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Start ups attract and often feature some memorable characters. Consistent with my previous post on the subject, here are 6 more troublemaker favorites.
1. The IT Support Guy/ Flannel Bob
He's busy but he is working? Does every computer need to be taken apart?
And how come you can never make a point that he doesn't already know about like "Did you see the next version of this has that? or "I saw they're coming out with ...." Answer is always, "Yeah, I saw that."
And talk about an understated flair for the dramatic, try "The company is going to run out of disk space in an hour" (Hmm, that gives us plenty to time)
OR "I sent a note that the email system is down". (Helpful)
OR "What you are asking for simply can't be done" (It is outside the scope of human endeavor)
OR "You should know how to do that".
(And you should know I want to kill you)
OR "For me to know how to do that, I need this $2495 training out of town for a week".
(The training certification will be on his posted resume at Monster before he returns to the office)
The IT support position in a start up is no small job. The person is invested with near magical skills from the perspective of peers and yet, manages to consistently disappoint 90% of he deals with. That isn't easy. Defeat is stolen from the jaws of victory by dispensation to most, but not all, of a task. So the printer is installed but it won't print correctly from your computer. Installed printer, you didn't say to test it....
2. The New Marcom Manager/ Captain MoonRocket
He is much cooler than you. He dresses better. And he has come up with a new campaign to re-position the product and company. You just don't know how a picture of a rock in a bed of sand does that. It makes sense to him. Just not to you. Or anyone else. But boy he is convinced and it is as if he needs to reach across the time/space dimensions to reach you. He can really talk with his hands and his framing gestures are intended to create breakthroughs in your understanding. Where did he get those glasses?
3. Joan of Accounting/ Defender of the Realm
New customers and, worse troublesome accounts receivable, just make more work for her. If good accounts don't make it through her screen, it is just less work. Since the collection of bad debt will inevitably fall to her, she sees her primary job as the prevention of bad accounts that will become work for her later. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of making her a tenacious gatekeeper related to allowing new customers in the door. She leads the company's sales prevention efforts. The credit crisis and failure of established banks only validated her restrictive worldview. The salespeople view the whole new account experience akin to negotiating with Jabba the Hutt. And she doesn't tolerate arguments about the real risk being low as the product is only a download whose cost is too cheap to meter.
4. The Time Traveling Middle Manager/
Always ready to visit in your office and spend some time, he is packed with insightful commentary, nay advice, related to everything that HAS BEEN done by you or anyone else. If you had that advice AND a time machine, you would really have something. But you don't have a time machine. And neither does he. Now he's in your office critiquing the execution of your recent launch/project/product, but, you can't repay the favor because there's nothing to talk about. He has never done anything as he sees himself as the start up's conscience. His job is to observe, to comment and to offer advice.
He isn't here to do anything.
5. The Triathlete Production Assistant
She arrives at the Monday morning staff meeting to describe an extreme fitness weekend which included a 48 hour race with running, swimming and cycling. She got almost no sleep at all. She looks ok. And she will be fine for the next couple of hours. Then she begins to fade. Completely fade.
Guess what, she's tired and she hurt her ankle. She will be out tomorrow at the doctor and for the rest of week keeping off her ankle. She can't work from home because of the muscle relaxers and as she says -"The doctor says if I don't stay off my ankle this week, I won't be ready for this weekend's '72 Hour Race to Exhaustion' and I have been training for that for months".
All the while, our uber fit production assistant looks askance at her ultra unfit co-workers who may miss a day here and there over some unwise drinking decisions at Monday Night Football. Those unfit, cigarette smoking, fried chicken -pizza-junk food loving folks who have better attendance if not a healthier lifestyle.
6. The Project Manager
It can be dis-spiriting to create fabulous GANTT charts for unfabulous goals. All the start up organization's dysfunction in a walking, talking person. He is characterized by his unanswerable questions --"How can the developers lose more than one week in their completion date, when only one week has passed?" or "Couldn't we have known that people will take off work on Christmas day? or "Why does our one and only Q.A. staff need a month notice when they're going to test the company's only product?"
All this planning and effort to rise above the simple challenge that the job should take 15 people and there are only 5 available to do it.