Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

How do you deal with this?

I am in a tight situation myself.

Due to the lack of projects, my company has decided to terminate it's development branch and focus only on server administration. Most of the developers were fired but I kept my job, although I'm being retrained as an Unix systems administrator. My problem is the fellow who's suppose to teach me. He his more demotivated than anyone I've seen in a long time. He complains loud but out of management's range that he can't wait to get out of there, that he's tired of doing that work, etc.
Of course, my training has more than suffered because of this. I knew I was going to do a job most developers consider boring, but I was mentally prepared. What I wasn't prepared was for an idiot flashing every single mistake that I make to my manager as if I was the dumbest individual in the galaxy.

Things between us have grown pretty hairy with him telling me that he feel's I'm not ready to take over his role. Of course he said this with the most sour face, in the most solemn tone... in front of our manager.

Other than asking him to step outside, what can I do to make him back off? Something to humilitate him exactly the same way in front of the boss.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Talk to your manager. Let them deal with it.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

He can't get another job so he's demotivating you out.

It's him or you, can you do the job?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Have a calm conversation with your manager about the situation, put exactly as you put it to us.  Preferably in writing--do it, or start the process, by email.  That way you get your story into the pipeline.

Managers frequently see things like this going on, and do nothing about it for a variety of reasons.  Your boss might know that your trainer is a malcontent, and simply be waiting until you're sufficiently trained to let him go.  On the other hand, he might not, which is why you send him a mature email detailing your concerns.

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

First there's survivor syndrome. You survived the purge of developers and everyone would like to know, why you. There's a built-in suspicion that people will have until they get to know "what side you're on".

There's also a subconscious survivor guilt on your own part. Why me? Why am I here and what set me apart from the others, so you are more likely to be defensive and not fit in with the other admins right away.

Then there's always the remnants of a low level animosity between developers and administrators. I've been both more than once, having seesawed between them over the last 30 years. Developers tend to consider themselves superior to admins and never miss an opportunity to let them know it. Sometimes it's unconscious but it digs just as deeply. So the admins see you coming in with a developer's attitude.

You give a clue to your own attitude with, "I knew I was going to do a job most developers consider boring, but...",
so you are obviously of the mind that system administration is a lower calling. It is not.

There's also the worry among all those who remain that they can be next. Everyone will be worried about the next round, even if one never comes and especially if management denies one is coming. They have seen the personal pain among their friends who were canned and fear they will get the same. You have already been shown to be a survivor, so they fear you will be the one displacing them. We've heard people grouse many times on this board about having to train their replacement. This guy could be one of them.

Now, go sit down with the guy and be blunt. Tell him you are not after his job, that it was management who thrust you into that role and you don't appreciate his being an obstructionist.

Next, not before, go talk to the manager and tell him/her that you're having problems with this guy and say why but don't launch into a littany of details or you'll be whining. It's mostly because he fears you are out to take his job.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

start making fewer mistakes?

ie. don't rely on this guy's training.  supplement like crazy with independent study...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Why do you care?  Who ever promised you that people would be nice to you?

Do your job, and learn what you need to learn from him.  Study as much as you can outside the context of your "training" with him, so you aren't completely reliant on him to gain the skills you need.  Stop worrying about how he treats you.  More importantly, stop thinking other people in this world owe you something, least of all respect and kindness.  You'll get respect if you've earned it, and not by default.  And if not, tough cookies, that's life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dot, take a chill dude.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dash, ease up on Dot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dot, a conversation with my manager has done wonders. It has solved many problems with my life, not only with this fellow who is completely out of line but also about my future at the company.

This is the first time I had a talk with someone on this project and a lot of smoke was cleared.

Ogami Itto
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You are going to replace him? What is he going to do? Maybe he's trying to find a reason why he cannot be replaced which is why they are probably trying to replace him. I've worked with a few very "intelligent" sysadmins.  In one case I had to take over when one left. I was amazed at the number of repetitive tasks this apparently sysadmin performed. One thing I love about being a developer is I do different things all the time. I would have thought a sysadmin would be writing scripts to do everything but this was not the case. And imagine a closet bursting with clothes that don't fit or parts of the car etc.  ... the servers are imho a mess. Really amazing. I know the guy was smart ... I learned a lot from him but the guy seemed quite content with just doing what was done yesterday.  And he was smarter than all of us as he would admit. To think that one of us could replace him would be unthinkable and I'm sure he would laugh at the thought and do just what your guy is doing. Management must know this and they just want a more reasonable person in that position.  One must be smart enought to realize that we work in a social environment and we need to communicate with people who have varying degrees of understanding of our activity. The truly smart will size up their listeners and communicate at their level to so they understand.  All too often the sysadmin revels in being unintelligible ... is that smart? Hardly. Smart management with balls will not tolerate that.  No one should.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Roskoff, you sound like a bit of an arse crawler. If I was the sys admin, I would trip you up too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I sympathize with you for the situation you've been put in.

Basically it boils down to this:

The sysadmin guy training you is a prick. He's a "rotten apple" and will continue to be negative as long as he is there. You need to talk to your manager and explain how hard this turk is making things for you. If they don't get rid of the guy then it will come down to a battle of staying power.

If you are keen on the role then you need to show more tenacity than the moron training you. Eventually he'll get sick fo the place and will either be fired for negativity and poor performance or he'll walk on his own accord.

Whatever you do, don't cave in. You need to beat him at playing mind-games!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

This is normal after a downsizing, and I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of culture wasn't encouraged. This way they get more work out of the people who remain, and can weed out even more unnecessary people.

I understand that you need this job, but if you have a choice you should think about leaving it. If not, just explain this to your manager calmly and rationally. It's part of their job to resolve difficulties.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home