Representative Email: Coffee Club



  • Tl;DR: Useless manager is useless.

    In general, Initrode was a nice place to work. The vast majority of employees acted like human beings and the quality of 3rd party software meant there was always work to do, which was obviously a mixed blessing. There was no issue management system, and the roadmap seemed important whenever it suited management, which was whenever, so the rest of us got our work done by communicating like civilised human beings might.

    Then one day, we all received an email:

    @Dave The Lord of Blame said:

    From: "Dave, The Lord of Blame"
    To: The IT Team
    Subject: Coffee Club

    I wanted to just put down in an e-mail why I find it so annoying to see you all gathered to make coffee as a group.

    First of all let me tell you that I would in no way want you guys to stop getting along as a group of colleagues.

    Its really sweet that you cant be parted for the 2 mins it takes to make coffee. I’m really quite touch that you are all so close.

    However what I really don’t like is people asking me why part of my team spends so much time hanging out together in the kitchen when we are consistently behind with roadmap delivery.

    I am sure if you put yourself in my shoes and the shoes of those asking that question you will see its an easy point for them to make and a tough point for me to defend.

    I would therefore prefer to avoid those questions altogether and have people think a little better of you for the effort you do put in.

    Now I am not telling or even asking you to stop holding your “Coffee Sessions”. I am saying that I am not going to defend them anymore.

    From here in I will simply get you guys to provide your own reasons for being behind on work whilst investing in group coffee outings.

    As soon as we are on target at the end of a single quarter I will pay for you guys to hang out at the [swanky hotel] in the Coffee lounge for an entire afternoon if you wish.

    Lets get on target first. The quarter ends in just 17 working days, we have quite a bit of catch up to do.

    If anyone considers that unfair in any way please feel free to let me know I would love to hear from you.

    Dave
    Lord of Blame, Boss +1

    As you can imagine, the entire IT team's productivity suddenly shot up by a negative amount, while everyone sent protest emails explaining the evident hypocrisy, unprofessional tone and flagrant inaccuracy of his email (e.g. he later admitted we weren't behind schedule). Dave, Professor of Bovine Scatology, either didn't understand or didn't care, judging by his responses, and I turned out to be late to the party in losing all my respect for him.

    It hurt. You might not know this about me due to my probable obscurity, but I've been accused, with unfortunate accuracy, of only seeing the good in people. Dave was part of the team, and instead of actually helping us to improve our efficiency, by maybe listening to me about implementing some kind of protocol - any kind, really - rather than the constant 'black ops', as we called the random insertions into our workload, or even a deadline extension to include said black ops, it was very evident that Dave the Lord of Blame simply wanted to assign blame. I guess I should have worked it out from his job title (disclaimer: not his real job title, so he wasn't actually doing his job... not sure I ever saw him doing his job now I think about it).

    Now he was simply attacking us, and my sudden disillusionment laid bare my naivity for me. All those times I'd seen him unhelpfully chewing people out because he decided people were not getting enough work done. All the things I'd heard people say about him that seemed a bit harsh, such as the CEO thinking he was an 'arsehole'. This was a year after I started work at the company, so I was upset that I had accepted a person who would act this way, which is why I mention that it hurt. TRWTF is me for not spotting the obvious psychopath sooner.

    He never apologised for his actions even when one of my colleagues left for another country a few weeks later to get away from him. We did go to afternoon tea at the swanky hotel, but you may be surprised to learn that it did nothing to alter my newly-decreased opinion of him. Neither has my opinion increased since, as I've heard he nearly lost at least one client in his current job by just saying "it's totally not our fault, it must be your end". (Paraphrased)

    However, if I were to put things in perspective, apparently the head of sales (somebody else) had been allowing campaigns to be sold at a loss, and that this was what finally collapsed the company after I left. Sorry, I meant 'restructured'. I'm pretty sure there was a lot of weird stuff going on with that restructuring as well, purely from what I heard about individual people's salary comparisons for positions, and what the positions expected for people to work in them. Many seemed to boil down to "work harder for the same money".

