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inappropriate response May 7, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?.
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The more we fear for our jobs, the more likely we are to try and cover our asses. One of the ways we do this is by going to the boss before someone else does. I’ve done this before; I had a meltdown at one of my prior jobs and said some excoriating — truthful, but excoriating — things about a co-worker who I thought had left. She had not yet left. I went to the boss as soon as he got in and explained what happened, bringing him around to my way of thinking.

It happened here at CorporateSpeak yesterday around lunchtime. We got this account a while back, and one of the things we had to do was film and upload new video content every week. The workflow is: Wally shoots and edits the video, Victor uploads it to the site, and Eugene puts it in the CMS. You’d think Wally would do all three of those things, but not at CorporateSpeak; too many people have to justify their existence.

Don't shoot off one of these...

Don't shoot off one of these...

In any case, Wally did his job on time. The breakdown was with Victor and Eugene. See, Wally does a lot of video for us, and had a lot of stuff on his tape. Victor uploaded two of Wally’s video pieces, not just the one appropriate one. Then Eugene put it in the CMS based on trust — he trusted that Victor got it right. Eugene is at fault for not double-checking, but Victor is the one who really screwed it up.

Yesterday I got this e-mail from Wally, forwarded to me from the Two-Year-Old. I have not corrected Wally’s atrocious typing, except where I had to [redact] elements.

Sorry to bother you but my video is not posted on the web. It says it is but when you click on it’s [Pearl’s video] from yesterday, [not mine]. I am also e mailing web but sometimes they don’t see an e mail for a while. Thanks very much. W

Okay, first of all, I did not receive an e-mail from Wally. The department did not receive an e-mail from Wally. Wally didn’t call me. Wally didn’t call my co-workers. No, Wally went straight from “people who can fix this quickly” to “let me e-mail my boss to prove that I’m not a complete idiot and it’s not my fault”*.

I found the problem. I fixed the problem. It took me about 20 minutes, 15 of which were spent uploading new video to our server. I also blamestormed a little, pointing the finger at Victor, but I’m going to mention to Eugene when I see him next that Victor is slacking quite a lot and Eugene needs to check Victor’s work before putting it in the CMS.

...to kill one of these.

...to kill one of these.

The thing is, all of this could’ve been accomplished without involving the two-year-old**. All Wally had to do was make more of an effort to contact us.

Wally also poisoned the well by calling my department unresponsive when we’re actually the most responsive in the building — far faster than IT, and light-years ahead of Wally’s own co-workers. Not that that matters at all. But the next time Wally wants something from us, he might find us being intentionally slow to respond. After all, if you’re going to pull out the big guns with an inappropriate response, be prepared for retaliation, especially when we, just like you, are trying to justify our existence at the company and are afraid of losing our jobs. You have a contract with the company, Wally, and they can’t fire you without cause. But my co-workers are regular salaried employees.

Keep this in mind next time you want to fire off an inappropriate response.

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* In Wally’s defense, this screw-up wasn’t his fault. However, Wally has a habit of leaving other people to do his online work for him, and when he does deign to do his assigned portion of web work, it’s more trouble for us to fix it than to just do it for him. I get the feeling that’s the point. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

** As if you haven’t figured it out, I’m really, really tired of this new VP and the way she behaves. I’m going to stop linking to “The Two-Year-Old” whenever I refer to her, but whenever I do, know that that’s who I mean.

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