At one company I worked at, we had “customer care agents” who would answer requests from users, e.g. emails and telephone calls.
I always thought the name was a bit strange. I suspected it had been created by someone who wasn’t a native English speaker, or perhaps I am just disconnected with the world of business terminology. (I am aware that James Bond is “secret agent” but I had never heard of “customer-care agent”.)
Anyway, one day, over a few beers, colleagues and I were discussing our company structure; perhaps impolitely, but at least partially accurately.
- We understood what the people at the very top of the organization did: they made the decisions that were then implemented by the rest of us; they were the visionaries who created the company.
- And we understood what the people at the very bottom of the organization did: they implemented the decisions; for example, in the case of our customer care agents, explained those decision to the customers.
But, the managers in the middle of the organization? We (only-half)-jokingly considered the workflow thus:
- Their job was to take e.g. emails from the people at the very top, and forward them onto their team for implementation. If this “team” was itself composed of managers, they too would then forward the instructions on to their team, until the instruction reached someone at the bottom of the organization who could actually execute the instruction.
- Once the individuals at the bottom of the organization had had announced the successful completion of a work package, they would email their team leaders, who would forward them to their managers, who would forward them onto the people at the very top of the organization.
I mean, I have often received emails from a manager which is simply a forward header followed by an actual email considering instructions from someone who needs it. Now that I manage myself, I myself have often just forwarded things on.
It was thus decided, over that beer, to henceforth refer to those, whose job it is to simply forward information up and down the company hierarchy without adding any value of their own, as “forward agents”.
I suppose my point is, not only that this amusing term was coined (at least it was amusing to us), but I wonder what the world would be like if people just communicated directly? I try and adopt this attitude in my company to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, which are paid by the customer eventually.
- Every time I receive such a piece of forwarded information, I wonder, could I have received this information directly?
- Every time I forward something on, I wonder, would it be better to just connect to the two individuals so they can bypass me?