“I’m rushed off my feet! I don’t know where to start. Even when I have time off, I just can’t relax. So when Sunday evening comes around, I feel as if I haven’t got anything done!”
Does this sound familiar? If you have trouble combining your work life and home life, you’re certainly not alone.
Dan* is responsible for one of the robots in the workshop. You are his supervisor and you suspect that the rejection rate is much higher than usual when he is at the controls. You check the operations log and your suspicions are confirmed. You could wait for the problem to pass, but you decide to talk to him to get to the bottom of things.
As this hot and sunny summer gets under way, I’d like to wish you all a well-deserved holiday!
I know many of us are even busier than usual during the long shutdown, scrambling to finish all our tasks to keep the work on schedule. On top of that, we have to deal with numerous organisational constraints and competing priorities, not to mention extra safety precautions. And lots of problems still need to be solved.
“So,” you ask, “with all that going on, how can I go on holiday with a clear conscience?”
I recently presented the 2018 Ombud’s Report to the CERN Management and then to TREF, and I’d like to outline the main points for you here.
Michael* comes to me with some concerns: “Carlo* has been working in my team for several years. He’s always got on very well with his colleagues and produced excellent work. But recently, I’ve noticed that he’s been interacting less with the rest of the team and he’s started not turning up for work. It’s not too alarming so far, but should I be worried?”
Maria* has fallen behind schedule on her project and meets with her supervisor Jan* to keep him informed. But the meeting sadly didn’t live up to her expectations.
Frédéric* is feeling down in the dumps: “I’ve always been good at my job and my supervisors acknowledge my excellent results. But I feel I’m being passed over in favour of colleagues who are less competent than me, but know who to approach to further their careers. Do we really have to "network" in order to get ahead? Shouldn’t my professional skills be enough?"
Of course, CERN’s success is based on technical and scientific excellence. But, like everywhere else, the human element also plays an important role.
Manuel* has been ill at ease with his supervisor Robert* for several months, but is having difficulty instigating a calm and constructive conversation about it. “Every time I try to start a discussion, I get flustered and feel like he’s manipulating me. I feel powerless; he always gets the better of me.”
Robert may, consciously or unconsciously, be using tactics to sabotage the dialogue, due to a lack of confidence, disinterest... or just having other priorities, who knows?
People can sabotage dialogue in several ways:
At CERN, every member of the personnel has the right to formally contest an administrative decision by requesting a review or by making an internal appeal. Anyone who feels that they’re a victim of harassment can initiate proceedings with the Harassment Investigation Panel.
Instead of resorting to formal proceedings, however, members of the personnel can seek the Ombud’s assistance to resolve a conflict informally.
How do you choose between the formal and informal approaches?
In an oriental fable, six blind men decide to meet an elephant in order to broaden their horizons. The first rubs up against its side and says: “This elephant is like an unmovable wall!” His neighbour feels a tusk and exclaims: “It’s so smooth and pointy; this animal is surely an impressive weapon!” One by one, the four other blind men discover the other parts of the animal: the ear, the trunk... and each experiences a different reality: a fan, a snake...