If you skipped to this chapter you are probably uncomfortable with your
current job situation, not necessarily the job.
What's the difference?
If the job is making you uncomfortable you hate the whole thing, while
if the keyword is 'situation', you like the job "but".
If you are
looking to either get out of the job or ride out a situation, you
should look to protect yourself until you get to the desired point.
Documentation is important during these periods. You may need to prove
your innocence in extreme situations. Good documentation can prove you
did not do something. Better documentation not only proves your
innocence, it also points the finger at the guilty party.
At times it may be suggested that you do not notice certain
things or may be asked to do only what you were hired to do. In such
cases, document who did what and when under whose authority. Again I
abuse pronouns because you are not going to get a clear picture; there
are many questions for which you may have to seek the answers yourself.
I am not saying be nosy, but note what comes your way.
For example, as
a programmer the company safe may be in your office, so that the backup
tapes will be protected in case of fire. Also in the safe is the
company's petty cash. One of the people from accounting is spending too
much time in the safe and tells you to mind your own business when you
ask if they need any help. Sure you were not hired to baby-sit the
contents of the safe. You may not even know the combination! But if
there is ever a problem with the safe's contents (or lack thereof) you
may be the first one implicated.
The more pronouns used to describe
your task or details missing from the description, the more you should
look out for yourself. When you ask questions and get responses that
start with "A family man usually does not ask so many questions..." or
"Why should you care? It's not your job to care, just to do...", you
should be keeping documentation and looking to leave.
When you are told
to take out someone's computer and put it in "that car over there so it
can be brought in for repair", ask
Remember you are going to be the last person seen with the system, so
you are going to be responsible. If you have a tainted reputation,
earned or not, the burden of proof may weigh a little more heavily on
you than on others. Be a little more careful than most employees as
other people may try to sneak things under your coattails (as opposed
to the cliché "ride your coattails"). No manager is ever going
to ask you to anything illegal - directly. You may be asked to do
something that seems harmless, but strange. When the problem is
discovered, you will be to blame because you were never asked to such.
At a clinic you are told to deliver "that" package to the nurses - it's
an open package of needles. You do not know that they have been used,
but you do know that packaging has been compromised. Question it or
refuse to do it.
- What is wrong with the system?
- Whose car is that?
- Where it being repaired?
- When is it coming
- Who authorized such?
- Is there any paperwork which must
accompany the unit?
- Who are you to tell me to do that?
- Who told /
empowered you to make this decision?
- Why don't you do it, or at
Though I am not a lawyer (I've said that
quite a lot), most people know that the more detail one has supporting
their claim, the better their chances are for winning. Unfortunately in
the courts of precedence (it's really not law anymore), much of the
evidence which you may collect may not be considered admissible in
court because you gathered such without proper consent.
No boss is ever
going to speak clearly in the microphone while commenting how both of
you are naked under all those clothes. Does that mean you should not
try to gather such evidence? NO! ...Gather It Anyway Even if certain
types of evidence may not be allowed, the fact that you have it may
help sway the judgment. You go in confident, the defense it shaken and
the judge or jury follow your lead because it has direction. If, for
example, you were able to get a tape recording of an incident, listen
to it many times. Take notes, doing such requires more effort and may
increase your chances of remembering many more details. The more
confident you are with your story (remember it's the judge's job to
find the truth, your job to present your case and rebut your advisary's
case), the better you can handle questions and attack points made by
the other side. Transcribe the tape or hire someone to do such, the act
of reading the facts may help you remember more than if you listened to
the tape another dozen times. Despite the fact that the judge may have
had certain evidence struck from your testimony, odds are in your favor
that the jurors are going to be employees like you. Though they can not
take that testimony into account, the fact that you brought it in and
were willing to display it adds credibility to your case. Because the
jury is made of people rather than machines, the judge can not reduce
your credibility. Your opponent will be attacking your credibility in
many different ways.
Over the course of employment, your employer has
been keeping many records. Attendance, evaluations, complaints and
warnings will find their way into the court room. Be prepared to
explain how such facts may have made it to the record. For example many
salaried employees are not on a time clock, so many tardies in your
record may be struck down with a good explanation. One employer in
their zeal to make an employee look bad over-documented their case.
Though the employee lost, the arbitrator, an employee of the state, was
less than impressed by the company's testimony. Had a few more holes
been knocked in the company's case, the company's over-documentation
would have been its demise.
Be careful about taking documents or copies
from the company as they are company property. Depending on the case
the company may be able to counter sue as you have stolen or used
company materials in a manner not allowed by the company. Document all
your observations and transactions (dealings) at home so the company
can not accuse you of using any company resources (time, paper,
computer, etc...) for personnel gain. Document details of what happened
and your feelings at the time.
In a sexual harassment case you may wish
to document what you do with each other coworker and how such makes you
feel. The accused (that is what the courts are going to call the
pervert) is most likely going to justify their actions by making you
look bad and make themselves look like one of the other employees. For
the record the defense will most likely paint a picture of you being an
excessive flirt, while hoping to sneak the word "slut" into the jury's
mind. For example your boss pats you on the back a lot and you take it
as his or her way of expressing approval of your efforts. Your boss's
boss decides that he also wishes to let you know that you are doing a
good job, but expresses such a little further down. This person is
going to try to make it look like you are making a mountain out of a
mole hill, you must prove that this person is trying to pass a mountain
as a mole hill. As the accuser, you have the burden of proof, you must
make the judge, jury or arbitrator see the issue from your perspective.
Company policy should be consulted in times of conflict and you should
maintain a personal copy. For example, if your company is involved with
any type of mission critical service or product and a customer who has
not paid their bill needs service, what should you do? Someone may die
if you do not perform at least basic service, while your boss may have
grounds to terminate you for violating company policy if you should try
For example, you work for a delivery service and you have to bring
blood and uniforms to a hospital that has not paid on an invoice in 90
days. Do you bring the blood and hold the uniforms? Do you not go? At
this point company policy should be reviewed and questioned.
Where's The Real Problem?
Before looking to leave, ask yourself about the problem that is making
you want to leave?
Is it something that is going to be temporary or
permanent in the company?
Is it something with you?
If it's something
"with the company", it may be something within the company's industry.
For example, the deregulation laws have made dealing with utility
companies interesting as a customer. As an employee, the number of
details which must be minded grew. New tasks brought about new jobs
which brought new faces. But despite such, the puzzle did not really
grow, just that there were more pieces, smaller pieces, making the same
If you feel that the problem is with you, your
current environment may not allow you to change the situation. As more
colleges and universities develop coop (pronounced co op) or intern
programs, there will be more people entering the workforce at a younger
age. Instead of starting a career at 22 or 23, the coop puts their foot
in the door at 18 or 19. At 24 the coop will have the advantage of
having much more experience than other scholars, but may not be able to
shake the teenage image, even after 5 years. The company hired the coop
as a "kid" and no matter how professional the coop to hire has become,
the employee still carries the brand. Until the old guard leaves, the
coop to hire employee may be thought of as "the kid" for quite a while.
There are many different ways to deal with work related problems. Some
may go away when ignored, while others require action. If looking to
stay, be prepared to do something about the situation, beside
pretending you work for the post office. If looking to leave, build a
good defense to hold you until you have someplace else to go.