Mr. Whiteboard and I met the next afternoon.
“I’ve been thinking about the stuff with Charlie. I, um, stayed late last night after the meeting and did some thinking. Look, I probably should have given you the benefit of the doubt. I was just trying to be fair.”
“I appreciate that,” I told him. Cool; now we were getting somewhere.
“I just want to let, uh, you, uh, know, if we need to do something about Charlie, I’ll back you up. But we have to follow the procedures. I’m not even sure what the, uh, procedures are, I mean I’ve never had to do something like this, but if that’s what it takes, I’m for it.” He was giving me the green light to shit-can Charlie.
“Yeah, sure, I understand.”
“But we have to do this right,” he explained. “We just can’t get rid of the guy, I mean, it’s not something I’ve ever done.”
I bet, I thought. “Sure, gotcha.”
“Ok, we just have to do this thing together, ok?”
“Yeah, no problem. I appreciate this – I know it’s not easy. I mean, I would have hated to be in your spot yesterday when all that went on.” I actually would have enjoyed it, but I faked sincerity.
I looked around his office. He had pictures of his daughters in their basketball uniforms on the wall. I could like this guy, I thought – maybe. I just have to get him step up to the plate, back me, get this joke of an I.T. shop cleaned up, and we’d be square. I thought I could manage up, help him get some balls. Maybe.
As soon as I could, I checked the Org Chart. Under the Human Resources branch there was a “DOD” - Director of Organization Development. I fired off an email:
My supervisor and I have an issue with one of my
subordinates. He’s been adversarial, insubordinate, and absent from work. We’ve
talked about it and agreed that we need to take further measures. Can we talk
about this sometime?
She called me back in 10 minutes. “I’ve got some time after lunch. Do you want to come down?” she asked.
“Sure, see you then.” Nice. At most places, the HR people take a few days to get back to you.
I went down to the second floor and found the DOD. She was finishing her salad out of a Tupperware bowl.
“Hi, am I early?” I asked, leaning into her office.
“Not at all. Have a seat. Close the door.”
I felt like I was in a session with my shrink.
“So, let me guess. This is about Charlie,” she said as she put the lid on her salad bowl.
Bingo! This would be easy, I thought. The little turd was already on HR’s radar.
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Well, we had some issues with him before. Let’s just say he didn’t really get off on the right foot.”
“Yeah, there was an incident at the new employee orientation. One of the I.T. supervisors gave a presentation on computer policies, and Charlie took it upon himself to challenge the guy. Not good.”
I was starting to like her. “I would think not.”
“So, what’s on your mind?” She was all business. I detected a slight East Coast accent, New York maybe. She had balls.
“Well, this Charlie guy…”
I told her all about the issues I had – the surly attitude, the jacking with my files, the disappearing acts during working hours.
She pulled out a matrix. I recognized it from one of my business school classes. It had five columns, ranging from “Passive” towards “Aggressive”. She started drawing on it.
“Look, on a scale of passive to aggressive, you are probably here.” She circled the column somewhere in the middle of the matrix. “Charlie, on the other hand, is way over here,” she continued, circling the “Aggressive” column.
“I see,” I said, fascinated.
“When a guy on this end of the spectrum,” she said, pointing to the “Aggressive” column, “ comes into contact with a supervisor like you on the left side of the matrix, he will attempt to assert himself.”
“Yeah, that’s definitely happening.”
“Ok, so the question is, what are we going to do about this?”
“Well, I’ve talked to my manager about him, and he said he is ready to follow whatever process is in place to resolve this issue. But he’s kinda of hesitant,” I explained. “I mean, he didn’t even let me see my team’s resumes.”
She stood up. “That’s no problem, I can get Charlie’s resume right now.”
This is cool, I thought. The DOD is so in my corner.
She handed me Charlie’s resume. I took a few minutes to scan it.
“This is pretty bogus,” I told her. “It says here that he has twelve years of programming experience, but he graduated in ’96. That means he was coding in his sophomore year. And this garbage about .NET, ActiveDirectory, CSS, I mean, it’s obviously padded.”
