Virtually no one was around when I walked into the office this morning. Not until after 11.30 a.m.
With no courtesy phone calls to inform their superiors as to why they were late, I decided to call my one-half month old subordinate, a direct report to me to ask their whereabouts. As I found out, the other team and along with 7 other junior subordinates including my direct reports stayed back in the office till the ridiculous hours of 5am from the day before to help the other team with their impending presentation on Friday afternoon. I was appalled when I heard that.
5 a.m., 1 team leader and 7 subordinates to work on a presentation.
I know presentation could be hard work, but I also know the contents to that presentation may not need 7 dwarfs to work on. How unproductive can a team get? Don’t get me wrong. I have no issues of my subordinates turning up late for work if they work late the night before or if there are other valid reasons or helping the other team even though they are from a different team, in the spirit of teamwork. However, “helping” should not be at the expense of their own work which was expected to get done by the end of the week. Talk about priorities!
Musing on the facts I now know and thought how ridiculous the entire thing was, I decided to leave my one-half month old subordinate to her own devices when she finally walked into the office at about 11-ish. I know she has pending work that was assigned to her 10 days ago. I have been quite silent in the last few days and decided to wait till after lunch to see if she is going to update me on the status of the work. She sat across from me, and any responsible employee would update their bosses on status of pending work, whether they are done or not. (At least, I know I would!) I waited for about 15 minutes before impatience got the better of me. I asked ever so subtly and gently if she is doing ok with the work.
All I said was this:“Hey there, how is it going with the ABC work?” in a bright and cheery tone. I even asked with a smile!
As soon as I opened my mouth, she snapped at me and said that she’s already done the first bit and it is in the network drive. Immediately, my thoughts floated to: “If she has done it yesterday she does have plenty of time from the time she walked in to the time she came back from lunch. She has more than ample time to update me ia email or even verbally to let me know that she has done it. What’s her reason for not telling me and begging for me to ask? Is she just trying to find fault with me”
To which I replied, “Well…if you have done it, I think you should just let me know and I’ll give it a run through.”
Unable to contain her patience, she snapped again telling me that she just finished the bit last night (only the bit…apparently, she’d rather help the other team finishing their work when she’s not able to finish hers!)
My next question to her, still asking ever so gently while I’m starting to boil inside was this “So, when do you think you are able to complete the work so that we can commit to a presentation date with the client?” I left it open as I want to give her some leeway to be able to gauge her own timeline which she’s comfortable with. Immediately, I was met with a hostile and snappy answer that she is doing another thing now and if I wanted that, she can stop whatever she is doing and go through it with me now because if I wait for her to have time, she doesn’t know when. Those are word for word as I remember them.
“WTF?!” was flashing in my head and I swear I wanted to strangle her till her eyes popped. But, I kept my cool and repeated the question twice more and she answered me with the same. Finally, in a slightly stern tone, I told her I think she does NOT understand my question and repeated what I said again. She kept quiet for a second and then said that she has to wait for more information, which is probably next week. Honestly, that was all I wanted to know…the expected timeline; but she decided that for some reason, her boss is her enemy. I left a gentle parting remark to her thereafter telling her that she does not need to be defensive because I’m only concern on timeline and to how she is coping. That and nothing more! Falling short of doing her work myself I thought I was being nice!
I have no idea why my questions provoked such a reaction from her. What the $%@#$ did I do?
My guess is she’s still very young and probably too confident for her own good. She also probably decided that her boss (i.e. me) is far too inferior for her and doesn’t know any better. Maybe that’s because I’m not Thai and ‘don’t understand Thai culture’. This is also not the first time she has done it to me. She can be quite stubborn and would most of the time, refuses to listen to my input. Granted, she’s a good worker and I like the fact that she’s not a yes ma’am employee. Her attitude to me, however, is less than desirable. I respect different views, but one that seems to think highly of herself at such a junior level and refuses to listen to input does not fit very well in my books. This one, while trying to proof herself, has somewhat intentionally stepped on my little toes. Why she did what she did, I have absolutely no idea! I hope she realises that she’s still on probation.
Kids nowadays. Most have a psyche I probably will never understand in my lifetime.