Monday, February 25, 2008

Who's the Boss of Me?

Been a while I posted about personal stuff.

Not that there was nothing to blog about, just that I really don't have much time. Strange how it's always when you don't have time to write that you have plenty of things to talk about. Then you wish you had tie to take a break to write everything down, and then...nothing. Because nothing's happening anymore.

That's why sometimes you have to call in sick at work.

And then blog about your job.

Allright, I'll probably quit this job in a few months, when it will be time to pack my planting gear and head up west to deliver some trees in Alberta, but I don't want to bash it senseless, so let's call this international call center company "Planetary" and it's Canadian branch would be called, hum, "Polar".

So I work for Polar since November, taking customer service calls for cell phone sold by a major grocery chain. Basically, they selected a phone company to sell their cell phone service using that comm company's network, who, in turn outsourced it to one of their subsidiaries so it would be way cheaper. And here we are!

Interestingly, I was contacted for an interview at the communication company two days after starting to work at Polar, but they couldn't hire me as they have an agreement not to steal their subsidiary's employees, which would be easy since the pay is better.

The job is not hard, and I worked in plenty of call centers, including in the cell phone industry so I quickly became a "floor walker", helping agents with answering questions, solving problems and issue, taking supervisor calls or approving credits. Decent work, pays a little better. A little later, about a month and a half into the job, my team manager suggested to apply for the opening team manager position, which I did. And I got the job!


But I'm still an agent! Why? Because our workforce is thinning so fast, due mostly to inflexible hours and low wages that it's somewhat useless to lose a good agent and have an additional TM when there's less agents taking calls than ever before, so they told me to wait until we get more employees.

So here's the funny part: Our call centre has three different contracts. Our grocery store cheap cell phone customer service, relay services for deaf people in a major, sunny, populated, celebrity-governed American state and a third contract, also for relay services for a major telecommunications company in the US. Let's call them "Hori-Zon", a service we'll call "GoUSA". Hori-Zon decided it was costly to operate its relay services in North America so they closed all the GoUSA call centers on the continent, operated by Planetary, and moved them to Planetary's Philippine centers, which are, let's agree, way cheaper to operate! So the GoUSA agents here in our Montreal center will find themselves soon without a job. Contrary to the US where the agents are simply laid-off, GoUSA agents will be transferred to new operations, including our cell phone customer service. Most of those agents are not billingual like our current staff, but 80% of our customers being anlglophones, it shouldn't be a major issue.

The issue is personal, as the TM job I've been promised, which will be necessary when all those new agents will make the move, will probably be given to one of the current GoUSA team managers. Basically, the job I've been promised by Human Ressources will be taken from me.

Not that I care, as I was thinking of going back to the bush even if I'd get the job...But let's admit it was easier to take the decision.

So, here's my situation: I have a team manager. I'm supposed to be one of them, but I'm equally bossed by the three managers in my department, as they share duties, and soon I'll be bossed by other TMs who dont know shit about the job they are being dumped into and that I would be supposed to be doing. I work for a service which is being outsourced by an outsourcer, making sure we don't have only one client to report to, but two, not counting our own hierarchy of people who never took a customer call in a call center before. I'm also being bossed by Service Assurance, who puts me back as an available agent, making sure I receive an unwanted called at the wrong time while I'm doing some follow-up for a major problem, as requested by one of my managers. And if I'm floorwalking, I'm being bossed by the same Service Assurance people to make sure my agents don't stay to long on "not ready" or taking too much time to take a call. Also, customers have a tendancy to try to get as much as they can from you, even when they know their requests are completely unreasonable.

So that makes about 8 different bosses.

Then I started getting ready for the planting season, so I first contacted last year's camp supervicor and regional manager, two bosses, to ask if they needed help. They referred me to Alberta's regional manager, as the camp superisor I went to help last summer wanted to have me. That's two more bosses. I talked to Alberta's regional manager who offered me the job, and then I got a email from one of the company's administrators to fill a bunch of online forms and training documents and send proofs of my various licenses and certification, and then report for training in Toronto at the end of april with the company's owners. That's three more bosses.

So I currently have about 15 bosses. Isn't it great? And then they wonder why everybody is stressed and pissed!

At least that girl I've met doesn't boss me...yet!

In the end though, I have the luck to be able to make choices, as I'm not bound by slavery or a mortgage, so I'm still somewhat in control of my life. But I admit I would love if I didn't have to report to that many people in my professional life. At least in planting, I might have a few bosses during pre-season, but as soon as we'll be in camp, I'll have one, a smooth dude who knows his shit, so everything should be okay.

Tupperfan's Guide To Useless Knowledge:
Did you know that phone center agents never hold their headsets in real life? But you'll often see beautiful, professional-looking people do so in ads. Do they think readers/viewers are dumb enough to not realize they are talking on the phone?!?

Time to go boss my cat. And time for her to not listen to all!

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