and then just looked at him.

Three years later, I'm 4 levels higher still leaving at 5 everyday

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2016, 09:09:29 AM »
I feel fortunate not to work in a corporate setting.

madgeylou

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2418
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2016, 09:10:50 AM »
My boss says shit like this to me, too ... if I'm having a stressful week he tells me to calm down, if I'm having a calm week he tells me I'm not working hard enough. He's just breaking my balls and I ignore him. :D

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7012
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2016, 09:12:31 AM »
So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

Stick to your guns.   I used to work at a big consulting firm, and there was some pressure, mostly unspoken, to bill lots of hours.   So people spent lots of hours in the office.  It was almost like a badge of honor to see who could be there the most.

But here's the thing:  The people who really kicked ass, the people you wanted to work on your projects, the people with the most competence...all basically left at 5:00 every day.   

Constant stress and crisis at work are signs of failure.   They are symptoms of poor work habits and lack of priorities.  Humans can concentrate effectively for about one to maybe four hours a day on the outside.  And that's about all the time people in office jobs spending doing effective work.  The rest of the time is dealing with email, going to meetings, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn't count for much.  You might have to deal with lots of email, but that's usually part of your job, not the job they actually hired you for.

This is spot on, and yet I find it incredibly difficult not to conform to the long hours pressure.
Having a kid cured me of that.

But really, the first few weeks are hard. When you are used to working until ... 5:30, 6, 7 (depends on when you come in, I was starting work between 7 and 8 am), leaving at 3:30 is a BIG DEAL and it feels WEIRD.

But you get used to it.

Wilson Hall

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 163
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2016, 10:16:41 AM »
I received similar feedback a few years back. "You really don't seem the type to pull late hours"

I replied that was because I focused on my job during work hours and managed to be more productive than coworkers. And further, I mentioned I'm in the office two hours before him and then just looked at him.



This kills me. One of the reasons I left a previous job was because of the "emergency" nature of what was essentially paper-pushing.  No matter how efficiently I worked on my regular duties, more paper would be dumped on me because it appeared that I wasn't overwhelmed (I would shut my door when busy rather than complain to all who would listen).  A coworker who quit shortly before I did regularly worked 7:00 am - 5:00 pm so she could cook dinner for her school-aged children.  It was amazing how many impromptu meetings were called at 5:30: "Where's Mary?!?"  Uh, she worked 10 hours already to be home with her family...this really couldn't wait until 9:00 tomorrow morning?

primozaj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 42
  • Location: SW Ohio
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2016, 11:37:58 AM »
Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

I used to do exactly this... I'm an engineer too and we had a clock watcher boss (actually my boss's boss).  We'd get in before him but that didn't matter... we needed to stay until he left.  He even sent emails to the whole division complaining about time and attendance.  So in a tech refresh a bunch of us got laptops and made good use of the save button in outlook...  we'd undock the computer and leave when we normally would (anywhere between 4-5) and about 7PM we'd be logging into VPN and hit send on all of them.  I'd do it during a commercial break of my favorite shows.  When ever we got hassled, we always said that we took our work home; "didn't you see that email I sent you last night at 7?".  Mind you we were all officially hourly employees that got zero OT...  He treated us as if we were salary after 5 and stuff just "had" to get done today... but then as hourly when we'd put in 50 hrs by noon on Friday and wanted to leave early... "you can't leave until you put 8 hrs/day in."  That shit all changed when we got furloughed... at that point no one gave more than 8 hrs a day (and we were tracking it like crazy)... me and another guy walked out of a meeting that was running late because we hit our 8 hrs and when the boss's boss asked where we were going my colleague said, "we worked our 8 hrs for the day, you made it very clear that we were hourly employees when you furloughed us, I'd be happy to stay if you are prepared to pay OT"  He said nothing and we continued walking out... that guy is my hero because I wanted to say shit like that but don't have the guts.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2016, 01:06:38 PM by primozaj »

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2016, 11:42:04 AM »
LOOK BUSY!!

gliderpilot567

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 181
  • Location: US
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2016, 01:49:32 PM »
Always walk around with a folder in hand. Works even if the folder is empty. Will protect you from a lot of bullshit.

Keep a spare set of car keys (or bike helmet if applicable) on your desk and a spare jacket on your hook or on the back of your chair. Leave them there anytime you leave the office, so it looks like you're somewhere nearby.

