Ire and intimidation
The meeting did not go as planned, to say the least. I was about three sentences into my pitch to the Head Honcho, when he leaned across his desk, shook his finger at me, and said loudly, "You shut up and you listen!"
Given my military background (six-plus years as a U.S. Navy officer), I took his order to mean "do not speak until I ask you to speak." He then proceeded to rant about how critical this project was for saving money and the time and effort spent on the conversion project to date. My boss tried to explain that all I was asking was for more information-sharing with the dev teams to ensure this and future projects were successful.
After a few minutes, the Head Honcho wound down and dismissed me, asking my boss to remain behind.
The tide turns
Somehow, my boss must have said the magic words. As requested, the operations conversion team provided better information to the dev teams, and the project was successfully completed by the Head Honcho's deadline.
I didn't have any more run-ins with the Head Honcho, although our first few encounters after this meeting were strained, to put it mildly. But he must have been paying attention to my work.
Several months after that fateful meeting, I was having a drink with some friends at a local watering hole. The Head Honcho walked in with a few other IT managers, and they sat close to where we were sitting. He looked at me, raised his glass, and said, "You know, at one point I thought you were not worth much. But you're a good guy!"
Somehow I'd gotten on his good side.
What I did not know until a couple of years later was that after I'd left that meeting, the Head Honcho told my boss, "He's useless -- fire him!" My boss stood up for me, explaining that I was a key resource in making sure projects were implemented smoothly. I was given a reprieve, and I ended up having a very long career at that bank -- and I stayed long after the Head Honcho had left.
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This story, "The boss's vote of confidence turns the tide," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.