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Really need advice about work situation. Gone from bad to worse.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone.

First of all, I'm on maternity leave, so work shouldn't be an issue, right? Wrong. I posted several weeks ago about 1 co-worker hounding me for every freaking thing that she doesn't like about the way I left things. For the record, I tried to wrap up every loose end, but there will inevitably be things you miss if you're going out for 3 mos...

Okay, enough said on that. I've dealt with her emails by ignoring them. Easy way to make sure I'm not stressed out, and sends the msg. to her that I'm not playing her game, right? Well...now it seems she's taken the trouble to try to sabotage me. Losing things left and right, telling my boss I never did *such and such*, delaying paperwork that I do and send in from home to try to help out...really making me look bad in every way possible.

She's the only other person in the office besides my boss. Which means not only that my boss is relying on her, but is believing what she says because I'm not there to defend myself.

To make a long story shorter, I'm absolutely dreading going back to work. I mean, having nightmares about it. To the point where I can't relax and enjoy this time off waiting for the baby to make an appearance. To the point that I want to get a job in the mall rather than face her again.

I can't fire her or make her leave, and she has a very in-your-face attitude, so usually I want to cry about 4 hours into the normal working day anyway. I'm going back PT in June, b/c dh and I have decided that we can swing it. But now I don't want to go back at all. Any suggestions?

I work for a University, and they could transfer me to another department if I asked. But I would have to show proof of harassment, which is hard to do. I also happen to like my boss, and the office is extremely pleasant and easy to work in when my co-worker isn't there.

If you've made it this far, thank you. Please give me some insight. I'm not the kind of person who can say "screw you" and continue to work with her. I don't look forward to living my life with knots in my stomach, either.
post #2 of 8
RacheePoo: In your circumstances I would schedule a meeting with your boss a few days or a week before returning from leave (let him/her know in advance if you would need to bring dc along for the meeting) to discuss your transition back to work. Then, face-to-face and one-on-one, bring up your concerns in as non-accusative a manner as you can.

You could open with something along the lines of "I feel it must have been really difficult for ___ while I was gone... I know it was challenging for her to keep up with all the details of covering my job... some things fell behind or got misplaced... some confusion over what work had gotten done before I left" and see how your boss reacts.

Then you could say that you really want to make things work with __, love working for your boss (list some specific reasons why so it doesn't sound like you're sucking up) and love working in the department, and want to avoid a hostile work environment.

Then ask for suggestions on what you could do to make things work well. I find asking managers for suggestions serves a dual purpose -- it gets advice from the manager but the response also tells you the manager's point of view.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Misfit, thank you for your response...it makes me realize what I left out!

My boss is a SUPER non-confrontational person. She will never mention anything wrong, she will never accuse, it will just "be there". If I ask for suggestions, she'll say something along the lines of "you're doing great!" So that makes it harder, because I can't talk to her honestly about this. She will never, ever call out my co-worker either, even with proof.

Sorry, should've put that in my OP to clarify.

Please, please keep the advice coming. This is really tearing me up right now.

post #4 of 8
Managers that are laid back like that can be both a blessing and a curse. They're a blessing in that they're great to work for if it's just you and them, but if you add a third party like the one in this case, it's a disaster.

I think you need to look at this situation as it is...not as it would be if this person wasn't there. You will only drive yourself crazy if you think about how things would be without that third party because that's not an option you have control over. The fact of life is, they're there, and if they make this job go from a 10 to a 1 for you, then the job is a 1 and there is no reason why you need to stay in that kind of situation.

At the same time, I wouldn't want you to give up on the situation without doing everything possible to salvage it. I mean, at this point, what do you have to lose? You're job satisfaction has gone from a 10 to a 1 so you'll either improve the situation here or go into a better situation with another position. If you have any of the emails this person has sent you, I would keep them as documentation. Also, write down any phone calls. What they are doing is harrassing you, and you need to file charges. Even if HR determines that you don't have enough evidence to back your charges, putting this person through the process of being accused of harrassment will make them mighty uncomfortable for a time. I've been accused of harrassment on frivolous grounds, and believe me, it wasn't fun. I think you have very solid ground in your case, so I say go for it! Again, what do you have to lose?

And I know it's hard, but try not to think about it too much. Make a rule that you won't think about it when your baby is awake but you can think about it all you want when your baby is asleep. That will help you get a break from this trial while not making you feel like you are not dealing with the situation.

Be sure to let us know what happens. I'll be interested to hear how it goes.
post #5 of 8

What a lousy situation--I'm so sorry you are going through it at this tender time.

From what I read, and perhaps I don't have the whole story, you can only arrange for a transfer if you can prove harrassment? This seems off to me--what about seeing if you could transfer to another department for another reason? Career development, more part time hours, closer to home, whatever...I don't know what you do, but it sounds as though there are other options within the university system. I would pursue them.

There is every reason NOT to go back to an uncomfortable situation when you go back to work--I think I speak for almost everyone on this board when I say it will be hard enough to go back as it is, that you don't need to make it worse by going into a stressful, unpleasant situation. If you are planning to pump/nurse, the added stress can affect your milk supply, you won't sleep as well, which will affect your baby and you, it is just not a good thing.

When I went back to work after my second daughter, I had a new boss and new responsibilities, and my new boss was working remotely for the first month I was back--so I had almost no direction, and very little work to do, and ended up sitting on my hands for 4 weeks. It was HORRIBLE. So even in that fairly benign situation, I had a rough return to work. I could not imagine how it would be if I had had to deal with the added stress of a negative work environment.

I agree with the posters who have said try not to think about the situation overly much while you are on leave. But I would look into that transfer. If you have questions about how to arrange for a transfer, your HR department should have guidelines and policies. They may even be on a web site, so you can access them confidentially.

Good luck, and let us know what happens.

post #6 of 8
: Oh, that kind of manager. Yup, I know the type.

If you can't get her to give input you could still have the same conversation in a more pro-active manner. The same non-accusative "things were confused" but instead of asking for advice, tell her what you'd like to do. "I thought I'd sit down with __ and find out where things are at, see what loose ends need to get tied up... then I'll start by taking on responsibility for __ while she finishes up the work on __ before passing the second phase of the project on to me..."

Then document any nonsense from your co-worker as pageta said.

What you gain from this is...
1) You have the chance to reposition the events that transpired in your boss' mind (gee, maybe RacheePoo didn't just duck out on her responsibilities after all? : )
2) YOU come accross to your boss as someone who is responsible and doesn't lay blame (hmmm... why is that strangely unfamiliar to her right now? )
3) You give your boss a chance to speak now or hold her peace with your proposed transition plan.

This will all lay good groundwork for your chances if you ever do have to resort to HR.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your advice. I just found out that my co-worker will not be working in the summer at all...so that gives me 3 extra months to work this out and make any transition if I have to do so! It's great news, and I have felt so much peace about the situation since I found that out this morning, especially because the budget is so crappy that they are laying people off at our University...so I feel like I shouldn't really make waves. Three months will give me time to put this on the back burner to enjoy my son, decide what to do, and get the hang of working/pumping, etc...before she comes back. AND my boss is much more likely to be open to a conversation if it's just her and myself.

THANK YOU again, all of you...
post #8 of 8
RacheePoo, do you have the home email address of that co-worker? Perhaps you could send her emails letting her know about the mess she leaves for you....

Just kidding. I'm glad you heard that good news. Good luck!
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