Spend a lot of time in the bathroom or on "smoke break." Although most places lunchtime is off the clock, bathroom breaks and smoke breaks are on the clock.

Set your monitor power settings to never go dark even after inactivity. That way it looks like you only JUST left your desk. Leave your lights on too.

When you do actually need to get work done: Shut your door (if you have an office) and take your phone off the hook. Put in an appointment in Outlook that will show your availability as "Busy" or "In meeting."

Ok, ok, I don't really do all this stuff. I'm fortunate to work in a place where there are none of these BS attitudes, so I actually can leave whenever I want if I get my work done. I know this won't last forever.... I've had plenty of bosses that were slavedrivers.

Kitsune

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1849
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2016, 05:35:05 PM »
Set your monitor power settings to never go dark even after inactivity. That way it looks like you only JUST left your desk. Leave your lights on too.

When you do actually need to get work done: Shut your door (if you have an office) and take your phone off the hook. Put in an appointment in Outlook that will show your availability as "Busy" or "In meeting."

These two things alone will save your tush in a lot of more corporate places. The fake outlook appointments, especially, are GOLD... and give you 2 hours of undisturbed time to actually get your job done, thus allowing you to leave on time.

RosieTR

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 396
  • Location: Northern CO
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2016, 07:31:37 PM »
So I just got out of a feedback session with my manager. A few months back I got a stellar review, 'consistently exceeding expectations'. I nailed all my goals for the year and then some, I received an above average raise and bonus, etc. The only 'development' feedback that was on it was that I need to 'stretch' myself more, stating that you learn more when pulled outside your comfort zone (I agree with this statement).

Although the other day I think he was trying to phrase that in a way that made me cringe. "You exceeded all your goals without stressing out or pulling longer than 40-45 hour weeks. I want to see how you handle having too much work and not enough time."

Of course that's with no mention of pay increases, promotion or anything.

So because I'm effective at navigating the corporate rigmarole, deliver projects on time and on budget, and still manage to leave at ~5pm, I get poked for not 'stressing enough'???? Clearly it's time to make my neat desk an utter disaster, walk around looking rushed, and queue up e-mails at 4pm to press the send button at 6:30-7pm. I'm half joking of course but it sounds pretty ridiculous. Any thoughts or insight? Thanks!

Agreed, I would be thinking "what the heck?" First of all, being a bit outside your comfort zone, on occasion, is good for learning. Being WAY outside your comfort zone just makes you shut down.
Second of all, minor, occasional stress is good for you (why stuff like exercise or occasional fasting actually helps your health). Chronic high stress is very bad for you. As in, shrinks parts of your brain involved in executive function (decision-making) which in turn paves the way for negative thought-processes such as depression and anxiety to get ramped up. This varies by individual but it's not like a goal to aim for!
Third, stressed employees show a variety of behaviors that lead to negative business consequences: they are more irritable with clients/customers, they are more irritable and less understanding of their fellow coworkers which leads to a decrease in morale, and they tend to make more mistakes. They also tend to get sick more often and leave their employment when they can.
If a business does not intend to retain good employees, well why the hell are they giving out bonuses and raises, then? If they do intend to retain "talent" as they like to call it, why tell a good employee that the employee should be feeling like shit rather than happy to work there?
Whether you bring this up with boss depends on your relationship with him/her, but there it is.

Pro_Amateur

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
  • Leave no stache behind
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2016, 07:31:46 AM »
Check your email program to see if it offers the option to deliver mails at a later moment. Time the emails to make it appear you're working at odd hours, if that is what keeps your boss happy. Emails that you are sending to cover your ass on certain topics should be delivered at the peak hour of the week, so that they get lost in the usual avalanche of messages but can be found when necessary. I also time mails so that when I'm working during the weekend, they get delivered on Monday. I simply want to protect my coworkers a bit from checking their devices during the weekend when they hear they have received a new message.

I've always resisted the 9 to 5 culture. So much time wasted just surfing the web and looking at the clock until you're free to go again. My current boss told me on my first day that she doesn't give a hoot about what I do all day or when I do it, as long as I take care of my workload (I consistently exceed it) and people can reach me by phone or e-mail.

shelivesthedream

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4875
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2016, 02:01:37 AM »
This shit is why I love being self-employed. The only office work I have ever really done was super-hourly - the building was literally locked at 5pm. I think my hatred of it started at school. If you finish all your work early, you get...more work! If you're a good, quiet student, you get paired with the most disruptive one in the class. You are punished for being clever and hardworking.

