My Previous Employment Story

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Well, just for today I managed to get a laptop so I can finally share my story!

So over 4 years ago I found myself laid off. I spent quite a long time searching for employment without any success. I mentioned this in passing to a high school friend of mine who worked in Property Management (unfortunately it is run like it’s own little castle). He just happened to have an employee who had turned in his resignation and my friend asked if I would be interested in taking that position even though it paid quite a bit less than what I was making. Needless to say, it paid more that unemployment compensation, so I readily agreed.

The job was for enforcing the rules of the community (parking violations, house violations, etc.). Once I got the hang of it, it became very apparent that the previous person had not been doing a detailed or good job. I made it my mission to raise the bar (it was easy). Now, the goal of sending violations are to ensure that property values are maintained or enhanced. Eventually the homes were brought up to standard and I was cruising through the position.

At this time we had a Clubhouse Manager who was utterly useless. She was older and dressed like a kid with shit in her hair, colorful or mismatching socks, etc. She spent her time on the computer looking at YouTube for So You Think You Can Dance repeats to share with her staff. When she wasn’t doing that, she was cleaning windows and pacing in a high rate of speed as though she were completely busy beyond belief. Unfortunately that employee’s mother passed away and left her enough money for her to retire.

Right at this time, our Regional Director was promoted and we were assigned a new one. Let’s call her Malina. Once I heard that the employee (let’s call her Crispy) submitted her resignation I expressed interest in the position to the General Manager who in turn brought it to the attention of Malina. It was brought to my attention that Malina disposed of my resume without having looked at it and stated that as I was just enforcing the covenants (rules of the association) I was not qualified for the job (the reality was that had she looked at my resume, I was grossly overqualified).

Malina then selected a lady for the position. She was supposed to be incredible and efficient and have roses flying out of her ass. This person, (let’s call her) Hale had a horrible disposition. She treated all the employees like children, yelled at them and once even followed one to the bathroom and peered over the toilet stall to make sure she wasn’t on her phone! I would have sued. Hale also treated all vendors like shit and got into frequent yelling matches with them (we work with tons of vendors) to the point where several of them made us aware they were considering not working with us. Residents were not exempt from this either. We would receive regular complaints about her attitude, including claims of racism. At the worst, she literally got into arguments with every single person who worked in the office. Eventually (way after it needed to be done) Hale was let go.

Once Hale was let go, the General Manager mentioned that Malina wanted me to take the position. I was offered a small (negligible) raise and asked to work Saturdays on a temporary basis and that an additional raise would be in place a few months into my employment. I originally said no (as it confused me why I was not qualified before, but now I was). At this point Malina called me herself to extend me the offer). Her offer was for a lateral move, though the other things still stood. I thanked her and politely turned down the position. Then Malina re-offered me the negligible raise and blamed it as a misunderstanding from the General Manager. I said I would think about it. I had every intention to refuse it as well, but a friend convinced me to take it just for the experience. The following day I contacted Malina and expressed concern and disappointment at how this was handled and accepted the job.

It immediately became clear that Hale had not been doing her job well. Everything was a mess, the accounting was terrible, disorganization. You name it and it happened. I also was not trained in the position and I had to learn everything on my own as I went along. It took me a few months and many long days, but I finally got things figured out. I implemented processes, brought up morale, fixed relationships with vendors, completed projects, etc. It was tiring and busy, but I liked that I could SEE the things I had done. I received compliments from Board members, residents, the two managers and Malina for my performance.

Little by little Malina showed that she was a micromanager. She removed all authority from all of us. I didn’t even have the ability to hire/fire a part time janitor with a documented history of unemployment without approval from Malina. In fact, she expected me to interview people and send her a few candidates so that she could make the selection. Now, I come from a more corporate work environment where they tried to hire certain personalities so that we had a good vibe in the office. I’m not sure how she thought she would have a better idea of what we needed than we did. I expressed my frustration at this process as I had to fill additional positions.

