Well, I may have made a mistake in taking this new job that’s been keeping me from blogging. It’s not the work, the work is the fun part. Getting inside servers and figuring out what might be going wrong is kinda cool. Like a math problem or a puzzle, one that you’re being paid to solve. No, it’s the people. Some of my coworkers are bullies.
This particular job involves resolving network issues reported by the helpdesks of very large companies. A lot can go wrong with that stuff, and some of the tools for investigating and fixing those problems are antiquated or unreliable, or both. But that’s true everywhere and it’s not the problem here.
I can deal with those obstacles, but my class was the first in years to be hired and the employer fucked up, they didn’t have the tools set up and available for us to learn how to do some basic things.
You know, I’m done making excuses for these guys, they should have figured that out and fixed it or adjusted. I could, I can go in with a snip tool and Microsoft paint and make illustration and text showing each step, in an organized methodical manner. I know this is possible because I did it on one of the few processes I was able to master early on, and sent the illustrated file, kit and caboodle, to a trainer offering to help out and work with him to do it for every issue of note. I even offered to do it on my own time to help out the next class and give my classmates a useful resource.
There are other solutions, other ways to efficiently help new people. Say for example, create a group chat for us. Have one or two veteran agents or supes in that chat, ready to help as much as they can online and ready to actually get off their ass and go to the new person’s desk and show them stuff if need be.
Most importantly, management should be expected to set a positive example, give that new person the confidence to ask questions, let them feel the full benefit of having decades of experience just a mouse click away.
But they don’t do any of this, and a new person like me has zero power to make it happen by my lonesome.
There are roughly one to two dozen important processes that we FNG’s needed to know and couldn’t learn in training because of that fuck-up. Each process has somewhere around ten to twenty steps to do and there are little offshoots, things that could go wrong along the way, that might involve knowing how to do another set of steps. It varies widely, sometimes it’s a combo of powershell commandlets and knowing what resources/tools to use to check and edit attributes, sometimes it’s recognizing a known issue and sending the customer an update or hot fix provided by the software company, sometimes it’s a real clusterfuck that involves setting up a virtual meeting with network engineers to investigate, and then just keeping the customer informed on progress made or logs needed.
These processes and steps and logs aren’t any more scary or intimidating than the first time you set up a profile and add a photo on Facebook. To do them fast and accurately by yourself simply requires familiarity. They’re the kind of thing a person is able to do mostly unsupervised after the first five or ten times and gets totally wired after a couple of dozen times.
Since that portion of the training wasn’t available, we had to learn those procedures on the fly. Which means we need sustained, intensive, one-on-one help for some of it and quite a bit of hands on checking and oversight on most of it, at least for the first dozen or so times we do it.
But for some reason, our co-workers, the people who had been there several years, the people we have to ask for help … it started out as edgy teasing, then it got uglier, fast, and spiraled right out of control. Out of the 30 or so tech agents, I’d say a good ten of them are total assholes and the training and leadership vacuum allowed those assholes to set the tone. Workplace group bullying would be the best way to describe the result.
Almost overnight it became acceptable, fully sanctioned and at times led by management, to mock us, scold us, give us greasy back-handed compliments, or just react with open contempt. Even if we ask a question of someone who is “safe”, an asshole might overhear and chime in with assholiness, even if I IM a question, it might get out, and suddenly I’m the center of ye olde rapid fire question routine.
“Didn’t-you-read-the-XYZ” (Yes but nothing relevant came up when I tried to search it and –) “Stop-with-the-excuses!” (Hey look, I apologize if this frustrates you, but I have the customer on hold and he’s asking if–) “Gawd! Why are you so defensive? What’s wrong with you!?” The good old lose-lose you can’t win scheme beloved by bullies all over. It’s been a long, long time since I witnessed this kind of behavior, but if memory serves, once it starts it doesn’t generally stop on its own, and no one is lifting a finger to stop it. Quite the contrary.
My last paycheck was real short. It was short because we new people didn’t have the right kind of log on for part of the pay period, which is why I created and carefully kept track of my hours on a spreadsheet conveniently located in a public folder available for anyone to check 24/7. That’s why I repeatedly asked my supe to be sure and review those hours, the supe just didn’t get around to it in time. And you know what? I’m OK with that, it happens. But the way I found out it would be short was when it was announced in front of the entire room and two supes stood around chuckling wondering aloud if there was anyway they could pin it on me. That’s out of line man, in every way, and think what kind of message it sends?
The double standard and hazing is so pronounced I honestly thought it was some kind of dry joke at first. An employee with zero management responsibilities from across the room suddenly decides to loudly lecture a new person about having a cell phone visible, while that same employee is texting and selecting songs on their own cell phone. A supe publicly calls out a pregnant classmate — I kid you not — for going to the bathroom too often, while three veteran employees walk by 20 minutes late from lunch laughing and joking loudly about stopping for extra milkshakes. But they got one for everyone on the team! Well, except for the noobs …
If you think I’m not exaggerating, think again; one of my classmates, a talented, tech savvy, customer service ninja in her last job, got so fed up with it that she ran out with tears in her eyes, never to return. That should have been a red-flag for me (It should have been a red flag for management. Right then and there, a viable, professional operation would have wanted to know what the fuck just happened to the trainee they had just sunk weeks of training and pay into). But I told myself and counseled my classmates to hang in there, it was just some good-natured hazing, the veterans would warm up to us eventually.
I’ve been to HR, in person, to ask for advice. I was waved off and given an 800 number. I’ve called the 800 number several times and sent emails, only to get useless automated responses.
The really disappointing thing is I’m not learning much, mostly because I dread asking questions. I now dread going to work, dread every call or ticket, because it might be something I need help with. So a few days ago I called in sick and went on some job interviews. A couple of offers came through, the best one starts at the end of July. And that’s pretty much that, it’s sad but that’s where I’m at. It’s like something out of middle school, except these clowns are plenty old enough to know exactly what they’re doing and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.