back to article IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

The weekend is over. Distract yourself with another tale of messenger termination in today's Register reader confession. Our latest story of karma among the chaos comes from "Steve" (not his name), a newly minted IT manager in the early years of this century who had yet to realise that despite the apparent niceness of his new …

  1. 2460 Something

    HR or Steve's Boss

    I do wonder who actually stuck the knife in, I don't see how his boss, knowing that he had already offered to help and been soundly rebuffed, would not have stepped in before losing an employee. I have been in a similar situation and my direct line manager went to town on them for not involving IT up front and then having the temerity to blame us for their screw up.

    1. El blissett

      Re: HR or Steve's Boss

      Whatever their personal feelings towards their underling, I've definitely known a few managers who would rather not get involved when someone higher up wants their way, especially if the underling is is fresh or lacking legal employment protections.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

      I worked in companies where HR actually run the business. Executives terrified to deal with them and letting them do whatever they like even when it had serious impacts on business. As CEOs came and went, they cemented their power by keeping employees costs down even when it actually damaged the business.

      No surprise here that they lavishly designed their offices, gave the design job to some idiots among their friends, and the tried to blame someone actually working. For some reasons the worst people end to work in HR - the name itself, instead of "Personnel Office" as before - tells a lot about it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

        Nightmare! When you go to HR with a complaint of sexual harassment from your boss they should bury it and show you the door not hold the management responsible!

        You need to troll better, your pay grade is showing.

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

          That's the kind of HR department the AC was remarking on.

          Just because you've never worked somewhere where a particular department (or indeed the whole company) was a bit shit doesn't meant they don't exist.

          Usually in companies spiraling the drain, especially larger companies where inertia can keep things going for years. Good people move on, the apathetic and incompetent remain.

          My previous employer had an HR dept a bit like that, it wasn't malice, it was incompetence. But it did unfortunatly mean complaints about bad managers never really got dealt with. (Behavioural, not sexual assault claims I might add, although that doesn't make it much better).

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

            HR tends to be one of the last out the door because they're not only needed to lay off everyone else but they're also the keeper of any managerial skeletons in the corporate closet.

            1. Mike 16

              Last out the door?

              One of my employers (a division of a Fortune 500, if not Fortune 100 mega-conglomerate) did exactly the opposite. When it came time to do the big RIF (that had been denied to be in the works for months), Mahogany Row laid off HR _first_. Might have left one standing, but processing the few hundred "grunts" at our site took quite a while.

              BTW: I knew of at least two cases of (sexual) managerial skeletons that "disappeared in the turmoil".

              It is possible to find people in HR who actually give a damn about the lower level employees, but the other sort are far from rare, and get more rare as company size strays from the median.

              1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

                Re: Last out the door?

                Reading some of the comments here you would be led to believe that HR is not a very well respected “profession”

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Last out the door?

                  Working with a contractor on a project, we got to discussing HR.

                  Me, having worked for the same business 25+ years - I can't imagine other companies having an HR department as bad as ours".

                  Him, having contracted with many different types of organization - "They are all the same, HR attracts the same type of person. They are like hairdressers but without any skills".

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

              I was once made redundant from a company along with 600 others. After the hr lady had handed out all the redundancy letters her manager made her redundant too. I've never seen anyone throw a tamtrum as big as the one she threw.

        2. Manolo

          Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

          Already 32 people who don't recognize sarcasm.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

            That's what the /s tag is for.

        3. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

          >You need to troll better, your pay grade is showing.

          Oh dear. That's not nice. It also shows a profound lack of understanding about what HR departments actually do. We all know them for hiring and firing but their other major function is running CYA for the company. They ensure that the company adheres to employment and Health and Safety laws and they mitigate the company's risk exposure against employee claims of harassment and discrimination. (They also organize the Christmas party but never forget that they're always on duty -- HR is the corporate Eye of Sauron.)

          Sexual harassment is a touchy subject that can expose the company to liability so a company will have formal policies with regard to training and enforcement. You'll have been exposed to it when you joined and you will have signed something to the effect that you've received and understand the training. HR may not appear to respond to claims of sexual harassment but they'll be documented.

          1. BillG
            Devil

            Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

            Today, the purpose of H.R. is to protect management from the employees.

          2. stiine Silver badge

            Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

            wong, that's what the legal department are there for.

        4. aerogems Silver badge

          Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

          I think (hope) everyone has missed the sarcasm of this comment.

        5. Alpharious

          Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

          What do you do when it's HR doing the racism? or when it's HR doing the harassment? What do you do when HR is getting kickbacks from managed services providers and staffing firms to block hiring?

          I have stories.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

            "What do you do when it's HR doing <illegal thing>?"

            You get your ducks in a row, retain a lawyer, make sure your paper trail is clean, and then call them on it, starting with reporting to your direct Boss, and working your way up the management chain. When they fire you, place it in the hands of the landshark. They will probably offer to settle out of court, possibly in the high 6 figures or low 7 ... At that point it's a matter of asking yourself how much your ideals/scruples are worth.

            Have fun! :-)

            1. gerryg

              Re: I worked in companies where HR actually run the business.

              The real problem is team size and sanity. If HR/those with a key to the executive bog are really out to get you, you don't have a future there. Even if you win the first round you are tainted.

              For everyone else but you it's a job. For you it's your life.

              The best strategy is to get out on the best terms possible.

              Remember Bobby Fischer's dictum "moral victories don't count". I do not think there is an area of life to which this does not apply.

      2. hitmouse

        Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

        HR's response to unhappy staff: advertise for a "Happyness(*) Specialist" at a rate higher than all the underpaid and unhappy staff.

        *yes that was the spelling

        HR secret is to employ their own staff in inflated job levels to boost the levels of their managers

      3. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

        A company Worked for had the problem that, at least from 'underling' point of view, it seemed as if HR and Finance were 'fighting' over who ran it. Every now and then we would get an instruction that all time had to be booked to 'projects" i.e., externally funded work. This often included the statement that only client work would qualify people for bonuses, pay rises or promotions. Then the Project Managers would get pissed off with people booking admin type things to their projects and using up all the budget, and they'd rebel and obstruct us only to work the stated hours and only book actual project work to the project tie code.

        And a few months (accounting periods) later it would all start again. Of course there were the 'headcount challenges' at the ends of quarters or years when every member of a team would suddenly be re-assigned to 'the pool' or 'the bench', so someone in management could meet a target, only for them to be re-assigned a couple of weeks later when the client phoned up wondering why things had suddenly gone so quiet.

        As for the 'who me?', seems like someone needed a scapegoat, and the rest, as they say is history.

      4. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

        Worse, or at least equally bad, is when HR is actively complicit in illegal activities being carried out by management. In the US, it's illegal for companies to take a person's race into consideration when hiring, not that it really stops it from happening all the time.

        I worked for the ASUS branch over in the States for a time. Didn't take long for me to notice that out of approximately 300 employees at that location, I would have fingers left over counting all the non-Asian employees. And not just that, Chinese or Taiwanese specifically was the target ethnicity. Only a single non-Asian person was in any position of management, and it was just a front-line manager running a small group. Also didn't take long for all my coworkers to start treating me like shit being one of those non-Asians. Literally all the head of HR, who happened to be non-Asian, would have to do is look outside their office at the faces in the cubes in the main building, or just walk around and look at the people working there. There's absolutely no way they couldn't have been aware.

        I made a few musings about these things to one of my coworkers and very shortly after I was hauled into HR and effectively fired. I came to find out later the HR person actually encouraged one of my coworkers to file a false police report against me for making threats. The cops clearly didn't buy the story since they closed the report as soon as they finished taking it and never bothered contacting me about it, but the fact that they would go that far to try to keep the racist activities of the company secret is quite telling. Had I been successful in getting anyone from the state to go into the building and just walk around to take a quick visual survey of the employees working there, it probably would have unraveled the entire company. There's no way anyone could plausibly claim they were unaware when literally it was right in front of them.

        To this day I refuse to buy anything from ASUS because I refuse to give money to a racist company. I also found out that the HR person who showed me the door was shown the door themselves not too long after.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

          BHPhoto in New York got heavily fined for this.

          Their staff are exclusively a Jewish Orthodox group and they lost a case for not promoting Hispanics.

          IIRC they were particularly dumb about it. Instead of just making speaking Hebrew be a job requirement - they claimed it reduced theft because they could trust "their people", presumably unlike those thieving Mexicans !

        2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

          ASUS is dead for me too, but mostly 'cause they still run on the reputation they earned in the Pentium 133 MHz era. After that the quality and weird default-settings decisions went down and down and down.

          They do a lot of marketing, but they cannot fool me. Maybe they'd be better if they'd have a broader ethnicity...

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

            That would be the ASUS which responded to forum user gripes about their TNT2 video cards by shutting down the forums

      5. Stork Silver badge

        Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

        I worked a place HR was known as anti-personnel

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

          One retired exmployee always referred to them as Human Remains at our place.

          Ask 3 different HR people the same question and get 3 different answers.Complete lack of consistency.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've seen many deparments terrified by HR

        I refuse to go along with the "HR" newspeak shenanigans, and still refer to them as "Personnel", to remind them, and my colleagues (who sadly unthinkingly go along with this insidious ruse), what whom their actions affect, and to whom they ought to bear some responsibility (obviously the needs of the business have to come first, but reminding them on a frequent basis that they should always act with humanity doesn't hurt).

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: HR or Steve's Boss

      I agree. Steve's boss was not on the ball on the matter. Worse, he cowardly shut up and let it happen, else the president would have been aware and Steve wouldn't have had to explain.

      It's all for the best, visibly. Not a company I'd like to work for.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: HR or Steve's Boss

      HR would be the first to realise the cheapest direction of blame shifting would be onto someone on probation. Steve's manager would simply be bypassed when reporting upwards.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: HR or Steve's Boss

        "HR would be the first to realise the cheapest direction of blame shifting would be onto someone on probation. Steve's manager would simply be bypassed when reporting upwards."

        Or, to put it simply, "last in, first out"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HR or Steve's Boss

      Let's face it, we all know HR is not for employee's benefit, it's purely for the company to avoid being sued by employees. The HR dept sole purpose to ensure no employee has any grounds to come back at the company, this is dictat #1. Then somewhere down around point #27 "Help employees" comes up, but way below "Help members of the board to help themselves!".

      1. gerryg

        Re: HR or Steve's Boss

        https://dilbert.com/strip/1993-03-03

        29 years ago this week

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HR or Steve's Boss

          So unfortunate that the comic creator became the PHB, and showed up on Fox 'News' regularly a few years ago (as an 'expert' on North Korea or something equally wrong).

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HR or Steve's Boss

      So, he was sacked without being told why, or given the opportunity to defend himself?

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: HR or Steve's Boss

        During a probationary period it's common for no reason to be necessary.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: HR or Steve's Boss

          He made himself known & visible to the wrong person by offering "unwanted" input.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HR or Steve's Boss

          I know they don't need a reason - but surely it's in their interests to hear what happened?

          New guy comes in; current guy feels threatened; current guy makes up crap about new guy; new guy fired.

