View Full Version : well THAT didn't go well

Zoe Girl
4-15-11, 9:42pm
Um so I tried my talk about speaking English with my staff. Hmm not so good. That is putting it mildly. We started after I told them what a great job they were doing and pointing out some specific areas of strength. Then I brought up the English issue by saying how we appreciate how they speak Spanish with our parents who need the language and we want to make sure we are doing the same with our families who are English only. I had a written list of a few things, one was to speak English with our parents and youth who speak English and another was to turn in complete paperwork in English that also said I would help support writing the final draft in English.

So yeah, I heard that they refused to sign, they said that I could not tell them they could not speak Spanish, and it followed with that since I started and we started making changes (towards a positive behavior system) that it is all bad and I am not good for them, asking why all the white people don't learn Spanish, pointing out that managers like me are white and the workers are Mexican, oh I forget the rest. At one point I am embarrassed to say I was in tears because I thought of the stories I know of the trauma some of our kids deal with and all I am asking is to approach the parents calmly and with respect when the kids has misbehaved. I have not one parent react badly to me or try to excuse their kids behavior when I have had to talk to them. I have suspended kids with trauma still and held a conference to get them back with an agreement on behavior even knowing their background. In some cases I have to remember things like there are kids you cannot touch because they were molested or that you have to be very calm and remove them.

At one point I hate to say that I found out how little they knew of anything outside the Spanish speaking culture. I told them that where I grew up we had Amish and they speak high german, I was close enoug to Canada so I learned French in school, I taught a Russian girl English from not one word before that, I have worked in refugee schools and schools with 14 languages. And I left getting angry frankly, I might be the white manager but I also have 6 years of education to get here, and I would support them in advancing their career, which is part of the English language and learning positive behavior systems honestly. The old way of discipline is not going to be okay anymore, not only are licensing agencies looking at basic safety but they are putting in evaluation tools based on behavior systems, enrichment opportunities, etc.

Okay I am gonna just go to my weekend job and have more people angry with me,

4-15-11, 9:46pm
Fire them all if they are failing to meet the expectations of their jobs.

4-15-11, 9:48pm

Zoe Girl
4-15-11, 10:09pm
Thank you guys, I am trying to not cry cuz I am working on being the tough manager. At least assertive.

And my 3 other schools have all gone out of their way to tell me that they appreciate me being in this job. The previous people were very rule oriented and my staff has been written up under the old regime for many things I would not do. I have to wonder, one young lady with several write ups (i asked to not see them because everyone gets a clean slate with me) is alternative in a way, lesbian punk. She is working hard at learning to manage people better and be assertive like I am at 20 years older so i want to support that without knowing the past. But you have to wonder if she wasn't just judged unfairly before.

I do want to let myself have 20 minutes of a pity party, my boyfriend is out of town for over 2 weeks and I really need a snuggle. Besides I can't see how this keeps happening. I mean maybe it really does happen to everyone sometimes but with a background of being treated abusively I have a really hard time with not being able to stop this in its track.

4-15-11, 10:46pm
Fire them all if they are failing to meet the expectations of their jobs.

I tend to agree, at least in principle. Do they have written job descriptions/expectations? Are they meeting them? If you could step back from the emotional aspects (for your own benefit) and see how the families can be best served --- no matter whether it makes you popular or not --- perhaps it would put some of the hurt and anger on the shelf. I often find great solace in logic....

I know you're upset and I'm sorry --- it's a very hard situation, but I feel you did the right thing. Hugs to you, (((zoegirl)))). It's gonna be okay.

Some of the most noble, useful, and beneficial things I've ever done in life have been accompanied by at least one person, if not lots of people, righteously p.o.'d at me :)

Zoe Girl
4-15-11, 11:27pm
Pug, you are right. I am trying to take the emotion out of it. My coworker said that they are just reacting to many changes this year such as being officially licensed as childcare (our first year of this) and lots of management staff changes. Okay our upper management was on some type of leave early in the year and then went away without a detail of why so you know there was something wrong. Then a few of the people who were very close to that upper management left on their own including my former supervisor who I call Saint B. She was raved about but now I find out that she was writing people up for things I don't agree with, being very strict with our kids instead of trying to teach them from mistakes, having no flexibility for a very young kid compared to an older child or based on the type of misbehavior, etc. I am gald she put in her notice right after I was hired.

