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Soooo embarassed! unintentionally started office drama! please help!

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May 20, 2011, 6:28pm   #1
sarasmith3269's Avatar
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sarasmith3269
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Please bear with me, its kinda long.



My office is merging with another office.

My current boss resigned to join a different firm but is still working with us through the end of the month.

My fellow staff and I have been meeting with our new boss from the merging firm. The new boss is, lets say, a bit of a barracuda, blunt direct and not very soft, but not overly rude or mean. Upon learning of my coworkers alternate schedule, 3 mos of the year, this new boss, lets call her "Sue" said to my coworker, "well, we might be able to work with that, but you are are going to be passed over for promotions and opportunities" regardless of the fact that she is still working a 40 hour week and handles a lot of responsibility.

Today, I had a lunch meeting with "Sue" and she told me that they currently have a temp who has been asking to become full time, but "Sue" says no, because she is about to graduate from college with her degree and wouldnt be happy there. Meanwhile all of my coworkers and I have degrees so it felt a bit like a slap in the face. She also said some other things, such as she would be hiring to fill some admin positions, and when I asked if there would be any opportunity for myself to advance from my current admin position to one of those, she basically said probably not, without even asking about my skills or credentials. I told her that I was not happy at my current position and she told me to keep at it for 6 mos, and then we'd talk about it then; if there were available positions we could talk about them or they could lay me off so that I could look for another job elsewhere.

NOW, not so bad so far right. Pretty much real life stuff, blunt to the point, etc. If you don't like it and we can't help you, leave. I was a little upset because my current office has been promising this merge would lead to "so many more opportunities" and for her to say not really...

WELL, heres where the drama kicks in...

I returned to my office and of course my coworkers wanted to know how it went...I told them exactly what happend and my old/current boss caught wind and sent an email to the partners at my current firm about "Sue" saying what a harsh mean woman she was and how she told me there was no real career path for me, how they could lay me off if I decided I didnt like it and how they told my coworker that her alternative work schedule was going to inhibit her and hold her back.

The partners freak out, call the corporate HR on our merging firm.

The merging firm's corporate HR contacts "Sue".

Our partners foward my boss's (re: Sue) email to "Sue's" boss.

Our partners call me into their office to apologize even though I say its ok. I say that "Sue" was nice, that she was honest and that she didnt make any promises she couldn't deliver. Still they apologize again and say they are working on getting it sorted out.

"Sue"s boss who just got the email calls ME! Apologizes and askes what happend. I tell him as honest as I can that my current firm was promoting the idea amongst us that there were going to be lots of opportunities at the new firm and then at lunch I had conflicting information. I said that I felt the the emails were blown out of proportion and that I didn't contact anyone regarding being upset but when my overprotective boss caught wind, it fueled the fire and she took it upon herself to "mother" us. I noted that "Sue" was nice, professional and honest. And that I didn't find her offputting at all. I apologized for everything being blown out of proportion. He apologized if I had gotten the impression that there wasnt a career path for me. He noted that my career path likely wouldnt be in that department and "sue" wouldnt have any bearing on it. Conversation ended well.

Here's what Im stuck with now though:
a.) I feel bad that Sue was thrown under the bus, especially in front of her boss, and absolutely partly because of me (even though it wasnt intentional)
b.) I think Sue knows about it, and if she does, she will know its bc me because of the details such as the intern, and being laid off, which we just talked about at lunch.
c.) I will shortly have to begin working directly under her and don't want her to think that I start drama, have a big mouth or dislike her.

What do I do now? How can I possibly begin to clean this mess up.
May 20, 2011, 7:14pm   #2
Pinkdancer's Avatar
Pinkdancer
Want. Want. Want.
First, I have to say I'm surprised the way this all went down! Everything I've witnessed in my short work career has lead me to believe HR/upper management will nearly always side with the boss and not the subordinate.

