Monday, June 27, 2011

Thirty Years Of Jobbers - Chapter 2-2

It takes years to get a good warhorse trained, and they are highly protective of their position in your company. Warhorses tend to stay until you walk in one afternoon and find them staring at the wall with their favorite pen clutched tightly between their fingers, drooling about the lips and mumbling to themselves in unknown tongue. He or she might know who the boss is, but all of your employees know the warhorse is the real threat to their survival.

The typical warhorse is highly protective of you and his or her position in the company, and when threatened will fight like the devil to maintain the proper pecking order. This creates several problems. The number one being: How do you train a new warhorse while the old warhorse in still in her stall? If there's a stock answer to that one, I don't know it. I've seen it done with great finesse and with the subtlety one might expect from Attila the Hun. Nevertheless, the outcome is unpredictable.

Nobody wants to be reminded that someday their age may become a threat to the very organization they have given most of their productive lives to, but you and I know… it happens. It might happen to them and it might happen to us. God forbid I should destroy what's taken me years to accomplish out of foolish pride.

Several years ago, I was installing a computer system in a company that had a lady there that had been working for that customer for thirty years. She was well into her seventies. The minute I walked into the office, you could see the hair stand up on the back of her neck. The first chance she got she came over to me and whispered in my ear, "Hi, I'm Gloria, and my job is to get rid of you.” She let me know in no uncertain terms that she didn't want a new computer system, and if she got a chance, she was going to do whatever was necessary to have me ejected from the premises. 

Now back in the old "Try-It-Before-You-Buy-It" days, that struck terror into the heart of a computer programmer and I suspected right then and there, I was going to have to win this warhorse over or I might not get paid.

I’d worked with enough jobbers to know you don't go into a man's office that you just met and complain that his trusted employee of thirty years was going to do you in. No matter how hard I tried to make friends with this lady, things just kept getting worse.

After two weeks, I asked to meet the owner for breakfast at a near-by restaurant. He brought his son-in-law with him. I explained to them “this was not going to work,” and I felt compelled to have the freight company pick up the computer and be on my way. They begged, they pleaded; they even offered to take me on a deep sea fishing trip, but the one thing they did not want was for me to leave.

It turned out the owner was ashamed to have to tell the lady her useful days were over, and he fully expected her to quit on her on accord; however, he had neglected to tell me about it. He had already made plans for his daughter to come into the business and take over. But he didn’t have the heart to tell the poor old woman about it. She intended on getting rid of me, he intended on me getting rid of her.

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