Monday, July 14, 2008

A Conspiracy to Promote me, sort of

I just received several new trainings all pointing to pulling me into the management machine. First I had better explain what I do.

AT&T customer service includes allowing agents to schedule followups. So lets say we make a change to your account that is just perfect for fixing your problem but there is a known computer error in which we know your bill is going to do the exact opposite of what we are telling it to, so we set a followup for someone to adjust it manually. In some centers agents do their own follow ups, in others a specialized team handles all of them. I normally do follow ups all day long. Just in the last week however, I got an extra responsibility. Someone has to take the job of watching the entire call center to make sure none of these followup requests fall through the cracks. If Bob Smith down the aisle sets a followup someone there is no automatic process that says who on our team takes it. Someone does all that manually. Typically at first it was the "floor coordinator" who basically as the name suggested coordinates the everything (except the plants hanging from the ceiling, they only handle things on the floor). But they are too busy so it got handed off to a couple specialized team leaders. But they are often busy being team leaders so a few normal agents were selected to do that job whenever needed. I am one of I think 3 or 4 agents who have that responsibility.

But from there it only gets better. I found out this afternoon that for the next two days and perhaps on call after that I am taking over a significant part of the responsibilities of the "floor coordinator". It won't be near all of them. I won't handle changing what types of work everyone is being assigned, won't moniter who may be avoiding work, and I won't file reports or paperwork. But I will be responsible to watch over the center and ensure everyone is at least logged in to do the work they are assigned to do, find out who took breaks late or off schedule and change their schedule to match to make everything look nice on paper, record who never shows up for work, who inexplicably leaves half way through the day, and take calls from all the poor souls who can't make it to work today but wanted to tell us about it so it wasn't a total shock. I will be one of 2 agents assigned to this task and considering there are only 2 people in management authorized to do this work at present this is a major shift.

So all this points to something good happening in moving up the corporate ladder right? In someone else's dreams (since it definitely isn't one of mine come true). One of the positions they have off an on through my time at convergys is an "Intern" which basically means you are a team leader in everything but name and having people directly report to you, but you get paid the same amount of money as any other floor agent till some never never time comes to pass and they decide to expand the beurocracy or someone in management gets fired. Its a lovely way to work things for the company, but for anybody else it means getting a real promotion means serious dedication and outlasting all the other poor fools who were waiting their chance only to be passed up in favor of some newbie who knows nothing about our project but did well on a personality test.

Not that any of this really bothers me since a career at the local call center was never in my idea of a fulfilling life. I welcome the opportunity for more varied and interesting work. Who knows, perhaps being more administratively useful comes with scheduling perks that mean school will be easier to complete. But sometimes you have to laugh at the irony of it all. Considering the ratio of team leaders to floor agents between an AT&T owned call center and our outsourced one, we are undermanaged by a ratio of about 1 of our team leaders to every 4 of theirs. And this expresses itself in the significant number of "normal" floor agents getting nothing special wages who in one or two ways have greater authority or have higher access logins than the majority of managers over them. This contradiction is more obvious to me because the followup team employs most of these special agents. So as I go about the next two days with repeated team leaders and agents coming to me saying "Will you please change this schedule" because none of them have the login authority to do it, I will laugh at the contradictions in the world and be glad I get to do something different for the day.


Promote Me said...

Do your new responsibilities mean you spend less time doing actual work or is it about the same?
I new a good few people who worked in a call center, and every one of them told me it was the worst job of their life.
Dude, quit while you still can. Don't let them promote you because then you'll just stay!

CrouchingOwl said...

Ummm, I don't normally judge jobs by whether I have to work more or less, but by how rewarding the work is. And no its not less time working, its just less time feeling absolutely frenetic because you can't even breathe between one call hitting and the next. They still keep me quite busy, and actually tends to be more busy with the new responsibilities because one of the powers I have is if I run out of work I can independently go find myself some more of it instead of waiting around for someone else to notice I announced I was out. Before they created my position if a team leader or whoever in management was in charge forgot about you you might just sit around doing nothing for a long while. But calls are like that too, sometimes frantic sometimes slow.

And as I commented earlier there's no promotion happening, nor any real thought of doing so. You can practically be a team leader at this center without being paid a penny more than standard floor agents.

I think most every job I have had where I worked with other people instead of on my own co workers tell me it was the worst job of their life.