Just a bit of a personal rant today. I apologize that this is not up to the typical standards of… I have no standards, do I? So that’s all right then.
My day job is, roughly speaking, technical support, but fortunately for my sanity it’s technical support at a very high level. Most of my time is spent reviewing log data for junior members of the team when they hit a stumbling block, and on the rare occasion I’m actually talking to a live human it is usually a network admin, architect or – on one memorable Sunday – a CEO who had come in to the office and discovered that they were in the middle of a network breach and took it on herself to lock things down so she didn’t need to call in her employees on the weekend.
Side note, I would probably help this woman hide a body if she needed it hidden, just on the assumption that anyone who treats their staff so well probably had a really good reason to have a body that needed to conveniently disappear.
It’s a pretty decent gig, actually, and pays well enough that my normal budgeting process for a new tech toy is “do I want it? Well, let’s just buy it then.”
(sent from my iPad Air 4)
There is, however, a problem. There’s always a problem, after all, and in this case it’s a VP who really dislikes the group of techs at my level. We’re …scruffy? I’m not sure if that’s the exact word I’m looking for, but it’s a start. We’re on the older side, most of us have been doing this job for a minimum of a decade, and – worst of all – we’re in Oregon and this VP really wants the work to be done out of his home state, to the point where he actually moved our department to his home state and moved all of us to remote work in what was universally understood as a temporary solution until he could hire people locally.
Then came the ‘Rona, or the Wu-Han Flu-Clan, or Corona-Chan, whatever you want to call the Great Pandemicing of 202X. Suddenly, EVERYONE was a remote worker. For extra fun, the people he had hired locally to train up to our level turned out to have career ambition and almost all of them moved on from their junior support positions after a little while… but to different companies, not to more senior support positions in the same company. So we have only become more valuable over the last year.
So, with no way to directly replace us and the sudden reversal of the stigma traditionally attached to remote work, he has had to find some new ways to demonstrate that we’re not as valuable as all that. To be fair, this isn’t entirely without merit. If you have any employee or group of employees who are valuable to the point where they can’t be replaced, then you have a potential point of failure that should be addressed.
The first thing he did was to pass down the directive that we should be measured through metrics typically applied to agents at a call center, with the most critical one being case closure. Again, this is fair. You want some evidence of output from your well-paid techs, and for several months my team cheerfully hit the case closure goals, defined as both direct cases, which we worked on directly, and indirect cases which represented every time we were called in by another team to help them with something.
…until last week, that is, when we were told that indirect cases would no longer count towards our case closure rates. Furthermore, this new measurement standard was applied retroactively to all previous months, meaning that the team now appears to have drastically missed our goals for every month for the last year. Like, at best we have hit about the 50% mark on what we’re supposed to be hitting. Our direct management has been falling over themselves to tell us how this may LOOK bad, but they understand that we do a ton of work that isn’t represented in this numbers anymore and we shouldn’t worry… but it seems pretty likely that their bosses are going to use this as an excuse to reduce headcount to match the amount of work represented by this new formula.
The really fun part of all this, if you think of it, is that it’s a move that incentivizes us to not help, or to actively refuse to help, any team that reaches out to us for assistance. After all, if they start regularly failing to solve problems, their cases will be moved to our team at which point they will become DIRECT work which we will get credit for.
So, frustrating week. And, since I want to continue getting paid, I need to figure out how to be on the right side of the see-saw when it gets cut in half, which necessarily means that I need to find ways to promote myself over people that I have worked with for years.
On the plus side, I binge-watched the entirety of “The Quintessential Quintuplets”, “Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs”, and “How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord” in the last couple weeks, and I am probably going to be grinning like a maniac for the next month or so just from the residual good vibes. It’s remarkable how far some high-energy high-fanservice anime can go to relieve stress.
Also, an old friend is dead-set on teaching me how to play about a dozen different variants of poker, and my eternally-suffering wife recently decided that she is going for her motorcycle endorsement so we can BOTH have scooters. Life outside of work is pretty much nothing but positives lately.