For those of you who have been following this blog since May, I just want to say that many of the recent posts have had a lot to do with my work situation. My focus these past few months has been on trying to understand what the hell happened this year at work, to me and to those around me and to the work environment. I apologize for my work focus but I am finding it so hard to believe (and to accept) that the merger of four hospitals could have the impact it has had on us, but it has. The only word that comes to mind these days is implosion—I just feel that everything around us is imploding, despite everyone’s best efforts (presumably) to prevent it. Or is it just a gut feeling that doesn’t have to come true? Am I just glooming and dooming? I hope so. All I know is that whatever happens to ‘little me’ has got to be happening to others—accounting mishaps and gross errors, an ordering system that defies logic, a leadership structure that also defies logic (no one knows who their real boss is and even the bosses are not sure who they are responsible for—I report to three people but I try to limit it to one person to keep my sanity). We are expected to inform the chain of command about most things, so I do, in order not to cause problems. There has been a large loss of ‘freedom’, which bothers me because I have never abused any of the freedoms I have had before as a scientist. We have office managers who force us to deal with problems that we are not trained for or equipped to handle, e.g., complicated accounting practices that we as scientists have no chance in hell of understanding. We are expected to be administrators and to like it. I don’t mind office work but it wasn’t exactly what I signed on for when I decided I was going to do science. But I’m moving in the direction of more office work. It’s easier to give in so as not to make waves.
This year I was offered the same leadership position twice and twice it was retracted. The reason given was that I could not officially report to my husband, which would have been the case had I become leader. Ok, I can accept that. What I cannot understand is why the whole idea of offering it to me was ok at the beginning of January but not by the end of April. So I let go of wanting that to happen. I was told that my staff scientist job had to be ‘defended’ to the clinic leaders so it was obviously in danger of being phased out. Luckily it wasn’t. I got my PhD student through this past year and was told that I could not receive any money for this (as is usually the case) because I was not a professor at the university. This seems strange to me. I am professor competent but that was apparently not good enough. I have eighty-four peer-reviewed scientific publications, I review grants for external international institutes, and I am a peer reviewer for over eight journals. My boss told me that I should be happy with the articles that my student and I have published together—that this was reward enough. That’s fine except that if the same happened to him he would be pretty pissed off about it. But it will never happen to him. I was told that my job was to be re-defined back in May, but as of this date it has not been. So I wait. Inertia rules.
I shifted my focus toward doing some secretarial work for my union board and helping them with salary negotiations during this autumn. And so began other problems. My union leader, a man with very little respect for professional women, began to cause problems for the board. Then he began to cause problems for me. I am still dealing with the repercussions of his unprofessional and idiotic behavior. I decided I had to blow the whistle on some of his behavior and I did. It is not easy to do this and I know now why people would rather avoid sticking their head up or their neck out. You don’t know what you’re in for before it happens. And then it takes on a life of its own. Inertia rules.
The final straw for this year was finding out that my salary has been coming from the wrong account and that this account has incurred a deficit of over 120,000 USD since I was hired as a permanent full-time employee by my hospital in January 2008. Another boss refers to this money as Excel money because the accountants just shift money around like they were playing Monopoly, but whatever the case, this makes me nervous. I reported the situation to this boss almost two years ago and he reported it further to the accounting department and nothing has happened, just that the deficit grows larger since they don’t seem to understand the problem. I find it hard to believe that this can go on and that this can bode well for the future of an enterprise. People around me tell me not to take it personally (I don’t) but the level of incompetence I see around me bothers me. For every person who is trying to make sense of his or her job, there are five administrators who are just complicating everything exponentially.
So this is the school of hard knocks. I haven’t taken any courses at any university this year but I have learned an incredible amount about incompetence, unprofessional behavior, lack of a work ethic, avoidance of responsibility, shifting the blame onto others as often as possible, not doing anything about a problem or a conflict, not leaving a paper trail (no emails), not showing up at important meetings and covering your ass in case it’s necessary to do so. I have learned that passive-aggressive behavior in workplace leaders is fairly commonplace. At present I am fairly black and blue from all the pummeling that has been going on. But I have learned that I need to get better at punching back. I need to learn to become a better fighter. 2011 will be an interesting year in such regard.