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How To Abuse Your Team Members. . .And Have Them Like It

June 29, 2017

My call centers all have hours of operations. The number one goal of my job is to keep the call centers running as efficiently as possible. That means when I need to work with our engineering team to make changes, we typically schedule those changes for the middle of the night. We have to make sure we finish the maintenance before the call center is scheduled to come on line in the morning.

Last week we had maintenance scheduled in our Raliegh location. The center took calls until 1:00AM Eastern Time. We scheduled our maintenance window to start at 2:00AM just to make sure the agents were completely off the phones. The changes ran for several hours. We have engineers on site in Raliegh. I was dialed in and I had an engineer dialed in from California. By the time we had validated our changes it was close to 5:30AM. Calls would start coming in at 7:00AM. If anything went wrong, we’d need an engineer on site to fix it. The same engineer who was currently making changes on the floor.

What do you do? I felt like a jerk to tell someone who had just worked all night that he needed to be back in a couple of hours. Chances are that there would be no need for him in the morning. It was simply an extra level of support in case we missed something in the validation. But, if I sent him home and we did need him, I’d be done for another 30 minutes or so waiting for him to come back into center.

John, nice job tonight. I’m going to set up a phone bridge with Mission Control and operations first thing in the morning in case the agents have issues when they come in.

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.

I hate to ask this, but I need you to be available during that bridge in case they find something wrong.

No problem. I’ll be here.

Yes, there was a problem. John might not have had one, but I did. I had just asked him to pretty much work around the clock. I felt like a jerk. Unlike me, John gets paid hourly, so at least he’s getting compensated for those extra hours. But, I still felt bad asking him to give even more than I already asked him.

My engineer from California was our network resource. She had been putting in long hours on the project, just as I had. I didn’t think I would need her in the morning.

Jackie, I’m going to invite you to the meeting request, but don’t feel obligated to join. I just want you to have the meeting information in case we need you.


But, I’m going to work very hard to not call you. You’ve done a great job. I’m hoping we can just let you sleep.

Well, call me if you need me and I’ll jump on the bridge.

I have a great team. I sometimes wonder what my real role on the team is. I guess I’m the leader. No one specifically works for me, but I own the project. I have to coordinate the resources and schedules from multiple departments. I then get to mold them into my team. And, I demand a lot from them.

So, why is the team so willing to work crazy hours? For one thing, they all have a great work ethic and they see value to our client in what we are doing. But, there’s more than that. Last week as we wrapped up the validation for our change, I was on the call. A couple of hours later, I was on the call again when our call floor opened for business. I’ve worked the clock around more than once on this project. Typically while on a call with our engineers. If something goes wrong, I’m on the call until we get it right.

There is something to be said for simply showing up. A leader needs to lead. You need to put in the time. You need to do the little things. I realized as I looked at our schedules, while I couldn’t do the work the engineers were doing, as far as timing, I wasn’t asking them to do anything I wasn’t willing to do myself.

First one in, last one out, is a strategy that will earn you the respect of the people you work with.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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