This intriguing story comes to us from a call center operator, who found a unique way to take control of his day-to-day performance at work. Let’s dive in.
Targets, Targets, and More Targets
Back in the day, Karl found himself stuck in a call center, working for a collection agency. This gig lasted nearly five years, and let’s just say it was a wild ride!
Anyone who’s ever been in a similar environment knows the drill: targets, targets, and more targets.
They came in all shapes and sizes – daily, monthly, and just about any other timeframe you could imagine.
A Delicate Balancing Act
One of the most frustrating targets Karl had to meet was the infamous call count. It was a magical number, 120 to be exact, that haunted his every waking moment.
Now, you see, the more time Karl spent actually talking to debtors, the less time he had to make other calls.
It was a delicate balancing act, and some days, despite his best efforts, his call count would fall short – sometimes as low as two-thirds of the target.
When Success Doesn’t Matter
Every day, Karl and his fellow agents would receive updates on their call counts, and their manager would keep tabs on their progress.
It was the usual routine – track the numbers, hit the goal, and at the end of the day, get the final results.
But here’s where things got irritating: Karl noticed that even on days when he successfully collected debts and generated revenue for the company, his manager would still harp on about the call count!
Counting Calls, Ignoring Collections
Naturally, Karl couldn’t keep his frustration bottled up.
He tried explaining to the managers that while he may not have met the call count requirement, he had indeed been successful in collecting a considerable amount of money.
But to no avail. It seemed that in the eyes of the company, the target had to be met, no matter the circumstances.
The System’s Limitations
Now, here’s the kicker: a call only counted if someone actually answered or if the call went to a voicemail box that wasn’t full.
The system couldn’t register events otherwise, like when a number was not in service, the voicemail box was full, or the call simply rang out with no response or voicemail.
Everyone in the company was well aware of this limitation, but the company didn’t seem to care.
Unfairness and Sketchy Behavior
This unfairness and the company’s sketchy behavior didn’t sit well with Karl.
To add insult to injury, the company started skimming off their bonuses, the rewards from their client for successfully collecting on debts.
The numbers became random, despite the fact that they should have been multiples of five. Karl had had enough. It was time for some malicious compliance.
Malicious Compliance Unleashed
He hatched a devious plan. Karl created a notepad file filled with telephone numbers that went straight to voicemail.
These were numbers that had blocked them or were likely set to “away” by the owners. From that point on, he made sure to make 15-20 calls per hour that would register in the system.
This implied that he was making even more calls that the system couldn’t detect due to its limitations.
Karl’s Secret Productivity
To avoid suspicion, Karl spread out these calls throughout the day while spending his time reading articles on the internet!
Plummeting Revenue, Perfect Excuse
As one would expect, Karl’s revenue generation plummeted by a staggering 80%. When questioned about his lack of collections, he had the perfect response ready.
“Hey, Manager, take a look! I’m surpassing my call count target, but my talk time is super low. I just don’t get enough opportunities to make those collections!”
Exposing the Truth
The truth was, the few collections he did manage to make were a piece of cake – debtors who had the means and willingness to pay.
Sometimes, they would even call Karl themselves, unwittingly helping him maintain the appearance of productivity.
Karl Takes a Stand
The company responded by assigning him lower-value portfolios, which didn’t faze Karl in the slightest.
They were stealing his bonuses, after all – the very incentive he had to do more than the bare minimum for a paycheck. They could keep their subpar portfolios; he didn’t care.
Two Years of Clever Defiance
In Karl’s mind, the call count target should have been a mere marker of effort, not the be-all and end-all of success. And so, he reveled in getting paid to read all day long.
Karl’s Silent Triumph
This game of malicious compliance continued for nearly two years until Karl finally decided to move on to greener pastures.
He had made his point, albeit quietly. Surprisingly, he had gained a reputation as a valued member of the department and the company, and nobody wanted to fire him.
Perhaps they simply chalked up his lack of success to the “less than stellar” portfolios they assigned him.
Paid to Read
In the end, Karl found a way to make the system work in his favor while giving the illusion of compliance. And for two glorious years, he got paid to read articles and defy the company’s expectations.
A Lesson in Challenging Unreasonable Targets
So, what is the moral of Karl’s tale? Sometimes, when faced with unreasonable targets and unfair treatment, a little malicious compliance can go a long way. It’s a reminder that rules should take into account the true value and effort of employees.
And if a company fails to recognize and appreciate their workers’ dedication, they might find themselves on the receiving end of a clever act of rebellion.
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The post His Clueless Managers Wanted Him to Meet Meaningless Metrics, so He Gamed the System Like Crazy first appeared on Career Step Up.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Minerva Studio. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.