Thursday, August 16, 2007

Professionalism - Part 6

Tuesday, August 7th, 7:30 AM.

So now it's twenty-four hours later. I had rewritten the [Pewter] quotes using the onerous, unadulterated spreadsheet after which everything was triple-checked and then forwarded to [Pewter's] purchasing manager.

Yeah, it sure would've been easier to have done it right the first, or even second, time.

Shortly after 7:00 AM I ventured into the front office. Normally, it is vacant until the "real" business hours start at 8:30, but lo and behold, Ms Anne Thropic is at her desk!

"Great!" I thought. "We can talk one-on-one without a big audience!"

I opened with, "Say, Anne, can we talk?"

"Sure," she answered.

"Listen, I can't help but notice you haven't been talking to me for the past month or so. It's created some real bad situations and I'd like to know what the problem is," I said.

"Well, you've been very negative lately," HRH replied.

"How so?" I asked. "What do you think the root cause is?"

"Well," she answered, "I just think you've been very depressed lately."

"Good call," I said. Could it be she has some sort of empathy for my situation around here?

"Yeah. Well, you're just going have to leave that stuff at home," she shot back. "Don't bring it around here."

I shoulda known better! Now, I had about a bazillion damning things I wanted to throw back at her, but, honestly, I wanted to hear her out. And, besides, she seemed to be working from a script.

"Look, we have to work together if we're going to service our customers. They don't care whether or not the company's employees are feuding with one another," I reasoned. "I've noticed you've been hiding behind e-mails and running to other people instead of coming to me to initiate these quotes."

"Craig, I have always been your biggest booster. I think you're very smart and I was so glad when you came to work here," she said.

WTF? Are she and the VEEP working from identical cue cards? And why, exactly do I need her "boosting" me? I think my year-and-a half of managing the quality system and running the validation program should speak for itself. Yeah, what a friggin' booster... running to my bosses and talking trash about my "negativity!" (Oh, and by the way, I never did get a single example of this oft-mentioned "negativity!")

But I wasn't looking for a he-said, she-said session. I just wanted to if not clear the air, get it somewhat clearer.

"Well, then, let's try going back to working as a team on these things, OK?" I suggested. "Because the other way hasn't been working."

I left her cubicle with the feeling that at least a truce had been reached. Indeed, the rest of the day we were back to her writing up and submitting quote requests and my completing them. Jeez, the things you have to do to just achieve the status quo, sometimes.

Now, this is where my story was going to end. But...

Company's Coming!

Something I hadn't mentioned in all this mess, is that four purchasing agents from [Pewter] were going to stop by the plant on Wednesday, the day after my little heart-to-heart with "Annie."

I really hadn't been giving it much thought because it was only to be an "informal" stopover late in the afternoon and not a full-blown Quality Systems audit.

Of course, these people are from a potential client that we have been wooing for six years, so the VP called a plant-wide meeting and told everybody that since we had important visitors coming the next day, everybody must be well-dressed, on their best behavior and make sure their respective areas were spotless.

I checked with Annie to see if there had been any deal-breaking, negative repercussions from having to re-submit the corrected quotes. She indicated that for all our internal sturm-und-drang it was really no big deal to [Pewter]. Whew!

Wednesday, August 8th, Zero Hour Approaches...

Note: This is a generic picture of some other office and none
of the people pictured figured into this story in any way!

Comes the big day, the four purchasing reps show up about two hours before the end of the shift. The VP, Sales Rep and Plant Manager spent most of the time showing the guests around and explaining about our operations.

I got a call to grab an example of one of the equipment validations I had run to show any interested parties.

That interested party turned out to be [Joe Legume], the purchasing manager who had sent the unwieldy spreadsheet and had subsequently spotted the incorrect quantities on the first set of quote.

"Gulp!" to coin a phrase.

Anne, Joe and I paged through a typical completed validation study. This Joe fellow was well-informed on the whole procedure and even asked some very insightful engineering-type questions. I was impressed! As it turned out, the whole group was well-informed about all aspects associated with the production of our sort of product. My bosses were also impressed by this.

Having finished my dog-n-pony show, I stood around as the four [Pewter] folks made their good-byes and left.

