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Who moved my office?

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  My department recently moved to a new building. Initially, everyone received a printout showing where our offices would be located. However, our boss decided to reconfigure the office assignments based on job responsibilities. I was given an office that was originally designated for “Judy.”  Judy seems offended by this change. I think she blames me for the decision, even though I had nothing to do with it. Now I’m starting to feel guilty.  How can I fix this? — Not My Fault

Marie's Answer: Change a company’s strategic direction, and employees won’t say a word. But rearrange offices, and all hell will break loose!  People take any change to their work spaces very personally.  Here are steps you can take that may help mend your relationship with Judy:

•    Tell your boss that there seems to be a misunderstanding about why he modified the office assignments, and then ask him to review his reasoning with everyone. Hearing a logical explanation may help to blunt your colleague’s emotional reaction.

•    Next, assure Judy that you never lobbied for this particular office. Reiterate your boss’s rationale for the change and indicate that you hope there are no hard feelings. 

•    After that, just let it go and give her time to recover from her disappointment. Unless Judy is extremely immature, she will eventually stop mourning her loss, and your relationship will get back on track. 

Whenever employees will be personally affected by a change, managers need to carefully plan the implementation process. For some Office Coach suggestions on change management, see How to Help People Accept Change.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Moon1234 March 25, 2010 at 1:48 am

Another thing to consider is a vindictive, controlling boss. I have one who is moving me from my office (which HE gave me when I started) to a cubicle. His only excuse was so people could better find me. I have been in the same office for three years and everyone knows where to find me.

I personally believe that the real reason is to make himself feel superior. He is putting me in cubeland outside his office. My former “office” will be left vacant. I recently completed some well received (by management) projects that he was unable to claim a lot of credit for. My Boss is an Indian from India and I have to endure his stupid, Manager is holier than though, cultural ****.

I am looking for a job as the atmosphere, at least for me, feels very toxic. I literally feel physically sick about the move. I work in IT and have found that somehow the total ******** get into the management positions and stay there solely by claiming credit for the work of their subordinates. For the true managers out there who value their subordinates, I applaud you. For the rest of us, we just have to make work go quickly enough so we can leave prision and head home to our families.

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celt365 August 27, 2009 at 9:17 am

I don’t think it’s being territorial. It’s more a concept of where others can find you. In the question above, Judy probably let everyone know that they would be able to find her in the “third office on the right” after the move. She then had to go back to all those folks and tell them a different location and perhaps was asked why. It can be very confusing and I’m sure that “Not my fault” is now having to say something like “No, Judy’s now on the fourth office on the left. We had a last minute change.” which not only interupts her work but delays the person looking for Judy.

Good luck to both Judy and Not my fault. I hope they can both work together and smile about the confusion their boss created.

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Liz August 27, 2009 at 9:06 am

You’re right – all hell will break loose. We had an older, long-term employee who complained bitterly and loudly for months to everyone who passed by her office (and it’s on the main corridor of the building). The only answer is patience, patience, patience. She eventually accepted the change. She might still be bitter but she no longer feels the need to vent.

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Barb. August 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm

The problem I’ve had with bosses making these changes is that what seems logical to them, doesn’t to everyone else.

In my current position, I went from a receptionist position with a 6-drawer desk in one buildings, then was moved to a different position, different building and a 4-drawer (in 2 different locations), and then moved down to a 2-drawer in an even different location in the second building. I’ve learned to just deal with the moves, my bosses were not able to logically explain any of them.

Now I’m behind a cubicle wall, which I’ve never had before because the other area had to be “kept open” for a potential future move of a third person for our office space from the main office – it’s been 2 yrs & that person has yet to be moved. I’ve gotten used to my changes, but my co-worker who was originally playing musical desks with me had a hard time on each individual one. He originally wanted to move the entire desk to the new locations. All the 4-drawer desks are the same, so I convinced him that it would be more prudent to just move the desk contents and computers.

People become so territorial, anymore. It is such a security thing, when did people become so insecure about being a good worker who is more than just filling a space. My competence and ability to work on my own earned me the first move (a 30 mile transfer) to where I am the only person working outside the main office and have a large area to cover by myself, a LOT more responsibility, and can mostly arrange my own schedule. Plus I received a $500 a month raise for my change.

People need to understand that sometimes the boss is noticing who they can rely on and want them closest at hand, also. Even though she didn’t have any say in the move, she should feel some pride in the fact that the boss has chosen to put her where he did.

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