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  • FIRST POST
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 27th Jun 17, 7:25 PM
    • 59Posts
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    PossiblyOverworked
    Co-worker editing documents with "(s)he" to just "he" about generic people
    • #1
    • 27th Jun 17, 7:25 PM
    Co-worker editing documents with "(s)he" to just "he" about generic people 27th Jun 17 at 7:25 PM
    I work in "teapot design and manufacturing" in the Quality Inspection area (let's say - obviously this isn't my real industry). Part of my role involves writing process documents about the "teapot quality checking" process, and the docs have to use quite formal, "third party" language e.g. "the Teapot Inspector must check the 1st and every 25th teapot and must note the results on Sheet B" rather than being worded as a set of instructions to the Teapot Inspector ("Check the 1st and every 25th teapot and note what you find on sheet B").

    The documents get submitted and double checked through someone who is 'Senior' in my team but isn't actually my line manager (he and I have the same manager) before being added to a library of process documents.

    So in writing these documents, I've put things like "if the Teapot Inspector finds a defect, (s)he must raise it with the Manager on duty or if (s)he is unable to contact the Manager then... blah blah blah". Obviously "(s)he" is a shorthand way of writing "he or she" or similar -- "he or she" gets cumbersome very quickly in a document where you have to use it a lot of times.

    The Senior person reviewed the documents I did, and they made their way in to the document library with no significant changes, but the Senior person had replaced every instance of "(s)he" etc with "he"!

    I asked why (in a "what should I do differently next time so you don't have to edit it" way although that was sort of passive aggressive on my part) and got a response that was basically: it's cumbersome to keep putting (s)he etc and it looks out of place, and besides, all of our Teapot Inspectors are male so it is just "he" for all practical purposes. (I'm paraphrasing but that was essentially it)

    I'm still listed as the 'author' of these documents for what that's worth.

    It is actually the case that all of our Teapot Inspectors are male, but that's just because it's a fairly male-dominated industry and the best applicants for the job happened to be male. There's isn't an unofficial policy against hiring females or anything (I'm female, but don't fall into the Teapot Inspector group).

    So my question is, should I bring this up again with this co-worker or just leave it? Should I do it differently in the future and just use "he" (which I really don't want to do) as I'm pretty sure the senior coworker would say something to our manager like "I had to edit all of PossiblyOverworked's documents again before we could upload them" without any context...

    He is pretty clueless about how things are perceived by other people, being inclusive, etc.

    I didn't just push back since although he isn't my manager, he does have a sort of quasi-supervisor status in the team (possibly because he wanted to leave, they wanted to keep him so gave him this spurious authority, presumably with a pay bump which they needed to justify.) He is "thick as thieves" with our mutual manager and I'm a good employee but not well liked by this manager for some reason I haven't figured out (I get on with most of the people ok!)

    What should I do ??
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 27-06-2017 at 7:33 PM.
Page 6
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 7th Jul 17, 2:12 PM
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    TBagpuss
    It's just so frustrating that he has a history of bigoted comments and behaviour like this, but nothing has been done about it, but at the same time he has got me and other co-workers in "hot water" with HR due to minor things that are now on our permanent records. I just don't see why he is immune to this (unless there is something "going on" between him and our manager, which I have considered, and there is a sort of flirting quality to it but I don't think it's anything substantial.)

    As in.. I saw and heard him reviewing CVs and threw them in the bin because "we don't want someone from Kerblikistan* here cos they won't fit in" (*obviously just a placeholder) and I didn't say anything because actually I didn't know what I could say. Actually even apart from nationality, he threw all kinds of CVs in the bin because "not enough experience" or whatever, and who knows what happened to the personal information on those CVs? - they were submitted to a HR department or hiring manager, and for myself if submitting a CV with things like my date of birth and address on it, I wouldn't be too happy to hear it had just been thrown out with the general rubbish where any identity thief could get hold of it.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    The part I've coloured is key. You cannot reasonable expect the company to deal with an issue that has not been brought to their attention. Unless someone more senior to John saw / heard him then they won't know about the issue and can't act on it.
    You could, at the time, have spoken to your line manager or to HR and said "John was reviewing CVs today. He looked at a CV and said "we don't want someone from Kerblikistan* here cos they won't fit in" and threw away the application. I'm concerned that this amounts to illegal discrimination which could cause a lot of trouble for the company, and it it uncomfortable to witness that kind of racism, so I thought I should let you know"