If I were you, I'd talk to Sue in person. Apologize and explain what happened and admit that you think everything was blown out of proportion. Whatever you do, don't make a big deal out of it to anyone else. If anyone asks, say that you spoke to her and keep it at that.

Unfortunately, the best footing has not been established, and depending on Sue's personality as a manager, your working relationship with one another after the merge could go either way. Try and remedy it and then move on. Hopefully she'll do the same.

If there's one thing I've learned from working in an office, it's that engaging in any sort of conversation with co-workers about "hot point" office issues is unwise, even if you feel you're in good and trusted company. Details are best kept to yourself. I enjoy the people I work with, but I wouldn't trust most of them any farther than I could throw them. If someone asks what happened during a meeting or digs for details, answering with a simple "It was fine" is sufficient.

But you know all of this :) And I hope I don't come off as sounding like I though you were gossiping, because I don't. If I were you, I'd want to share details of that meeting with my co-workers, too--unfortunately, though, conversations that are completely non-dramatic/honest/legitimate can be skewed otherwise.

Let us know how things turn out!
May 20, 2011, 9:59pm   #3
sarasmith3269's Avatar
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sarasmith3269
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thanks Pinkdancer!

At this point we aren't technically merged until the 1st of the month so I think everyone is still holding a "us vs. them" mentality. Our office is trying to look after us, their office is looking after them...its been a bit of a bumpy ride.

I didn't mean it gossip(ly) but my current/old boss is a little miffed at the merge and she used this as an example to tell upper management/partners that "this is the reason why Im leaving and I won't work with this new company", something that I think most of my coworkers would shrug off and say, "thats sucks we'll just have to see how it goes" she took it as an opprotunity to stick it to them and really blow it up. I think Im going to give it some time to cool down and once I see her in the office talk to her one on one and tell her that during the merge tempers ran high and unfortunatly someone who was miffed used my words against both her and i.
May 20, 2011, 11:31pm   #4
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DamierLover
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Hi sarasmith. Tough one. This was a big lesson for you. Why did you feel that everybody back at the office deserved a play-by-play of your lunch time meeting with the new regime? It's a tough dog eat dog world out there and I think you assumed that those listening and holding onto every piece of lunch time conversation really cared about what was happening to you. In reality, they care only about what is happening to them and how this change is going to impact their lives. They didn't care if they threw you under the bus to get this message out either. The less said in the future the better. I would not seek this Sue out. Whether or not she is smart and will have a say in your future at this time is not relevant. As time goes on and you are co-workers, hopefully you will be able to become friends of a sort. Wish it were easier to fix, but there is nothing that will sort this out other than time. Good luck.
May 21, 2011, 12:22am   #5
Echoes's Avatar
Echoes
NoWhere Atoll
I wish I could say I'm surprised, but given the situation I'm in, I'm not surprised at all. This is the way of the world. Cutthroat, self-serving, lies upon lies, words turned around against each other.

I've seen it for decades, but not as bad as it has been in recent years.

Unfortunately, the 'bosses' may or may not have been telling you the truth about your potential future.

I don't really have any advice, other than to CYA (cover your ***). No one is going to watch out for you but you.
May 21, 2011, 12:29am   #6
bagnshoofetish's Avatar
bagnshoofetish
Stomp & Chomp
don't say anything at all. let it pass. "Sue" is the one who should have kept her big mouth shut. I am certain her superiors are not happy that she divulged such info whether or not it was true. If she hadn't spouted off to you, she would have spouted off to someone else eventually. In positions of authority, you just don't say crap like what she said to you - it was really highly unprofessional of her IMO. She should have known better and I can assure you her "mangement" style is being scrutinized right now - I'm sure her bosses are nervous about giving her any kind of sensitive responsibility now knowing she talks out of turn.
just go about your job. you were just honest. if she didn't want what she said repeated, she should not have said anything. she's a dolt IMO and not someone I would want running a department thats for sure.

