21 February 2015


I'm not much of a team player, never have been and I don't expect to be in the future. This is something I've learned to accept about myself rather than try to fight. Thing is, I wasn't able to really pin down why I'm not team-oriented until recently.

I have to work with a partner at my new job. She's been doing the job for three years and has convinced the managers that the job is extremely difficult and time consuming. All the job entails is: 

  • contacting the manufacturer to ask for an RMA number so we can send defective product back and receive a credit, replacement, or repair 
  • assigning the RMA number to that product on a computer database 
  • packaging up the product and shipping it to the manufacturer 
  • receiving the repaired product (or new replacement, or credit) back into the system so the store can sell it.
  • ordering parts so the techs can repair customer's computers and laptops

So here I have a partner that has created a smokescreen around herself. She keeps product all around her to make it look like she's super busy - but most of it is empty boxes, or product that has been updated in the system as 'out of warranty' (no possibility of the store recouping its loss, basically a write-off and then disposal of the item in the environmental bins). Or she keeps multiple spreadsheets open on her three (yes, three) monitors to make it look like she's working hard. Or she lets the products pile up so instead of having to contact the manufacturer about two items, she now has eight or nine which takes them longer to process and therefore sits on her shelf longer. 

With these things in place anyone walking by her work area would think she must be overwhelmed with work. My goodness she's so busy! But really she's doing things like: watching tv shows in one small corner of one monitor; reading her book on her phone or Kindle; texting; Skyping; shopping online; napping (yes, actually has her head down on her desk and is napping); going out for food and returning 25 min later and then taking her full hour lunch; taking smoke breaks that last more than 20 min; chatting with coworkers; arranging lunch plans...you see?

Now, while she's doing all that I'm actively requesting, assigning, shipping, and receiving. So much so that at one point last week there was not a single item left to request. All other items were pending approval and no new items had come in. So I worked on updating my instruction manual that I'm writing for the job or hunting down items we should have but have gone missing. When I find a cache of items that she has hidden I dig through and figure out how to get an RMA for them. In these cases she has updated the computer indicating the items were 'shipped out', or sent to the manufacturer, when in fact she just boxed them up and set them aside. This makes it look like she's working hard because the total dollar value of items in the department goes down (ship something out - computer subtracts the cost of the item from the total in the department). Any manager looking at the dollar value sees it is down a bit so she must be doing her job.

Thinking of that dollar value - when I started it was at around $52,000. That was two months ago. There was a day or two a little over a week ago that the number was down to $9,900. Why? Because I requested every item I could physically touch in the department. All day. Every day. Meanwhile my partner requested parts occasionally, requested maybe four items for RMA, and created a work project for herself that was completely unnecessary but gave her something to do (and complain about, talked it up like it was a huge project and it was so hard and time consuming...and not needed at all. Coworkers gave her the pity she was looking for.).

Now here's the kicker: the managers congratulated 'the team' on getting the number so low. Coworkers congratulated my partner for all her hard work with not even a nod to me. I was quite offended. S reminded me that my partner and I are considered a team so even if she did one little thing she should be given some credit. But you see, that's all she did - literal drops in the buckets of water I was slugging around. I feel like I deserve more credit, more recognition. But that's not the team spirit now is it?

I have considered quitting and finding a job that suits me better, but I actually really like the RMA job I'm doing now. The work itself is very rewarding for me and I'm paid pretty good to do it. And I have deadweight in the name of my partner that I lug around every day. It's possible she will move on to something else but I doubt it. I mean, right now she has it really easy - I do the vast majority of the work while she screws the pooch, why leave? Maybe our managers will see what's really going on and step in...but that's not really their style of management. Maybe a new branch of the store will open up and I'll get the department to myself, but that plan is a year away and may not work out.

So you see, I'm not a team player. Not at all. I am a singular unit that works much more efficiently without help. But every job ad I look at says they are looking for a team player. I know I need to work with the overall team of the company - but I'm seriously better in my own department all by myself. At least I can understand that about myself now, I certainly couldn't five years ago.


Chantelle said...

Working with lazy people who've run their own department for a long time is hard. She probably resisted having someone come in to help her because there's really only work for one person (as long as that person is you) there.

I'm not good at teamwork either, and I want credit for the work I put in, too. In the past I've made sure that when working on a team, my responsibilities are different in some way than my teammates' responsibilities so that it's obvious where the credit should go (to me).

That's just my own experience - I'm not trying to tell you what you should do or giving you advice on how to do things because I know you'll figure it out. And I know that if you did want advice, you'd ask for it.

Love you,

manchester fat acceptance said...

that sucks she isn't pulling her own weight! i have become much more of a team player over the years but it has required a sort of mental shift... i have had to stop caring about the finished product as much in the interests of getting along. it's not easy though, and i still have people i can't get on with.