Thursday, June 24, 2010

What if Your Revenue Assurance Problem is a Person?

If you work long enough, especially in telecoms, you bump into incompetent people. And I am not talking about people who are new and have not had time to figure things out yet - that I can understand - I used to be one of them! I'm talking about people who have been doing this for a while but still cannot seem to figure it out, and probably never will.

Working in Revenue Assurance Means Meeting All Kinds of People

And again, I am not trying to be unkind about your friend who tries hard and just needs a little more time to figure things out. I am talking about the people you meet doing the Revenue Assurance job - because you end up all over the telco - who you have no idea how they got the job or how they are still doing it.

When it comes down to it, do you really want to work with people who do nothing to add value to your company? Or worse, who make things harder for everyone around them and cause more trouble than do actual useful work?

We Hope For the Best, but Prepare for the Worst

We all start out being generous and kind, and giving people the benefit of the doubt - that is what we should do. But at a certain point, some people just end up being hated by everyone around them, because they don't do anything useful, and just create work for everyone else around them. And especially if you work in Revenue Assurance, you have enough to do without people making your life and your job even more difficult than it already is.

It took me a while to figure it out, but at some point I just realized why there are people like this, especially in telecoms. Telecoms is such a successful industry, and there is so much money everywhere, and so many opportunities for advancement and promotion. So every once in a while, someone stupid gets lucky and falls into a pit of money or gets promoted beyond their ability to do anything useful. And because they were lucky, and do well, they suddenly think they are a genius, even though they're idiots.

Personally, I don't begrudge anyone who does well. If you managed to do well for yourself, that's great, and everyone should be happy for you. But when these people say "I have done so well, I must be a genius," you and I know that is not necessarily true. It could be true, but success is not proof.

Being Lucky and Being a Genius Are Not The Same

The problem is that even though telecoms is such a successful industry, there are times when bad things happen and telecoms goes through hard times. But that is also usually when the lucky stupid people suddenly stop being lucky and start being stupid again. The problem is they cannot figure out why they are not making money or doing well anymore, when the reality is that it is because they are stupid and are not very good at what they do.

And that is okay - it doesn't make them bad people. I've remained friends with people I thought were useless at their jobs. But would I volunteer to work with them again? No.

Sometimes, when things go wrong, these "geniuses" just do not realize that telecoms is about change and new things - so they keep doing the thing that made them lucky the first time even though it's no longer useful anymore. But there are many other kinds of incompetence - and really, you know it when you see it.

So What Can We Do? Who Do We Tell?

Revenue Assurance people see this more often than most, because we deal with so many people in the course of our jobs. The question is, what should you do about these people once you find them, and should you do anything at all?

The answer is very simple. You are not helping anyone by pointing out someone is incompetent. If they really are incompetent, then you are not the only one to realize it. If you have ever tried to tell management about these people, you know it is not useful. They know who is incompetent and who is not. You telling them does not help them. It is not useful.

Why Do Useless People Keep Their Jobs?

There are many reasons why people who are not good at their jobs stay there, and are kept there by management. More often than not, even though they are mostly useless, every once in a while they do something useful.

It is also the case where even though they are useless, at least they are trained and understand the position - and hiring someone new would involve even more problems to get them trained.

Sometimes there is just not enough talented people around for you to hire, or as bad as this person is, the person before was worse.

But make no mistake. As time goes on, because management knows they are not useful, they will very naturally get to the point where they are just more trouble than they are worth. We do not have to do anything. In the end, we are professionals, and deciding if people are useless is not our job.

Patience, and Professionalism

You just have to trust that if there are still useless people around you, management is doing the best they can with what they have. That person will not be there for long, you just have to patient and professional.

The worst thing we can do as professionals is bring negativity into the workplace. People are stupid, that is okay, they won't be there for long. We are also not victims - it is not everyone else's fault except yours - it is not management's fault. We take responsibility for what we do and how we act - no one else can do that for us.

Other people's responsibility belongs to them. As long as we do not create a negative environment around ourselves - resenting other people for being stupid and useless, complaining all the time - we continue to be professionals and focused on delivering value to the telco. That is at least part of what makes us different from useless people - and this is something I am very proud of.

And that's why I LOVE Revenue Assurance.

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