Phone Guy

The phone system has been down all day. Your users are lining up at your door. Your inbox is full. Your supervisors are not happy. The equipment vendor is blaming the service provider and the provider is blaming the vendor. After being on hold for an hour, you are finally connected with a technician who started working for your carrier two days ago.

You are the “phone guy”.   At a small organization, there are many titles for this position, Telecom Manager, Telecom Analyst, Telecom Coordinator. To your coworkers you are the phone guy.

The frustration and anger that result from scenarios like the one described above can quickly deteriorate a relationship. You are communicating with the service provider and its support people, the equipment vendor, and the users in the organization. Your people skills are being stretched to the limit. In fact your entire skill set is being tested.

And what part of your background provided you with this skillset. Did you work in the finance office paying the phone bills; at the switchboard answering calls, in operations repairing light switches, in the computer room programming Unix? Whatever your previous position, somehow you are now in charge of the phone system.

You have become a jack of all trades. One day punching down wires or drilling holes in the wall, the next day  creating databases to help manage piles of paperwork (you don’t have a secretary).  Every once in a while you need to negotiate contracts with carriers and vendors. You wear many hats, technician, file clerk, project manager, accounts payable clerk, purchaser, etc.

Some days you are in a cold muddy trench evaluating an optical fiber cable that was put to rest by a backhoe, some days you are in front of your computer for hours analyzing 100,000 call records. On your best days, you get to spend time developing friendships while helping your co-workers with their phone problems.

And in the end, you love your job.