10 June 2010

A bit of a rant

I think. I hate. My job.

I used to love it, I would boast about it to anyone who would stand still longer than four seconds. At first I thought it was the work itself - scaling baking ingredients in huge quantities - that made my job so fabulous. But what I've realized is that it's more the environment that I enjoyed.

When Big Boss was still around he kept things running smoothly for me but I didn't really know how much until he left. Now there is someone in his place (kind of, doesn't do the whole job that Big Boss did) that took what seemed like forever to get organized. Newbie has had a hard time wrapping his head around the job and so I spent a fair bit of time in his office explaining it. Over and over and over. It wouldn't be a problem except he needs to prepare my work for the next day. If he hasn't done the work, I can't scale the ingredients, and if the ingredients aren't scaled then Baker can't make the cake the next day.

Big Boss also understood that I do an excellent job with very few mistakes and I manage my time brilliantly. So if I got an hour or so of overtime in a day he didn't care. It usually didn't go above that and after a while I didn't need to have it preapproved. He also understood that by stopping what I'm doing to track down a supervisor to say that I'll be running a half hour late now will make me 45 minutes late, so it was a waste of time. Most importantly - and I stress this - he knew that I don't work well with others and that I'm faster and more accurate if I can just do the job myself without a helper. Unless I want a helper, then I manage my time around that helper doing very specific tasks.

But Big Boss left. Now Owner is running the show.

Owner has been preparing the schedule of which cakes we will make on what days. I know that Owner will need some time to get used to which cakes are big sellers and which aren't. But come on, it's her business and it's been two months already. I found out that some of our inventory ran out completely which explained the insane schedule. This schedule had the production line working at top speed every day with overtime. My work is divided by minutes - 3 minutes per scaled item. I can do 12 hours of work in 8 hours (another reason Big Boss left me alone, I can do the work of one and a half people) but this schedule was giving me 15 and 16 hours of work a day. This (and explaining Newbie's job to him) led to overtime. 18 hours in two weeks. Although Owner signed off on the overtime each day (another new rule) she didn't calculate how much I was accumulating so I thought everything was hunky dory. I was wrong.

Accountant didn't like my overtime so he told Owner. Production line people didn't like my overtime so they complained to Owner as well. Owner decided that I can't have any more overtime at all. Owner decided that I should have a helper. I don't like that one little bit but she is the owner, so I asked her to bring in people at 7 am on the days I need help. You see, she's been having the junior people come in later in the morning and running smaller lines at 7 am, so while she only needs six people for one cake run, she might need 10 for the next. Instead of having all ten people come in at 7 am, she has just the six she needs come in and then has the remaining four come in 45 minutes later. Good for the line, sucky for the rest of the plant. The extra staff used to go and help the Prep people spin graham or grease pans, or come to me where I'd have one of them put pecans on trays or sift cocoa. No more. Owner refused to change the schedule so that I could have extra help first thing in the morning.

I tried to explain to her that I'm very organized and that help in the early part of the day is better than later. Later I do my paperwork and prepare things for the next day. These are tasks I can't easily pass to another person. Owner says there's no reason why I can't just save work for people for later. She thinks there's no problem with doing things in a different order. Uh, the reason I'm so damn fast is that I've figured out how to do everything in the least number of steps possible. By skipping a step I throw the order off, thereby throwing my time off. Owner didn't believe me. She doesn't think I'm organized at all, just resistant to change. She said I could have help during the day when a smaller line is running and there is extra staff. Except she's arranged many days where there is no extra staff. But she doesn't believe me. According to her there is always someone extra.

So I managed to get a helper for a bit the other day by taking this person away from Prep. By my calculations I would have been an hour over if I'd've just done the work myself. I had the helper for about two hours on and off over the course of the day, and I was a half hour over. Owner has a hard time understanding that training a person to do my job takes time away from me doing my job. And the helper didn't like to lift anything heavy (80% of my work is heavy). Owner asked me the next day how it went so I told her: I hated every stinking minute of it. I hated the questions 'what do I do now' or 'where does this go' or 'how do I do that' or 'is this close enough'. I told her that this was the very reason I'm not in a managerial role: I'm crappy with people. Owner backed up a bit and looked peeved.

The next day I tried saving work for people. After I was done my day I went to Owner to tell her what was left so someone else could do it. No, she said, there isn't anyone who can do it because the Line is running late, can you stay late and finish it? Sigh.

