Oct 11, 2006

Project Ostrich

Of all the lunch meetings I had -- and these were anywhere between four and five a week -- one of the two that I actually looked forward to was the gathering of all the discipline leads. Once a month this would also include upper management. When upper management wasn't around the leads managed to hash out some differences and create processes that made work life a bit smoother. This was also the time to openly bitch and see if anyone else was having the same issues or problems.

It was theraputic and productive.

However, when upper management was in the room I was surprised that there wasn't a folding card table set up for the leads to sit at like Thanksgiving at Grandma's. "You team leads sit over at the Kids' Table."

When the grown ups were around the discussion became rather one sided. We were being told what to do, not asked. Odd things would come up, usually around the "dis-employment" of an employee.

In one meeting it was kind of halfheartedly tossed out that the company would be firing one of its PMs who "just wasn't working out."

Rather than placidly taking this comment in stride, there was a tension immediately introduced to the table. I was first to break the silence. "Wait... I thought we were moving him to another position rather than getting rid of them." (The whole "putting the right person in the right seat on 'The Bus' being a key idea to the person proposing the firing).

Another person spoke up, "Right, if we were firing him, why did I go to all the trouble to test out his skills for my department?"

A general murmer of discontent rounded the table. It was made more ironic that the person proposing this firing had just been chiding "the kids" for not being clear in their communication and here he was with a completely different message than any of us had gleaned in previous conversations -- and assignments.

Believe it or no, but we went around the table to get the general concensus of the group. "Did you think that we were firing him or moving him?" All but our intrepid upper management representative was under the (mistaken, of course) impression that we were moving this employee to another position in hopes that his skillset would mesh better and that he would be able to bloom in a new role.

This person moved to the new role and was summarily fired six months later -- no discussion that time.

These leads meetings eventually were kiboshed altogether. This happened after one lead -- who had been bucking to get into upper management -- decided to pick a fight during this meeting with the wrong person; me. He started ragging on my team and talking about how inefficient they were. Likewise, he wanted to offload some of his teams' responsibilities onto the shoulders of my team members. I wasn't having any of this. I kept asking that if job task X, Y, and Z were being done by my team, what the F would that leave his team to do?

Apparently, though this was a lively discussion, it wasn't deemed to be "productive" enough and, thus, five minutes after the end of this meeting a cancellation notice went out. We never had another leads meeting again.

Oh, and four months later this person that was bucking for an upper-management position got it. He demoted me and heaped those aforementioned tasks onto myself and my team.


watchfuleye said...

I love your blog. Your perspective on the dysfunction of corporate America is eerily similar to my own experience. Please keep up the great work!!

watchfuleye said...
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