Thursday, July 09, 2009

There is no “I” in SHUT UP!

We’ve all had him… that manager who thinks he’s a wonderful team player but who is more like a Nazi than anything.

He thinks it’s teamwork to override everyone’s advice.

He thinks it’s teamwork to force people to work the way he wants to work that doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

He thinks it’s teamwork to have the minority opinion and force it on the group.

And of course he thinks it’s teamwork to monopolize every meeting with his own agenda(even someone else’s meeting).

So what do you do with someone when you can’t just tell them to shut up?  That’s a tough one and something we’ve all had to face.  At my last big gig there was a guy that none of us liked.  He literally sabotaged projects and he even swung a real sword around the office one day.  And for some reason the bosses wouldn’t get rid of him.  This guy was like the teflon don and nothing we did could get rid of him.  And that’s what I don’t understand.  What is it about these guys that the managers like so much?  Why do they consistently get rid of qualified techs and keep the morons?  Why does the guy with 3 kids who takes on every project in the place and produces more code than anybody get fired for an honest mistake when the little asshole who lives with his parents and is 4mos behind on his only project keeps his job?

I’m telling you, there’s something wrong with the American job marketplace.  Companies don’t know how to retain employees and they don’t care.  I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by some HR tool that a DBA is a DBA and they can replace someone just like that.  Well you guys are probably all DBAs… does it really work like that?  Are we really all the same?  Can you just replace any DBA with any other DBA?  I really hope not because if that’s true then why did I even bother trying to get my MVP?  Or get my certs? 

OK, that was kind of a little jaunt there for a min… I was talking about dealing with that guy at work.

The truth is I don’t really have any of those answers.  It’s so hard to deal with someone like that because if you’re rude to him he’s the first one to go running to daddy to tell him you aren’t being a good soldier.  And now you look like the asshole.  And you can’t go to daddy yourself because now you look like a baby who can’t solve his own problems. 

Here are a couple ideas though.  These guys rarely act like themselves around the bosses so the bosses don’t know how they really are.  So you can start recording your interaction with them.  That’s a little underhanded and some companies don’t like that, but you can do it if it’s bad enough to prove a point and you need to prove to your boss that he’s unworkable.  Another thing you can do is to always make sure you talk to him with someone else present.  If you can, make it the boss.  Explain to the boss what this guy is like and that you want to hold all official meetings with him in the room to make sure you get heard and the right issues come out.  If you can’t always have your boss there, then whenever you have a meeting, send out meeting notes to him, the others involved and the boss.  In that email state that it was advised that he do this for these reasons and that he declined for this reason.  This way maybe the boss will read it and ask what happened, and at the very least you have a record so that when it all crashes, you’re covered.

Look, there is no real solution.  You just have to feel out the situation for yourself and see what it’s going to take.  It’s a shame that an inability to effectively deal with someone like that often times drives good people away.  I’ve worked in one company where they did regular 360 reviews and the managers looked through them and if someone got a low score from their peers they dug deeper.  And they often got rid of people based on those scores.  You have to be careful with something like that though.  Sometimes an entire group can hate someone just for doing the job he was hired to do.  So like an entire dev group can really hate a DBA coming in and locking down production when they’ve been allowed to do whatever they like for a long time.  And in a case like that they can use the 360 to get their power back… but I’m not bitter, I swear.

Technorati Tags: ,


About Me

My Photo
Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to as well as I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
View my complete profile


Blogumulus by Roy Tanck and Amanda Fazani

Page Views