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Offline metoo

back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« on: Jan 21, 2009, 03:19 »
Long ago, I was a Navy Nuc (8302) ELT.  Left the boat after being the LELT for a few years with top notch evals (ranked #1 E-6).  Was qualified EWS, but rarely stood it.  Landed a job in a Chem dept as a tech in a civilian plant.  I did well in the tech position, and actually enjoyed it.  All my reviews were top shelf.  I took on and completed extra duties and was rewarded by an offer to join the management team.

So, I was promoted to supv.  My area was the pumps, pipes, and valves of the chem dept, and carried a (DEP/Designated for incarceration) license with it.  Then all hell broke loose.  We went into management reorganizations (3 in 18 months) and I had a senior supv who I didn't see eye to eye with. 

Senior was known as a hard charging, very bright guy who could get it done!  He often skirted or outright (IMHO) violated procedures to accomplish the job.  It was just little stuff, like changing out components from analog to digital flow measuring equipment under a troubleshooting work order to get around the DCP process.  He was considered  by the techs as the kind of guy you had to watch your back around.  His hands had been slapped a few times, but he was such a performer, he was never seriously dealt with.  His ability to accomplish was legendary.  Just don't go looking into the paperwork too deeply!

I was a more plodding, by the book, or change the book kind of guy.  In fact, I spent a good bit of time fixing problems with NAP's and other documents that had historically been let go.  I enjoyed the respect of most of the techs as a guy who wouldn't ask them to bend the rules, and would work harder than anyone I had working for me.  I spent a good bit of time in the field teaching and learning from the techs.  There had been too many quick fixes, bad DCP's and work arounds over the years to run efficiently. OK, I'll stop that whine...for now.

Over time, I simply wasn't able to perform to the level my senior wanted of me, and I was put on a "become a better boy scout" program.  The main goal of my improvement, as I remember it was to "learn to work in the gray areas of procedures, policies and programs".  The hope was that this new, better me would be able to get all the work done.  Little concern was given to the fact that we had significantly downsized the number of first line supervisors, and I had picked up more areas.  There were others on the similar programs, as it was one of the new things that came with yet another new plant manager.  We had several in just a couple years time.  In fact, I think we averaged about one per year for the time I as employed there.

I was feeling the noose getting tight.  I simply couldn't do what I was supposed to do with reguard to stretching compliance.    So, I decided to leave the industry.  I gave the proper notice, told the manager why, and when my three weeks was up, I left.  I was asked by the manager to stay, but can't tell if that was sincere or not.  My senior again got his hand slapped, but was back in just a few days.  As far as I was concerned, I did not burn any bridges, except for the part about "he's cheating, and I can't work that way".

Fast forward more than ten years.  I've been reasonably happily employed in a totally different field.  The grape vine tells me my senior has moved onto another plant and is a manager there.  My manager moved around the company, got his license and ran the plant for a while, then was sent back to chem manager again.

The economy has taken a hit, and I'm just about out of work (self employed).   My line of work is not an essential, and it's been slow for a couple years.  The next time they're calling for chem techs, I'd like to see about getting back in.

I realize I didn't handle the situation at the plant the best way I could have.  For example, if I had insisted on more mediation between me and the boss, I think we both would still be spliting atoms. 

I've been practicing the tests, getting a resume together and looking at sample interview questions.  For the life of me, I simply can't come up with how to address why I left the supervisory job that won't smack in the face of the Chem manager who's likely to be interviewing me.

I want to let you folks know that I realize I made my bed, and now have to sleep in it.  I realize I didn't do the right thing by bailing.  However, I do think I can still be a good tech.

By the way, the guy who relieved me got canned a few years later.  He'd been there for over 20, I think.

Another plant is not an option, as my better half is significantly invested in reaching her pension, and a move wouldn't be justified.

Financially, we'll be OK, but can't put on the dog or put anything in retirement unless there is a significant up tick.

Looking for any and all comments or suggestions.

kp88

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #1 on: Jan 21, 2009, 04:28 »

"I was a more plodding, by the book, or change the book kind of guy."

