What the hell happened to the last few years? I recall quite vividly a time not so long ago when I didn’t have stress; at least nothing like I have now. I guess I had to put on the big girls panties and deal with the crap that comes with responsibility. Peter Parker, you had it wrong – the responsibility comes without the need of great power, although often the effects of showing great responsibility deliver great power thereafter. Not so long ago I was a techie. I can’t even recall the last time I looked at a half decent technical website. Tom’s Hardware! Anandtech! Wherefore art thou?
Officially my title is Information Technology Manager. I suppose that means that, technically, I work with IT equipment. The Operations Manager has been away for a couple of weeks doing his thing up country and trying very hard not to murder someone in a mercy killing and trying exceedingly hard not to have an aneurism. I still am unsure how he is managing to do so without his heady exploding. Regardless, the general morale at the work place is one of apathy. This means that when something happens, well, no-one seems to take the responsibility and deal with it. So I decided to do something about, and I stuck my foot out – and said to the company that has recently purchased the company that I was acting plant manager until my boss returns.
Bully for me.
One might think that this would result in me learning something about how the mechanics of the plant works. I guess I did learn something. In ZA, human resources is the most important division of any company, and, quite often, the most useless. For the last week and a half I have done more HR related work than anything else. From dealing with mistakes in operators time sheets to resolving issues where possible retrenchment employees are refusing to work and ensuring that production, no matter what, continues.
It’s an odd feeling. Knowing that there are staff members that are not interested in working to help the company, since they’re on a short list to be retrenched, not actually having the authority to instruct the staff to perform any actual task, learning that they have been misinformed, and somehow convincing another department to actually cosy up and explain the reality of not only their rights, but their obligations. In the end, I got what I needed, and I hope that they learnt something more of their rights.
This brings me to the uselessness of some HR departments.
Retrenchment processes are never pleasant. When someone is staring the unexpected expiration of their income, there is no nice way to say “Hey! You’re out!” It sucks. Period. As such it is the duty of the HR representative to ensure that the people are properly counselled and that the entire process is handled professionally and sympathetically. Trying to shirk those responsibilities is really a poor, poor showing. As I said to the one operator representative – “Don’t let him push you around, and demand to know when the next meeting will be, and at what time”. This is a simple freaking courtesy for fudge and pickles sake!
Anyway, that’s one tirade done; the reason that I actually wanted to write about is that I no longer see myself as an Information Technology Manager, I haven’t for a while. I see myself, instead, as a Solutions Provider. I have stepped away from managing systems and changing backup tapes. Although, I suppose I have simply changed one electronic system for a more holistic view of systems. Our production process is a system. Our logistics process is a system, everything is a system. It has become my job to examine the system, analyse and identify the variables and improve it. Sometimes, that involved writing new code. Sometimes it is changing the way in which things are done. Sometimes it means shouting at people who lack brain power.
The reason that the title has become Inundated is because I have a problem saying no to more responsibility. Maybe I need to prove something to myself, maybe I’m just a sucker for punishment. It came as a surprise the other day when I realized that I was the youngest person in the office, and I was the one telling the other people not only what they should be doing, but how they should be doing it, and being right. I’m losing that annoying lack of self confidence. It’s about bloody time. I have my boss to thank for that – he gave me some simple advice which I am now applying. It’s working.
So, I have a plant to migrate from one company to another, I’m investigating the possibility of going into business myself, trying to dial up old contacts, and trying to keep a production plant functioning. It’s massive responsibility, but it has brought a certain level of power with it. I have been faithful to myself and I have decided to take anything on. It’s working for me. Doors are opening. This is good.