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Curses and Cures- the reality of emails!
Friends, it has been a week! I wanted to write you an emotionally charged story about something inspirational and life-changing, but what I have for you today is a story about curses and cures.
It all started with a work email that came across everyone’s desk at 5:43 pm on a SATURDAY. Now, because my home office is my safe space, my happy hideout, my peaceful palace- of course, I was sitting at the computer when the annoying new version of You Got Mail dinged. I was in the middle of hunting gardening memes and watching Edwardian Cheesemaking on YouTube and accidentally clicked on the message saying that I had gotten an email from my boss.
First off- who writes emails on a Saturday? This is one of the drawbacks of working from home- you can react when you remember forgetting to do something. You have the means to engage work priorities while ignoring the home responsibilities. I am calling myself out on this also- I do it. My best ‘work’ is done on Saturday and Sunday mornings. However! What I do not do- is email my co-workers! I kindly wait until Monday to make them feel lazy when I casually mention that ‘I was getting stuff done’ this weekend. I am respectful and considerate of their time!
Back to the email- it was a long email where a lot of information needed to be disseminated, but you could tell they didn’t want to write the email. However, the email was promised to be delivered on Friday- so they felt complied to write it. Unfortunately, the email was confusing, lacking in direction, and dropped some life-changing new policies (work-changing? is that a word) without the convenience of a time frame.
And no one could answer! Why? Because the managers all knew, we had worked with each other long enough, that if ONE person responded- it would open the flood gates, and the rest of the weekend would be a banter of emails and texts instead of enjoying the last of the eggnog and rum. So we all patiently waited until Monday. We were stewing in the backlash of policies and procedures, trying to understand why regional would push something like this out without the courtesy of a 48-hour crisis warning bell. Kansas gets more warning about potential twisters than we did on this hurricane of crappiness. The last storm in interior Alaska that shut down the town for two days had a 24-hour warning! I am just saying- someone could have given us notice!
Monday rolls around. We are all divided by hundreds of miles of Alaskan roadways, so there is no in-person meeting to kick the week off right. No! The full force of the last 39 hours hit like a wrecking ball in a cascade of emails flying in on top of each other. By the time I was done typing and sending one, my co-worker would have already asked the same questions but mentioned something else that I wanted to expand on. It was a mess! Looking back- I can see why my boss may have reacted the way they did. But, it does not make it right, and if you are a boss, take note that this is not a proper way to handle your managers.
After 35 minutes and one request for a virtual meeting the next day, my boss comes back with a list of 15 questions- that has nothing to do with the original email- and states, ‘let’s readdress this at the beginning of February.” Are you shitting me?
That is it—radio silence after that. I was sitting in my office chair, holding my cup of coffee and just staring at the screen. I was mentally exhausted; my fingers hurt from slamming them down on the keys as if my anger could be teleported through them to my boss.
I did what every good employee does when they work from home and have nowhere to go at 11:32 am. I poured myself a Baily’s and coffee and went on about my day.
Now to tell on myself, might I have stirred the pot with my emails? I am shrugging my shoulders and nodding. Maybe! Did the policy directly affect me? No, it did not. I have no employees under me. I am not stationary to any one place or building. I am a lone wolf, riding into the wilderness of Alaska, bringing good cheer, bakery items, and coffee to the far reaches of this great state. I have no set hours; I don’t have to ask for permission to travel, I come up with my own programming, I have the best job in the world literally. The only stipulation is that I stay within budget and share the wealth with everyone.
Why did I assert myself in the conversation? Looking back- I probably didn’t need to. The other two directly affected managers were doing a fabulous job of sending out the silent kidney shots. My best friend and fellow traveler and I could just have watched this unfold from the sidelines and be easily the favorites of the week. But, when our friends jump- we jump too! One team, one fight!
Yesterday, after meetings with regional, discussions with other managers across the country, conversations with ourselves, expensive phone calls with online physic (to see if we were going to lose our jobs over this), it all worked out. Boss just didn’t explain the new policy correctly. It wasn’t going to be implemented in 2.3 seconds on a Monday morning. What he was to share with us WAS the warning bell. It was where the company WANTED to go. It was their GOAL for the YEAR.
But was it really? It is Friday morning, and it is early. But, on the other hand, it feels like a Saturday, and I keep forgetting that I need to be somewhere at 9 am.
Does this situation happen in all companies? Absolutely!
Is it fantastic and horrible to be a boss? I can’t say it any louder.
Does the team always get along? Maybe 265 days out of 365.
Does everyone think that they could do a better job? Of course, I do! I am Mary Freaking Poppins- practically perfect in every way.
But I feel like there was not a win for any of us. While the boss finally pushed the information out, and it was not as black skies as it once was, a canyon has formed in the team. For the first time, not among the managers- we are all good, but between the boss and us.
Even if they are absolutely needed and warranted, words once said can never be unsaid. And we all said a lot, and he heard every word. I don’t feel bad for the boss per say. I have been talked to, reprimanded, and slapped on the hand MANY times for my ‘blunt’ way of speaking. I had to change faulty practices for the betterment of the team.
However, I feel like, maybe because I am the only one who has felt the team’s displeasure before, I understand what the boss is going through. Being a boss is hard; being a manager on the ground is more challenging. Finding that perfect balance between leadership and teamwork is sometimes tricky.
Emails are tricky things. Very convenient. We can share information with the masses with one click of a button. We have written documentation, so we don’t have to rely on memory. We can quickly half-ass emails and throw them back into someone else’s court, so we don’t have to deal with the issues. They are a cure and a curse.
In this situation, I hope they will cure the mounting issues boiling before Saturday’s infamous email. I can tell you this- I am not looking forward to our one-on-one next week.
I think I will call the physic again before I go to work this morning.