Just to play devil's advocate, in a previous job, we called people like this "Sea Lawyers."  If, in the sea lawyer's opinion, the written guidance is inadequate, it is much more enjoyable to argue, than to actually perform the task.  Eventually, this person gets shown the door, since people are tired of the continual arguments.
Some people are arguing that Obama isn't the President because Justice Stevens didn't put "faithfully" in the right place in the Oath of Office, and he violated the Constitution.
If the book is illegal, immoral, or unsafe, you can disagree with your supervisors.  Hopefully, they won't have any problem with getting it fixed.  If your interpretation is opposed to your supervisor's interpretation, your supervisor wins.
I would suspect that you left some invisible burnt bridges behind you.

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #2 on: Jan 21, 2009, 07:39 »
Thanks for the reply kp88

I can see how I may have given the impression that I was acting like a "Sea Lawyer".  Although one of the hardest things to do is to be accurately self-aware, I don't think I fit that description.  Can't stand to argue, and I was the one fixing the books and procedures.  I wouldn't dream of calling an All-Stop because of a paperwork problem!   Some of the things I saw happen would be hard to call interpretation. 

I think you may be correct about the invisible bridges.  I realized after I'd posted that if I've burned the bridge, I won't get an interview.  That would render my decision concerning what to say mute.

Offline HydroDave63

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #3 on: Jan 21, 2009, 10:33 »

I would suspect that you left some invisible burnt bridges behind you.

And managerial types network throughout the industry. It's a small pond. It might pay to broaden the search in related fields. monster.com, hotjobs.com, and fedjobs.gov

Offline peteshonkwiler

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #4 on: Jan 22, 2009, 06:49 »
Interesting scenario.  I'd call the HR department at your plant and request a current listing of available positions.  Then I'd request interviews.  Honest answers to questions would be the best answers.  See what happens.  The worst case is you won't get a job and not know why.  The best thing is that you'll be recognized for your work at the plant, your excellent mental bearings, your success away from the station, and your desire to return culminating in an highly rewarding job offer.  Yes, there are a myriad of options in between.  Roll the dice. 
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Khak-Hater

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #5 on: Jan 22, 2009, 11:42 »
I'm a little confused why you didn't use the Employee Concerns Program; either your plant's or the NRC's.  Now, I realize that hindsight is 20/20 and that the time to do so has long since passed, but I bring it up for a reason.  Having worked at an EOI-run plant where the Employee Concerns Program worked just like it should [which certainly would've fixed the problem that you described], as well as working at several sites where the plant culture was so rotten that it didn't work as it should (i.e., more of a HR-type protect-the-company function), I was wondering which type your plant had, and more importantly currently has. 

I only ask this because, at a well run site with a solid safety culture, the scenario that you described shouldn't have occurred.  Has the site culture changed significantly since you were there (e.g., a new operating corporation with a better culture)?  If not, then what makes you think that you won't run into the same problem again?  A good plant culture can and will fix a bad manager.  A bad plant culture won't necessarily ruin a good manager [though it might], but you leave yourself to the luck of the draw on who you get at any point in time.

Something to think about,

MGM
« Last Edit: Jan 22, 2009, 12:18 by Khak-Hater »

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #6 on: Jan 22, 2009, 03:00 »
Thanks for the replies.

Pete,
I hadn't considered contacting HR.  The jobs available are listed on the company website, which seems to be updated regularly.  Do you think HR would actually give out fresher data per telecon?

MGM,
While I remember there being an Employee Concerns Program, I don't recall it being anything that was impacting the way business was conducted.  A rare exception would be something like sexual harassment.


I've done a little research since you brought this up, and what I've found is interesting.

I'm guardedly optimistic that the culture has changed.  I still have several friends who work at the plant, and I interact with them in the community on a regular basis.  According to them, it's still the biggest P.I.T.A. place to work, but the money's good.   Before I left, my plant was in the top 10% of reports of employee harassment , and took a fine for the manager harassing some safety engineers (for doing their job).  Just a few months after I left, they went on the NRC watch list.

