Posts Tagged ‘resignation’

More change

Regular readers of this blog will notice I’ve had several changes of field in my career. Sometimes it’s boredom, sometimes it’s stress, sometimes it’s lack of support, sometimes it’s fear of commitment that drives me from one job to another. The time has come again. Can’t put my finger on the why – it seems to be all of the above, and yet …

I love this organisation. I genuinely love the people I work with and the work that we do. I am passionate in this field and love what I do. I’m also not scared of change, and love new challenges.  This role is very limiting and limited – as a manager of sorts to one measly program, supervising a (very) small team, and conducting business on a fee-for-service framework (which is dictated by the funding body) resulting in fewer clients and needing to ‘hunt’ for them, I feel I am not utilising my strengths or learning anything new. I’ve essentially become quite bored with the job. The only thing I seem to be doing is micromanaging people, and I feel little scope to do other work.

So after some consultations in external supervision and with my psychologist, I have come to an uneasy decision of starting to look outside for further stimulation. I want to get back to casework, client work, case management or anything hands-on really. I thought that management will be busy and intense and fun and a bit of a break from ‘managing’ clients – but in actual fact, it’s not that fun at all. In essence, you’re still dealing with clients. All of them. AND the case managers who work with them. It’s tripled workload, and none of it entirely fulfilling. My time supervising my staff whets the appetite. I hear about the difficulties the clients are facing and in my head runs a thousand different scenarios, techniques, strategies – how would I have worked with this client?

Damn I miss it so much!

In other news – and something I have yet to explore via this blog – I am committing to take a year off to travel next year (from about Aug/Sept/Oct – nothing in concrete yet, other than the plan). This somewhat puts a spanner in the works in terms of locating more work. If I leave now, I could probably get a 12 mth contract. If I leave in Jan, the likelihood to get a 9 mth or equiv position will be harder. The idea of temping or locum work is not ideal, but could be my only option. Ideally I’d like to stay where I am and just do casework but there’s no funding in it, and if I stay in this program, even if I take a demotion or return to substantive position, I’ll still basically be doing all the same work as there will be no one else to do it.

I thought about going back to mental health. As a clinical case manager. Again, it’ll require a certain amount of commitment, commitment I can’t guarantee to give. It’s still a year off but so much can happen in that time, at the same time how much should I hold off on my dreams for the sake of a good job… Tough life questions.

This often happens. Crossroads seem to occur more often than not in my life. In the past 7 years since I began this profession – new relationship, new job, move house, stress, unemployment, new job, anxiety, new job, break-up, move house, new job, court, promotion 1, promotion 2, new relationship,  move house, break-up, move house again.. new relationship.. and now the question mark around new job.  It’s all life, I suppose, this is completely normal to have change happening all the time. The difference now is, I don’t have a black or white answer. There are more options than not, and making a decision now when shit hasn’t hit the fan is in fact, the scariest decision of all.

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Piggy in the middle at work = not fun (2)

If you are wanting to read this post, I recommend you go to the previous post (1) to get a background. Otherwise this won’t make much sense at all. But warning – it’s a long winded tale of office politics and drama, with no clear resolution. Just a wonderful examination of how fucked people are.

Later that Friday that I worked from home, I got a phone call from Suzanne, saying “Don’t worry, everything will be ok now, I’ve put Philip on suspension.” Because, duh. That’s how you solve a problem. “On suspension pending investigation of the incident.” What incident? Oh. Philip ‘intimidating’ me. Grr. I started to see red. “I will need you to write a statement about what occurred.”

Yep. Whatever. I’m not writing a fucking statement. You’re not involving me. You’re NOT. Involving. Me.

me: “Ok”

Idiot. Sitting duck. But hey. She’s telling me to do something as my manager. I don’t know the protocols. So I agreed.

“As long as it is never shown to him.” She agreed.

Later on that weekend, I discussed this silly statement business with a few friends. They were all on my side and agreed that I shouldn’t have to write a statement and why the hell was Philip put on suspension anyway?

Monday rolls round and I was called into Suzanne’s office first thing. She told me to write the statement. I said I didn’t feel right about doing it. She asked me why. I said I didn’t know, I just felt objectionable towards doing it. She then proceeded to outline and highlight every single one of Philip’s faults. How much he’s blundered in the past. How he has intimidated her. How he just doesn’t give a shit about his work or the organisation. Sure, I can agree with all of these things. But why is he being put on the chopping block for this one meeting? Should it not be a collection of all these things more so?

Suzanne: “Yes, it’s not just your statement, we have a whole range of documentation and evidence that paints him in this light. Oh and I need Paulina to put in a statement too. In fact, I’ll be getting everyone present at that meeting to put in a statement about how he was noncompliant, and then you can put in an additional one about how badly Philip treated you the day after.”

