Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm waiting...

Some of the things that irritate me are fairly specific to environmental work. Some are universal. For example, one of the things that aggravates me the most is when people wait until the last friggin' second to do something simple and hold up the entire project.

Procrastinating is near-universal. I know. For example, right now I'm typing away in my office instead of fighting with numbers that aren't working out. But when you're a manager, it's your job to keep the ball rolling. If there's some mindless 4-page document that you just have to check over, sign, and send on its way, take the 10 minutes out of your oh so busy day and sign the thing. That document you're not signing has to go out for formatting, then to the client for approval, then work its way over to some regulator within a specified time period.

Yes, I know, it is possible to wait until an hour before the absolute deadline and then run around like crazy, stressing out everybody else in the office, and make special requests in order to get the document out the door in front of everybody else who has stuff that needs to go out later. And I know this project brings in lots of money and you need to keep the client happy. Here's the thing: the admin folks and the CADD folks making your figures have a lot of different projects. They'll indulge you a couple times if you have an "absolute emergency", but then, ehh. They're not going to kill themselves for every little thing you need because you have no time management skills.

As a peon starting out, I saw firsthand what a mess these chronic procrastinators caused. So when I started writing reports and shepherding them through the various bureaucratic hoops, I not only gave a decent lead time, but I also padded the due dates a little so that I would have time to make changes if needed. The problem with this is that I got an unfortunate reputation for being reliable and then I became the person delegated to make sure all those little steps happened. I was the one they called to bring documents over to various departments because documents I handed in didn't get "lost". I'm a scientist, not a secretary or a gofer, damn it!*

This is why I need a combination of field and office work - I get wound up and then I'm dying to go into the field, where I'm not constantly irritated by all this unnecessary crap. I work outside and everything goes to hell in a handbasket and I can't wait to get back to the office. And repeat.

*funny how it is always a woman who ends up in this position, even with female managers...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your story about being made a gopher because you had people skills is not at all uncommon in office work. Its amazing to me how few people are able to deal with people respectfully. Too many bosses think that yelling and berating gets as good results as giving proper lead times, being respectful and understanding of people and their foibles. Thats why all the asses find their papers get "lost."