Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A rare post about work

It's been a tricky start to the week at work (and the end of last week wasn't much better). I haven't been able to concentrate, everything has slowed down, I've become more sensitive to light and sound, and so on. I know the drill. I'm frantically trying to find the drive or folder or button, and it just won't come to me. It got worse as the day went on today. By the afternoon I was definitely into head-banging territory but even though the wall tiles in the loo looked like some weird optical illusion involving mirrors, my head made no contact with the tiles. I've been head-bang-free for 16 months.

Our team's email inbox (which I'm supposed to be dealing with this week) has been piling up, and anything appearing in my own inbox has largely been ignored. I have a system whereby emails sent only to me appear in red. This week if it ain't red, it ain't read.

What's brought on this latest patch of fog (because that's what it feels like) I don't know, but I can take a guess. Some of our systems have been automated. Our manual tasks (which I didn't actually mind) have been replaced by other bits and pieces, so everything now seems fractured. Just about all our processes have changed recently and I'm not the best at adapting. It often feels as if I'm starting from scratch. But the biggest change of all has been people swapping desks. I'm now hemmed in on three sides by my boss, another manager and a woman in my team. They're all quite extroverted, they often get worked up about things which seem unimportant to me, and they make sexually suggestive jokes. It's fine if one of them is away or in a meeting, but when all three of them are together it's like I'm caught up in a Bermuda Triangle of innuendo (!). I have no real problem with the jokes and what have you; it's just very distracting.

The extra automation has meant I now rarely see customers' medical details and conditions. That's a shame because I found that the most interesting part of my job (even though it wasn't actually part of my job at all). I mentioned to someone that I found the medical stuff interesting and she suggested I train to be an underwriter. Oh no. Underwriting would be an interesting job in theory, but it's a career job with a progression, in a large company, and I know now that taking on that kind of role would be giving myself a death sentence.

The changes at work are nobody's fault. In fact they were supposed to be good changes. But it's happened to me before in jobs where I'm going along nicely for a few months, maybe a year, not excelling (I've never done that at work) but coping, then somebody leaves or arrives or a process changes or they bring in a new system or product, and within weeks I'm a lame duck.

Last Friday I gave a customer an extra $100,000 of life cover for an additional four cents a month. I had to ring up this lady, and when I looked at her policy a message flashed up on my screen telling me that she could have a lot of extra cover for no extra premium. Or even a lot of extra cover for a reduction in premium. If that sounds ridiculous, well it is, and it's because of our crazy and illogical premium rates that work as in the graph below. On Friday I worked out how much extra cover I could give her for the same premium, then added four cents to make her cover level a nice round number. There was some discussion that I might have done something "outside the best interests of the company" but my colleagues agreed that doing anything else was unethical, and they had done the same thing themselves in the past. I know we're not the only company who have such a bizarre system, so if you have life insurance it might be worth ringing your provider and asking whether you can have an extra hundred grand of cover - I'm sure you'll be able to scrape together those extra four cents a month.

The good news for me is that when it comes to work, the puzzle stuff has given me a second bullet to fire. At this rate I might need it.

The now ex-National MP Aaron Gilmore has been in the news a lot lately. Too much, in fact. I'm not a psychiatrist but it would appear Mr Gilmore has some sort of personality disorder, perhaps narcissism.

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