I Thought I Knew What I Was Getting

Today’s writing prompt asked us to think about this:  Tell us about a time when someone had you completely fooled, where the wool was pulled right over your eyes and you got hoodwinked, but good. Was it a humorous experience or one you’d rather forget? What was the outcome?

disguiseHave you ever had an employee who you helped, extended every accommodation to, only to have him or her undermine you–going so far as to call you racist?  I thought I knew this person; we’d worked together before and I admired her tenacity.  Boy, was that a perception that bit me in the you-know-what in short order. 

I knew that this women needed to work; she’d been faced with an ugly, and ultimately wrongful, termination from her previous job and been unemployed for some time.  She had experience in the area that I was hiring, so I thought it could be a good fit.  Initially, the work got done.  After a few months however, when I asked her to do progressively  more complex tasks, like writing reports, it was like pulling teeth.

Her writing skills were not what I’d expected, even after seeing a writing sample as part of the interview process.  In a supervision session I suggested she may want to take a business writing class–she flatly refused.   First red flag.

In the first performance review we discussed the ratings I’d given, and she, of course, disagreed with a few of them.  One in particular had to do with rating her ability to “appreciate diversity”; always  a challenging conversation.  She believed, in no uncertain terms, that she should receive an above average rating because she took co-workers on field trips to the local ethnic market.  Second red flag.

dozen red flagsThere were probably another dozen or so red flags that popped up over the 3 years.  Working the part-time job that she needed to leave early every Friday to get to on time.  The constant complaining of no money and nearly losing her home every month.  Always a crises in one form or other was given as an explanation of why her work didn’t get done.  Maybe I gave too much leeway or was to “understanding”, but it all finally came to a head!

Having received no support from my supervisor or HR to deal with the challenges, I finally blew up; loudly and completely unprofessional–totally not who I know myself to be.  The staff nearby to my cubicle of course, heard my meltdown as I lamented to another manager in the organization. I was at my wit’s end and found support and guidance from my co-worker.  However, the next day, there I was sitting in the HR office with my supervisor and told I was now on probation for my unprofessional, and now “racist” behavior.  I can’t begin to fathom how they came to the conclusion of racist other than to say it was out of fear. 

I must admit that this was, by far, the most difficult time in my entire career to date.  The manager I mentioned who listened to my concerns, calmed my fears, supported me to HR and our shared supervisor–that’s who gets today’s Thank You!

Brilliant Disguises:

8 thoughts on “I Thought I Knew What I Was Getting

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