Ok. So it’s not just me. You’re involving other people too. Paulina is the girl I mentioned in the previous post, who has only worked with us for a couple of weeks and has no real clue about the dynamics and tension in the office. Doubt she’ll want to get involved.

her: “You and Paulina, you can work on it together. You can collaborate and prompt each other. If she doesn’t remember details, you can tell her what was said and she can write the same thing in hers.”

Um, what? Collaborate? That’s not collaboration. That’s putting words into her mouth.

I walked back into my office, where Paulina was doing her work. Suzanne followed me in, and closed the door.

her: “This is about what happened last week at the KPI meeting. I want you both to write a statement about what occured and how Philip wasn’t contributing.”

Paulina: “We have to write a statement? Can I choose not to?”

her: “No.”

Paulina: “So we have to do this, even if we don’t want to?”

her: “Yes. I am your manager and I am directing you to write this statement.”

Paulina’s husband has contacts with workplace lawyers, who know all the gory details of what work can and can’t order you to do. She called him, who checked with the lawyers, who said WTF dude, you don’t have to do anything.

Paulina made me question my ‘lying down and taking it’. I never wanted to write a statement, but I was fearful of the consequences. I was genuinely scared of Suzanne getting either shitty with me or starting to question everything I had told her. I knew I was too far involved in this. I had no choice or say in the matter, or at least, it really felt I had no power to say what I wanted to say without that fear of the consequences. I had already told her everything I had. I couldn’t go back on it. And she would pull me up on that. “But what about all the things you told me about?” Besides, I actually agreed to writing the statement Friday afternoon. Stupidly.

After much deliberation most of the day, seeking advice from everyone I knew and doing NO WORK WHATSOEVER as a result, I penned my statement. I handed it in. Paulina penned hers, also fearful that she would get the sack or some other shit if she didn’t follow orders. Her statement was the most basic, non-descriptive thing, that really didn’t show what happened. She was of the opinion “you want my statement? Here it is. That’s how I saw things, that’s the way it was. I won’t change it.”

After handing both my statements in, Suzanne asked me into her office again. This time I bawled my eyes out. Guilt weighed heavily on me, also the fact that I was doing her dirty work for her. If she wanted Philip out, she should (and could) do it herself, why involve me? I got so angry. Why the hell was this happening to me. Besides, the whole thing looked like it really wasn’t going to achieve anything except anger and frustration – on everyone’s parts. Philip has a real case for unfair dismissal. There isn’t much in either statement that would warrant firing anybody.

her: “Why is it so hard for you to do this? Is it because of what happened at your previous job? And that you weren’t treated fairly there?”

me: *WTF? No, it’s because you’re a manipulative bitch using your role to intimidate people into doing things they don’t want to* “Um. No.”

her: “Then why?”

She started to make me feel guilty ABOUT FEELING GUILTY. Had I done something wrong by her, by not being all “Ding, dong, Philip’s dead…”? ??

Jesus. Basically, I cried like a baby, and never felt good about putting the statements in. She assured me once again that I’d done the right thing. “I know you’ve done the right thing” Of course I have. Because doing the right thing makes you feel really shitty inside, and makes you feel as though you’ve gone against your very ingrained values.

The day finished. Needless to say, I barely slept.

Tuesday.

I was under the (mistaken) impression that this was all over. I didn’t have to do any more. I had done my bit. Not so.

Suzanne calls me into her office. Closes the door.

her: “So. We’ve spoken to our employer advisory body, and they’ve read the statements. They say that yours isn’t strong enough.”

WHAT?!?!

her: “So I need you to rewrite it. Give all the gritty details. Be honest. Be true to what happened. Expose Philip for the person he is.”

UM???

her: “Oh and another thing. Our evidence doesn’t stack up. We’re basically relying on your statement.”

Relying on my statement? It’s on my shoulders?? You’re actually, definitely, unabashedly, unashamedly USING ME.

We discussed this for awhile. I cried. Like, really, stressful, affected, frustrated and annoyed tears. I could see that this day was going to wind up worse than the previous.

Insanity. She started to emotionally blackmail me. Is blackmail the right word? “Would it make you feel any better if I said I didn’t want to do this either? Would it make you feel any better to say that he possibly won’t get fired because of this? I’ve got pressure from the CEO. This is hard on me too. You don’t understand. I tried to make him change, I really did. I was so good to him, but he knocked me back. He didn’t want my help. So you’re not alone in feeling frustrated. Rewrite the statement. And I want it by 12. We have to send it to the employment advisory body because they, Philip, the CEO and I are meeting on Friday and we need to give him 48 hours notice.”

