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You Can’t Help Those Who Don’t Want To Be Helped

, , , , , , | Working | January 12, 2022

During the last recession, I took a job at a company that makes special washers, springs, etc. I previously worked in high-accuracy, high-tech companies, and this is some of the most basic engineering I have worked with, but I am genuinely happy to have a job.

It is clear straight away that the team I am working with has been there forever, they’re all set in their ways, and they don’t like change. None of them speak to me and they all complain constantly. 

The current winge is about their office; it has shrunk slightly because the business needed the space. The office is still 40% bigger than it needs to be, but they complain anyway. 

This carries on for months until I’ve had enough. I suggest some ways we could make the space work better — new equipment that takes up less space and is easier to use, changing an empty desk into a work area, etc. It’s all stuff that I have seen working before and will make their lives easier.

The team hates every idea I give and responds with nonsense excuses or just refusing to listen. Knowing this is a dead-end, I shut up and get on with the work. They seem happy being miserable.

Months later, the same original gripes and complaints keep on coming. What is worse is that some of these old ways of working are affecting the customers, and now I am getting complaints from my boss, expecting me to stop them.

My boss brings me into a meeting room to discuss it.

Manager: “We are getting a lot of complaints about missing parts.”

Me: “Yes, they are being counted by hand, and mistakes will happen as long as we do this.”

Manager: “So, how do we improve?”

Me: “Stop the problem at its source; change from manual counting to a machine. It is inexpensive and will pay the company back in costs within a few years. It is simple to use and implement.”

Manager: “Great. So, why haven’t you said this before?”

Me: “Every suggestion is shot down by the team. When I try to encourage improvement, I get complaints. Then you discipline me for not working together with them and tell me to ‘toe the line’.”

Manager: “Ah, okay. Well, the next issue, then? Marks and damages. Lots of complaints here.”

Me: “I believe we have discussed this one, too. I wanted to test out some new worktops. But—”

Manager: “Oh, yes, there were some complaints from the team and we dropped it.”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. You employ me to fix these issues. I have given you multiple cost-effective options to do so, all proven with little to no risk. But the operator is telling you that he doesn’t want to even try, so we just don’t?! And the problems stay here forever. I have tried reason, I have tried demonstrating the savings and benefits, and I have tried bringing the team with me and hearing their ideas, but they don’t want to change. They are actively stopping progress and improvement.”

Manager: “Yes, a tricky one… Okay, so, the next issue.”

We went through the list and it was all the same. I’d make a suggestion, but the team wouldn’t like it or would refuse to try. The manager would like the idea but refuse to help.

I knew then that I was wasting my time in this job; nothing I would do could change anything. The company would rather lose thousands a month, and potentially customers, than ask the guy whose job it was to put parts in a bag to try something slightly different. I quit that month.

Question of the Week

What is the most stupid reason a customer has asked to see your manager?

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