Sunday 8 June 2008

Thoughts on Kevin Rudd

We've had revelations recently about how hard the public service is working, and what a control freak Rudd is and all that. I'll add my two cents worth.

My view is in regard to character.

You can change your hairstyle. You can have surgery to change your eye shape and nose shape and you can have colagen pumped into your lips, or liposurgery to reduce your hips. Your body shape can be altered in subtle ways. But once your character is set, I don't believe you can change it.

The old saying, "Once bitten, twice shy" is for me a good thing to use in regard to character. If you have bad dealings with a dodgy character, going back a second time is sheer stupidity as the leopard is unlikely to change his spots.

I worked with a bloke who was constantly busy, totally disorganised, had excuses for everything, got nothing done and lied about everything. I worked with him for over five years (in fact I tried everything possible to avoid working with him - let's say we both worked from the same floor in our building, although we were both managers reporting to the same boss) and in that five years, we tried again and again and again to get him to mend his ways..... and surprise, surprise - he never did.

I ran into him about a year after I left that company. He was still busy, busy, busy - taking frantic calls on his Blackberry on the bus, acting like the trivial task he was undertaking was an event of earth shattering importance. If he was asked to empty his rubbish bin by our boss, he would treat that as the most urgent and important bin emptying task ever - "Lot's of confidential and secret information in this bin you know. Gotta go - it's all very hush hush."

In short, he was a complete bullshit artist, a wanker and a slimy little lying bastard. He was quite personable to have a beer with after work, but on work time, he was a c*&t. Oh, I forgot to add that he was power hungry to a sociopathic degree. In order to boost his self importance, he also tried to take over all the work that the other five of us were doing. I didn't mind that - the more he took off me, the more chance I had of not working that weekend.

Of course he never actually got the work done - he just tried to take control of it, and after missing say half a dozen deadlines with nothing to show for his takeover, the work would come back to me, but it was now super-urgent, and I'd have to work every weekend for a few months, plus 12-14 hours a day to get that project back under control. Thanks to that little turd, I worked on something like 45 out of 52 weekends in one year, and averaged over 60 hours a week for the entire year. Working 42 days straight was not uncommon - and by that I mean working 12 hours a day or more for 42 days straight without a break.

And at the end of it all, the little prick would try to claim some responsibility for my effort. He didn't have a hope in hell of selling that idea within our office - everyone knew he was a lowlife, and who was really doing the work - but when he left our office and went to talk to other divisions within the company, he'd claim all the credit. Unless there was a problem - then he'd quickly shift the blame and disclaim all responsibility.

Here's an instructive little story.

One year, he was told to replace some equipment that was end of life. The first step was to audit that equipment, so he could develop a budget and project for its replacement.

He delegated the audit to one of my staff - without telling me. My staffer did the audit in about an hour, and emailed him a spreadsheet with the results.

Dickhead managed to lose that email (or he deliberately lost it in order to avoid having to do any work), so he then tasked another of my staff to do the audit, again without telling me.

My guy quickly did the work, emailed through the results, and they were again "lost".

I found out about this when he tasked a third member of my staff to do an audit - they were getting pretty sick of it by then. So I confronted him about it, and he ceased bugging my staff - although at that point, I handed over a printout of the audit, so he wouldn't have an excuse to bug them again.

He then tasked one of his staff with doing the audit. That bloke did it, and handed over the results.

Then he tasked another one of his staff with doing the same audit again.

By the time this blew up in a management meeting (our boss wanted to know why the equipment had not been replaced), it turned out that seven separate audits had been done - he had even told a staffer from yet another area to do an audit - and he had been emailed or personally given the results on all 7 occasions.

Now I should mention that his desk was one big pile of paper. If you took a big SULO bin full of paper and dumped it on a desk from about six feet up, that's what it would look like. His mailbox was also a disaster - he subscribed to about 50 mailing lists, so important work related stuff was buried in amongst 1000 emails a day about nothing much at all. He was an unmanageable mess.

Now our boss was a nice bloke, and this idiot brown nosed like you wouldn't believe, so he'd never get sacked, but our boss blew up and demanded that the equipment be replaced. So idiot went to the site in question, started the audit and then tried to hand it over to one of my staff - who had already done the audit for him in the first place!

Now some of my staff didn't take shit from anyone. This one happened to be an ex-Commando Regiment guy, and he told him where he could fuck off to. Idiot then had the temerity to complain to me about his behaviour, and I told him where he could fuck off to as well, and suggested that he never set foot in that building again if he knew what was good for him, and that this was the last time he was going behind my back etc etc. I have come close to having a punch up in the office on a few occasions in my career, and 90% of them were with this fuckwit. The fact that he was on 9 different types of heart-related medicine was the only thing that held me back - I had no desire for my one punch to be the cause of a fatal heart attack.

S0 - he was manically disorganised, a coniving son of a bitch, a liar, a back stabber, completely incapable of doing the work that he was tasked with, took credit for work others were doing and made it look like he was always busy (he was never, ever on time for a single meeting in all the years I worked with him, he constantly took phone calls in meetings, and when we got Blackberries, he spent all our meeting time fiddling with his).

Sound familiar?

Out of the 80 or so people I worked with, I had them all mentally classified in one way or another, and I could have ranked them from top to bottom in terms of productivity.

We had a few head down, bum up types that would work under wet cement at the end of the world without complaint.

We had those that worked hard, but only after a requisite 30 second whinge at the start.

We had those that refused to lift a finger to help until they had read the sports section of the Daily Telegraph, and even then, had to be stood over until they finished the task - which they did very quickly, because they were very skilled.

We had those that spent so much time telling you how busy they were, they had no time to do the work you'd set them.

We had some lovely people who were competent, did their thing and went home as soon as their time was up.

We had some that wanted to complain to the union everytime anything changed, like when we moved a stack of A4 paper from one side of the stores cupboard to the other.

We had a few explosive types who blew up at the slightest provocation, then got down to the work at hand and charged through it.

We had a couple of whingers who were very bright, but could not be induced to work at all by either threats or inducements. They just like to whinge.

And then we had dickhead.

He was the only liar.

He was the most disorganised by a country mile.

He thought he knew it all.

He was the most hated and despised, particularly by his own staff.

He not only did very little productive work - he actually managed to retard the work the rest of us were doing. He was worse than a boat anchor - he was a reverse gear.

He had perfected the art of making a show of doing a lot whilst actually doing nothing.

Worst of all, he had deluded himself into thinking that he was the lynchpin of our office - that if he left, it would all fall apart. When I met him, he had not taken any leave for five years, and it was another three years before he was ordered out of the office for a few weeks - even then, he was constantly on his Blackberry.

He is a big chunk of the reason why I decided to leave a job that I actually liked quite a lot.

When I look at Kevin Rudd, I see this guy all over again.

Kevin isn't going to change his behaviour - it comes down to character. Dickhead had a deeply flawed character that made him the dickhead that he was, and it didn't matter how many management training courses he was sent on - he remained a useless, lying shithead.

It didn't take me long to figure that out. It usually didn't take others that long to figure it out either. I sat in a number of meetings with him when we were discussing things with other departments or companies, and these guys from outside would look at each other when he was talking and they'd have the look of, "What the fuck is this guy on about?" They were too polite to say anything in the meeting, but afterwards I'd get these phonecalls on the quiet and I'd simply tell them that yes, their instincts were correct - he was a knobthrottler of the first order.

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