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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    246

    Default A Coworker Vent; Advice Needed

    Ok, so this is my first time posting a vent here so please bear with me.

    I love my job. I work at a farm that raises performance Quarter Horses and also dabbles in racehorses. I don't ride western all that much, but my primary job is to handle the broodmares, breeding, foaling, and horses under two years of age. We have a great facility and the owner trusts me enough that I can do pretty much whatever is good for the program. There are ~25 broodmares and one stallion so I have plenty to keep me busy.

    Enter new employee- his job is to start the two year olds and do general ranch foreman tasks. He comes from a very cowboy direction but is very patient and kind to the horses and quite a good rider. My problem is that he thinks that everything that I do is dumb.

    He has decreed that we can only use rope halters because regular nylon halters with leadropes are the devil (I use leather at home which would really freak him out). I turned a horse around and unloaded her without backing out of the trailer; this also is wrong. Of course, I did it because this broodmare loves to blast out of the trailer backwards very fast and I am trying to teach her some patience. He calls every morning to make sure that I have fed the horses that I am responsible for. Seriously. He installed an inner tube to teach the weanlings to tie (they already tie) but it is at the top of a tall non-horsey safe panel that when they "spring" forward is perfectly spaced to get legs caught in.

    Lastly, he dislikes anything that isn't a 14.2 hand cowhorse. The breeding program ranges from cowhorses to race bred Quarter Horses and we are even buying some quality sprinting Thoroughbred mares at Keeneland this year to add some speed to the mix. The goal is all around performance horses and it is a really well planned program. Any horse that has noticeable TB in it (they are all AQHA registered) is automatically a cull in his mind.

    I come from a varied riding background. I started out riding western and have barrel raced and even trained a few barrel racers for people. In college I got into polo loved it. For a few years I legged up polo ponies and played a lot of green horses for higher goal players. I have worked at a top racing Quarter Horse farm and for a repro vet for several years. Out of college I kept playing polo/polocrosse and have a small TB racehorse farm of my own. It just ruins my day to be treated like a complete novice and have every minor decision I make picked apart.

    How do I deal with him in such a way that makes my awesome job stay awesome for me? I am at a loss.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2000
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,899

    Default

    Unless he does something that is dangerous, the best response is "Thank you. I'll keep that in mind" (the professional version of "bless your heart").

    If you try to explain, justify, counter his comments, you will simply prolong the discussion. If you don't engage, he will (eventually) quit making comments.

    *star*
    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
    Posts
    5,392

    Default

    If he says something to you, just tell him you appreciate the advice and keep doing what you're doing. He's not your boss, so he really doesn't have a right to tell you what to do.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2009
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    694

    Default

    Sounds like he wants to be alpha horse. You need to be clear about your job boundaries and guard them against his intrusions. If he's paid to start 2 yr. olds, then he doesn't need to concern himself with the broodies or weanlings. The advice offered by Shotenstar and KateKat should serve as a figurative sharp yank back on his leadrope.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2003
    Location
    Dallas, Georgia
    Posts
    17,020

    Default

    As Shoten said: "Thank you. I'll keep that in mind" (the professional version of "bless your heart").

    Then add "With all due respect, I have been hired and am paid to do XYZ and unless the Owner/Manager tells me I'm doing it wrong or asks me to change something, I shall continue in this manner. If YOU have a problem with it, I suggest you inform the boss. If not, please mind your job and I shall mind mine.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    7,022

    Default

    What a bloody idiot.

    I'd suggest ignoring him at all times and doing things "your way".

    He sounds the perfect example of a very small mind, no breadth of experience and the mentality that fits the observation, "To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail"
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 8, 2004
    Posts
    4,412

    Default

    I agree with Chocomare. It would be great if you could just ignore his comments and stay focused on what you do best, but if he is trying to pull some alpha dog maneuver and undermine your authority/position, you will do well to give him a gentle but firm verbal slapdown the next time he makes a disparaging comment about the TBs or tries to push you into doing something that endangers the horses, like the tieing situation you describe. Don't let him undermine you.