    it is not reasonable, or realistic, to expect HR to throw the book at him for what is a comparatively minor, and (as far as they know, if no-one else has reported anything either) isolated incident, simply because you've seen him do other things which you didn't report.

    (And I say all of this as someone who feels strongly about inclusive language)
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 8th Jul 17, 5:38 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    if someone told me that they didn't know how to do something, I wouldn't refer them to a set of instructions - I'd get out the instructions and work through them with them to make sure they understood, then say come back if you get stuck. Just a slight investment of time to make someone feel comfortable with a task they haven't done before.

    If this is the way you normally deal with people, you aren't making any friends.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    Hmm... I am actually quite surprised by this (I didn't think I had a problem "getting on with people" other than with John, but perhaps I do!) since we have all been told explicitly to write the docs in so much detail that "someone who has never done this before" could do it, and it seems to just be common sense, that if you haven't done a particular process before, you would at least look at the document covering that process in step-by-step detail before asking someone... Actually I did ask something like "ok, so have you had a look at the process doc that covers this?" and the person said no and went off to have a look, but then couldn't follow it (which she should have been able to) and cried to John instead of coming back and asking.

    It's probably not relevant but I know she is going through some personal problems at home and so is a bit "distracted at work" a lot of the time.
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 08-07-2017 at 5:40 PM.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 8th Jul 17, 5:47 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    And maybe that is why they like John! I don't know whether he is as good at stuff as the OP (they say not, but that may not be true) but maybe he is the turn to person because the OP isn't.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    I suppose he and I have different strengths, in the eyes of management.

    I have all the knowledge about details and arcane stuff that happened 4 years ago (or whatever) plus the ability to take on new things that don't really have a "precedent" in something we've already done, but requires thinking about how to come up with a new process for how do we do this. John has actually worked there longer than I have (by a couple of years) and been exposed to all the same projects and processes, but hasn't really taken on the "deep knowledge" as far as I can tell, like being able to extrapolate things from a particular experience in the past onto something new.

    He has views like "such and such SHOULD be like this" and (a very simplistic example) if the teapot spout is coming out green but it should be blue, he will give some response like "huh... but it SHOULD be blue! But it's green, but it should be blue, but it's green..." (etc) and shut down to any discussion of the reasons 'why' this might have happened, just that things aren't as they should be so as far as he is concerned, that's it!

    His strengths - seeing things that are very familiar through, Visio and stuff like that, being persistent (I give up a bit too easily).

    He has a role as a team member for sure, but doesn't really seem to have the vision or "adaptability" to be a leader.

    Actually people outside the team go to him (sometimes) as it seems to have been communicated 'externally' that he's the senior person, but he just comes to me with their queries and then goes back with the answer as if he'd thought of it. But I do get contacted a lot by people directly and asked to advise / fix stuff, which I do and it gets the job done, but he smacks me down for not sticking to "my role" as it's narrowly defined in his mind.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 8th Jul 17, 6:01 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    As you also had a warning for not answering John's question about how your projects were progressing, it is clear that he was entitled and did have the authority to ask you that question, so again why are you still maintaining that he does not? If you genuinely can't see the problems with your behaviour, you have bigger issues at work than the use of (s)he in official documents!
    Originally posted by Nicki
    That one didn't make it onto the official record although I was "spoken to" about it, and got the impression that I was very lucky it wasn't an official warning!

