"Hey guys, how you doing? My name is Graham, it's good to finally meet all you guys. What's your name?"
"Danny. And this is my wife..."
"It's great you guys could make it." He moves to the front of the room after meeting one tech.
"Well guys, sorry I'm so late. I've been meeting with the reps for the past hour getting ready for what we're doing tomorrow. And darn, I got you guys some pizza but I guess the reps ate it all. So I guess I owe you guys dinner." Um, why would you tell us that?
We've been playing hangman on the whiteboard while waiting for the meeting to start. He walked to the whiteboard and asked if we needed what was written on there. We assumed he meant the hangman game and not all of Caleb's numbers and appointments and passwords and information that was also written on there, so we said no. He erased the entire board, while Caleb flinched as all his important info was wiped away. He then asked Caleb to draw a map of Alberta and named some cities for him to point out.
Meanwhile, he launched into his sob story.
As it turns out, our office hasn't been doing very well. Somewhat true. We were promised 30 days and we've been having 18 days at best, so yeah we're not doing the greatest, but things have been picking up lately so we're happy. I mean, it's a Tuesday and we did 15. That's our best Tuesday in a month! But apparently Graham is not as happy as we are. Graham is concerned that he is losing his best reps in our office due to depression. He sent one home just today who he met earlier in the lobby sobbing because she was so depressed because of this job. And you know why they're depressed? There's no feeling of unity in the office. The reps don't feel like they're friends with the techs and vice-versa, which can create tension and cause things to fall apart, so it's probably good that he's worried about this as an issue in the office.
But wait! Why isn't there rep-tech unity? Let's back up.
Caleb and Richard planned to have a rep-tech bbq right at the beginning of the summer. It was going to be paid for by the company and it was going to be a blast. It was going to be on a Sunday so everyone could come. And that's about all the details I can provide you with. We didn't know until that Sunday the location of the bbq, and then we found out it was at a campsite 2 hours away. It was supposed to start around 2, but that's when all the reps left. We found out later that all they brought was beer, so it wasn't much of a bbq anyway. We obviously decided not to go due to the lack of planning and had our own tech party like we'd been doing every Sunday thus far.
There was another opportunity for mingling when Caleb called a special meeting for all the reps and all the techs to work out any differences as far as work is concerned. They showed up for the meeting and were told to wait in the hall while Caleb met with the reps. Then all the reps came out in the hall and the techs went in the office so Caleb could meet with them. So...no joint meeting. ?
Caleb also promised for the entire first month that he'd come over for a tech meeting so he could get to know everyone and he never quite made it out.
Basically, if there was a lack of team unity it was because the reps failed at mingling with the techs. Which usually happens, so no big deal. Besides, there wasn't really a problem with team unity. The techs were doing their job for the reps, and the reps were getting work for the techs, and that's all that needs to happen. No problems on either side. So back to Graham.
Graham proposed a solution to the lack of unity in the office. He said that another of his offices was having similar problems and our office needed to do the same thing they did.
"So what we need to do and what worked in the Winnipeg office is I want to take you guys camping. We'll go for a weekend camping trip and just have a great bonding experience. Every night around the campfire we'll just let loose and get to know each other and I know that after this weekend the morale in this office will just sky rocket. And what we need to do is hit up the northern cities where no one's been. Everyone up there wants a security system and there's not a company up there. So if we take this weekend and go camping up north it will boost our numbers and we'll all feel better about life."
He added some details using the map on the board about the northern cities that are just gold mines. Meanwhile we're all thinking...Camping?
Wait, seriously? He wants to have the sales crew camp? He wants to have the technicians sleep on the ground after working 14 hour days? This is like a really sick joke or something.
We then spent the next two hours discussing this idea with Graham. Someone would ask a question and he would make a ridiculous promise. Examples:
Q: So, when would this be happening?
A: We're leaving at 9 am tomorrow so we can get up there in time to hit the doors by about 4 pm.
Q: And you're providing the tents and stuff?
A: Actually I was just at Walmart today and they have these two man tents for $20 and then you guys can use them later.
Q: How far of a drive is it to where we're going?
