In my second year working technical support, the weeks start to fly by, especially when compared to the first.
This is a sure sign that I’ve completed the initial adaptation to the job. When everything is brand new, time slows down as you learn to respond to stimulus you’ve never experienced before. But at this point, much of the day-to-day slog is routine. There’s no need to think too hard about what to do when presented with a certain challenging situation — I simply do what I did last time, making it seem like I’m somehow moving faster through life.
I wake up in the morning and follow the same grooming routine. Then I walk to work on the same path. I sit in the same cube. I buy the same set of items for breakfast, and rotate through a few preferred restaurants for lunch. I know who to talk to to help me with problems of Type A, and who to instead hit up for Type B style issues. When we have departmental meetings, I dress a little nicer than usual and pretend to be interested. I’m starting to understand where I can cut corners and where I can’t. Plus, I’m closing lots and lots of tickets out. Although my battles with the queue remain ultimately unwinnable due to enemy respawning, well, at least I’m not losing.
In short, I’m working more efficiently, exactly like a good Year 2 employee should be.
I’m not even the new guy anymore. We’ve got a couple of folks who came on board immediately following the purchase of SoftwareCompany by BiggerSoftwareCompany. I’m doing what I can to train them, when I have cycles.
Like I said, overall, I’ve made the adjustment to work. The only part that I can’t seem to get used to is the unrelenting customer related stress. They get angry. They demand resolution “yesterday.” They seem to number in the hundreds of thousands. My primary motivation to close tickets is not simply to satisfy my manager, Mr. Data. It’s to make the customers go away.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at that. If Year 1 was about getting used to the routine of office life — politics, procedures, and paperwork — then Year 2 is about Getting Better and Faster. I was no longer receiving cherry-picked problems with simple resolutions.
Suddenly I was being leaned on to produce, big time. And producing meant closing tickets. Producing meant giving the job everything I had. Producing meant making sure that the various cameras that monitored my performance were recording some kick-ass information to deliver to Mr. Data.
Because Mr. Data was also hard at work with his numbers and reports. Every week he’d sit down with you and tell you how you were doing. The focus was always on areas that need improvement — rarely things you were doing well. If you lack energy to be pleasant to customers on the phone, it will show up on your “customer satisfaction” survey results. Do you need soft skills training? If your queue depth is too high, it means you’re not closing tickets out quickly enough. Do you have gaps in your technical training? Maybe you’re not filing enough bugs. Or you’re not contributing to the knowledge base. Or your emails have spelling mistakes and typos. Or you’re not logging enough minutes on the phone.
You must appease Mr. Data, or these meetings do not go well.
Navigation Tip: There are links to additional pages (1-9) below, under the sea of wordpress.com garbage.
I really like your write ups so far. The page formatting is also spot on.
I definitely know how it is under management that interacts with you on an almost purely negative basis, but having weekly 1:1’s? Ouch. I get through my current job by trying to be the quiet, competent employee – which means I’m somewhat appreciated, but more importantly left the fuck alone!
Thanks a lot for the feedback on page formatting. I wondered about it. The posts are pretty lengthy for a blog.
Right, weekly 1:1s are just… ugh. I’m more similar to you — very focused, high determination and attention to detail/quality, and therefore I think that my work speaks for itself and I should be exempt from micromanagement. But no. The weekly touchpoints must continue! There’s always room for improvement! The bar is always rising!
MY first salary job included weekly 1:1s… IN ADDITION to weekly team meetings. They are torture
Liked the LOTR references, if only work were so glorious and meaningful. Once that trilogy ended, all was right with the world (although it does drag on a little too long after the scene at Mt. Doom…) In reality, the analogy would be that, before computers, goblins were more like Balrogs, less common but more difficult to defeat (Great Depression, WWII). Globalization, computerization, communication helped keep the goblins from getting too big to handle, but that means they are constantly being fought to keep everything working. Ultimately, the goblins will always be there, our job is to take on the battle from the previous generation and hope we don’t have to deal with any more Balrogs… Enjoying the series!
I love the extended analogy, btw, very cool. Are you saying that since I’ve completed my trilogy of Job Experience Posts, so I should be done? 😉 Unfortunately many years of work follow. I keep thinking the that each year I’ll have less to say, but when I start unpacking the history, there’s a ton of stuff there. Believe it or not these posts represent an effort to keep the overall length somewhat manageable. I know, I know — I need to try harder.
Wouldn’t that be awesome, if we put in 3 years and were done! Then could cuddle up in our hobbit-hole and reflect on the nuances of those years for the next 30 years… That would be an acceptable situation, probably for everyone, as opposed to 30 yrs of work and a few interesting musings from the minority. Hollywood and Penguin do not dominate the market on telling life’s story, we do. Keep on keeping on bro!
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I’m surprised how similar the daily grind is, even in such different professions! Your description of tech support reminds me of my couple years doing phone triage as a nurse. Just one minute between calls to document recommendations/forward to doctor/make appointment/take whatever necessary action. Messages and phone calls bouncing back and forth to doctors, patients, pharmacies, nursing homes, hospitals. We also had a “bucket” of outgoing calls to make–completion required by the end of the day, whether or not incoming calls slowed. In any case, there were always problems to solve, people to contact. I’m really fortunate in my new job! So much less stress, better pay. I’m 25 years old, unsure when I’ll attain FI. I’d like to think by 40, but with an estimated 2 kids in the future and the financial volatility of my husband farming FT, only time will tell! Devoured MMM, now your blog. Really helping me understand the logistics of FI. Slightly jealous of you guys with the high tech/engineering incomes! Hope you’re thoroughly enjoying your almost 2 years (so far) of FIRE!
Wow, the similarities continue! I had an on call rotation too–usually every 6th weekend Carrying around the phone felt like prison…I never did get used to it either.