authority figure

It was the first group meeting with everyone in the office. For months, the majority of the employees had been working from home so weekly meetings were conducted largely by teleconference; those in the office crowded into a manager’s office and those at home called in.

Several employees crossed their arms and glared angrily at Sara. Others shook their heads and pursed their lips. A few were even more direct.

“So you’re telling me that even though we don’t have enough work to do, they’re increasing the amount of work we’re supposed to do each day?” The employee facing Sara was combative not only in tone but in posture as well. Her arms were crossed, her hips squared, both feet were planted hip distance apart. She looked around the room after she finished speaking, daring anyone to challenge her. More employees nodded their agreement while others muttered support.

Sara sighed. They’d been over this several times yet the employees kept rephrasing the same question. This time they’d just been more direct about it.

“Guys, this isn’t my decision. I fought to get the number lowered and it is lower than what they were originally talking about. Remember, if you run out of work you can always start a project or training. If you change your time tracker, that time won’t be counted as productive so you won’t be penalized for running out of invoices.” Sara was starting to lose her patience with the group.

“What about this nonsense about raising the quality?? 98% is a big jump from 95%. Can we at least get a transition period?” The same employee challenged Sara again, unwilling to back down on any point.

“The group average is 99.4% so it really shouldn’t be a problem at all,” responded Sara.

Why didn’t they understand? No matter what she said, she couldn’t get them to understand. Sara felt helplessly trapped. The decision had been made higher up in the company yet the employees seemed to blame her for it. She had taken over a few months before and had faced an uphill battle from the start. The manager she was replacing was beloved and had in fact hired many of the current employees and convinced them to stay. All Sara could do was count her blessings that this was a modern corporate office and not an 18th century ship where such dissension would likely lead to a bloody mutiny. She may not make many friends, but she’d keep her life so that had to count for something.

Taking a deep breath, Sara steadied and steeled herself. This was her team afterall; the person who made the decision was some nebulous figure but she was here in the room with them.

“I’m sorry. I know this isn’t ideal. But given what you’ve been doing, this shouldn’t be much of a change. The average is higher than these numbers anyways. We’ll work with you if you find yourself struggling to meet your new goals.” The most vocal of the employees rolled her eyes. But for once, she remained quiet.
Maybe, just maybe, Sara was finally winning them over.

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