The 'Incredibly Chatty' Developer Every day Jimmy would come into Sams office at random times. He would just appear in the doorway and start ranting about current events.
At first, Sam was amused and bantered back and forth with Jimmy. But then it started to interfere with Sams work. Sam would be in the middle of some task when Jimmys sudden loud ranting practically caused Sam to eject from his seat.
It got to the point where Sam would be afraid to start a new task without first checking that Jimmy was not around, to verify that Jimmy had his face deeply buried into his monitor solving some complex design issue.
Nobody was better at solving complex problems than Jimmy, which is why others had put up with his rants. Sam tried to subtly hint that he was busy, to no avail. He finally gave up and started working with his office door closed.
This kept Jimmy out, but also isolated him from the rest of the team. Sam left the company before it went further, but it definitely impacted Sams effectiveness and a talented team member was lost.
The 'Inappropriate Phone Call' Developer This one I experienced personally. We hired a new developer that Ill call Suzy. All the developers had their systems in an open cubicle environment. One day, Stan, a senior developer on my team, came in to my office and shut the door.
He said Suzy was having inappropriate conversations on the phone. So not only was she on the phone for long periods of time, but she was calling her ex-boyfriends to let them know she may have exposed them to an STD.
I remember thinking, How many guys could she possibly be calling? I figured it was best to just wait it out.
It turned out the answer was lots and lots of guys because Stan came back the following week and said he counted multiple phone conversations on the same tawdry topic. I said Id address it with her , but put it off due to other priorities.
After three weeks and multiple complaints, I finally called Suzy into my office and told her that I noticed she was spending too much time on the phone and that others have complained about excessive, distracting conversations.
I totally stayed away from the sensitive subject matter didnt want to go there. She just looked dumbfounded and said Ok. Didnt fight it, just Ok.
So the next week, Stan closes my office door again and proceeds to tell me about her new conversations. The ex-boyfriends have been replaced by recruiters.
She was doing phone interviews, and stating My new boss is a jerk, so Im looking for a new job.
This jerk ended up firing her. But by me procrastinating and not immediately addressing this issue head on, the entire team was being distracted with gossip. Cant say I blame them.
These stories were just the tip of the iceberg. Sure its all anecdotal, but I have to believe there is some truth to the techie community harboring some pretty interesting characters. And that is why I love the world of software.
Never a dull moment!
ALSO SEE: Understanding Your 'Idiot' Manager
Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.