Gotta Be Frank: Don’t Be A Frank

, , , , , , | Working | June 22, 2020

I’m a manager in a call centre. Every manager here started off at the bottom of the company and has worked their way up, earning their position through experience. I’ve been with the company for over thirteen years and have been a senior manager for a good ten years

I deal with training and compliance. Staff are spot-checked for legal compliance every day. Staff who are not performing well are, at the same time, also checked for what they’re doing wrong, so we can train them and point their efforts in the right direction.

A couple of summers ago, we had a chap working for us who I will call “Frank.” He was from the near-east and spoke with a unique accent due to a mixed heritage. He had done similar work elsewhere and evidently thought he knew better than the people training him.

We occasionally see that a significant minority of people from that part of the world have difficulty following instructions from certain groups, such as women and anyone younger than they are. I’m cis-male and a little older than Frank, but I’m baby-faced and most people often estimate my age at five to ten years younger than I really am. Beverly, the other trainer, was definitely older, but a woman.

Whenever I would train Frank, he would explain to me that I was wrong, what I had said wouldn’t work, and he would do it his own way with his experience. He would then get back on the phone and continue doing everything his way, continuing to underperform.

Beverly was semi-retired, so after a week of this nonsense, I asked her to try and get through on her next availability. Frank had the same response to her training.

We decided that we would try a different form of training; we would let him listen to call recordings of his own work and provide a critique of that work, so he could see how and why it wasn’t working for him. He continued to say we were wrong, and then he’d go and do it his own way.

Eventually, his poor performance lead to a management review of his contract. He was still in his probationary period, and he was not working out. Beverley, his line manager, the head of HR, and I all agreed that Frank must go.

The head of HR and I called Frank into a side office and broke the bad news that we were going to part company. Frank exploded at us!

“Why am I being let go?”

“Frank, your performance is terrible,” [HR Head] explained. “You’re just not getting what you need to do in this job.”

“But you haven’t trained me!” Frank protested. “You should at least listen to my calls and tell me what I’m doing wrong!”

[HR Head] stifled a laugh. “What do you think that [My Name] has been doing these last two weeks? That’s exactly what he’s done!”

Frank insisted, deadly serious, “No, that’s not right.”

[HR Head] and I broke down laughing at how ridiculous this was.

“What?” said Frank.

“Frank, if you can’t see the problem here, you’re way outside someone we can ever train to do this,” I told him.

Frank just spat, “F*** you guys! You’re just taking the piss!”

And he stormed out of the building and out of our lives forever. Crazy!

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