Thursday, 4 July 2013

Incognito sporadically because of sulking

My blogging has been sporadic this week.  Some of you may ask why though I suspect that most only stumble on this blog by accident so haven't noticed and could care less.  I don't have an excuse but I have been angry and when I am angry I have a nasty habit of rushing around and doing a lot but not getting anywhere.  Is it just me that gets that feeling?  Isn't it frustrating? 

Yesterday I felt like I didn't stop (other than an hour and even then I risked falling asleep) but when I looked back on my day I really hadn't done a tremendous amount.  My house still looks like a bomb has hit it and in all honesty that is probably contributing to me feeling out of sorts.

So, I am angry.  I very rarely get angry, I can get frustrated but angry is rare because there is no point to it half the time.  Yet, I get angry at injustice and if I feel there is no reason for it or that reason is unfair I can get angry enough to cry.  And seriously, if someone gets me so angry that it makes me cry in frustration then it can be too late because I am far too much like my mother and we are like elephants; we never forget.  Which is silly.....

One of my bug bears is people treating others, for no good reason, with a different set of rules than others.  When it happens at work and that other person is your bosses, bosses boss then it can make you feel pretty damn helpless.

I am safe in pouring my frustration out on this blog because nobody at work knows about it and by the time any of them stumble on it I am more than sure that we will all work on different teams so....meh.

I have hinted before at working for an organistion big enough to make very good reasonable adaptations at work for people covered under the Disability Discrimination Act.  I am one of those people and like most people with a disability I do not like having to call attention to it and want to be treated just like everyone else at work. 

I have a slipped disc in my neck and repetitive strain injury in both arms and I am luckier than most because I can still work.  As I work for an organisation so big they are able and happy to foot the bill for voice activated equipment, specialist keyboard and mouse, a cockpit style desk, specialist chair and a larger monitor (which will be the same as everyone else come the latest IT transformation).  What I have hated most of all is the requirement to have accommodation come in to my new team and dictate where my desk must go to accommodate health and safety rules in distances for me and other staff because it calls attention to me and my disability and I really do not like to make a fuss.  There is nothing worse than having to call attention to your disability in such a big way before you even start working on a team.

My current team have been good and not only accommodated that but also voice-activiated equipment which was more than tempremental with background noise.  Now it would be silly to expect everyone else to be quiet so for a time I worked in a little office on my own which was lonely but gave me a better sense of autonamy but was not good for me learning from my boss as she sat in a different room.

Over time I identified that the issue with the voice activated equipment was the lack of a good sound card and microphone and as a move to open plan offices was imminent I moved back into the main room to get the voice-activated equipment used to noise.  Except, our organisation works at a snails pace with more red tape than which is needed for every race finish line in the world for 10 years and so it took a while to get the equipment here.  By the time it arrived there was no point training it to work in the office for a matter of days.

What I did discover was that the voice activated software does not work well with MS Excel and as an accountant 50% of my time is spent on that baby.  So I have a choice; I either;
  • continue to type while the medication masks the majority of the pain but slowly causes more unfelt damage for the future but get the work done; or
  • use the voice activated software and do not do the amount of work required for the role let alone to get me examples for a decent report at the end of the year, let alone promotion.
You can guess which one I chose, can't you?  Yet I am slowly learning that doing the work despite continued injury for both works sake and your own (because I certainly don't want to stay at this grade forever let alone get frustrated at how little work I can do) doesn't stop your management team feeling that they have to do too much for you or that you are not doing enough for them.

So what exactly am I frustrated at?

Some background to the second reason I am frustrated:

The organisation allows all sorts of different working patterns to accommodate our personal lives which is great.  I have always worked 5 standard work days yet a few months ago my bosses bosses boss suggested that I try 5 days hours over 4 days (so constricted hours and what we know as '5 days over 4') as it would give my hands 3 full days rest and a trail of 10 days over 9 before I moved to 5 over 4.  All good!  Except when my immediate boss heard this she was not happy - after all, she works 4 days over 3 and I look after her mailbox for 2 days (not in the job description nor do I get paid extra for that) and constricted hours for me meant her mailbox was not covered.  So they started back tracking.  Of course, I was stupid enough not to get this suggestion in writing and I really should have learnt my lesson long before now!

