Wednesday, June 02, 2010

First Child Syndrome

As many of you know, I've been working for a company since December 16th through Applied Staffing as a temp - almost six months for those of you who don't want to take out the calculator. A guy I work with started late March - today I was informed that we are both being hired on FTE.

This should be good news, right? Well, I guess it is - kind of. I mean, yay, benefits. But, at the same time I was informed that I would be taking over one of my co-workers duties, and he would be taking over H's.

I know this is Greek to you: Basically, what it means is that H., who used to be on the same channel, is a T2. As such, she has product launches that need to be off-loaded. Does the more experienced T1 (a.k.a. me, for those of you not in the know) get them? Nope. J gets them.

No wonder he was talking to me about T2 pay today - not only is he getting hired on, but it appears he is on track to be a T2.

And, yes, this upsets me, on several levels. One, that J is getting hired on after only two months, and it took them over five to make up their mind about me. Two, that even though I'm more experienced, they have more confidence in him to run a product launch.

Don't get me wrong: I love J, just like everyone else does. He's easy to like. Calm. Cool. Collected. Knowledge-wise, he's caught on quickly. But without intending to sound like the ugly step-sister, I know what he knows - and probably a bit more. The difference? I've made a few people unhappy on my team.

There are only two reasons why I know this: One, because J. gave me some gentle advice one day about a conversation he overheard after I left work one day. The guys (my whole team is guys - I am the only girl) were upset because I had disputed several Issue Noteds that were given to me.

What is an Issue Noted? It's a "training tool," used to identify mistakes made - which is sent to a QA Team, in the hopes that training would be built around commonly found mistakes. The other guys? When they get an Issue Noted, they move on. But when I get one due to faulty request details or incorrect information given to me, I send a return email back to the Issuer and the QA team, outlining why the mistake was made in the first place.

Simply put: The guys don't like having their part in the mistake highlighted.

I am not bitchy in these emails - I normally am as diplomatic as possible (for me) - but if I'm given the wrong information after I ask how to do a task, and that very same person who gave me the wrong information then writes me up for doing something incorrectly, well - let's just say homey don't play that game.

The reason I know this played into my FTE hiring being delayed and the T2 opportunity being given to J instead of me? Because my boss kind of let it slip - she said she knows that I take the Issue Noteds personally, and that the guys have come to her about that. She said she told them that they don't understand how "girls" feel - and that they tend to take criticism personally. I attempted to nip that in the bud.

I told her that I don't take them personally - and then I laughed and said that, well, not entirely true - in the beginning, when they were called Failed Audit or Failed Validation instead of Issue Noteds, I took them personally. I mean, who wants to see a big FAIL in their inbox when they get to work? But then I told her that yes, I realize the guys think I take them personally, but honestly, if they are the training tool we've been told they are, if X tells me to do something, and then X audits my work and says, "hey, you did this wrong," but I did it wrong because X told me to - well, then we both need to be trained, and the training issue doesn't lie solely with me.

My boss and J are Facebook friends. They IM on and off during the day, talking about movies and stuff. I know when it comes to personality, she simply likes him better. I can't fault her for that - I like him, too. He's a very likable guy. However, because he's so likable, I know that I am being punished for not being as likeable.

I know it takes a while for people to warm up to me. Believe me, I am self-aware. However, I feel that in this case, my work talents were overlooked because of a work relationship that became something more entangled - more personal. And also because J. doesn't dispute the Issue Noteds (even when he admitted to me that there were times he was also given bogus information) - he just rolls with the flow. So, the guys invite him to breakfast and IM him about game nights. But more than that, they used their power as T2s to influence his promotion over me.

I was in the Army, and for a couple of years, I was in a unit that was about 97% male. I know how the good old boy network works. And I feel as if I have been dumped right back into it. I could have taken J's advice and just kept quiet and ignored the bad information. Maybe if I had played nice, I would have gotten hired on sooner. Or been considered for the promotion.

But no - that's not me.

I have what I call First Child Syndrome - or as some people know it: Mommy likes you better than me. As a first child, life is just harder. Those are the scientific facts. Parents are harder on the first child. When they realize that the first child got through major events just fine, they ease up on the second child - they've become more comfortable with child rearing. Somehow though, that first child is still, well, going through firsts. By the time the second or the third comes on through, the parents have it down pat and have relaxed their discipline and their methods. However, this leaves the first child feeling as if Mommy and Daddy like the other kids better.

I went through my whole childhood thinking my parents loved my brother more than me. He got away with murder - I got away with nothing.

My brother was also smarter than me - and this isn't me being hard on myself - it's true. He was smarter. He was in the gifted minors program at school (I realize it's called something different nowadays, but back then that's what it was called). He had a high IQ. He made friends easily.

Life was never easy for me - in fact, I remember my mom saying to me once when I was young that I put in so much more effort than my brother ever did, and still everything came so much harder for me. She was talking about studies, but it really crossed over to everything, from taking me almost a year to learn how to tie my shoes to not being comfortable in my own shoes until I was in my mid-twenties.

At work, it is very clear that I am the ugly step-child. They don't hate me, but they haven't warmed up to me. And because I know this and can feel it, I am not comfortable at work - which just feeds into it.

So today, after being told I was being hired on FTE, instead of being happy, I found myself close to tears. My stomach was tied up in knots. J was going to be promoted - and here I was, six months into it, and still being thought of as the plodding team member, when in reality - if our work was compared side-by-side, it would show I get more done and get it done correctly more often than J. does.

I can't begrudge him this, though - I just wish Mommy liked me as much and saw my potential as well.

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