I DO feel very good about what we are doing for the families. They need our services and not suspensions when we can work with the children. They need to walk in and feel welcome by hearing at least partial English. I spoke to the grandfather/guardian of one girl who I hear from the teachers is constantly in trouble (and happens to be English only) that when i am there filling in for the teacher none of the kids are even on warnings, compared to many warnings with the other teachers. I have also created a working relationship with my most difficult site coordinator (we are paid for by a grant and each school has a site coordinator who is responsible for creating ESL classes, tutoring, Girls Inc, and one site is starting Hip Hop dance, whatever the community needs). I have been told twice since I started this job that someone is just trying to bully me and I have not broken.

What i have NOT talked about anywhere on these boards is what is happening with my children. I have set some firm limits and as soon as I really meant it the world erupted. I finally stopped all of the kids and their dad (my ex) from counting on me to fill in the gaps, provide the car for things, and rescue him from lack of planning. What has happened is one visit to the emergency room for a psych eval, psychologist appointments, more school refusals, times when I don;t know where my middle child is and I threatened the police, medications, school counselors, the works. I am seeing some groundwork being laid with the kids for future healing finally but frankly I am freakin exhausted. i have not wanted to talk about it because everyone and their brother will have advice, I think i am doing fine and any choice I make is at least reasonable even if it is not the perfect one. It is a huge example to me of how doing the right thing, the most effective thing causes great reactions. I had a staff member at my last position who simply quit as soon as I called her effectively on her performance. Less than 12 hours. And it wasn;t even a real write up but just a written record of a conversation.

Whew I am long winded here. I have sooo much I want to do in this area of work. I want real enrichment, I want some opportunities for gifted students that they don;t have during the school day, I want our students to learn leadership by creating and planning activities, there is so much possible. But if I am still arguing because i let them fly paper airplanes one day and didn't know that was against the rules i think we will get nowhere.

4-15-11, 11:51pm
((((((((((((((((((((Zoegirl))))))))))))))))))))))) )))))))

You are doing the right things on all fronts. You are doing what you need to do to protect yourself and be strong. You are trying to lay some limits for other people who sorely need them, even if they don't appreciate it. Eventually they will understand, I hope, and see that you only wanted/want the best for them. That goes for your employees, too. And first and foremost you are putting the kids -- your own and those in your programs -- first. It may not seem like it with your struggles with your kids, but they NEED these boundaries you are setting as much as you do. they need to learn not to depend on you for everything. You can't and shouldn't be expected to do everything for them, not now and not as they move into adulthood. They need to learn that even though they each have their challenges they can deal with them and make their own contribution to society.

This is hard, hard work and no wonder you are exhausted.

It also sounds like you walked into a really dysfunctional situation, and are doing an amazing job with it all things considered. I would document the issues at this troublesome site and, if it becomes more than you can deal with, see if it might be possible to switch sites if they are not willing to deal with the problem staff. They dynamic there sounds really difficult and you shouldn't be expected to cope with it alone. I think it should be obvious to everyone what a contribution you have made, even in just the short time you have been working there. Ask for backup and support if you need it.

So, maybe instead of a pity party we can turn this into a ZG rocks party! WHOOOOOT! YOu've got a cheering squad here, you know, whenever you need it. We love you and wish nothing but the best for you. Let us know what we can do to help.


4-16-11, 6:16am
I don't have any advice for you. Just hugs! (((zoegirl))). I hope things start looking up for you soon!

4-16-11, 7:28am
I too think you are trying to do the right thing but your expectations appear to be set very high. Americans tend to think things should/will/must happen overnight. Whatever the situation (unless immediate safety issue) changes take time to digest and work thru both business and personal. Think long term, welcome and recognize any small positive changes, repeat over and over.

Thinking long term is what a successful lobbyist does. They work on a strategic plan of incremental changes to get to the desired end result. I remember someone told me they wanted some pretty serious tax changes. They had a plan on short term less costly implementations that they could "slip" in so they were prepared until the time was right to ramp up to bigger things.