I had moved to 10 days over 9 on a trial by this time and honestly I love it.  I had been doing far too many flexi hours for my bosses comfort prior to the trial.  As we are allowed up to 4 days 'flexi-leave' every 4 weeks I was using this regularly because of the number of additional hours I was working to complete the amount of work we had.  Moving to 10 days over 9 helped this because I wasn't working as many additional hours.

Now I have been told that they will not move to 5 days over 4 and as I cannot prove my bosses bosses boss suggested it then I am stuck with it, which is okay as they have agreed to 10 days over 9 as a sweetener. know when you can tell they are not happy at having to do that?  Yep, that is what I am experiencing.

But, I was happy with my 10 days over 9 and I could live with knowing my management team wasn't wholeheartedly happy at the compromise even though I hadn't forced them into it.  After all, I knew it was only ever a trial and would have been happy for them to return me to full time hours based on business need.  Instead, it would appear that to compensate they are making life a bit more difficult for me.

Firstly, I was told that I shouldn't work additional flexible hours up on a regular basis so as to take an additional day off every 2 weeks because that would suggest I was still trying to do the 5 days over 4.  As I told them, no problem.  After all, who would be stupid enough to be that obvious.

There is the background so this is the second reason I am frustrated (and yes I am aware that I haven't explained the first reason yet.....):

Except, it wasn't made clear that what they meant was I was to work no additional flexi off to take at any time.  When I gave my manager my flexi hours sheet requesting 2 days flexi off over the 2 weeks she called me to say that she had been told I couldn't have any flexi.  Now that is unfair because my contract says I work flexible hours and the job description for this particular job did not say that I couldn't work additional hours up.  As you have already guessed, everyone else who is on constricted hours is able to still take flexi leave off should they work it up. 

So I was angry at the unfairness of it.  My manager half heartedly threw in that they did not want me to work additional hours because of my hands but it is a convenient excuse as that excuse has only been used to any degree since they agreed to the 10 days over 9.  If it had been a worry before then they would have attempted to stop my flexi before then.

Now, normally I would have argued the point, in a professional manner obviously.  Except....that came on the back of a totally uncalled for bollocking off my bosses bosses boss earlier in the day.

Now here is the first reason I am so frustrated:

My non working day is a Thursday every second week.  On the Tuesday of the week I was due to be at home on the Thursday I accepted a meeting invitation for the Wednesday.  On the Wednesday morning I rang my manager and asked for the day off as Abi was poorly, in fact she was pooping all over my house, was bleeding and couldn't get to the back door in time, bless her.  My manager approved me taking the Wednesday as my non-working day and all was fine.  Except, unbeknownst to me my bosses, bosses, bosses boss was chairing the meeting and as my manager was interviewing candidates for some vacancies on the team no-one was at the meeting to represent our part of the team - this obviously embarressed my bosses, bosses, boss.

I was called into my bosses, bosses, bosses office on the Thursday morning and bollocked for not dialling into the meeting from home.  Now here is my issue; it was a non-working day that my manager agreed, no-one asked me to dial in that meeting, we are not normally expected to dial into meetings when we are on leave, if it was so important that I needed to attend that meeting why did my manager, her manager or the one bollocking me not call me and ask me to dial into that meeting - which I would have been happy to do.

