I'm still considered a contractor, but now I'm in a situation that's called "contract to hire". How exciting. What exactly does that mean, you may ask? I have no bloody idea, I may answer, but I'm keeping my nose clean, my mind open, and my fingers crossed, hoping that I may leverage my, charm and good looks, along with my kick-ass project management skills, into a full time, permanent gig. We shall see.
Actually, at this point I have finished the planning portion of the project I have been given to manage and am now in full swing project-doing. The project-doing phase has required me to move down from the shiny, cushy, corporate HQ office tower to a satellite call center, located close enough to my apartment that I can walk to work. Although my commute is much improved, I'm having trouble adjusting from the professional, corporate culture to which I have become accustomed, to the elementary school level environment of the call center.
I've been handed a crack team of ladies, or maybe a team of crack ladies, who are actually doing the work-work. They have all been plucked from the mundane obscurity of the giant call center just for my project, and are considered the cream of the call center crop. My role involves assigning tasks, doing the analysis as the project moves along, and to my surprise, a large degree of coaching, babysitting and mentoring.
Basically it's 12 young women, all under the age of 25, and me, stuffed into a room together. It's noisy, and frequently unprofessional and ridiculous in ways that I never considered possible before last month. Every day I feel like I'm running a daycare. I shouldn't have to ask you not to read the newspaper while you're at work, but on the other hand I don't need you to tell me every time you go to the ladies room to pee either.
I'd like to strike some kind of balance where people use their own common sense to decide what is the right way to behave in a professional setting, but I'm beginning to come unravelled as I discover what has become the new norm among this next generation of working adults.
There is a young woman (not the newspaper reader) who arrives every morning swaddled in a fleece blanket with Elvis on it. It might be a snuggie. Do they make snuggies with Elvis on them? Whatever you want to call it, she wears it all day, every day. Why? Why? All I can think of is that old adage "dress for the job you want, not the job you have". What kind of career path does a fleece blankie prepare you for?
Anyhoo... after a month of working with these young women I have discovered that I'm not only an old farty-fart who is out of touch with popular culture, I'm also a workaholic crank with a sour disposition and little patience for trifflin' bullshit. Yeah. It's a revelation.
You see... when I'm at work, call me cuckoo, but I WORK. As in to work. I agreed when I took the job that Large Corporation will pay a certain amount of money in exchange for me coming in every day and performing a particular service, so that's pretty much what I do. I don't paint my nails or read magazines or call my stupid boyfriend or text my 10 best friends or balance my checkbook or shop online for boots. It's not called lazy-ass-entitled-spoiled-motherfuckering, it's called WORK.
In an effort to bring some kind of order to the madness I've laid down some simple ground rules, in addition to the company policies they are required to follow.
1. Shut up.
2. Keep it down.
3. Quiet please.
4. Please shut the fuck up.
5. Do your work. There is work that needs to be done and a strict timeline in which to do it, so DO IT and button your damn lips. Unless you have a question, in which case you should ask the question. Then do your work while shutting up.
Now that I've said all that (this is the part where I get all high and mighty), let me also say to Large Corporations everywhere: When it comes to labor, you get what you pay for.
When you treat people like shit, they will act shitty. The young women who were chosen to work with me on this project are bright and capable and I have to remind them of this every goddamn day because they don't seem to ever get any other positive messages from the management of the company. In addition to the real work that I have to do, I have to take time out of every day to perform like a flippin' cheerleader in order to get them all motivated and acting like they give even the slightest crap about themselves and the work they are doing.
If you give people incentives and spend the money on proper training programs and make them feel important and valuable, then your employees might actually become important and valuable to your organization.