    From my perspective though... Someone who has been my peer for the 3 or so years I've worked there, suddenly starts asking things like "What's the status of the XYZ project?", "Has the product manager got back to you about question Q as that needs to be resolved by Thursday?" etc. Nothing has been communicated to any of us that we now "report to" John or anything like that. As far as I'm concerned it is just general talk really. I would have assumed that "taking on management tasks that are above your authority" (which is how it would be perceived) is a problem that needs a "talking to" in itself. I'm pretty sure if I just started asking my colleagues "what's the status of project P" it would reach management quickly!

    Even with the various discussions (and I've heard this from other people as well - it's not just me who hasn't been told of John's new authority) it has never actually been said that "you now have to report to John" etc. He is one of 3 "Senior Teapot People" in the team, and I've never reported to the other Senior people -- I might occasionally have to ask them something about an especially difficult technical situation, and the Seniors often get the more difficult projects, but they aren't my 'supervisors' in any meaningful sense.

    Edited to add: No, it wasn't made clear to me that "he was entitled and did have the authority", as in... I was chastised for making flippant remarks (like "oh, you know how project managers can be, lol" or something like that) but it still wasn't made explicit that John was legitimately asking this.

    In fact now that I think about it, I'm wondering if his "de facto promotion" is actually known to HR... It's almost as if our manager has given him the Senior title (which 2 teapot analysts already had) as a way of justifying the salary bump, but then also promised him that he can have a "team lead" role without this actually being communicated, so I wonder how official it is.
    Last edited by PossiblyOverworked; 08-07-2017 at 6:08 PM.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 8th Jul 17, 7:05 PM
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    sangie595
    Hmm... I am actually quite surprised by this (I didn't think I had a problem "getting on with people" other than with John, but perhaps I do!) since we have all been told explicitly to write the docs in so much detail that "someone who has never done this before" could do it, and it seems to just be common sense, that if you haven't done a particular process before, you would at least look at the document covering that process in step-by-step detail before asking someone... Actually I did ask something like "ok, so have you had a look at the process doc that covers this?" and the person said no and went off to have a look, but then couldn't follow it (which she should have been able to) and cried to John instead of coming back and asking.

    It's probably not relevant but I know she is going through some personal problems at home and so is a bit "distracted at work" a lot of the time.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    For someone who is clearly very intelligent, you do appear to be a bit dim at times! I think you would be wise to run some option scenarios through your head before letting your mouth go!

    Have a read of this again..... Yes it's common sense to have read the document before asking, but if that is the case then either this person has no common sense, or they are unsure of themselves. Being charitable to one's co-workers (who yes, might be dim, but it's nice to start from assuming not!) you could have said that there is some guidance and if she goes have a quick look at it and come back in an hour (or whatever is convenient) you'll go through it, check she's understood it all, etc., Etc. You see, people are different. My friend has a complete inability to translate the instruction manual into actions for the simplest device - she has three degrees! Someone might have dyslexia and struggle with written words, but not want to disclose it. Some people need to see something to comprehend it. I could carry on making a long list, but I think you get my drift.

    Having been packed off with "have you read the instruction manual" she obviously didn't feel she could come back to you. But she trusted John enough to go to him. And you've mentioned a few times that people go to him. So maybe he isn't as smart and politically correct as you - but maybe people find him approachable and empathic?

    And someone is having some personal problems at home? You know this. But it's probably not relevant? Oh dear! There's that missing empathy thing again! You could, whilst going over the manual with her, have casually asked her how she is. Everything ok? Or whatever. Are you the go to leader who people tell their problems to, whose advice they value, who has a few moments just to be sympathetic? Clearly not. And maybe that isn't your skill. Fair enough. Not everyone is able to pull it off. But not everyone pulls off what you do. There are different skills and strengths, but you don't seem to value what anyone sees in anyone other than yourself!

