08 September, 2012

Introducing Rageboy.

Apparently I'm not posting enough. I can tell, because I get lost every time I sign in to Blogger and have to remember where Google have hidden all the menus this time. Usually I'm wanting to stab a Google web designer in the face within about five minutes.

Deciding what to write about is difficult at the moment, too. Partly because there's a bit of a shortage of the genuinely tragi-comic workplace happenings that make good material, but also a little because (unlike my last workplace) some of what goes on here makes the news, so it's that little bit harder to anonymise things.

I haven't yet introduced my team, though, so we'll start with Rageboy. I'm still not entirely clear what his onoging role is. Since I started, he seems to act as a roaming odd-jobs man, attending lots of meetings, documenting a lot of processes he doesn't play any part in, and providing a physical presence for our team when everyone else is too busy actually working. From what I can gather, that's pretty much defined his last couple of decades within the department - when a warm body is needed to fill a role temporarily, or someone's needed to write some documentation because everyone else is too busy, Rageboy is called in.

At the moment, he's meant to be helping me reduce the number of jobs sitting in my queue. He was actually meant to start with this a month or so back, but the first obstacle was that no two requests I get are the same, so it wasn't like I could hand him a general process to follow and then just guide him through from there. I tried to sketch out a workflow for him to follow for what I considered the simple tasks, but it quickly evolved into the stuff of nightmares.

The second obstacle was that I had to teach him how to use some of the long-standing departmental systems that I haven't been shown how to use. I was a bit surprised by this.

The third was that when he sat down and looked at the queue and some of the crazy, wrongly-assigned tasks in there, the first thing he noticed was that because of how the service desk tool has been configured we can also see jobs we had a hand in, but have since assigned to other teams. This bugged me for a while, too, but when I checked with the system administrator it turned out that fixing the issue would cause other things to break and probably keep me from seeing any of our jobs at all. Which I'm not actually opposed to, but in principle I have to concede it's probably in everyone's best interests for me to be able to see what I'm actually meant to be working on.

So I've learnt just to mentally screen out the things I don't need to bother with, and move on. Rageboy is less phlegmatic. The presence of these other jobs was deeply offensive to him. He would read in detail what they were about, and start calling members of other teams and other team leaders to tell them how long the support tickets had been open for. He was quite thorough about it, and did a great job helping them clear up their backlog. I'm sure they were appreciative, even if in reality his contribution was limited to haranguing them until they closed the tickets just to keep him quiet.

I think the types of questions that were being legitimately referred to us broke him a little bit, though, because he studiously avoided having anything to do with them.

Now, a month later, he's begun tackling some of those very old items. I'm pleased to see the old jobs slowly being whittled away while I deal with the incoming stuff, and it's a little bit validating to see someone else growing frustrated with some of the stuff that keeps being assigned to us because other support teams don't want to have to deal with it (claiming your team doesn't have the resources to follow something up seems to have become a catch-all solution for assigning work to other under-resourced teams who aren't even responsible for that kind of work to begin with).

What's less helpful is his approach. He's not a quiet man on the phone, nor a subtle one. Like Ted, he's good at identifying - loudly and angrily - what's not working right, but much less good at proposing a constructive solution. His opening gambit tends to start: "Hi, this is Rageboy. I'm assisting a colleague, and I just wanted to check in with this request THAT'S BEEN OPEN FOR ABOUT THREE MONTHS NOW to see whether it's been resolved BECAUSE IT WAS CREATED THREE MONTHS AGO and that just seems like SUCH A LONG TIME."

Three months is a long time, and I'm not happy to have things sitting so long, either. Most of the really old items are ones I inherited, or that were lobbed into the queue before I had enough knowledge about the place to know what I could safely throw back. However, I've also read every one of those old items, and have a fair idea of which ones were real issues needing resolved and which ones were just open-ended wishlists that were a lower priority than the steady influx of new items.

I'd be bothered less by Rageboy's tactlessness if I wasn't still in my probation period during a time of mass layoffs. Maybe if I explain to him gently that if I go, he inherits everything...?


Prof. Godel Fishbreath, Otter said...

Thanks for the update, actually you write well and anything you talk about is likely interesting. But maybe that is because you pick your topics.

Anonymous said...

Rageboy Rageboy he's our boy!
If he can't bug you til it's fixed, no one ... will.

All your readers appreciate your observations. Moarplz! I hope you can resolve the anonymity issue soon, 'cos it sounds particularly juicy.

Peace! (Oh and the captcha is typically ummm... difficult at best - so it may be preventing some comments getting through):