          If someone I employ (even temporary/contract/probationary) is accused of XYZ, one of the first thing I'd say is "You've been accused of XYZ." or at the very least "You are being let go because of XYZ"

          1. Not Yb Bronze badge

            Re: HR or Steve's Boss

            If they don't have to give a reason, they won't. Any reason given other than something like "no longer needed by company" opens up potential liability for various legal reasons. Especially if you've got evidence you never actually did "XYZ", you've possibly got a case for improper termination.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: HR or Steve's Boss

          "During a probationary period it's common for no reason to be necessary."

          This is a reason you don't want to accept more than a 30 day probation.

          If they can't figure out if you're a good fit in a month, another 2 probably won't help.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Flame

    SEP - SEF - SEB - SEx

    To try and shift the blame elsewhere is a bit more common than we'd like.

    Blame reassignment is a more and more usual tactic the further you get to the boss levels. These bosses have a very strong SEP field and it is always Somebody Else' Fault where you have Somebody Else' Blame until you reach the Somebody Else' <anything> level. The system subsequently collapses under its own weight, at some stage, you hope.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: SEP - SEF - SEB - SEx

      Surely that is the 12th commandment: "Thou shalt have someone else to blame."

      (The 11th commandment being: "Thou shalt not get caught.")

      1. Scott 26

        Re: SEP - SEF - SEB - SEx

        I thought the 11th commandment was "or your money back"

  3. John Doe 12

    Watch Your Backs

    I have found that when you do get the rare chance to peep behind the "magic curtain" and see how things really work it can simply blow your mind. If our hero Steve had not bumped into that guy on the hike and got a bit of background info he would have been none the wiser ever since. What's worse is the world of I.T. is likely small enough that this poison could still do harm at a future time.

    In short people can be very dangerous and we should always watch out backs for those willing to lie for a living. The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

    1. DevOpsTimothyC

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      The first casualty of war is the truth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The first casualty of war is the truth.

        Dictators and HR kill truth well in advance.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The first casualty of war is the truth.

          "Dictators and HR"

          "And" not needed. The one is a subset of the other.

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

      Really? You want someone who's made a career of telling bare faced, contradictory lies and you think you need to go to Russia to find a leader like that?

      What a load of Pfeffel.

      1. ChrisElvidge

        Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

        Pfeffel : new word of the year for the OED?

        1. John Doe 12

          Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

          Alongside 2018's confusing word of the year "Covfefe" :-D

          Created by our favourite American dictator who is currently on a 4 year vacation

          1. TimMaher Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

            Which reminds me.

            My stock of covfefe has now left Dublin, en route to Belfast.

            Mine’s the one with a packet in the pocket©

          2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

            "Created by our favourite American dictator who is currently on a 4 year vacation"

            All together now:

            "FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS! "

            ;o)

            (Sorry to any Trump supporters here, just couldn't resist.)

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

              The accent fooled you ... the actual chant was "FOUR MORE BEERS!"

              Seriously, though, how drunk would you have to be to vote for Trump?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                Trumps supper power is that he is a very convincing liar. There is a large number of Republicans that still believe the election was stolen and the liberal media all lie, not Trump, he never lies. ;-(

                1. cmdrklarg

                  Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                  Just because a bunch of credulous fools believe anything he says doesn't mean he is a convincing liar.

                  It's easy to tell when he's lying: his lips are moving.

                2. Scott 26

                  Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                  > Trumps supper power is that he is a very convincing liar.

                  ???? So he lies when having a light night-time meal?

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                    That depends. Are his lips moving?

                3. gnasher729 Silver badge

                  Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                  On the other hand, after his Putin comments it became clear to me that Trump is much closer to dementia than the current President.

                  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                    Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                    What about his supporters though, what excuse have they got?

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                      From personal experience, I'd say half are drunks, half are stoned, half are brainwashed, half are ignorant oiks and half voted for him "because Daddy always voted a straight Republican ticket".

                      Obviously, there is some overlap.

                  2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

                    Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

                    Russian or American?

          3. jake Silver badge

            Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

            For values of "vacation" that include "trying to stay out of jail".

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator.

          Last time I checked, the OED wasn't prone to listing Bavarian surnames.

          One never knows what the Yank sitting in the UK Prime Minister's seat might insist on, though.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      Or even those above willing to twist words, often said informally and out of context, to make someone especially someone not too far down the ladder, look bad.

      Yes, I have been got that way. When my and another service amalgamated we, the two managers were simply moved into new roles according to scale. So as the lower paid/younger I became deputy.

      In the interim period we were chatting about management. I, having done some training and thought about our roles running teams of highly skilled, specialist, quite senior peripatetic advisory and support teachers expressed the view that our role as managers should be to set the requirements and monitor them in jobs that needed to be pretty much self-managing. It was how I'd worked very successfully. It was how my previous boss had worked and he was at the Giving-advice-to-parliamentrary-committees level.

      She, I'd later learned, was in her current role because she'd been rejected from previous redeployment exercises and given this one instead. And was a true micro-manager ( and alcoholic and liar and... well you get the picture). But I also learned, years later, that she'd taken my informal and still reasonable comments and recorded it formally as my saying that I didn't believe in managing- to our bosses.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Watch Your Backs

        It's the mediocre ones who are dangerous, for they know they can't compete on the job proficiency level. They constantly need to cull potential rivals and deflect blame, which makes them very annoying and potentially dangerous.

        Top professionals on the other hand don't have anything to prove, and thus don't need to backstab other people (unless of course they do it as a pastime...).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          A major problem at my company was that promotion was heavily 'matrimonial' at all levels and in all departments. You could guarantee that any manager at a higher level would have his/her spouse working not many levels below, and they'd be moved into jobs they had absolutely no experience or direct qualifications in if one became available and was upwards. Some departments had husbands and wives working in them virtually side-by-side in supervisory/management roles.

          I've mentioned before, but one time I was forced to take on accounting and marketing duties against my will (having zero experience in either) on top of my scientific role. The reason was that the existing holder (the wife of a higher manager) was being promoted elsewhere immediately, and the person they were going to promote into her vacated role (the wife of another higher up) was on maternity leave.

          In spite of my misgivings and heavy workload, I made the job my own in a short time and resolved such minor issues as being over a year behind on customer orders, among many others. I repaired almost severed relationships with irate customers across the board.

          When the woman on maternity leave arrived in the role, she didn't have a clue what to do, since she had no experience of any kind in any aspect of the job (and, crucially, was unable to reliably use the antiquated mainframe which ran the accounts system). In under 12 months, virtually all the progress I had made had been completely reversed, and we were back to square one. The main customer with whom I repaired orders and relationships was then told - in no uncertain terms - we were pulling out of manufacturing their products in 12 months (or it might have been six - I forget). No warning, just the statement.

          My company actually saw it as a 'major victory'. And yet the manager who made the decision had originally secured the same business a few years earlier by undercutting so much we were barely making a profit on the work even if we got it right.

          More concerning to me was the fact that when you own medicine licences, you don't just switch manufacturing to another place overnight - even if you are the manufacturer and licence owner. It is time-consuming and expensive.

          When you are having your products manufactured under contract, as this company was with us, what we did was unforgiveable.

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          ThatOne: "It's the mediocre ones who are dangerous, for they know they can't compete on the job proficiency level."

          Mostly correct, but often, in my experience, the mediocre ones do not have that level of self-awareness. They genuinely believe that they can run things, indeed SHOULD run things, and that things will happen and stuff get produced anyway, while they pamper and preen themselves ready for their next promotion. It is not that they consciously think they need someone else to blame for any mistakes, they genuinely believe that someone else IS to blame (for attempting to sabotage their career).

          For examples, see: Boris Johnson (Covid lockdown parties) Chris Grayling (pretty much everything he did as a minister has now been undone by his replacements where possible), David Cameron ('We don't need to plan for Brexit as we won't lose the vote', 'Jimmy Carr isn't allowed to use tax havens, but I can inherit £2million tax free from my father'), Tony Blair ('Honestly, Saddam Hussain can launch weapons of Mass Destruction at us in 45 minutes, it says so in this dossier'), Theresa May ('After the General Election we will have a Strong and Stable government'), and of course Nick Clegg ('I won't raise student fees', 'Facebook is wonderful'). Not to mention Dido Harding (TalkTalk, 'NHS' Test and Trace).

          Top professionals generally admit very quickly when they don't know, or got something wrong. But so do lesser mortals who have a strange affliction called 'honesty' (from which I suffered sometimes as an underling before I retired).

          1. John Doe 12

            Re: Watch Your Backs

            As my favourite saying goes - "Deputy heads will roll" :-D

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Watch Your Backs

            Not to mention Dido Harding (TalkTalk, 'NHS' Test and Trace).

            Don't forget, she was also in charge of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival Covid superspreader event.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Watch Your Backs

              Not to mention Dido Harding (TalkTalk, 'NHS' Test and Trace).

              Don't forget, she was also in charge of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival Covid superspreader event.

              Well there was a reason why it went ahead despite almost everything else similar in scale being cancelled...

          3. Tom 7

            Re: Watch Your Backs

            It's always worth remembering that Jimmy Car avoided £2m tax using the same method as a pop star who avoided £20m but being a friend of the tories didnt get pilloried.

        3. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          Perfectly stated, ThatOne.

          This is EXACTLY the case. These type of people are always at the center of the eventual demise of a company.

        4. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          Spot on. One pint for you.

        5. BillG
          Megaphone

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          @ThatOne wrote "It's the mediocre ones who are dangerous,"

          There's a phrase for that, "The tyranny of the mediocre".

        6. T. F. M. Reader
          Coat

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          @ThatOne: "It's the mediocre ones who are dangerous"

          I realize the context is professional mediocrity, but in this day and age I can't help recalling the words of a prominent Russia human rights persona on one V. Putin right after the latter took over from Yeltsin: "Putin was a Lt. Colonel in the KGB. You know what a Lt. Colonel in the KGB is? Absolutely nothing."

          If there is an extended Godwin's law on these pages I'll get my coat... --->

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Watch Your Backs

        "recorded it formally as my saying that I didn't believe in managing"

        As a micro-manager it probably looked that way to her.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Watch Your Backs

          Probably true, but she still twisted my words to make it look that way.

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Watch Your Backs

            From Kipling's poem, 'If'

            "If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

            Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,"

            https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if---

    4. Philip Stott

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      You're right about I.T. being a fairly closed shop.

      I develop commodity trading systems for a living, and in 3 weeks I start a new job where I've discovered that no fewer than 6 guys (and, sadly, it's nearly always a sausagefest) that I've worked at various banks and trading houses over the years are currently employed!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Watch Your Backs

        where I've discovered that no fewer than 6 guys (and, sadly, it's nearly always a sausagefest) that I've worked at various banks and trading houses over the years are currently employed!

        Depending upon their (and your) experience and your relationship with them, that is either very good or very bad.

      2. John Doe 12

        Re: Watch Your Backs

        It's in the small "fishponds" like I.T. where the poison is most toxic. Once in a while you get to catch the poisoner in the act but usually they are not so clumsy as to leave a trail of evidence!!

