Last Thursday, Dallas/Fort Worth got more snow in one day than had ever been recorded before. People who had never seen a snowman before were suddenly able to roll their own, traffic was terrible, and offices were closed.
The next morning, when nobody was going anywhere, my employer (who is the second-best employer I’ve ever had, not counting Flexo) did a confusing thing. All my co-workers got an e-mail around 10 A.M., with the subject: SNOW DAY!!!! It went on to describe the record amount of snow, the beauty of the landscape, and encouraged us to go make snow angels and take pictures and stomp around, etc. Then in the last paragraph we were similarly encouraged to get some work done, since we were warned in advance to bring our laptops home.
A few hours later, my immediate supervisor followed up to explain that it was in fact an actual snow day, and if we found ourselves not working, it wouldn’t be deducted from our PTO / vacation time. So, the problem has been resolved, but not before I found myself complaining about it on Twitter (the gist of which was to explain to Texans, of which I am not a native, that a snow day clearly means “no work today”).
This was the latest of incidents where it seems like I’m forced to act like a jerk in order to explain basic concepts of how to be efficient, profitable, or improve employee morale, depending on the situation. Normally, I think I’d love to work from home, but when the whole area is shut down due to snow, we won’t be doing much consulting, since all of our clients are also out of the office.
Another example: seven of my co-workers spend two hours each week determining who will be responsible for which weekly milestones, and then at the end of the week, most of the milestone information is thrown away. Inefficient, right? So I tried to describe how foolish that looks to my manager, and our debate got more testy than it should’ve, and I ended up feeling like a jerk. I don’t feel wrong, just rude.
I try to communicate things in a diplomatic and polite way, but no matter how it’s sugar-coated, you can tell when someone is saying “You’re doing it wrong.”
The odd thing is that while I feel like I’m frequently challenging a broken status quo, regardless of my employer, I never really “get in trouble” for it. I was in a “quit or your fired” situation once, and in hindsight, I’m glad they made that decision for me, because even after I left, that boss didn’t get any better until he ended up in the hospital for stress. But aside from that, my employers love me, and they’re always telling me of the speed and high quality of my work. So why do I feel like a rusty wrench in the works?
Does this situation seem familiar to you? If so, what did you do about it?
Published or updated February 15, 2010.