Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grace Under Pressure


A home-based agent is facing troubles at home. He could not go to work, (since he has to look after a family member confined in a hospital) nor even use his desktop computer. (because it is broken and in need of repairs) With him not around, I am left with two agents handling the work. It would have been easy if I am directing the instructions on the floor but I was on vacation.

The boss was out of town and my immediate superior was sick.

I made a list beforehand of agents from the other shifts who could take turns filling in for my third agent. Trouble started when one of them, the first one to fill the post sent a text message saying that he couldn't log-in at home. He wasn't able to buy the prepaid card needed for his Internet and could not leave the house because of the kids.


"WTF!" I could have said in a text message. "You said yes when I asked for volunteers last Sunday night, and I even reminded you yesterday to be prepared. You gave your assurance that you will be there and now this?!?" I wish I have the candor of the Patroness but instead of turning ballistic, I merely replied like this,

"Akala ko ba ayos na ang lahat? Anong plano natin niyan?"

Then and there I realized that no matter how I appear incompetent to some people, there will always be someone more disappointing than me. I hid my frustrations despite the agent offering alternatives and when it was certain that I could not rely on his assistance, I called the office - from Starbucks - to ask someone to fill in.

The problem was resolved, temporarily.

At past 4 in the afternoon, the agent who came to our rescue had to go home. Since I was in contact with the office all the time, I also knew that an extra hand won't be needed. There were no queues to attend and I still have to make sure those left behind reach their quota.

So off I went to UP Diliman with my partner to watch Zombadings. It was our third activity for the day after meeting a new friend in Makati for lunch, and then swinging at Landmark to shop for my partner's needs abroad. Despite the busy schedule, I made a mental note to ask the agents to give an update about their output before the film starts at 5 pm. It is the only way I could make sound projections as to how to divide the work among themselves.

The reports came in while me and Baabaa were slowly inching towards the cinema door. Output for the day was indeed low. There's a chance the team won't make their extra earnings.

Assured that I won't be needing extra help until the end of the shift, I sent a text message to other volunteers not to log-on to their computers. I even told the last one not to come to work two hours ahead of her shift so as not to spoil her evening. But just when the operations appeared to be running smoothly, a text message came from one of the agents.

She works at home.

"Mugen, I think you would need to send an SOS to others," the text message said. "I'm having trouble with my Internet connection."

Of all the things I never took into the equation, it is someone's Internet going kaput. The movie had just began and instead of laughing with everyone, I was resolving a crisis happening elsewhere. Fortunately, the officer-in-charge for the graveyard shift was available. I told him the problem and he promised to stay until I can find a replacement.

Meanwhile, the agent at the floor sent a text message. It's time for his break and he would have to buy food outside.

It is as if the world came crashing with only a single agent - not from my shift - looking after all the accounts.  Had the boss and my superior found what's happening, I would be in deep shit. During the time there was no one on the floor, my thoughts were divided. Should I ask another agent from the other shifts to look after the accounts or let the OIC from the GY Shift do all the work?

I decided not to complicate matters further.

Ending credits rolled after two hours. Not only was I not able to enjoy the movie, my thoughts drifted back and forth between work and the boyfriend. Expecting more unforeseen troubles ahead, I decided to go to the office after the movie. So much for the date, I could have at least dropped home my partner. But instead, duty called and I had to be there to answer.

When I barged into the door, I was pleasantly surprised to find the last agent who volunteered sitting in her cubicle.

"Didn't you get my text message earlier?"  I asked.

"No. I thought you're on leave?"

"Yeah, pero ang daming sablay, had to fixed em all." Blame it on redundancy or lack of efficiency. But when eyes are looking, it's difficult to leave things hanging loose.

And so I found myself on the floor with the situation finally under control.  Lousy as it may seems, but in times like these, I get to appreciate my true value.  This is what I'm getting paid for.

I may have wrongly trusted  my instincts, but I chose to give chances to people everyone thought were unreliable.  Some did deliver, while others, I prefer not to ask again.

Seldom does life give second chances.

Two hours before the end of the shift, I was already sleeping in my office chair. Tired and exhausted, I decided to leave things unattended for I am at least a nudge away should trouble comes knocking.

