I have a new challenge in the office. Yeah, like having so many pregger engineers is not challenging enough, now comes a new and very different one.
Earlier this year my boss hired a new male engineer. No doubt he’s so well versed with the technology and has good track record as a project engineer. He was recommended by another manager in the company. I did the technical interview and was happy with his skills and know-how.
When he started reporting to work, I immediately assigned him a few tasks which I knew he could deliver. At the same time I also put in a leading position in order to add new challenges. You see, when I asked him during interview on why he wanted to work here he told me he was looking for opportunities to prepare himself to become part of a management team someday. So, I gave him a Technical Lead task.
After a few weeks I noticed he never went to visit the customer, it took him ages to make a phone call to customer and he has a habit of not responding to meeting invitations. He was always at his place – LLB (looked like busy). Some of his tasks he 'tai-chi' to another team member and didn't look guilty doing it at all.
Once in a while my boss would make his rounds visiting us at our cubicles, just to say Hi and at the same time getting latest project status. He usually keeps it very casual so as not to make us feel depressed with his presence. So, he approached the new guy and tried breaking the ice by making a joke. The result? The new guy looked at him and then looked away – expressionless. The rest of the team tried so hard not to laugh at the boss, lah…. Of course lah… It’s quite embarrassing when you’re not getting any respond to a joke you made, right?
Sensing that the new guy was not comfortable to start socializing with the rest of the team, the boss has assigned 2 guys sitting nearest to him to start talking to him, get him involved in daily activities such as lunch, ciggy break, coffee break etc. After about 2 weeks, one of the guys moved to another cubicle, far away from the new guy. Reason being, he had enough of no-response from that new guy. Since he’s quite a talkative person, I assume he must have nearly lost his head having to stand all those no-reaction situations.
I didn’t really make any attempt to socialize with the new guy as he didn’t look like someone who liked to get involved in ‘my type’ of conversation – read ‘Borak-borak kosong yang sungguh tak bermanfaat’. However, when I approached him to discuss on technical stuffs or customer’s requirement he seemed okay. He cooperated and provided really useful feedback. So, I thought perhaps he’s only into intelligent conversations.
However, I was still not very happy because it seemed like he’s avoiding going to see customer and always tried to have minimum contact with the rest of the team members. So, I called him for a small talk one day to share my concern. He didn’t respond much to my lengthy comment and observation.
A few days later, I assigned him to a new project lead by Sukiman. I warned Sukiman of this new guy’s attitude and told him to be prepared to not getting reactions or responses – even during meetings. I also told him not to make any of his stupid jokes with this guy.
As expected, a few weeks later Sukiman called me to complain about this guy. It was during User Requirement Phase of the project. Just imagine, all the Project Team members were supposed to be involved in numerous discussions with customer and yet this guy was so silent and not answering questions. ‘Everytime I talked to him I felt like I was talking to the wall!!!!!’ Sukiman was shouting to me on the phone one day. All I could do was laugh. I knew exactly how that must have felt like.
It’s pretty funny I think when a living person can afford to not answer questions directed at him. Or perhaps we need to give him 2 minutes for him to compose his answer? It’s even funnier when he can pull a straight face to any joke and won’t even answer when people wish him good morning. I wonder what kind of genes he inherited.
So, one day, one of the Project Team members was having some problems with her solution component. Let’s call her PYT (Pretty Young Thing) because she’s really young and cute. She’s been escalating her issues to Sukiman. Sukiman later escalated the matters to me as it’s related to the components delivered by my team member – i.e that non-responsive guy. I told Sukiman to get the PYT to sit down and discuss it with that guy; I was so not in the mood to become some sort of a proxy or middleman.
About two hours later I saw the PYT bringing her laptop to the guy’s cubicle and sat next to him. Perhaps it was magic or that PYT was good at casting spells. The non-responsive guy seemed animated while chatting away with PYT. Sensing it's my only golden opportunity to do some experiments, I got up and approached the two of them. I braved myself and told them a very stupid joke I could think of at that moment. Miraculously the silent guy was grinning and laughing. PYT was blushing because it was such a stupid and sexist joke that came out from my mouth. I didn't stay long near them as I needed to announce my victory to my friends. Finally, I knew how to make that silent guy to respond.
But we couldn't celebrate anything yet as the next day, he just turned a blank face when we wished him Good Morning. Perhaps I should get PYT to be transferred to my unit then.