My boss doesn't care anymore!
June 20, 2008 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Should I attend this party? Or rather, how can I justify not going.

I work at a non-profit radio station that does a big dinner thing each year--semi-famous speaker, formal attire, well-heeled listeners invited, etc. I got an invitation to attend, but I'm really really really bummed out about my job situation. I don't want to go to this thing, because I'm miserable and resenting management right now.

Brief backstory: I was hired as a fill-in person eighteen months ago. The listeners write to the station glowingly about me, I make money on the air for the place during membership drives, I write blog entries that have gotten ecstatic responses from listeners and my managers, and am generally considered a pretty stellar employee--by all but the guy who hired me.

This guy Stanford (let's call lhim) cultivated me in the beginning, made much of me and massaged my performance quite a bit. All of a sudden the attention stopped, but I thought it was a good thing--a sign he trusted me and was leaving me alone. I work better that way anyway.

Recently he stopped making eye contact with me in meetings, and I found it strange. These were meeting where I was being picked out for praise by other high-rankers, but this guy couldn't even look at me while it was going on. I found it bizarre, but he's a strange guy anyway. Didn't dwell on it for a while.

It turns out, though, that he's trying to hire one Ronda (let's call her) who he tried to hire previously. Political strife with another manager who has since left was the cause, but he always wanted her. Now there's a budget freeze, so he can't hire her full time as he'd like to (according to other employees--nothing official). But she fills in regularly on the weekend. My co-workers have been miffed at the way he's handled it--he's intensely mysterious, won't tell anyone what job she's being massaged for, hasn't introduced her to anyone, etc.

My co-worker said that she's probably next in line for whatever full time position gets freed up after the budge freeze ends in about a year. Given this, if it's true, combined with Stanford's stand-offishness and creepy evasiveness around me, which is pretty much my death knell I think, I've been really discouraged.

Two bright spots in this mess, though:

I contacted another radio station with an aircheck, and they responded right away and said they're interested in me. The guy said it's going to be about a month before he knows exactly what he can offer me, but it will likely be part time. Still, it's a prestigious station and I want to go after it. Nothing in the bag, but I'm hoping. Hate the waiting thing.

Another possible plus is that the board has just hired a new CEO who will be everyone's manager (including Standford's). If he likes me, he might offer me something other than sporadic fill in.

I'm having bizarre fears, though, that Stanford is bad-mouthing me to the new CEO, and that he's trying to keep his foot on my neck during the transition, because he's trying to be Ronda's star-maker. Actually, another co-worker said it's been rumored Stanford has a thing for Ronda. And Stanford has hired his friends in the past.

It doesn't really matter anymore, but I find myself worrying about the true reasons Stanford lost interest in me. It's gotten as crazy as: Did he expect me to sleep with him? I didn't--is that why I can't get hired?

I'm in a holding pattern. The new offer may only be part time, in which case I'll still have to work here. I don't want to have a bad attitude. What can I do to feel renewed? I'm hoping the new CEO will be interested in me--if he doesn't ask to meet with us individually, I'm going to ask for a meeting. I'll try to not to be so negative that he thinks I'm a danger to self and others...but how much of my heart should I open to the new guy? Should I come clean with my frustrations, or behave like a happy camper in order to impress him with how positive I am? Or does it depend on him?
posted by frosty_hut to Work & Money (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You need to pull yourself together. You're letting assumptions and fears rule you.

If you don't want to go to the party, don't go.

However, if you want to salvage your job then not going may make that more difficult. I'd suck it up, put in good show, rub elbows and the like. Act like nothing is wrong and things are going well and everyone around you may forget that anything is wrong and that things are not going well...
posted by wfrgms at 9:10 PM on June 20, 2008

Your situation full-on sucks. My first instinct is to tell you that the last thing you should do is skip this party. The swingers rule "act like you don't need shit, and people will give you shit for free". Being seen, rubbing elbows, and showing yourself to be happy and confident in this situation is the best power play you could make in this situation.

Failing that, decline the invitation without stating a reason - if you are pressed for a reason, its "urgent personal matters".
posted by Deep Dish at 9:17 PM on June 20, 2008

To answer the question: yes, go. This isn't the time to be skipping functions. If Standord IS trying to get rid of you, your best innocculation, besides good performance, is being well-liked and seen as a team player.

Also, this event is, what, two hours long? Surely you can suck it up and schmooze for two hours.
posted by lunasol at 9:20 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Try to focus on the speaker, especially if you're interested in the topic/field, dressing up (if you like that kind of thing) and mingling with people from other departments or with the other managers who like your work. Maybe the advice to "rub elbows" above includes this thought - it would be a shame if you didn't go and missed a chance to make a good impression on someone who can hire you full-time. If this is a fundraiser sort of dinner, you have a shot at meeting people from donor companies or those who are donors themselves.