        As said by others it's the incompetent ones who make the most waves to cover up their mistakes.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      "Getting one-up" is #101 of management training handbook ( aka "How to 'fuck your way over' to the top!" ), alongside such gems as "It's not my dept's fault!" and "I don't know who it was but someone in dept X did something bad!".

      Management is 24/7 battleground that makes kids in playgrounds look mature!

    6. David Nash

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      and not only would Steve have been none the wiser, the company president and others would still have thought it was his fault too.

    7. .stu
      Trollface

      Re: Watch Your Backs

      "Short people can be very dangerous and we should always watch out backs for those willing to lie for a living. The current poster boy for this being our favourite Russian dictator."

      There, FTFY ;)

  4. ColinPa

    He who shouts loudest is often wrong

    I had to visit a customer about one project, and was asked if I could come to a meeting on a different project to listen in and offer any suggestions.

    One high level problem was the mainframe could process about only 20 requests a second - and they needed over 1000 a second. My product produced statistics and could show the rate was very low (and therefore was the culprit).

    The manager of the project was shouting that it was not good enough and he was going to recommend that this pile of manure should be taken out and the mainframe be replaced by a Windows server. "You have 24 hours"

    I asked questions like "do you know where the bottleneck is?" "what evidence do you have", and the answer was "20 years experience".

    I worked with the mainframe guys and looked at a trace. The mainframe was almost idle. We saw that data flowed into the mainframe every 50 milliseconds - which matched the 20 requests a second. The problem was clearly upstream of us.

    I left the guys to it. Next morning there was a very tired. but happy team of mainframe guys.

    They found the upstream server was running on a 10 year old server running Windows. It had not been patched for a couple of years, and no one officially knew about it!

    I do not know the gory details of what happened, but next time I visited the shouty guy was gone, and more work was moved to the mainframe. The team were happy because lots of problems disappeared, and they met their service level agreements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

      One of the reasons my manager, who've worked with many, many years insists that everything we do has automatic logging and metric collection, if it doesn't then we're given time to code some form of metric collection.

      He's fought so many battles against, "I don't know why, it's just slow!" and "fact-slapping" people is the only way to smack some sense into people. It's now got to a point where only new people question him and our team on raw facts 'cos they know we have everything logged, they often have nothing. We don't get anything but we also don't get shat on very often.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

        I tend to develop a whole new level of dedication when someone starts being accusatory like that. I'll quite happily spend hours troubleshooting an issue in order to prove it off network, particularly if I've a feeling it's going to turn out that the issue falls within their area of responsibilities.

        I don't have the time to go to that depth on an otherwise minor issue, but if you've escalated something up to executive level that gives me much, much more leeway to dig in and make you look more of a twat than you already did.

        I do worry, though, at some point someone's going to figure out that I do my best work when annoyed and start exploiting that.

        1. John Doe 12

          Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

          "I do worry, though, at some point someone's going to figure out that I do my best work when annoyed and start exploiting that."

          That comment did make me laugh :-D

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

          AC: "I do worry, though, at some point someone's going to figure out that I do my best work when annoyed and start exploiting that."

          Some comments on staff:

          "You will be very lucky if you can get this man to work for you."

          "Works well when cornered like a rat."

          (Of a cavalry officer) "I would not breed from this man."

          More seriously, the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett claimed that anger fuelled his writing career, so maybe a string of multi best-selling novels lies in your future.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

            "I would not breed from this man."

            I think that's more damning of the speaker than the cavalry officer. Just what kind of conversation provides the context for this?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

              I believe the cavalry officer was saying the gentleman in question wasn't marriage material for his daughter(s).

              Different times, different memes.

            2. Jonathan Richards 1

              Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

              > context

              It sounds like one of those apocryphal military appraisal comments [1] from yesteryear, and cavalry units would take a keen interest in the bloodlines of their horses.

              1. Another I recall, scoring for Leadership: His men will follow him anywhere, if only out of morbid curiosity.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

                Yes, my thought too. A generalisation from one part of the job to the other. Though your cavalry officer of yore was usually a toff among toffs, so breeding would have been pretty much an obsession with them. Whether that's changed in the 21stC would be an interesting question. (Since apparently the main qualification for most other top jobs still seems to be good having gone to Eton levels).

                1. Aladdin Sane

                  Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

                  They're still all called Rupert

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

                    Because if you grab them by the protrusion with pliers they shatter?

        3. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

          You and I have the same work ethic.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saw something similar at my current place. We got a call from a project manager at facilities asking us if the network was going to installed by the move-in date for their new building. (This was a new building for facilities themselves)

    "What new building?" we asked.

    "The one we're moving into in a couple of weeks" came the reply.

    Their world-class project managers had forgotten to tell IT about their brand new building and expected us to install several thousand network points plus all the switches, etc in a couple of weeks.

    I would like to say that this was just a rare one-off. Unfortunately, our facilities are so inept that this is SOP for them.

    Anonymous Coward as I still work for the company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had a similar moment when a very dysfunctional, unpleasant client asked for help moving to another office in 3 days. (wholesales of office stationary, medical supplies etc, ~20 people, very profitable, but cheapskates to Nth degree)

      They had 100Mb fibre connection in their old glass/marble office but no such connectivity in the new (downscale) location. Getting DSL on such short notice wasn't possible. Ended up buying a 4G router, which worked reasonably well once the ISP provided a public/static IP.

      On the moving day I spotted a Toshiba MFP upside down on the mezzanine with a couple glass panes in pieces. They "saved" by moving everything with CEO's dad's truck.

      The company had spun a separate company to code an ERP from scratch(!) for themselves, with 8 people or so working there in the first floor office space.They were to remain at the old location. They were also using the mother company's internet connection, firewall, switches... So when I started to take out the equipement you can just imaging their faces when someone came to check for missing blinkenlights.

      At the new location there was of course no network connectivity between the office and warehouse, so a quick-n-dirty cabling on the outside of the building was done to accommodate the warehouse computers.

      What really irked about the company was that the CEO and his founding mate had the fanciest iMacs on their mahogany desks and they just spent their days playing internet poker and raking in the money (both from poker and the business), and being just obnoxious. The company was actually run by the CFO and a secretary with a legion of sales reps.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Similar story, at least without the backstabbing

      A few years ago, I was office tech for a company that was moving several office locations into a single, newly-renovated one that would hold about 450 people. At least 1/2 of the employees were sort of out-sourced customer support and had a client laptop as well as the company-owned one. There was also a team that had some extra laptops for processing credit cards, that had to be kept separate from the regular LAN. I argued that the locations for at least the above, and maybe the entire place, should have two network jacks per cubicle. This would allow separating that stuff from the regular network, and just having general freedom to move people around and not have to have a mini ethernet switch on quite a few desks. I was told it was too expensive to do that, of course. One client had demanded their own completely separate network: wires, switch, and redundant Internet connections, and it was only the ire of the telecommunications team when it was suggested that that team could run softphones over wifi, and the separate-physical-network client willing to pay for running their extra wires, that got the second jack for all of eight cubicles. I believe they were even billed for a portion of electricity and cooling of the server room for their single switch and associated devices.

      Of course, less than a year later, they decide to move some teams around, and ask me less than 48 hours before the move day "how do we get those extra network jacks to these guys' new location?" I told them flat out, "Without calling somebody in to run more wires, you don't." So that team ended up not moving.

      The worst part, and the reason for posting as AC, is that the solution for the credit card processing machines? Removed from the domain (and anything resembling management) and all network connectivity except aircards. Unmanaged, unfirewalled laptops processing credit cards over aircards, because that apparently counts for PCI compliance.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had something similar

    We moved a provincial office, and the Group Services manager over-ruled our decision to use our normal cablers as he had found a local leccie to put in the comms for half the price.

    When we went in to do the server fit, we found they had run the cables from the floor ports. However they weren't terminated, just 100 cables next to the comms cabinet. Unlabelled.

    One expensive out-of-hours re-cable later we opened the office on time to great fanfare. Naturally there were no repercussions for the decision makers.

    Anon natch

    1. spuck

      Re: Had something similar

      A wise friend of mine once told me that the only way some companies learn is by failing. In particular, the company we both worked for at the time.

      As long as managers can rant and rave, have the staff pull off all-nighters, or throw money at "emergencies" to make them go away, in the eyes of the company they're doing a great job.

      If no one ever calls the bluff and investigates the reasons why so many emergencies seem to keep happening nothing will ever change.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Had something similar

      I remember a site install we had where the idiot installers couldn't be bothered to employ even a modicum of brain power and terminated all the cat5 cables however they felt like. Different on every fucking socket.

      When challenged on this they responded "it wasn't their job" and "did it matter" and "well we didn't have the cable pin outs". The immediate response was "would you just do that for an electrical cable as well"?

      However having gone into these sites it's apparent that sometimes they probable did do that for the electrical cables as well...

  7. oldtaku Silver badge

    I want to believe, but...

    I've seen enough @#$% to believe the first part of all these Just So Stories, but given that I so rarely see biblically appropriate justice handed out, if ever (especially because enterprises are so dumb, by definition), I can no longer enjoy the tacked on 'and then there was a deus ex machina, and all the badguys got their comeuppance' bit. It just doesn't seem plausible.

    I'm mostly bemoaning my own cynicism from having Seen Too Much #@$%, so if you want to believe this please do, but also think about what a company is like and whether a random executive would actually do a 180 pivot from something a random mob character said.

    And looking at the other comments this seems to be the norm: the first giant f@#$up part happened, and then nobody was actually held accountable.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I want to believe, but...

      "It just doesn't seem plausible."

      Not all connections are hierarchical. If it had been golf rather than hiking you'd probably have accepted it without a second thought.

      1. PC Paul

        Re: I want to believe, but...

        Totally agree. I got torpedoed by a manager once so hard it wasn't worth fighting it. But I also knew a guy about four levels up the food chain from him who steered that manager away from several promising fast track opportunities over the next year or two so his career just stagnated.

        1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

          Re: I want to believe, but...

          Isnt the word career, a sudden and unexpected change of direction?

          ‘move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.

          "the coach careered across the road and went through a hedge"’

          Enjoy your career!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want to believe, but...

      You're also missing the point. Perhaps the VP of HR really did get fired for this massive cockup, but consider all the other people who didn't get what was coming to them:

      * The IT boss who didn't stand up for his employee, after not standing up for his department by making sure they were involved in the project from the beginning.

      * The "designers" hired by the HR department who obviously had never designed a space like that before and either lied about their qualifications or simply took the company's money as a gift. They surely kept it, and I doubt very much they were sued because it would come out that the people who hired them didn't bother to investigate their credentials (and probably took kickbacks too).

      * The other HR personnel who must have known about the crooked designers and the lack of stakeholder involvement but were too cowardly to speak up.

      * The Finance department, including the Controller and CFO or Treasurer, who must have known about and approved the contract with the designers and either didn't bother to investigate their qualifications and relationship with the HR VP or didn't care about them.

      * The CEO, who is ultimately responsible for employing all these people and overseeing their work but didn't bother to learn about any of this until he happened to encounter a former employee outside the office. Why was there no inspector general or ombudsman designated to hear about such problems if the HR staffers didn't feel comfortable challenging their boss directly on something that was obviously shady? It's the CEO's responsibility to put such measures in place.

