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Today’s Confessional – Harassment

As I child, I was taught to "never air your dirty laundry." I am certain that many people, family in particular, find it confusing that I am so willing to openly share my life with the world touching on such taboo subjects as sex, drugs, politics and religion. Why dredge up the forgotten past and mar my reputation, or future possibilities, with a permanent record of folly long forgiven? This is a good opportunity to point to the Why I Blog page.

First off, I want to say that blogging is stupid. Most bloggers, such as myself, have no journalism training. We are not professionals, are prone to errors, tempted to propagate rumor, and are busily creating a permanent record of non-retractible statements. We paint targets on ourselves and encourage friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers to make comments which, depending on our mood, may hurt our feelings or cause us to make a flippant remark in jest or anger that changes our relationship with those commenters. It is dangerous waters. [Source]

That said, I do hold back a lot that others may find interesting. I have done much in my life. I have explored. I have experimented. I have experienced. I have done good and I have done things for which I am not proud. Some of these stories, told briefly in writing and out of context, could all too easily be misconstrued. I would never want to lose friends, job opportunity, or something as important as being able to volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America over a misunderstood story. Now, for a story from my past, which I had hoped to let fade from memory and never have retold.

I love mentoring. I love leading. Years ago I was promoted to a management job. That was the greatest job! I took one last look at my swimsuit calendar and passed it onto a ex-peer. I deleted all my inappropriate jokes, sanitized my office of general offensiveness, took some leadership classes, and stepped into the position ready to be the world’s greatest manager. I planned to be friendly without overstepping bounds. I would be approachable but demanding. If the staff went to an after work gather and I were invited, I would be the last to arrive and the first to leave, if I showed at all.

One day, one of my female staff asked for a meeting with me. We made it a walking meeting since the weather was nice. She asked that I promote her into a position that didn’t exist. When I explained that I did not have hiring authority and that I definitely did not have authority to create a non-existent job, she said, "you’ll regret that" and walked away. I then spent my remaining days in that job giving HR a daily report on how this one particular employee was not being harassed, how the environment was not hostile, and answering questions about the various rumors which flew around the staff. Apparently I was having the greatest sex of my life because there weren’t many people I hadn’t slept with–if you believed the gossip. I was fortunate that HR was on my side; they had good files and we would have triumphed in a legal battle! None-the-less, it did hurt. My reputation was tarnished. Decisions had to be made on the assumption that this employee told an unproven truth. My boss was 2000 miles away receiving my stories, HR’s version, and the gossip. It detracted from the business at hand and I am certain was an underlying reason for the final closure of that division of the company.

The irony is that I saved that employee. She had come from a different division of the company which was being downsized. She was slated to be laid off. I didn’t need any additional staff. As a favor to a VP, I created an additional position for her (yes, that authority I did have) and she was transferred instead of laid off. It is from that position that she insisted I promote her. I should have promoted her. No. I should have fired her on the spot.

I may be a little jaded when it appears that someone is trying to makes gains at someone else’s expense. I don’t like win-lose. I don’t like lose-win. I like positive. I like win-win!

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