I did feel that no matter what you said it was possible for a set of employees to already have in their mind what you "meant" no matter how phrased and this is what would happen. You might say speak English to English speakers and they "knew" you meant no Spanish to anyone. One example is our employees always felt they had too much work. As a result no matter what the manager said or how he said it, they "knew" it meant more work. The conversations often deteriorated into no more work no more work regardless of the topic. Lots of rolled eyes, etc.

I suspect that prior manager disappointments have caused a certain level of doubt in the minds of the employees to anything a manager might say. They have developed protective mechanisms over time.

Zoe Girl
4-16-11, 8:22am
Thank you all!!

I know that we have to make some real changes and rather than just surprise them in fall with my expectations I am setting the groundwork now in a way that no one is in trouble so that we have time. And i think you are right, the employees had an idea already in their heads. One said that they like to play their music when they set up and I have no problem at all, they play music for the kids and that is great, the kids even make up little shows which is fun. So there was something else going on here. Too bad I just spent most of the night not sleeping,

4-16-11, 9:12am
(((Zoe))) I don't have time to write much but I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and hope you can find some peace and calm, even if for a few moments, during this storm. I think you are a very strong and feeling person and there are a lot of issues that you face day-to-day at work and home that I can relate to ~ I just wanted to say I admired your strength to get up and keep doing your best even when it is difficult.

And one of these days I will need to find the time and energy to relate what is going on at my place of work; the situation would make for great reality TV if it weren't so ultimately sad in the long run...I am actively looking for a new position.

4-16-11, 9:28am
People will react with confrontation to change that is significant. Stand your ground consistently and with detachment and they all wiil see that you mean what you say if it is done for all the right reasons.
Just struggled with a volunteer who had decided to be inaccessible in a position that he has to be accessible for the organization to function. I struggled with the right approach and handled it as part of an organizational structure issue expressing the idea that this was not about 'him vs me' but how the organization needs to work to meet the public's need.

He is eccentric but well-intentioned so did come around albeit reluctantly.

4-16-11, 7:20pm
I feel like I'm missing something here. You're talking about employees who are legal, with the accompanying paperwork. To get that paperwork, or to become citizens, they were required to read and speak English. The official language of this country is English. If they want to live and work in the US, they should abide by US standards. One of which, IMO, is to speak English to English-speaking people who in this case are their 'customers.' Seems to me this is a basic fundamental of their job description, and if they refuse to do it, replace them.

I spent many years as a CEO in different companies before I retired. I had Hispanic people working for me; they all spoke English. I knew that because they spoke it to me. And if they refused to speak it to their 'customers' then they were not going to stay employed by me.

Do you have a supervisor above you who is not supporting you in this problem?

4-16-11, 8:35pm
janharker, I'm not sure that the United States has designated any language as the "official language."

Zoe Girl
4-16-11, 10:16pm
Yeah, it makes no sense to me except that the one lead teacher has been doing this for 8 years and she is used to how she does things. I do have support above me, many people have changed in our organization so we are learning a lot. I had NO IDEA it was going to be this huge of a problem when I specifically said it was for our English speaking families. I have also lived in primarily Hispanic areas as well as very language diverse areas and so I understand how we all need to slow down and work with each other sometimes to communicate, but I am still shocked. Yes all my staff does speak English, one not very well and cannot write in English a simple form. But part of the discussion form said that the final paperwork had to be turned in written in English and I was one resource to help her write it, like I have done before.

I talked with one of my Target coworkers who works in bank HR during the week and she has had the same issues. She had employees speaking to each other in Spanish in front of customers and coworkers who did not speak Spanish and actually did some research. So she found out there is no problem saying that you need to speak English unless a customer has a need for another language. I want to say 'other language' because it is not just one language.

Okay funny story. I worked in a bank and we had one customer who was having a hard time with his ATM card when another customer who ran a Chinese restuarant came in frustrated because his international wire had not been recieved in China yet (not long after 9-11). Everyone was having a hard time when the ATM customer spoke up and said he spoke Chinese! So we all switched places, he translated to explain the delay in international wires which freed up another bank employee to fix his ATM card. That was in a over 50% Spanish speaking community too, and we still needed Chinese and Philiipino language often.

4-17-11, 1:35pm
Reyes, in order to become a citizen, the applicant must take the test, which is in English. And s/he must speak to the administrator in English. So whether it's in writing or not, you must be able to read and speak at least some English to be a citizen in the country. Unless you were born here, but that's another issue.