Wednesday, August 18, 2004

139 over 95

That was my blood pressure when I got home this evening. That was after leaving work and spending an hour getting my hair cut.

The biggest problem was that today was not necessarily an a-typically stressful day. We are gearing up for the start of school on Monday and as that deadline looms I feel more and more that we are not prepared. Our manager is grabbing at straws desperately trying to set the stage so the imminent failure is not his fault.

Last Friday one of my guys invited me outside to "go smoke" (I don't smoke but that's code for "I need to vent"). As we talked, I realized he had some valid concerns about how our segment of the IT Division was operating and I have many of those same concerns. He was so worked up, he was ready to take his concerns directly to our recently appointed CIO, bypassing four levels of management.

To give our manager the benefit of the doubt, my assumption at this point is that he is trying his best to improve the services we offer and may not realize that some of his efforts are unsuccessful and causing discord. With this in mind, I agreed to meet with my team and a couple of others to discuss what we felt was wrong with the Client Services section of IT and what we felt would improve our services and working environment. With that information, I would then compose a letter to our manager and provide constructive feedback about the effect his policies, procedures, and management style were having on his employees.

My original intention was to write the letter over the weekend and present it to him on Monday... that did not happen. To maintain my mental stability, I had to leave work behind Friday night and Saturday. Unfortunately, I discovered on Sunday just how difficult this was going to be to write. First, it's one thing to handle a burdensome environment day-to-day, managing each situation as it arises. It's an entirely different challenge to combine the elements and examine them all at once. Second, it takes a great deal of diplomacy to say "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore" without igniting any unnecessary fires. Sunday came and went with only a single paragraph.

I have tried throughout the last few days to discharge this burden I have volunteered to bear. Each day has seen progress toward its completion but there is much comentary to articulate and, as I said earlier, it must be done carefully.

The interesting thing is that over the past three days something has escalated. Several others who were not part of the original conversation have started making unsolicited comments to me that they feel the efforts being put forth to strengthen our Help Desk and brace for the start of classes are inadequate... and they are expressing many of the same concerns we discussed on Friday.

I think it would be unwise to present this criticism to our manager in conjunction with the start of classes. I also think it unwise to let this fester any longer: Client Services is already dangerously close to critical mass.

Considering this, I think I'm going to post this entry and get back to my assignment. Maybe I'll be able to wrap this up tonight so I can solicit comments from others tomorrow morning, prepare a final edit, and present it to our manager tomorrow afternoon. This will give him tomorrow evening to consider it and an ability to respond on Friday if he so chooses. At the very least, it will allow the sting to fade a bit before Monday.

By the way... the BP was down to 117/74 when I started writing this.

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