Friday, June 05, 2009

Just a nice image

I have been at my current job as a Software Engineer for a little over 2 years now.  There are some people who have been in the department for over 10 years, which is a very long time for an IT person in a software company.  We have one person who has been with the company for over 15 years, and has an 'interesting' history.  (He is the person I referred to as toxic previously.) He was one of the last people hired by the founders (who have since departed) and was in the software development department for quite some time.  Around 7 years ago, he was denied advancement into a position in the software development department that he wanted and basically quit in a huff.  He was 'coaxed' back to work in the support department (we have 300+ employees).  Even though he was in support, he was being consulted with by both employees and management in the development department.  When I was hired in, he would routinely show up in meetings and say things that didn't seem to make sense, but I was new and didn't have the wherewithal nor the experience at the company to challenge him.  He also would show up at code reviews at the end of coding a project and complain about the design of the project, something that should have been done at the start.  In short he would who up and drop things in the meeting at leave smirking and carrying on about he blew-up some project years ago, when what he was really saying was that he had just done it again - aint it great.  About 6 months after I was hired, the manager I report to was hired in, and about 6 months after that she informed us that she was bring this person back into the development department in a very senior position.  I had a discussion that day with her and informed her in no uncertain terms that this person is a trouble maker and even though he causes us problems from outside our department, I believed we were better off without him than with him.  She said she was aware of this, but felt it would be better to have him in the department and under her supervision.   Well after a year working with this person almost daily, I have come to two conclusions: This person is retired in place and is a functioning alcoholic.  All of this is lead in to the team meeting we had with all 30 people who are in our managers reporting structure.  We were discussing the need to better document our standards, making them less tribal knowledge (I always called it corporate knowledge) and more documented practices and was getting good participation from several key people, when from the back comes this long loud groan from him.  He then goes on to expound about how 'he' has been fighting that battle for 12 or 13 years and proceeds to completely dismiss the idea in a disingenuous and disheartening way, essentially shutting down and ending the positive discussion about it.  (I mean really, in over 12 years he could have documented just what we were talking about by himself in just a couple of hours a week.)  In over 20 years, I have never seen an employee be as disrespectful of a manager, coworkers, or a meeting as this person was with that groan and the "I couldn't do it, it can't be done, so don't even try" speech.  Later in the day, I had a meeting with the manager and told her exactly that, and she didn't disagree with me.  As she put it, he is just a stray cat, one who got encouraged by the previous management personnel and now we are stuck with him.  I think it is a nice image for him, every once in while he shows up and drops a dead rodent into our meetings and the rest of us have to clean it up.  What she said next gave me the only encouragement for the day, we are transitioning our development to a new platform and he will definitely be one of the persons working in the legacy support area - i.e. once we have completed the transition, he will be let go.


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