But, it's "Hopscotch" is work related. And who doesn't like reading a story of woe about work and thus making them feel better about their work? Hunh? Andrea? And Andrea?
So, this is a one-post summation of what happened the last few months.
Hmmm, gotta go back and look at the posts to see what the heck I was talking about. [back in a sec]
Ted = former coworker, former 1st line manager, current 2nd line manager.
Greg = guy whose job I was taking over since he was tired of the job and wanted to move on.
Let add some new names:
Andy = senior technical architect.
Mary = senior technical architect.
Two Other Dudes = Two other guys working with me in my group.
The way it typically works at the Mega-lo-corp, you have a team lead and an architect. The architect is the guy saying, "We need to look in this area and try this type of stuff out." The team lead says, "Okay, here are 10 things to try and the order we try them and let's see what's keeping you from getting this done by next Friday."
So, I was in an awkward situation coming into the team where Greg was his own team (and thus team lead) and originally consulted with Andy. Because I joined and Greg was on his way out....I couldn't be sure if I was going to step on Greg's toes by assuming I would team lead and calling meetings and so forth. But after a while I realized that Greg was fine by it. And Andy was fine by it too. Andy had a Monday morning meeting where we would catch him up on what we did. I started sending the team a summation of what each of the members had been doing the previous week and what issues we needed advice from Andy. When he first got this agenda, he said, "Yeah, and this agenda you send out is great." Shortens the meeting and gets people to focus on the issues.
So, everything was cool.
One day during our Monday meeting, Mary joined us. Andy said, "Yeah, I've got too many pokers in the fire and Ted thinks that Mary can help out and take over as architect."
Well, I could see that. Andy held some of our conference call from the waiting room of a hospital as his elderly mother had been in and out of the hospital for the last few months. And, he was sending emails at 2:00 in the morning. We were working the guy to death, while his mother was doing poorly.
And in the introductory meeting, Mary said, "Hi. I'm just going to keep quiet and listen in for these two weeks to see how you guys do things before I take over."
On the internal chat window between me and Greg, he was frantically typing, 'Oh SHIT!"
He responded, "I'll call you after this meeting is over."
After the meeting, he called and moaned and said, "Oh man, oh man. I swore I wouldn't work with her again. Sigh. Maybe she's done better. Okay, I guess I have no choice. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt."
So the week she takes over the Monday morning meeting, we're getting the meeting going and she says, "Uh Johnny, what is this email you sent to all of us." I replied it was the agenda, which we've been using the last few months." And her reply was classic, "Well, this is MY meeting. And I don't want to talk about what you want to talk about. I want to talk about what I want to talk about." And then she launched into this 20 minute soliloquy about her background and what other projects she was involved with besides ours and what she thought were the most important issues leading up to the successful conclusion of the project. And after her 20 minutes of self-love, she stopped and said, "So....what are you guys doing?"
And I said, "Uhhh, Mary, if you look at the agenda I sent you, it shows what we've been doing the last week and what issues we've run into."
And she answered, "No, I want to hear from you each. Each of you tell me what you are doing and what you plan to do."
Yeah, I can see why Greg said, "Oh SHIT." But that's okay. I've worked with ego-tripped architects before. What bothered me was the implications. She had joined the meetings two weeks ago, and she never bothered to read the agendas I sent out and realized that they were actually used as a template to hold the meetings. Sure, some people don't like to work off of agendas. But what bothered me was that while she was supposed to be listening in on the transition, she probably just put us on mute on her phone and was working other issues without taking the time to learn what we did on the project."
And then the following occurred over the next few months.
Greg was sure that getting a newer version of software (web server) would help some performance numbers. She just pooh-poohed it. We worked on it diligently, ignoring her (which I found to be a useful tool) demands that he work on things she deemed more important. And then, in a weekly meeting with our second line manager (who is Mary's first line manager), I unveiled the significant performance boost by using the latest code rebuilt by Greg. Mary kept her mouth shut since she didn't want to say, "But I told Greg to quit wasting his time with that code!" And then after the meeting, she went a little....manic, which I found to be her MO. By manic she said to herself, "OH MY GOD, that area is where we can solve all our problems!" So she then just did a google search of the words "Apache performance improvement" and looked at all the hits and then threw them at us and said, "Try these".
That became what I called, "Throw 50 things on the wall and see what sticks" approach Mary is famous for. While that might mean she's open minded, for us it showed us her terrible ignorance and panic in trying to show her boss that she was in charge and driving the project to success.
What she did was she would take the google results, go to each of the 25 links on the first page, and read a quick paragraph about the article about improving the web server (apache) performance. And then, she would paste in the link into email with us, then do a snapshot of an important paragraph from that link to show she actually read it, and tell us to implement it immediately and tell her what the results were.
Unfortunately, that also showed her ignorance. Greg and I would have to go through the links and explain to her:
a) one of these links, we already tried 3 months ago. (and explained to her in a meeting which she obviously wasn't listening or didn't understand - which is troubling since she's our architect)
b) one of these links is not possible because it only works on this type of machine. We don't have that type of machine so it is actually....impossible to try it. (lady, do you even absorb the material you are reading?)
c) one of these links is no longer possible to try because the newer version of software discontinued this function. (she would then try to tell us to go to the worse version of software to try out the performance improvement - we refused. and she had no choice but to drop that demand).
