I Think We Have A Resolution

A quick update for all of you. First, thank you for some great advice on what to do in my previous post. I couldn’t sleep that night, tossing and turning and fretting about what to do. And then somewhere between waking and going to work yesterday, I got angry. This ridiculous mess was not going to interfere with my review if I had anything to say about it. I wasn’t going to take this kind of treatment, and I decided to fight back, knowing that I could make things worse by doing so.

Knowing that I can express myself far better in writing than in speaking, I wrote an enormous e-mail, practically a novella, to my supervisor, sharing all of my thoughts on the issue. I wrote a persuasive argument detailing why these accusations were little more than gossip without any specific incidents to point to, and that gossip is not valid for a performance review. I also pointed out that it is suspect that the only time anyone has ever had a problem with my performance is at review time, when it affects both my and their bonuses. Had I been given specific complaints, by the person who was making complaints, I would have made every effort to improve my level of service. But vague accusations by an unnamed person were hardly valid in my eyes.

Taking several deep breaths before sending the e-mail, I wondered if I was making a big mistake. Unlike a spoken conversation, I was giving the entire mess a paper trail, and my somewhat emotional defense could possibly be taken out of context. However, the alternative – taking this kind of abuse – was less appealing, so I hit send and waited for the storm I started to come my way.

About half an hour later, I received an e-mail from my supervisor, giving me more details on what was going on. The tone had changed entirely, and he told me he thought the problem stemmed from two different chains of command having two different sets of expectations for me. (The actual expectations for my job come mostly from the advisor side of things, not from the campus staff side of things, but they apparently don’t see it that way.) It seems that the staff at that campus expected me to be up at the front desk with them if I wasn’t actively working with a student, serving as their backup. My supervisor stressed that he had never had this expectation for me, and didn’t realize they did.

I do spend most of my time in my office. If I’m not in an appointment, I need to be available if the call center receives a student call that requires an advisor, or if I receive an e-mail from one of my students. Timely response is something the advisors pride ourselves on. Sitting out at the front desk would mean I would be sitting there with nothing to do, just to keep them company, and I wouldn’t be able to hear my phone if needed. I’m always happy to help out at the front desk if the staff needs me, and I do so at least once a week, but spending every free minute up there in case they need me is a waste of my time. It’s easy for them to call for me if they need help.

Replying to my supervisor’s e-mail, I told him all of this, and not 15 minutes later, I received a phone call from him. He told me he wanted to apologize because he felt that none of this had anything to do with my actual performance, and they now realize the problem is with both chains of command not setting out and agreeing on clear expectations. He agreed with me that this wouldn’t have even been a problem had someone simply asked me, “hey, could you come up front a little more when you’re not busy?” and he is disappointed that it was handled in such a way.

He spoke to his supervisor about this, and she agreed that I’m not at fault for something no one told me about, and that it shouldn’t be reflected on my review. The push from the director of the campus, who wanted my bonus slashed for poor performance, will not be included in final decisions. My supervisor ended by saying once again that he, and his supervisor, were sorry for putting me through all of this, and they would be speaking with the director of the campus to set out some clear and realistic expectations for my position that everyone agrees on, so that this will never happen to anyone else in this position.

Until I actually sit down for my formal review and find out what my bonus will be, I’m still a little hesitant to celebrate. Even though he said it won’t impact my review, I want to make sure nothing is even implied in writing before I can feel satisfied. And this still isn’t over yet, either. I now have the name of the person who made the complaints (it was the person I thought), and I must take steps to sit down and talk with her, letting her know that in the future I’d like her to please direct any issues she has about how I do my job to me first. It’s funny that she is so assertive when dealing with the staff under her direction, but she couldn’t bother to tell me she didn’t like the way I do my job. It is an unpleasant conversation I’m not looking forward to, but hopefully it will help to smooth things over. Or at least stop her from playing the role of mean girl with me again.

I really think your comments here helped give me the courage to stand up and fight. Can I buy everyone cookies and milkshakes as a thank you? And I’m so thankful for my abilities in writing, because there’s no way I could have put up a fight if forced to defend myself verbally. See kids? Writing is a good thing. Stay in school.

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  1. Congratulations. Well done.

    I’m like you, I do far better in writing.

  2. Good job! I always communicate better in writing, too because I usually shoot from the hip too much when I talk and it ends up getting me in trouble. I am much more level handed with a pen in hand (or a keyboard in front of me).

