Asshair#4 - My Epic FU Money story (2004)
I left SG on good terms in the fall of 2003 because SG wasn't doing much in web e-commerce. I wanted to learn e-commerce, and web, so I left (on good terms) to join an existing travel related website company. I was hired as Test Lead for a project team to create a new website for the site's new acquisition company doing luxury travel. Other teams did flights, rental cars, hotels, cruises, packages, etc. The team was headed by a dynamic leader "Bob" [who later went on to run a discount hotel website, then a well known job/salary transparency comparison website] - Bob held everything together, and was a joy to work with. Every employee was licensed as a travel agent, with the ability to get agent discounts, etc.
The team built two websites: a travel-agent facing website, and a customer facing website presenting essentially the same data. Every member of the team had two (2x) roles & titles - our 'real' role/title at the 'parent' company (ex: "Test Lead") and a 'fancy' role/title at the luxury travel company (ex: "Quality Assurance Manger").
Asshair#4 was the Development Manager/'Director of Technology'. The real job was to direct the developers who coded the website. The 'fancy' role was just a title, but it went to the head of Asshair#4 to the point where he was not actually doing his DevMgr job while trying to appear to be the DOT in his own mind. I reported directly to this DevMgr. As a developer, he had the skills to get hired. As a leader, he had practically no skills, little in the way of leadership ability. This was a highly introspective individual who compensated for his employee's lack of psychic abilities by yelling and screaming when people didn't do things exactly as he wanted.
My test team was doing great work - we deployed the agent website, and a first round of the customer facing website. As a reward, the entire organization was sent on a travel agent 'Familiarization' (FAM) trip. Fly to Oahu & Maui, see the 5 star hotels we sold, tour the rooms, see the side-trips (baby turtles, adult turtles, dolphins) etc. Sign Me Up! But because the team was too large for a single trip, we decided to break this FAM trip into two trips - a skeleton crew would stay behind for trip #1, and travel on FAM trip #2. With a new baby in the house, I chose to hold-down-the-fort as 'manager in the house', while the rest of the team had fun on a fully paid trip to Oahu & Maui.
Soon after the FAM trip, Bob left to take a leadership position at a discount hotel website company in the CA bay area. This left Asshair#4 with no boss until the company could fill the role. In the meantime, Asshair#4 let it go to his head, and while trying to dress up his work as 'Director of Tech', and 'filling in' as Group Manager, his dev team was not getting the leadership they needed. He happily started to scapegoat the lack of quality on the Test team (?) who were finding problems in delivered code, especially the test lead - me. Talk of FAM trip#2 got very quiet as we were finalizing plans for our NEXT project - a rebranded luxury travel website under an upscale name. Total price tag for the new plan/work: $5M.
Asshair#4 called me into his office to confide in me that the company balked at the $5M price tag, and instead of sticking with the luxury brand, were going to shut down the larger luxury team, and offer local folks the choice of moving to CA bay area (where the acquired company was based), or transferring to other teams. I asked if I could interview for test lead roles on other teams rather than relocate. He agreed, so I setup interviews with other teams who were all familiar with my work quarterbacking monthly night-of-deployment sessions for the luxury team. Two days later, after two (2x) interviews, I was offered a position on one of the more stable teams, and went back to Asshair#4 to tell him I'd been offered the position, and ask how much notice he wanted me to give to transition my responsibilities to other team members. He hemmed, and hawed, and told me that actually I couldn't transition to the other team AT ALL because he was going to have to put me on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP - see the ordeal with Asshair#2).
I shouted, "WHAT!?!?! You approved my interviewing on other teams, and I was hired right away, how could you even be thinking about a PIP?" Asshair#4 said in his discussions with HR in preparation for breaking the news of the down-sizing to the team, he mentioned that I would be taking a role on another team, but had asked HR about what was involved in the PIP process in relation to *me*. It was news to me, but was clearly a way for him to deflect poor work done by his direct reports on the dev team away from himself as a poor leader. He needed a scapegoat, and picked me. Unfortunately, because he 'mentioned a PIP' to HR, HR would not allow me to transfer to another team until I had *completed the PIP process*. Asshair would be unable to 'transfer his problem' to another team. I was VERY familiar with the PIP process having been on both sides of PIP's while at SG. He said something about preparing the paperwork, and I let him know right then and there that this idea of a PIP was completely unfair, unwarranted, and unexpected, and I would not participate in any way. I told him that if he was serious, he could have my resignation on-the-spot. He didn't budge, so said "I quit", and left his office. FU money, and zero tolerance for another PIP made this the ONLY decision.
I went to my office, packed my stuff, and left the building - stopping by HR on the way out to drop off my card key.
Later that day, from home, I logged into my email account out of habit, and noticed my account had not been deleted. The team received a team-wide email from Asshair#4 trying to explain my quick departure without giving away that the team was going to soon downsize, and leaving more questions than answers. I *RESPONDED* to this email saying that I was simply leaving of my own free will to pursue outside interests, and part of that was FINALLY going on my own FAM trip on-my-own time. I wished everyone the best, but in a way that indicated Asshair didn't know what the fuck he was talking about in the original message. I wished everyone the best, and shut down my PC.
The call to the luxury travel office in CA was fun - everyone there was shocked to learn of my departure, and were happy to help set up a familiarization trip to resorts in Puerto Rico for $0 behind Asshair's back. Team members in the local office were also shocked, and wanted to take me out to lunch, which we subsequently did that Friday afternoon. I never let on what was about to happen to the team, and left in a very professional manner. I didn't have a gig lined up, but FU money (after firing Asshair#3) made it possible to take some time, decompress, get my resume in order, and focus on getting a new gig. I took my time, and had a new gig within 2 months - including the week in Puerto Rico! One of the corporate VP's later asked me to lunch to understand what had happened - I told him the team did well under Bob, but Asshair#4 was no leader, and was so busy trying to look like a 'Director of Technology', that he was neglecting his main responsibilities as Development Manager. Basically that Bob held the group together, and it fell apart under Mousey Asshair (which was the truth).
Most of the team transferred to other roles on other teams. 1-2 out of 20 transferred to CA. The rest left the company... including Asshair#4 who left to become a plain old software developer at another company. I hope for their sake that company never put him in a leadership position again. I still have many friends from that company, and am sure I would be welcomed back with open arms, but the Asshair soured the experience.