The Watch List was due to all the kind of stuff I was having problems with.  A culture that wanted it done now without enough regard for fixing broken stuff while having and following good procedures and a generally suppressive attitude toward doing what it takes to fix stuff right - the first time.  I was actually told in writing that my decision making was "too conservative".  I'll bet stuff like that didn't get written down after the NRC moved in to live for a spell. 

Over the past few years, they've been able to keep the plants running well, which is far better than they were doing while I was there.  They're no longer under the microscope as a result.  I assume that indicates they've taken what they preach to heart. 

However, I did just read a 2005 NRC Special inspection concerning safety conscious work environment about my old plant.  While the report said they're making progress, they did have some negative things to say.  The report spoke in specific about my former department, saying they "may not raise procedure compliance issues due to inconsistent expectations regarding procedure use".  Sounds kinda familiar.  FOLLOW PROCEDURES!!! (unless it won't work, and we need it done now)!  The report also stated that my old work group felt there was some minor retaliation for reporting concerns.  Most of the other work groups were evaluated as doing OK with respect to having a safety conscious work environment.  There may be a good thing here, as my former manager was not the manager of the dept in 2005, but has since come back to the dept after getting his license and being a shift sup. for a few years.  I wonder if someone having such an intimate exposure to Operations Department makes them more likely to lead their department from an operations, as opposed to laboratory perspective?

They have thrown money at the ECP, and with pushing from the NRC, are trying to get it to be a better system.  I really can't tell from reading if it's an actual improvement, or just painting over dirt.

I haven't been able to figure out what a EOI-run plant is.  Care to shed some light?

As to your second concern, As a technician, I was not routinely asked, cajoled, hinted toward, etc. skipping things to get to the end result.  Since all techs are basically qualified to do everything, it's too easy to find one that would do it, without having to go to the guys who actually tried to follow the rules.    I assume that if I were to go back as a chem tech, it would be the same.  If I discovered a procedural or equipment problem as a tech, I did all I was allowed to do to fix it, or find another (legal) way to get the job done.  I believe my initiative and attention to detail was why I was asked to join the management team.  I only recall one time as a tech when I was asked specifically to do something blatantly, undoubtedly wrong.  I politely said I didn't think it was the right thing to do, and asked not to be tasked with the job.  The supv said OK and found another tech to do it.  As a tech, there's always plenty of other work that needs to be done.  As a supervisor, if you don't want to do something the boss wants done, you've just become replaceable dead weight.

After reading my discussion on this topic, it seems as though I'm coming off as possibly a malcontent.  The truth couldn't be further away.  I realize management has a very, very hard job to keep electrons moving down the line while AT THE SAME TIME fixing a plant and culture that has been poor for thirty years.  I enjoyed the times when I was in a leadership position, and I believe in general I had a positive influence up, down, and on the plant.   I also realize that much of what we as nucs do is so far off the scale that it sometimes borders on the absurd.  I certainly couldn't run my private business like a nuclear power plant, or the competition would eat me alive producing, while I was having a SORC meeting.  There was nothing at my old plant happening (that I'm aware of) that would actually lead to injury or directly affecting plant safety.  However, when I was taught how to be a nuc, I was taught to follow the letter and spirit (hopefully they were fairly close together) of the rules we wrote to govern ourselves.  What I lived through seemed more like "screw the spirit, and how can I blow off the letter".
« Last Edit: Jan 22, 2009, 03:02 by metoo »

Khak-Hater

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #7 on: Jan 22, 2009, 04:07 »
I wasn't assuming that you were a malcontent.  I was simply pointing out that you left for a reason, and that reason is rarely a single individual.  A good company will take care of a bad individual or at least help you deal with the situation.  The fact that you felt that you had to leave to extricate yourself didn't instill me with any confidence that the place you were wanting to return to was any different than the one that you left.

