This week my work seemed an awful lot like I imagine raising small children or any kind of animal is like. I was contacted by clueless noobs several times, who had the most outlandish ideas (and in two cases downright unfriendly behaviour). And to be honest I notice that my patience with that kind of crap is all but gone. I found myself being even more frank and honest with these people than I have ever been before. Case in point: Today I was called by a guy who complained about not getting an email he had sent three hours earlier. I tried to explain that I had forwarded his email to check up on some things, when he interrupted me and tried to explain why his request is the most important since the request for sliced bread.
After unsuccessfully trying to interrupt him, I simply raised my voice. I am a big guy, and I can be loud when I want to: “Now if you would just let me complete a single sentence, I will explain to you what the status is.”
He shut up, I got my explanation in, and he was happy. Well; sort of – he still thought it should go faster, but at least he understood why I could not simply fulfill his request.
The other case were my “favorite” colleagues from another city, who had yet another change in the process I am supposed to follow for their application. And where they’ve made some stupid suggestions in the past, this one is just downright idiotic. It’s a redundant step that not only serves no actual purpose whatsoever, but also would cause me to take about twice as much time as before. Of course it wouldn’t inconvenience them in the least.
I must admit I lost my patience with them, too. I didn’t quite yell – and I did not use any bad language. But I told them quite clearly what I thought of their process. The guy on the other side was very defensive about it. “We have to do this,” he lamented. “Our customer wants it!”
I told him that it was then HIS job to ensure that the customer is informed about the problems, about the low benefit, and that a new and better process is suggested to the customer.
“You have to talk about this with Mr. Witts, the process manager,” the guy told me.
I replied that I really did not wish to talk to Mr. Witts, knowing very well that Mr. Witts and I do not get along, and that a direct talk between us would only end in a knife fight. I was still talking when suddenly the guy was replaced by Mr. Witts voice, who started to argue that the customer’s wish is always our command.
“I said I do not want to talk to you now,” I replied. He didn’t listen; and instead droned on about the importance of never disagreeing with the customer. “I said, I do not want to talk to you,” I repeated myself. No reaction, just another wave after wave of words.
So I hung up on the guy. Sven jumped up and applauded me.
“Well done,” he said. “They really had that coming.”
Within five minutes, Mr. Witts had called Hans to complain about me. Hans – who also doesn’t like Mr. Witts – told him that he doesn’t give one tiny bit about what the problem was. “I talked to Mr. Secretgeek and I have to agree with his stance,” he said. Mr Witts told Hans he would start an escalation of the matter.
The escalation went up two levels above Mr. Witts. The leader of the business unit called Hans, and then Hans and I explained our objections to this person, and told him that we really thought that the customer’s request was bad for us and for the customer. The end result after about five minutes of explanations was that the leader of the business unit told Mr. Witts’ boss that we were right, and that Mr. Witts should be reprimanded for agreeing to nonsensical demands, for wasting everybody’s time and for “inappropriate communication”.