    If you are prepared in advance, and you make yourself stay cool, just look him square in the eye and with a velvety smooth, confident, non-confrontational response, let him know that you've heard him, and it's great that he has so many suggestions, but we just don't do things that way because it's dangerous and then explain why.

    If he is a macho control freak, you'll figure it out pretty quickly and if his ideas about crossbreds and training could endanger the horses, you should go to your boss and voice your concerns immediately before he can do much damage. But if he is just the new guy trying to find his way, showing off his horse smarts to impress you and he responds to your reminder that you are not his employee, maybe you can eventually find some common ground.

    Good luck.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,372

    Default

    You mentioned that his job is to handle starting the 2YO's...but you also mentioned "Ranch Foreman"...is that like barn manager at your facility? If so, it sounds like he was hired in "above" you and therefore, he's the supervisor--you're not equals.

    If that's the case, then I think you need to do what he asks with regards to handling/training unless you feel that it's dangerous to you or the horse. If he's asking you to do things that you feel are dangerous, you should take that up with the owners/his boss.

    If I've got that wrong and you ARE equals, then I agree with what some of the others have said as far as "I'll keep that in mind"...

    BUT, in my experience, when people are trying to come in and make a power play, it's often best to just pull them aside and give some verison of, "Look. I'm glad you joined our team and I'm excited to work with you. That said, I was hired to do X and have been doing so for some time. We need to find a way to work together in the best interest of this business and the horses. If you can explain to me why something NEEDS to be done a certain way, I'll certainly consider it....but I've had good luck doing things the current way and I intend to continue for the most part. You do your thing, I'll do mine, and we shouldn't have any issues. Okay?"

    I hate alpha crap.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
    Posts
    3,589

    Default

    No, I disagree. Don't ignore this and don't let it linger on. You need to sit down all together - you, the BO and the new hire. You can be very nice about this. I would go along the lines of "It's great that there is more help around the place now, it really should make things much easier. The other great thing is that we have such varied backgrounds we should be able to bring the best of both worlds to the farm. However, just so that I don't tread on your toes, I thought it would be best if we all sat down and really worked out what the roles and responsibilities are going forward. If we can do this then we should make sure that we don't have any duplication of tasks and nothing gets left out."

    In preparation of this discussion I would have clearly written out your expectations and what you think both of you do. You don't need to present this, but you need to have it clear in your head and then at the meeting you can actually jot down the different ideas and make sure that they are documented.

    This is something that I have gone through very recently in a corporate environment and rather than continuing to be highly frustrated and feeling put down, which you will, to the point you will leave, it is better to really have this discussion upfront and clear the air.

    I also think that going forward when you run into a situation where he tells you to change something that you call him on it. Don't be aggressive or defensive, perhaps ask him to explain why he would prefer it done this way and then explain why you have done it the other way. So, for example, on the rope halters, perhaps it would have been good to say "that's really interesting about the rope halters. We have always used nylon halters because of x, y and z however, I would be really interested in understanding the benefits of rope halters :-)" - you never know, maybe there really is a good reason for some of his things and maybe he is clueless about others and can learn from you. On the mare you could maybe say "Oh gosh, I know what you mean about backing the horse out of the trailer. It must be difficult to come to a new barn and see things being done differently from what you are used to. The reason I am turning this mare around is because of .......................... Hopefully she will settle down after a bit and then we can revert to backing out".

    The key is to make this guy your ally rather than your enemy. Two sayings jump to mind "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer" and "kill him with kindness". He might just have some great ideas, the initial difficulty is going to be not trying to compete with each other but trying to work out each other's strengths and using them to your advantage.

    Good luck! I know it's a tough situation.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
    Posts
    3,589

    Default

    Just read Buddyroo - completely agree.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2000
    Location
    Out of the loop
    Posts
    2,932

    Default

    Good post from BuddyRoo.

    I have run into very similar scenarios a few times over the course of my professional life. Tried a few tactics and this is the one that worked best:

    Coworker: You really oughta blah blah blah ...
    Coloredhorse: (Fix CW with level stare) CW, I do not pester you while you are doing your job. I expect the same level of professional courtesy from you.
    CW: Well, I was just sayin' ...
    CH: Irrelevant. I understand what my job duties are. I assume you understand what yours are. Do we need to make an appointment with Mr. Big Boss to clarify this? No? Good.