Thursday, August 16th, 5:00PM

We're now ten days past that whole Monday morning blow-up that earned me the most devastatingly negative reprimand of my career. [Annie] has been on the road all week, but the quotes have, for the most part, been flowing smoothly.

On this particular day, there had been much activity between the VP and the Plant Manager. I was being called into the office to supply completed quotes for review and offer memory-joggers about details for other quotes that had now become purchase orders. Nothing too unusual, but there seemed to be a lot of activity.

About 5:00 I had to get with the PM on yet another quote. He was sitting in his chair with that dazed, "what's next?" sort of look.

"Man, your eyes look like pin-wheels! I can see your temples throbbing from here," I joked.


"You know that big [Pewter] account?" he asked.

"You mean the one that nearly cost me my job?" I replied. "Yeah, it kind of rings a bell..."


Without going into too much detail, he had just gotten off the phone with Ms Thropic. She was so angry she was near tears, he told me. We were not going to get the [Pewter] account!

The reason for this startling development was that some "flippant remarks" were made to the purchasing reps during their visit that did not go down well with them. (They also had some other reservations that sounded pretty weak to me, e.g. our crack-whore infested neighborhood and our manufacturing flow.)


I floated out of his office as if I was peaking on a four-way hit of Ecstasy! Like Scrooge at the end of "A Christmas Carol," I was light as a feather, as giddy as a school boy! I may have gotten my ass chewed, but somebody else's idiotic remarks, made directly to the purchasing reps, killed the deal!

"Go bless us," said Tiny Tim. "God bless us, everyone!"

Th-th-th-that's All, Folks!



Blogger Lee said...

Phew! Thank goodness it wasn't your fault!

Happy doodling with little Miss M!

August 18, 2007 11:26 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

lee: We did some water color stuff this afternoon. If I'm able to I'll post it at my drawing blog.
You know, I can imagaine a scenario where everybody but me lives happily ever after:

The VP can't admit to her parents that anybody "important" blew the deal.

Ms Thropic, however angry she over the deal falling through, can't take out her anger on the VP, or do anything to endanger the new SUV and Harley she's just bought.

The PM will pull his head into his protective shell.

I, on the other hand, will be fired for the deal falling through because of the "reprimand" I received.

That way, the VP saves face with her parents, the Sales Rep keeps her gravy-train job and the PM survives by not speaking up on my behalf. Everybody's happy, right? A Win-Win scenario!

And because I'm being fired for "just cause" the whole ugly issue of the company making good on unemployment insurance never surfaces. Schweet, or what?

Note to self: Get the contact address for [Joe Legume] over at [Pewter] in case I need his testimony at some point.
Another possible outcome: The VP sill start trashing the [Pewter] company as people didn't want to do business with any way.

"Did you see [Joe Legume's] teeth? Didn't his parents ever hear of braces when he was growing up? And I heard his wife is fat! They're obviously low-class people who are threatened by dealing with a high-quality supplier!"

Maybe I just need some donuts and a big glass of milk...

Goo' Night, All!

August 18, 2007 8:34 PM  
Blogger Gale said...

Patience of a Saint or really high strength Valium. Craig, you gotta get out of there.
Things are nicer away from drama queen. Really!

August 19, 2007 8:41 AM  
Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

I'm glad to know that you weren't in the hot seat on that one! So who made the remarks?

August 19, 2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm always relieved when something I said doesn't kill a massive account or start a war or something. Because it usually does ...

August 20, 2007 12:10 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

dorky dad: Those remarks are totally inappropraite and are completely uncalled for!

whim: I'm not yet 100% sure I am out of the hot-seat. My good friend, Mr. Anxiety Disorder, says to wait and see.

gale: Patience has little to do with it. I have no immediate alternatives. I have a mortagage and major car repairs staring me in the face and I need a paycheck. Valium? I ended up on Paxil at my last job, but I still ended up unemployed. Sigh.

A special shout-out to my pal, Ian, who called to see if "things were all right!" Lemme know when you're hiring, Ian, and we can discuss salary and a benefits package. (Oh, you're not getting either of those, yourself, right now..?)

And thanks to everyone for their interest and kind comments. I feel less alone in all this!

(Oh, and my WIFE has been the greatest, above and beyond everything else!)

August 20, 2007 10:48 AM  

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