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It Was More Frustrating Than Impressive

November 8, 2017

I should have been impressed. I wanted to be impressed. I was prepared to be impressed.

Instead I was frustrated.

Like many international companies, we have layers of management. We have management layers in our own company, and then their are more management layers in our parent company. And these guys were pretty high up in our parent company. They were IT vice presidents and senior project managers and guys with no titles just pedigrees.

And they were in our building to talk about our client. We’ve managed to turn our client into a bit a darling. It’s not only one of the biggest clients for my company, it is one of the most satisfied. We work very well together.

The room was full of my coworkers and teammates from account management and opersations. The big shots from corporate were IT. I’m the only IT guy on my team. Like I said, I should have been impressed that the corporate guys came to our house to talk about how they could help with our client. It was a listening tour, and my company does not do a lot of listening tours. People said this was the first one they could remember.

So, why wasn’t I impressed? Because I wasn’t paying attention. I really wanted to pay attention. I wanted to be fully engaged in the give and take of the discussion. And I did to an extent. But, I kept one eye on my email. . .and my phone. . .and an ongoing Skype meeting. . .and chat.

I know, I hate that guy in meetings. It’s like, “Dude, put it away. Be in the moment.” And now I was that guy. It wasn’ t my fault. The fault was a dead server in Cincinnatti Ohio and a Citrix login issue across three states. I’m a team of one when it comes to outages. This one started at 6:00AM for me. (It started even earlier for my engineering team.) A server that provided a key monitoring program wasn’t working. We were trying to fix it. I was working with the Outage Management team.

And then the start time for my meeting rolled around. I didn’t want to push it too far by actually having headphones on. I compromised and told the Outage Team to reach out via Skype’s chat feater if they needed me. They needed me. We had two outages going during our executive briefing. I found it ironic that as they were talking about what would make us more effective, I was struggling with my own ineffectiveness. It was a weird meta-experience.

The meeting went great. They spent much more time talking about reporting and operations than they did IT. My team let them know that,

If there’s an IT issue, we just pick up the phone and call Rodney.

And they were right. That’s pretty much how it goes many days. Today was one of those days. We actually managed to resolve and close one of the outages while I was in the briefing. I was surreptitiously sending emails and typing in the chat window. By the time the meeting was over, all our agents could get logged into their programs and were taking calls. My analysts were still broken, but I’m grateful for small miracles.

Maybe by next year, I’ll have a mini-me that I can get to run the outage calls. Until then, I’ll have to continue to send the subtle message that my time is more valuable than the person running the meeting.

“Sorry, but I really need to take this call.”

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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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

  1. Patricia Nelson permalink

    I received some news that meant I needed to immediately make one critical call that would save the company significant dollars if I could do it right now. It couldn’t wait. Just as I started to reach for the phone, the owner of this small (10 employees) walked into my office. Thinking the business was more important to all of us than the owners ego, “Just a moment, I have to make this call.” I assumed he would want me to put the business first. Not so!! HE FIRED ME! I was shocked. Didn’t he understand that I was taking care of his company. I wa only 19 but I started to learn an invaluable lesson. Figure out what is most important to your boss and it may not necessarily what is best for the underlying company. It happened a second time when I designed a new program that would combine two very complicated multimillion dollars systems into one simpler system that would save almost $100,000 over the next few years and eliminate some very time consuming reconciliation of the two systems. But oops I forgot to find out that my boss had designed the stupid duplicate system. He was not pleased when I saved us almost $100,000

    • I’m not even sure the executives knew I was monitoring the calls. We are all computer geeks and phones and laptops are as common as pencil and paper.

      But, I was going to make sure the executives saw me as focused on our conversation.

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