Starting Work.

I hate bloggers that beef about the interfaces being changed. But FFS, I started typing today and the @!_($)!@_$ interface went nuts. Why? Why, Oh Lord, do they change this stuff?

Back to the subject at hand.

When my kids first started working, I gave them a few simple concepts as advice:

  1. Show up when you are due to show up, or better yet arrive early.
  2. If you can’t show up, call. Better still, arrange a replacement.
  3. Give 100%.

I followed that up with the fact that they were just starting, and weren’t expected to know anything. I told them that in my experience, as long as you handled these three things, I’d be cool as a boss.

I’ve started watching Wranglerstar videos on YouTube. In one of these, he covered these concepts.

What a great video. I’ll elaborate on his points:

Arrive early – be the first to get there. Never be late, never make excuses.

This is one of mine. Never, ever be late. If you are, have a very good reason. And for God’s sake, don’t show up and sit in your car until it’s the dot of the hour you are supposed to start. I’ve run into many a helper sitting in their cars outside the shop doors. “Why don’t you come in?” I start at 8. “So what? Come in, have some coffee, get your shit together.” These early morning, pre-work times are the best for getting to know your coworkers. They know you, they’ll help you.

Have everything in order, anticipate what needs to be done.

This has to do with work habits. You are there to work. Work, pay attention, and learn. Don’t complain you don’t have this or that. When I started out, the tool kit they gave me sucked. I bought tools I liked, and a tool-belt, and gave them theirs back. Pay attention and help the dude you’re working with. Don’t make them find you and put in effort to keep you busy. If they have to do that, there’s little point to you being around.

In the telecom/network world it doesn’t take long to figure out what consumables you’ll need – tie wraps, jacks, plates, screws, etc. Look and see if you have them, and if not, go out to the truck and get them. And if asked to go fetch something, FFS don’t shuffle back twenty minutes later without it, and say you couldn’t find it. When a helper would do this to one tech I knew, at the end of the day the tech would return early the shop, and tell the helper to take everything out of the back of the truck, sweep it out, and put it back. Then, he’d know where things were. The rest of us would laugh as we pulled in and saw the wretch suffering. Don’t be that guy.

Turn off the cell, do not use it at work. You aren’t paid to be on the cell. Don’t be seen on it.

This is huge to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a worker on a cell where I’ve been a customer. You aren’t paid to be on your mobile. You are paid to work. If you must check it, do it at lunch. This goes back to my point “Give 100%”. If you are on a mobile, you aren’t working.

I can’t say how many times I’ve gone to a grocery store and found maybe 1/4 of the carts available and clean, the rest being scattered across the lot. The flunky in charge of policing them can be found, 100% of the time sitting down, on the mobile, doing God knows what. He or she is certainly not doing their job, which is collecting carts, wiping them down, and putting them where they belong. I see that on my time, from my help, and I’m going postal. When I discover slackers on my team, I have a habit of checking in on them at random intervals, sometimes a few an hour to keep them moving. When they would ask, I’d tell them it’ll continue until they can be trusted to do their job. They are among the first blood spilled when I have to downsize. Don’t be that guy.

Don’t lie about anything, don’t make excuses. Do something wrong, own it and make it right.

I hate excuses. I hate lying. Do your work. If you screw up, admit it. I had a crew chief one time that told me, when I screwed up, that it wasn’t a mistake unless you left it. Fess up. Fix it before the customer sees it.

I worked with one tech where, while installing a system in a new office still under construction, messed up the ceiling guys work. “Not my ceiling, he said”. Then, when fishing a wire down a wall, he messed up the paint on the wall. When the painter complained he said “Not my paint”. That afternoon, he was toast. I’ve made mistakes like this. And when I did, I sought out the trades dude whose work I messed up, apologized and asked how I could fix it. More often than not, they were OK with me telling them, and fixed it themselves.

Don’t gossip. Don’t talk smack. It’ll get around. Act as if the boss is recording it.

Gossip always results in pain. Especially if you just started a job and you don’t know who knows who. I tell this to everyone when I’m asked what to do on a new job. In Texas, gossip is the state sport. Stay away. You don’t know if the person initiating the conversation isn’t doing it to set you up. If it’s not your business, keep out of it. Keep above it.

When going from point A to B – run, move fast (and efficient). Never be empty handed.

I don’t know about running. But stay busy. There are at least two helpers I’ve had in the past that I’ve kicked in the head because they were sleeping on a customer site. Back to the 100% concept – You’re there to work – it’s their time not yours. If I have to wonder where you are and what your doing, your doing it wrong.

Look around, be busy. Sweep, pick up. Don’t stand around.

Like before – anticipate, stay busy. There’s a great line on the beginning of an Anthony Bourdain show where they are playing back his rap as he was working as a chef – “Shouldn’t you be doing something?” – A line I love. When I see someone standing, I give them a job. When I started, I knew this. Better to find something productive to do than being told to do something you hate.

Be the last to leave. 

This goes hand in hand with being the first there. It’s almost better to be told to leave. More often than not that comes in the form of “See you tomorrow!”

Take care of your tools, and especially tools that belong to the company. It shows respect.

I generally buy my own gear. But some of the tools I’ve used troubleshooting networks, like scanners, spectrum analyzers, and whatnot are quite expensive. Generally, they are shared. There is nothing I hate worse than grabbing a piece of gear only to discover on the site that someone screwed the thing up or didn’t put important bits away. But his line rings true – the boss knows what this stuff costs and it shows respect that you care for gear as if it were yours.

There’s a lot of good stuff here. And it’s a talk that fathers MUST give their kids. Sadly, many don’t get that talk. I’ve run into more than one employee or coworker with miserable work skills.

One thought on “Starting Work.

  1. I’ve seen some incredible slacking in Africa. Usually they were veterans of the independence struggle and therefore untouchable. One guy was AWOL when he was supposed to be doing a job, and they found him outside washing his car. When they told him it was time to do his job he said sure, just as soon as I’ve finished this.
    On the other hand, some companies lie, cheat and rip you off. Personally I’m incapable of slacking even if justified, but it’s understandable that others do in that situation.


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