Thursday, June 23, 2011

How will it end up being MY fault ?

I always have to be cautious in this blog when I choose to write about things related to my current occupation and workplace.  This is for two reasons:
#1. Several people I work with occasionally read this blog.
#2. Once posted, my words are available to come back and bite me in the butt if at any future point someone decides to use them against me.

Based on some recent events I've been forced to deal with, I am going to risk both of those reasons because I need to simply blow off the frustration I am feeling so I can move on and LET IT GO!

If you don't want to read a negative, venting blog ...
this is your warning to just leave now.

A little background is necessary to understand the reason for my extreme frustration.  My current work group is filled with *Blended reps (*this means they are equipped to handle sales and service calls), while the majority of our call center reps are **single-skilled (**sales only or services only).  This means that when our various support groups (think customer service for "internal" customers) are in need of additional or replacement staff, they prefer to take people from MY group because less overall training time is involved and those reps can make a much quicker, smoother transition to the different role.

Logic would suggest that keeping the "Blended" group fairly large would be a wise decision considering succession planning, etc. In this area I believe people in authority to make this happen have routinely dropped the ball.

Four years ago, I lost several members of my team to one of these support groups, which was sad for me but exciting in several ways for the reps involved because it was something they wanted to do.  After a period of time with a much smaller team, those "people" finally came to their senses and back filled our work group.  This is a necessary change and is actually exciting for lots of single-skilled reps because they get to expand their skill set.

Three years ago, the same work group came calling for more people.  Based on the newer Blended rep additions, there were a few more people that were interested in moving to that group, but not quite as many as the leader of that group would have liked.  That individual borderline pressured a few individuals to come and join the group (so he could fill his own hiring goals) and made some promises that he did not (and could not) keep.  Time passed and more time passed and still more time passed and about 18 months ago those "people" got their act together and finally blended some more people.

In less than 6 months after blending those additional reps, the same leader came calling, yet again, for more people to come join his ***unhappy campers group (***I call them this because many, not all, in that work group wish they didn't have to be there any longer.  I know this because they are not shy about saying so.  I also know this because 5 of my current 19 reps used to work in that group and LEFT the group because it was "not a good work environment" for them).  NO ONE and I do mean no one was interested in moving.  The newly blended folks didn't feel confident enough to take on more skills and the tenured folks in the work group had already passed up two opportunities to move ... soooo ... the leader went through some questionable practices to coerce several more people to move to his work group.  I wish I was being unfair in my assessment here, but I have spoken with three different individuals from that last group to transfer over and they all, independently, told the same story ... "I was promised this or that but once I got here I was told I must have misunderstood."  Bottom line: The "leader" got his people ... and there has been no "back fill" of Blended since that time.

 Last month, I was informed that this group had a "business need" for MORE people ... again!  The leader and those "people" had gone through the lists to identify individuals capable of and interested in moving to that group and ... surprise, surprise ... NO ONE was interested !!!

It is at this point that I no longer have concrete facts about what actually happened, but the historical behavior of this leader and this "people" suggest a fair amount of very poor decisions and planning related to this current situation (but you be the judge and tell me if what I've said so far is too jaded or one-sided).

Here is what has happened now:
 - Blended reps from my work group have been "tapped" to go and join this group.  Not asked.  Not encouraged or given false promises or unnecessary coercion ... forced.  You WILL be moving to that work group, thank you.
 - Single-skilled reps who ARE interested in going to that group have been turned down (on the basis that there is not sufficient time to train them on the new skill set and also on the sales or service skill set).
 - Those "people" have begun the selection process and scheduling for ... more people to become Blended.
 - I was put in the difficult position of being the messenger of the news of their forced move to these unfortunate 7 reps.

It is that last bullet that has me the most upset, at least on the selfish side of things ... because I am also livid at this leader and those people on behalf of these reps.  *These reps that are being forced to move are NOT happy.  They have threatened quitting and many of them have already turned down this group 3 times!  But somehow, in the eyes of the leader and those people, *THIS is going to end up being MY fault!  They will inevitably find a way to blame ME for not being capable of communicating this change and/or getting people excited about making a move they didn't want to make anyway!

I could go on and on (readers of my blog already know this ... and so does everyone I work with for that matter) ... but that about sums it up.  But here are a few questions I don't have answers to.  I think if they were answered sufficiently, then the true person responsible for this difficult situation would come to light ... and it would be either the leader or those people, but likely some combination of both!
 - What is the actual "business need" causing the continued expansion of this group?  Is it increased call volume?  Or could it be poor efficiency and accountability by this very leader with his current inflated staffing group?
 - Why is there such hesitation by this leader and these people to explain everything that has occurred in the process leading to this decision?  Do they simply not have answers?  Or are they afraid that the answers will clearly demonstrate their flawed logic and/or lack of planning or consideration of multiple solutions?
 - How are we able to find time to schedule training for new Blended reps, and yet at the same time NOT have sufficient time to train those single-skilled reps who WANT to move to this group into Blended?
 - Why would a work group have such a difficult time getting people to come and join them?  Is it because other people are bad-mouthing them?  Or is it possible that the work group actually has a terrible morale problem, likely not being sufficiently addressed by the leader of that group?
 - How can a supposedly effective leader NOT recognize the continuing need to expand his work group and therefore push those people to Blend more single-skilled reps in advance of the time they are needed so he has a sufficient pool of qualified candidates from which to select people?
 - And finally, why would a leader actively accept, seek after, push for, and choose to bring people into his work group that do NOT want to be there as opposed to bringing in people who DO want to be there and are eager to be taught?!

This blog post has allowed me to vent my frustration so I can begin the moving on process.  At the very least, it may be a cautionary tale for myself to consider if and when I am in a position of authority similar to that of this leader or those people.

A final thought for those of you that persevered through this post (or just skipped to the end to see if there was a punch line) ...
Everyone is an example.  It is up to YOU to determine if they are a good example or a bad one.  May you be blessed with the wisdom to discern the difference for yourself.


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