November 29, 2023 at 9:18 am

‘None of us were in the same city as him.’ Cocky Manager Blows $6K On An Unnecessary In-Person Meeting

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Reddit/AITA

If you’ve never worked in a government job, it can be impossible to understand the culture and how things will always work.

So, if you’re an outsider coming into a management role, taking the time to learn how employees do things should be top of your list.

OP has worked for the government for some time, and was sad to see a good manager get promoted (but happy for the guy). When it was announced their replacement would be someone from the corporate world, he was wary.

I work for a government department. We have offices and locations all over the state. I’m based out of a city that’s about a two and a bit hour train ride to our head office.

At the time I was working in a team that had members working remotely all across the state, looking after policy, process, and quality assurance.

Our old manager had gone and gotten himself promoted for being genuinely brilliant at his role.

So our new manager, Steve, was hired in from the glorious world of banking, and he was here to whip us “lazy public servants into shape”.

He found that wariness justified when the guy insisted everyone meet at the head office in person, despite being told they usually did things online and it would cost time and money to make it happen.

A few days after he began his role, he called us all to a teleconference to inform us he wanted all of us to be at the head office 8am, tomorrow morning for an all day in-person team meeting.

He wanted to see us in “meat space”, to “size” us up, understand what we were doing, and see where we “weren’t keeping up with the private sector”.

As I mentioned, due to the nature of the work we were doing, we were all across the state. So in-person, whole team meetings were rare and if they occurred at all, they were booked weeks in advance. We were all adept at videoconferencing looonnnnngggg before COVID.

Some of us tried to tell our new high-flyer manager that almost none of us were in the same city as him, and to be there on such short notice would mean travel expenses, meal allowances, overtime etc.

The new boss didn’t care. So, they all made plans to travel, eat, and work overtime at the company’s expense.

He didn’t seem to care, and told us in no uncertain terms to “just be at head office tomorrow at 8am” before abruptly hanging up.

Now, I should explain something. I’m one of a handful of union delegates in our department. I know our award back to front, specifically the sections dealing with travel, allowances, and overtime. So I engaged malicious compliance mode, if Steve wanted us there fine, but it’ll cost him.

So I quickly went about emailing my team what Steve had done by requiring us to be in the Head office at 8am and what to do.

Because we’d have to travel outside our normal work hours, our work day clock started ticking the moment we left our homes and only stopped once we got home.

The meeting definitely could have been an email.

Some of our team travelled overnight, they were entitled to overtime to travel, a dinner allowance, and accommodation for the night, and the same returning. As someone travelling in the morning before 7am, I was entitled to a breakfast allowance, lunch allowance, and if I got home after 9pm, a dinner allowance also.

So, I left my house at 5am to catch the only train that would get me there in time. The train was running slightly behind, but I made it in time. So my first 3 hours of my work day down and I’d done no work.

After a brief period of us introducing ourselves to Steve, he proceeded to spend the next 4 hours telling us about all of the things he did at the bank, how he made so much money for them, where they’d sent him as a holiday bonus, how we’re all stuck in the past in the public service, the work he’d seen wasn’t up-to “private sector standards” etc. He had all the sureness of a finance bro who had always failed upwards because others had picked up his slack.

By 3pm my entire team were into overtime pay territory, and Steve was just warming up with his non-charm offensive. Another 3 hours go by with Steve verbally patting himself on his back, deeply in love hearing his own voice, but all I hear is ‘cha-ching cha-ching’.

Steve decided that 5pm was a good time to finish up. He stopped mid sentence, looked at his watch, and unceremoniously said “that’s all for today. Go home now” and walked out.

The guy tried to argue when the expense reports began to flood in, but OP and his team knew the union was on their side.

After I and a few other gave a few awkward shrugs to each other, we all packed up and started to make our seperate ways home after doing no work all day.

I, myself got to the train station pretty quickly, and saw a train was leaving soon that would get me home around 8pm… or I could catch the all stations train and get home closer to 9:30pm.

You know what? No matter how fast I could run, I just couldn’t catch that earlier train, damn I’d just have to catch that all stations train and be on the clock for another hour and a half, plus have my dinner paid for. Such rotten luck! 😉

I submitted my claims the next day, 4 and half hours at double rate, my train tickets, my taxi fares to and from the train station, my breakfast, lunch, and dinner allowances. For me alone it was close to a $500 expense claim. The rest of my team followed suit, and ensured they claimed everything too.

Steve tried to fight us on approval for the claims, but quickly learned that unlike in the world of banking, most public servants are union, and we’d raise living hell if he denied our award guaranteed allowances.

Needless to say, he didn’t last.

His all day Steve-fest symposium, blew a good $6000 hole in his budget. Needless to say, while Steve was our manager, he never required us to attend an in-person meeting again — videoconferencing was just fine.

He only lasted 6 months before “leaving for new opportunities”… he just went back to his old job at the bank. Guess he was the one who couldn’t keep up.

I wonder if anyone on Reddit has some government experience…

This manager says teams succeed and fail as a group.

Source: Reddit/AITA

Because ideally, we’re all working toward the same goal.

Source: Reddit/AITA

This person finds the whole thing pretty amusing.

Source: Reddit/AITA

This is also very good advice.

Source: Reddit/AITA

I think this Reddit sub should be required reading.

For new managers, anyway.