*stunned. silence. Except, of course, for my tears*

her: “Here’s the number of the employer advisory body. Call them. Tell them what happened. Get advice. I’d really like you to rewrite the statement. I know you’ll do the right thing.”

There it is again: the right thing. My moral compass is currently on the North Pole. It’s spinning and spinning and is getting confused by the constant magnetic forces which we can call Suzanne.

I go off into my office and stare blankly at my computer screen. The backlog of work is building up higher and higher. I will need to work late for the rest of the week to catch up on it (for the record, that’s what I ended up doing). Write another statement? After all the anxiety I felt writing the first one? I call my partner for advice. He says write it, but be really objective, to the point, don’t put in anything there that you don’t feel reflects the situation. I call the employment advisory body and I tell them what’s what. The lady says I haven’t reflected that in the statement and I need to rewrite it. I tell her I was placed in an awkward position and I never wanted to write the statement in the first place. “Oh ok. *ponders* I will call you back” and slams down the receiver. I have no idea what that meant. Does that change things now? Does that mean we have no case? I hope desperately that the lady is going to call the CEO and say there’s no hope here. I tell Suzanne that this lady’s calling me back. After 2 hours having not heard from her, Suzanne cracks the shits and calls her, and this lady says that she said all she had to say. She wasn’t actually gonna call me back. Right.

So I write the statement again. Then I get a phone call from my ex-boss/good friend Elizabeth, who is infuriated after I tell her what’s gone on. Don’t rewrite the statement, she says. Call Pat (my psychologist). Ask her for advice. Don’t rewrite it. In fact, retract the previous one. I start to get really, really confused. I feel my control of the situation (whatever control I had) completely slip. I have no direction. I don’t know what to do. I call Pat and give her a 5 minute background. This is not thorough enough and I find her comments not very assuring. She basically tells me to write what happened, hand it in, and get over it. Get back to work. Hm. Helpful.

Elizabeth calls me again. Says WTF, Pat (who she sees also) would never have said that if she knew the whole story. Call her back again. Get an appointment this evening or tomorrow morning. Don’t hand in that statement without some independent advice.I call Pat’s office. They tell me she hasn’t got any appointments available til halfway through the next day.

It’s 3.30pm. I walk into Suzanne’s office to ask for advice on a client who I had a very important hopital family meeting with the next day. She asks me whether I’d written the statement yet. I said I had, and it’s signed on my desk, but I want to get independent advice before I do anything. Do I have to give the statement in now?

her: “Yes. Because we’re running on a timeline. We need it now. *long, silent pause as I look blankly at her wondering whether she realises how much she’s disempowered me* Ok. Fine. You get the advice.

me: *buckling, tears brimming once more* No. Never mind. I’ll give you your statement.

I turn my back and walk out, grab the statement off my desk, take it into her office, throw it on her desk and leave. Suzanne then comes back into my office and asks me whether it would make me feel better talking to the CEO. Frankly, no it wouldn’t. I know you’re both banging the same drum. What would be the point? I agree, and then have a pointless discussion with the CEO. I tell her I feel used, manipulated, taken advantage of, that I was a pawn in Suzanne’s game with Philip. But what did I get from her? Nothing but echoes of Suzanne, punctuated by empty reassurements that nothing I write will be read by Philip. Sigh. I have no way of winning. I hand the statement to the CEO, and walk out of the room. I then go talk to another work colleague, who I’ve let in on the whole thing from the start. She’s also on my side. The conclusion we drew to is that I pretty much can’t trust anyone here (at work) anymore.

4.50pm. Suzanne has come back from the CEO’s office and asks me into her office. Her face looks deflated. She tells me that the CEO and her have decided to withdraw the statements. They’d been told by the employment advisory body that if I can’t consent to showing my statement to Philip, then they have no leg to stand on. Then she makes some half-arsed attempt at using “how this made me feel, how much stress this put me through” to further justify this decision. Yeah, if you truly felt that way, the litres of tears prior to this moment would’ve prevented you from taking any further action. She tells me “It’s ok. I’m not concerned. One way or another, I’ll get him fired. He’ll trip up somewhere along the way. But you have to promise me, promise me, that if he does anything like this ever again, you will tell me, and be prepared to fight this time.”

me: “Yep, I will”
inner thought process: “You can bet your life on it that I won’t.”

So that’s where it stands. She withdrew the statements. And I feel like I can’t trust anyone there at all. I just want to do my job, which is the most important thing here, and has been lost in all this hoop-lah.

Fellow workers, social workers, or anyone at all. Please learn from this, like I have, and feel free to comment, as it will help me get over this mess.