Malina replied with a scathing email (to the General Manager, not to me. She rare interacted with anyone other than the General Manager) so that it was brought to my attention. This email exchange happened a few times because answers did not make sense or complicated a simple process. For example, at that time I ran the Janitorial, Maintenance, Front Desk and Clubhouse Attendants. There was a new employee who was being groomed for a manager position named Jenni. In order to be able to justify this move, Malina removed the Front Desk staff from me. The Front Desk and Clubhouse Attendants are interchangeable. I was told that when one of my employees was working the clubhouse, they reported to me and when they worked the Front Desk, they reported to Jenni. If either one of us was going to write up an employee, Jenni and I had to discuss this and both be present as they were technically both our employees. I stared in disbelief as this was explained to me. They went as far as to say that it made perfect sense and it was streamlined. Eventually it failed miserably and they returned the Front Desk to me.

During all this, Malina had been holding secret meetings with three Master Board members. She referred to those as “the power board” because she stated they were the ones that ultimately made the decisions and everyone would follow with what they wanted. They now decided to change the hours of all my staff, making them all full time and work weekends. Anyone who could or would not work the schedule was to be told that they “could find another job.” Now, to complete the fact that this was completely unethical and a lie, they were told that this was a decision taken by The Master Board and no employee was to speak of this.

Why would the employees not be able to speak about something instructed by the Master Board? When did the 11 Board Members meet to make this decision as is required? When was this put to vote? Who created the schedule of my employees? The answers are that the employees were to not speak of this because the Master Board did not, in fact make this decision. The 11 Board Members did not hold any meeting as REQUIRED therefore there was no vote. The schedule was created by Jenni, the General Manager and Malina. How they knew the needs of my staff without having spoken to me was interesting.

Needless to say, all my employees approached me and most of them let me know that they would be looking for another job and some would not show up to work once the new schedule was implemented. I attempted to discuss this with higher ups, but was told the decision by The Board had been made. I befriended a Board Member a long time ago and approached him to inform him of the meeting, the fact that I was going to end up without employees and that I was unable to correct this.  Needless to say, this was brought up at the Master Board meeting and needless to say did not go over very well with either my company or the Board Members who were not in this secret “power board.”

The following day I was called in to the General Manager’s office where I found out that Malina was furious and thought that the other manager had been the one to blow the whistle. I interrupted her and told her she could let Malina know that I said it was me who did it and that I was free to answer any questions. (Her animosity with me started about two months prior to this as I sent an email to the GM with several concerns regarding how things were operating and being complicated unnecessarily. Yet again Malina was too important to ask me anything so she came up with questions and had the GM ask them as though they came from her. Most of the questions were to get me to reveal who I had contact with. Most of my answers were that I didn’t feel comfortable answering. I understand my responses were sent to Malina, HR and the CFO. None of which ever answered my questions or approached me. From then on I knew they didn’t give a shit and they knew I wasn’t just going away).

Malina now was out to get me. I was made aware that she wanted to have me written up and/or fired, but couldn’t at that time because it would look like retaliation. She asked the GM to sit in my office to monitor me with instructions that I feel uncomfortable and that she find reasons to document enough information to justify writing me up. Not only was I doing great at my job, I have a great work ethic so it never was a problem. She also didn’t know that I was friends with the GM.

Now, after much postponing, the new schedules never went through. My goal had been to prevent the staff from getting fired. One had been working there for 14 years and was a single mom. She wasn’t there because they pay was great (they pay poorly), but because she liked the property. One of the part timers always came in when I needed her and was reliable and saved our ass many times yet they wanted to force her to do full time, but as a student she couldn’t. College schedules were out already and they didn’t account for it either. I knew that by going head to head I would eventually either quit or be fired. I HAD to do the right thing, though. For months employees were miserable from this Malina. She was used to everyone just putting their heads down. No more. Now she would send passive aggressive emails several times a day which were responded in kind. During this time, the GM found herself another job and resigned. They eventually brought her back (to the company, not the community), but one of the caveats were that she not work under that particular regional again.

The final straw came during the preparation to a Master Board meeting. I had many items to present and tons of work to do. Unfortunately, in a classless move, Malena held an interview for my job while I was at work. The person even approached the front desk asking for his interview for my title. In order to fire me, this had to be approved by HR and the CFO so I knew it was green lighted and it was time to go. The next day (the day of the huge meeting) I showed up early with all my company shirts, keys and my items in a box. I walked into the new GM’s office (the other one had quit due to Malina as well) and let him know that he can tell Malina I said good luck in the interviews and that it was one of the most classless moves I’ve seen in business.

Since then, Malina has “temporarily retired to be with her kids”. Or more like was asked to quit or be fired. Small comfort, but I feel like I won.

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