Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's been a while

This past week has been pretty hectic for me. Work was busy, Ron had a couple of appointments, Shaun left for deployment, and Jenny had some problems coping. The very first day he was gone she went into panic mode. I do understand because when I moved here in 1984, Shaun was five and Amy was 2. I had no family here (except one brother and his wife, but they were absolutely no help at all; they NEVER kept my kids or volunteered to assist me in any way). It is very difficult to try to function in a strange area when you're on your own with a small child - and being pregnant on top of that is really tough.

I did convince her to come here for a visit so I'll be flying to WA next Friday and then we'll fly back on Sunday. I put the tickets on a credit card, which I hate doing but had no choice. Someone is going to pay me back, but I'm not sure at this point who it will be. Shaun found out that he may not be able to reenlist on this deployment because he's not within 90 days of his commitment. So, him having an extra $650 anytime soon probably won't happen.

I only bought one-way tickets since we didn't know how long she would be staying so I hope she's got the money later to fly back to WA. We'll see...

Ron's visit with Dr. Heady went well. His foot is healing and only has about the size of a quarter left open. That is amazing and we are very thankful. He is going for blood work every Monday morning now because "someone" messed up his Friday appointments. I wouldn't know who that could possibly be but Mondays work out so much better that I think she did it on purpose. LOL - must have been my subconscious mind working.

Isaiah was the Star Student last week at school. He was so proud of himself for doing his "job" and so were we. He's had a great month. The school is doing a "learn-a-thon" to help raise money for the school for supplies, field trips, and extras that the school budget just doesn't cover. Each student will take a test worth 100 points and the idea is to pledge an amount x a percentage. If someone pledges $0.10 then if the student gets 80% correct, they'd owe $8.00. Isaiah's class is doing spelling words and he's having a very hard time with spelling. Everyone Amy and I got pledges from just gave a flat amount. He'll raise nearly $300 no matter how many words he gets correct. I hope he does a great job on the words, too but I think his teacher will be pleased with the pledge amount.

I had a really big project at work that was promised to be completed by February 4. I completed it on Thursday, nearly two weeks early. The powers-that-be were all pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I didn't think it was that big of a project at all - not hard and really not that time consuming. So, I just concentrated on getting it done so someone else could double-check to make sure I didn't leave anything out. It's very easy to overlook something that you've done, plus there were a lot of headings that were difficult to pick out of the text. Having another set of eyes was wonderful.

I do wish that things were a bit less stressful sometimes. I honestly like everyone that I work with and I like the two people who are the leads for my department. But, there is a little bit of gray area there that makes it difficult for me to determine how much thinking to do on my own and when to include the boss. For instance, in the fall I was doing my own work and asking others if they needed help on their projects. We also have another project that is a "when time permits" sort of thing. While I was waiting on an answer from someone else, I did a small portion of this other project and posted my results to the group.

I got an email back from my direct lead that basically said that the other stuff was my first concern and if I had free time then I was to be volunteering to help my peers. I was terribly insulted. Instead of asking a question, I felt like she was assuming that I was twiddling my thumbs or something. It took me all day to compose something that I thought was appropriate and explanatory without sounding defensive. She did end up apologizing to me for making assumptions when she should have asked. I started including her on every email I sent to others asking if they needed help or if I could do something for them, where I really am more comfortable working behind the scenes.

I've also gone out of my way to volunteer for everything I possibly can so it's obvious that I'm trying to look out for the interests of the team and our overall success. I know that it's appreciated because she's told me so on more than one occasion and I appreciate that fact. It was finally decided that she was getting overwhelmed with emails and was having a hard time keeping up with all the extra stuff she was getting and separating it from the stuff she needed to stay on top of. So, I quit CC-ing her on everything and continued about the business of the day.

One person was behind on some projects so I asked if there was something I could do for him. He said he'd forgotten about those two items so if I could take care of them, he'd appreciate it. In the process of finding out what he needed, I was composing a note to the lead. In the meantime, she sent me a note and asked if I was taking care of his chapters. I said I hadn't been but I was now. To make a long story short, she said I needed to come to her first before I took on someone else's work. She needed to know who was behind and things like that and he should have come to her and said he needed help. I understand all of that but I was in the process of saying something, she's not always at her desk, and she doesn't always respond to emails as quickly as we might need (not because she's ignoring us but because she truly is that busy). Plus, the two things I took on were absolutely not difficult and took about 30-45 minutes of my time. By the time we finished our discussion, I was done with the project.

I tried to explain where I was coming from and how it felt that I had this narrow margin of error - was I taking enough initiative, was I taking enough responsibility, if I did this would it be OK or should I have done that instead. I "get" that she's got to report up the line - totally. I also get that the work has got to go out when it's due and if someone is behind for one reason or another and I don't help, then it makes the whole team look bad. Get the work out now and deal with why the person was behind later.

I don't think I got anywhere. So now, I'm back to thinking I need to CC her on every email and ask before I do something. I hate thinking I need to ask permission to do things. I'm sure she doesn't mean it that way and I'm not taking it personally, but it is frustrating sometimes. I don't envy her position and at my age, I don't know that I'd want the responsibility or stress. Let the younger group deal with it; I've already done my time in management and it's basically a thankless job. I greatly appreciate my management team as I think they go to bat for the group a lot. But, I also want to be able to work without wondering if I'm taking too much upon myself or if I'm not taking enough initiative.

It's a road I'll just have to negotiate carefully.

No comments: