The Opinionated Manager

learning to trust my own opinions and expertise

Spreading the Misery

misery loves companyThe Lounge wants me to get all rant-y and rave-y for this week’s theme, but given I spent a tidy amount of blog time last week being Miss Grumpy Bum I feel that I will be starting to send the message that I’m all crabbiness all the time.  I’m not I’m not, she protests.

But if I must.

Last week I wrote about having a team Icecream Sundae day, which you should all be totally jealous of, and totally start organising for yourselves.  Bonus for mums at home – your co-workers (or children if you prefer) will totally LOVE this team building activity.  All Win.

So now I need you to ask yourself, what kind of cranky, kill-joy, head-up-their-arse person would object to icecream at work.  Wha?  No-one like that could actually exist, you say.

But Oh, Yes, there was One.

In many ways I felt extremely sorry for this member of my team.  There is no doubt that she was, in many ways, a deeply unhappy and troubled person, but she was also an absolute gun at her job, and if she was in the right mood, great fun to be around.  But feelings of sympathy, give way to pity, and then disappear completely after a while when that person won’t acknowledge a problem or accept help, and especially when the good moods become briefer and briefer with longer and longer in between times.

It is my experience that some people, miserable in their own lives, take comfort from causing trouble and misery for others.  And this staff member went well out of her way to do exactly that on many occasions, the Icecream Sundae day simply being the most stand out in my mind.

Staff Member (email extract):

I find all of this a bit concerning. I am so busy at the moment I can’t even breathe, so I’m glad some people have time to do all this frivolity during work time. Do we have a plan to cover the rest of the time that the team will be away? By my calculations they are going to gone nearly two hours. Who will be taking phone calls and checking in students during the rest of the time?  I think “fun team stuff” needs to be outside of working hours. I’m not the only one that thinks this.  I don’t see how making ice creams and some of this other stuff is ‘team building’, but whatever.

I think my head almost exploded when I read this.  Seriously.  It’s so insulting to so many people on so many levels.  No-one else works as hard as her.  This is a stupid idea so everyone who takes part must be stupid.  It’s a bad management decision on my part.  The office won’t cope with this pause in normal routine.  All the extra work will fall to her.

But the real message, what she really meant to say was “I’m rotten and miserable and I can’t stand the idea of other people having fun.  I am the most important person in this team, and it is my feelings that should count the most, and I will not ever take into account anyone else on this team, and what they might want and how they might feel because I simply Do Not Care. ”

I sent a very measured response along the lines of I’m very sorry that you feel this way, but I am comfortable with the plans, and it will go ahead.

About 2 weeks later she got another job and the whole team heaved a collective sigh of relief. Somewhere out there now is  ticking time bomb waiting to go off in another workplace.  Ha Ha! Suckers!  Should have done better referee checks!

God, am I sounding like a horrible person yet?  I’m not I’m not, she protests.

(P.S. I started a facebook page. Go on, Like it, it won’t post nasty messages to you so long as you keep letting me eat ice-cream)


25 comments on “Spreading the Misery

  1. Me
    June 20, 2013

    I think that there will always be people who I call ‘nay sayers’ – they are just not happy people and they don’t get that other people are happy.
    I would so be working at your place if you had Sundae Days – not too keen on going away for the weekend but I could do the Sundae Days – I would even bring my own coconut ice-cream and not feel agrieved !!!!
    BTW – you didn’t get back to me with details of your burrito day !!! PMSL
    Have a great one !

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Ha! Burrito day is just a few weeks away!

  2. Lydia C. lee
    June 20, 2013

    team building…that’s a whole basket of issues right there….forced fun. We used to all go out for lunch by choice and have fun and then HAVE to go out for lunch for team building, at crappier places and sit next to people that didn’t like us, or management. And have totally awkward conversations.

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Ha! That’s a pretty good description of the way forced “team building” works. If the team already sorts out some social “breaks” to the routine for itself, then it’s fair to say that things are already going OK on the team front, so no need to force the issue.

  3. Lydia C. lee
    June 20, 2013

    Maybe I’m that person you’re talking about??

  4. Kate
    June 20, 2013

    Who signs off an email ‘but whatever…’ What is the point in that! Good riddance, and yay for ice cream!

  5. Tegan
    June 20, 2013

    but whatever…is the equivalent of ‘you are going to disagree with me and I think you are stupid but because you are above me I can’t actually come out and say that because I will lose my job’. I am guessing that Sundae time was a completely voluntary activity, of which a sad sack was probably not welcome. Sometimes every day life can get very ho hum so a bit of a break from routine is good for the soul.

    • Rachel
      June 20, 2013

      I think that definition of but whatever is spot on Tegan!

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Exactly. But whatever!

  6. robomum
    June 20, 2013

    Are you kidding me? Seriously you ca’t make this stuff up. No better stories than those that come out of forced company, i.e. the workplace. We have one of those I can’t breathe, my job is so busy types. I feel like saying hun, we have the same job. WTF is wrong with you? Of course I’m supportive and encouraging… As for ice cream – I got a Maccas sundae on my way home.

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Nothing wrong with a Maccas sundae – if I ever work late and catch the train home I always sneak one in at Central station. Got to pass the time waiting for my train somehow. If I’m feeling like a real piggy I get the giant ones where they put the sauce at the bottom AND the top!
      So funny, but so infuriating when people fuss over doing the same things that you manage to do without the production. Like you said WTF just get on with it dude.

  7. redlandcitygirl
    June 20, 2013

    Ha ha sounds like my previous workplace. So glad I’ve left!

  8. Have a laugh on me
    June 20, 2013

    What an effing kill joy – I’m glad I didn’t get that – otherwise I would have responded, lost my shit and probably my job! BTW I love people that sound ‘like a horrible person’ because it means you’re honest – LOVE YOUR WORK! Em

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      I confess, I too like people with the ability to own some flaws, so much more fun to be around than perfectly Nice nice people!

  9. Rachel
    June 20, 2013

    I love this. I love the sundae idea and I especially love the way you didn’t give her the negative response that she was clearly looking for. Because that would have given her even MORE ammunition for her “Poor Me” campaign. Well done and glad for your team’s sake that she is no longer part of it 🙂

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Oh I was SOOOO mad! It took everything I have not to give into temptation to sock it to her – but you’re so right, that would have fed into exactly what she wanted.

  10. Sarah Mac
    June 21, 2013

    I think I’d have lost it at the ‘whatever’ – incredibly superior and insulting at the same time – sounds like she really NEEDED some ice cream!

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      Man, not even ice-cream could have solved her problems!

  11. Clair
    June 21, 2013

    I can see both sides. I admit I feel really peeved myself when I’m getting smashed with marking etc and my colleagues are at the Uni bar having a quiet wine to wind up the working week. I would never send an email around though. Misery isn’t meant to be shared, it’s good she left your work! She’s now hopefully having the change of scene she so desperately needed.

    • Katyberry
      June 21, 2013

      You know, I did have some moments of self doubt over the scheduling whilst she was busy. But in the end I felt that everyone in the team has peaks and troughs of workload and if I waited for the perfect time it would never happen. I did explain this in the email quite nicely. And really, sometimes when you’re busy it can be a good refresh and recharge to take a break

  12. Lisa
    June 21, 2013

    That person sounds like a mega-cranky-pants. Ice cream days, what an awesome idea! Although I would be too tempted to make every day ice cream day, I can never have too much of a good thing.

  13. Kim
    June 21, 2013

    HAHA i used to have one of those. He’d come in and say ‘I feel sick and horrible and wish everyone was dead including myself’. A little more frightening and direct, I’ll admit. I was kind of waiting for the day he arrived with a sawn-off shotgun. I know EXACTLY what you mean about the collective sigh of relief upon the job departure. Team building celebratory drinks!!

  14. My read on Ice Cream Hater is she sounds like she was over-worked and not coping, and felt like she had no way of resolving that for whatever reason, and was crying out for help in all the wrong places. As bad as that would be for anyone, I’m glad you went ahead with your Sundae Day. Can I come work for you?

  15. John Floyd
    June 27, 2013

    So glad you had the courage to break the mold and get some ice cream with your team. Those investments in relationships, the things that bring us closer, enhance our effectiveness by giving us a boost in energy and engagement. But it is hard for some to admit that the “one who works hardest wins” is not really how things go, and some times the denial and frustration of realizing that fun/family matters (when you have been neglecting those things) leads to, well crankiness. Keep it up, I would love to have you as one of my managers!

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This entry was posted on June 20, 2013 by in Leadership & Management and tagged , , , , , , .

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