    I feel as though I could write a book. "How not to act" or something. Tangents aside, I believe the email accurately represents Dave, Lord of Blame, Professor of Bovine Scatology. I hear he is still alowed to have contact with normal people, rather than being put away somewhere more appropriate to his attitude, such as perhaps a prison cell or @blakeyrat's dystopia.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Shoreline said:

    Useless manager is useless.

    WorseThanUseless™!


  • mod

    Heh. My company values undocumented hallway chats at or near the break station so much, we do all our important decision-making there. The meetings are just for show.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Heh. My company values undocumented hallway chats at or near the break station so much, we do all our important decision-making there. The meetings are just for show.

    Lol. "Breakstorming".

    I think I basically fixed a couple of important bugs just by talking to my colleagues from that breakout area. Nevermind giving my brain a chance to reset by getting up and taking a walk. Many people tried smoking for that, which somehow was ok by comparison.

    (I did point that out to the guy, but he didn't seem receptive.)



  • @Shoreline said:

    Nevermind giving my brain a chance to reset by getting up and taking a walk. Many people tried smoking for that, which somehow was ok by comparison.

    One of the better parts of the habit is that you get a convenient excuse to walk out of the building once every hour or two and collect your thoughts (or restore your sanity, depending what you're currently working with).

    Especially if you work in an open plan environment.



  • At least half the developers in my office make regular trips in groups to the coffee ship down the street. That tends to include management.

    Maybe I should start drinking coffee just to be in that clique.


  • mod

    Depending on the coffee shop, they might have things like tea, italian sodas, or caramel hot cocoas. Once, I had a really nice caramel hot cider at a coffee shop where I was doing a meetup.



  • As a Dutchman, the phrase 'coffee shop' makes me go "During worktime?" before I mentally recompose myself and realize that phrase means something else elsewhere.



  • @PleegWat said:

    As a Dutchman, the phrase 'coffee shop' makes me go "During worktime?"

    As a non-rich SHITLORD it makes me go, "They're ripping you off!"



  • Another "typing doesn't replace thinking" scenario.



  • We're encouraged to use the pomodoro technique so the whole company gets a 10 minute break every hour, in addition to lunch. We do have a fancy espresso machine too :) ☕ and a beer fridge 🍻


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place



  • @PleegWat said:

    'coffee shop'

    Lol. I wish that explained the email. "No weed during work hours, wait until after" would have made a lot of sense.



  • @chubertdev said:

    Another "typing doesn't replace thinking" scenario.

    I regret not instantly forwarding the email to HR and making a formal complaint. Apparently I wouldn't have been the first. The HR person was easy to get on with so probably at worst nothing would have happened.



  • Some years ago I worked in a little office, where it was customary to have two coffee breaks a day and everyone that wasn't on-call or out of office joined. Everyone but me had been there much longer, some since seventies, and as a rule nobody left the office but by retiring. It was a nice place to work in.

    A bit later the boss retired and the office was merged with another of same size. Because the new boss couldn't consider using our old locale, it was too far away from her favorite shop, she rented a new space. On her pre-merge visit (yup, singular, as far as I know) she had told how much job her current staff had and how they regularly worked until late evening, and of course had no time even to go out for a lunch - they just brought in a quick salad.

    The new space had a tiny kitchen by the busiest corridor, exactly by the front door everyone - even the clients - used. There had been a negotiation room but it was split in half. The library / negotiation room a bit farther from the kitchen was claimed by the boss to be "her" room, as she had been considerate enough to share her space with her secretary, and as she needed privacy to conduct the yearly employee evaluations in. Some of us tried to continue having the coffee pauses in the tiny kitchen (where all the meetings were held, too - though the latecomers had to stand in the corridor), but under the eyes of the passing-by clients it was not the same, and of course one couldn't talk shop or share advice anymore, should someone wanted to. Also, the boss herself used to barge by and stop complaining loudly at us about something, totally ignoring any conversations we were having.

    During the first year five people (of the total of fourteen) left.

    Coffee is indeed powerful.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Depending on the coffee shop, they might have things like tea, italian sodas, or caramel hot cocoas. Once, I had a really nice caramel hot cider at a coffee shop where I was doing a meetup.

