When no employee is better than a new employee

In midst of tech boom and hiring frenzy, a new techie comes on -- and leaves staffers longing for days without extra 'help'

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More and more new computers started coming back to us after the New Guy had done the configurations. Some were DOA items -- to be expected -- but that's how we found out about the New Guy's disregard for ESD practices.

He seemed to think he knew better than anyone else how things should be done. For example, one corporate customer specified that their desktop computers were to be configured a specific way. The New Guy decided to deviate from the configuration sheet. Why? He thought it would be better with his arrangement. All those desktops came back to us to be reconfigured -- at our expense.

The beginning of the end

About two weeks later, my manager asked me what I thought about the New Guy. I told him my impression wasn't very positive and explained why, both from a workload perspective and the drain on the company's time and money. My manager said to give it a couple more weeks.

Two weeks passed and I didn't think we should keep him. But my manager said it was hard to hire anybody, so he kept the New Guy on the payroll. After another week, my manager started to schedule him for field support calls.

Amazingly, things went OK the first week. But as time passed, we started to get more complaints about the New Guy, seemingly from every company he visited. Still, my manager refused to do anything about it because we needed the staff.

Complaints ranged from vague statements ("He's so unprofessional") to the more specific -- for instance, he swapped users' computers without telling them. As senior engineer, I got to handle all the "hot" issues, and a few times had to fix the problem he created on top of the problem he was supposed to address because the customer was threatening to drop us as their support vendor. Lucky me! Around four months passed before my manager decided to let him go.

Even though we were down an employee, we were much better off after the New Guy's employment was terminated. There were very few complaints from that point, not only from our customers but also from other techs in the department. Most of all, we didn't have to waste time and energy cleaning up his messes. Just because there's another person filling an open position doesn't mean the company gets what it pays for.

Send your own crazy-but-true tale of managing IT, personal bloopers, supporting users, or dealing with bureaucratic nonsense to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, you'll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

This story, "When no employee is better than a new employee," 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.

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