    I actually don't think your are as self centred as you come across as. I think you are so narrowly focused that you can't see others, and don't see yourself as others perhaps do. The longer you post, the more I have an impression of someone who, if you lock them in a room and throw piles of work at them, will polish it off for breakfast. But don't put anyone else in the room with them, because people aren't their skills set. Working with others is a skill set just like anything else. And it can be learned. But first you have to want to learn it. And the first step in that is accepting people as they are, not as you want them to be, or in comparison to yourself.
    • theoretica
    • By theoretica 8th Jul 17, 8:22 PM
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    theoretica
    From my perspective though... Someone who has been my peer for the 3 or so years I've worked there, suddenly starts asking things like "What's the status of the XYZ project?", "Has the product manager got back to you about question Q as that needs to be resolved by Thursday?" etc. Nothing has been communicated to any of us that we now "report to" John or anything like that. As far as I'm concerned it is just general talk really. I would have assumed that "taking on management tasks that are above your authority" (which is how it would be perceived) is a problem that needs a "talking to" in itself. I'm pretty sure if I just started asking my colleagues "what's the status of project P" it would reach management quickly!

    Even with the various discussions (and I've heard this from other people as well - it's not just me who hasn't been told of John's new authority) it has never actually been said that "you now have to report to John" etc. He is one of 3 "Senior Teapot People" in the team, and I've never reported to the other Senior people -- I might occasionally have to ask them something about an especially difficult technical situation, and the Seniors often get the more difficult projects, but they aren't my 'supervisors' in any meaningful sense.

    Edited to add: No, it wasn't made clear to me that "he was entitled and did have the authority", as in... I was chastised for making flippant remarks (like "oh, you know how project managers can be, lol" or something like that) but it still wasn't made explicit that John was legitimately asking this.

    In fact now that I think about it, I'm wondering if his "de facto promotion" is actually known to HR... It's almost as if our manager has given him the Senior title (which 2 teapot analysts already had) as a way of justifying the salary bump, but then also promised him that he can have a "team lead" role without this actually being communicated, so I wonder how official it is.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    Why wouldn't you answer any colleague civilly and professionally about the status of your projects? I have needed to ask people who are considerably senior to me about their projects - also people on the same level as me or below but not direct reports. Similarly I am asked about my work by people at different levels.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 8th Jul 17, 9:02 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    Why wouldn't you answer any colleague civilly and professionally about the status of your projects? I have needed to ask people who are considerably senior to me about their projects - also people on the same level as me or below but not direct reports. Similarly I am asked about my work by people at different levels.
    Originally posted by theoretica
    It's a bit of a cultural thing I suppose but we have multiple lines of business, let's say "teapots for green tea", "teapots for herbal tea", "coffee pots" etc and each one of us in the team would be assigned to the particular project so I could be on the "herbal tea" project. So John, who is assigned to "cappuccino coffee pots" suddenly asking me about the progress of herbal tea would be a bit unexpected. And as such when he asked how it was going I thought it was just general chat (as he is my "peer" as I saw it, and isn't really working on my business area) so I replied in a casual sort of way.
    • sangie595
    • By sangie595 8th Jul 17, 10:25 PM
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    sangie595
    That one didn't make it onto the official record although I was "spoken to" about it, and got the impression that I was very lucky it wasn't an official warning!

    From my perspective though... Someone who has been my peer for the 3 or so years I've worked there, suddenly starts asking things like "What's the status of the XYZ project?", "Has the product manager got back to you about question Q as that needs to be resolved by Thursday?" etc. Nothing has been communicated to any of us that we now "report to" John or anything like that. As far as I'm concerned it is just general talk really. I would have assumed that "taking on management tasks that are above your authority" (which is how it would be perceived) is a problem that needs a "talking to" in itself. I'm pretty sure if I just started asking my colleagues "what's the status of project P" it would reach management quickly!

    Even with the various discussions (and I've heard this from other people as well - it's not just me who hasn't been told of John's new authority) it has never actually been said that "you now have to report to John" etc. He is one of 3 "Senior Teapot People" in the team, and I've never reported to the other Senior people -- I might occasionally have to ask them something about an especially difficult technical situation, and the Seniors often get the more difficult projects, but they aren't my 'supervisors' in any meaningful sense.

