Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My manager pretends to be a nice guy. He does. Really decent, always smiling, wants you to be happy at work. Problem is that a) he was thrown into the role suddenly and without any background in the area and b) he spends his days in meetings, completely removed from the department, focusing on how we can "add capacity", or "improve process".

But like I said, he doesn't have any actual experience doing the work. When he (let's call him John) first started, he had a big mess to clean up courtesy of our previous manager. The one before...I don't even think I have the energy to go there. Anyway, John came in. And saw that we were all in a bad way. And he was full of ideas on how to get us out of our funk. But that was before s**t hit the fan.

Without giving too much away about where I work or even what I really do I will try to explain what is going on. Previously we were working as a kind of middleman, offering products to clients from companies that we represented. But then we got tired of that and thought that if we created our own product, backed by one company, we could make more money. Good idea in theory. In practice...makes a lot of work.

The idea was that month by month we would take the existing clients and kind of convert them to our new product.Well the problems started when the new system didn't give us the information properly which meant that we had to manually check all of the information against the new product. And manually fix all the errors. And there were a lot of errors. We hired new people. But new people, bless them, are cluless. And it takes time to train them. This training takes experienced people away from their roles and backs us up even more.

As a rule we try to work 30 days ahead. We are currently 13 days ahead? This is bad. But there is no help. We can't hire any more people. Some of the people that we do have, have no idea what they are doing and make costly mistakes. Some of these people are temps. And by nature their tenure should be temporary. We don't need a reason to get rid of them- we just can. That's the beauty of temps (unless you are one and then that's the worst part). For whatever reason we continue to hold onto these people, ones that make more work for everyone else.

Anyway. One of the things that John implemented when he started was weekly meetings to see where everyone stood. What your stress levels were at, what you needed from the team etc. It was supposed to make us feel more like a team and hopefully "create capacity" in areas where it was needed.

All good in theory. But there is no help available to offer. Everyone on the "team" is fully engaged in what they are doing, no one has any extra time to help anyone out. We are all behind. So why offer help? And when we are offering suggestions about how things could be better? He listens, but he doesn't hear- a crucial difference.
Classic example.Minion #1: "Is there a way that maybe we could get the reps to read the history in the system before they are emailing us questions that can be answered by reading the system history?"
John: "Who is giving you problems?"
Minion #1: "Frank, Alice, Jim, Phyllis..."
John: "Is it one person that is being a chronic offender?"
Minion #1: "Frank, Alice, Jim, Phyllis..."
Minion #2: "Ali, Bill..."
John: "Ok if its one person talk to their direct manager, if it IS the manager talk to one of your supervisors. But don't spend a lot of time fighting them. We don't know what its like for them...."
Minion #1: "Could we just send a general reminder email?"
John: "Well we don't want to make more work for them."

Really? We don't want to encourage them to do their jobs??? Why not? What are they doing if they aren't doing their jobs? Playing checkers?I think that the most frustrating thing about this is that the meeting wastes an hour of everyone's ability to work. And then we each had an individual follow up meeting repeating what we just went over in the original meeting. Now we have lost...an hour and a half of productivity. Awesome.I could go on, but I think that you get the idea.

Mismanagement at its finest folks.

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