12 June, 2009

Perhaps the Mafia are on to something here.

I'm running late for work, and arrive to find Ted E. taking advantage of my absence by pinning The Invertebrate down to continue his complaint about the issue from the other day; the same one he didn't want to discuss in a meeting yesterday (because then someone might actually be on hand to refute his craziness), and one of the same issue he's been arguing against on the general principle of "I don't like it" for the past year now.

I'm polite and don't butt in until The Invertebrate asks me to come over to clarify something about how things are supposed to work (partly because Ted E.'s argument in favour of his solution doesn't  - and can't - make any sense; and partly, I suspect, so that even Ted E. can see that his madness is given a fair hearing).

I only last a few minutes before snapping. Ted E. is suggesting different ways of doing things that he thinks are better, each of which (in typical Ted E. fashion) generates its own problems by either creating extra manual tasks for someone else, cutting off information to users and other teams, or creating scope for more errors to creep in unnoticed. At no point is he ever actually able to say what's wrong with the model we've been running with or explain why it needs to be replaced.

(Actually I know why he thinks it needs to be replaced - because the current system requires him to check something that comes up about once a fortnight, and which is flagged in our systems so that it almost literally says "Hey, Ted - check me! There's something here you need to look at!"  It's not something he even has to remember to do, and at most he has to tick a check-box - but the fact he has to do anything at all bothers him deeply.)

And then he tries to claim that the convoluted, patchwork processes he's suggesting and making up on the spot are perfectly manageable because of his masterful attention to detail and ability to flawlessly execute the instructions on the "Do" and "Don't" list everyone else has to prepare for him.

"Well, no," I snap, "It won't work that way, because that's exactly what you don't do."

And I proceed to rattle off several examples of the things I've been finding while covering the Stress Fiend's work, because I'm cranky, ill and tired of revisiting this argument and so many others every time Ted E. thinks he has a chance to get someone else to help him roll things back to the good old days before people worried about things like accountability, accuracy and him doing the job he's being overpaid to do.

Ted E. rocks back slightly. The Invertebrate looks off somewhere in the middle distance. There's the conversational equivalent of a tumbleweeds blowing past.

"Anyway," says The Invertebrate brightly, "that all makes sense to me, so we'll stick with that."

So now Ted E. isn't talking to me again, and probably won't until next week now. Publicly biting his head off within a few minutes of arriving at work might not be the most professional way to manage him, but it probably goes down a treat in Mafia circles. The verbal equivalent of punching him on the nose every morning when I walk through the door seems to be the only way to actually make him behave.

Still ... I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of pre-emptive beatings as a team management strategy. It seems a little bit too much like something Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld would come up with. Except for the part about it actually working.

1 comment:

FelixAndAva said...

I say stick with what works. Apparently the boss doesn't object, and it seems to be effective, which is better than one can say for anything anyone tried on the Cow-Orker.