Playing Software Developer Hot Potato: Page 2

Posted September 12, 2010

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

(Page 2 of 2)

I wanted her to get the message that this was a clean slate and past transgressions didn’t matter. Plus I knew that she didn’t see anything in the past as her fault, so that conversation wouldn’t have ended well.

Looking back, this was the equivalent of sticking my head in the sand. I should have handled it differently, working with HR and her last manager (not letting my buddy Sam completely off the hook) to convey this WAS her last chance and treated it like probation.

It should have been stated that way in the open and not behind closed doors. Because everyone in management knew she had nowhere else left to go. Kind of like on Lost when Ben was asked why he would go to the side of the evil smoke monster and he answered, “Because no one else will have me.”

Fast forward a couple weeks and my phone rings. It was an irate customer who cannot believe someone from our team made one of his employees cry. Can you guess who caused those tears?

I called Sandra into my office and asked her about it. She rolled her eyes and sighed.

“That person was just stupid. She didn’t have a clue about how to properly set up an environment and was wasting my time.”

I responded, “I thought you said the deployment went great?”

“It did,” Sandra replied, “Once I got little miss ‘know it all’ out of the way. She was way too sensitive about it. It’s not personal, just business.”

The Inevitable

Sure enough, the deployment was a technical success, but a client relationship disaster. Sandra reluctantly agreed to apologize, but the damage was done and the customer relationship was continually contentious from that point forward. The situation made the rest of the team highly resentful that Sandra had put us in that position.

No surprise, but in Sandra’s mind, this wasn’t a big deal. The software was deployed and working as promised. It wasn’t her fault the client didn’t have a competent resource assigned.

After talking it over with HR, we did agree to put Sandra on probation. When we sat down with her to talk about the terms of probation, she didn’t say a word but her face betrayed her anger. I could have guessed what would happen next.

Sure enough, the very next day, one of Sandra’s team members came into my office and shut the door. Sandra had evidently been belligerent with a junior member of our team, berating him about asking stupid questions.

Turns out the stupid one here was me. By taking Sandra on to the team, I had ruined our team chemistry, which had been superb.

We let Sandra go the next day and sure enough, she sued. Perhaps she had a legal agenda from the start.

In retrospect I don’t believe there is anything we could have done to change her actions. However, at the first signs of trouble, the company could have handled the issue better.

It’s too easy to sweep problems under the rug, but eventually someone is left holding the hot potato and will certainly get burned.

ALSO SEE: Are these Developer and IT Salaries Believable?

AND: Do Developers Need to Brown-Nose To Advance Career?

AND: Developer Layoffs Are Never Fair

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Tags: programmers, developers, IT Jobs/Salary, IT job, developer salary

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