Given your good performance, you might also miss out on some supportive comments and praise. If you're allowed a guest, take a good friend who can support you and keep you occupied should the mingling/networking not work out. I hope this is not coming across as too glib. I have been in similar situations where I wanted to skip big events due to bad relationships, and the end result was always regret - that I missed out on a nice event, or that I let someone else's bad behavior prevent me from enjoying myself.
posted by PY at 9:50 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sorry, it seems I missed the later thrust of your question.

but how much of my heart should I open to the new guy?

I would probably wait for the new CEO to ask about any problems or areas for improvement before mentioning any problems. And then proceed cautiously, perhaps requesting that the hiring process in your dept. be made more transparent, because you are interested in becoming a full-time employee and want to do everything you can to be considered. Unfortunately, I don't think a new CEO or any CEO at a larger employer is someone you can or should open your heart to.
posted by PY at 10:00 PM on June 20, 2008

This reads like a bad novel. Really.

So with that in mind... go to the party. Be on your best behavior, be your fabulous self, enjoy yourself, compliment others and have a good time. Leave the baggage behind. Just try to let go of the drama and have some fun - as it sounds like you need a break.

Then, AFTER the party... go get the other job. When you get it... promise yourself that you will from here on out WORK TO LIVE, NOT LIVE TO WORK. I say that because it sounds like your personal life is WAY too intertwined with your professional one.
posted by matty at 10:07 PM on June 20, 2008

A month ago you said you'd been working at your current job for 9 years. What's the truth?
posted by peep at 10:15 PM on June 20, 2008

Make your interest in the full time position as public as possible - tell everyone you would love to have that position. Go to your boss and tell him you would like to be hired. Go to the party, because it's just one night.

Do not second guess what's going on with your manager. Do not ask him either. Just act like everything is peachy. He liked you, he's being weird, he'll come around. By all means take the other job if they offer you something better. If not, stay.

Don't think about this too much. Don't worry too much. Hard advice to take, I know, but it's the best I can give.
posted by xammerboy at 10:18 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for this advice, I appreciate it!

Peep, I don't recall mentioning 9 years (kind of an odd number), but it's possible I said something like, I'll work here as long as they'll have me." There are good things about it, and whatever the personal drama, it's a prestigious place that's given me wonderful experience, and it looks great on my resume. It's just the people are driving me out of my gourd.

I'm probably driving them nuts, too :-)
posted by frosty_hut at 10:28 PM on June 20, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, I get what you're saying, Peep. I meant I'd been at my OTHER part-time radio job for nine years (I have two part-time jobs). It's a large commercial media outlet. The one I'm posting about here is my other one, at a classical music non-profit station.

Sorry for the confusion :-)
posted by frosty_hut at 10:38 PM on June 20, 2008

Forget your fears and assumptions, and realize you're not fretting about "upper management", just about one guy.

Then realize that if this guy IS doing those things you fear, the best defense for you is to make yourself visible to everyone else, get to know lots of folks so that their opinion of you comes from you and your on-air performance, and how other people feel about you, not just this one guy's bad-mouthing (assuming it even exists.)

And so go to the party. Heck, odds are nobody else likes him either. Do not bad-mouth him, just go and have a good time and network around the company. If the new gig happens in a month, great, but in the meantime you're just doing yourself a disservice by not getting out there and working like you enjoy it.

Besides, for all you know in a month this guy'll be gone.
posted by davejay at 10:42 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

He's trying to freeze you out. Don't fall for it and don't let him control your reactions.

Go to the party and schmooze his peers and his boss and the speaker and everyone else. Do not mention anything about what you described here, save what xammerboy posted. Tell lots of jokes.
posted by rhizome at 12:01 AM on June 21, 2008

Go to the party kid.

My advice in a very large nutshell might be considered borderline sexist, but I have dealt with snakes in the grass like this before. It doesnt matter if the guy's dog died , he has a thing for you, or is just an ass trying to fire you and hire this Rhonda he has a crush on. It's your career, and you should do what you can to preserve it.

Give yourself a makeover. Be sure when you walk into the room you are dressed fine, feeling fine, and utterly confident in your ability and worth to the station, because it sounds like you have much. Avoid alcohol at all points.

There is some fine line between being slutty and just off the clock when it comes to cleavage and high heels, but make sure you turn some heads both in your appearance and personality. Find what's comfortable for you.

Go up and talk to the CEO about him, and his plans. Manage to toss in a subtle line here and there about how rewarding it is to get the listener feedback saying people enjoy your on-air and blog work, how you knew you would never get rich in radio, but it's not what you make, but what you do sort of thing. Show utter devotion to the station and the cause.

While you might need a toilet brush to get the taste out of your mouth later, be the sweetest, most professional person they've ever met, engaging, nice, dedicated.

Offer the CEO a couple of ideas...not like fire everyone etc, but just A does this...maybe we could do something like is this great whatever that no one has ever done a story on, we shoud do that. Show some forward thinking etc

After you feel enough face time has elapsed, make a point of saying goodnight to the CEO, and apologizing for leaving early because first thing in the morning you want to out...volunteer somewhere...finish off a story you were working on or whatever.

