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Getting Credit When You Don’t Keep Score

March 19, 2018

Sunday night I ended up working late. Like really, really late. I finally got to bed around 2:30am.

But, I was at a loss how to account for the time. I’m a salaried employee. That means that whether I work 40 hours a week or 80 hours a week, I get paid the same. There are obvious benefits to being salaried. Typically, salaried positions pay better. Okay, not if you are making consultant rates, but in a typical IT organization, the higher up the food chain you are, the more likely you are salary.

The biggest benefit is that you get paid by the day, not by the hour. That means if you arrive at work and 30 minutes after sitting down, you have a family emergency, and you’re gone the rest of the day, the company has to pay you for the entire day.

That rarely happens. What more often happens is you put in an 8 or 10 hour day and then something blows up after hours and you have to work on that until it’s fixed. And if you have a job like mine, where I’m on call 24×7, if something breaks on a Sunday, you fix it on a Sunday.

This particular issue hit about 11:30AM. Agents reported issues with their phone systems. My family typically goes to church at 1:00pm on Sundays. My lovely wife is the music director. She was feeling a little under the weather and asked me if I would lead the music. It’s not hard, right? I mean, you wave your hand up and down and the congregation follows the organ player anyway.

When my phone rang at 11:30, I had to inform her that I would not be available to wave my hand up and down. The kids and I went to church. They took seats in the chapel, I sat in my car with a phone in my ear. Church is three hours long. The first hour is in the chapel with the entire congregation. The second hour is Sunday School, and the third hour, the youth break up into groups divided by age and gender. My responsibility is to teach the 12-13 year old boys. They are called Deacons in the Mormon church.

My phone call lasted all through the first hour. It lasted all through the 2nd hour. As the third hour came around, I told the folks on the conference bridge,

Yeah, I’m going to be teaching a class. I’ll keep on the bridge, but I won’t be saying anything.

I kept the ear piece in and taught my lesson on faith to a room full of pre-teen boys. It went great. I love teaching. I wish I didn’t have to do it with a phone stuck to my ear. Finally, about 5:30pm, my team reported they had not seen the issue for the past hour. The client was still working on it, but my agents were fine. I dropped off the bridge.

Now, when we have an outage, I have an entire team that helps manage it. I kind of run it, but there are plenty of people who are actively engaged. One team sends out “Outage Notifications.” Emails describing the issue and the current status. At 5:30 they sent the final notification saying the issue was resolved.

It wasn’t. It was still appearing on the backend. We just couldn’t see it on our production floor. It got worse around 9:00pm. The client called me and I, along with one of my overnight supervisors joined the call. But, my agents still weren’t seeing an issue. However, the client was seeing it. So, we sat on their bridge and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, at 2:30am, the client announced that they had successfully replicated the issue in their offices. That meant they no longer needed us on the line.

As we dropped from the call, I considered my options. I’d just spent an extra five and a half hours on a call on a Sunday night. I was going to miss my 7:30AM Monday meeting. (Because: sleep.) But, because we hadn’t seen the issue in our production facility, there was no outage call on my side. There were no emails announcing that we were still working on it. In other words, I was getting no credit for the time I worked.

If a tree fell in the forest and all that.

Now, maybe I shouldn’t care. Maybe it should be enough that we helped the client isolate an issue and that means that customers have a better experience. Maybe. But, I still somehow felt slightly cheated. I lost most of my Sunday to an outage call. My company doesn’t practice comp time, so I wasn’t getting those hours back. My only compensation in those situations was the office cred I got for working crazy, stupid hours. But, who do I tell?

I finally decided on a plan just before I went to bed. There was a chance the problem might show up the next day. So, I decided it was important to warn everyone that we might have an issue first thing in the morning. I wrote a brief email explaining the problem and reported that we had worked on it and work was continuing. I sent it to all the people who might be interested. Conveniently that was also all the people who know of my work schedule.

Yup, they all had an email waiting in their inbox Monday morning. And as the opened, it, right there at the top was the time stamp: SENT AT 2:30AM.

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

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