Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Really? Just...really?

Well.  Things had been looking up at work for a brief, shining moment when a moment is defined as a week.  A new lab manager started last week filling a void in staffing that had reached the 18-month point (and filling with rage a co-worker but it can't be helped if she doesn't take her meds).  Normalcy would return! Roles would be clarified! Bluebirds would sing and unicorns would poop rainbows and jelly beans! Nothing can stop us now!

Until the rumor mill started spinning that the new lab manager, in fact, became the old lab manager due to her declaration Friday afternoon that this place was old and dirty and she quit, good day sir.

*Allow me a moment, I'm still trying to get my head around this one.*

As is with most times, the rumor mill was correct.  I'm baffled by her behavior as I'm the one who showed her the plant and gave her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this place.  In fact, I was the truthiest* I could be.  Coated no sugar, white washed no walls, gave it to her straight and she accepted the job.  Yes, this place is old and dirty and smells (and that's just the people ba dum DUM) but that's kind of our role: to make food flavorings.  Anyway, I still haven't finished processing THAT betrayal as I'm mostly hung up on how management decided to handle this.  Which is to say NOT AT ALL.

The folks on the shop floor gossip worse than the biddies in Leisure World.  This...is no secret.  So my understanding is that this went down Friday afternoon (I was off work...recovering), the whispers started almost immediately and by this morning no fewer than THREE production leaders accosted our Process Quality Manager in his office asking, 'Is it true?!?'  (Note if you will what is missing from this tale: any official communication.  This is important.) 

To recap so far: Friday = quit.  Today = Tuesday.  And we have daily department and plant meetings to share this type of information.  I finally asked the poor Process Quality Manager if it was true and didn't anyone think that by not making an official communication, we were kind of solidifying the impression of the technicians that there is no communication happening pretty much anywhere in this plant? And is Exhibit A as to why we scored so poorly on the voice of the employee survey last year?  Not to mention that the lab techs would be reporting to the lab manager and don't you think that they should know that their new boss left?

*Stops, rubs temples, breathes deeply*

I get it; the leadership team was blindsided and hurt by this.  But, it wasn't personal.  It just wasn't a good fit for her so she did what she needed to do for herself.  I'm okay with this.  What I'm not okay with is them knowing, doing/saying nothing and simply allowing the whispers to circulate unchecked.  Why should the technicians look to any of us for leadership anymore if we don't share important things like this with them. The last shred of our credibility as leaders has been torn free from dilapidated structure which held it aloft by the winds of whispers.  It's a snapshot of a larger systemic issue here; gossip and rumors take the place of real communication.  The gulf widens and the mistrust which fills it grows ever deeper.  I despair of any real change taking place, too often have we been played for fools.

I wonder if it's too late to pursue that football career after all.

*Please don't sue me Stephen Colbert!

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