A few months ago I was approached by a coworker, let’s call her Susan, who needed to temporarily switch shifts to accommodate her family life. I agreed to swap shifts with her, with the agreement that it would only last for 90 days while her spouse worked out of town. Our boss agreed with our plan and also stated it should be temporary due to skillsets assigned to specific shifts. The 90 days is coming to an end and Susan’s spouse has returned home, yet my coworker is pestering me to make our swap permanent. She has stated she likes the schedule more than her original and I should acquiesce since I don’t have children at home. I explained that I couldn’t make the swap permanent, yet she persisted – going so far as to approach our manager about making me agree. My boss called me into a meeting where he told me that he doesn’t have a problem with the permanent shift swap and he’d like me to agree to it so that Susan stops pestering him. I reminded him that the agreement was to be temporary and that if he wanted it to be permanent I would have to seek employment else – which I could easily do. Now my boss is upset because he ‘can’t afford to lose me’ but feels I’m making his job harder. Susan is upset and rallying the other workers to her side. I’m upset because my lack of children should not be a reason I am forced into a schedule that would be to the detriment of my own family. How can I handle this situation in a way that leaves myself, my boss, and most especially that loudmouthed Susan happy?
Stampeded by Susan
Dear Stampeded by Susan,
Let me reiterate a few key things you stated in your letter. You have a specific skillset that makes you a valuable asset that is in high demand. You could easily replace your current job and even went so far as to say that to your boss’s face. Your boss acknowledged this fact and is unhappy being bent over the proverbial barrel. You are unhappy because your boss is backing Susan and not standing up for you over the temporary agreement.
Seems like Susan’s loud mouth is the least of your concerns.
There is absolutely no way to resolve the situation and leave yourself, your boss, and your coworker happy. Like Dr. Strange in the popular Marvel movies, I went through every possible scenario and its outcome. All fourteen million six hundred and five of them. All of them left at least one person miserable. Most solutions left two of the three players in this tragedy with a deep sense of anger which would continue to grow over time. Getting larger and larger by the day, the entire office would eventually be taken over by this hostile entity created by your discontent and Susan’s constant mutterings to the office gossips.
Your boss would eventually have to call in the Ghostbusters to deal with the mutant lurking in the halls.
While your instinct may scream to stand up for yourself and hold firm in your decision – you’ve obviously done nothing wrong – I would not recommend this approach. It is unlikely that you will ever again be able to trust your boss to stick to an agreement. You are also likely to struggle with being a team player when the team has so quickly turned against you in favor of appeasing their most vocal members. This will continue to create an unhappy work environment that will eventually start to follow you home at the end of the day.
The best thing you can do at this point is to look for other employment.
There are some battles in life that are not worth waging and they are always the ones that leave you miserable in your victory.
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