Saturday, July 18, 2015

In Which Spark Gets Knocked Onto Her Butt

Things at my work are hella crazy right now.  I fired two people in one week (this lady and someone else, the victim of cutbacks).  If you have never fired someone, trust me, it stinks.  It's not as bad as being fired, I'll give you that, but it was a heck of a week.

The following week, on Monday, my new hire started.  She seems pretty great so far, but you know how it is with training; everything takes twice as long, which is really four times as long when you count that it is two people (the trainer and the trainee) working at half the usual pace to incorporate all the relevant teaching moments.

At the very same time, another long-term employee has been overwhelmed by a combination of work stress and personal-life stress, and basically just stopped showing up for work.  And then went and got another job that starts in August.  And was not clear with us initially whether or not we could expect her back  at least until the end of the month, because she wasn't sure herself if she could manage it.  So, while she has my genuine sympathy and all, it is extremely inconvenient from a management perspective.

I am responsible for hiring a replacement for this overwhelmed employee.  Her boss (ex-boss now, I guess) gave me a list of qualities that he would like in the replacement.  They were along these lines:

  1. Must be young.
  2. Must have a command of written English equivalent to that of a New York Times copy-editor.
  3. Must be willing to work part-time, with no benefits, on a trial basis indefinitely, to be let go if she is displeasing with no severance pay or notice.
  4. Must be available anytime during the week to work whenever the boss needs her.  If she needs a second job to bring her 24-hour work week up to a 40-hour one, she will have to work on Saturday and Sunday so that she can maintain her unlimited weekday availability.
  5. Must be willing to do basically anything he needs done.  (His last assistant occasionally did laundry for him, and once brought a dead bug in an empty juice jar from his house to be identified by a City of Toronto office.  In case it was a bedbug.  It wasn't.)
I have let him know that #3 is not legal, but if he wants we can set up a 1-year probation period.  Anyone who can last a full year with him is probably either good enough to stay on indefinitely, or will shortly quit on their own steam.  

As you can imagine, the candidates who fit this profile are next to none.  This is Toronto, people!  We're one of the immigration capitals of the world!  Approximately 95% of all the applicants for this type of job have English as a second language, and the remaining 5%, being young (see #1, above) are mostly like "thank u for considering my resume when can i interview?"  *headdesk*  I am negotiating with him regarding the one applicant which I have some hope for, practically begging him to give her a chance so that I don't have to start the entire recruiting process over from scratch while my existing skeleton staff becomes ever more stressed trying to take care of his multitudinous needs.

Anyhoo, long story short, Spark got stressed out, and Spark got sick.  Spark is sitting at home, simmering in a low-grade fever, sneezing, coughing, and making sad-puppy faces.  

I got my department through the worst two weeks of chaos.  They may have to manage some of next week without me.  I will be here on the sofa with my Benylin and plenty of tissues.  They say a virus takes 7-10 days to get through one's system; that's not business days, right?  I get credit for this weekend?


Ginny said...

There is a boss at my work who made her assistant bring a tick she found on her to her doctor to be tested for lyme. Good luck getting that position filled!! I'm sure it's more added stress you don't need.

ps Feel better soon!

DarcKnyt said...

I'm sorry things have been so hard on you Spark, and hard in general. And I do commiserate. I really do. Things at work are going from not great toward bad pretty fast for me and right now, my enthusiasm for my job is as low as it's ever been. I'm doing everything I know how to get some spunk back so I don't lose interest.

Feel better soon, and I'll say a prayer for you.

Vanessa T said...

Well, I can certainly see why this person was overwhelmed! What a demanding boss! I guess I'm a little confused as to why you have to hire someone else's employees, though. And I didn't realize that a part-time position could require you to be full-time on-call. Yes, I can see why you'd be pulling your hair out trying to fill this position! You have my sympathies, it sure has been a rough week for you!

And I'm so sorry you're feeling under the weather. My instinct is to tell you all the ways you can take care of yourself, as though you didn't already know, lol. I guess I'm too much of a "mom" sometimes. You know what's best for you, and I will pray that your efforts are more successful than ever. Although, taking a little vacation from all the stress might be just what Dr Spark orders. ;)

*hugs* Feel better soon, hon!

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh no I'm sorry you are sick, I'm not surprised, stress is an overwhelming emotion. I should know. Look after yourself.

Isn't number one on your bosses list illegal too?

Sparkling Red said...

Ginny: Ew, yuck. I believe an assistant's job description should not include dealing with anything one has pulled so intimately off of one's body.

DarcKnyt: I think we can kill two birds with one stone here. You're thinking of looking for a new job... I'm hiring... Do you see where I'm going with this?

Vanessa: I'm hiring for him because he's not capable of doing it for himself. He'll be the supervisor in most capacities, but I'm the official boss when it comes to HR matters. Which kind of means that I'm technically responsible for things I can't really control, which is so much fun. But he's an ancient and valuable fixture at the company, so I've got to do my best to work with him.

LL Cool Joe: Yes, it is indeed. I'm picking my battles.

Granny Annie said...

I have fired employees and I have been fired. Neither is very fun. In the USA #1 is not legal either. So sorry all the stress has knocked you down. Bless you.

Jenny Woolf said...

Oh lord I would be sick too. So many emotions and requests from so many people. I won't wish you better soon! :D

G. B. Miller said...

I'm almost afraid to ask where you found this extraordinary managerial type that is clogging up your business.

I think almost all those items on his list are illegal.

Hope you get better soon and someone there should give you a bonus for going above and beyond.

Lynn said...

Isn't #1 illegal, too? I mean, I guess there are ways to get around that, but it makes me wonder if that's why I haven't gotten some jobs I've applied for. I look younger than I am, but not 20 either. :)

Good luck - hope you feel better soon!

Snowbrush said...

You’re firing due to cut-backs while at the same time bringing in new hires? I’m lost here. I’m also wondering if it’s really legal in Canada to openly discriminate against older workers? Finally, why would the company put up with a man using a paid employee as a personal servant?

Sparkling Red said...

G.B., Snowbrush, Lynn, et al: I work for a company that provides office space and administrative support to independent professionals, for a monthly percentage of their earnings. So these professionals are our customers, as well as their customers are our customers. This grumpy old fellow who is determined to have himself a young, fresh-faced assistant is therefore not easily influenced even by my bosses. He is technically his own boss. So, yes, he is ridiculously demanding and it's not legal to discriminate by age, but I'm picking my battles with him. It's been hard enough to convince him that his employees have the legal right to regular rest breaks and to be paid for statutory holidays when the office is closed. I could force him to consider some "mature" candidates, but he'd find some excuse to reject them, so there's just no point. Anyway, if someone came by our facility no one could accuse us of being discriminatory in a broader sense because we have all ages, races, and at least two genders (that I'm aware of) working for us. He earns a lot of money for the business, so I have to make an effort to keep him as happy as he can be, or other people (of various ages) might lose their jobs. I do believe that in the big picture I'm doing okay, given what I have to work with. If you doubt it, I double-dog-dare you to show up at the office and face off with him! ;-)