(we used to have a name for people like her - it was "diarrhea mouth!")
May 21, 2011, 1:15am   #7
Echoes's Avatar
Echoes
NoWhere Atoll
^^ I have one of those too. You just don't say anything around this person that you don't want repeated. You never know where they'll spit it out, to who, or in what context.

This is also the person who abuses sick time.

But who got promoted?
May 21, 2011, 10:49am   #8
sarasmith3269's Avatar
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sarasmith3269
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Thanks all.

Im not going to say anything, I am just going to act the same way I would if this drama didnt get blown all out of proportion. Nice and friendly.

Damierlove, I didn't run back and tell everyone...I told a few (3) from my small work group. I had no intention of telling upper management or getting her in trouble, but were all curious of the work model and the people were working with as a few of those people have been have been working at my current office for a really long time. I have learned my lesson though...keep my mouth shut and worry less about what Im hearing and more about whats actually happening!
May 21, 2011, 2:44pm   #9
apey_grapey's Avatar
apey_grapey
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Any manager with half a brain should know that information (fact or gossip) spreads like wildfire. And it spreads even faster during stressful times such as mergers and lay-offs when people don't know where they stand. As long you didn't embellish I don't think you did anything wrong: nothing you disclosed to your co-workers is confidential - at worst you told your coworkers that your future manager told you, personally, that you are screwed.

Even if you didn't tell your coworkers, what Sue told you was something to complain about: you were just told you had no chance of advancement when she knows nothing of your work, for God's sake! It was right for you to complain to your current boss!

I don't think you should have backpedaled when management came to you. You should have told them exactly what Sue told you without anything to tone it down. Upper management should be aware when their middle managers are unfeeling.

1. Sue wasn't thrown under the bus. She stepped in front of it.

2 & 3. You should have raised your concern about working under Sue after all this drama when upper management came to you. At least see if they can change your reporting structure.

i apologize for the fragmented thoughts.
May 21, 2011, 3:43pm   #10
d
doreenjoy
zzz
I wouldn't make any assumptions about how Sr. Mgmt feels about Sue. They might still be very happy with her. You have no way of knowing that.

IMO you got apologies from Sr. Mgmt because they thought there might be potential legal claims that de-rail the merger. Or because Sue told you the truth, and Sr. Mgmt can't afford to have all the workers flee the company before the merger is done.

I wouldn't worry about how Sue will react, because frankly, there is NOTHING you can do to fix this. Hard lesson to learn, but you can't trust your coworkers not to spread gossip.
May 21, 2011, 3:58pm   #11
Echoes's Avatar
Echoes
NoWhere Atoll
Quote:
IMO you got apologies from Sr. Mgmt because they thought there might be potential legal claims that de-rail the merger. Or because Sue told you the truth, and Sr. Mgmt can't afford to have all the workers flee the company before the merger is done.
Uh-huh.

I'm not so sure I'd feel too comfortable at this new company.
May 21, 2011, 5:35pm   #12
DamierLover's Avatar
DamierLover
Member
Originally Posted by doreenjoy
I wouldn't make any assumptions about how Sr. Mgmt feels about Sue. They might still be very happy with her. You have no way of knowing that.

IMO you got apologies from Sr. Mgmt because they thought there might be potential legal claims that de-rail the merger. Or because Sue told you the truth, and Sr. Mgmt can't afford to have all the workers flee the company before the merger is done.

I wouldn't worry about how Sue will react, because frankly, there is NOTHING you can do to fix this. Hard lesson to learn, but you can't trust your coworkers not to spread gossip.
Excellent Post!...sorry if I made it sound you ran back and told all. Didn't mean to come across like that. I'm certain the office gossip machine picked your brain and started the rumor mill just spinning.
May 21, 2011, 5:38pm   #13
d
doreenjoy
zzz
^^ Thanks.

Unfortunately (?) I was/am in Senior Management for many years, so I know how they usually think. It's rarely about the employee; it's almost always about covering the company's legal ***.
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