I Want Rands
So I have been reading Managing Humans and Rands in Repose the past week. Rands makes me feel less like a jerk and more like a guy with legitimate managerial issues.
I was talking with my old boss (now like 1 or 2 levels of management over me) about the book and just some of the stuff I’ve been reading, how I felt kind of validated in freaking out, the lessons a manager should learn in any and all freak outs, and just some of the communication problems I see in our group. He looks at me and dead pans, “It can’t be a very good book then.” I really love my old boss. He gets it.
Today, I decided that my current project manager is a coward. His first line of status is email and IM. No phone. Not unless the poop is about to hit the fan, and he needs the “took personal time with employee” checkbox checked.
This afternoon I got an IM wherein he was checking status on a particular project. This came up just after I had replied to an email he had sent relaying that our intern, who is not very capable and is increasingly less reliable, bailed out of a week of work – the week where we were trying to get him spun up on a special project. This whole situation has begged the question of who should my manager be talking to with regards to what’s going on in the project, what’s our personnel situation, etc. As far as I’m concern, with no disrespect to my teammates, it should be me.
So I picked up the phone and called him.
Mgr: “So you want to talk?”
Me: “Yeah, more than just status. We’ve got a few things we need to talk about them and now is as good as any.”
Mgr: “We’re not going to talk about those things.”
Me: “Yes we are, after the status report.”
Mgr: “No we’re not.”
Me: “Yes, we are.”
Mgr: “No, I’m not on a private line.”
Me: “What do you mean private line? Why do we need a private line?”
Mgr: “Because we can’t talk about personnel.”
Me: “Well, if we talk about personnel, it will be because you make it an issue. I want to talk about higher level stuff.”
Mgr: “Oh …”
Yeah, see … when we talk, this is the way it always goes. He thinks he has a handle on the situation, but he doesn’t.
Skip forward to after status
Me: “Look, our process, my understanding was that you put so-so in a position for moderating process – not for technical control or personnel issues. I thought that was left to the team lead.”
Mgr: “It is.”
Me: “Well, then why are you talking to so-so about our technical status and personnel issues? And why are you giving so-so crap about the decisions I made the call on?”
Mgr: “Well, I didn’t realize you made the call. I thought there was team consensus.”
Me: “There was team consensus by my sheer force of will and the absence of project management. I said I’d take the fall. Everyone’s backing the decision now it seems.”
At this point, my manager begins a series of excuse making wherein we start talking about what he explicitly outlined he didn’t want to talk about. And in the process, he all but says that the hub-bub he’s created here in not letting the team manage itself has been wasted effort – he’s back to where we started. Skip a few minutes …
Me: “Mgr-person, do you want me on the project?”
Mgr: stunned silence
Me: “It’s just a question. But every time I have to work with you, it’s a fight. I don’t get it.”
Mgr: “Well, just because you don’t get what you want …”
Me: “What I want? I mean, I’m opinionated and strong wilked, sure, but when have I been wrong? I mean specifically, when?!” (hubris, it’s bad … but I do have a solid track record at the moment)
Mgr: “Look, I don’t know why we’re talking about this … how this happened. We’re both frustrated. So lets take a breather and talk about this later.”
Me: “Fine, we can do that.”
Mgr: “Just schedule a meeting …”
Me: “No, you schedule the meeting. If you want me on the project, show that you care and make the time.”
By the time I left a few hours later, still no meeting notice. He did try to hit me up for another phone conversation (via IM instead of just, you know, calling me). We’ll see where we get tomorrow … but I’m ready to check out, and I’m making contingency plans for those I’m going to be leaving behind. Couple with my possible departure with the imminent departure of our resident senior free electron, and my project is pretty much screwed.