Meet John G. Five years the firm I was working at hired him as the Director of Operations, and put all of delivery and recruiting beneath him. He had previously been an unemployed Tester before moving into Test Management a few years earlier. Now, he was in charge of my delivery teams when I had a 7M book of business with several important clients.
From the get-go, he was a horse’s ass. After two months, we had no clue what he was doing, he made no commitments other than it might take up to a year to see changes, and he was calling in sick at least every two weeks. Then he started attending our three Partners’s weekly lunches, and everything began to change.
He hired a random consultant to start generating reports. Suddenly, what used to take a few minutes, took 15 minutes since we had numerous fields we had to complete. Then he had us go back two years in the system to implement changes. I complained to the owners, stating I was trying to generate revenue, not reports. We started getting data, but no improvements to delivery.
Then he implemented twice a week meetings, took away my dedicated Sales Engineer, and realigned all of delivery so they had specialties, which made 1 or 2 people happy (the ones with good specialties) but alienated the rest of delivery. Then he started changing our pricing structure, which impacted my sales efforts.
Then he took away my consultant (one that I hired) and assigned to one of his projects, but in doing so he alienated my clienbt, and this client canceled our project. Then, a month later, after I told this John G point blank not to give pricing to my client he did anyway, and because sales is a finesse game where you have to build credibility over time, he spooked the client by presenting a large price at once and they cancelled the budget.
I complained to management, but nothing changed. Still, everything might have been okay, I probably could have gotten rid of the guy, except I was diagnosed with lung disease and put on prednisone in the midst of all this. Now, what I didn’t realize is how much prednisone messes first with your brain, then with your energy, and suddenly I was too foggy headed and exhausted to think clearly although I could see whwat he was up to.
Frustrated (the entire staff was actually) by his destruction, and probably because I was stoned on prednisone, I quit. THe next week, I’m certain because I’d left, they whacked several members of the delivery team, primarily the ones I’d endorsed.
In the near term, of course, profits skyrocketed. After all, they were still billing for my clients, but no longer had to pay my compesnation. But that was temporary, of course, and before long John was in hot water. But leveraging his trumped up success at this company, he somehow talked himself into a Sr. Dirctor position at a midmarket firm before he could be fired. Two years later, he is still there, in no small part I am sure because he is spending his time keeping his job rather than providing value.
The lesson here is a few fold. Primarily that good things can happen to bad people, although some day it might catch up to him. And that in Corporate America, it is not necessarily about working hard or being valuable — it is about positioning. WHich is part of the reson I am loving my current role working with a specialty and smaller firm — far less politics and backstabbing.