The DOD nodded.
“And it says here that he went to Cal State Fullerton in ‘99, but no grad date. He’s a drop-out.”
I looked at the letterhead. It was from an I.T. recruiting firm I had come across over the years.
“MacArthur Associates! I bet they padded this resume. That is one of the flakiest outfits in Orange County.”
I knew how places like that worked. They were the ones that gave I.T. recruiting a bad name. Body shops. Resume mills. They had been around for years, and spawned numerous clones. They all had offices in fancy high-rises near the airport. They had a formula:
• Do a Job Search on Monster or Dice. Find company XYZ Inc. that is looking such and such skill set. Then do a candidate search for skills that match that job. Call the candidate (lets say his name is Joe Hacker) and tell him you are trying to fill a spot for a company (don’t mention the company) that needs his exact skill set. Get Joe Hacker to let you submit your resume to the company you are “representing”.
• Then call XYZ Inc. and tell them you have a perfect match, several matches even, for the spot that they are trying to fill. Get them to agree to have you send these perfect matches to the desperate hiring manager and have him sign an agreement that if XYZ Inc. hires one of your “candidates”, they will pay you about 20-40% of their first year’s pay as a “finders fee”. You have now become the Joe Hacker’s exclusive agent, and nobody else can represent him at XYZ. In fact, if you piss off XYZ, XYZ is prohibited from hiring Joe Hacker for at least 6 months.
• Lassen, MacArthur, and a few others do ALL their business this way. They post excited, too good to be true job requirements on Dice and Monster with lots of exclamation points. Here’s one from Lassen:
“Orange County based Search Engine Development company is looking for a few good
C# Programmers! They are developing search engines that center around consumer
products and markets. Right now they need at least two C# / ASP.NET Programmers
who have 1+ years of experience, lots of potential, and the ability to learn
quickly from a highly touted team. They are using .NET 2.0, SQL 2005, and other
next generation Microsoft technologies. Apply immediately if you are ready to
see how high your ceiling can be!”
• The reality is that Lassen may not even know this Search Engine Development company. But if you send your resume to Lassen, and it has a tiny mention of C#, they can then call the company and give them the hard sell. They will tell Mr. Bozo IT Manager that they must hire their “candidate” by the end of the day because he is so hot, he is mulling over 10 offers and will make a decision soon. “We gotta move quick, Mr. Bozo! This C# guru won’t be around in the morning!”
• The poor guy on the other end will be forced to bring you in for an interview. And let’s say that you are this VB.NET guy with a little C# experience; the firm may even embellish your skill set to Mr. Bozo (who doesn’t know C# from C++) to make it sound like you have done lots of C# work. When you go out and meet with Mr. Bozo, he shakes your hand, and sends you into a room where you get worked over by a couple of geeks that ask you a bunch of C# questions that you can’t answer. No job, and this company will NEVER call you again, because you looked like a phony who tried to bullshit his way into a job he wasn’t qualified for. You now have been blackballed at this Search Engine Development company, thanks to Lassen or MacArthur.
That is how Mr. Whiteboard had found Charlie. The only thing was, Mr. Whiteboard was too naïve to have someone do a real technical screening, and Charlie had slipped in, smelling like a rose. Mr. Whiteboard’s Golden Boy. He would fix everything; after all, he had the credentials. Years of development experience. Fancy acronyms on his resume. He had to be good.
Mr. Whiteboard had gotten conned.
The DOD got me back on track. “Ok, never mind that resume. The key here is to take measured, firm steps to correct this behavior.”
She outlined a three-step plan of “graduated discipline.” Verbal counseling, followed by written warning, and finally, documented steps of correction agreed to by both the supervisor and the subordinate. It would take months to get rid of this flake, but I was ready to work within the system.
“Thanks,” I said, getting up to leave.
“And if you have any problems, or just need to talk, let me know,” the DOD said. “Anything, give me call. Please.”
“Absolutely.” I really did like her. Competent, to the point. Assertive. New Yawker, probably. We’d get along just fine, I thought as I walked back to my cube on the third floor.