      * The directors of the company, who like practically all directors nowadays neither know nor want to know what's going on in the company. They meet a few times a year for half an hour, rubber-stamp everything the CEO says, and collect a few hundred grand worth of cash and shares for their trouble. Their proper function is to look after the owners' interests, which would require at the very least asking questions about how risks like the above are being managed.

      This is what management *is*. You oversee the work of others, managing risks to the company; those risks include things like people giving sweetheart deals to related parties that can't deliver, hiring people who are incompetent and firing people who aren't, and subordinate managers who look after their own interests at the company's expense. None of the people involved in this story did their jobs; only two were fired and I'd bet anything the VP got more than 5 weeks' pay out of it. There's nothing here that would discourage cynicism. The company in question is a shitpile and everyone responsible for that fact was allowed to carry on without penalty.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: I want to believe, but...

        A construction engineer I once knew explained about designing new buildings or changes to old buildings. You follow the specification. Most new buildings are not designed by professional architects but by construction engineers. So when you visit an office where there is a massive pillar in the middle of the reception area, that is because the construction engineer needed to put it there to support something as cheaply as possible. In one examination he had to design a new office building. Toilets were not on the specification, spoke there were no toilets in his design. He passed.

        The old firm Logica had a building built for their new offices on a trading estate. No canteen or cooking facilities in the spec, so no canteen or cooking facilities in the finished building. And as it was on a trading estate, no local shops or restaurants. (But at least they had toilets and power and cabling sockets.)

        The spec was probably given to a construction engineer who complied with all relevant regulations and laws, as far as the specification went, which might not have said things like "offices for 150 permanent people with associated electrical sockets and cabling for IT, safety equipment etc." assuming that all of that would be installed by someone else.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I want to believe, but...

          "there were no toilets in his design. He passed."

          In that case where did he pass it?

          As to miss-placed pillars, we had a lab designed by a crayon wielder architect who wanted the trendy look of windows extending right to the corners so it looked as if the roof was being held up by magic. My boss's corner office windows were largely blocked by the internal pillar just inside them. They were on the original plans. No amount of complaining would get them changed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I want to believe, but...

            An old scientific institute I worked for built a brand spanking new Lab building including a large and relatively high grade clean room. Someone was really not paying attention to either plans or the requirements (I'm not sure which), but come opening day, it was discovered the clean room windows where just standard windows and could be opened, kind of defeating the purpose of a clean room.

            Cue a few emergency calls to a local glazier, and a month or two's delay in getting the clean room back to the required level of cleanliness.

            Incompetence in the architect for adding openable windows, incompetence in the person who checked and approved the design, and incompetence on all the people who inspected the clean room during construction and never questioned the presence of openable windows...

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: I want to believe, but...

              This encompasses what I'd suspected from all those other stores and seen some of myself. Silo thinking and no one with an overall view, possibly because there are no proper management lines, or, more likely informal ones where different people focus on their own preferred areas, doing or agreeing things the way they like/think they should. Out of context.

              The architect- we need lots of nice fresh air everywhere, it's good for the workers.

              The Project Manager-I have no interest in windows. A window is a window

              The bean counters- 10 machines means we just need 10 sockets installed and we only need cheap ones because they won't ever be unplugged.

              And so on

          2. Potemkine! Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: I want to believe, but...

            a crayon wielder architect

            During the last century, when I was still a student, I had some friends who were in School of Architecture. They told me that during their class never was mentioned the fact that the buildings would be in the end used by people. The only criteria was aesthetic. Building were not designed to be useful or practical but to be beautiful in the eye of the architect.

            It explains a lot about why are most building so shitty to be in there.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I want to believe, but...

              I had a friend, now sadly passed away, who was an architect. He drew houses for a living. Not just any houses, but houses that were a joy to live in. I realize this is peculiar, but he had an excuse.

              You see, he grew up in an original Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built abomination. He wanted to make sure nobody else had to grow up in such a cold, uncomfortable, useless excuse for a shelter ever again. His words, not mine.

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: I want to believe, but...

              Oh God. You've really hit a trigger point for me there.

              As a peripatetic teacher for 30 or so years I've been in a lot of school buildings.

              The old 3 decker Victorian ones were surprisingly functional and efficient. And could look good too.

              But almost anything built post-war was some value of crap. But looked beautiful on an artist's impression

              Things like lovely light glass walls that made the rooms facing South (i.e. half of them) dangerously hot from any date after the start of April until November. Complicated blinds that were financial time bombs because they would all start to fail in expensive ways 10 years upstream when there would be no budget for repairs. Only one Single electric socket per classroom that is placed just by the door.Outward swinging big windows that cut across pathways at child's head height- combining hard sharp edges with the (smaller) risk of shattered glass. Floors and ceilings that echoed and amplified reverberating sounds. Walls that were unsuitable for classroom displays. And so on and so on.

              1. Potty Professor
                Facepalm

                Re: I want to believe, but...

                When I was 11, I graduated from Junior School to a Technical High School, a beautiful Victorian edifice in Barking, full of marble, brass, and mahogany, a joy to attend. Three years later we were moved to our "new" premises in Dagenham. It was nice to be there, plenty of green spaces between the buildings*, lots of south facing windows, and an efficient heating/cooling system. Unfortunately, everything was clad in asbestos sheets, and inside there were asbestos insulated heating pipes running through the ceiling voids. Only a few years after I left, the whole place was bulldozed flat because of the health hazard. I sometimes wonder how many of my fellow pupils survived to retirement. As for the Victorian building, it, too, was bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall.

                * Lovely when the sun shone, but an absolute nightmare if it was raining or snowing, and you had to walk from one classroom to another in a different building. At least, in the old building, it was all under one roof.

            3. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: I want to believe, but...

              " The only criteria was aesthetic. Building were not designed to be useful or practical but to be beautiful in the eye of the architect."

              Several friends at Uni were architects. They bemoaned the fact that they had to design weird, outlandish and innovative buildings in order to pass their course, while in the real world they would mostly be designing unexciting boxes. I suspect sometimes they wheel out an undergraduate design to alleviate the boredom.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: I want to believe, but...

                As far as I have seen the designs are created to appeal to the paying client. Just as with the IT stories that adorn El Reg.

                It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a small computer project or a large building the last people to be considered are the poor sods who need to use the resulting confection.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I want to believe, but...

        "The CEO, who is ultimately responsible for employing all these people and overseeing their work but didn't bother to learn about any of this until he happened to encounter a former employee outside the office."

        The article says "president". I'm not sure I grok all these top titles which seem to work such as a company can have a president and a chairman and maybe a few others but I'm pretty sure a resident and a CEO are different beasts.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I want to believe, but...

      I've rarely seen any justice, let alone biblical.

      But that's, sadly, what makes the story newsworthy.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I want to believe, but...

        "I've rarely seen any justice, let alone biblical."

        Same here. But I have seen it occasionally ... Extrapolating across the entirety of ElReg's commentardariat, the proverbial Thinking Man would have to conclude we haven't yet heard the bulk of the stories out there.

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: I want to believe, but...

      " It just doesn't seem plausible. "

      About a billion years ago in Internet time, call it roughly 1985, my Boss and I were in my office talking to the company owner on the speaker phone. The guy in charge of Advanced Manufacturing slammed into the office, making all kinds of demands, threatening us with firing and worse of we didn't drop everything to do his bidding. Until the owner's voice came out of the telephone, saying three magic words: "Dave, you're fired." ,,, My Boss was given the newly vacated AdvMan seat the following morning, and I took over his position. The owner cautioned both of us separately "Play fair with everybody, I don't like assholes". Needless to say we took him at his word.

  8. Jonathon Green

    Business as usual

    It’s really simple.

    Management (any management at any level, including the layer of management above you if you’re a middle manager or team leader), whatever else they may or may not be is Not Your Friend, and if circumstances dictate you will always be acceptable collateral damage.

    By all means smile, wave, be sociable at whatever minimal level is required to keep the business running smoothly and a reasonably pleasant place to be, and enjoy the benefits while the agendas align but never for a moment believe them, believe in them or really trust them to have your back when the chips are down. Because sooner or later the stakes will reach a level where turning a back, going back on a commitment, or simply telling an outright untruth is of more benefit (get the promotion, receive the bonus payment, save embarrassment to a colleague they’re cultivating with a view to future benefit) than taking a stand and under the bus you (and quite possibly your team with you) will go while the manager responsible carries on with a smile and without a backward glance.

    Never ever *really* trust them, never ever *really* believe them, and never, ever choose to willingly make yourself a hostage to them.

    I’ve sure someone will be along a by moment with an exception to this, but in practice they are sufficiently rare that they are best treated as you would a unicorn, a mermaid, or an honest reliable estate agent…

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Business as usual

      Mr Someone here, just to add my 2c worth.

      I would definitely say that it's always worth bearing in mind the above comment, but you do genuinely get some solid gold managers. One I worked for in a big company had a real skill for seeing the talent in her team. If not for her, I would not have gotten my start in IT. She really would go in all guns blazing against the company to defend her team.

      She ended up going on medical leave due to mental health issues, then handed in her notice.

      I've mostly stuck to smaller companies since, and have seen a smattering of good and bad managers. Smaller companies tend to have fewer places for inept or toxic people to hide.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Business as usual

        I'll echo that. When I moved to a new job in a very large international company (relatively unknown outside its industrial sector at the time, though now better known), my manager recognised that his strength lay with his staff. He hired, delegated roles and responsibilities (and corresponding authorities) and put himself in the firing line when performing our job upset others. He stood our ground for us every time (for the six years I worked for him); only in private would he ever question us on what might really have happened (i.e. if we had screwed up, or could have been a bit more tactful or politically aware, it was an internal matter for the department). He wasn't the most technically competent but his approach was to hire people who were; he knew the company, its market, customers and politics (perhaps even more importantly, he was on first-name terms with the CEO overseas, having been with the company for so long). I regretted leaving when I did, but I'd been approached by one of our customers and offered double the salary. It ended up being a good move, career-wise, but I still have fond memories of my time there. Great guy to work for!!

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: Business as usual

          The small number of management books I've read all say something similar: Hire good people and let them do their job.

          1. Adrian 4

            Re: Business as usual

            The only really good managers I've had (they're rare, but when you find them they show the others up) did exactly that.

          2. Trollslayer

            Re: Business as usual

            Wise words.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Business as usual

            "management books I've read all say something similar:"

            Very few managers have read them. Reading is such a waste of time....

            1. TDog

              Re: Business as usual

              And requires literacy.

            2. MrReynolds2U

              Re: Business as usual

              "I was elected to lead... not to read"

            3. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Business as usual

              Sadly, wrong. There's a whole class of such books (mostly American interestingly) that focus on how managers can get what they want. Almost none of these seemed* to have much content about defining what was needed or how to get staff to actually want to cooperate. And those types lap them up.

              The Postgraduate qualifications for head teachers (NPQH) and education advisors that was required a few years back relied on stacks of these. A total focus on a kind of mechanical efficiency

              *Yes I have one of those qualifications. It was one of the most rancid years of my life.

