Please Advise So I Can Ignore You

, , , , , | Working | January 7, 2021

I work for a small manufacturing company. I am asked to bring in some improvements to improve certain areas and help reduce customer complaints. This is something I have been doing for years, and I have seen what happens to companies that don’t listen to complaints and those that lost big business because of it, so I am keen to help.

The single biggest complaint? Customers are missing parts. After some investigation, I find that it is because the parts are being counted by hand and people make mistakes. I report back to my boss.

Me: “The biggest complaint is missing parts. It’s costing the company [some hundreds of pounds] in shipping replacement parts. The reason for this is human error.”

Manager: “So, how do you propose to fix this?”

Me: “Simple: they sell scales that will count parts for you. You will make the money back in six months. If you would like to stop all claims, it attaches to a label printer and you could prove each shipment was correct for a few more pennies a shipment.”

Manager: “Fantastic! [Owner] will be pleased. Oh, you’d better check that it’s okay with the operator.”

Me: “The operator who puts the parts into the bags? I can do that. I mean, it will mean fewer complaints and an easier job for them. If I explain that, surely they will be on board.”

Manager: “Err, yeah. Give it a try.”

I leave the office a little shocked. This is a big problem for the company. Customers only stay customers when it is more hassle to change than it is to deal with the issues. Risking it because of an operator having to change slightly? I get the need to keep everyone involved and figure that they will be reasonable.

I explain my suggestion to the worker, being very careful to explain that the issue is not with her but with manual work in general.

Me: “So, what do you think? The scales are easy to use. They may be a little faster, but they’re a lot more accurate.”

Worker: “It won’t work.”

Me: “Are you sure? I have put these systems in place before at other companies. They are literally designed to do this. We could rent a set to give it a try?”

Worker: “It’s too drafty in here. It won’t work; we have tried before.”

I look around at the sealed clean room; no doors or windows are allowed to be open.

Me: “Oh, don’t worry. They can be put in clear boxes, and a little draft can be prevented.”

Worker: “Just drop it, okay? I said it won’t work!”

I can take a hint. I let the manager know the response.

Manager: “Well, that’s a shame. It sounded like a good idea.”

Me: “Wait. We aren’t going ahead? I can prove it will work. H***, I will personally pay for the rental.”

Manager: “Don’t want to upset the team, do we?”

I quit the next month. Don’t employ someone to fix your problems and then not listen to them.

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Shout-Out To This Editor’s Bosses For Actually Attending The Meetings!

, , , , , | Working | August 20, 2020

I am a facilities manager for a medium-sized tech company. During a major expansion, we score a new operations director, stealing him away from one of our biggest customers. It should have been a clue that the customer didn’t seem all that upset to have lost him.

It quickly becomes apparent that our new director LOVES meetings. Every morning, all of us managers — about ten of us — have to attend his ops meeting, which never goes less than three hours and often runs over four hours.

In every one of those meetings, some of us are told to schedule new one-on-one meetings with him to discuss items from this meeting. We send the meeting requests, he accepts, and then 98% of the time he fails to appear, usually because he tends to double-, triple-, or quadruple-book and only ever attends meetings he’s scheduled himself in those cases.

One day, about three and a half hours into the ops meeting, an item in my area of responsibility comes up.

Director: “[My Name], why is this back on my agenda?”

Me: “I don’t know. I dealt with that three weeks ago. It was a five-minute fix.”

Director: “I thought I asked you to schedule a meeting with me to go over it.”

Me: “You did. I just figured I’d save you the trouble of standing me up by not scheduling it in the first place.”

That was the last time he ever spoke to me.

He tried to lay me off a few weeks later, but the owners were already on to him. He was given the opportunity to succeed elsewhere, meetings became fewer and further between, and I stayed with the company for about ten more years.

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Open-Source Stupidity

, , , , , | Working | August 19, 2020

I am an industrial automation technician in a manufacturing plant and, as such, I write programs for our different systems. We have one of those “know it all” engineers who loves to tell me how to do my job but doesn’t have a clue what it’s about.

