He’s reading …

So now that we know he’s reading it, one last piece of advice:

Your staff knows your the President of the company, they’ve known since they were hired. You don’t need to remind them two and sometimes three times a week… they know. Its the joke of the company.

Micromanagement – The Finer Details

Micromanagement was evident when I was just the office AA, but both the Office Manager and I were brand new so I assumed it would go away. I was wrong.

One particular event that comes to mind was in January of 2007. I was preparing to send out the newsletters to 300 or so people. Monica and I had printed off the newsletters, stamped them and I was preparing labels. He, he architect and owner of the company, came over to inquire about what size labels I was using. At first I thought he was kidding, but soon realized he really wanted to know. When I brought this up at a later date, he assured me that he was just trying to be helpful, not trying to micromanage.

When I took on the roll of Office Manager, one of the tasks he wanted me to do was give Monica her employee evaluation. This was in the beginning of December, I had been Office Manager for less than two weeks. I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to evaluate someone that had been there 12+ years, and thought that perhaps John or Jim should do the evaluating. John persisted. I hoped it would go away, it did not.

In January, he again insisted I give Monica her evaluation, I again protested that this was not a good idea. We all (John, Jim and I) agreed to ask Monica what she wanted and do that. I approached Monica, her answer surprised me – she did want me to evaluate her performance over the last two months. I informed John and Jim, who were both in agreement that this could happen.

Monica and I scheduled a time to do her evaluation. I gave her a blank copy of the evaluation form (which was stolen outright from Children’s National Medical Center, I might add) and told her to fill hers out and I would fill one out as is procedure. As the date approached, I sent an email to John and Jim reminding them that the next day Monica and I would not be in the office for a few hours as we reviewed her evaluation.

That evening, I received an email from John telling me that it was inappropriate for me to give Monica her evaluation, that I didn’t know how very important this was and couldn’t possibly document it properly. He really thought I should have discussed this with him before proceeding.

I lost it, I knew at that point that I was purposefully being driven insane. I sent a scathing email back to John and cc’d Jim saying that this was ridiculous, I couldn’t possibly understand what my job was if they kept giving me false information, or changing the rules and reality as we went along. I went in to work anyway, was so pissed off that it didn’t really matter. Jim wanted to know what he could do to make things better, and I really wasn’t sure at this point.

I think, but have no proof, that he pulled John aside and insisted that he apologize and correct the situation. Cause John was very forthcoming with an apology, but couldn’t really bring himself to believe that he had done anything wrong. He did take me out to lunch and I assumed things would get better. This was not to be the case.

The Newsletter

The newsletter is what John really wants to sell. This is the project that for over a decade he’s been hoping would become a money maker. This is where I kept remembering AA definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

When I came on board, the newsletters price for domestic subscribers was $75 for 4 issues, that’s 4 pages of black and white paper. It was a tad more for International subscribers. There was a “database” of people that were subscribers at one time or another, but it had never been maintained well enough to know who was paying and who got a complimentary issue. They paid the editor $1,100 dollars a month to help write the quarterly newsletter. The cost to produce the newsletter, by administrative staff and company resources (copy machine toner, electricity, paper, use of the copier/printer for this purpose only for over 3 hours, and postage) yes… the cost of all that in addition to the time John and Denise spent writing it, it’s well over $75 in costs. So there is not a profit here at all.

I had started at around the same time that the University of MD had done a study for the company in regards to the newsletter. Their advice was that we needed to give up on the notion of making money on the thing until we had up subscribers. They even went so far as to suggest groups that we should target.

So, two weeks after those results, John called a meeting to figure out who we should target, and how much money we should charge for the newsletter. He again talked about how this was going to make us money, as soon as distribution was high enough. That advertisers would be interested in listing in our newsletter and website as soon as they saw how many people read it. The group brainstormed, we came up with a whole list of targeted audiences.

Three months later, he called a meeting to brainstorm about who we should target to send the newsletter to. At this point, several of us had already been in the previous meeting and heard what UMD had said, but we nodded and smiled and attended the meeting. We did get a free meal after all.

In January of 2008, Denise again suggested that we have a meeting to figure out who to target. At this point, I was on my way out anyway, and said that this had been done at least three times, and perhaps we should look at the data from those previous meetings. They rolled their eyes at me and agreed to do that before calling another meeting.

They looked at the list and decided to bring it to the staff meeting to see what the staff wanted to do in regards to the priority of soliciting people to read the newsletter. I did not attend said meeting.

I will point out to you that I finally figured out in the summer of 2007, that there were approximately 55 people that actually paid for the newsletter. About 200 that we spammed with it, and maybe 100 that asked for an electronic version.

How I became an office manager… and other horrors

In May or June of 2006 I had originally interviewed for the position of Office Manager at my last job (that I was recently fired from). Two of the three people that interviewed me didn’t think I could do the job, so they hired someone from an agency to do the job. I was then hired as her “assistant” in August.

Right away I knew it was a quirky place to work. Relaxed work environment, but everyone was on edge, concerned about projects, deadlines and new people in the office. I warm up to people slowly, so wasn’t sure what to make of the people or the office environment at that time.

One of the tasks John, the boss, had assigned to the Office Manager at the time, was a File Numbering Renaming. He wanted all the client folders to be be renamed to start with a number to make it easier to locate things. Not just hard copy folders, but electronic ones also. Needless to say, she didn’t think much of this plan at all, but he pushed it and she “presented” it as an idea at a staff meeting. Part of the reason she was fired, was that she didn’t know enough about that project to submit it as an idea in the meeting.

He also wanted her to use the Tasks in Microsoft Outlook, and institute a system for the entire staff to use them. Not having sufficient Outlook training, she wasn’t sure how to do this; and to be honest, none of the staff will ever use MS Outlook Tasks, which really gets on his nerves.

Well, anyway, she couldn’t deflect enough of his Micromanagement to remain sane, and she didn’t want to do anything he wanted to do. So they fired her. I guess there are probably other reasons, I don’t personally think she was qualified to be an office manager, she didn’t seem to know how to do it.

I took over the last two weeks in November, and if you ask John and Jim, probably took over a month or so before that too.

Fired

I’ve been fired. Yesterday. They sent a “kill” command to my Blackberry deleting all the information on there.

So, here on my blog I’m going to document what’s been going on for the last year or so.

Then, I’ll welcome your opinions on the matter.