          4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Re: Business as usual

            I did the B600 'Competent Manager' course at the Open University in the UK. I learnt several things:

            The management at my then company were almost completely incompetent at management (although technically competent). (For example, the did not understand the difference between 'delegation of authority' and 'abrogation of responsibility'.)

            I am not suited to a 'middle-management' role.

            Under no circumstances should I try to set up or run my own company or become a 'self-employed consultant' as I am just not that sort of person.

            As for being a 'good' manager, when dumped into a management position on a project with a new employer which was not doing well, I was in the fortunate position to be able to take the flak for my new team, while everyone in both the team and the customer knew that I had not been around for the mess creation process, so was not to blame. When I gave the deliverables to the client, and said I realised that it was not what he was hoping for, he didn't;t even shout at me. (The Director who had put something in the 'deliverables' section of the contract we we're not actually delivering was considered to be the one at fault.)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Business as usual

              "For example, the did not understand the difference between 'delegation of authority' and 'abrogation of responsibility'."

              They probably did.

              "Under no circumstances should I ... become a 'self-employed consultant' as I am just not that sort of person."

              Actually this works out quite well. You'd find that as a manager you took due note of your staff and as staff you had a manager who had your best interests at heart. You'd also find decisions being made rapidly. You might have had to slap yourself on the wrist for not carrying out annual reviews.

              Seriously, a lot of the crap just disappears.

              1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
                Unhappy

                Re: Business as usual

                Doctor Syntax: "

                "For example, the did not understand the difference between 'delegation of authority' and 'abrogation of responsibility'."

                They probably did.

                "

                Actually they didn't. They had given an essential task (essential to the continuing existence of the company as a trading entity) to a colleague, and the Chairman said to me that if he failed they'd 'cut his head off'. I was dumbfounded. They genuinely didn't think that success was their responsibility.

                As for being 'self-employed' I am hopeless at marketing and getting jobs. (I am now retired.)

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Business as usual

              "Under no circumstances should I try to set up or run my own company or become a 'self-employed consultant' as I am just not that sort of person."

              That's what so-called "aptitude testing" told me when I was in high school. I've been self employed since 1988.

            3. Fred Daggy Silver badge

              Re: Business as usual

              One learns a lot of useful stuff at The Open University. I hope I remember all of it when I am done.

              A couple of B6xx subjects and now a bunch of B8xx subjects. The head is about to crack open like an egg. But 4 weeks to go and I can look back and grin (with luck).

              1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: Business as usual

                @Fred, Best wishes for success

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Business as usual

        Similar experiences have led me to prefer mid size companies too. Very small companies in my experience require that you get along with everyone and require a very very broad mindset with the ability to switch between tasks rapidly (because you get a lot of "oh, could you figure this out" and "while you're at it, would you please do that". Very large corporations get too much room for deadwood to hide and management loses touch with whats happening on the work floor and how the company actually operates.

        My usual quip is: "It starts going downhill once the company is large enough to have a Communications department, because that is the moment all effective communication seizes"

        1. FBee
          Headmaster

          ...and ceases, too

          Both words appropos!!

          1. jake Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: ...and ceases, too

            # apropos appropos

            appropos: nothing appropriate

            #

            Good comment, though! :-)

        2. Number6

          Re: Business as usual

          I prefer the small companies because the "could you figure this out" can be a great way to learn stuff that would be someone else's job in a larger company, even if what you learn is just "the company is screwed, time to go look for a new job". A lot of start-ups are in this category, great places to work while they last, but inevitably they either fail, or get bought by a larger entity which starts the downhill slide. Even if they survive to grow on their own, they eventually get big enough and have to change operating procedures that they become the same thing.

          Very large companies are definitely best avoided, they're often set up as a set of competing fiefdoms and you get casualties as they challenge each other for dominance.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Business as usual

            "could you figure this out" can be a lot of fun if you're actually given the time to put your head down and focus on figuring things out. Some smaller companies actually allow for this, some don't and keep you hopping and skipping between all kinds of "not actually my job but part of my job" task, never allowing to get a breather or really put the time in to something.

            I guess company culture matters a lot in this. In my experience mid size (20-ish to 100, maybe 150) people is the sweetspot. Enough people to keep the "no overlap in the venn-diagram" jobs with people having more appropriate skillsets, not enough people to get hyper-specialization and keep those fun "off on a tangent" jobs. And small enough that you can actually know most people.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Business as usual

          Communications department? God, we could do with one of those. The place I work the different departments are so insular and the levels of hierarchy so stick-up-the-arse that there's practically no sensible communication. To the point where you wonder how the place is even able to survive as a functioning company. We lost a contract a while back. Due to the lack of coherent communication, it was easy for everybody to point the finger at everybody else. Who was actually responsible? I think the guys at the top simply gave up trying to determine. And they failed in their responsibility by just walking away from the mess and leaving the shitshow to carry on as before.

          As mentioned above, I'm polite and friendly with the manglement, but no, they are not friends. They are business colleagues, and I'm just there for the eventual pay. Anything more than that is neither my problem nor my concern. Stay the hell out of the way, and with any luck no arsehole will stab me in the back...it happens, everybody is so cliquish, so fucking dysfunctional.

          Granted, I'll likely never get any sort of promotion, but in that place? Would I want it? Promotion for me would be getting fed up to the point of handing in my notice. For now I'm just ticking along, neatly partitioning my life into work time and non work time. One is what pays for the good stuff in the other. That's all.

          Anon for obvious reasons.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Business as usual

            Officially work for the ICT Dept. "Information & Communications Technology.

            On a bad, I work for the Technology Dept - people have the Information, but don't bloody Communicate it

      3. goodjudge

        Re: Business as usual

        "I've mostly stuck to smaller companies since, and have seen a smattering of good and bad managers. Smaller companies tend to have fewer places for inept or toxic people to hide."

        Problem is when the inept AND toxic manager owns the small company... Not that I speak from bitter experience, oh no sir.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Business as usual

      they are sufficiently rare that they are best treated as you would a unicorn, a mermaid, or an honest reliable estate agent…

      I have no problems with the first two, but the third critter just doesn't exist.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Business as usual

        He exists, but is momentarily out riding his unicorn to visit his mermaid girlfriend.

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Business as usual

          Sounds fishy to me, I call horse-shit.

          1. WonkoTheSane

            Re: Business as usual

            Don't you mean unicorn-shit?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Business as usual

              A unicorn is just a tarted up horse :-)

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: Business as usual

                A horny horse?

    3. Plest Silver badge

      Re: Business as usual

      The trick for better managers is never, ever outright lie 'cos if you get caught you'll be in deep shit. Instead just grease the truth a little, so much so that you can't grab it or nail it down and when something blows up you can say with a straight face that you did say XYZ but not in so many words, apologise if it wasn't totally clear, and you did ask if anyone had any questions/objections at the time.

      1. My-Handle

        Re: Business as usual

        Works well against managers too. For those managers who don't, can't or won't understand what you do, you don't even need to grease the truth. Just give it to them straight, watch them glaze over, and then redirect any problems their way.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Business as usual

          "Just give it to them straight,"

          And keep a written record that you did.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Business as usual

            even if you have to clone the exchagne server onto a 8TB drive and lock it in a safe.

          2. Evil Scot Bronze badge

            Re: Business as usual

            Even better get them to sign a written statement.

            Facing harassment for being disabled, genitofemoral nerve pain. I said to line manager "Bet he does not have the balls to put it in writing." Sarcastic pun intended.

            Result signed statements from the general manager documenting his harassment.

            Ask about the statement of extending my holidays by using sick leave and I will present the letter stating removal of sick pay and the appointment for surgery on my spine.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vengeance is mine sayeth the techy.

    At an age where I should have been more worldly wise, I landed a gig as Infrastructure Manager of a mid-sized law firm, reporting directly to the IT Director. I spent the first few weeks reviewing their setup and recruiting my new team. The infrastructure was in a mess – multiple single points of failure, poor / non existent backups, old & unsupported hardware and software. I also undertook a security audit and spotted some very strange domain admin accounts. I asked my boss about them and he told me they were for “their support company” to use, remotely. A bit more digging and I discovered that this company were located almost 200 miles away from us and that the IT Director’s previous company was located in the same area.

    Fast forward a few more weeks, I’d submitted my “state of play report” and I’m preparing to order kit and services to improve the dire state of the infrastructure. I get prices from the usual suspects and play a bit of hardball to get the best deals. I run the details past the Director, and he tells me to order through his “preferred supplier”. I object on cost grounds and he makes it clear who will be getting the order.

    Monday morning, the following week – last week of my probation – I’m called into a meeting room with the director and HR and I’m told my performance isn’t “up to scratch” and to clear my desk.

    A few days later I emailed all 100+ of the partners of the law firm, detailing my concerns over the state of the infrastructure, the unsecured and unaudited domain admin accounts and the “questionable” relationship their IT Director had with a supplier. I never received a reply from any of them, but the b*tard was gone within two months.

    Anonymous, for obvious reasons.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Vengeance is mine sayeth the techy.

      Umm, does that "I’m told my performance isn’t “up to scratch” and to clear my desk" count as 'personality clash'?

      (Mine's the coat with the P45 in the pocket.)

  10. Persona

    Responsibility

    He hands me a network cable and asks me to plug it in.

    So IT had no involvement setting up the infrastructure to support the space! Why not? It would need integrating into the company network either cabled to switches or wireless. If HR could connect it up to the core network infrastructure without IT involvement there is lots badly wrong. Also the electrical works would need IT involvement to confirm it wasn't going to cause any outages. An IT manager should know this. The fact that the IT manager knew the project was running yet chose not to stick his nose firmly in reflects very badly on him.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Responsibility

      You forget one of the maxims of IT, especially when dealing with HR: the ultimate sanction of IT is to give the user eactly what they asked for or, in this case, didn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Responsibility

      The "me" in that sentence was not a manager.

      He had probably assumed that someone higher up in the IT department had arranged it, or at least someone at the same level but working independently. Trusting your colleagues is generally a good thing in a team.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Responsibility

      If you try to 'insert' IT into a planned project, it NEVER goes well. We MUST wait to be invited.

      and if we aren't invited, so be it. Someone is going to learn an expensive lesson.

      I've had contractors calling me directly and ask IT to come and tell them what we want, while the 'project mangler' is otherwise busy. And that has been after they've asked the mangler to include IT in the planning in several meetings. Even had it written down in the minutes...

      One small office doesn't have a 'network cupboard', just a 7U high rack case on the wall in the middle of the office. It worked fine... until last year when we replaced the aging Cisco network switch with Junipers where the fan only seems to have 'full afterburner' setting.

      That office also has a dedicated, soundproofed room for HVAC on the other side of the wall...

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Responsibility

      Not involved? He clearly asked the HR Director and was told, point blank, to bugger off.

      You DO NOT EVER get involved with disputes with between directors or VPs. When elephants fight, the grass always suffers the most.

    5. Mark 85

      Re: Responsibility

      So IT had no involvement setting up the infrastructure to support the space!