As an analogy, he’s a biology engineer and doesn’t know how to use a hammer, but because he adds windshield washer himself in his car, he figures he can tell a mechanic how to repair the transmission.

We get a new machine. It comes all assembled with its own control computer with the program/software they developed. We’re talking a half-million-dollar machine.

The engineer comes to me while the supplier is installing the machine.

Engineer: “Go with them and see how the program is made. It might be helpful.”

Me: “Why? It won’t be of any help. It’s their program and it’s locked. I can’t do anything to it.”

Engineer: “Yes, you can. We bought it.”

Me: “What you bought is the user’s license for it.”

Engineer: “Yes. We have the license, which means that you can modify the program in it.”

Me: “When you get Windows or any other OS, you buy a license. Does it gives you the right to alter it?”

Engineer: “Well… yes, when I install Word or something else, I’m modifying it. We have other machines of the same brand and you program them. Just go and look up their software to get how they program it so you will be able to modify it.”

Me: “That’s not the same. I can’t modify their program because it’s locked, write-protected. I can’t open it without the proper password. It’s their intellectual property. Their copyright. I have no right and no way to even access it. I can install Word but I can’t modify it.”

Engineer: “Yes, you can; we bought the license.”

Me: “The operation license. Not the source code.”

It took me close to half an hour of arguing to make him understand the difference between a proprietary software and an open-source one, or a machine you buy blank and program the way you want to. Even then…

Engineer: “I’ll ask them. Come with me. They’ll tell you.”

Me: “You go on. I have something to finish here first.”

I didn’t follow, and he never talked to me again about it. I guess “they told him.”

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The Boss Thought They Were Ovary-acting

, , , , , | Working | March 16, 2020

A few months ago, my best friend had a cancer scare and had to go in for emergency surgery. Her sister worked for a Japanese company that, among other things, manufactures motorcycles and has a manufacturer site in the Great Plains — which is a little more west than the Midwest for you non-USA folk.

The sister asked her bosses to get the day of the surgery off so she could be with my friend. Her bosses said no and something along the lines of, “It’s just a surgery. You can see her on your day off.”

As I am sure many of you are, I was outraged. I messaged them across their various US social media outlets expressing my anger. Unfortunately, they never got back to me, most likely because I left out names and only provided the location. 

Luckily, the friend did not have cancer, just a naughty left ovary that decided it wanted to scare everyone and randomly exploded. The ovary was removed and my friend went on to recover just fine!

I hear some of you saying that there’s no conclusion about the bosses. Well, guess what?! I recently found out from the sister that the bosses who told her that emergency surgery wasn’t important… got fired. The sister herself is about to start another job that has a much more employee-friendly policy, so happy endings for everyone!

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Can’t Af-Ford Another Call

, , , | Right | January 6, 2019

(I am a designer working on a Saturday. No other office staff are working, so on occasion, the phone will ring and I go ahead and answer it. We have the good fortune to have a phone number that is the same as the local Ford dealer with one difference… when you punch in “F-zero-R-D” you get our number.)

Me: “[Business]; how can I help you?”

Caller: “I’m having trouble with my car and would like to make an appointment.”

Me: “This is [Business]; were you trying to reach the Ford dealer?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “You have to dial F O! R D. Goodbye.”

(A few minutes later the phone rings again.)

Me: “[Business], how can I help you?”

Same Caller: “I’m having trouble with my car and would like to make an appointment.”

Me: “This is [Business]! You have to dial F O! R D. Goodbye.”

(A few minutes later the phone rings again.)

Me: “[Business], how can I help you?”

Same Caller: “I’m having trouble with my car and would like to make an appointment.”

Me: “Sure, would Thursday at 4:30 be okay?”

Same Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “See you then, goodbye.”

(I wonder if they squeezed her in?)

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