    Edited to add: No, it wasn't made clear to me that "he was entitled and did have the authority", as in... I was chastised for making flippant remarks (like "oh, you know how project managers can be, lol" or something like that) but it still wasn't made explicit that John was legitimately asking this.

    In fact now that I think about it, I'm wondering if his "de facto promotion" is actually known to HR... It's almost as if our manager has given him the Senior title (which 2 teapot analysts already had) as a way of justifying the salary bump, but then also promised him that he can have a "team lead" role without this actually being communicated, so I wonder how official it is.
    Originally posted by PossiblyOverworked
    How damned explicit do you want it to be? Your employer has given you BOTH formal and informal warnings for your behaviour and attitudes. Get this through your head - the employer does not need to ask your permission to increase the job title, position or wage of anyone. It's "official" because it is - and now you are thinking that maybe you could run off to HR and report it as not being real, are you? I take it back. You possibly are dim. How do you keep missing this - he is valued more than you are, they don't care what your opinion of that is, but unless you buck up your attitude then you will be the one out of the door, and possibly without volunteering. That might or might not be fair. But it's fact. Get over it or get out - but stop whinging about it. The only thing that is PossiblyOverworked here is your imagination, and your sense of entitlement.

    This is a waste of time - I'm out.
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 10th Jul 17, 7:54 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    We manufacture various "types" of a particular kind of thing (not teapots, but it's a good a placeholder as any) and as a production operation there are various areas of activity e.g. actually producing the thing day-to-day, quality inspection / QA of a "sample" of what comes off the production line, co-ordinating the people producing the thing, process analysis, designing new "teapots" that the production line people will ultimately manufacture, etc etc.

    For myself I have quite a few years experience in the industry but more on the manufacturing and process analysis side of things. I would ultimately like to move into "teapot" design and R&D and that's what the courses are tailored towards (but also cover things outside of this particular company e.g. design of tea, coffee and hot chocolate pots).
    Last edited by MSE ForumTeam3; 19-07-2017 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Quoting deleted post
    • PossiblyOverworked
    • By PossiblyOverworked 10th Jul 17, 8:10 PM
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    PossiblyOverworked
    How damned explicit do you want it to be? Your employer has given you BOTH formal and informal warnings for your behaviour and attitudes. Get this through your head - the employer does not need to ask your permission to increase the job title, position or wage of anyone. It's "official" because it is - and now you are thinking that maybe you could run off to HR and report it as not being real, are you? I take it back. You possibly are dim. How do you keep missing this - he is valued more than you are, they don't care what your opinion of that is, but unless you buck up your attitude then you will be the one out of the door, and possibly without volunteering. That might or might not be fair. But it's fact. Get over it or get out - but stop whinging about it. The only thing that is PossiblyOverworked here is your imagination, and your sense of entitlement.

    This is a waste of time - I'm out.
    Originally posted by sangie595
    I do understand that it's all up to the employer, but even after various formal and informal discussions (and it isn't just me who has been involved in those - pretty much everyone has at least one warning on their record - about unrelated things like tattoos / dress code / "unruly conduct" (?!) etc) it has never actually been said to me, or anyone else in the team, that John is now our supervisor (or similar) and we need to report our progress to him. Any time I've been "spoken to" it was because e.g. I was "unhelpful" to the person asking about a particular process, or because I didn't stay late enough to get the thing completed (wrongly reported to manager), or I worded this email too harshly etc. The one thing I haven't been told off about is "insubordination"!

    He may well be valued more than I am but surely if someone now has management authority over others who didn't previously, that should be communicated (to the 'others') by bosses? Otherwise why wouldn't I just assume that this is someone "playing boss" who doesn't actually have the authority to.... ok, I accept that he now has a 'Senior' title but there are other 'Senior' teapot analysts in the department who I also don't report to, they just have a higher level of technical experience.
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