At this point I'm even expecting a written reprimand for poor attitude. First off I disagreed with her about how to structure my day (disagreeing with Owner is unacceptable), then I said I wouldn't come in early to help out with depanning. One of the depanning girls is pregnant and is having a hard time, especially on days when there are 1100 cake layers to depan. Since they start a half hour before me I was asked to come in early and help out. I pointed out that it's not the start time that's the problem, it's that by taking an hour and a half out of my day to depan will put me into overtime, or I'll need a helper from the Line. She said there was no problem taking someone from the Line to help out (uh-huh, until I need someone, then she inevitably says nobody is available to help me). So I told her to eliminate the extra step, if the help was going to come to me from the Line, just take one of the Line people and put her directly on depanning. With her eyebrows raised at me she told me that this is what teamwork is, we all help each other. I told her I'm not a team player and that I don't share my sandbox well. I also told her that she is taking away the very thing that I used to love about my job: managing my own time, not someone else's.

Tiny victory: Owner chose someone from the Line to come in and depan.

In addition to dealing with Owner telling me I can't have overtime and then asking me to stay late, or telling me I can have a helper but arranging the schedule so that no one is available to help, I have lovely new menial tasks added to my day. Apparently I need to clean every container in my cooler to stop the mold spores. And I need to affix a label to every opened container in my cooler, freezer and dry storage. This label is to show what date the item was opened. Ok, but I don't remember when I opened some of this stuff. Just guess, says New QA as she's watching me write out labels. Yes, actually standing next to me training me on how to write "10 June 2010" on a label and put it on a container. Oh but not on top of the container, on the side of the container. I showed an amazing amount of restraint in not writing out a label that said "loser" and sticking it on QA's forehead.

In addition to these new time wasting jobs, QA has decided that scaling is too dusty. My dry storage is in scaling and the boxes on the metal racks have powder on them as do the racks themselves. Yes, I said. It is dusty. The two fans I have running tend to make the powder fly around a bit. Do you really need the fans, was QA's question. Well, only if I don't want to pass out from heat exhaustion from lifting heavy items in stiflingly hot air, was my response. QA didn't look happy with me, she gave me that look of "you're being difficult". I looked back as "yes, I am".

If I'm assigned a helper again then I'll happily give her the task of removing everything from the racks, cleaning the racks, and wiping down the boxes before returning them to the exact spot they were in on the racks. A helper can get a bucket of bleachy water and clean the containers in the cooler, too. For that matter, a helper can also make up a bunch of dates, write them out on labels and stick the labels on opened product, on the side of the container. That's basically how I did it. I'll be eliminating one step there tomorrow anyway. The label doesn't stick on nicely (especially in the freezer) so I'll just take a Sharpie marker and write "opened June 2010" with my initials. Really, I don't want labels flying about scaling and possibly getting into ingredients.

So now I find I'm mounting frustration on top of frustration and really not wanting to go into work any more. A few days I've even just wanted to drop my scooper and leave, feigning illness. This is not a good sign. And I don't know if I'm being an unreasonable big baby with all the changes, or if I'm justified in my frustration. Big Boss knew who I was as a person, he knew what made me work effectively and what slowed me down. He knew my strengths and weaknesses and did what he could to keep me successful in my job. Owner thinks that anybody can manage other people, it just takes practice. Owner thinks she is more organized than me and wants to re-sort my day. Owner thinks that horrible overtime I had is the norm (it is so not the norm) and that it's a result of me mismanaging my time. When in fact, it's because the schedule she developed was unrealistic (Prep people also couldn't keep up and the Line ran late frequently) and because Newbie didn't know his job well enough to assign my work.

But I know, make a decision by flipping a coin and going with my gut. I'm getting my resume together and have been watching the job boards. Maybe I'll find something new and interesting that pays about the same. Or maybe I'll just put my big girl panties on and deal with the change. Maybe make some Loser labels as well. We'll see.

1 comment:

Chantelle said...

You were so lucky to have the manager you did, who understood you and allowed you to work the way that you like to work. Some bosses are better at doing that than others - and it sounds like the new boss is less good at it.

It sounds very frustrating to have the changes in management. It's hard to get used to a new management style, especially when that person doesn't seem to be adjusting for you, either. I ran into the same problem when I was at RIM with my last manager. We butt heads like nobody's business and had more than one screaming match.

I understand why they want to put labels on the opened stuff; it's to keep track of how old or new something is and whether it's stale or not. I know that you know how old stuff is but if someone else were to come in they can't extract the information from your head, you know? The reason the labels go on the side is because the lids could be put on another container. I know you'd never do that, but a helper might.

Standardizing the ingredients in this way makes it easier for anyone to come in and learn where things are and how to use the ingredients.

About the cleaning: making sure that there are no mold spores is very, very important. If someone got sick because of mold spores, the company would lose a lot of money in recalls and stuff.

All that said, if you hate the environment so much, find another job. In the meantime, if you can give in and try and work with a helper and as part of a team, the environment might be less stressful for you because you won't be battling your boss.

Love you so much,
Chantelle