Listen boss, you don't know my job so don't try to do it, mmkay?

There are many bosses here where I work, each a boss of a different aspect of this job. One of these bosses is the office manager. She manages personnel. She is in charge of making sure we have the supplies we need to process claims. She does not know how to process claims, but that doesn’t stop her from sticking her nose in our business and telling us how to do the very thing she knows nothing about.

She’s been with this company from day one and is close to 80 years old. Don’t misunderstand, she’s not old and feeble. She’s spry with a sharp mind and doesn’t look a day over 50. But her many years in this office and in this world have given her the impression that she cannot be wrong. This makes it quite frustrating when a stray e-mail or phone calls comes her way and she insists that an administrator do things that are completely incompatible with the process of claims administrating.

Both our managing partner (the big boss) and the guy in charge of claims processing (our immediate boss) have recommended to us all to ‘yes, ma’am’ her and then go about our business as usual. Easy for them to say. Let me give you a small example of the things she does that makes me want to stab her in the eye with a letter opener.

She received an e-mail from a would-be claimant who said she was a Katrina victim and had not had time to send her claim in by the deadline. Crazy Office Manager answered her back and was full of sympathy and told her to send in her claim and we would take care of it. Now, she knows enough to know that we do pay late claims all of the time without a peep from the courts. What she doesn’t know is that we will NOT pay a claim received 18 months after the filing deadline, that does not have all the documentation needed AND received AFTER the attorneys and the court has signed the affidavit.

I explain all this to her. Her response? Well, she didn’t get a deficiency letter! How could she know the claim was missing documentation?

Oh, I dunno-- maybe not send a claim in 18 months after the deadline and 20 days after the affidavit has been signed? And maybe how 'bout you don’t answer e-mails that you KNOW I should have received and talking out of your ass and promising shit you have no authority to promise? How about you call Miss Katrina Victim and you tell her you’re a meddling busybody and-- oops! No money for you? Ah, not according to the other bosses. We are supposed to say “Yes ma’am”!
Yes ma’am or geriatricide? Which do you think I felt like doing?

I think it may be a priority and perception issue. From your point of view, nothing is more important than the job being done right. And that’s good. Nothing wrong with that. Your point of view is perfectly valid. But so is hers. And when you’re in your 80s, yours might well be closer to hers. All you have to do to bear all this without going insane is adjust your point of view with respect to her. Her last day at work, and her last breath for that matter, really isn’t that far away. I’m not saying that her viewpoint trumps yours, just that they’re incompatible. If you decide that her happiness is more valuable than the paperwork to you, then everything else will fall into place. Happiness is all about aesthetics.

Respecting your elders and making them happy is one thing. However, this is a place of business. We deal specifically with court orders, rules and laws. This claim CANNOT be paid. She has now left a big mess for me to clean up. This is not the first time and I am not the only one she’s done something like this to.

She’s a friggin menace.

What?! I see no reason why we should respect our elders when they’re complete idiots. This woman should not have been able to answer that e-mail, and never ever should have answered the e-mail when she didn’t have all the facts. Now the woman thinks she is going to get her money when she may in fact not.

I’ve found customers hate being lied to more than anything else. If you tell them flat out what the situation is they prefer that to having feeble little promises made and then have the company renege on them afterwards.

I’ve never understood why we should respect our elders just for being old, anyway. I will give them the same politeness and civility as I do anyone else. I’m going to get old one day too, it’s not an accomplishment. And old people can be just as much idiots as anyone else.

Can you kick it up to the “Yes ma’am” bosses? In other words, “Mr. Big Boss? Yes, 80 year old office manager took this e-mail and told the claimant we would pay their claim. Can you take it from here? Thanks, much.”

I’ll bet after having to clean up after her messes a few times and she’ll be back doing her job and not trying to do yours.

Well, that’s what I was saying. For you, “this is a place of business” is at the top and everything follows from that. For her and your bosses, there’s a different priority. Again, I’m not saying you SHOULD adjust your priorities; I’m only saying that until you do, there will always be this bit of annoyance for you.

That could easily backfire. They may well look at it as BigGirl can’t do her job, which they (based on what she said) believe in part has to do with handling this woman. Instead of “Oh, wow, you’re right, she is a pain in the ass,” (which they already know), it may come out more like, “If you can’t handle her, we’ll find someone who can.” Fair? No. But I wouldn’t advise biting her nose to spite her face.

This is exactly what happened. I was soooooo angry that I went into the managing partner’s office. With big, innocent eyes I told him the situation and asked, “What shall I do now?” No need to call Office Manager a menace. He really loves her. Left the file on his desk.
But I know this place. It’ll come back to me within a week.

Hold on thre, sparky.

This is a matter of law. There’s no “alternative point of view.” It doesn’t matter one shit what the old gal thinks or wants or likes: the law says one thing and it requires one thing and nothing else. Regardless of what her sympathies are, she has no business whatsoever answering this correspondance, promising anything, or making claims, if she cannot answer, promise, or make within the bounds of legal limits. Period. The fact that she’s an old softy doesn’t mean she’s entitled to promise people anything. Period.

This isn’t about “points of view.”

No, it isn’t.

If I understand correctly, her point of view is to promise anything to satisfy the customer—even though it’s a promise that she has no authority to make and that cannot be fulfilled.

If you think that’s valid, I hereby sentence you to read the complete works of Scott Adams.

So, she’s allowed to screw up and you have to fix it, and she suffers no consequences?

Pretty much.

What would happen if you let her handle a claim from beginning to end? If you say, “You started it, you finish it?” What does she say when you tell her to leave your job alone, to let you handle it? When you tell her thanks, but she’s actually not helping, but hurting?

You’re in a claims office, administering government programs. Isn’t there an internal and/or external auditing function to which this could be reported?

(Auditors are a pain in the ass, but they can occasionally be put to use.)

Yeah, I do understand that, but that’s not what I meant. As I tried to explain, I’m not talking about ethics (of which law is a subset), but aesthetics. Her point of view has nothing to do with the paperwork or the law or even the customer. It is a matter of what she values (thus, aesthetics).


In other words, I was trying to help Biggirl deal with what I thought was her complaint. If my advice has no value for her, she can simply leave it be. :slight_smile:

It isn’t a government office, it’s a small accounting firm. As with many small firms, it’s chock full of crazy. And our managing partner likes to say that we are a family, we help each other and blah, blah.

I actually like crazy office manager when I don’t want to kill her. She just needs to mind her friggin business. She once overheard another administrator tell the head of claims that he was done pre-auditing the claims. So she got on the phone, called the law office representing the claimants and told the girl there ( a good friend of hers) that we were finished with the case. Except pre-audit is only the first (granted it is the longest) step of the claims administration process.

Wanna know what the managing partner did about that? He pulled 4 of us off of our cases so that we could rush through the rest of the process and never once did the words “Mind your fucking business” pass from his lips.

So she’s gotten away with crap for so long she can do no wrong. Unless you want to start documenting stuff or calling the other bosses on why they cover for her, I think the only thing you can do is guard your workload with an electrified fence.