Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sometimes You Just Can't Avoid That Awkward Momment

A few months ago my group was hiring. Interview after interview did I endure until one day I got to a self assured young man. The interview went well, really well, right up until he told me he liked our role, but of course he ultimate career goal was a position in a different group in our organization. Scrreeeetch.. Hold the phone. Has he never read an interview book? Beyond that: here is someone who lacks any semblance of common sense. You might think this was a slip of the tongue, a mistake. Later I discover he repeated this statement to each of the people who interviewed him.

In the debrief, my boss expressed a great affection for this young man, although he was aware of his true career goal. I had to cut this off - because if he were hired, I would be the one who would have to train him, invest my valuable time. I said to my boss: why should I do all that knowing that the first job opportunity in the other group that came up he would jump at the opportunity and I'm still not over that he's stupid enough to say it.

So he wasn't hired.

Yesterday someone brought him to my desk to introduce him as a new employee in her group. And it's not the group he wants to end up in. He was introduced and I wasn't going to pretend I didn't know him. I replied: oh, we've met.

Coincidently, for the next round of interviews, my boss didn't include me (he doesn't like being contradicted). And we hired someone with absolutely no experience and seems to be a tad lazy. And I'm stuck training him and dealing with all his inabilities to handle any problems.

You just can't win.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No Explanation Neccesary

Any irony to my boss asking me to google and watch the following video with him the day after our big harassment training?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Size Matters?

Recently my boss ordered us all new flat screen monitors. When mine arrived, I almost sent it back. The thing is so huge, it feels as if it takes up half the desk. It's display so bright, I feel as if I'm blinded. I think I had a headache for the first 3 hours.

My boss stopped by my desk expecting my appreciation for my new toy. He nodded and smiled, saying: I could have gotten the smaller monitors, but I thought: why not get the huge one? We deserve it. To which I replied: I guess size does matter!

What is it with guys and their toys? I know his secret joy is that people in other groups don't have these monstrosities on their desks... that the presence of huge tech toys in our group makes us important, which in turn makes him important. Men are so silly sometimes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What it takes to get through the day

when you don’t want to go back from where you came from, but don’t know where you want to go next and where you are just isn’t tolerable.

Last week I had lunch with a friend of mine, someone I worked with a blue moon ago. She is fantastic at what she does, the kind of person you would hire in a millisecond because she is talented, diligent and knows how to get things done. She recently left a job because her company had merged and the new regime’s corporate culture wasn’t appealing to her and she didn’t agree with the new strategic direction for the merged entity. Her new job is in a tangentially related field, where she was told she could make the job what she wanted. They are paying her mad, crazy money to help them improve their service offering.

She hates the new job. The people at the new company are slow witted. They have no idea how to get new clients. She can’t figure out how it is that they have customers today. She vents to me how they sit in a room (30 people!) to decide minor things like should a button be green or blue on their home page. They discussed for 4 hours how to respond to an RFP. She wanted to take the form, leave the room and return later in the afternoon with the document completed. Everything moves at glacial speed.

Both her previous job and one of her clients from old job have approached her to work for them. But she knows leaving her old company was the right thing to do. She also knows staying at her new company isn’t acceptable. She isn’t sure that any amount of proding, coaching or flat out kicking of asses will shape up this firm. The slowness, the bueracracy, the stupidity engrained in the culture comes straight from the top. She has never been in this situation before. Her career has been a straight upward trajectory. For the first time, she has potentially made a bad choice.

I feel lost, she says, then leaning in close whispers to me: yesterday, I considered having a drink before work, just to get through the morning with these people.

You must get out, I think. This isn’t good. But she wants to try and make it work, to give it a chance. She needs time to figure out what to do next. But really, she isn’t sure what she wants to do next, that is why she wants to stay put for awhile. It’s difficult to make a decision on what to do next when your current situation is sucking the life out of you. What do you do when you realize where you are is absolutely not where you should be, but you have no idea which path to chose next?

Monday, June 04, 2007


So this marks my triumphant return to this blog. My office rage remains unabated. The crazies around me still providing all the content one blogger could possibly use.

A crisis has slowly been creeping up upon my department. The issue is easy to forsee and completely preventable. However, office behavior being what it is, no one (even me) will do anything about it. We're too busy to be bothered with trivial details, after all.

You see, our admin left and hasn't been replaced. She belonged to everyone, so naturally, no one will take responsibility for her replacement. Secretly, people are probably pleased at the budget savings. But the result of this exit will soon push us over the edge because:

We has nearly run out of paper for printing and copying (not that we do much copying because the copier is almost always broken or jammed). As an astute observer of the office worker in the wild phenomena, I am facinated to see what will happen. How low will the drones stoop to avoid taking on a paper shortage? As in nature, there is a hierarchy of needs:

First: Paper is stolen from the fax machine. Fax is so passe anyway.

Next: Steal the paper from the other printer which that prints so slowly, that people actually walk farther to use the main printer.

After that: People began rifling through the drawers looking for any paper at all.. even a few sheets. I can almost see the bubble above people’s heads: “just let me find enough to get me through what I need to print!”.

