When I first started at the call centre there was no middle management to speak of. Oversight came chiefly from a few shift supervisors who had a more than hefty workload of their own dealing with all the ‘complex’ enquiries and customer call-backs ensuring that they never really bothered us. Above them existed a strata of managers whose jobs are generally so opaque no-one on the floor seems to know just what it is they do apart from seeming to wander round doing not much in particular unless a ‘client’ visits when they rush round like tadpoles in a jam-jar as they roll out the red carpet and parade past us with platters of sandwiches.
This may seem bad, but in practice we all coexisted in a state of blissful ignorance. We didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother us. If you could deal with their casual indifference it was quite a good state of affairs. You just showed up to work, plugged in your headset, then come the end of the day unplugged yourself and left. You filled out a timesheet once a week and then each month a sum of money would appear in your bank.
This state of affairs was not however to last for long. Person, or persons unknown amongst the management strata decided to employ a middle-manager. At first their plan was foiled by lack of suitable applicants, but then sometime late last year they announced via the company intranet that their quest was complete. We were to have a new Customer Services manager.
Being completely new they would have a period of bedding-in; getting to know us, the systems we work with and feeling out their job role. Meanwhile on the floor we speculated about what the new leader in our midst would mean for us as individuals and as a collective. In moments of optimism we would hope that our new manager would be someone who could represent our views to the distant strata of managers, like a priest connects their flock to an absract entity, making sure that our voices were heard and that we had the tools and support we needed to do our jobs. On the pessimistic side we were suspicious of the gaze of dedicated scrutiny which would fall directly upon us.
One thing though was certain. Things would never be the same again…..