How to not be a bad temp

In my last two jobs the office has required temporary workers for different reasons, having worked with a number of different temps I thought I’d pull together a sort of not to-do list.

My first experience of working with a temp didn’t last all that long. The senior member of my team had gone off suddenly on long term sick so I put in a call to my manager asking for a temp. We wanted someone to help out entering timesheets. Unfortunately there had been a misunderstanding. When the agency told her she was covering due to the senior member being absent – she thought that meant literally. Full credit to her for taking a minimum wage role with such responsibility, even with absolutely no previous experience in that area.

After a day or so of data input and absolutely no line management duties she quit after being tasked to do some shredding. About mid-morning she told me quietly that she had lady problems and needed to take an early lunch break. After a couple of hours I called the agency reporting her missing. Not only had she quit but she had spent the morning composing an email slating us as an employer and a team.

  1. If you have been given incorrect information about the role, don’t take it out on the people hiring you – take it up with the agency.

We were then sent a second temp; this one seemed lovely and was aware of what she was meant to doing. She even lasted all the way through the first week. It all seemed to be going so well. She had come from a pretty decent previous employer and even though she needed quite a bit of training, she was getting on with the work as needed. Then I had a call from my manager in head office, there had been a complaint. Apparently she had been trying to sell drugs from the canteen.

  1. Do your drug deals in your own time.

The next temp we got was so sweet and I am still in touch with her now. She had been working in a totally different industry and due to health problems could no longer carry out that work. She had re-trained in administration and this was her first assignment. She absolutely tried her best but she found the work / technology too much. In addition she had no previous experience of dealing with people over the telephone. This role was in payroll so most people contacted us by telephone with queries and sometimes some of the people were a little bit upset. Worried about upsetting us and the agency she carried on until she made herself ill with worry. She eventually quit, the next assignment she got from the agency was working for the emergency services…on the telephone.

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell the agency that the role is not right for you.

Undeterred we sought another temp; this was the first one that had been sent with any real financial administration background. He’s been doing accounting work! Brilliant I thought. He was accurate and timely and needed absolutely minimal training with regards to the work. The only problem was his stinking attitude. He was in the later stages of his career and myself and my colleague were in our twenties. He spoke to me and my colleague with utter contempt and regarded our male colleagues with the upmost respect. During his time with us I had received several complaints about his telephone manner. The majority of our employees were female so I knew exactly what they were getting at. In an attempt to resolve the matter when we were alone in the office I tried to talk to him a little bit about customer service skills. This did not go well; he ranted and raved and categorically told me he would not be told how he should speak to people. He also pointed out that it was my job to defend him if we got complaints.

  1.  Don’t have a bad attitude and don’t be an outright sexist!

This dealing with temps was getting rather tedious if I’m honest, I hoped and I prayed that the next person sent would be good. After all there is a recession on and people are desperate for work!?

The next one seemed fine. She was a bit too loud, she brought way too much of her personal life into work with her but compared to the others she was an angel. That was until she got herself into face book. She befriended both myself and my colleague on face-book and then went on to update her status publicly about how much she disliked my colleague. A very alternative method for team building. (As it happens I am still friends with this person on face-book, mainly because she still puts up public posts about people such as her ex-partner and how he is shit in bed)

  1. Do not add colleagues to face-book if you intend on slag them off

We moved on from that episode, actually I moved on and got a different job. In my current job a colleague left us recently so my line manager decided to take on a temp to reduce the burden while we wait for the new person to start.

This person deserves a whole list of do-not’s just for herself. There was a heated discussion yesterday in the office while I was out. it was pointed out that her CV was a fabrication to the extreme and in general she was us a head ache by not paying any attention to what she was doing. As I’m too gutless to say it in person, here are my tips in blog form:

  1. Do not take masses of personal calls in your work time. If you receive huge numbers of texts throughout the day then put your phone on silent. This is especially applicable when you are actually being trained and shown how to do the work.
  2. Do not spill your entire life history on the first day…that’s just weird.
  3. Do not discuss your vagina on your first day or any problems you may have with it.
  4. Do not discuss your sex life with your new colleague or the sex life of your sister.
  5. Don’t answer every demonstration of how to carry out a task with “yeah, yeah I know”.  Unless you actually do know.
  6. Do not spend hours slating everywhere you have ever worked and the people you have worked with.
  7. Do not try to avoid doing any work by making endless rounds of tea instead.
  8. Do not fill your CV with skills and knowledge with things you do not have or even wish to gain.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t envy temps – they are thrown into the deep end with little to no training, they are given menial tasks, you are required to get on with lots of different people you don’t know and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how good you are because more often than not you won’t be there long.


2 thoughts on “How to not be a bad temp

    • OMG I don’t haha! The last one lasted three weeks and it was a loooong three weeks. The last day she went around telling everyone who would listen how she couldn’t wait to leave and how much she didn’t like our boss. Can’t blame her for that mind 😉

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