Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Another Day, Another Dollar

Got up late today and started work even later. I got addicted to reading blogs and now I can't go without reading them and the comments every night. Much more interesting than the news! Wanted to do my first post last night and have my own blog. Even if no one reads it, I will list all the important things to me and someday, when I'm old and batty, I can read it and try to remember important things.

So, about work. Alot of my time is spent on the telephone. ALOT! We have many branches around the United States and I'm called on to review problems with customers, problems between the branch and the corporate office and problems between branches. I am actually pretty darn good at interpreting and negotiating settlements. I have found through this function of my job, that people may speak the same language, we may have emails, pagers, telephones and celll phones, but we definitely have "a failure to communicate" as the warden said in "Cool Hand Luke"!

I cannot tell you how many disputes I have to settle simply because both sides will not shut up long enough to hear that they are saying the same thing. That, or the "one upmanship" of trying to prove who is right instead of figuring out how to get the job done.

Of course, I can say that from a position of power. These days, I am the right hand of the VP of Operations for our Division and one of the few who can actually translate our business needs to the corporate staff and vis-a-versa. This is so, because my division is a very small part of a national company and had gotten little attention for a long time (I have worked for the company for 6 1/2 years and the first 4 years I spent alot of time explaining to people what our division does much less what it needs to operate). The smallness of our division has been good for me because I have been promoted 3 times in the 6 years and am expecting my next promotion in the next few months (God willing).

Only problem with our division is that, after years of neglect, it is just now getting it's feet under it financially. For the first year, in I don't know how long, we were profitable. Not that that says much, because the profit was just above 2%. The company wants 20% and we are working hard towards that this year. Unfortunately, like many companies, part of making that profitability was in laying off workers. The only thing I can say in defense of that is we really had alot of duplication of job functions at the branch level as well as jobs that were created that had no direct impact on revenue or services.

I can say this is true because I was one of the people that went through all of our processes and had to sort out the "absolute needs" against the "wish list" employees. Now I spend alot of my time explaining to people the difference in these functions and why it was important to lay off 15 people so the other 135 could keep working.

Of course, our sales are down this time of the year so that is making it tough, too. I will not be happy if I have to cut more people. I have tried to get some detail from the sales staff about what we are doing, but the head guy is not particularly forthcoming on the details. I think they are under attack and are doing too much CYA instead of "what can we do better".

There is the good and the bad about being the person that helped make those decisions: 1) When you come to town, people are scared. When you ask them questions, they get very nervous and defensive.
2) When you tell somebody they need to do something, they will do it.

My primary function was really to review company, federal and local policies and regulations and get them distilled down to the ranks with necessary procedures. The function has rolled up into a whole lot of financial analysis, writing reports, doing presentations and generally running interference. I can honestly say that there is not a number that gets reported up stream that I did not review and provide analysis for. more bragging. That's the work thing. Now that I bragged about my job I can tell you that I was really worried about my job 6 weeks ago. As I said, we were trying to reduce costs. We did not make all of the necessary expense reductions at the branch level so I knew it was going to come up to my level. I actually had my resume prepared and was posting it on job search sites. Then I got the news that it would be my couterpart who got the boot. I was both sad and relieved at the same time.

The worst part is that I will now have to do his functions and mine together, so I guess the up coming promotion will just be payment for the pain and agony I will have to go through now.

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