Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Insolvency N Gst Professional
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling

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I’m looking for some HR advice. The other day I was in a meeting with my manager and the CEO, it was just supposed to be to discuss a matt leave but it turned into a project planning meeting out of no where and all of a sudden people were starting to set deadlines for a project I’m heading up. When I said the dead lines were no way possible the room went dead quiet. To try to help things along and problem solve I asked if I absolutely had no choice and had to do it in that time frame if I could get a commitment that no other projects would be put on my plate. To which the answer was a resounding “no”. No deadline was set and the project is being held back until they can figure out what to do... go external or hire a contract to assist me.

Fast forward 7 days I get hauled into HR, my manager and union rep is sitting in the room already. Turns out I’m being written up for Insubordination for asking “for a commitment that no other projects be given to me if I have to meet this deadline”. I got a verbal warning for that.

Secondly they give me another written warning for unsatisfactory work. They cited I prematurely launched a project, forgot to CC my boss on one unrelated email and made a type-o. We have no policies surrounding any of this, in the past I’ve been free to launch projects when I feel they are done and I’ve never had any issues. Nothing was done different this time. I completed it to her specification, although she disagrees… unfortunately not everything was in writing.

I’m planning to grieve both these through the union but before I do I wanted to get some opinions and advice. Am I really in the wrong here? Our union is usually pretty lax about things but this really seemed to rub them the wrong way and they are wanting to fight it, should i? If I fight it I feel I’ll be marked and my life there will be made very difficult, if this is the case is there anything I can do about it?


From Canada, Wellesley
Probably the way you put up your objection has created a feeling of negativity towards you.

A diplomatic and reasoned statement regarding deadlines for projects without taking your other job commitments would have served the purpose.

If you say do not give any other project while I do this is like dictating terms which the management has not liked.

You may not have meant to be insubordinate but again perceptions of people vary.

You need to clarify that you meant well and did not want to jeopardise quality by taking additional projects which would compromise work quality, due to lack of time.

This warning is mainly due to negativity which has crept in towards you.Management can always find loop holes in your work etc.

I do not advice making it a matter for union to take up.

Union is using you as an excuse to take on management.

You need to sort out the matter with HR by giving a full reply and try to close the matter.

Union can help only to limited extent in this case,where you have given chance by probably speaking bluntly(May be the truth) but sometimes human egos are fragile and take offence.

Play the incident down and smoothen the dispute.

From India, Pune
Hello Billy,

Nathrao is absolutely right on Dot with his readings of the situation.....and suggestions.

Even though you seem to be located in Canada, I believe that though customs, culture, practices may vary, human psychology by & large remains the same everywhere.

There's a line/precept in Psychology: "How the other person responds depends on HOW he/she perceives what you say.....NOT what your intent was or how/why you said it".

For all you know you could be screaming your head off.....but IF the other person 'perceives' you to be speaking sensibly/softly, his/her response would be pretty smooth as if you were murmuring. Hope you get the point.

Analysing the scenario you mentioned......

".....was just supposed to be to discuss a matt leave but it turned into a project planning meeting...."

MAYBE you could have bought time saying you didn't know or weren't told about the focus of this meeting? And asked for another day/time? OR even if this meeting had to take place THEN, you could have heard everyone, noted all the inputs & said you will get back after working-out the details.....COULD have given you time in another way? Just give this a thought.

"......if I could get a commitment that no other projects would be put on my plate. To which the answer was a resounding no"

Don't you realize that HAD anyone said that you can't avoid other projects, it surely would have been a confrontational meeting.......you know your guys better--did you expect them to say anything but NO?

Maybe you put them in a situation where you got the answer YOU wanted?

I agree that this strategy works excellently in some situations....but in this one, MAYBE you could have responded in a way that would have made THEM say what you wanted without asking? If you really believed that you wouldn't be able take up any other projects while doing this one, all you had to do was to lay-out the cost & timelines....presuming you use MS Project or any equil S/W.....and it will be for ALL to see the repercussions IF you were to work on multiple projects. Hope you get the point.

Sometimes, it helps anything else BUT THE LIPS do the talking.

All the rest of your description of what transpired only seem to be the natural consequential steps that followed of what started in the meeting.

I would also suggest you rewind back to any possible scenes a few days BEFORE this meeting. I have a feeling some thing(s) MUST have happened that missed your attention......else I don't see the reason(s) for your guys calling for a project meeting THIS WAY in the first place. Usually ANY Project meeting is called for with due notice & scope......anyone who has handled projects [big or small] knows such meetings NEED preparation. For all I know, this meeting COULD have been a SETUP?

Coming to the options open to you, I second Nathrao...the best way is to close it smoothly rather than escalate it.....reduce the scope for the Union to further use you.

All the Best.



From India, Hyderabad
Dear Billy1956,
When you raise a query in the public forum, the members need to be given basic information like the nature of your industry, your designation, length of service in the current company, what type of project it was, whether you have been handling multiple projects, why meeting the deadline was not possible and so on.
Though you have written long post, it is a narration of incident(s) assuming we know everything about you or your background.
Generally members of the labour unions are workers. You appear to be a manager. Even then also are you a member of union?
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
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