It’s always something…

My immediate supervisor is a black woman engineer – known in some circles as a “unicorn” because of the rarity of the breed.  Last year about this time, she was recruiting me to be her technical advisor.  There was a big smelly program lurking, and i had sufficient experience and credentials to get it done… plus, i was looking for something new.

JT:  One of my side goals?  To create the most diverse branch in the entire organization.

daisyfae:  Wrong goal.  You need to create the best branch in the organization that happens to look like a fucking rainbow.

JT:  Yep.  Let’s do it…

Well, about three months into the job, i realized that while JT was off recruiting the best and brightest, the other branches in the division had unloaded their most worthless and troubled employees into her branch.  We now have a mixture of “young, enthusiastic and bright” combined with “broken, toxic and incompetent”.  Ain’t happening anytime soon…

Good thing i believe firmly in the concept of ‘Goal Modification’, or i’d be cutting myself on a daily basis.

The one that really got me this week is SR.  He happens to be an occasionally sharp PhD engineer, who also happens to be black.  Rather than spend his time on his actual work, though, he has spent it in the realm of ‘self promotion’ – spending his time traveling, giving presentations covering the work of other scientists, and nominating himself for every award imaginable.  Prior organizations tried to correct his behavior, but he was quick with filing a grievance, so the white male engineering managers generally backed down.

Not JT.  After SR was parked in her group, she established a position of “Zero Bullshit Tolerance”.  That didn’t work well for SR’s continued efforts to self-promote.  JT was direct and relentless in her pursuit of performance improvement – and as a result, SR filed his annual performance grievance in January.

Having my own frequent and annoying interactions with SR, i was still flummoxed yesterday when he sat through a group meeting with the Organizational Development Specialist, shitting his unique blend of toxic stupid all over the room.  He claimed that we had not provided adequate direction to the group about organizational changes.  Stated repeatedly that he’d not been offered opportunities to learn about the rationale behind program changes.  It was a transparent attempt to make it seem as though JT and i were completely incompetent.

JT and i were patient.  The magic happened when the rest of the group started busting him for it – one by one, they piled on “No, SR, you were there for the Big Investment Strategy Meeting, where daisyfae laid this all out…” and so on.  He finally shut the fuck up, and in the end it was a nice team building exercise for the rest of the group.

The real mind-blower?  i found out today that JT has been patiently going to Alternative Dispute Resolution meetings with SR since January.  He is still claiming discrimination – mind you, JT is also black, so this surprised me.  She explained it to me today…

JT:  Oh, he’s claiming that I’ve got problems with black men, and that I’m unfit to supervise him because of it…

daisyfae:  What?  How much more specific can he get?  You’ve got problems with black men, who wear mismatched sportscoats that are two sizes two small and are named SR?

JT:  No worries.  The personnel people have already told him he’s full of shit…

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21 thoughts on “It’s always something…

  1. Sometimes I think it’s more satisfying to build a decent team from leftovers than a world class team from hand-picked people. I guess that’s why I always coached the ball team of the kids nobody else picked. Sounds like you guys are doing a great job.

  2. This is just one of the reasons I am officially unemployable. Been doing my own thing long enough that I’d fire his ass so fast it would make his head swim.

    I can see it now: (fade to dream like state)

    Complain? You want to complain?

    Get in line dumb ass while the rest of get actual work done. Now get the F**k out of here before I kick your ass our myself.

    (fade back to semi-reality)

    Yep, unemployable. But that’s ok. One day I’ll fire myself and let everybody else do the work.

    TAG

  3. syncopated eyeball – he is insufferable. self-important assholes come in all sizes, shapes, genders and colors. for the first few months, i tried coaching him – “This is an activity report, not an awards write up. Lose the adjectives, just report what happened.” He’d nod his head, and the next month give me “Spectacular results were demonstrated on this amazing project… blah”. i gave up.

    chris – it’s F-Troop. i’m captain parmenter. and you’ve nailed it… i’ve been delighted this month with an unexpected success story. a guy who’d been sort of cast to the side because he’s sometimes a little slow to track big-picture concepts is now the deputy chief, filling in for a few months. he is tracking budget, working administrative and management issues, and doing a kick ass job… and having some fun. from cast away to contributor. i love it.

    TAG – the bigger the organization, the bigger the red tape dragons. one reason i can’t be a line supervisor is that i can’t hold my tongue all the time. but people can be fired. took about 3 years for the last one i was involved in… you are lucky to work for a fine boss, such as yourself!

    uk – that would be the bourbon tonight. oh. fucking. yeah.

  4. Race does not descriminate when it comes to professional time-wasting bullshiters, I have worked with every creed and colour of them! Unfortunately business as usual!

  5. Reminds me I need to look for work today. Thinking of the work place drama, I don’t miss that at all. I wish I could start by own business. I’ll have to ponder that thought today.

  6. rob – the entitlement force is strong in this one. sadly, it is taking FAR TOO MUCH JT’s time to deal with one employee, while the rest of the team could benefit from more one-on-one time. that’s what sucks…

    unbearable banishment – i had several folks stop by my office the next day and rant about how horrible he was… they were genuinely trying to let me know that it was only one man’s opinion! very sweet….

    Bb – JT and i share the opinion that if you happen to be a minority, you generally need to be BETTER at your job. Failure to do so allows easy reinforcement of stereotypes in the minds of others. As a result? She and i BOTH have low tolerance for bullshit. Nothing pisses me off more than a woman trying to get by at her job, doing shitty work, because she’s a girl. Sure, a form of reverse discrimination. But fuck that. The bad ones make my job harder, and we can’t have that, now, can we? 🙂

    kyknoord – oh, if i could find a way to open an office for us in south africa? that might work. but, again, i couldn’t do that… he’s obnoxious enough to start a war….

    starla – working for yourself would be a luxury. working with a group of crazy eccentrics, some of whom are assholes? entertaining. i’ve got a great job, but every now and again, i simply want to be a bartender. good luck with your search!

  7. I love that the other guy finally got dropped into the job he was really suited for. Not everybody is the same. Sometimes if you don’t get the big picture, it’s because you see the trees instead of the forest. I was much better at administration than I was at bedside nursing. Which is anathema in the nursing profession.
    As for entitled assholes, they are everywhere. I’ve met a couple that I would have fired in a heartbeat if HR had let me.

  8. dolce – it’s painful. i gave him many opportunities. he simply doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. it’s not recoverable…. he should work in sales…

    renalfailure – clever. i’ll suggest ‘arson’ for his career development plan.

    silverstar – that’s a very cool situation – and he was one of the first people to bust SR for bullshit when he was being a douchebag at the meeting. i was proud of my ‘recovered’ deputy!

    hereinfranklin – i’ve been trying to think of something to write about grocery stores, but coming up blank since i never go to them! bad workplace can really leave a cloud over life, can’t it?

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