Arrogant Boss Told Employee They Weren’t Experts, So They Made Sure To Flood Her With The Work She Demanded

Source: Reddit/AITA/Unsplash/@grzegorzwalczak

Are you sure you don’t want to call me an expert?

Okay, whatever you say!

But it’s not gonna end well for you…

That’s the basic theme of this story from Reddit’s “Malicious Compliance” page.

Check it out below!

“I work in the heritage sector, providing specialist services to the construction industry ahead of developments as required by law.

This story takes place a few years ago when my company had been contracted to carry out work ahead of a large infrastructure project.

To give you an idea of scale, this project provided most of the work for my company for the better part of 4.5 years.

This was a lengthy process.

The typical process for our work would be that we would come in several months or years before actual construction was due to start. We would then excavate trenches, dig any features that came up, photograph them, draw them, measure them and fill out endless stacks of paperwork about a single nondescript furrow in an entire field full of identical nondescript furrows.

We would also send any artefacts back to the office to be dealt with.

Artefacts in this case usually means random bits of broken pot, pieces of flint, rarely a piece of metalwork (usually a piece of broken horseshoe).

Eventually these artefacts would be cleaned, weighed and reviewed by specialists who would write even more paperwork detailing various aspects about them.

This would be combined with the paperwork and drawings we had completed on site and in the fullness of time a final report would be written for the site and sent to the client.

These artefacts (or finds as we usually call them) when returned to the office are initially dealt with by the imaginatively named Finds Department. They are responsible for the initial cataloging and cleaning before they are sent on to the specialists.

There was a new person in charge.

At the time in question, the head of the finds department was away on maternity leave and so a temporary replacement had been hired.

Let us call her Alice.

Alice had not long come out of university with their shiny new masters degree in finds conservation (or something similar). She was also determined to make her mark on the company so that we would extend her contract once her predecessor returned from materiality leave.

Seeing an opportunity, she arranged to visit each site in turn to deliver a short lecture to introduce herself, outline any changes to policies, refresh peoples memories on existing policies and gather feedback on the the current and proposed policies.

At least, this is what should have happened.

I am unfortunately unable to give a verbatim account of the conversation as I was off work myself during the meeting. My colleagues have described it in some detail though when they brought me up to speed on the changes to policy when I returned the next Monday.

The meeting was badly timed for the site I was working on. It was a Wednesday and the weather forecast for the rest of the week was rain with quite a lot of work left to do to meet out quota.

We work outside, with heavy machinery and have to hand dig a lot.

Working in the rain is bad news for these folks.

Not only is rain unpleasant to work in, it’s also more dangerous due to the risk of slipping in mud or the material you are digging being waterlogged and much heavier.

In extreme cases it can even conceal trip hazards and holes large enough to fall in. This has happened to staff members several times over the years, including myself.

Bearing this in mind and the fact that the meeting was called during lunch, none of my colleagues were in a particularly convivial mood. Dave, the site supervisor was distracted during the meeting, trying to work out how to do 3 days worth of work in half a day and so wasn’t really paying much attention to what Alice was saying.

Alice wasn’t too happy about what was going on…

Alice for her part was generally complaining about the poor standard of labelling on material being sent back, the fact that things were covered in mud when they were sent back and that we were writing things on the bags that they would use. Stuff like “Upper grey fill”. Useless to them, but very useful to the person halfway through digging the feature when they are trying to remember what bag to put something in.

The conversation then turned to how she wanted us all to use finds trays (think lightweight flat plastic trays, like you might get at a garden centre) to store finds next to our features rather than bagging them straight away.

It was of course pointed out that this was a bloody stupid idea on the basis that a thin flimsy piece of plastic to neatly arrange things on might look good when management or TV crews were around but in reality the first time there was a gust of wind, all of those finds would be scattered across the field.

It was also pointed out that they would probably all be broken inside a week on account of how flimsy they actually were.

Alice duly noted these concerns and immediately dismissed them.

How would they actually do this?

My friend then asked how exactly she was expecting them to carry a toolbox, shovel, mattock (pick axe like tool), camera, photograph scales and these finds trays out to their feature, which could be up to 20 minutes walk from the welfare unit.

