March 17th, 2007

#315: Noisy fans and stupidity

My brand-spanking-new Gateway has a noisy fan.

I was sitting here, minding my own business, when suddenly...


Gradually it dawned on me that my NEW COMPUTER was making a decidedly non-new sound.

A few taps on the case dismissed the noise; but it came back several hours later.

I think it's the case fan. Gateway is sending me a new one.

We'll see.

* * *

Last night, at work, we had 14 team members and three managers present. The truck contained 1900 boxes and the pull lists totaled somewhere around 1100.

Since I went to the off-site warehouse with one of the team leads--and since one of the team members was in the back room with the other team lead--that basically means we had 12 people there to work it all.

In an ideal situation such a workload would require 26 people. If the right people were present, it could be done with 22.

But we had twelve.

When I went to the off-site warehouse with the team lead. we did our pulls and got back to the store as quickly as we could. After lunch break, I and this team lead did the toy section; and we left for the warehouse at 5 AM. We backstocked until 6:15 and got back to the store by 6:25, and I left work at 6:30 AM because I saw how much stuff was left unworked--twelve pallets' worth!--and there was no way one more pair of hands could do anything significant with it. Even if I'd worked for the next twelve hours I wouldn't have made a significant dent in what I saw there.

Clearly, upper management at that store is unwilling to accept the basic premise that you can only "performance manage" so far. Once you are getting 100% effort from someone, there is no way you can get more--at least, not on a continuous basis.

With 12 people in the store, management was clearly expecting 200% from each and every employee...and that is simply impossible.

I don't mind staying over and helping out; but I am smart enough to know when staying over and helping won't do anything but make me more tired. When you have twelve pallets of unworked freight left over at 6:30 AM, what can one person do?

Overnight employees are in the store from 10 PM until 6 AM. The doors are locked and the alarms are on, so no one can leave. (There is a door in Receiving, so the offsite team members can come and go, but it cannot be opened by a single person without setting off the alarm.)

It takes 11 people to unload the truck--two on the truck, one scanning the boxes, two working the backstock side of the conveyor, four on the "push" side of the conveyor, and two people to take full "push" pallets to the sales floor. That's 11 people; and with only 13 team members left in the store, that means that there was one team member working the sales floor (and one working in the back room) before the truck was finished. As for management, there was one team lead in the store, and the boss, our Executive Team Lead (ETL). They did what they could, of course.

If you include breaks, that means there was a total of three hours when there was nothing being done on the floor, out of an eight-hour shift.

Earth to management: we need more people. Schedule them!