No story this week, for a change! But I would like to convey to everyone a simple message: whatever issues you are facing, the Ombuds is here to listen to you; the Office is open for you. From time to time I hear that someone had to leave his/her workplace due to an overwhelming stress or even a depression. To get to such a point takes time and I always wonder if these people have actually looked for help, and if not maybe this increased their isolation. At CERN, several Services are available to give valuable help, including the Ombuds.
Jack* is a new staff member. He joined CERN after having worked successfully in industry, where he had been given considerable responsibility in projects as well as in human resources, despite the fact that he was still young. After a few months, given his expertise, he found himself in charge of part of a project, technically, and also responsible for a few collaborators. That did not present any difficulty for him given his past experience where he was used to handling business in quite an independent way.
Don* is a CERN staff member with an indefinite contract who has been working for some years on an important technical project. As the project is large, it involves pooling the efforts of many people from different Departments. Walt* is one of the Project Leaders, and is not from Don's Department. For a long time, their working relationship was quite pleasant. Walt was satisfied with Don’s work, and on several occasions shared his appreciation with his hierarchy.
Phil* was a candidate for a position in a different group from the one he had been working for. After his board had taken place, Phil asked for an appointment with the Ombuds.
Greg* is a student at CERN doing his doctoral thesis. His thesis adviser, Wilbur*, resides in a remote university and does not come to CERN very often. As a result, he and Greg interact mostly by phone or e-mail. Greg only gets the chance to speak to Wilbur face-to-face when he flies home or when a general meeting for the project is held at CERN. At CERN, Greg is under the supervision of a Section Leader, Phil*, who is responsible for the overall part of the project for which Greg is working.
Luke* holds a key position in the coordination of a large project. He is also a recognized expert in modeling complicated structures. Because of his expertise in the field, he receives a considerable number of e-mails every day which he has trouble responding to in addition to his responsibilities of management and development. Constantly interrupted, he tends to answer his emails quickly, sometimes even in an instinctive way, which leads to somewhat laconic messages.
Val* joined CERN a few years ago on a limited duration contract. He is now entering his fourth year at CERN and hopes - given his excellent results, his important technical responsibilities and his good periodical assessments - to be granted a long-term contract. The position he holds is considered essential in his Department and must be filled either by someone on an indefinite contract or by rotating personnel with limited duration contracts.
Bob* has been working at CERN for years. During his career he developed many skills, being now an expert technician, the kind of person who can handle all urgencies. He is always ready to help and everyone appreciates him a lot. When asked for some kind of immediate help, his answer is most of the time: “I will take care of it”. Of course everyone having a problem loves such an answer! After a reorganization done in his region of CERN, Bob found himself working with new people, not knowing as much as he did their way around.
Jeff* is the leader of a team in charge of the support, operation and maintenance of many CERN equipment. The task is complex as the equipment is scattered across the CERN site, and needs regular maintenance and constant operational monitoring. His team is formed of CERN staff and technicians working under external service contracts.
Sam* has been working in his position for many years. During his annual interviews with his group leader Jerry*, he was always told that his job performance was satisfactory, and no criticism was raised. Sam really appreciated Jerry’s fairness and was happy to work with him. The written appraisals were in the same tone, so Sam never imagined that something could be blamed on him. His career level was improving, although not as fast as he would have liked it to.