Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Friends at your job

It's been a long time since I made friends at my place of employment. Coming into this job back in 2004, I made a conscious decision to stay in my cubicle, keep to myself. Oh, that didn't mean I didn't chat with my colleagues, nor enjoy a circulated e-mail meme or the like. And, heaven knows, I've done my part with spreading jocularity at various appropriate times (and more than one inappropriate time, too).

But I've been a Help Desk Team Lead coming up on a year now, and I have 1½ people reporting to me (one of the people splits her time with another task). And try as I may, I've avoided being too friendly with them, but it is indeed hard to stay too separated from team members in such an organization.

The week before last, the gal who splits her time with me sent a request for training in regards to her other task to the Project Lead. Since it wasn't under my task assignments, I never saw the request. Her request was turned down, as the justification for the particular training wasn't specified (that the conference was being held on MARCOS ISLE, FL probably had nothing to do with the request being turned down....). Undaunted, this gal e-mailed her request - not up the food chain to the Division Manager, which would have made some sense - to a senior manager at the customer site. Coincidentally, this guy happened to be on site visit WITH OUR DIVISION MANAGER. Can you imagine how pleased the Division Manager was to be blindsided with his customer's Blackberry?

But since she was making that effort on behalf of her other task, I was completely out of the loop on her actions.

At least I was when it happened.

So last week, when I took two days off -- cue the studio audience: GASP! In a row?? Yes, in a row -- I delegated my tasks to my #2 guy to handle in my absence. The #2 guy and I are buddies, the closet thing to a friend I claim to have around the office.

To suggest what gets done here is so specialized in that some sort of certification is required to maintain the help desk would be an exaggeration. There's a process, to be sure, but it isn't rocket science.

To suggest my #2 guy did a miserable job covering for me in my absence would be, I regret to to say, an understatement. If there's any doubt, the customer called not only our office but the Corporate office, making their dissatisfaction at the Help Desk under-serving their issue clearly known.

(Adding to what feels like a migraine growing in my head, this last week was also the first time I took time off and didn't check my office e-mail. But wait, it gets better...)

So when I was dressed down by our Project Lead, and then later by our Division Head, it was hard to not become royally pissed at my team mate.

The Division Head also took a moment to mention to me how pleased he was to be shown that customer's Blackberry the week before last... not that I had anything to do with that issue, but it became clear how annoyed the customer had been with the members of my Help Desk of late.

Yeah, yesterday was a fun day!

So this morning I brought up to my team mate - the guy who was supposed to cover for me last week - how so much agita was caused from his in inaction last week. For reasons completely unfathomable, he became got pissed that management had made such a big deal over the matter. To his credit, he's taking responsibility for the fact that he didn't do his/my job last week, yet he can't understand why people are annoyed.

Yeah, I'm still scratching my head over that one.

This Thursday and Friday I am again taking off a couple of days (Amazing! Yeah, I know). So now my #2 is more than a little surprised that I've sent him MS Outlook TASKS, assigning the duties he fully knows that need to be done when I am not here.

And you just know, without a doubt, that I'll be checking my e-mail at least once each morning and afternoon when I am off this week. And that may well piss off my buddy, too.

And you know what? That's his problem. If after all this time he's going to take an attitude about doing his job, that's his call. It isn't as though we're slogging 10 hours a day; he knows I know what he does. And while he remains a key member of the Help Desk and overall Team, he's not irreplaceable. For that matter, in spite of the SME status afforded me when I was hired, neither am I!

So if this pisses him off, it's for him to deal with. And if that means he's going to take an attitude about being dressed-down by me (and let me assure you: it was in no way nearly as bad as I was dressed down yesterday by the Division Head), he should know where he can take his p.o.'d attitude.

Adding to the overall enjoyment of this week, the Corporate Office sent out their routine spring-time announcement: You don't mean....? that's right! It's performance review time, once again!

It just goes to show: more often than not, if there's even a remote chance of being put into a hierarchy with someone it's better to keep friends separate from your job.

Think I can go to lunch now? Nah... I better stay close to my desk today and tomorrow...

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