    Where I live, that word "cider" (or, rather, its French equivalent "cidre") introduces a certain "zing" to the discussion. Warning to Americans: "cider" doesn't mean "unfiltered rough apple juice" everywhere in the world. In Britain, "cider" without further qualification means "fermented apple juice". Drinking that before going back to the office does add a certain "something" to the proceedings...



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said:

    Warning to Americans: "cider" doesn't mean "unfiltered rough apple juice" everywhere in the world. In Britain, "cider" without further qualification means "fermented apple juice". Drinking that before going back to the office does add a certain "something" to the proceedings...

    I was wondering how they got away with drinking alcohol during a meeting...

    (Our beer fridge is only to be opened after hours. It is currently empty)



  • @Nipo said:

    ... they regularly worked until late evening, and of course had no time even to go out for a lunch...

    That's a red flag, right there. I find it hard to believe or understand how working late can ever be considered normal rather than the exception without the word 'oppression' being used. If they're working late on a regular basis, either they feel like earning a lot of overtime or the company needs that kind of time to make up for its fundamental business-model related shortcomings. Or it's a startup. I guess I answered my own question.

    I actually stopped bothering to work extra hours to catch up at Initrode because everytime I had, the work seemed to have lost all its value the day after I worked late, and I didn't get paid overtime. That said, there was one time when I successfully claimed back all my extra working hours for a project which I'd had to rush because crappy 3rd party software made the previous project overrun.

    Predictably, the rushed project didn't seem so critical immediately afterwards, and when we did need it, the metric fucktonnes of technical debt introduced because I'd had to rush it pushed its completion back further. Dave the Lord of Blame struck again at that point, but at least he had the sense not to write a half-witted email about it that time.

    Like I said, I could probably write a book.



  • @Shoreline said:

    That's a red flag, right there. I find it hard to believe or understand how working late can ever be considered normal rather than the exception without the word 'oppression' being used. If they're working late on a regular basis, either they feel like earning a lot of overtime or the company needs that kind of time to make up for its fundamental business-model related shortcomings. Or it's a startup. I guess I answered my own question.

    Then there's the fourth option: the boss lied. It was a government office, and only the secretaries had working hours, everyone else was (supposedly) expected to process all the stuff piled on their desks. The boss had somehow got the idea that working late is a good thing, so she went around telling how late her staff worked. I suppose the other office heads (and pretty much everyone else) just rolled their eyes and assumed that she was bad at managing. Which she was, of course.



  • @Nipo said:

    Then there's the fourth option: the boss lied.

    I already forgot there was a precedent for that somehow. Memory like a sieve.

    I'm sure in her small-minded way this was a 'work ethic' expectation she was setting, rather than making up a story that actually makes her look worse. Not surprising if she wasn't a good manager.



  • @powerlord said:

    the coffee ship down the street

    This gave me an awesome mental image.



  • Ha, didn't even notice I'd typoed that. Tempted to make an image of a coffee ship now.



  • Here you go:



  • The "coffee" is the wrong color.



  • The SS Java?



  • Nope, but perhaps HMS Java.... (note SS means 'steam ship', and the funnels are missing.. :-)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yazeran said:

    Nope, but perhaps HMS Java.... (note SS means 'steam ship', and the funnels are missing.. :-)

    I think I'd go with MV Java as it isn't a military ship.



  • So you comment on the ship naming but not on the 175 day necro?


  • mod

    @locallunatic said:

    So you comment on the ship naming but not on the 175 day necro?

    Hah! Shows what you know! It was a 174 day, 20 hour, 8 minute necro!



  • @locallunatic said:

    So you comment on the ship naming but not on the 175 day necro?

    @dkf said:

    go with MV Java

    I'll stick my neck out.....

    How about not commenting about how it's not a Motor Vessel?



  • Wow, there are a lot of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_prefix



  • The S/V Java, I see...



  • @nightware said:

    Wow, there are a lot of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_prefix

    In the manner of the internet... following that.. led to (re)discovering this...

    As I have said elsewhere... my work here is done.


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