The boss's vote of confidence turns the tide

We interrupt our regularly scheduled gripes for a true story of a good boss and a trusted employee. It can happen to you!

You never know when your job may be on the line. It could be due to fairly straightforward reasons, like budget cuts, or more sinister and unpredictable factors, like a boss who abuses the power of the position.

This story happened years ago when I was working for a large financial institution. I was moved to an operations management role following my assignment to assist with the conversion from Honeywell to IBM mainframes.

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Our team within the operations management group had many responsibilities, including change management, problem management, and job scheduling. I guess you could describe it as doing everything that it was not worth funding a whole new team to do.

His reputation proceeds him

The Head Honcho of the computer operations group (my boss's boss) was not well liked. He was a very prickly character who found fault with almost everything. To put it mildly, he was not easy to talk to, and you never knew how harsh he'd be. I actually heard him say once, "No one ever accused me of having tact!" He started pushing our team to quickly move from one of the scheduling programs to a new one because, of course, money could be saved if we could convert in time to avoid paying the annual license fee for the older program.

While wearing my "change management" hat, I heard from many on the development teams that they were worried about this upcoming conversion. They were getting conflicting information from the operations group and weren't clear on what they needed to do.

For example, the target date had been changed several times, and the latest date given for the conversion happened to be right around the same time they had other major projects that were due. Also, the team responsible for the scheduling conversion had provided little or no information about what actions the dev teams would need to plan for and to ensure their projects would not be affected by the conversion.

I approached my boss about this. He suggested we meet with the Head Honcho to discuss it. All I wanted to tell him was that the operations team needed to provide more detailed communication so that the dev team knew what was required of them to ensure the project succeeded and met the deadline. I was more than willing to help coordinate those communications.

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