Besides, I have already paid the price.

So much for the 300 pesos I spent for the phone bill; so much for watching a comedy film when stress was  getting ahead of leisure time. In the end, I hope the sacrifice was worth it:  that I was able to handle the situation with grace, and that the boss won't learn the plan didn't work.

The agent who wasn't able to help during the first two hours of the shift went to a web cafe the next day. I told him to log-off. Someone was already assigned to volunteer.

Meanwhile, the lady who lost her connection just when I thought I did the right thing assured her presence during her time of volunteer. Whether she did honor her word was beyond my reckoning. Someone else would judge her performance.

Finally, as for the one who conceived this grand assembly, it would be best to follow conventions. In this world, not everyone is reliable and only few would go the extra mile even when their source of income is at peril.  


Xander said...

yes it is grace under pressure. Its good that you keep yourself calm and remain cool.

=tantan said...

Even sacrificed a leave. :)

If I'm not mistaken, that was the day you were asking (via Twitter) for a nearby wifi area in UP Diliman. Tama po? haha

Nate said...

oh wow.. bravo, sir joms.. *pats on the back*

the green breaker said...

Effort kung effort. Ang hirap hatiin ng sarili ah. Good thing you got away from it. :)

^travis said...

this entry adds another vote to automation. ahahaha

some people just have a wellspring of patience and you are one of them. i would have snapped sa umpisa pa lang. lols.

bien said...

Can so totally relate to this.
How many times did I cancel my off day in the past because one pechay can not make it; left the inuman during my bday because something went wrong and the pechay doesn't know how to troubleshoot, and again tomorrow I have to cancel a bday dinner with a friend because I have to stay until closing because yet another pechay cancelled shift. The list goes on Haaaaaaaaaynaku
If I were to write this entry, punung puno ng mura to and it will be called disgrace under pressure.
Kaloka, dito nag-rant sa comment

Leo said...

we really have to understand that there are people who really doesn't know ownership and sense of urgency.

a safety net we do back then is that if an agent volunteers, we plot schedule that affects reliability, which then affects scorecard, which then affects their appraisal. but then again, we can surmise a very reactive type of management here, and just like you said, even if income is at peril, they wont budge.

good thing you have that bucket full of patience mugen. i'm sure your team have heard much from you after the incident. let it out sometimes. for me it works. :)

Mr. Brightside said...

Minsan talaga ang work sagabal sa love-life.. haha

But seriously, I admire your dedication to your work and how your boyfie understood the situation.

Rock On!

Sean said...

ka-stress drilon. but then again, kaya nga sila staff and others who take ownership rise to management level. bwisit nga lang kasi minsan the difference is not that marked when it comes to recognition (including pay).


experience is indeed the best teacher. i've been through similar situations before and i realized what's the use of taking a day off work kung still patatakbuhin ko rin ang trabaho by remote control. that's a lot more stressful and it practically defies the very purpose to taking a leave.

my strategy, i not only assign people to do the tasks, i also ask someone of my position in the department to pitch in for me (with proper briefing), and most importantly i let the client and the boss know the scope of work left undone, the people assigned and who is the acting on my behalf. i also make it clear to people at the site, those in the office, the clients and my boss not to expect me to pick up the calls or reply to their messages promptly.

if something goes haywire during my absence everyone knows who to run to.

the staff and even the acting in-charge should be responsible and accountable for their actions and decisions.

sabi nga sa management 101 dati, delegate...delegate...delegate. hehehe.

it works naman.

LanchiE said...

I remember the patriarch of a business family back at home once told me, "Assume something's gonna go wrong."

Pepe said...

andun na ako na handa magsakripisyo para masigurong nagagampanan ng maayos at higit pa ang responsibilidad. pero minsan sa ganitong sitwasyon, naiisip kong higit sa sariling dedikasyon, kulang pa rin kasi hindi naempower ang tao. kasi hindi sa lahat ng oras magagawa mong i-give up ang VL for this kind.

but empowering people is different from having the wrong people.

may masabi lang. :)

daniel the jagged little egg said...

Naku, hindi ko kaya ang ganyang pressure sis'. Alam mo naman, mabilis akong maloka lol! : )