Workforce follies

Last week’s post reminded me of a somewhat similar topic that happened a few years ago. I was working at the Director level, essentially managing a database team and all things database.

I had hired this gentleman, we shall call him Harry, to fulfill a large portion of Oracle related activities that I had done in the past. He was of foreign nationality, not that this is a bad thing, however as you will see it is absolutely germane to the story.

Harry was not a horrible DBA, however as time wore on it became apparent he wasn’t quite as skilled as his resume or he himself made out. It became apparent that he was getting help from outside the organization and it wasn’t Oracle Support.

Another person joined the team that was more of a junior DBA that had some Windows SQL Server experience and looking to expand, we’ll call him George. I liked George.

One day I was making a round through the office with the intention of stopping by the HR lady’s office for a quick question. She wasn’t in, so as my route took me past the bigger break room where the soda machine was located, I happened to hear both Harry and George in conversation. My name came up causing me to pause wondering where the conversation was going.

I had to bite my lip several times to keep from laughing and giving away that I was within ear shot. It was comical, yet completely bizarre. Anyone who knows me will attest that I have a borderline absurd sense of humor and tend to laugh things off.

I then proceeded to hear Harry proclaiming to George in perfectly discernible English, “Look all we have to do is convince everyone here that he doesn’t know what he is doing. Then I will be in charge and once I get my friend hired, we will take care of you. We’ll take care of everything, you won’t have to worry about anything.”

George, who I also believe was amazed, responded with, “he’s been here for years, they know he knows what he’s doing!”

Harry then replied with, “No no no, it doesn’t matter, there’s someone else here who wants him gone too. We can do this!”

I chose this as the perfect time to come around the corner and say, “good morning gentlemen, how are you doing today?” I did so with a big smile on my face to a gaped mouth and nervous Harry.

One thing I had already came to understand with Harry was when he screwed something up, suddenly he did not understand anything and could not speak English very well. This was one of those times, although I never let on that I had heard the exchange.

At some point I presume Harry gave up on his machinations of taking over in a Pinky and the Brain fashion, and put in two weeks notice. Another employee was set to shadow him for an upcoming release to which on the day of the release Harry refused to complete the work and threw the other employee under the bus to do it all.

The refusal to do work prompted me to show him the door a bit shy of his 2 weeks, because I did not know what else he was capable of doing, someone who was perfectly willing to sabotage another persons livelihood and career by nefarious means could be liable to do anything. I chose to protect the organization and my team by removing him.

I caught flak for his early dismissal as not being a seasoned manager and not knowing what I was doing. I ignored this as nothing more than senseless noise and kept doing my job, not to mention who it was coming from had no room to talk.

One can easily surmise that much of that noise was being propagated by the same person supporting and prompting Harry in his endeavors from within the management team. Nothing new for that clown.

Why tell this story now? Nobody would have believed it, and quite interestingly I found it comical. Being at the right place at the right time gave me no real warning regarding Harry’s clandestine adventurous spirit, I already knew. I had already been a target at every turn prior to Harry’s arrival.

None of this gave me warning or any tip off, however it did prompt me to question an odd set of circumstances that occurred not long after Harry started. I was headed in late at night for off hours patching and noticed a car full of middle eastern gentlemen that seemed to be pacing me from the slow lane. As I exited highway 44 to the on-ramp for North 270, they exited and stayed on my right as though they were headed South on 270. When we got past the last street lamp they suddenly swerved over in what appeared to be a very deliberate manner, I had already anticipated this and only had to correct steer slightly while engaging brakes. Had I not anticipated and had to fully swerve I would have hit a large rim and tire located on the side of the road barely visible in the dark night. I mentally thought, “that was a convenient location for that rim, what are the odds” as I watched the reaction of the 2 guys in the back seat, gauging it to confirm my suspicions.

If I had shared the experience of almost getting run off the road while headed into the office for off hours patching, not only would anyone have not believed it, they would have thought I had lost it.

Interestingly enough, another employee quit not long after Harry and threw me under the bus heavily. Again, I was the bad manager and had no clue what I was doing. I caused the organization to lose a great and valued employee.

More unproductive noise.

I never mentioned or brought to light that the person who had just left, throwing me under the bus, had lied about completing work, had screwed some things up, and just how bad was not found out until their departure and I started backtracking over their work. The other DBA’s confirmed the same with work of that employee that they took over.

Anything I said would have came across as being retaliatory. I suspected at the time that the employee was in over their head taking on tasks that quite likely were not understood, but it didn’t matter as I was already being targeted as a scapegoat.

What does this and the previous blog have in common? That the workforce is filled with the schemers, liars, and bizarre dramatics covering up ineptitude that can make a soap opera seem lame….lol

I ended up leaving that job as I was told to start thinking about which one of my employees to lay off. This occurred not too long after Harry and the “great astounding loss of an employee’s” departure.

The more I contemplated it, the easier the decision was. After the way I was treated by HR, my own boss, and the way they seemed to support all accusations and political plays against me as gospel. It was quite simple.

The employee I chose to lay off was me.

I created tickets and assigned them to my team to lock and remove all my accounts, change passwords, and promptly submitted my resignation that morning.

They took my ignoring their ridiculous antics as acquiescence I presume. In all actuality, I was just busy doing my job, trying to keep things on track, and ignoring the petulant childhood playground antics. Everyone has their limit, I inferred what mine was and that line was crossed, so I acted without hesitation or regret.

Philosophically, and realistically, when you have several managers constantly vying against one manager who is adding value and bringing much to the table, there is usually a reason and it is not in any way related to that one manager or the accusations and character assassinations being levied. Manager can easily be supplanted with “employee” or “candidate”, it is after all interchangeable.

When the inept run into someone who is harder working and competent, they must band together to attack and remove the threat. Their continued ineptitude not only requires it, but demands it.

The organization then suffers for it…

Middle eastern decent is not meant in a derogatory or profiling fashion, just as Harry being a foreign national was not, however he just happened to be a foreign national also of middle eastern decent.

This had signs of an intelligence aspect, or at least an attempt at it, something I am not unfamiliar with….

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