Thursday, July 16, 2009

Time off from work

That big project at work has turned into a political nightmare because it's become clear, over the last week or so, that the person who was responsible for so much of it going wrong, wasn't doing it solely out of unconcern or failing to take things seriously, but because he actually wants the project to fail. I don't know what his motives really are, but it's clear that he's convinced that this automation is being forced on him despite it being a step backwards, and he's so mired in that, he can't see that every time it turns out to be a step backwards it's because of how he treated the project and still treats it. Every day, he runs into something that's inefficient and declares the system sucks, but every day, 99% of those turn out to be not because of the system but because of his decisions about how it would be used.

He's convinced himself that I, and others, have some kind of agenda here, but I can't even figure out what it is. Anyway, it's not that I want the project to succeed and the operations in question to work more efficiently and better. What other motivation I could have eludes me. Feather in my cap? It's clear that I'm not looking for a big promotion or I would have gotten it long since. Unwillingness to admit my mistakes? I am admitting mistakes all the time, far more freely than he does. Beyond that I can't think of what it is. I imagine if I understood the kind of petty things that go through his mind, I'd know what he imagines going through mine.

The happy ending, such as it is, is that in a few months the problem will be removing itself through retirement. At that time, we can take a step back and try again. All we can do until then is damage control. Try to make sure that the system itself isn't dismantled in ways we can't correct then, but even more importantly, try to make sure that the people who are stuck working over there aren't burned out by then -- either on the hope that the system can work (they, by and large, believe that the problem is in that person, not the system's possibilities, and that the problems can be fixed once he stops preventing it, but whether they can still feel upbeat about it after a few months of the agony of using a sabotaged half-working system, that remains to be seen)... or just burned out in terms of the exhaustion of doing this job the wrong way.

This is the kind of political nonsense game I suck at. I'm great when it's time to do a project and that's that. But I'm not as good at treating people like chess pieces, or realizing when people are treating me that way. Unfortunately, that's a very idealistic way to be. This sort of thing happens. Someone who can't handle it can't hack the business world. Best I can do is get by until I get to the next time when it's not politics and is again pragmatism and real problems being solved, where I'll shine again.

I was already exhausted from a couple of months of going all out and giving 100% to make this succeed, and having this politics crap shoved in my face has really drained the last bits of will from me. Fortunately, this is my last day in the office for ten days. I work from home tomorrow and then have next week off. I'll be tethered to the email and probably helping out with problems repeatedly, but I'll still be a lot more free of it than I have been, and boy howdy, do I need it.

It's going to be a delicate balancing act to resist the forces pulling me into making next week into a working vacation. It's almost unprecedented for me to really need to have my time off be pure time off, not just substituting an at-home responsibility for an at-work responsibility, so it's hard to avoid falling into that. And there's a four-legged responsibility just waiting to fill in for work already. I'll be struggling to ensure that between things like that and being still available to help with problems at work, I don't end up not destressing after all.


litlfrog said...

Wow, I didn't realize the extent of the problems said coworker was causing. If is retirement will fix it, I hope you can continue to make some progress with the system until he leaves. Is there any chance that this problem could be mitigated by flinging boxes at him?

Hawthorn Thistleberry said...