    Glad to hear you aired your grievances, which was the right thing to do. But we can still go cause some trouble if you are still pissed. I hate to see a friend get bullied!

  3. Good for you, Christina! That is great news. I hope things continue to improve. And now you know you can fight back when crappy things happen.

  4. GREAT for you! I think it’s always best to get things out in the open and get people talking. It’s amazing what you find out! Good luck on talking to the person who complained about you. Polite confrontation will probably be the last thing they expect so I bet the odds are in your favor for a good outcome.

  5. 3carnations says:

    I’m glad you’ve been able to take some steps toward resolving this. It sounded like a very unpleasant situation if it had been left alone!

  6. TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre says:


    I’m THRILLED that you stood up for yourself and it paid off! Tentatively celebrating is a good idea…a bottle of wine instead of champagne, FOR NOW.

    Great job!

  7. Wisconsin Mommy says:

    Good for you!! Thinking through your (very valid) points and putting them into an e-mail where tone of voice (my biggest challenge) is not a factor was the right thing to do. I hope things continue to go well for you!

  8. You go girl!

    I was just talking about how great your writing skills were with Adam yesterday. Yet another good example of why I’m glad you have them!

  9. yay! I’m so glad it worked out the way it did. Good for you!!

  10. Good for you, girl.

    I am also much better in writing, so much so that my old boss and I conducted my entire review via email. I tend to blather or cry or do other inappropriate things when I have to talk about important stuff.

  11. Mrs. Chicken says:

    Whoo hoo! Sorry I didn’t have a chance to comment yesterday but I think you did exactly what you should have. It takes guts to hit “send” on an email like that.

    No matter what else happens you won, because you stood up for yourself.

  12. I’m so glad to hear that you took a stand and you were heard. In previous jobs, I never had the guts to do so and often looked for other jobs. I’m proud of you!

  13. Just read the previous post and then this one. That totally sucks what happened, but I’m so psyched to read how you turned it around and made people clarify, instead of just sitting and taking it. I don’t know if I would have been proactive enough, so I think that totally rocks. I understand being hesitant to celebrate just yet, but at least you have more information and people in management above you are also more clear on the situation. Good luck with that conversation with the mean girl. You can do it! Rock on wit yo bad self!

  14. ooh! I’m sorry I missed being able to offer a supportive comment on Tuesday. I would certainly have felt *just* as upset by it as you were. A very nasty experience indeed. But it sounds like you handled it superbly and I think the email was an excellent idea–I would have had to have done the same. If for no other reason so I did not end up crying in front of the supervisor or something ridiculous like that.

    The mean girl sounds petty and evasive. I think confronting her with a smile but a firm position will really put her in her place.

    So–academic admin. As dysfuctional there as it is here, it sounds! (we have SO many problems at my place because of lack of clear job expectations. drives me nuts).

  15. Wow, I missed a lot in the last few days! I’m sorry that you have had such a bad time with your co-workers. I know what it’s like to be blindsided by something like that. But good for you for standing up for yourself! I don’t know that I could have done the same. You’re awesome!

  16. I’m so relieved for you. I hope the bonus is great, and I’m so glad this has turned in your favor.

  17. Oh, I’m soooooo glad to hear this!

    You did so well to put your thoughts to email, professionally and rationally, without the emotion one can’t HELP but feel in your situation.

    You handled this with grace & class…kudos to you!!

  18. I’m glad you got a suitable resolution. Standing up for yourself can feel so good… I wish I would have been able to help, and not just for the free milkshake, either.

  19. I’m glad to hear that it’s getting resolved. Good for you and yep your a great writer!:)

  20. If you have talent for writing, it is a wonderful way to solve problems. More time to think of a solution and plenty of clear examples to say what you want to say. In your case, well done!

  21. mothergoosemouse says:

    Holy crap on a cracker.

    It sounds like a reasonable resolution, but I’d still be uneasy were I in your position. Even with the mismatched expectations, why did it take until review time for that to be unearthed and resolved? That’s the lingering question in my mind.

    But I’m still glad you took steps to get it cleared up. At least YOU have your act together!

  22. I’m glad to hear this is (mostly) resolved. I hope your conversation with the woman who said this stuff about you goes well. Could you conduct that via email? I’m in complete agreement about writing vs. live conversations. I always do better when I write it out rather than talking. I get too emotional when it’s live and in person.

    Good luck.

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