Unless the CEO is as big a jerk as the boss, you will have made a positive impression, and if bossboy comes to him with a notion to replace you, he is going to ask why?

and of course yes...have a 55 gallon drum of vodka waiting when you get home. You'll need it.

Just go be who you are, add a pinch of sexy, stir in some self confidence, show forward thinking as far as being "on the team" with a vision. .02

good luck
posted by timsteil at 3:13 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Go to the party, you need to network and be political.
posted by strangelove at 3:19 AM on June 21, 2008

Jesus christ, you have so much drama involved with your work. This is like the fifth question about something SO UNBEARABLE at work. Have you considered getting some therapy for all these fears you have about other people? I think you might benefit from therapy and anti-anxiety medication.
posted by chiababe at 4:46 AM on June 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

Maybe I am naive, but I am baffled that you have not just talked to the guy about what's going on, and that no one here has suggested it. I do agree that it seems like he's giving you the cold shoulder on purpose to try to get this very reaction from you. If you don't want to let that happen, I think you should confront him in a stern but polite way letting him know that you've realized how he's acting to you recently and you would like to know why. He may blow it off and come up with some lame excuse, but at least he will get a whiff that you know what's going on.

And yes, go to the party. Be nice, be funny, be amicable, and be yourself. Talk to the CEO, share ideas. But don't pull him aside and whine about the jerkwad that's trying to kick you out of your job.
posted by joshrholloway at 6:50 AM on June 21, 2008


The more you get everyone else to like you, the harder it will be for Stanford to get rid of you. Furthermore, the better people get to know you, the harder it will be for Stanford to bad mouth you behind your back.
posted by oddman at 7:55 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

When someone else at the station compliments you -- and a party is a great opportunity for this -- say, "Thanks so much! I hope [new CEO] thinks so!" or, if it's someone you really trust to be discreet and use good judgment, you might actually hint that they could mention you to the new CEO. DON'T do this too much.
posted by amtho at 7:55 AM on June 21, 2008

You should go. Get glammed up and network with all those great contacts. Mention your achievements. This is an opportunity to be a grownup and do something that's not easy, and to turn an unpleasant situation into an opportunity.
posted by theora55 at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2008

Honey, don't be such a drama queen about it. Go to the work function. It's a "party" for the guests. For the employees, even those who get an invite, it's a work function. Be a consummate professional, network, be gracious, and make a good impression.

Stop driving yourself mad about what manager-dude thinks or is trying to pull. Stop entertaining paranoid scenarios. Do not rush the new CEO right way with either roses and sunshine or how the station is fucked up. Egads, don't ask for a meeting with him. Show, don't tell. It may take awhile.
posted by desuetude at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all for these thoughtful responses.

I thought I'd get more flak from those who think I'm overly dramatic. I appreciate your indulgence.

Good suggestion about anti-anxiety medication. I've been in talk therapy since I was a kid (my mother was convinced I was mentally ill--apparently I was just depressed), but somehow going over and over things with a therapist just seems to drive me deeper into the miasma. Maybe this really is partly a brain chemistry thing. I'll look into it.

I like the suggestion to show, not tell--shine by way of my own performance. I do work my ass off, but I think I need to supplement it with a little subtle self-promotion and social elbow-rubbing (much as I hate that). You've voted overwhelmingly for the party.

Right, off to get that vodka ;-)
posted by frosty_hut at 1:00 PM on June 21, 2008

I do work my ass off, but I think I need to supplement it with a little subtle self-promotion and social elbow-rubbing (much as I hate that).

Think about it this way -- you're willing to march into the CEOs office and tell him what's wrong with the station, but you hate making intelligent small talk with people who care about a common interest? Does that make sense?
posted by desuetude at 2:09 PM on June 21, 2008

Response by poster: Look, deseuetude, I know I'm a jerk. Thanks for setting me straight. I come here in order to try to hone in on what it is I do wrong on a daily basis. I'm slowly getting better at figuring things out, socially and professionally, as a result of reading your responses to my issues. My life is actually improving as a result of what I've learned here and elsewhere, though at at a slower rate than I'd like.

Social events are excruciating for me. I feel it's a lost cause politically for me to go to this thing, but most reponders to my question feel the opposite. So I'm taking it under consideration - thanks.

Talking one on one with a sympathetic person in a quiet room has never been difficult for me (must be all those years in therapy--you get good at it after a while!)...And I've heard good things about the new guy. He's a younger guy, good-humored, smart and very accomplished. People seem excited about him, and from what I've seen on his bio, he's a real mover-shaker.

Hope he'll shake some greenbacks right into my pocket. If not, I've got other irons in the fire...

Thanks again for your helpful responses. It means a lot.
posted by frosty_hut at 4:56 PM on June 21, 2008

Hey, hey, I wasn't calling you a jerk. I'm sorry if it seemed that way. I was trying to appeal to your sense of reason to nudge you into thinking about the party in a different light.
posted by desuetude at 5:04 PM on June 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, Desuetude (and thanks for acknowledging that I do have a logical side!). I see what you mean ;-)
posted by frosty_hut at 1:01 PM on June 23, 2008

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