Just Say No

Just say no 2I did not expect to be writing this post today.

When I started our for work this morning I knew what I had to get through for the day, and I knew what I needed to do to achieve it.

And when I got in this morning, after the ritual turning on of the laptop and worshipping of the coffee-maker (why does everyone always seem to wait until I get up to do it?!) I checked in with my manager and then got on with the task in hand.  By lunchtime there had been a mini-crisis (there always is – it’s that kind of place) and my tasks had changed.  But I re-arranged things and got on with the new task in hand.  By home-time I’d made significant progress and was just about to finish off and pack up when the Head of Finance (my manager’s manager in the whole ‘who’s got the flashiest title and most important air about them’ hierarchy thing) asked me to pop into his office for a word or two.

Just to give you some ‘flava’, I started about a month ago, and my manager had so far done a bit of a poor job at handing anything over to me.  Every time I asked him, he sat with me for fifteen minutes, sometimes even an hour, then something urgent would come up and we’d have to stop.  O he’d have done the work at 7.30 am, when I was still at home.  Or at 7.30 pm, when I’d got home.  Or on Saturday afternoon, when I was at home.  You get the picture.  He mostly asked me to review his work and learn that way.  Not ideal, but other than physically tying him to his chair and forcing him to train me (apparently the first bit is frowned on by the HR gods…) what could I do?

I’d already decided that this particular contract and environment weren’t for me – which is a shame in a way because the team I work with are lovely people.  But there is a trend here – the company works you hard.  Ridiculously hard.  And most people leave within six months.  My manager’s role has changed hands more than three times in less than two years.   With this in mind, I had planned to leave just as soon as I’d lined up another contract.  So.  There we are.

So HoF was asking me how I was getting on, and I was making the usual non-committal responses.  Then HoF got to the point.  He said he had noticed my boss working long hours.  Longer hours than HoF himself.  And he had also noticed that I was not working those hours (for the record my boss’s average day is 7.30 am to 9 pm), and I had not volunteered to stay behind so I could learn from my boss before he left.  Possibly a valid point, although I kind of feel hand-overs and training should mostly be done in work hours – I’m funny like that!

Then he went on to ask me if there were any commitments at home preventing me from staying late.   I said, yes, I had commitments at home (A pooch, family, friends, A LIFE – although I didn’t elaborate that for him).  And then he said something like (I wish I could remember it verbatim) ‘Well, we all have commitments but we need to find a way around them.’  EXSQUEEEZE ME???  Are you basically telling me you think I need to give up my home life so I can stay here and work myself crazy for you?  After a little shell-shocked nodding from me the meeting concluded and I toddled off home.

Which brings me to now.  Having talked it over with the Fam. we’ve all voted for me to hand my notice in tomorrow.  I don’t have another cushy contract lined up.  I have no idea what I’ll do or what will come up next but I have to trust in God, The Universe and Fate that there was a reason for this conversation.  Maybe that reason was to make sure I don’t get sucked in and slave for far too many hours at the most disorganised finance department in the history of mediocre finance departments.  Maybe the reason was that I now have enough material for ‘Coping with the Horroffice’ and it’s time to find a lovely little contract where I can thrive, flourish, deliver value and still leave on time and have a life.

So tomorrow morning I will just say no.  No to extra hours for no extra pay.  No to being made to feel guilty for leaving on time.  No to this culture of working employees into the ground and then moving on to the next one.  I’m handing my notice in and I’m moving on – on my terms, in my time and with my dignity and nerves intact!   Hoorah!

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