When desperation really began to set in: Someone found a supply of paper with holes in it (as in 3 hole punched) and people were happily using that (though it isn’t the best for reports because you do miss whatever should have printed where the hole is. I saw one guy put paper in the printer from a secret stash of paper he seemed to have in his drawer. My boss has her own printer, so I’ll just have her print out things for me if I have to (assuming her paper stash wasn’t ransacked).

Finally, the low point: someone stands guard while a co-worker steals paper from another departments' printer.

Now, sadly I am no better than my co-workers on this issue. I have no willingness to find out how to order paper. I did ask a guy in my dept. if he knew who ordered paper and he replied: anyone can do it. And yet, no one seems to know how or is willing to take the initiative to figure out how. I feel I did my duty by taking on refridgerator duty (because a smelly refridgerator just skeeves me out). But to be honest, I find it amusing to watch the ways that people will avoid this issue. Someday soon, there will be no paper and a reckoning must come. Who will be the person who gives in?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Comminication Breakdown

Friday afternoon at 4pm (when I'm at lowest of my brainiac powers), my tech lead phones me.

Him: Um, um, um. I've got a bunch of things to discuss with you, but, um... right now, um, I've only got time for one of them.

Me: {sigh} Ok, let's have the one.

Him: Well, he, no... actually.. I'll discuss two things.

Me: Alright.

Him: ok, first... I spoke to Joe this morning who had a a day off today...while he was driving... to another state... to see his family.

Me: {sweet jesus! he doesn't have time for more than 1 topic, but he has time to tell me all that detail?} And??

Him: he needs to circle back with you on a few things in order to close these issues?

Me: so the update is you spoke to Joe in his car and the issue is not really resolved. Ok, what is #2?

Him: Ok, I've got to run a scenario by you. If you take ARCKY and then create a FARCKY and then someone edits the FIARKY..

Me: WO! What are you talking about? Are you speaking in Pig Latin?

Him: oh {tee hee hee}, me and the developers came up with our own acronyms for some things. We've had quite a good time of it!

Me: Whatever gets you through the day. However, since I don't know your acronyms I can't follow your you.

Him: ok, well the acronyms are... {he then blurts out about 8 different acronyms all of which sound very similar}.

Me: {is this guy serious?}

Him: so If you take ARCKY and then create a FARCKY and then someone edits the FIARKY..

Me: {OMG. Someone shoot me now. It's 4pm on Friday!}

Him: {animated}... so you can see, this is a whole new way of building the functionality which I think will be a big improvement!

Me: {if I hung up, could I say we got disconnected and not have him figure it out? Is he seriously proposing a brand new technical design - of something we've been discussing for 4 months - on a Friday at 4pm? And really expecting an answer? Is he realy presenting a brand new design on Friday at 4pm and thinking he is going to get approval to change things at this point? Is this person insane? Then I realize this is a person who thinks it's normal to begin a conversation with: I have a number of things to talk to you about, but right now I only have time for 1. Just start off with the 1! }

I think we need to think about it, is all I could muster in response. I'm too tired for this crap.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Play the Game

The higher you move up the office hierarchy, the more savvy you must become in the office politics game. In my office, many keep their negative opinions of others to themselves so as not to be crushed. However, when it comes to groups that are systemically not performing, which in turn hinders the success of the company as a whole, I think appropriate to throw a few barbs... ok, a few helpful hints.

One cultural flaw in my office (and believe me, it's not the only one) is that the project managment group takes no ownership of the projects. They set up meetings, sometimes they take notes (and send them out - but then they expect kudos), they send out a weekly status report. However, they don't seem to think it necessary for them to actually understand what the project is about, or keep on top of whether various project participants are completing their tasks on time, or if someone stumbles across a road block and needs help, the project manager is not the person you would go to. They would most likely stare at you blankly, as if to say: are you implying I should do something about that? Recently, one PM began a meeting with higher ups about her project with: I'm not the business expert here, but I think the project is about X. Um, NO. As a project manager you should at least be able to explain, at a high level, what the project is and why the company is investing resources working on it.

I understand how the project management group evolved into this behavior. Their leader is sort of weak. Our projects seem to always veer wildly off course. I say: in no small part because they have no management, but.. also it's because of the behavior of everyone else on the projects. And if project management was actually managing the projects, they would have to lay accountability for where projects go off the rails on something or someone. See, the head of project management can't do that, because he'd get in trouble and it wouldn't look good for him. Nice, right?

So where is the game. I've been known to say (as have some others), that if our project managers were more evolved than administrative assistants and if people were held accountable for their work, our projects would go much smoother. This opinion does not go over well in the office. Recently, a former co-worker contacted me to say she was looking for a project management job. I told her my opinions of the project management group at my company, but that perhaps if someone strong arrived and led by example, things could change. I'm not really optimistic about this, but I want to help this person in their search. If he decides to work here, he'll be aware of the situation prior to accepting a position. Yesterday I ran into the head of project management and told him I may have a candidate for his open position. The reply was: and you'll put your name to it? At that point I knew that no one I recommend will have a chance. See, my rumblings about his staff haven't made him very happy. The sad thing is, I'm not displeased about these events. I do worry that someone who was used to really managing projects would be extremely unhappy in our environment. In these turn of events, I've appeared to be helpful to my old colleague, but don't have to worry I've put him in a miserable situation.

Somehow I still don't feel good about the game, though.