The ECP at an NRC licensee has little to do with sexual harassment [that's what HR is for].  The ECP is primarily for Nuclear Safety concerns.  It's always been my understanding that it is a legal requirement [not an option] that if you are aware of a safety concern (e.g., a manager who is always trying to skirt or violate requirements), then you report the problem to: (a) your supervisor; or, if that fails, (b) his supervisor; or, if that fails, (c) the ECP; or, if that fails, (d) the NRC, in that order [except in the case where one or more of those were part of the problem].  You don't do the organization or the industry any favors by not reporting problems.  It doesn't make you a malcontent.  It makes you a team player.  A good company will recognize that.  If they don't, then you probably don't want to work there.

EOI is "Entergy Operations Incorporated" or more commonly "Entergy."  One of the best companies that I ever worked for and a model upon which I base how well management systems can run.

Best of luck finding the right path,

MGM


Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #8 on: Jan 22, 2009, 06:42 »
MGM,

Thanks again for the reply and information.

I'm doing a bit of soul searching about where I wish to work next.

It has even occurred to me to look for NLO openings - I was more of a pump/pipe/valve guy than a test tube or rad meter guy.

This has been a great place to discuss, and I've appreciated everyone's responses.

Offline tr

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #9 on: Jan 23, 2009, 12:32 »
One of your examples (changing an instrument from analog to digital without a design change) is pretty much a slam dunk as far as being clearly improper (that old configuration management thing).  As others have said, this type of concern is exactly what the employee concerns program is about.  In your shoes, I'd really try to avoid the old work group, and try for something in a related area (things like chemistry instructor, emergency planning staff, environmental monitoring, NLO as you mentioned, etc.).

Given your stated desire to do things the right way, I think you'd probably have issues unless the chem staff and manager have been recalibrated over the years past.

If you haven't already done it, I'd check out the NRC web page for the assessment and inspection reports (http://www.nrc.gov/NRR/OVERSIGHT/ASSESS/index.html#plantassess) to try to figure out how the plant has changed over the years, and what it's current challenges are.

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #10 on: Jan 24, 2009, 09:32 »
Thank you tr,

I see the wisdom in your suggestion to look at a different work group.  Much of the reason I was targetting my old group was that I figured the company would have to invest much less time and money to get me back on shift than someone who hadn't done the job before.  If true, that could give me a big advantage over other candidates.  What department doesn't want another qualified body?? 

I just dug up my old performance appraisals as a tech, and they absolutely support that I was a very good tech who did his job, took on new challenges, asked for more work, got along well with everyone, and was safety conscious.  Other than my former senior supv's. view of my last six months performance as a supv., (which I'm sure is in my employee file) there would be no logical reason not to usher me in again as a chem tech.

As for a position as NLO, although there is general plant knowledge I possess that new guys wouldn't, I can't reasonably see where I would have anywhere near enough knowledge to shorten any of  my NLO training. 

Putting the two together, it looks to me as though  have an extra tic in the "good " column as a chem tech candidate.

I've looked over the link you provided.  Although the performance looks much better than it did a decade ago, it's really hard to tell.  There are still a couple of cross cutting issues at the plant.  I assume they're working on them, and not just wall papering over them.

I just found out they're hiring NLO's.  Guess I'll submit a resume.

The company has a web site where everything can be submitted electronically, and that's how the web site says to do it.  Since I've been out of the loop for a while, I'm not really sure the best way to "hound for a job" these days.  Of course I'm going to submit on line, but was wondering if I should also do the old "bypass corporate and HR" trick by getting a resume walked into the Ops manager by a friend?


Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #11 on: Feb 26, 2009, 11:24 »
I have an update.

I applied for the NLO position.  In the mean time, I contacted a USSVI (Subvets) buddy who is still at the local plant.  He kindly beat up my resume and got me some inside phone numbers.  Another inside buddy sent me some info about the style of interview questions.  A former boss offered specific encouragement based upon my past work.  Another friend had me over and discussed what's been happening at the plant, as well as provided some insight.

I left voice mail messages  and sent resumes in the back door to operations managers.  Waited and didn't hear anything for several weeks.  By that time, the posting had been pulled from the corporate website, and the trail was getting cold.

Then out of the blue, I got a call on my cell on a Friday am.  It was an Ops manager from one of the plants.  He said they were already filled, but he'd forward my resume to the ops manager next door.  I can't tell you how good it felt to be acknowledged!  When I was on shift as a chem tech, the Ops manager that called me was a Shift Sup, and I remember working with him - good guy type.

