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Mind Your Grabby Hands

, , , , , , , | Working | May 5, 2023

I work in a distribution warehouse, and my team’s jobs include assigning and bringing printed tickets to the right group(s), coordinating issues between sales and the warehouse, figuring out who to bump issues from the warehouse back to, etc. Basically, we’re the middlemen handling everything going back and forth between the warehouse and the rest of the company. For the most part, my supervisor lets us do our jobs properly, as he’s always got his own tasks, questions to answer, emails to respond to, etc. It’s refreshing, actually. He does have a very odd form of micro-managing, though. 

Whenever HE gets caught up, he starts getting grabby. A group email just came in? He has to instantly answer it without gathering information. A ticket gets opened? He has to instantly do it. There’s kickback from the shipping department? He has to jump up to go grab it. It doesn’t matter that there are four other people on the team doing our jobs and that nothing sits around for more than one or two minutes; he snatches up anything the instant it’s open.

In all honesty, this wouldn’t be a bad thing, except that [Supervisor] then turns around and starts making unintentionally (I think) snide comments about “doing our job for us” and/or how we “need to go faster”. He’s always saying it in a “joking” tone, but it’s a little too consistent for comfort.

After a few weeks of this, where he is doing it all through the day instead of once or twice a week, and our responses are falling on deaf ears, we finally schedule a meeting with the supervisor and someone from Human Resources to air our grievances and get things sorted.

A lot of this is condensed from multiple people voicing the same issue and removing company-specific jargon, so I’ll just refer to “us” for the most part.

Us: “It’s not that we’re unappreciative of help when we get busy; we definitely are. But when you start jumping in when we’re not busy, it takes away what work we do have.”

Supervisor: “Well, if you’re not busy, you should be getting to it.”

Us: “We are getting to it, but if six tickets open within a minute or two, and each one takes two or three minutes to get through, then we’ll get to tickets five and six when we finish one through four.”

Supervisor: “So, why is it taking so long?!”

Us: “It honestly isn’t. We all do the tasks at basically the same speed you do.”

Supervisor: “Then why am I always the one running around doing everything?”

Coworker #1: “With all due respect, you’re not. [My Name], [Coworker #2], and I are constantly going back and forth with the pickers and shippers. The only reason [Coworker #3] isn’t is that she’s still recovering from foot surgery.”

Supervisor: “All right, then someone please explain to me why there’s always something left undone!”

Us: “Because there’s always something new coming in?”

Me: “Are we supposed to always stop something we’re in the middle of, just because something new opens up?”

Supervisor: “Of course not!”

Us: “Then give us time to do our work! You can’t complain if a five-minute process isn’t done in thirty seconds.”

HR Guy: “No one’s complaining that you guys aren’t doing your job fast enough.”

At this point, I’m upset because it’s been going on a while and [Supervisor] still isn’t getting it, so I just gesture directly at him while looking [HR Guy] in the eye. Admittedly, it might not be the most diplomatic way to do it, but it is better than the litany of curses building in my brain.

Supervisor: “Oh, I do not.”

Coworker #3: “You literally said to me, ‘If I have to keep doing you guys’ work because you’re so slow, it makes me wonder if we need you all,’ while I had a stack of ten completed tickets on my desk because I’d been going so fast I hadn’t had time to put them away.”

Coworker #2: “And you said to all of us just yesterday, ‘Why do you guys take so long? I can do this in half the time.’ Meanwhile, it’s not half the time, but still, three-quarters of the problems from our group lately have been from the things you did, because you’re rushing through and not double-checking things the way you tell us to do all the time.”

Me: “And on top of that, on Friday, you were asking why something ‘wasn’t done right’ when I had just opened it and hadn’t worked it, never mind marked it complete yet.”

[Supervisor] sat back a bit, his face a little white and kind of staring off into space. I honestly don’t know if he was embarrassed about getting called out in front of HR by a united front, or if he honestly didn’t realize how passive-aggressive — and sometimes just regular-aggressive — he was being.

[HR Guy], who had mostly been letting us talk everything out and just making sure nobody got too heated, made a quick round with us to make sure everyone had gotten out everything that needed saying and then asked for some one-on-one time with [Supervisor].

[Supervisor] later came to us and apologized. He said he’s just “got a thing” where, if something needs to be done, he has to jump on it, but he admitted that it wasn’t fair to just assume we weren’t doing the work.

So far, it’s been a couple of weeks, and he hasn’t slipped back into his snatchy behavior… yet!

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What is the absolute most stupid thing you’ve heard a customer say?

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