The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.

Reality Check

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I have had a major setback in terms of confidence.

I work in an inbound sales call center for a major insurance company.  It’s a part time job and while it’s true it’s not my dream job, on the plus side the job itself is okay and of course entry-level foot-in-the-door room-to-advance situations are generally worth the effort.

I knew I wasn’t doing great at this job.  I’m trying but I’m a little slow sometimes and this is my first sales job ever so my learning curve is pretty steep.  I thought, I am doing okay, not great but okay.  And in March I can start to post out for other jobs in the company, maybe have something “better” by June or so.  I have been trying to get full time hours since I started because I cannot live on part time income.  I had to give up the apartment I used to have because I couldn’t afford it any longer and I’m staying with friends. Of course I can’t rent a place of my own again until my income goes up.  So I wasn’t exactly satisfied with my situation but I did feel positive and like things are getting better.

I took a couple days off around my birthday and after being back at work about a week, I’m starting to feel back in the flow but a little out of touch.  I approached my supervisor after my shift and asked if we had a one-on-one coming up any time soon.  She told me to step into her cube (my cube has half-height walls, supervisor cubes have 8-foot walls to give the illusion of privacy but no ceilings or doors like a real office).

She asked how I thought I was doing.  I said I thought I was doing okay.  She told me we have annual reviews coming up and she was going to email me some questions.  I asked what kind of questions and she got cagey.  “You’ll see them when you get the email,” she said.  Red flag.  That feels like she doesn’t want to have that discussion with me right then because these are going to be bad questions, questions that are really accusations in disguise.  What’s up that I don’t know about?

My supervisor then told me that I’d been there a while and that expectations were going to change.  “Well of course,” I said, a bit confused, “I’ve been on the floor 6 months now, I’m not new.”  Another red flag.  Why are you telling me this?  What is it I don’t know?

My supervisor told me that I’m good with customers, I make them comfortable, I make them laugh on the phone.  Then she said that I back away from making the sale.  I don’t understand what I’m doing that she thinks is me backing away but I’m having a hard time getting clarity on the sales jargon in general.  For that matter, I’m not always clear on the call center jargon either.  I told her I know I struggle with countering price objections.  I do.  My brain just shuts down and I have no idea what to say.  Up until now, she used to tell me to make use of her as a resource.  This time she told me to think about it because she won’t always be there for me.  Third red flag.  Why did the type of help available to me change?

Then I got the metrics we’ll be discussing in my annual review.

We get measured for about 10 metrics and if you work in call center you already know what those are — and if you don’t, it won’t mean anything to you.  The system for determining where you’re at is a pretty straightforward traffic light system.  If you meet or exceed expectations, it’s green.  If you need improvement, it’s yellow.  If you simply fail, it’s red.  I expected to see a lot of yellow, with several reds in early months and maybe a couple of greens in recent days.

I was wrong.

My entire report was red and yellow.  I had one green, for adhering to the break schedule, a couple months ago.

I am not doing okay.

I am failing.


I didn’t know I was doing so poorly.  Like I said, I thought I was okay, not great but okay.

This has really thrown me for a loop because now I wonder if I’m really good at anything at all.  My assessment of my situation was very far off base in this instance, how far off base is it in other situations?  How many things do I believe I’m pretty good at doing that I am in fact horrible?

And it’s not just that I’m not making the sales statistics.

After a call is over, there is documentation that a call center person puts in the file, and in insurance there may be insurance documents that need to go to the customer.  Our goal for after call work is 4 minutes, which means you need to do most of it while you are talking to the customer.  I would have told you that in the beginning, I was averaging 10 – 15 minutes per call to get that stuff done and that now I am at about 5 – 6 minutes.  According to the company, I average just over 6 minutes right now, which is a little higher than I thought but close.  However, early statistics also show me at just over 6 minutes.  They don’t really get on you for being less than perfect if there is an improvement and I would have said I have improved however the numbers don’t show that.  Numbers say I am doing the same now as I was when I first got on the floor, I have not improved.

So not only I am not accurate about how well I’m doing in general, I’m also not accurate about whether I’ve improved.

I am apparently very much out of touch with reality.

It’s frustrating that I probably won’t get full time hours because I will be at the bottom of the list with such bad metrics.  And I also probably won’t be able to bid out of this job because with no improvements I look either stupid or slacker so that won’t be interesting to another team.

And I had no idea.

So I’m not looking forward to this meeting, but all I can do is suck it up and be honest.

And of course back to looking for another job.  *sigh*

This was really disheartening, especially when I starting to feel like things in life were going to work out.

Author: Allison Leonard / Kiss5Tigers

I like sci-fi movies, and I noticed that I like the noir ones best. They are almost universally set in a sort of post-apocalyptic dystopia. I later realized, I find them comforting and familiar, probably because I live there, at least in my inner life. Perhaps things are not as bleak as they seem, or perhaps I am simply learning to keep a better attitude. This is the chronicle of my adventures. May you find something valuable here.

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