Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Drama Continues!

I figured I'd give you a quick and dirty update to the situation that I have at work that I blogged about a couple of posts ago. You know, the post where I mentioned that I have a female employee who is royally fucking up? Well, here's an update:

She got progressively worse all week long. I finally called her into my office on Friday and basically had a come to Jesus talk with her. I told her that she was losing control of herself, and that she needed to decide if she could handle the position or whether she should go back to the classroom as a teacher where she might have less pressure.

She cried, she apologized, and the whole lot. I honestly thought that the issue was resolved.

Then, on Monday I just happened to pop into the office early because I had a strange feeling that something bad was going to happen. She was leading a meeting that started at 8:30 and she honestly did not walk in the door until 9:05. The meeting had started without her, even though she was supposed to be the lead. Oh, and by the way, when she entered the room, she walked in with a large, hotly steaming cup of coffee that she had picked up from across the street.

I had to go to another meeting, but I sent her a message that I wanted to see her in my office the next day. She told me, "Okay, I thought you would write me up and I agree with it. I am out of control".

Honestly, I was pretty perplexed all day about her basically begging to be written up. If I didn't know her so well, I would have thought that she was asking for a reprimand so that she had a reason to go out on sick leave for months on end. But I know her better than that. Although, I have my ideas as to why she is asking to be punished, I am still perplexed.

On Monday, I spoke with my male boss about the situation and he said, "You are too close to her. When you get too close to your employees, this is the type of stuff that happens".

I said, "With all due respect, you are a man and I am a woman. You will never understand the dilemma that I face as a woman when I am trying to work with another woman who has been diagnosed with postpartum depression. How can I honestly not try to help her, as a woman?"

I feel confused because I feel like I am walking a fine line. I know that I can't be too lenient, because then I can become an enabler yet I also feel that I am obligated to try to get someone in her situation back on the right track. I am confused.

So, yesterday I called her in and had a "come to jesus" talk with her. I told her that although I wasn't starting the formal write up process, that I would start to create written documentation of our conversations and my directives to her.

She cried her eyes out for an hour straight. She told me that she feels that she wants to divorce her husband, that he "holds her back" and makes her feel oppressed because he won't help her.

I wanted to tell her so badly to divorce his sorry ass, but I am her boss and I just couldn't get myself to say it. I know that she looks up to me and I wouldn't want my authority to distort her judgment, nor would I ever want anyone to accuse me of meddling in their personal life as a boss. All I could say was that she has to do whatever is in her best interest, and that no matter what happens that she will be okay because she is an educated woman with a lot of potential. I also told her that I hope that she wouldn't ruin her career over a husband who isn't helping her.

The talk that she had with me seemed to help her a bit, and for the past two days she has arrived at work on time and she even looks more rested and has once again been wearing make up. I know that I need to continue to monitor her, because I suspect that she feels that her life is out of control and she wants someone to lay down the law with a firm hand.

All I can hope is that things will get better. But, if not, at least I will be able to say that I tried to help her get back on track. I know that many men might think that my style of handling this issue might be considered "weak", but fuck them because until they walk a mile in a female boss's shoes as she deals with a case of postpartum depression then they don't know what they would do.

But I do have to ask myself-would I act the same way if a male were having depression issues? Would I give him as many warnings as I have given a female with postpartum depression? Or would I have written him up much sooner? Have I let it get too far without having formally documented it, as my boss suggested?

Who knows. I somehow think that I might have written a male up sooner. And honestly, I don't even know what to think about that fact.


Astrogirl426 said...

You *might* have written up a guy sooner. But you might not have. If the guy were dealing with a rough personal situation, if he had just, say, lost his wife? Or his kid? I think you would have been just as understanding.

The thing I don't think your boss gets is, your job is not just to reprimand. It's to HELP and support your employees. And I think you've been doing your best to help this employee.

What I always keep in mind in situations like this, where people start wondering if they're treating people the same, is: You're not trying to treat people equally. You're trying to treat them fairly. And that might mean treating one person differently from another.

I think you're doing a good job with a tough situation. This employee is lucky she has such a good advocate for her. I hope it all turns out well for her - and for you.

Anonymous said...

You probably would have written up a male sooner.


Thats how life works.

Ida reamed her out about showing up a half hour late with hot coffee. thats a bad look, sorry ass husband or not. It flaunts authority.

As someone with a curious sense of Punctuality, I at least have the good sense to look haggard when I am running late.

I would suggest that you invest in getting her to SEE the rope you are giving her, so that she uses it to climb out of the hole her personal life is digging for her and not use it to hang herself.

Meg at Demanding Joy said...

She is obviously going through a terrible time, which technically isn't your problem. However, she is so blessed to have a boss who is so compassionate. She has to get her shit together, but that will be much easier to do if she feels that she has some support.

In the end, you have to make whatever decision you can live with - although this situation sucks for you either way.

I wish you all the best.

The Absence of Alternatives said...

this is tough. I am extremely, perhaps pathologically even, confrontation-averse. I did ask myself the same questions you posed: would it be different if you were male, if your direct report were male, etc.? The way your described her "nonchalance" when she was running late, Getting coffee?! I cannot help but think that she is taking advantage of your understanding, your effort to try to sympathize with her. At the end of the day though, you have your own job to keep, I know I am going to sound like a selfish bitch, being a manager, you may not be able to afford to allow her to set such a bad example for your other employees... p.s. Would a man be worried about looking like a "selfish bitch" at all when they are thinking from THEIR OWN perspectives? I bet not!