Apparently, I should have known to dial in yet no other staff member of my grade is expected to do, let alone know to do.  I object to that for a number of reasons:
  • First and foremost, at no other time have we been told we should dial into a meeting that we had previously accepted when we need to take a day off at the last minute and still no other staff member is expected to do so;
  • Although I had accepted the meeting request on the Tuesday, I had not known I would need the Wednesday off work until I got home on the Tuesday night and found a poorly dog and lots of cleaning to do so had not taken the dial in details for the meeting home.
  • When there is a meeting and she is off she juggles with her husband and they may well do half a day each so she can be available for the meeting; 
  • No-one rang me to ask me dial into the meeting when 3 people; my boss, her boss and my bosses boss had the opportunity to do so; and
  • Quite frankly, while she may dial into a meeting because she is 3 grades higher than me and gets paid £30,000 more than me and while it may be her role in life to build such a career it isn't my goal; hence me earning less than £30,000 than her and being in a grade where we are not normally expected to dial into a meeting from home on our days off.
  • I object to her telling me what I should do with my home life and suggesting I should juggle with Hubby so I can dial into a meeting that I had no idea was important.
Eventually, I accepted the bollocking and got out of the room as quickly as possible to go and cry out of pure unadulterated anger at the unfairness of such a bollocking.  So as you can imagine when my boss called to say I couldn't take flexi leave when everyone else can I was in the mood for that conversation.

Lets just say it is a good job that I am on leave right now. Yet, it doesn't stop there!  I have requested a bicycle advance.  Essentially, work will advance some of your salary to buy a bike and you pay it back in instalments.  Hubby got one last month seen as the office move now dictates we work in opposite directions.  I know that guidance backwards and half of the problem is that operational teams (which Hubby works on and I used to manage) know the guidance so everyone is treated fairly and 'pink and fluffy areas' (as non-operational areas are known by operational staff) don't know the guidance because they don't read it until they need to and then they all interpret it different ways.

That guidance calls for the line manager to approve the advance and check that a bicycle and accessories were bought to the value of the advance after the money is paid in the salary.  Therefore, a staff member who asks for an advance of £1,000 has to spend that whole amount on a bicycle or accessories rather than £200 on a bike and the rest as seed money.  If the latter happens, employee services recover the £800 seed money immediately.

Except my bosses, bosses boss has requested a full quote with make and model of the bike and doesn't think she can advance the funds for a full visbility jacket and waterproof trousers as they don't constitute 'safety equipment'. She also wants a fully itemised VAT receipt after the event.  So here we go again;
  • clearly a high visibility jacket can and does constitute safety equipment;
  • the guidance does not say that the advance covers a bicycle and safety equipment but instead a bicycle and accessories which these both clearly are;
  • what difference does the make and model make, other than for her to question why the bike would cost so much when it really is none of her damn business how much I want to pay for a bike!
Now I am more than aware that we work in finance and our job is all about ensuring that we have sufficient evidence to allow expense so there is a clear audit trail for it but this is an advance of salary and the guidance does not call for all of this information.  This is likely to be a case of her not looking at the guidance and making up her own idea of what evidence she needs based on accountancy experience but on the back of everything else it feels like a personal attack - especially, the wanting to know the make and model of the bike.

If she bothered to read the available guidance she would know that none of this matters because if I do not provide a receipt after the event the money can be clawed back immediately.

So yesterday I was happy as you can imagine.

So why is all of this happening?  Seriously, I am only presuming here but it is all very convenient that it is happening immediately after I have requested a managed move away from the team to move to the Commercial Directorate.  This is for 2 reasons;
  • I have a commercial qualification that isn't being used at the moment and before long will not be worth the paper it is written on; 
  • despite the voice activated equipment MS Excel is always going to be a nightmare to work with and impact my abilities to work at a decent rate and it is used very rarely in Commercials; and
  • voice activated equipment works very well with MS Word and I should be able to work at normal pace in that area.
The move has been agreed on condition they can find someone to replace me and that job vancancy is being published asking for finance and VAT experience which is almost non-existant in our department.

If I put the request for a managed move into HR I know they do not have to find someone to replace me; if a suitable post is available HR can move me straight away and that is without evening mentioning the disability. 

After everything that has gone on I really feel like going directly to HR to request the move.  I feel like I am a burden to the team, that they are beginning to object to the additional requirements I have and although I know they are not responsible for the way I already feel about not wanting to raise attention to my disabilities all of this compounds those feelings.

Ultimately, I know that if I approached the union over the flexible hours issue, let alone the bollocking I was given about the meeting, they have more than a leg to stand on yet how comfortable is that going to make my working environment?!

So there you are, after reading my huge moaning session you have a reason for a missing post or two and I promise; normal service will resume tomorrow.


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