A work-related rant

I got cranky at someone at work. Someone who I feel is failing to do his fair share.

Basically it went something like this:

“It’s been two weeks, would you like to be on call again?”

“Sure, I guess…”

“Well, I have to say I’m pretty upset about the tickets that are still in the queue from the last time you were on call. You said you would handle them, and you didn’t.”

“Well, I’ve been pretty busy.”

“Now, I did say that I would help you whenever you asked… you just never asked, so when you do that, I have to assume that you’ve got it under control. Also, I have to say that I think it reflects badly on all of us when we have tickets sitting in the queue for 2 weeks not getting handled. I would appreciate it, if you’re not going to close them right away, if you could at least move them to your queue so that it doesn’t reflect badly on the rest of us. Do you think you can do that?”

“I suppose…” (unsurprisingly, he didn’t)

“Anyway, I wanted to take the time to talk to you about this, because I don’t know what else to try. If you have any ideas, I’d like to hear them, because I don’t think our current arrangement is working very well. My next step if I can’t figure something out with you is to go to $boss and tell him our current system is not working.”

“Well, we are all busy… can’t we get the new guy to help with some of the tasks?” (Yes, he did actually say “the new guy” and didn’t use his name.)

“That’s a good idea, though I don’t think he’s ready to be on call and if he’s going to get the exposure he needs, he’ll need to work along with someone during the day. I don’t think he’s ready to be the primary person watching the queue.”


“We don’t necessarily have to have the on-call person be the main ticket person, but I have to say, we’ve worked pretty hard over the last two years to get things running pretty clean, and the ‘on call’ after-hours part is really pretty easy. We usually get 1 or 2 pages per 2 weeks and most of those can be acknowledged (on the pager) and have no action until the next day. So personally I don’t mind doing the on-call part entirely myself. What I really need help with is watching the queues during the week.”

“Well, I expect to be pretty busy this week with helping $coworker with the move.”

“In that case, why don’t I go ahead and take on-call for this week.”

“…” (Him not saying anything but clearly upset)

Basically, the combination of those two statements are meant to imply that I’m not willing to let him get on-call ($300 per week) if he’s not going to lift a finger during the day too. I didn’t outright say this, but I did say “If you’ve got another idea about how to divide things up fairly, I’d like to hear it.” At this point he’s realized that he’s forfeited $600–or $450 after tax–for not doing what I asked him to do (and which he agreed when asked.) And, I’ve told him pretty clearly that if it happens again I will go to his boss.

Honestly I have no idea if he’s going through a tough time or what. I know he’s got a kid at home under 1 year old. But, the fucked up thing is for 2 of the 2-week periods before this, it was pretty much him not lifting a hand unless someone specifically came to me and I responded with “Oh, I was assuming $him was taking care of that, ask $him first and let me know if he’s not able to help you.”

First time around there were only like 4 tickets (for the week) and about 8 more “please delete this account” messages, so I just dealt with it, figured he had a bad week. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Second time I was careful to say “OK this is what I expect, anything that comes in, I’m assuming that you’re handling it unless you specifically come ask me for help”. He said yes, he understood. Then after the 2-week period there’s another 4 tickets and 7 deletes that were not handled (I think he actually did 5 deletes or something). So instead of jumping on them I just said “Oh, I noticed there are some tickets left, you’re still going to take care of those, right? If you need help, let me know.” And I added “$he said he would take care of this” to *each* ticket and left them there. They were still there 2 weeks later when it’s his turn again (now 20-25 days old, our expected turnaround is 5 days.)

I will probably give him one more chance before complaining to higher authority. Of course I actually HAVE talked to $boss to let him know what’s going on, but I told him not to do anything yet and that I’d like to continue trying to work it out with him. By the time I actually give up $boss will have heard from me three times.

Background: This is the first time we’ve actually been on the same team. We have been in the same larger group before but he mostly did his own thing. But he knows unix almost as well as I do; I think he just can’t be bothered. He’ll choose stuff in his “comfort zone” even if it’s non-urgent, and will avoid stepping out of his traditional realm even for something easy.

The reorg has now put us both on the same team (along with two other guys who were not part of our group before AND a new boss). I have mostly reacted by scheduling training sessions, being interested in what the others are doing, making sure that I have access to try and help them out (the two others) and going to their meetings even if I’m not asked. $he has reacted by keeping to himself as much as possible… nobody else has a clue what he’s working on and he doesn’t seem aware of the other three of us.