A: It's about 3 1/2 hours (it's really 7)
Q: Will our gas be paid for?
A: Yep I'll pay for everyone's gas (he later amended this by saying he'd pay for anyone who got to the gas station at the same time he did and then later didn't pay for anyone's)
Q: What about my wife?
A: Your wives and kids are all welcome to come, I'd just worry about them being cold.
Q: What about sleeping bags? Those aren't very cheap...
A: What you can do is just bring the blankets you have here (Graham, have you ever been camping?)
Q: When is this bonding supposed to take place?
A: Right when all the techs get home.
Q: So at 2 am?
A: Well what time do you usually get home? Not 2.
Q: I usually get home between 12 and 1:30...
Q: What about equipment? You guys can only sell as much as we bring equipment for...
A: If we need equipment, I'll go get it. You guys won't have to worry about that.
Q: We've been getting a lot of crap from the reps about techs being more than 20 minutes to a job. Are you promising that no one will get upset if you keep us backed up?
A: Oh absolutely not. I'm happy when the techs are backed up, that means there are tons of sales. No problem there.
Q: Plus if we get backed up that means the next day will be completely full of schedule-outs. Is everyone going to be understanding about that?
A: Oh absolutely.
Q: Can you promise this will be the absolutely last time this ever happens all summer?
A: Well, no. What if you guys love it and want to do it again?
Q: What about the paperwork for the office? (the office manager took a week off because of a miscarriage so she was way behind).
A: I've already talked to Joe, he's going to take care of all your paperwork for you. Just send it to him. (Um, yeah right)
Q: How long are we going to be up there?
A: Just three days, then we'll come back to Calgary and we'll rock it here.
Q: What if we don't want to come, or if we can't?
A: If you can't come we've got about 10 jobs lined up for you here (no, just 2) so you'll be taken care of. And if you don't want to come that's your decision.
All through these questions all the techs had kind of funny looks on their faces. Basically what everyone was feeling was that they had no choice. If they didn't want to go they wouldn't have any work here. Everything he brought up I negated publicly, so he really wasn't happy I was there :D At one point he got very frustrated with my opposition and said "Ok fine. Let's not do this. I give this office 2 weeks before it shuts down." That made everyone realize this really was the only choice for them to make money.
When you sign up for this job you do it with the understanding that you'll be residing in an apartment, the SAME apartment, for 4 months. You'll be working in and around the same city the entire time. Things like this do not usually happen, and it was quite a proposition to be given at midnight the night before all the changes are to take place. We sat around discussing it for another hour or two. Everyone wanted my input because I seemed very opposed to the idea. Richard went out in the hall to discuss things with Caleb and Graham.
A couple techs came in late because they had late jobs. When they entered we all told them we were going camping, and they were immediately excited. Who doesn't love camping? But as we explained a little bit further they started going "...huh." Those two ended up being the two who did not go the next day.
As we discussed it, Marilyn came up with a solution to most everyone's problems. See, we hadn't been getting very much work, so all the techs were kind of poor. She decided to propose to Graham that if he would give everyone $100 for gas then everyone would be excited to go. When she brought this idea up to Graham his response was to look at his watch and say "Well I guess I better get going..." He totally ignored her and didn't answer the question at all.
At some point the guy who works next door came out of his office to complain about the noise level. He brought up the concern that there were children that should be in bed and that it's after midnight. Graham asked if he lived there. The man responded quite curtly "No. I'm working." and Graham retorted with "So are we." and just stared the guy down until he slammed his door. It was 1:30 am.
We continued to discuss the idea and try to decide if we were going to boycott or actually go or what was going on. Eventually it was decided that everyone would meet at our place at 9 to load up with equipment and that Richard would be up later that night after he took care of some tickets and last-minute things in Calgary. Richard would be getting a hotel for anyone who didn't want to camp.
So...I was not excited because I would not be going. Marilyn would also not be going, and I was planning to sleep at her place so we both wouldn't be lonely. But I guess we'd wait and see what tomorrow would bring. Who knows, maybe this would be a good thing...
Launch Mission #12
4 months ago