Saturday, September 3, 2011

Update 1 - Work.

Right. So, I never actually posted again. Oops? There's been quite a bit that has happened, so I'm going to break it down into a few posts.

Up first, work.

So, a big part of the reason I haven't posted is that because so much has been happening that I really couldn't (and can't) talk about. Partially because it requires so much backstory, partially because I know about some things I can't talk about, and partially because I've been so fucking exhausted that I didn't much feel like it.

Most of the summer saw me working late everyday and coming in at least once a weekend. My departments, special snowflakes that they are, are doing well. Mostly, I was helping out the division office. I used to work for the division office; I was the division office's department administrator. A year and a half ago it was decided that due to budget cuts, departments would no longer each have their own business administrator, and instead, some would be cut and the rest would be centralized and responsible for multiple departments.

Right, here's the thing. We have some small departments where there is no business or support staff apart from the administrator and some large departments that have (and require) several support and business staff. In other words, vastly different needs. It's a lot to try and piece together. As people left (retired, resigned), we did not replace them, but instead pulled those programs into a pilot program. A year ago, one of the biggest departments went vacant and I was given that department, but I didn't move out of the division offices, because we were centralizing business staff. In another shift, a department that is closely tied to mine was also given to me.

The departments I inherited were both in not good shape, financially or procedurally. I think we've come a long way in a year and we've gotten to a much better place. I've gotten one of my directors to understand budgeting and why it's so important, which is great. We're putting a realistic budget in place in my other department as well. And we do things mostly on time, people get paid on time, and we haven't asked for exceptions to policy, which is good.

However, because of the shifts the office I used to be administrator for, we went from having 4 staff members to 1.5 for months. It became a disaster. My supervisor was doing 3 jobs, including acting as the department administrator for a department that is in bad shape. It was awful. So I offered to help, again and again, and back in May, I started redoing parts of my old job and supporting my supervisor by assisting with paperwork in the department.

Lots of late nights and weekends. I felt it would pay off in the long run, as I was making my case to be one of the top tier of centralized administrators (the plan was to have groups of similar departments each supported by 2 administrators, one at a higher level, one at a lower level). And I liked my coworkers and wanted to help. It got tiresome, but I stuck with it.

Around the beginning of August, we finally got a new person to replace my supervisor's old position. He's great, he stepped in and is doing a fantastic job and is a delight to have in the office. Things were looking up, but it was becoming clear that the department in dire straits was even worse off than we realized because of a bad confluence of events - my supervisor doing three jobs, the office coordinator in the department being unreliable, and a bad budgetary situation. Then the coordinator left, leaving no receptionist and no one to do daily financial/HR documents or workflow.

And then my supervisor took a week's vacation. Here's the thing: our fiscal year runs from Sept 1 to Aug 31. We are still wrapping up fiscal year closeout. Taking a day or two is pushing it, depending on deadlines and a full week is unheard of. And the way in which she did it wasn't the most professional. So I offered/was asked to oversee them for that week. I did. It was awful. Hectic, frazzling, and they latched onto me because I actually responded to their questions and visited everyday to see what was needed (it's located right next to my departments, so I was out there anyway). It was hard. And then the dept asked if I could be their administrator. It was so awkward, because I knew that their situation wasn't working, but that's not my decision.

After a long series of talks with my boss, who was pissed at my supervisor, we decided that I would take it over, with additional help to clear the daily processes. My biggest role would be budget oversight, and spending that time necessary at the departments - meeting with people, meeting with the chairs, overseeing staff (hard to do from a different office) and making sure that bills are paid, people are paid, and monthly business processes are completed on time.

That was the plan for a week, but it was only announced on Monday. The new department is happy and I'm glad in one sense because I pushed for it. If I can turn them around, well, I am well placed in my job. And I have a background in this area, so I understand them more than other administrators have. At the same time, I did this already with two other departments and it's hard and takes months of time. A year later, we're doing better, but we're still not 100%. And now I'm doing it again, only, it isn't the only thing I do. I still have my other departments to see to as well. I essentially just doubled my workload.

And I'm not getting anything for it right now. I can't receive additional pay because no one else has received it for taking on a new department. I can and should be reclassed to a higher position . . . but I'm not eligible for another six months, because you can't be reclassified in a career ladder move until you've been in your new position for a full year. Since I was reclassed in March, I am not eligible until then - unless we finish the centralization process. Because in that case, there will be other avenues to pursue. It will happen. I know that.

But for now, I'm still behind from the week my supervisor was out, still have final clean-up to do, and overwhelmed by what lies ahead. So much of my time has been focused on meeting with people and walking back and forth between my office and my departments that I feel like I don't get anything done.

The old departments love me, and the new department is thrilled, and that is very gratifying. But it also feels like a lot of pressure. I think I can do it, but there are times I questions how well it will actually work. The funny thing is that we are setting up a small version of the groups we intend to have so at least we'll have a month or two to get a good look at how (whether this can work). Because this isn't even a full group yet. To be fair, these departments are probably also amongst the worst off (and biggest), so the rest should be smoother than this.

But, uh, I'm tired, y'all.

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