Thursday, June 28, 2007

Seven habits of highly defective co-worker (2) – Mr Know-It-All

Mr Know-It-All (KIA) is not exactly my co-worker. He used to work in another department of my ex-company. During my time in the ex-company, I seldom had the chance to work with him luckily. But I did hear a lot of bad things about Mr KIA, particularly about his boastfulness.

After I set-up my present company, I had taken up a few ad-hoc projects to supplement the revenue of the company. One of my customers, Company Y, is a company that is in the same sector as my ex-company. Apparently, Mr KIA had joined Company Y, and unfortunately is the highest ranking technical person of this company.

My first assignment with Company Y was to enhanced one of their existing software within a short time frame. I was then engaged by their AGM, and this AGM ordered Mr KIA to assist me by providing the relevant specifications. Mr KIA claimed to know the system very well, but eventually the specifications that he gave me was full of errors. Nevermind, I fully expected that to happen and I managed to deliver the required tasks despite of the obstacles.

One thing I wasn’t quite happy about Mr KIA was that, he persistently claimed that the tasks assigned to me was very simple and he could have easily done it, just that he was too busy with other works. However, from my many years of experiences, I could safely gauge that the tasks had a certain level of difficulties, even to an experienced software developer. Furthermore, Mr KIA is a hardware person with very little software knowledge and experience. I was highly skeptical that he could even understand the design of the system in the first place, let alone implementing any enhancements. Moreover, the assignment was already lagging behind their promised schedule and absolutely nothing was being done. If it was so easy as claimed by Mr KIA, shouldn’t he put aside other tasks and delivered this assignment first?

Anyway, when I delivered the system, the AGM requested that I port the software over to one of their existing PC. However, I do not know about the environment settings required for the software to run. My development work was done on a laptop supplied by the AGM, with all the required environment settings preset by Mr KIA. So obviously, I would need to ask Mr KIA about the required environment settings. To my dismay, Mr KIA ignored my requests, claiming he was very busy. So eventually, I had to trial and error, meddle with the registries, run into a lot of errors, just to get the software working on the designated PC, all because Mr KIA was “too busy” to tell me the required environment settings.

In the end, I spent one whole day in their office to settle the configuration and environment settings all by myself. At the end of the day, when the AGM came to ask about the progress, Mr KIA suddenly turned very helpful and asked me whether I need help, in front of the AGM.

Furthermore, during the few meetings I had with Company Y, whenever the AGM asked for my opinions, Mr KIA would try to interrupt and eagerly offered his opinions before I could say anything. I figured out that Mr KIA perhaps felt a bit threatened by my existence, and thus tried to make things difficult for me and at the same time hope to impress the AGM. But I was just an external consultant, not a colleague in direct competition with him. Why should he feel threatened by me? One explanation would be, it was just his nature to try to impress people at all cost.

My subsequent dealings with Company Y had further unpleasant experiences with Mr KIA. But that was another long story.

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