While the perfect timing of my shift from the UK to US track proved advantageous (a fast-tracked promotion that only took three months from Supervisor to Team Manager, when it usually it takes about a year minimum), I was also thrust into a new world of cutthroat statistics to be met per team, people management (i.e. managing people in their thirties and sometimes forties, while I merely turned 23 that year), work politics, deadlines, progress reports, punishing schedules, and more deadlines. We had Verizon as our major client; the US office had also just signed a contract with Sprint, which meant the call volume would skyrocket. Everyone braced themselves for the impact; it was going to be a crazy 3rd quarter.
I was barely even finished settling down my things on my new station, after the contract signing, when I was given a barrage of things to attend to. One, go to the Training Dept. to meet some of my future CSRs. Two, shadow a Team Manager as she went about her tasks, and at the same time orient myself on the processes and SOPs of the company. Three, activate my Outlook and set my trackers- QA, CPT, Attendance. Four, learn Kronos software, TCS, and AVAYA all in the same day. By lunchtime, my head was spinning. I felt nauseous, and I seriously considered quitting. I took a sip of my coffee, which had gone stale in my mug.
“Thad, ok ka lang?” A friend asks, as I stare blankly at my PC screen.
“Ha?” I said distractedly. “Yeah, I’m on break. Jen, I really feel like going on sick leave today. I feel sick.”
“Gagah, kaka-promote mo pa lang! Haler, just suck it up. You have a few hours to go before the shift ends.”
“Beyk, I’ll go to the sleeping area and close my eyes for a while. Windang na talaga ako.” I said as I made my way to the 12th floor. Even years later as a TM, it would become my daily habit to nap during my one hour break (I’ve mastered the art of stuffing food in my mouth during 15 minute breaks).
Little did I know that most difficult part of my job had yet to come. Three days into my being a TM, I inherited several CSRs from a Team Manager who resigned. I was backtracking and ironing out their records when I realized the previous TM had left a lot of work to be done. The CSR’s records were last updated months ago, and as I filled in the Attendance records from TCS, I got the first feelings of dread.
Nina was a CSR on probationary status. Her Quality scores and Call processing time were satisfactory, but her Attendance was far from pleasing. She had incurred enough occurrences to merit a Final Warning. Per the probationary contract, it is stipulated that a Final Warning automatically disqualifies them for regularization; ergo they are to clear out their lockers and pack their bags should that day come. I consulted with an ACCM, since the CSR was not informed of her status nor was she coached or issued the preceding Verbal and Written warnings, I was able to initially get her off the hook. I prepared her written warning, to be served the following day.
I was able to go through the process without trouble, and persuaded her to work on her attendance. But fate must have had other plans, because the following day Nina called in sick again. Upon her return, I had no choice. I approached her and asked her to log off the phones.
“Nina! Why were you absent yesterday?”
“Sorry boss, I was really not feeling well.”
“We just discussed this days ago. Nina, you are aware that you are already on written warning, and just days away from your regularization date. Do you have a Medical Certificate to support this? I can file it as an LOA if it’s supported by a Med Cert from a Medicard-accredited physician.”
“No, I don’t have a Med Cert.” She said, sitting up.
I took a deep breath. “I will be serving you a Final Warning for absences.” My heart started to pound, I swear she could hear it. Oh dear, I thought- I’m about to fire my first CSR! I heard through the grapevine she was two months pregnant, and this added to my apprehension.
“Unfortunately, this effectively disqualifies you for regularization. Sorry Nina, but you are already- ” I squirmed in my seat.
“Termed?” She said, looking me in the eye.
“Yes!” I sighed with relief. (Gosh, I was really an amateur!) “I’m really sorry but you have to surrender your badge, and clear out your locker today.”
I went back to my station and collapsed on my seat after that episode. EJ, a fellow TM, walked by and looked at me sympathetically. “Rough day? Let me guess, you fired someone.”
“Tell me about it.” I said.