    As long as you are calm, cool, collected and repeat like a broken record, this will work. And if there really is an issue and the division of labor needs to be clarified ... book that meeting with Mr. (or Ms.) Big Boss!
    Equinox Equine Massage

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
    -Albert Camus



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    246

    Default

    Thanks for all of the replies and good advice. To clarify, he starts the two year olds and the ranch foreman stuff is related to the cattle ranch that sort of overlaps the horse operation. He fixes fences, works cattle, bales hay, etc. He is in charge of the cattle ranch workers and the general maintenance people as well. The breeding farm and the training farm are two different locations but everyone ends up traveling down the road to the other farm once or twice a week for various reasons.

    I asked the owner today what he would like me to do: go about by business the way that I usually do or bow to new employee's every whim. He said just keep doing your usual job and don't worry about it. I just need to get over the hump of being constantly stopped and corrected. It DOES get to me though because eventually I start to feel like I must be the blithering idiot that he takes me for.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,372

    Default

    Well in that case, "Look buddy. I was here before you, and I'll be here long after you're gone. So just simmer down and let me do my job and I'll let you do yours. K?"
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 4, 2006
    Posts
    2,954

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lindsay_aggie View Post
    Thanks for all of the replies and good advice. To clarify, he starts the two year olds and the ranch foreman stuff is related to the cattle ranch that sort of overlaps the horse operation. He fixes fences, works cattle, bales hay, etc. He is in charge of the cattle ranch workers and the general maintenance people as well. The breeding farm and the training farm are two different locations but everyone ends up traveling down the road to the other farm once or twice a week for various reasons.

    I asked the owner today what he would like me to do: go about by business the way that I usually do or bow to new employee's every whim. He said just keep doing your usual job and don't worry about it. I just need to get over the hump of being constantly stopped and corrected. It DOES get to me though because eventually I start to feel like I must be the blithering idiot that he takes me for.
    My former job was exactly like this. I could have almost written your post.

    Don't you *dare* think of yourself as a blithering idiot. Do not under any circumstances let him undermine your self confidence. It is so damaging and you are better than that. I did and it was a big mistake. I'm still affected by it. Luckily for me I found a job where I was appreciated and trusted as the intelligent, experienced, good-sensed horsewoman I am. My advice to you is to nip this in the bud, stat. You can do it.

    When I finally gave my notice after months of that kind of treatment, and transitioned into my new job where they have 110% implicit trust in me, it was like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I never realized how much it affected me until I got out.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 6, 2002
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    6,115

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lindsay_aggie View Post
    I just need to get over the hump of being constantly stopped and corrected. It DOES get to me though because eventually I start to feel like I must be the blithering idiot that he takes me for.

    Errr.. I'd suggest that if he continues to impede you from doing your job, that you bring it up to the boss again and maybe ask if he can have a word with the guy about staying out of your way. You're less productive if he stops you at every turn to tell you what you're doing wrong, and how you ought to be doing it. Ask me how I know this. It takes twice as long to do a job you already know how to do with some blithering idiot babbling on about how you're doing it wrong, getting in your way.

    Or, just don't let him stop you. He can run his mouth off, wasting HIS valuable work time, while you continue to do your job the way your boss has agreed is right. Smile and nod.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
    Posts
    14,495

    Default

    permit me to share a trick I learned from a Doc I used to work for, in her barn...if she asked Donny to hand her a halter, and I did it instead, she ignored me ... and waited for Donny to hand it to her.
    I learned quickly to Mind My Own Biz, and do as I was told

    so one approach might be to let him say his piece, ignore it, and go on like nothing happened. Just go on about your day. He'll be confused as hell, and may call you on it- in which case you politely say, you do it yours, I do it mine, it's all good. and walk away.

    He's testing your bounds, so just set them. The boss gave you a thumbs up to carry on, carry on. It won't take long.



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