At the same time I’ve pretty much taken over all the work from 5 other RIFs in addition to my “normal” stuff. All of that “remote” stuff I complained about 3-6 months ago is because our dedicated “remote access” person got laid off. So I pretty much singlehandedly learned her entire job, documented it, changed bits that didn’t work well, and invited the helpdesk people to “training sessions” and then turned it all over to them (except for delete requests and audits once a month).

I really have nearly zero idea of what he does with his time. I am hard-pressed to account for even 20% of it. The only time I interact with his stuff is when he has weekly meetings to talk about all the security alerts we’ve received and who should react to them. The weekly “security” meeting goes like this: “Here are the new alerts. Do these apply to you? If so I’ll put your name and an action item on my list. OK, now let’s go over the action items left over from last week. Have you done this yet? When do you expect to do it?”

The rest of his week (remaining 4.5 days if we allow 3 hours to get ready for that 1 hour meeting) is spent making changes to firewall settings (such as “can you allow port 22 from these three IPs”.) Those happen once every 2 weeks just about, so you would need 1 hour tops to write up the message saying what you’re going to do, 1 hour to do it, and about 10 min to write up the “ok, we did it” report for that “change event”. (1 hour is stretching it… most firewall updates are 4 commands in 2 windows that can be cut and pasted).

Figure he goes to 2 other meetings during the week so that’s like 8 hours of work per week on the average. I do also know that he’s helping to “figure out wireless” for the new building though I believe most of the heavy lifting (literal and figurative) will be done by the Network team and as Security Guy $he just needs to put his blessing on it and provide feedback.

So, I find it very hard to believe that he’s so busy that he can’t look at 4 tickets and 8 delete requests in 2 weeks. Especially knowing I’ve said “Let me know if you need help”. (And they are easy tickets… “I don’t need this email address anymore, can you block it?” “Can you add these lines to dns for me?”) Meanwhile, during the 2-week period during which he’s too busy to respond to roughly 12 mostly-easy tickets, I’m spending my time answering emails and acting on them, because most of our work comes directly to me as email and not as tickets.

Anyway, thank you for allowing me to vent a little :) Apologies to my friend K who has already seen all this in her chat window :)

0 thoughts on “A work-related rant

  1. colubra

    Must be that time of year. I just had a long chat with my boss about how basically, there are two people on her team, and the work being done is divided into 9 equal units- 4 of which are done by me and 3 by her. The other guy on the team has time for a remarkable amount of conversation in the office that’s unrelated to his job, and I’m getting sick of being the one horse in the team that’s pulling the cart.

    So, my sympathy.

    1. nekodojo

      Thanks for the support! I definitely feel better for being able to articulate my upset at him calmly. Best I can do now is keep him from being further rewarded and make sure $boss knows.

      The sad part is that he was spared from the last few layoffs basically on the theory that he HAS the skills to help in other areas, in addition to his “customary” role. I would probably be content to ignore him, except it chafes a bit that people I know to be much harder workers got nuked and he’s still here. Ah well, I’m betting he’s not as safe as he thinks he is.

      1. colubra

        Yeah- my own failure of a coworker is basically leaving me to do 2/3rds of the job the both of us are supposed to do. If it doesn’t fix soon, I’m probably gonna ask my boss if I can get 2/3rds of the salary involved.

  2. torquemada

    It sounds like you’re handling this really well. The only thing to do now is follow through on complaining to $boss when he fails to deliver.

    He may have the skills, but what does that matter if he’s not using them?

  3. thistle_chaser

    Agreed that it sounds like you’re handling this well. Wish it didn’t sound like my situation here at my job.

    Three people in our group (boss, co worker, me), co worker was out 4.5 days last week, boss out 4 days this week, all time they won’t have to use vacation days for. c.c

  4. arkady

    Hmm. When I worked for Syzygy, I got put on main ticket-handling duty pretty much straight away – despite the fact it was my first sysadmin job ever. That said, I slashed the outstanding ticket queue from 30+ down to about 6 over the course of 2 days, because a lot of the stuff was really trivial stuff (“delete this account”, “add $user to $group”, “set up $ewuser”, that kind of thing) which would have taken the Windows admin all of 5 minutes to do had he dealt with the tickets when they came in rather than leave them there for the best part of (in some cases) 2-3 months.

    You may well find that New Guy is probably more capable of monitoring the tickets than you think – and at least stuff is likely to get done.

  5. kethry

    I certainly don’t mind you venting in my chat window. :)

    It doesn’t sound like the work is above his skill set, just that he isn’t doing it. You have already told him several times, and now its actually cut into his pocketbook. I would think the next step is formal talks with his boss.

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