I am in a bind. I don’t really know what to do. Previously, the HR lady in my fairly small office was nice to me, always smiling at me and saying hi, for about two years. Then, I got written up because we had this super boring mandatory 8 hour staff meeting and I was doodling on some papers that were passed out during it, which I wasn’t doing maliciously so much as I was in an effort to stay awake during the 8 hours of sitting still in a hot room hearing about H1N1 and other mind-numbingly boring subjects.
In addition to this, one of my co-workers, who, during his time at my work, became one of my best friends, was fired for a really flimsy reason (official reason listed was that he fell asleep in a meeting, but i was sitting beside him in said meeting and he absolutely did nothing of the sort) and after his dismissal, I was very upset and distraught, and I shared these feelings with my supervisor, who I am sure shared my concerns with HR. Now, aforementioned HR lady won’t even look at me, no longer greets me, and if I have to interact with her at all she is uncomfortably cold to me and as minimally helpful as she can be. I want to bring this concern about her conduct with me to my supervisor, but then who does it go to? Back to her, so that she can deny it and make me feel even more uncomfortable? I feel trapped. If it was anyone else in my office, I know who I would turn to, but who do I talk to when it is the HR lady that is making my work-life hell? What do I do?
I needed to re-read this question several times to grasp the concept–because I’m still in shock that you were written up for doodling? Honest? I’m a chronic doodler. I attribute my doodling to my success in life. Why?
A study that compared how well people remembered details of a dull monologue found that those who doodled throughout retained more information than those who tried to sit and listen.
But, I need to clarify something first. Your manager would have been the one to decide to write you up, not HR. Honest, we don’t roam the halls looking for infractions. (Now, I will grant that there is probably an HR person or two out there who does this, and in some companies a lot of administrative staff has a hard-line reporting relationship to HR and only dotted-line relationships to the people they support.)
So, here’s my best guess. Your manager is a dork who blames his own stupidity on HR. HR knows this, and the HR woman is now embarrassed to deal with you, because she’s had to help out with the process of writing you up for doodling.
As for your friend being fired for sleeping in a meeting, again, unless HR Lady was running the meeting, it’s most likely your boss who did this.
Which means, by complaining to your boss, you’re complaining to him about problems he caused, but blaming HR. It’s a little problematic.
This puts us to where you are. First, why do you care if the HR person smiles at you in the hallway? It reminds me of my freshman year in college where one of my roommates was absolutely convinced that one of my friends hated her. Why? “I saw Laura on campus today and she didn’t say hi!” she would complain. I’d ask, “Did you say hi?” The answer was always something along the lines of, “I shouldn’t have to. She should say hi to me!”
Now, we were 18 and dumb as rocks, and we’ve all grown up to be productive women who are hopefully not so petty.
So, if she doesn’t smile at you, smile at her. If this really bothers you, make an appointment to talk to her and say, “I feel like there is a problem between us. I’d like to have a good relationship with you and your department. What changes do I need to make?”
Yes, it could be all her fault, but no one likes their faults thrown at them, and you can only change you.
But, I think the real problem is with the 8 hour administrative meetings with a strict you-must-stare-straight-ahead-and-not-blink policy. Take that up with your manager.
“I see we have another all day all hands meeting scheduled. Is there anyway we could split that into two days, 4 hours each day? That way, we don’t get as far behind on our work and we stay on top of things.” Don’t couch it in terms of “I get sooo bored and sleepy in all day meetings.” That will not go over well.
Now, assuming your boss isn’t a complete idiot, it’s likely that your doodling was the concrete thing they could use to describe you not paying attention in a meeting. I’ve done a lot of training/teaching and I can tell when someone is not paying attention. Your boss may be able to do this as well.