Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Appreciation Society

Employers should never underestimate the power of two simple words. I may not have a long work history but what I have learnt in a very short space of time is how different organisations treat their employees. Let us take as an example my placement year with a medium sized solicitors. Although my manager did make an effort to thank me from time to time, generally it came across as disgenious and lacking conviction. After a heavy week in the office their remedy would be buy everyone two bottles of wine, which although might appease the (how do I put this?) more mature members of the company, did nothing but leave a bitter taste in my mouth. It was the poor management skills and lack of leadership in a crisis that proved to the be biggest bug to bare. In any case, (as I was told at the time) company culture is a big monster and very difficult to change (if at all) from the bottom up. Being a year placed in industry, this was an ideal time to come to grips with the office politics of a modern work place. Experience comes from both good and bad.

With time you know how you like to be valued by your employer and your view can differ slightly from the colleague that sits next you. I am all for incentives, put within a frame work for achieving both short term and long term objectives, but there is something far simpler. I have been writing this entry over the course of a few weeks. Adding a few lines each time, removing several paragraphs and then coming back a few days later to amend. Coincidently we have had situations arise at work which call for a big commitment from all members of the team and perhaps I can use this as a prime example.

What is the best way to get attention? You escalate your grievances to the highest possible level of the hierarchy. By doing so, you feel you will get your issue resolved with the utmost priority. Personally I think it takes slightly longer as so many people at the top of the chain have to know about the problem, what happened, what went wrong, who did what, who was responsible. In any case eventually on the helpdesk we are told to explain the issue and why it remains unresolved. Many people wonder why I work on a helpdesk, speaking to people all day and dealing with the negative aspect of our products. This does not work, these issues are incorrect, this report does not show the right information, why has this still not been mended? To this day it remains the joy in hearing over the phone, the smile of a satisfied customer. Sure enough, not everyone puts the phone down happy but more than most do. Frustrations I sympathize with, but customers need to understand that we are here to help and not a final crash barrier for their bad day. Ultimately if I am frank, my job is so superficial it goes against my own personal constitution. Why should I assist a representative in gaining their £2000 bonus for selling twenty units of X, Y, Z. I am all for rewarding hard work, but sales is a field I could never personally agree with. While I agree with the capitalist economy, I disagree with commission (in it's many forms). Perhaps my views would be different if I was spending all day trying to see a particular potential lucrative customer. Right, now to cut a long story short and keep the content as cryptic as possible. The MD this afternoon thanked me for my time working on the calls of said client. He appreciated that it was a difficult set of circumstances and working an extra hour into my evening was duly noted. When you are valued from the top, you feel pleased that your work, (clog in the big machinery if you will) is more than a number on the business payroll.

The pressure does not look to be off over the coming few months. If anything else the next period until September will be the busiest for us on the helpdesk. Perhaps because the bar has been raised to such a level that we are now expected to work miracles. I might not quite be able to walk on water, but expect to pull my socks up, get my head down and close some calls.

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