      Apparently building services didn't have an input either since there were no power outlets which still made the place totally useless. Then again, it was HR so useless seems normal.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Responsibility

        Yet another pharma story.... & so it came to pass that the downsizing of the site, meant we would all be moving to a existing building down the hill, which just so happened to be one of the ones I supported on the site, so I knew it well.

        Once again the IT department would be on the uppermost floor & our build room/secure area on the basement level, I was initially delighted at this as I knew there was a room that had smart card access already in place, had previously been used by the Lab IT department was close to the lift & the door to the small 6 car parking bays for site vehicles & would be ideal for our area.

        However it was not to be, the build room was shoved into what I shall politely term as a add-on to the side of the building (One I had barely noticed as concealed by a large bush & I think may well have been some kind of former chemical store with a tin roof) & unheated.

        This room while handy for the loading ramp, also had a short ramp that was on a 50 degree angle to a lower floor, a door that opened inward onto it, making it nigh on impossible to wheel a trolley up or down it without PC's falling off it & while holding the door open as you pushed & at a risk of personal injury.

        It was again one of many contributory reasons at that time why I regrettably left that contract.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Stop

    CYA HR C'Ya!

    See title, seen it too many times...

  12. Colonel Mad

    Names

    Sometimes, these companies should be named.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Names

      I'd settle for a public flogging of the bastards responsible for the fiasco with subsequent retraction of any qualifications of those responsible so they may never ever get a position again.

      1. Down not across

        Re: Names

        Instead they get promoted, or hired onto another company to do the same or worse.

  13. Amanttix

    I'm puzzled that the manager bought the lie. "The IT department is totally responsible. They did all the design work, picked colours, and arranged the space very well, but didn't include any electricity or IT connections." The management listened to that argument and thought, yeah, totally an IT fuck up. Let's fire the IT guy.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      > The management listened to that argument and thought

      That's where your reasoning fails. Management doesn't think, it has agendas, usual suspects, and designated fall guys. It's all just SOP, and in this case the new guy, on probation, from IT (usually not understood and thus unloved department), was the most perfect candidate for scapegoating! Off with his head!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We operate using a system of project management based on identified stakeholders.

        IT are almost always one of those. Mainly because they get the shitty jobs.

        Like being given the stakes and told to take care of the hoards of rampaging undead that were accidentally unearthed...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my experience, the friendliness and helpfulness of a HR department is inversely proportional to the amount you need to contact them. Or in other words if you only ever see them once a year, they are super friendly, the moment you need to contact them more regularly they become very unfriendly.

    In my current job, they started out really nice, but as I needed to contact them a bunch after I had kids (changing my working hours, sorting out parental leave) they became super unfriendly. Annoyingly the reason I've had to contact them so often is usually because they've screwed up the forms needed by the Government. But apparently it's my fault that I picked up on their failures, so I'm very unwelcome every time I need to contact them.

    If they were being overly friendly, I'd suspect that the reason that they kept fucking up was because they WANTED to see me. But since that's not the case, I can only assume that they're just incompetent.

    A/C because obviously I'm still working here...

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      You could well be correct. A valued colleague and friend had some problems with HR, but as he was quite important* they decided they would sort this out and HR invited him and his team to a meeting, arranged for a few months hence.

      Friend contacts HR to check on details of meeting (place, time etc.). No reply.

      Friend contacts HR again telling them which team members he is intending to bring, and asked for confirmation of details.

      HR replies curtly asking him why he is pestering them and why does he want the meeting in the first place?

      Friend points out that they invited him.

      Meeting cancelled.

      *In this instance "important" => can phone up the CEO, CFO, COO and tell them things and they listen to him. (When the chap responsible for maintaining the physical structure of all your buildings everywhere wants to talk directly to the CEO about something, it is usually important.)

  15. GlenP Silver badge

    From past experience, unless IT are kept directly involved in such projects they will go wrong.

    Many years ago when a client were building a new office, and their contractors were installing the network* cabling, I requested a site meeting with the people actually doing the job to make sure it was done correctly. Inevitably this ended up as a brief meeting with the contractor boss, not the sparkies, and the wiring was not completed as specified. Fortunately it didn't take too much sorting as recabling through trunking with tight 90 degree bends would have been "interesting".

    In the same build they'd specified a clean circuit for the computers, on a common phase, with turned-earth-pin sockets to ensure nothing else was connected to it. The architect had included this but hadn't told them they couldn't have sockets with different phases in close proximity so all the "clean" sockets were connected to the same circuit as the adjacent "dirty" ones. They also hadn't thought to order the correct plugs which necessitated a motor cycle courier to deliver some as vast expense.

    *It was the original Apricot networking so basically end-to-end twisted pair, the installers had made it a ring.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Ah... Walsall gauge. Remember it well.

    2. JTUK

      Yep. I totally feel for this guy, but as the IT manager he should have got more involved. If a HR manager says they've got an IT installation project in hand then alarm bells should be ringing. Two sides to every story. He might have come across as wanting to be involved with the design when he should have been asking to see where the IT kit was going and if he needed to order anything.

  16. TonyJ

    Some years ago

    I worked at a council offices. We were to put in some new Citrix servers.

    The council were on the hook for infrastructure - new rack and cabling.

    When I turned up, the rack was there and the networking was in but there was no power.

    Their IT manager turned around and said "What? None of you mentioned needing power..."

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Some years ago

      Their IT manager turned around and said "What? None of you mentioned needing power..."

      ...and how right he was :-)

      I've been on a few jobs where certain assumptions were made, to the detriment of the job completing on time :-/

      1. TonyJ

        Re: Some years ago

        I agree that some assumptions should never be made, but assuming that power will be provided isn't a stretch. Also, worth noting that the design also did state the usual caveat of power, networking, physical access, media, access to accounts and key personnel etc etc were all prerequisites - they were in the template.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Some years ago

      ...or UPS, or generator...

      Worked on a very large, very expensive project for a client. When questioned about power and other infrastructure specifications, they responded that it would just get plugged into wall sockets, 10 at the most.

      Repeated suggestions that they look a little deeper into this approach yielded suggestions that I work on what I was told to and leave power infrastructure to someone else.

      The project was shelved, but not before a LOT of development money had been spent.

  17. Equality 7-2521
    Meh

    Happened to me just two weeks ago

    A team moved their equipment to new offices - no warning.

    No cable data connections and a fleet of desktop PC's to install.

    They ordered a load of WiFi dongles on Prime, but the reliability and speed is currently "problematic".

    Blame has been apportioned to me - as I was on vacation the week of their move.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Happened to me just two weeks ago

      Had something similar just last week involving WiFi. One of those shared office buildings where multiple small companies rent an office. Most seem to have gone for the cheapest option of leasing a single network wallpoint and put a wireless access point on it. The "problem" my customer had was "not all our devices connect to the WiFi". The reality was that only 5 out of 7 would connect, based on who booted up first. A quick check of the available WiFi channels found about 30 WiFi APs in range and more congestion than the M25 with 3 lanes closed. The "instant" fix was to get a few spare network cables and plug those nearest the WiFi AP into the Ethernet ports. Since they didn't call us back to run any extra cables, I assume either the temporary "fix" has now become permanent or they paid to have some extra wall points made live.by the building management people. My money is on the former! :-)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Years ago, in a global DC, 9BUSD company

    The DC had 2 issues:

    - no power gen

    - the site manager was a certified c**t with a supreme opinion of himself

    One day, all of sudden, after one major power outage wiping the whole DC, installing a power gen became a priority, after being dismissed a dozen times before.

    And this was all under the said site mgr's "supreme" supervision.

    So, this was ordered and deployed. Tested ? Waaat ? No, why would you do that ?

    Then one year passed and another power outage occurred. The power gen fired, so to speak.

    Indeed, there was a carburation massive misconfiguration, and the power gen did 2 things:

    - run but not at enough speed to sync with the UPSes

    - light up the whole region with a 2 meters height flame coming from the exhaust !

    DC went down, when UPSes exhausted their batteries, of course. I have no idea how the site mgr was able to cover his tracks, here.

    It was clearly his fault ! And this could have set on fire the whole facility.

  19. Rufus McDufus

    Similar tale in a hospital

    A long time ago (well, about 1998) I was called onsite to a hospital north of London to work on storage arrays used to store X-rays and other scan data (I was employed by the storage manufacturer back then). The sysadmin on site told me the story of their server room built for this task. Whoever had designed it had forgotten to put mains sockets in. They realised the mistake, dragged all the shelves/equipment out, and cabled it for mains, and put everything back in. Except then they realised they'd forgotten networking. Rinse and repeat. Finally all finished! Except equipment is getting very hot. Oh no, they'd forgotten cooling. Repeat again. Finally with all working, the aircon decides to spring a big leak and submerges the room with a lot of water.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Similar tale in a hospital

      And then came the frogs...

      1. Stevie

        Re: Similar tale in a hospital

        NOT THE FROGS!

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Similar tale in a hospital

      It's that old adage. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. What is interesting is how often I and I assume many others of us here, seem to meet managers who do just this.Repeatedly. And seem to get away with it. Often to the accompaniment of several barn doors being slammed shut with excessive force and much too late.

      1. Number6

        Re: Similar tale in a hospital

        It's hard to spend money to make it all the way around the corners when there's an obvious way to cut them.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Similar tale in a hospital

        "If you fail to plan you plan to fail. What is interesting is how often I and I assume many others of us here, seem to meet managers who do just this.Repeatedly."

        In a past life, I had a manager like that. He'd read all the management books, but all he learned from them was the aphorism "There's no such thing as a problem. It's an opportunity", without the rest of the context. Because I was always pointing out the likely failure modes so we could be ready for potential problems, he had me marked down as a "troublemaker" :-)

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Similar tale in a hospital

          "There's no such thing as a problem. It's an opportunity"

          Ah yes, we had them at ICL. Gave rise to the phrase: "I may be faced with an insurmountable opportunity." This was around the time we did Cosby's 'Quality' program. Everything had to be "quality". I learnt more about 'Quality' from reading 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M Pirsig.*

          Never really understood the course, but would now recognise it as a flailing management team that knows it has a problem (sorry 'opportunity') with management, and wants at least to be seen to be doing something about it.

          *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Similar tale in a hospital

          "He'd read all the management books"

          Have you read any of them? Basically, they teach you how to increase your latent psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Similar tale in a hospital

            No, that's wyy I'm so sociable :-)

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Similar tale in a hospital

            Exactly. I was trying to put it more politely.

            They seem to be written by psychopathic types who've a track-record at successfully doing psychopathic things with organisations, to the approval of other psychopaths who recommend or require their courses for junior managers. Most of them are based around studies of success, which is defined as getting a narrowly defined set of results by acting in a psychopathic way. They were ( in the ones I had to read) highly selective. There are so many successful companies, some of which I've reason to believe weren't run by psychopaths- but none of these was a model.