Two days: resignation of one job, an offer of another.

Well, it’s been quite some time between posts, and I feel like as a part of my social work placement, this self-reflective diary is kinda going down the tubes. Once returning from work each day, I genuinely have no energy to expend on writing about how I feel and what I’ve seen and done in the day and ‘critically reflect’ as such. I seriously commend those with social work blogs out there that are able to do this, and do it so damn well!

I guess practice makes perfect, and in this circumstance, I am up to my nose with placement, learning, and working on the weekends.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog post: what happened in the space of two days: Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday this week, I attended some training at DIAC (Department of Immigration and Citizenship), on “Understanding the Key Concepts of Ethnicity, Culture and Mental Health”. which was pretty blah – I have been in the mental health field for over a year now, so defining and diagnosing mental illnesses was not an issue, neither was talking about cultural factors in that. I guess it fulfilled its aim of providing an overview, but there was at no time any strategies given, any tactics and advice. There was a lot of case discussion, which I found incredibly useful except for the fact that the so-called psychologist/CALD worker did not actually help with any of the cases. She just confirmed the difficulty of the situation: nodding, shaking her head, “I know, I understand”‘s, talking about similar cases but still not providing the solution…. I think the centre coordinator for one of the sites I work at asked the same question in 3 different ways (“I am finding that the people I refer to mental health services are referring back to me… what do I do in this case?”), only to be given the same answer over and over again (“Yes, that is difficult isn’t it”). Even the resources we were given were shocking: there was a mental health first aid manual there, of which the cover, first two pages and last page of the 58 page document were provided. I.e., NOTHING USEFUL. The only thing I could actually take away from all this was a diatribe the DIAC guy gave towards the middle of the session about self-care, stress and burnout.

During the speech, both of the ladies I work with turned to me and gave me a knowing look. Basically: take this guy’s advice. It was good to hear from someone other than A tell me these things. Straight after that speech, lunchtime, and I got a message from the psych ward asking me to work extra hours this coming public holiday (Melbourne Cup day – the horse races, for those who don’t know). I am meant to be working public holidays, that’s fine. Even though I was kind of hoping not to, it would’ve happened. Anyway – the message asked me to work the full 8 hours instead of 4. What’s annoying is that this just compounds the fact that I have no time to myself. I caved, and agreed to do the 8. At the same time, I was fuming. I was angry, my body temperature was up, I started getting anxious, and all I could think about was “quit this job, quit this job, quit this job.”

I came home that night, and drafted a resignation letter.

Wednesday morning.
E, the deputy director of the organisation that I’m on placement with, calls me for a short meeting.
He verbally offers me a permanent position at the Werribee office, and I accept.

Suddenly, everything feels good. I have job security. I can quit my job at the psych ward without guilt.

So I do. Thursday I send the e-mail, followed up by a letter in the post. The boss sends an e-mail back, which was tainted with annoyance and anger, but that’s none of my concern. Besides, they had been treating me like shit. The boss had been treating me like shit. And it is my right to resign whenever I please: I gave more than 2 weeks notice.

That’s that. A and I toasted the success of both situations, and I ride a high. It’s great. I will be getting paid for a job I love doing – all I need to remember between now and the end of placement is that I’m still learning – and I need to fulfill all criteria of my learning agreement rather than spending the majority of my time having handover with those leaving.

The beginning of next year will be seriously stressful. I will be one of two fulltime, paid caseworkers. In addition to this, I will be given the task of coordinating, facilitating, running adult and children’s homework programs, a youth camp for Sudanese and Karen kids, find volunteers for the sewing groups, organise the driver’s education program and start information sessions on housing in Australia. This is going to have to be a matter of time management. As well as proper consultation and supervision and with my weekends freed up, I need to spend that time RELAXING.

This is all next year’s issues.

There is but one moral dilemma I am left with. I hate leaving a place of employment on a bad note. Essentially, I don’t expect much from the ward as it is; they will probably not give too much of a shit whether I stay or go, and as far as being a referee for further jobs? That’ll probably be drafted on a boring pro forma. 

Having said that: this Tuesday that I’m being made to work? A wants me to just not show up. Call in sick. It’s going to look blatantly obvious that I’m just shitting all over what they’re making me do, and I don’t want to leave that way. On the other hand, they have continuously fucked me around over time. Should I not go? Or should I go? It’s not even about the money anymore: I’m on the student pension (Youth Allowance) so if I don’t go in, that means I get $240 from them. If I do go in, I get paid almost exactly the same amount, but won’t get anything from the government. Do the maths.

Either way, I lose.

Ugh. There is plenty more to write about – including A’s operation a couple weeks back – but this is the most I can offer for one post.