The response was “If you need it you will find a way to carry it”

It was at this point that Dave realised the meeting wasn’t going quite as smoothly as it should have and started paying attention again, just in time to hear from my friend respond, “Well, we don’t need them, so we won’t bother.”

Alice didn’t take this too well, but the meeting continued and the topic turned to finds selection. It’s worth mentioning at this point that each project we work out has a lengthy document which outline the various requirements and processes for the different aspects.

One of the things included in this is always the selection criteria for what finds are returned to the office for processing. Typically it will include a section which permits site staff to discard modern material without recording and to record and discard some other types of finds on site at the direction of the site director.

As part of the meeting, the topic of discarding finds was brought up. I’m not sure exactly why it was brought up, I believe one of my colleague may have enquired as to clarify the precise parameters for when to discard certain objects. Alice was furious.

Alice blew her top.

She began shouting at my colleagues accusing them of theft and that she would inform the police if she ever thought that they were not properly recovering finds and have us fired, that we had no idea what we were doing and that “you are not experts, it’s not up to you to decide what is of archaeological significance.”

Leaving aside the fact that about 95% of our job is deciding precisely that, Dave stepped in at this point and the meeting was swiftly brought to a conclusion with Alice leaving to inflict her presence on another one of our sites a few miles away.

There were some new guidelines under Alice…

I returned the next Monday and was given a rundown on what had happened along with a blow by blow account of the meeting and the precise wording out our new instructions.

We aren’t experts? It’s not up to us to decide what’s archaeological and what isn’t?

Ok then, we can work with that.

What Alice had not realised is that there are a lot of things that we discard as having no archaeological significance. Digging a trench in a field, the topsoil is usually full of modern rubbish which we would ignore.

Alice was going to be inundated with JUNK.

Not this time.

Empty coke can? Bagged.

Piece of birdseye chargrill chicken wrapper? Bagged.

Broken beer bottle? Bagged.

By the end of the first day we had filled several large bags full of ‘finds’. By the end of the week they had to use a bin bag to transport them all to the office.

This continued for several weeks, Alice unable to bring herself to admit that she had been wrong and apologise and us perfectly happy to follow our new orders to the letter.

About a month afterward though, there was a slight change. Previously all finds would be taken to our office, processed and then sent to head office to be looked at by the specialists. Now, to save time and money they were going to send all of the finds directly to head office to be processed there.

This phone call wasn’t gonna go well…

The next week, we get a phone call from the head of finds in the company, Alice’s manager It went something along the lines of:

Alice’s manager: “Are you staff a bunch of idiots?

Dave: “No.”

Alice’s manager: “Then why the hell are they sending us bags of literal rubbish?”

Dave “Because they were told to.”

Alice’s manager: “What?”

Dave: (recounts meeting with Alice)

Alice’s manager: “Oh for god’s sake. Just tell them to go back to doing it properly, I’ll deal with Alice.”

Alice was about to be put in her place.

We went back to doing our job properly (somewhat sadly as we had been quite enjoying ourselves).

Alice had to have a meeting with her boss who made it very clear that the ‘people who didn’t know what they were doing’ had over 30 years of experience between them and the least experienced among them had several times the field experience Alice did.

Alice was also prohibited from issuing such instructions to people again without approval from her manager.

When it came time for the original head of finds to return from materiality leave people were practically cheering, she had been concerned that Alice would have successfully integrated herself to the extent that people would not have appreciated the disruption of her return.

People had in fact been counting the days until she returned as Alice had, in addition to alienating most of the field staff, also failed to make friends within the office staff.

Alice was retained, but was demoted to an assistant to help manage the workload and moved on a couple of years later without having been allowed to cause too much trouble again.”

Check out what folks had to say on Reddit.

This reader shared their own work story.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another individual talked about how they dealt with an understaffed job.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Another individual shared what they did.

Source: Reddit/AITA

This reader doesn’t like this kind of mentality.

Source: Reddit/AITA

And one Reddit user gave people a history lesson.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Malicious compliance at its finest…

You love to see it!

If you liked that story, check out this post about a group of employees who got together and why working from home was a good financial decision.



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