            1. Rol

              Re: Similar tale in a hospital

              I have no doubts that management at some of the places I have worked at considered Mein Kampf an invaluable training manual....alongside Machiavelli's The Prince and "how to fuck things up majestically" by anon

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Similar tale in a hospital

                I did hear "The Prince" quoted approvingly in some management forum or other, and on that ghastly training course. I haven't read it. Maybe that's why I never made it to Director of Educatin.

                1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                  Re: Similar tale in a hospital

                  Machiavelli's 'The Prince' is an interesting book and quite short. Basically it is about how a 'Prince' i.e., ruler of a small state would act in order to remain in power, considering all of the difficulties, such as internal political struggles, external threats from other local states. One of the important lessons which politicians refuse to learn is that when you have won power, you should be nice to your enemies and calm down a lot on your friends. Basically if you can persuade your former enemies that you aren't all that bad, and prevent your supporters form doing their more lunatic proposals, you have a chance of retaining power for several weeks, maybe even months or years.

                  (As I recall, 'The ends justify the means' comes in his discourses on the first ten books of Livy, and basically if the ends do not justify the means then you really are in trouble.)

                2. imanidiot Silver badge

                  Re: Similar tale in a hospital

                  Look up the video series (or the single long video) by Eudaimonia on Youtube where they break down "The Prince" and discuss some of the intentions and meanings in the text. Quite an interesting watch/listen.

                  Most of "The Prince" isn't all that applicable in modern day life, but there's certainly some lessons to be learned from it's overal philosophy. Even if it's just from the standpoint of viewing the world from a socio/psychopaths point of view for a change and how you might recognize and deal with such people.

                  (They also have a series on "The art of war" by Sun Tzu, equally interesting)

  20. Barking House

    New DC, we don't need your help ....

    A global major player in cloud computing engaged me to building their first internet DC, tough job, but it went very well. The second internet DC they wanted me onboard but they would do the design etc and I would be there to help with the testing strategy and such like. It was made very clear to me that I was there against the wishes of the Project Team as they did not need my assistance.

    There were a number of items I raised as the project started that I knew need some adjustment but was very firmly told not to get involved and focus on the Test Strategy that I was being asked to do.

    I asked if I could see the DC plans, the infrastructure architecture so I could start to thinking about the most appropriate testing strategy.

    I raised one concern with regards to the cabling inside the DC as it was not clear when this was being done on the project schedule and what cables and suppliers were being used - Got a response that they would send the details to me soon. About 3 weeks later as the equipment started to arrive I raised the issue again, but this time it was evident that they had overlooked the cabling requirements !!!

    I advised that this would have a significant effect on their schedule, they seemed to think it would only take a call (Using their name) and magically a structured cabling plan would be generated along with the cables and cables installed etc.

    Suffice to say this is not what happened and initially fingers pointed at me, but I reminded the customer that they had taken full responsibility for the DC and infrastructure design ....

    The end result for me was that the customer project team got brutalised and I was asked to take on a consultant role and basically drive the remediation and the rest of the schedule, I re-assigned the project lead and the acolyte who caused the problems (As the structured cabling was not the only major issue)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flood wire everywhere

    I managed a number of network installations in the early days of desktop roll pouts. Initially we would listen to the end users and put network points where they required them to keep costs lower. Needless to say we were continually being called back to install individual network points and power sockets as desks were moved,

    We then insisted on flood wiring rooms with network points and power sockets spread around the room (and sometimes in floor channeling). After that we only came a cropper a couple of times. Once when a wall was demolished literally the day after our contractors had fixed trunking power and data sockets to it. No one thought to tell us the room was being remodelled. The second time we on a Thursday before the Easter bank holiday when a social serviced department decided to put the out of hours child protection officer in what had been a filing room and which they had refused to allow me to cable up as it would never be used for anything else. I managed to get hold of my cabling contractor and we put a 'quick fix' in place by drilling a bloody great hole through the wall so he could pass through an electrical extension cable and a long network cable. I strongly suspect its like that 20 years on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flood wire everywhere

      Consulting with the people who actually know is rare. At an unnamed London establishment, they had the great idea of buying a derelict building and half a yard that bordered their existing premises (the institution owned the other half of the yard), and building a hotel on top of the whole of that area, which would be useful of conferences etc.

      The existing building bordering this new acquisition had a rather shonky looking wall that bordered the virtually unused yard area... the architect designed a hotel building which went right up to that wall and stopped about a centimetre away.

      Years in the making, plans finally approved, crowing begins about this grand new project... artists impression gets plastered all over the hoardings. At which point "Old Bob" who had been here since year dot but who had never been asked or even told about this scheme sees the drawing and points out that there was a reason half the yard was owned by them and was unused and derelict for many decades, and why the wall looked shonky... on the OTHER side of the shonky looking wall was the store room for a certain class of the explosive and volatile substances used at the establishment. The shonky wall was sacrificial, the other walls were all super-duper-reinforced; in the event of an explosion the shonky wall was designed to blow out into the yard area, giving the blast wave an exit route other than demolishing the entire rest of the building. So now they had a choice - find another store room for these chemicals, or change the whole design of the hotel. No-one in the estates had known about the design or purpose of the wall, had thought to check what the use of the neighbouring rooms was, had done ANY homework whatsoever, in fact, beyond the bare minimum... they also kept it super secret for "commercial" reasons.

      In the end they had to redesign the hotel anyway because having learned of this... little snag, they THEN went away and did the site survey works properly. In doing so, they discovered that there was a lot of long ago disused TfL Tube infrastructure underneath the site as well.

      1. H in The Hague

        Re: Flood wire everywhere

        "... did the site survey works properly."

        One of my books on ground engineering includes a note to the effect that "any assumed savings by economising on the site survey often lead to much greater costs later on in the project lifecycle". (Apol if I've posted this before.)

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Flood wire everywhere

          Experience and training when I was a Sparks in the dim and distant past also told me this. If the customer wants X power outlets, install at least 2X, and 4X at TV points.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Flood wire everywhere

      as it would never be used for anything else.

      If I had a quid for evert time I'd been told this..

      "We need to have some extra sockets put at that end of the room while they're doing the rewiring - it's a nominal cost while they're already here as long as we specify it before they start"

      "Oh we won't have any desks there it's just a meting space.."

      A month or two later it's "Where do we seat (X) the new consultant (or whatever)"..."Oh that's not a problem there's tons of space at the top of the room...."

  22. Quenda

    6 stages of a project

    The 6 stages of a project:

    1. Enthusiasm.

    2. Concern.

    3. Panic.

    4. Search for the guilty.

    5. Punishment of the innocent.

    6. Praise and honours for non participants.

    Guess where Steve fitted in.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Pint

      5

      Do I get a beer?

      I have a mate called Steve who always calls HR “Human Remains”.

      Appropriate more often than not.

  23. Wilco

    Evil HR Weasels

    Good to see that the chief weasel got his comeuppance - that's a rare thing. Normally everyone else gets f!!!ed and HR carry on pretending to have a real job. Slimy bastards.

    1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Evil HR Weasels

      The company I worked for decided to close one of the product lines; I was directly affected by this and a small number of us decided to set up a small company to make a similar product which we felt had a market. (We tried to buy-out the product but they were never going to accept a bid from us). We bought a shell company and set about changing the name to reflect our new business.

      I was still working my notice at the old company when I was summoned to the HR manager who proceeded to bawl me out about the 'new' company, specifically the proposed name. He stated in no uncertain terms that the holding company would never allow this blatant passing-off to happen. Lawyers at the highest level were being invoked "as-we-speak". We could expect a knock on the door and to be sued for major damages, perhaps today. He was seriously apoplectic about the new company and its similar-sounding acronym. I was scared he was going to explode.

      When he ran out of bile, I quietly said we noted the concerns and that we had already decided not to use that company name. He went through another round confirming the stupidity, nay illegality of using a company name which might be mistaken for the 'old' company, even thought they were dropping the product.

      I had to explain that we couldn't use the name because it was already taken by an existing company, who made a competing product. The poor HR guy just deflated. I have never seen someone so angry fall into such despair....

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Evil HR Weasels

        Why was any of it HR business to begin with?

        I've noticed a trend in the last few decades: HR seems to think THEY run the company. Which gets real interesting when they butt heads with marketing, which KNOWS they run the company.

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Evil HR Weasels

          The problem with Marketing knowing they run the company is that the Executives / Senior Management, Operations, IT, Facilities and just about every other department also know that they are the real department that runs the company.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Evil HR Weasels

            Too true as well.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Evil HR Weasels

            Marketing have to be reminded from time to time that without the other departments, they would have nothing to market. Likewise the Sales Dept. I suppose they could market and sell to each other. They'd probably even find a way to do it a profit, at least short term so they can jump ship with a golden parachute bonus :-)

          3. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Evil HR Weasels

            The reality of course is that the only reason the company is still afloat is Bob down in manufacturing still being awake about half the time (invariably about 2 years from retiring) and Jimmy in shipping actually getting stuff out the door every now and then by working around all the roadblocks.

  24. HammerOn1024

    I had a boss...

    Who was know for this, I therefore kept all communications and generated email responses confirming information he relaid to me just so "I understood" what he was after.

    So as inevitable, I was reassigned to another "priority task" that my boss said was to get 100% of my time and to "blow off" everyone else. The 100% task took about 10% of my time, as is typical with such things.

    So when I was requested to look at another task, I had to decline per my boss. That didn't go over well and the issue escalated within an hour to the VP of Engineering. Needless to say, my boss threw me under the buss... the problem was, I was also latched onto his balls... pesky emails.

    So when the inevitable meeting with the parties involved came to fruition, I had my stack of emails, quietly hidden from my boss in my lap, and the VP of engineering walk in, a decent guy. The inevitable "blame" fell on me, I reached down, garbed the folder and opened it. The blood rushing from my boss's face was classic and very satisfying to watch, as was the look of puzzlement on the face of the VP of engineering.

    I handed the paper to the VP who asked the dreaded, to my boss, "What's this?"

    I responded, "My confirmed instructions from <boss>."

    The VP read the email trail, noting the confirmation from my boss with raised eyebrows and he said "Thank you <employee>, you can return to work, I'll deal with this."

    I got out reasonably quickly.

    Now this particular VP was old school, he didn't shout at people often as one had to work at it to get his dander up... work REALLY hard at it. Apparently, this wasn't the first time this particular manager had gotten caught out as the shouting started as soon as I closed the door.

    I never saw my boss again.

  25. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Apologies for this but...

    I cannot help feeling there is a hell of a lot of shit being shovelled about who is 'responsible' for the stalling of that Russian armour convoy just north of Kyiv. According to reports the Russians have already lost three senior officers, including a Major-General to attacks from Ukrainian forces on that convoy. There will be serious arse-covering happening in the Kremlin right now.

    (In the UK go to dec.org.uk to contribute to a relief fund for Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen and others.)

