I had quite a typical conversation with my direct manager this morning. She has, from time to time, looked to modify what she perceives as my overly insistent ways. We have very different philosophies on this, mine being tread softly, smile, but be ready with a cosh. Hers is tread softly, smile, and go with the flow. Basically I figure my job – continuous improvement – is antithetical to going with the flow. I’m here to find a better way, and that will necessitate changing the flow.
In any case, she thinks I go too hard sometimes, but as it’s almost impossible to get anything done in this place I figure I have no choice but to be persistent (which comes naturally), and often to the point.
The sacred cow in this organisation is Sales. They wield an unhealthy clout, getting the lion’s share of resources and influence. I get that they bring in the dollars, but having acquired customers we also need to manage them – seemingly a very distant second consideration in this organisation. More to the point some of the practices in Sales are unethical, counter-productive, and create a lot of extra re-work for the area I’m attached to, Ops.
I identified a serious issue a little while ago with potentially serious consequences. I advised the necessary people, including Sales, who are responsible for the function. When I received no response I sent another email and tried to call. When they went unanswered I went upstairs to speak to the manager responsible. The first two or three occasions he wasn’t at his desk. The fourth occasion he was there on his phone. Rather than risk losing him again I hung around, chatting to one or two others while I waited for him to get off the phone. When finally I got off the phone I was unsurprised to know he had hardly read my emails and knew little about it.
Last week I got feedback about this. Apparently he was upset at what he perceived as badgering him. I was amused more than upset. As I told my manager, if he answers my emails, my phone calls, then there’s no need to badger him – even if that could be legitimately construed as such. I told her that if I don’t keep at things then nothing ever happens. And I told her that I want them to know I’m on their tail. I’m not here about to be shaken off.
More than anything I felt contempt. What a trivial thing to complain about, especially when if they had done their job properly then there would have been no need for it. Even so, if they want to complain then I come from the old school that says you do it face to face, you don’t weasel with it dobbing someone in behind their back. What a softcock thing to do, I thought. As always in such circumstances, I smelt blood.
The problem is I’m told to backpedal. Can’t upset sales. They’ll black ban you if you keep this up. Really? I thought. How fucking ridiculous. That’s how fucked this place is, not only that that could happen, but that people could go along with it. Unfortunately my manager – who used to work in Sales – is the Neville Chamberlain of this joint, but there’s a cabinet of other appeasers. There are those out of step with that, but we’re all the newer people who have come in from other places.
Bottom line, I made my point sufficiently that Sales ultimately decided to do something about my concerns, but not until the next financial year. Apparently they have to figure out what the sales impact will be if they provide accurate figures – says it all really.
As for the guy that complained – I’ll reckon I’ll give him a cheesy grin next time I see him, but he’ll know I’m onto him.