I’ve run across something today that bothers me enough to blog about it. Seeing as how it won’t make much difference either way (at least until the budget for next year is approved by corporate) I might as well get it out of my system.
Our plant manager decided to deal with the issue of the smoke smell in the Lab today. (We have a big safety audit coming up – I’m probably being ungenerous here, but I think it may have had something to do with it – that, and the fact that our HR Manager is quitting in three weeks and they wanted to deal with the problem before she flew the coop.)
He called us all into his office, then my boss shut the door. I wish the door had stayed open.
He said that the problems with the smell had to do with the corridor of open ventilation that runs the length of the plant, and that at this time he didn’t have the money to build another smoke room, or create another office for me, which was my idea. Hell, I seem to be the only person in the lab who’s really pissed off about it. (This comes up soon, just watch.)
So his only option was to get rid of the smoke room and make people smoke outside. He said that before he did that, he wanted us to know what the consequences of that would be. He wouldn’t lie to people – they would know that the reason the smoke room was closed was that the smell was offensive to the Lab personnel. And that he couldn’t do much about how we were treated as a result of it, unless we were specifically accosted. (There’s a lot of back-biting that goes on here, by the way.)
Can you tell where this is going yet?
Basically what it came down to is management wanting to cover their asses, and laying the no-win decision on us. I stepped up to the plate.
“I’m pretty sure I’m the one who really hates the smell. No one else seems to really care one way or the other. I’m at this company long-term, and I intend to remain here for a while. I don’t see it as good for my welfare here – not to mention getting my job done - if there are people who are hostile to me because of this decision. I’m already an internal auditor, which isn’t exactly the most popular job. So can’t we at least ask for the money in next year’s budget and see what happens before we take the step of shutting down the smoke room?”
That’s what we eventually did, or will do. The Plant Manager hung his head and bemoaned the fact that the money might not get approved next year, either. I said, “Sure, but it’s worth a shot. And if it’s not approved, then we can look at other options.”
There are some other smaller fixes that might help improve the situation as well, which will be taken as short-term measures.
My boss made things so much cozier by saying as the meeting closed, "Yeah, there are people here who can stab you in the back before you even see it coming." SHEESH.
I feel dirty. I’m mad at the plant manager for putting us in that situation. I’m mad because he couldn’t find a better solution than just thrusting a no-win situation at us and manipulating us (read:me) into having to choose between being liked and working in a healthy environment. It seems to me that he ought to find a way to protect us, blame it on corporate (which will happen next year anyway, if they don’t approve the money for a new smoke room.)
I want tell everyone in that nasty little smoke room what just happened. I want to shake the plant manager (who I used to work for and had a good relationship with) and slap him around a little. But I’ll content myself, for now, with posting this and asking for your comments on the situation. I’m not entirely sure I did the right thing. Should I have stood my ground and went along with the smoke room shutdown? Am I being a pussy because I can’t take not being liked? (Let’s face it, no one is liked by everyone, myself included.) Or is it a reasonable, if difficult, decision, anyway, to try to balance physical health with mental health? Because I have a hard enough time motivating myself to punch that damned time clock every day without having to work with people who are pissed off at me. And folks around here hold grudges for a long, long time.
I guess I always have the option of quitting. But that idea frankly scares the crap out of me.