If this kind of crap ever happened to me, though, I have a conversation prepared.

Boss: [excellent performance review] but we're concerned that you're not putting the hours in. You always leave at 5pm.
Me: I don't think that's true. [cites examples of genuine work emergencies when I stayed late]
Boss: Sure, but we're really looking for employees who put the company first.
Me: Sorry, are you saying I'm not getting enough done?
Boss: No, but--
Me: Or that I'm underperforming?
Boss: No, no, we're very happy with your work.
Me: Then what's the problem?
Boss: We need you to be present in the office. X and Y are always here into the evening.
Me: Do they get more work done than I do?
Boss: No, but--
Me: It sounds a lot like you're trying to punish me for being productive and efficient.

steviesterno

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 279
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2016, 08:43:36 AM »
our office is a bit similar, but I have made it known that I get an hour lunch, every day, where I don't work. I have declined meetings, but I always get my stuff done. They are actually getting me to teach my time management stuff to the other employees who put in more hours, but accomplish much less work.

I have been given 3 "promotions" recently that have resulted in zero increase in pay. Now that I have a kiddo and I know what I'm worth, that will not be happening again. I get a raise, or I don't take the gig. I'm happy leaving the minute we close, and never taking any work home. I'll keep doing that

chrisdurheim

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • Location: Madison, WI
    • KeepThrifty
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2016, 06:43:22 PM »
I'm an engineering manager - I've seen other managers treat employees this way and can only speak through experience that it generally leads to the individual leaving because they know they deserve better.

A manager that makes a statement like that is valuing "inputs" over "outputs" - he should care more the quantity and quality of what you get done, not how long it takes you.

Imagine if everyone in your company did things the way you do - a more engaged workforce because everyone feels more balanced in their work and personal life?  As a manager, I view that as a huge opportunity to reduce turnover which (especially in engineering) can be one of your most expensive operational costs.

Stand firm on your value - you know what you're worth.  If you're comfortable with the prospect of searching for another job if things go south, I'd recommend having a discussion with your boss on your stance on work-life balance.  Sometimes honesty is just the best policy; you know they'd be suffering if they lost you and they probably do too if they are giving you high marks.  Otherwise, a talk with your HR manager might be worth it too depending on how strong the HR function is.  Sometimes HR will gently remind engineering managers how valuable certain employees are and check in to make sure that they're being treated properly.

FrugalShrew

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 585
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2016, 09:02:31 PM »
Science (or at least the New York Times) agrees that the way we're working isn't working:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html?_r=0

Frankly, I find it really difficult to take a truly relaxing break at work. Maybe because I'm an introvert, so chatting with coworkers is actually draining instead of recharging. I'm still trying to figure out an acceptable way to nap on my lunch hour -- I know that would help me be more productive in the afternoon.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 12:04:43 AM by FrugalShrew »

RecoveringCarClown

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 125
  • Location: Northwest
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2016, 10:27:25 PM »
Science (or at least the New York Times) agree that the way we're working isn't working:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html?_r=0

Frankly, I find it really difficult to take a truly relaxing break at work. Maybe because I'm an introvert, so chatting with coworkers is actually draining instead of recharging. I'm still trying to figure out an acceptable way to nap on my lunch hour -- I know that would help me be more productive in the afternoon.

I don't do this, but I know someone who does.  They simply pack their lunch and quickly eat and sleep in their car.  Tinted windows and strategic parking and none the wiser, he has been doing this for years. 

FrugalShrew

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 585
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #44 on: February 08, 2016, 12:08:38 AM »
I would totally do this, but unfortunately I take public transportation to work. Although I do see plenty of folks sleeping on the train . . .

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8827
  • Registered member
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #45 on: February 08, 2016, 01:08:05 AM »
OP, I'm glad you recognize that it was really just a Freudian slip from your boss -- he wants you to be challenged (which is how you keep good employees happy and promoted), but to him challenge means stress.  If you think you need to worry about face time, see if you can move "you" time into the middle of the day.  Take a long lunch to go to the gym, do errands, browse MMM etc.  Get in slightly later but stay really late and put on your game face.  Not everyone can do this (e.g. with family) but the Costanza approach can really work for particular bosses.

