Saturday, March 14, 2009

Boss ultimatum letter -- get me the finished application by Monday, "or else."

I have a follow-up to my last post. I came home on Friday after working hard all day on the patent application (I completed it, with the exception of having the paralegals write up a few of the figures), and I realized after I left that I didn't write my boss a status update letter like I usually do -- this was never a requirement, but I have been doing so as a way to cover my butt (Ahuva) and to keep a track record of the work I did as he's been trying to remove me from my position from the day I first took off early on a Friday for Shabbos.

My boss and I haven't spoken in days which appears to be the kind of silent treatment he has a history of giving his employees before they get called in for the "you're fired" meeting. No sweat, I thought. I had nothing to lose because I understood that this would have happened regardless of whether I did good work (which I believe I did *if* he ever read it) or poor work. I told my wife that I do believe I was sabotaged here, first with my boss killing off every project I was involved in, and then cornering me about this application and wasting my time making changes to the instructions without even reading my work.

So doing the responsible thing, having completed the specification for the patent and the figures (with a few exceptions which I described above), I decided to log into my work e-mail remotely and write my boss a status letter so that he can take a look at my work just in case he wanted to. As I was writing him my e-mail, he wrote me a short ultimatum letter, something like "I expect to have a completed application on my desk first thing Monday morning, or else." After reading that, I saw where his thinking was headed, and so I decided to add a paragraph saying the unsaid things. In short, I am no longer afraid or intimidated by him. He cannot hurt me or intimidate me any more. I have pasted the letter I wrote back to him below.

Dear [Boss],

Since our discussion, I made some good progress re-writing the specification from the point of view you suggested. With a few exceptions which I will list below, the figures appear to be in order, and the specification has advanced almost to the point where we will be able to review the application on Monday together and present it to the client for his suggestions. The next due date would have been 3/15/09, but even with that falling out on a Monday, I am of the understanding that even though we wanted to be prepared to submit the application by then, you did not send the set of claims I sent you last week on to the client for approval and thus even without the required back-and-forth discussions that you said would have had to take place with regard to the specification, we would still not make this deadline.

The last thing that needs to happen before I give the application to you for review is that contrary to me trying to consolidate the figures from the initial specification, I came to the conclusion this morning that all of the figures relating to the XYZ system should be included for the disclosure to be complete, and that it would have been way too time consuming and complex to try to move forward without them unless you wanted to remove the entire XYZ system from the invention which in my opinion would go against what the client is looking for. Thus, when Bonnie returns Monday from her daughter's wedding, I will have her create the figures from one of the templates we have, unless you are able to retrieve them from the client because the copies we have are inadequate for use.

Lastly, I was thinking about what you said about me "spinning my wheels" with regard to the specification. I am hesitant to say this, but I do feel as if my wheels were spun because I feel as if I had different instructions at each point of writing and re-writing the specification. Had we sat down initially and discussed the figures rather than having me draw them up without review and then write the specification around them only to find out that the figures were not correct causing me to have to review and rewrite much of the application, and had we gone step-by-step and you reviewed my work as I went along as this was the first specification I have written for you, I believe many of the billed hours could have been spared.

All this being said, I do believe you will get a complete draft by Monday morning, but there is almost no chance you'll get the figures that Bonnie will have to write up when she returns.

Have a good weekend,
Zoe Strickman

I must add that I found it interesting (and a bit amusing) that my boss wrote me the ultimatum e-mail long after I left on Friday knowing (hoping?) that I wouldn't have received it until I got into the office Monday morning; that way, he could argue that had I been at work until 5pm like every other employee should be, I would have received that e-mail and if I were a dedicated employee, I would have worked through the weekend (even abandoning the Sabbath if necessary) to get the application on his desk by the time he asked for it. Obviously that is not going to happen, as my part of the application is complete and I am not the paralegal who draws the figures.

Let's see what comes of this now...

1 comment:

Ahuva said...


Challenging your boss, even if you are right and he's out to get you because of the shomer shabbos issue, is NOT a good idea. Think of this job as a training ground where you learn to "play the game." You must appear to be the perfect, diligent, dedicated employee under any and all circumstances. I'm starting to think that's the skill you're supposed to be learning at this job.

Don't tell him that your going to miss the deadline because of something that he did. Tell him that your part will be ready for the two of you to review Monday morning except for the tables which are necessary for [insert eminently reasonable explanation here]. That's all that needs to be said (and would have made his threatening email look pretty stupid.)

The whole spinning wheels thought should NOT have been put in writing. It probably shouldn't have been said at all, but it's always a bad move to challenge authority in writing unless you have a rock solid position within the company (and preferably some other people willing to back you up). The skill to learn is subtlety. The proper jab back at him for the threatening email is to send something Saturday night/early Sunday apologizing for not submitting your usual status report on Friday which would have noted that your work had been completed. That would have taken the wind out of his sails.

That last paragraph sounded like something a kid right out of school would have written (which you are-- but you can't afford to sound that way to your boss).

Sometimes you can't win. I was once fired during a power play between my boss and his boss, but I gave them fuel for the fire because I was young/inexperienced and recovering from a car accident. Looking back, there were many valuable lessons to take away from that miserable experience. Hashem puts us in these situations for a reason, after all.

Keep us posted.