Work is hell - square peg, round hole: what are my options?
September 27, 2008 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Work is hell: I love the company and the pay, but hate my job and hate my boss. I'm looking to change careers, but what careers would fit my skill set?

I work for a call center as a manager (others might say "team leader") in a financial/credit card account. The workload is such that though I am an excempt employee not paid for overtime, I am compelled to stay an upwards of 12 hours just to finish all the work I need to do.

The bulk of it is admin stuff: auditing my agents' calls for quality, customer satisfaction, compliance; keying in their phone logins/logouts, creating team reports/presentations. I tend to work at my own pace, and my boss often breathes on my neck to get these things updated on a DAILY basis, on top of managing my team of 16 direct reports, which I simply cannot do without staying on for many more hours at work. She has absolutely no empathy for mitigating circumstances, such as my being assigned to workstations where not all the admin tools are working, therefore having to hi-jack other managers' stations on a daily basis. And when 8 of my reps' IDs stopped working after a month of their being on the production floor, which meant that I not only had to manage the 8 people on the phones but had to keep the other 8 engaged for 9 hours a day and manage attrition as well, she could not understand how this could have possibly DOUBLED my workload, since "only 8 people are online anyway and that should've made things easier, not harder". Approaching her about my difficulties to possibly work out solutions hasn't helped: she always compares me to others who are not in the same situation but are accomplishing the same, and will only end the conversations by getting my commitments without giving the same kind of commitment. This is an endless source of frustration for me. My thinking is, if you want me to succeed, give me the tools I need to succeed. Oddly, she grants a lot of leeway when it comes to other people, and other people have warned me that she does indeed play favorites -- which, sadly, I am not. These Dilbert comics illustrate our dynamic perfectly. Her boss seems to think similarly, as they are very close.

The human part, the part where manage people and drive performance and get the numbers is fine. I'm proud of my team and the performance-conscious attitude and culture I've cultivated and the results they bring. And I like the Company itself, just not the account, and there's no way for me to transfer accounts because there's no way she'll recommend me. My team's performance is not enough. She has me tied to a daily task list that, if I don't accomplish it religiously, will subject me to memos and disciplinary actions. Even vacation leaves I plan well in advance are always "pending" depending on some arbitrary condition she thinks of. Everything I get from her seems punitive as opposed to supportive.

I'm beginning to feel that work is hell. I just want my life back. As a result, I'm looking to change careers, but I don't even know where to start. What are my options, that would pay equally well?

I hate busywork. I need work that lets me be creative to some degree. I've had experience as a content provider - writing about people, music, movies, technology. I'm quite tech savvy, but without any formal degrees to show for it. I've done well with customer service, tech support, and with coaching and driving performance. I'm driven, especially when inspired, and want to hone and exercise my leadership skills.

I wouldn't mind working in another call center, except there's no point because my current one is already on the top of the food chain. What I'd really like to look at are career options in other industries, preferably one that will give me a lot more flexibility than my current one.

I'm desperate. I want to quit my job yesterday. Hive mind, please help me!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total)
It sounds like your issues are with your employer and your manager, not your career, and changing to another company might be a great idea. Can you transition into a smaller company and help them grow, bringing the benefit of your big company skills? The hours won't likely be any better, but you'll probably find it a lot more rewarding. There's lots of activity right now in technical recruiting for software developers as well as doctors for locum tenens work.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:47 AM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm beginning to feel that work is hell.

Congratulations, you found out! You've woken from the big sleep. The real solution to this problem is to work as little as you need. Do you have a lot of debt? Continue working until you can pay it off, then cut back and figure out how to control your spending big time. Then, start living your life. Fulfill your need for creativity by creating stuff you want to. Now, GO!

"Do what you love and the money will follow" is an irresponsible lie, a denial of the deep opposition between money and love. The real rule is: "If you're doing what you love, you won't care if you never make a cent from it, because that's what love means -- but you still need money!" So what I recommend, as the second element of dropping out, is coldly severing your love from your income. One part of your life is to make only as much money as you need with as little stress as possible, and a separate part, the important part, is to do just exactly what you love with zero pressure to make money. And if you're lucky, you'll eventually make money anyway. -- Ran Prieur
posted by symbollocks at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2008 [8 favorites]

there's no point because my current one is already on the top of the food chain

Unless you're the owner of the company, it might be better to work at a company that isn't at the top of the food chain. The pay isn't necessarily worse, and the working conditions might be better. There's no reason not to shop around, in any case.
posted by ook at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2008

So you're in customer service. And you don't like your job. The bad news is that from the information you've given here, all your experience seems to be in customer service. The good news is that just about every industry with a retail end has customer service needs. So you're sick of your company. Look for another company who needs people in their call center and send out a resume. It's likely to be all but interchangeable with your current skill-set, but with any luck, your boss won't suck so much.

Customer service isn't exactly a way to get on the managerial fast track though. You're going to reach the top of that particular ladder pretty quickly, and lower than you may like. The best way to get on a different ladder tends to be getting more formal qualifications, i.e. going back to school. Something to think about.
posted by valkyryn at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2008

I'm desperate. I want to quit my job yesterday.

anonymous, it sounds like the damage has already been done as regards your morale and motivation. It also seems as though there's not much to be done to change your situation here short of your horrible boss leaving.

I'd think about finding a new place to work. It might just be that you feel like you want a different path because you've caught a case of acute 'over this shit.' And, as valkyryn and ook say, there are other companies out there that could use your skill set.

Alternately, can you move within the company? Most reasonable employers will do lots to keep someone with tenure and experience within the fold.
posted by raena at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2008

do you ever check out websites for government jobs, like in my job hunt (which i am still on), i'm seeing that a number of the jobs stress customer service skills and leadership/supervisory experience in some capacity, as well as proving results. you seem to have done all of this. and it's not necessarily only top-level jobs--jobs for museum program assistants and the like also seem to look for the skills you have. i'm not so sure about the busywork component--so many jobs seem to have a lot of busywork--but at least once you're in the government you'll probably have a better shot at getting the type of work you like or can at least tolerate.

or what about being in a management trainee program like one at enterprise rent-a-car? not sure about the creativity thing or getting your life back, but if you're paid what you're worth and appreciated enough it could help you enjoy life a lot more.

another thing i do sometimes is to go to job websites and in the search field, enter the thing that interests you as a keyword: movies, film, music, aqauriums, whatever. see what kind of results you get and you might find that you're qualified for some of the postings.

p.s. if you consider working for a non-profit, while a lot of them are flexible as far as you being able to have some quality of life, not all are created equal, god bless them, in terms of resources and pay. you may find yourself working more than you'd like to compensate for a small staff, limited budget, etc. it can be enjoyable but just do your research.

good luck!
posted by luckyveronica at 1:27 PM on September 29, 2008

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