Saturday, September 6, 2008

And Then the Other Shoe Dropped

The first shoe can be found here.

The second shoe dropped on Thursday morning. Big Bad walked into my office with a line that never seems to indicate anything good, "Can we talk for a minute? You wouldn't mind if I shut the door."

For the next ten minutes he Big Bad proceeded to tell me that I just "wasn't a match" for the specialty unit assignment I had been in the past two years and that I'd be transferred to a different branch of The Agency, dealing with juvenile delinquents, in mid-October.

I was astounded.
  1. There had been a massive county-wide rotation in July and no one had any expectation that any more transfers and reassignments would be taking place shortly. Especially after Big Bad had said just a few weeks earlier that there wouldn't be any personnel changes in the specialty unit division. The Agency is a rather gossipy place and even my most gossipy friends hadn't heard the tiniest inkling about this.
  2. One of Big Bad's complaints was that I hadn't done enough jury trials, even though I had done more than at least one of my peers in the unit. His rationale for the reassignment was that it would help me "thrive and reach my potential". But all juvenile trials are court trials, not jury trials. So wtf is the logic behind that?
  3. I have already done a rotation in the juvenile unit four years ago. While there are a scant few positions geared towards more experienced attorneys, it's mostly populated by new hires. I'm well beyond being a new hire. So this supposed move to "help me thrive" feels like a step backwards.

My initial sense of shock turned to being Since it was clear that the decision was final, I figured I had nothing left to lose and told Big Bad exactly how I felt. In his speech to me he accidentally spilled that he had an unflattering image of me before I started in my current assignment. This wasn't a surprise to me because FearlessLeader had advised me of it long ago. So I told Big Bad that I was extremely disappointed that he never gave me a fair chance of working for him since he already had his mind made up about me before he even met me. I told him that I didn't understand the logic of sending me to do only court trials in another assignment, when he didn't count the court trials I did do over the past two years as being worthy of my stats. And speaking of stats, mine were not out of line with my peers. While he may have expected me to single-handedly do 15-20 jury trials per year, the fact is that the unit as a whole doesn't do that many jury trials in a year!

Of course, Big Bad never directly answered these questions. Much like a Republican trying to gloss over Sarah Palin's lack of qualifications, he spent the next half hour putting his own positive spin on things and defending the process of how transfer decisions are made. And while I smiled and nodded and shook his hand before he walked out of my office, the entire time I couldn't help but think the gentleman doth protest too much.

This decision had nothing to do with my best interests. It was purely personal, based on information Big Bad had heard about me years ago. And this leads me to a rant about office management. More often than not, the most skilled trial attorneys are the ones elevated into positions of leadership. While they may possess the knowledge to help attorneys working under them, the skills that make someone a great trial attorney are not necessarily the skills necessary to make someone a great manager and motivator of people. In fact, the two skill sets are often at odds with each other. Developing a theory of a case and sticking to it during a trial in order to make a jury see it your way? Good skill for a trial attorney. Developing an opinion about an employee based on rumor or innuendo and then sticking to it even when provided with contrary information in order to make that employee fit within your preconceived notion of him or her? NOT a good skill for a supervisor or chief. I wish I could say that I'm the only person to experience something like this, but the sad truth is that I am just one of many. This type of thing has happened countless number of times across the many offices and branches of The Agency.

After Big Bad left my office, I was flooded with all the reasons why I don't want to leave my current assignment. Literally. The other attorneys and staff in my unit came rushing to my side to ask why Big Bad was in my office for so long and what was going on. Despite our unit sometimes being referred to as the Island of Misfit Toys, we are all very tight-knit and are very much like a family. The looks on their faces were almost as sad as my own. And the look that FearlessLeader gave me summed up the situation: it was BS and everyone knew it. While my initial inclination was to leave for anywhere I could drink many martinis, I decided to just get through the rest of the day and do my job. Throughout the remainder of the day, my co-workers all kept checking in with me to make sure I was okay and either letting me vent or listen to their vents about the situation. My own assertions that I'd be fine weren't enough for FearlessLeader; he kept checking with other people to make sure that I really was alright and said that if I needed to go home that I could. In most other units the reaction to someone being transferred is along the lines of, "That sorta sucks; see you around." But the warmth and caring that I was surrounded with upon news of my impending departure illustrated what makes our unit so different and why leaving will be so hard.

I'm still not okay with how things unfolded, but the bottom line is that I will be fine. I have already worked for the supervisor and chief of the juvenile division and got along well with them . I know that if they had a problem with me they wouldn't have been willing to take me on again. I already know exactly what working at juvenile is like. I handled it before; I can handle it again. I have the same employer, the same job title and the same salary. In this economy I have to be mindful and apppreciative of those things. And then there is the obvious silver lining: I won't have to deal with the dark cloud of Big Bad anymore.


WeezerMonkey said...

Me hates Big Bad! I wish you luck with the new division.

When are you in L.A. again? I'd love to get together, not only to try new cuisines but also to discuss how work people often suck. ;)

NorCalMrs said...

Aw, I'm sorry you have to deal with that. That situation (and Big Bad) don't sound fair at all. We'll have to do a martini gtg so you can vent and we can drink a lot. ;)

JD 2 B said...

:-( Sorry that big bad is being bad and big. Good luck with the new gig!

Serendipite said...

What a *%%& - you still are trying to look on the bright side, and that impresses me more than you know. I could take a lesson from you!

dapotato said...

boo to big bad!!! :(. we have the same problem in our industry--those that are the most talented/hardworking (and those that schmooze the most) are often put in management positions, but most of us suck at management and some of our skills are at odds with being good at it. good luck, and the silver lining attitude/thought is great.