    1. The Axe

      Push v pull

      Just seen a YouTube video from Wendover Productions where it was explained that it comes down to push versus pull supply logistics. The Russians do everything from central and it's pushed out from there. The Yanks do everything from the front and it's pulled from there. Like everything Socialist, it's all planned from the central top place. So they plan all the logistics and ship out the supplies even if it's not actually wanted because of local conditions. The Yanks do the opposite and ship logistics and supplies depending on actual need and demand.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4wRdoWpw0w

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cabling c*ck-ups

    One problem I have seen a number of times where new buildings are concerned, is that as the project progresses and room purposes and layouts change, the cabling plan often doesn't get revisited and modified to match the new requirements. A simple example of this that I have experienced is where a leg of 10 desks has to be fed from a group of 8 network sockets, a few rooms were set up like this, meaning that cables were trailing across the floors from spare sockets elsewhere in the room. They stayed like that for a number of years, until facilities eventually installed some extra sockets, I think partly at the behest of Health & Safety...

    A bigger example of this was a large open room which was supposed to be a learning resource centre full of computers, but there was only 1 network socket and a handful of power sockets in the entire room, cue a lot of last minute trunking and cabling going in to get the place ready for the start of the academic year. On the networking side they were running the cables Monday to Thursday, terminating on the Friday, we were setting up the computers on the following Monday then welcoming students in for enrolment on the Tuesday (thankfully everything was working as it should...)

    A/C because I'm still there

  27. ecofeco Silver badge

    Or found yourself in the firing line when it really wasn't your fault?

    You mean like every job I've ever been on?

    I learned CYA the hard way, but it's no guarantee of safety these days, either.

    Psychopaths gonna psychopath. It's why labor lawyers stay in business.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He was a month into his three-month probationary period and heard that a large storage area in the building was to be converted into offices and a meeting room for the Human Resources department.

    And that was the mistake. The best thing to convert for HR accommodation is a disused swimming pool. Then, when they are all sitting at their desks, you remove the ladders, open the taps and stand by with a cattle prod in case any of them get fancy ideas about climbing out.

    I have never, ever met a useful or even competent HR person. At $EMPLOYER they have rebranded the department as "People Services" and the droids within it as "Partners", presumably to give them that "management consultancy" glow of satisfaction. As if I am likely to view as a partner - in the work or indeed any other sense - someone who consistently refers to "myself".

    1. My-Handle

      The downside is that people tend to float. If you glue shut the circuit breakers for their equipment though, the electricity might just get them before they float high enough to even think about getting out.

  29. CoffeeBlackest

    That [4 letter expiative] needs fired and publically. And i mean the HR guy. That shouldn't be passed with casual dislike, he needs to be publicly shamed and never allowed back in the HR world and should be paying out double what he took from the IT guy. The IT manager should be fired as well for not bringing up what he knew and never allowed back in to a management position. People need to stand up to this kind of crap. Folks need to learn a little respect for their fellow human and someone in HR who acts like that has no business there.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Happy

      ... and for Christmas, I'd like a pony ...

      It SHOULD happen as you say.

      It WILL NOT happen as you say.

  30. elaar

    A customer of ours (a fairly well known charity) had taken over 6 new sites and spent millions completely refurbing them ready for them to occupy. They used our company for core networking/MPLS/wifi. Before the refurbs we carried out wifi surveys, showing number of AP's and their locations and sent the documents to them so that they knew where some of the structured cabling was required.

    Fast forward 6 months, we send in the engineers to put up the APs, and it turns out they completely ignored our documents/emails regarding this and there wasn't a single socket in ANY of the buildings. They assumed we would run the cables for the APs, post refurbishment, most with solid/plastered ceilings and with some buildings having 4-6 floors and upto 42 APs.

    This was our fault apparently.

  31. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Coat

    I wonder

    Whether any management courses include mandatory reading of the comments on Register articles?

    Of course not, I'll get my coat, its the one with the target on the back.

  32. Andy A
    FAIL

    The situation seems very familiar

    One place I worked decided to sell off their office building and move the staff into a fresh space built inside a Victorian industrial building.

    All well and good, but, just like the main story, they forgot things.

    The Official Announcement was made that the staff would be moving there the following Monday, so we went to take a tour with their Project Manager.

    "Where will the desks go?" we asked.

    There were four mains sockets to provide for 50 desks, some of which would be 30 feet away. Zero network points. Zero phone points. The carpet was nice though.

    By getting them to pay well over the odds to our usual cabling installers, we managed to get things viable only 3 weeks late. Fibre had to be run to new switches in the area.

    They took advantage of the move to update about a dozen PCs, so they were ready on desks by the Friday ready for the delayed move.

    Over that weekend, it rained - heavily.

    Those Victorian engineers had installed a "ridge and furrow" roof. The cast iron pillars underneath those furrows doubled as downspouts. Of course the coloured-pencil brigade didn't see the need to take away so much water, thinking it would head towards the end of the building. The furrows, for the first time in more than a century, overflowed - through the newly-fitted roof; through the new false ceiling (which disintegrated into a soggy mess), and over half a dozen of those brand-new PCs. Mains breakers tripped as water filled new floorboxes.

    Calls were logged about the PCs, which were rapidly closed as "User Error".

    Because of the delayed move, EVERYBODY knew who was badly managing the project. He was not allowed to forget it either.

    1. KBeee

      Re: The situation seems very familiar

      It could be worse.

      When the original Billingsgate fish market was closed, there was genuine concern that the only thing holding up the building was the ice. The fear was that as the ice melted the whole thing could collapse.

      *SPOILER ALERT*

      It didn't

  33. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    About 20 years ago, my employer moved to a new building that was refitted specifically to fill their needs. They needed a studio , and one was installed on the ground floor. The company Facilities Management department oversaw the contractors doing the refit. As this is a grade 2 listed building, actually getting any work done was a long, complex process requiring authorisation at every step of the way.

    We had not long had the studio installed, with a special, almost friction free floor that even in 2002 cost over £5000.

    A couple of months after installation, but my colleague got into work to find over the weekend. Facilities had dug up the floor and relaid it. With a 15 centimetre wide trench in the middle where the floor was nearly 2 centimetres lower.

    Obviously this was useless and when my colleague complained, they did apologise. Apparently when they employed the contractor to lay the floor, someone had forgotten that they needed to install electrical trunking in the room and the original plan had it going under the floor. When they realised they’d forgotten this, they got the electrician in to lay the cable duct, but forgot to update the plans to go elsewhere.

    They did pay for the original fitters to come back, but this meant digging up the entire floor and relaying it. So, a £5,000 floor cost £10,000..

  34. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Not surprising you couldn't find a plug on the wall, the plug was in your hand. You would expect SOCKETS on the wall.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Not sure why the downvote.... this smacks of idiocy on 3 levels

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Headmaster

        It Wasn't Me But

        Someones being pedantic (For that reason alone - Icon).

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      "the plug was in your hand. You would expect SOCKETS on the wall."

      Well, yes, but we are talking about a site specified by HR here, so you never can tell.

  35. Sparkus

    A 'digital expert'

    ......who somehow conned their way into the CIO-ship of an international agriculture company.

    Quickly realizing they were in over their head, critical internal functions were single-source out-sourced to Accenture/ATOS (lift and shift, upgrade in place, it's easy, etc), who then proceeded to muck it up including a transition/consolidation of SAP.

    The CIOs response; it was to run through two complete sets of direct reports, fired on the basis of 'not doing their job' or 'hard to get along with' or 'unable to work with external consultants'.

    After 18 months of this, the executive board finally caught on, had a heart-heart talk with the CEO, and the CIO (and Accenture) was history.

    Those of us who were caught up in the madness get together once in a while to laugh over beers.

  36. Jilara

    In the '80's I worked for a large semiconductor company that had a fetish for constant remodeling. Labs became offices, hallways vanished behind walls over weekends, and the whole place was a crazy patchwork. There was even a rumor that there was a forgotten walled up server room somewhere.

    Two of my offices were notable. In one, the door had to be shut to open desk drawers. But the prize was the one that was part of a remodel of one of the labs. The main cooling for the servers ended up in the office---what became MY office. It was christened "the Meat Locker" and the temperature (which couldn't be adjusted without overheating the lab next door) generally ranged around 56 degrees. I wore a coat all the time, and threatened to build a fire in my waste bin. Fortunately, a lot of my work was in the lab, which was much warmer.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Flame

      56 degrees? That's rather warm and almost certainly against the law...

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        ...if not fatal.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Nah. Just a trifle chilly for office space, at least for most people, and hardly fatally cold ... although SWMBO might argue the point.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Considering the OP was wearing a coat, I would think even a person of the rudest intelligence would understand he was speaking in Fahrenheit.

  37. JBowler

    Ah Life

    Life in the orifice. You never know who to look up to, you just know it isn't a good idea.

  38. John70

    IT always get the blame no matter who's fault it is.

    That's why we all need a BOFH in the department.

  39. Wincerind

    Sigh. We all know that HR stands for Human Remains.

  40. Rol

    A company I once worked for introduced flexitime working, which went down a storm, as it ironed out some of the problems parents and the like were having.

    A month later the scheme was stopped dead, due to staff abusing it. Turned out every department had welcomed the flexitime, and used it wisely and appropriately, except for one - HR! They alone had taken the piss, and ruined it for everyone.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NHS IT worker....

    When COVID vaccines started to be rolled out to first line support staff - guess who was at the front of the queue? The same department that insisted on new laptops so they work from home?

  42. Cerbus12

    Finance ERP

    I had a situation on joining a company as infrastructure deparment head to find that Finance were running an ERP project without any IT support. I managed to get an interview with the program manager for the project and although he said the right things my follow up chats with business stake holders really set off alarm bels as many of the usual gates seemed to be missing and deliverables were constantly being revised. Long story short I began an email program of cover my ass after a frosty chat with the finance director. Sure enough the project effectively failed, the program manager walked out mid post mortem and was never seen again and finance tried to blame IT. I survived, the finance director did not although I did get criticised for not succefully raising the alarm. One wonders what that would have taken to achieve given we were shut out of the project leaving us only able to discuss the broad strokes of ERP project best practice.

    You don't need to be a genius to run a business, just be smart enough to employ them and then listen to them. I've lost track of how many times I have sat in meetings where subject matter experts were disputed or ignored. I always pointed out to the business that I employed them SME for their opinion, whether I liked it or not.

  43. ThunderCougarFalconBird

    One of the first things I tell all new hires to the department I work in in IT is "CYA" "Cover your A**"

    I explain it to them like this.

    Nobody is watching out for you. Nobody's going to hold your hand and guide you to do the right thing. Nobody's going to stick up for you if it means that the blame will fall on them. This is just human nature. It's unfortunate, but true. With this in mind. make sure that you always take copious notes and screnshots and have these things handy in case you're called on to "clarify" something. Because it's not "If" something happens...it's "WHEN!" And if the other person is hemming and hawing because they don't have the information readily available and you pull up document after document of supporting evidence at a moment's notice, it adds to your credibility.

    CYA. It's your "A", it's your duty to protect it!

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Maybe you should add that when a 'manager' invites into an office 'for an informal chat' and says that "you don't need to take any notes", you need to take verbatim notes and type them up asap because someone is about to get seriously shafted and you don't want it to be you.

      (Happened to me, done by a 'colleague' for whom I was genuinely sorry when I found out that his wife had 'left him' taking their child. When I discovered what he was actually like I realised they were much better off without him, as, eventually, was I.)

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