But for other items, okay, she's the architect we'll give it a shot. However, when we tried something and then posted the results and the results were either worse than before or miniscule in improvement her three answers would be:
- Are you sure you made the changes correctly or ran the testcase correctly? [this implies no trust in us worker bees]
- Oh, well. I figured it might not work. But when we get to the more complex testcases with more systems hooked up, we'll try it again since it should give us an improvement there. [wait, so you knowing wasted our time?]
- Hunh. Well, why do you think it didn't work? [Lady, you're supposed to be smarter than us!]
I killed myself for you and you're just going to throw it away because you're too lazy?
About 30 minutes after that meeting she reached out to me on internal chat and said, "Well, if I have time, I might look into why the data doesn't match what we expect it to do. If I have the time."
After that, I went to her boss. Besides having absolutely no social skills (she constantly talks over people during conversations) and being incredibly dense about people's feelings, she has no idea me and her boss are buds. I started a long conversation with Ted that lasted a few months detailing all the idiotic things she's done. He would reply, "But you guys are making good progress!". I would answer, "Yup, we are. We've figured out the secret. We all ignore her instructions and do what we think is best. She can't get up in a meeting where we've presented good improvement from the week before and say, 'Hey, you guys didn't do what I asked you to do!' She's got to nod her head like she was part of that decision."
But, it was grinding down on me having to "report" to Mary. Often times, she would disappear for a week from our project as she was tasked to work a customer problem. Didn't matter, I was essentially managing the team anyway, but pretending she was in charge.
Finally, it got to the point where I was giving a team member an order and she was giving the same team member an opposite order and the poor guy didn't know which way to go. For the second time in my 24 year career, I decided to stab someone in the back and take away their job from them.
I finally told Ted that I was leaving because of her. While this was happening, my old Guardian Angel manager (who is now a VP) asked if I was looking for a new job. Ted panicked and started the ball rolling on easing her out (Ted is not a confrontational person). When he and I would have private conversations about her hardheaded behavior, he would say, "Yeah...you're not the first person to relate stories like that to me." I would then ask, "They why the HELL did you assign her to my team?" He kinda laid his hands out like, "Uhhh, I had no choice." Basically, he had to find a new job for her and he thought she could work in that area.
By then, I had talked with Guardian Angel manager and said that I would move over to her area. It's an area that I am very unfamiliar with. But since she's known me for over 15 years, she knows I can handle it. And Ted was frantic to do anything to keep me. He told me to name my next job. Pick anything in his second line area and I could have that job. Or, he told me to make up a job that I thought needed to be done and he would create that job for me (Ted also knows that I'm good at getting a job done).
I was just the razors edge. I couldn't decide. And to try to lure me back, he demoted Mary and told her I was to be the team lead, not her. Of course, he went to her office and had a talk with her. Then Mary and I had a talk. She said, "So you're okay with this new role?" (and I was suspicious of that question) and then she sent out a note to the team listing our responsibilities and I was listed as Project Manager (the person who reserves meeting rooms and conference call numbers and invitations to people to join our meetings and makes presentations in meetings) and she was listed as Team Lead.
Again, I had to send a note to her, my manager and Ted saying, "I think there has been a missed signal here Ted. According to my understanding, I am the new team lead." And Mary chimed in on a reply email, "Yes, I AM very confused as I do not recall having that type of discussion with you Ted!"
Ted, to his credit finally grew a spine and replied in email, "Yes, I want it to be clear that Johnny is the TEAM LEAD of this team now."
And then suddenly Mary canceled all team meetings in which she was the host.
She's kinda mad at me.
Okay, so can I live with this? Sure, this is the best of all worlds! We're back to ignoring her!
She started having hissy fits. She would get me on internal chat and say, "Hey Johnny. Ramesh from India is online on internal chat. Can you contact him and ask him to mount this directory on our main server?"
So, she's ordering me around. But more importantly, in the time it takes for her to text me to ask me to text Ramesh, why the heck can't SHE do it?
I replied, "I'm confused. In the time it takes for you to get me on internal chat to ask me to ask Ramesh to do this, couldn't YOU do this directly?"
And then she flipped out, "Well, I don't know where I stand with you. Everything I do is I can't be sure that I'm not STEPPING ON YOUR TOES! You are not making clear who has what responsibilities!"
Wow, crazy land.
I took a snapshot of that chat session and sent it to her boss with the statement, "This is the crazy I have to put up with."
Now, she won't talk to me face-to-face in private and she's blocked me from contacting her on internal chat.
(I wonder why)
And then with meetings with our Sicilian cousins (who still like me), as I was talking to one of the key architects in a meeting of architects, Mary would jump and say, "Well I was there as well and nothing has really changed has it?"
That's her way of saying, "I know as much about our Sicilan cousins as you!"
And then I had to ask myself, "Mary works for Ted. She's going to be around this place for a long time. She has no place to go. How much of this blood feud (which I started) am I going to want to put up with?"
I told my bosses I was taking the job with my Guardian Angel manager. They are very miffed at me since they took the time (3 months late) of demoting Mary.
And Mary? She knows I'm leaving and she's back to issuing orders for us to do 10 different things all at once.
And, we're ignoring her and just doing what we think is best.