OMG Big Boss quit. I think his last week is next week. OMGOMGOMGOMG.
My panic is because last August QA guy quit to follow his wife's career in another city. He hasn't been replaced yet. Then at the beginning of December Boss was laid off. Oddly, laid off right on the cusp of a huge new contract. No replacement there either. Line Manager then quit last month because Owner has been spending more and more time on the production floor and criticizing every move LM made. It was too stressful (and LM wasn't able to remember procedures regardless of how many times she was shown, so Owner would get more and more snarky about it) so she quit. No replacement yet.
That leaves Big Boss and R&D Baker as the only source of management between me and Owner. Big Boss was an excellent buffer zone for me because he'd done my job in the past and knew that not only is it a job for two people, but that there has always been a man there because of the heavy lifting. He could confidently deflect people when they complained about my overtime (I can do about 12 hours of work in 8 hours so even if I'm running late I'm still well within the expected completion time). He would also jump to help me with anything from getting items for me that I have difficulty reaching (Shipper piles pallets on pallets so sometimes cream cheese is difficult for me to reach) to allowing me to arrange my schedule to deal with family stuff. And now he's leaving. OMG.
To keep matters interesting, R&D Baker and Owner are tight. R&D Baker and I get along ok but she's still new and doesn't have the same kind of respect or admiration for me that others do that have seen the way it used to be in Scaling before I got there. R&D Baker also goes around the plant watching how people do things and then tattles to Owner. No problem as long as you are doing your job correctly. Owner descends on you with all the force of the Devil himself if you are not, especially if she doesn't like you. Then, after you are made to feel insignificant and worthless, she re-trains you to do the job to her standard.
Now I'm pretty lucky with that. Owner likes me (for the moment) and I've learned how to halt this process with her. If I'm doing something like toasting coconut and she starts questioning why I'm doing it that way I head her off at the pass and say "oh, I'm sorry, will you show me how you would like it done?" without sarcasm or false sincerity. Then I do it exactly as she's shown me. If she is having a problem understanding why I am doing something different today compared to yesterday, I'll gently stop her ranting and say "wait, let's start at the beginning. I had two racks yesterday because there was a lot of ingredients to scale for cooking. Today I have only two recipes for cooking and only need one rack. So sometimes I use two, and sometimes one. Thank you for bringing me the second rack, but today I won't need it. Maybe they can use it for greased pans." She will get a bit flustered and say she'll put the rack in baking for the prep girls to use for greasing, like it was her idea.
So at the moment I have a pretty good relationship with Owner. I recognize that she is Alpha Dog in every sense of the word and unless I want a bloodbath it's better not to challenge her. Besides, my attitude is that this business is her livelihood. She built it up over 27 years from her garage and makes the best cakes on the market. To me this job is just that, a job, and if I can't do something to her specifications then I need to leave. It doesn't matter if she tells me to toast the coconut differently every time she sees me, it's my job to follow her instructions. I also know that Owner can flip her opinion of somebody with no warning and suddenly make your life extremely difficult. That is the main reason we have a Union, she would like somebody and then turn on them and fire people at her whim. While she likes me today I never forget that she could dislike me tomorrow, I never take advantage of her attitude, and I never forget that I am a replaceable employee.
But it was easier with my buffer zone of Big Boss. Now I feel like I'll be in the line of fire more often. Just because Owner's not picking on me today doesn't mean she won't eventually. Everybody has learned that, and everybody is grateful when her attention turns to someone else, including me. OMG I hope I stay on her good side.