Out of the blue, another listing appeared on the corporate web site for a NLO.  I left a voice mail message for the other Ops Manager a few days ago.  Heard nothing back.

This am, I received an invitation from HR to take the POSS test.  No calls, no additional speaking to managers. 

I gave all of this detailed blabbing to make a point.  Networking works!  Both here, and in real life.  Without the connections and corrections, I probably wouldn't have the offer to take the test.

Now to study......Where are my reading glasses????

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #12 on: Mar 26, 2009, 09:47 »
Another update.

I received a letter in the mail yesterday stating I was recommended for Mechanical and Controls maintenance, and Operations.  I take that as meaning I passed! 

Many thanks to all who have help me.  I'll post a few specifics on the POSS board to pay it forward to the next folks who take the test.

Now to get an interview.....

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #13 on: Apr 24, 2009, 07:10 »
I had an interview a couple weeks ago, and thought I made a respectable showing, but didn't think I aced it.  If I had to grade myself, I'd give it a B+.    However, my grading means nothing, as I didn't have the answer key. 

I received an email today stating I was not accepted for the position.  If you've never had the displeasure of receiving an impersonal boiler plate rejection email from a third party company that handles some of the hiring paperwork, I'll tell you, it doesn't feel good!  Ouch!

While I'm doing a little bit of wound licking, I've sent out some personal emails to try to get some feedback from the plant WITHOUT appearing like a whiner or sore looser.  If I get something valid back, I can reorganize and attack again should another position open up.  If something comes up that would be of benefit to others, I'll report back.

Congrats to those who successfully jumped the hurdles!

Offline HydroDave63

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #14 on: Apr 24, 2009, 08:03 »
Seeing as how they promoted "Senior", there is probably sufficient corporate karma/memory such that the plant in question will somehow always not extend an offer to bring you back. Any backup plan?

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #15 on: Apr 24, 2009, 09:02 »
Hydro,  Thanks for the response.  "Senior" was never promoted in house. In fact, I've been recently told (but not verified) that he was soon shifted to a position without direct reports, as a result of the investigation that took place following my exit interview.  Again, that's not confirmed, but I think the source is reliable.   After a few more years (without being promoted), he moved along to another plant, then another plant.  Memory may or may not exist.  I may never know the answer to the "memory" question.  The plant I interviewed for is operated by the same company, but is next door to the plant where I was employed.  There's a bit of a disconnect between the two plants, and they have somewhat different cultures,  but there's not an information firewall by any means.

Another real possibility is that I simply wasn't as good of a candidate as the ones who were chosen.  They only selected half of the number they originally were calling for, which really reduces the odds.  Also, if given the choice between two otherwise roughly equal candidates, even I would tend to choose the one with no drama, because it's often difficult to determine who is the root of the drama! 

My backup plan is to first seek feedback, and see if I should continue trying.  If I was close, or made a critical error that I simply wasn't aware of, I'll reorganize and apply for the next available position.  If It's suggested that hell will freeze over first before I'll get hired, then I'll close that chapter.

I'm self employed, but don't have enough work coming in to make my target income.   Yes I have some irons in  the fire to try to increase business traffic and profit margin.  We'll continue to eat, but will not have the financial flexibility I'd like without a job like the one I just missed, or a significant up tick in my business. 

While I would enjoy the increase in income this job would have provided, it's as much about the personal/professional redemption, and that I really liked being a nuke - the job, not just the money!
« Last Edit: Apr 24, 2009, 09:07 by metoo »

Offline metoo

Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #16 on: Jun 04, 2009, 03:23 »
To put an end to this thread, I interviewed, was offered, and accepted a job as a chem tech. 

Offline Lorrie Henson

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #17 on: Jun 04, 2009, 03:38 »
Congratulations and GOOD LUCK!!  I hope you enjoy your position.

JustinHEMI05

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Re: back in with a twist - long and probably boring
« Reply #18 on: Jun 04, 2009, 03:57 »
Congratulations!

Justin

 


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