Friday, January 27, 2017
Only Keep a Job that SHOULD be Kept!!!
At the Tech Job Fair in Los Angeles yesterday, TheHackerCIO ran into several wonderful colleagues. I didn't want a job. I have too much work! But I did want to know more about what new startups were hiring, and where they were located. I managed to survey almost all the smaller Startups, milling among thousands of people. I was told that over 13,000 people, in total, attended. I can believe it.
One of the best colleagues to run into, a fellow Geeky Book Club member, told me about his "consulting woes." He was concerned that he might have "burned some bridges" in the last few contracts, because his services "were no longer required." In other words, he got the ax. It's pretty easy to step on toes as a consultant. He wanted to do things right. The client wasn't so interested in that. The client didn't keep him around. Now, he feared, he wouldn't be able to go back into that institution.
TheHackerCIO comforted him. You can go back all you want!!! When you do nothing wrong, have no fear about getting the ax! It's a badge of honor! Plus, you're better off without such a client. (Not everyone deserves a good worker!). I told him my own story about a recent client I "lost," which I was proud of. He had two in the last few years. I matched him two for two, also in the last few years. And I have nothing but pride for these "losses." Interestingly, both of these "losses" came from cowards.
In one case, I actually had an inkling that things were wrong. I got that idea because the client-coward didn't want to deal with me directly. He asked the agent I was working through to tell me, and he let it slip before I was out the door. So, I "accidentally" (heh ... heh) turned on my cell phone recorder, and slipped it into my shirt pocket. Thus fortified with a verbatim recording in-progress, I sought out the coward and discussed the situation with him directly. TheHackerCIO is not a coward. The result was a recorded transcript of the greatest firing ever! At some point I'll transcribe it word for word, but for now I'll mention the best part, emblazoned in my memory. Mr Coward said, and I quote, "You are a highly productive person, and you are never going to be happy here. This place is a cluster-f**k"
How can you argue with that?
I tried to offer to help un-cluster-f**k the place, but that wasn't of interest. He was one of the cluster-f**kers!
In the other case, I was required to teach junior staff about Cassandra, a NoSql database, which I happen to be pretty knowledgeable about. In session one, I noticed that one "participant," let's call him Moh Foh, for short, was glued to his laptop, and not learning much, if anything. In Session two, I needed to recap what had been covered and see where to go. So I made it a fun exercise. "Lets make this fun, something like a game show," I suggested. I quizzed them round-robin about failure scenarios, seeing if they knew what would happen under various conditions Two of my "players" did fine! If they knew the answer, they got praise. If not, I quickly helped them out with hints or an answer. Then I asked them a follow up. They were enjoying the exercise, and we were all making good progress.
Everyone except Moh Foh, that is. There he was, glued once again to his laptop. He had nothing but a blank look to offer when I asked any question. So I said, gently, " Can you close that laptop?" He didn't, but he postured that he was going to pay attention now. So I described the question for him again, on the white board, and turned back for his answer. Once again, MohFoh was glued to his laptop screen. He couldn't even pull away when he knew I was re-describing the question explicitly and personally for him! The rudeness, disrespect-of-a-colleague, unprofessional-ism, and bovine stolid indifference were almost beyond belief. But I managed to remain good humored, and I said, "Come on now, close that laptop. Close! Close!" and he did. For a third time, I returned to the white board and repeated his scenario/question. When I looked back at him can you guess what he was doing?
You're right! Moh Foh was now glued to his cell phone, and had no idea how to even attempt to answer the question. So I said, "Really?" At that point, he said, "I have to leave," and bailed out. A little bit later the coward-in-charge asked the agency to declare me persona non grata.
Later on, before I was cowardly axed, I attempted to patch things over with Moh Foh. I told him that if he couldn't pay attention, I couldn't teach him. He said that they had to "multitask" around there. I told him that it's been scientifically proven that you *can't* multi-task. All you can do is a crappy job at many things. And in his case, he wasn't even able to pretend to do even a crappy job of learning Cassandra while he monitored whatever he was monitoring. If he actually was, and wasn't Facebooking.
I'm so proud of being axed for this that I'd like to put it on my resume! It's a badge of honor. A possible entry text: "Accomplished teaching basics of Cassandra to staff. Pleasantly, but firmly, refused to accept disrespectful inattention and "I don't care" attitude from students with a junior-high-level mentality." Yeah, I doubt I can work it into my resume, because I hope to never do it again. It's not a target for the future. But I'm plenty proud of it.
Not every job should be kept. A client like this needs to find someone who will pretend to teach those who are completely uninterested or unable to learn.