Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh. My. God. Yes!

Oh, WAD Readers, it’s been a good day. A good day indeed. Let’s hit rewind on the DVR of my day and take y’all back to the beginning.

The day began with a Pomme de Terre Core & Shell team CAD meeting, consisting of Sarge, Liz, Wanda, and Intern Timmy, a young fellow just out of graduate school who’s been working at Design Associates for about a year and a half. Sarge was working through some of the 3D modeling issues with the team, and Wanda was being extra obstinate and combative. By the end of the meeting, it was clear that she didn’t want to model the building in 3D at all, even though a 3D building model is what Howie has had in mind all along. Sarge came out of the meeting, barely paused at my desk to look over my head at my coworker, Jimmy Ray, sitting in the cubicle just over a low wall from me.

“Jimmy Ray, I need an icepick to go in my temple,” he said, pressing a pen the side of his head. I noticed that his hand was shaking; he was actually putting pressure on the pen. He returned a few minutes later and IM’d me that the meeting had been so stressful, and Wanda had been so aggressive and confrontational, that he had to go outside and take a walk. The walk didn’t end up helping, and now Susanna needed help, but he couldn’t bring himself to go downstairs. See, Susanna sits in a cubicle over a low wall from Wanda, and he knew Wanda would try to pull him into to a verbal altercation.
“It’s like she calls me down to her desk not for CAD help or advice, but just to pick a fight with me,” Sarge said.
“I wonder what her deal is,” I replied.

“Let’s get out of this office for lunch,” said Sarge. “I cannot be in this office for lunch today.”

A while later when we went to lunch, Sarge was nearly leaping with an odd joy. “Oh—my—GOD!” he exclaimed. “I saw Liz upstairs and pulled her aside to explain that I want to help Pomme de Terre, but I just couldn’t come downstairs because I didn’t think I could keep my cool around Wanda. Liz drags me into a conference room and tells me she feels the same way!”
“No way!” said the Pixie. “So we’re not imagining things? Liz is annoyed by her too?”
“Completely!” Sarge was nearly gushing. He looked relieved just knowing that someone else on the PdT team felt as he did, as we did. “It’s not just us! Liz is exhausted by Wanda too, and she too feels like Wanda’s charging into everything with a Mortal Kombat attitude. She said she was thinking about bringing it up with Howie, and she asked if I’d be willing to give Howie my side of the story, and I said abso-freaking-lutely. Before I got to your desk, I went to see if she wanted to go to lunch with us, but she wasn’t at her desk.”
He paused with an expression of sudden realization. “…and neither was Howie.” He looked at me suddenly. “Hey, I wonder….”
“She probably just got out of the office for a bit,” I said.

Sarge and I ate lunch and walked back to the office. As we got to the corner across the street from our office, we saw Howie walking up the sidewalk in the other direction. Suddenly, he dashed across the street to us at a break in the traffic and dashed right up to Sarge.
“Hey, did Wanda pick a fight with you in the CAD meeting today?” he asked Sarge, slightly out of breath.
Sarge was actually caught a bit off guard. I stood not two feet away thinking, um, Howie? Maybe you should wait til I’m not around to discuss personnel issues with the CAD Manager.
“Well,” Sarge said rather diplomatically. “I don’t think that’s how she meant it to be, but it sure felt like she was trying to pick a fight. It’s like that a lot when I go to her desk.”

“Yeah, I know she can be kinda intense sometimes,” Howie replied, a little sheepish. “I think I need to talk with her…”
Just then the light changed, and I excused myself without a word and crossed the street, leaving Howie and Sarge on the street corner to continue sorting this crap out.

A few minutes later, Sarge came in and walked right up to my desk, saying, “Holy fucking shit at the timing of that!”
“So? What was the outcome of that little meeting in DA’s new corner conference room?” I asked.
“Awesomeness!” Sarge said with an uncharacteristic lack of military decorum. “I explained to Howie how it’s so hard to have a discussion with her without her turning it into an argument, and I told him how I had to reassure Liz that I wasn’t trying to neglect the team but I just couldn’t be down there near her and keep my cool. Then, Howie said that he just talked to Liz about this, and he said he’s taken Wanda off all file and administrative duties and has gone back to just giving her just drawings to do. Intern Timmy and Jimmy Ray are gonna handle the files from now on.”

Everyone around us stared us while we happy danced at this most fortuitous outcome. Our poor confused coworkers watched in bemused horror as the guy with the buzzcut and the midget in the grey plaid Ann Taylor suit did the watusi and the frug and sang “Booyah! Booyah! Booyah!”

Now, I realize that the proper and assertive thing to have done here would have been for Liz or me or Sarge or someone to approach Wanda and broach the subject of her combative, disagreeable nature with her. One would thank her for her willingness to deal with certain aspects of the advanced software and appreciate her previous experience with it, then empathize with the fact that she’d been given a management task for which she wasn’t totally prepared, namely handling the file structure for software on which she wasn’t fully trained. Then one would gently explain that everyone is willing to help train her, but she has on several occasions made it seem like she didn’t want to listen. If she will let the others help her and teach her how to use the software, then the others would stick up for her if learning the software put her behind or gave her problems with Howie.

However…when someone is continually confrontational, how does one confront them? Given all that we’ve seen, I think Liz did the best thing. If Jacqueline was here, she would have seen it already first hand and dealt with it, but Howie, the project manager (PM, as Faded properly calls him), didn’t have a clue and needed to know that this was going on. By taking this responsibility out of her hands, Howie has dramatically reduced opportunities for Wanda to be aggressive. Also, by checking with more than one person about the behavior, he got a better idea of the team’s dynamics. (Howie and I will be going out to Wheatlands together on Thursday, so he may get my side of the story, if and only if he asks me.) So finally—FINALLY, something has been done. I can finally almost enjoy this project. Almost.

6 comments:

faded said...

When does your project start? I hope that Wanda is not assigned to work for you.

BaxterWatch said...

now, if it were me, I would be waiting for a metaphorical shoe to drop and ruin the whole thing.

but that's just me.
:)

Wanda should have learned: You don't mess with the Ann Taylor midget.

yea! Now, could you send Howie here to help my combative co-workers? that'd be swell. Thanks.

ms. kitty said...

Well, happy days! That's great, MHP.

Miss Kitty said...

Hooray! Hard liquor for ERR'BODY!

faded said...

I wonder how Wanda will take it when she learns that the work she was doing has been given to a pair of interns.

Mile High Pixie said...

Faded: Chances are, Wanda won't be on MCRI. She was hired to work on Pomme de Terre, so I'll likely get someone else, hopefully Jimmy Ray. It seems that Wanda should be relieved that this chore has been taken away from her; after all, it's been stressing her out too.

Baxterwatch: Let me see if I can convince Howie to fly to North Carolina....

Ms./Miss Kitties: Thank you! Yes, I'll be getting into the hard liquor shortly. I too am delighted to have some closure on this.