I work at biglaw and we had a partner who was a big bully.  She actually was rarely in the office, didn't really communicate when she would be, and often did not respond to emails -- because she was "so busy" and had "too many emails."  She claimed with a straight face that she didn't care about "face time," but god forbid if you were ever away from your desk during the short time that she was present.  One time she told me she sent herself an email at 11:45 a.m. to document that I was not at my desk at that time and my light was out; I guess it didn't occur to her that I could be in a meeting or out getting lunch or something.

Anyway, the OP's post reminded me of this time that the partner was yelling at me for something ridiculous.  At the end of her spiel, she looked at me, and was like, "Does any of this even matter to you?  You're not even crying!"  It really bothered her that I was just sitting there watching her rave like a lunatic.

Story ends with a long time of abuse, I reported her and had several critical talks with the higher-ups, and then she "coincidentally" resigned without another job lined up.  Environment is so much better without that b.  Thanks for letting me vent!

Just wow.  But yeah, lawyers have a lot of meetings.  I'm basically always in a meeting.  Seriously, don't call my office because nobody is answering the phone.  Don't swing by, because I'm on-site at a very important client meeting.


shelivesthedream

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4875
  • Location: London, UK
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #46 on: February 08, 2016, 01:47:11 AM »
Science (or at least the New York Times) agree that the way we're working isn't working:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html?_r=0

Frankly, I find it really difficult to take a truly relaxing break at work. Maybe because I'm an introvert, so chatting with coworkers is actually draining instead of recharging. I'm still trying to figure out an acceptable way to nap on my lunch hour -- I know that would help me be more productive in the afternoon.

I don't do this, but I know someone who does.  They simply pack their lunch and quickly eat and sleep in their car.  Tinted windows and strategic parking and none the wiser, he has been doing this for years.

As an introvert in a customer-facing office, I used to find a private meeting room and sit in it by myself for exactly the full half hour of lunch I was allotted. I brought a book but often I just sat and enjoyed the silence.

RWD

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3669
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2016, 08:24:58 AM »
Science (or at least the New York Times) agree that the way we're working isn't working:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html?_r=0

Frankly, I find it really difficult to take a truly relaxing break at work. Maybe because I'm an introvert, so chatting with coworkers is actually draining instead of recharging. I'm still trying to figure out an acceptable way to nap on my lunch hour -- I know that would help me be more productive in the afternoon.

I don't do this, but I know someone who does.  They simply pack their lunch and quickly eat and sleep in their car.  Tinted windows and strategic parking and none the wiser, he has been doing this for years.

I once had a coworker who would just lay his head down on his desk (or maybe he had a small pillow?) and nap for 15 minutes.

Tundra_Man

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #48 on: February 08, 2016, 09:34:54 AM »
Frankly, I find it really difficult to take a truly relaxing break at work. Maybe because I'm an introvert, so chatting with coworkers is actually draining instead of recharging. I'm still trying to figure out an acceptable way to nap on my lunch hour -- I know that would help me be more productive in the afternoon.
I do this all the time when I'm working at our office. We have a conference room that is set up for more casual meetings, and has a couch against one wall. I keep a camping pillow and a small blanket in my desk drawer. At lunch most everyone goes out to eat, so this conference room is hardly ever in use. I'll go in there, pull the shade on the outside window and sack out.

There is a large window facing the hallway with no shade so anyone who walks by can see me in there sleeping, but I've now reached the age where I don't care. It helps that my billing makes good money for the company, and that they know my GTH fund is full and I'm willing to walk away if I'm no longer happy. Thankfully the owners of the company are great people and my co-workers are pretty cool too so I never have to play that card. Occasionally somebody will poke a little fun at me for my "nap time." I'll usually joke right back at them, realizing that they're probably jealous that I feel free enough to do this.

It's a bit trickier if I'm working at a client location. Often times I'm unable to take a nap in those situations, but I have done it when I've been working for clients with whom I've had a long-term relationship and know won't freak out. I'll be discreet and find a spot like a storage closet or an empty conference room where I can just lean back in a chair for a while and snooze. Most of the time they don't even realize what I did.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3643
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: My manager - "You don't seem stressed enough, I want to see you stressed."
« Reply #49 on: February 08, 2016, 09:56:19 AM »

I once had a coworker who would just lay his head down on his desk (or maybe he had a small pillow?) and nap for 15 minutes.

Smart man! I think a quick power nap is likely the greatest thing workers can do to improve their productivity and happiness.