Tales from The Trenches Archive

Submit your own Tale from The Trenches

How Not to Become a Manager

Years ago, I worked as a contractor for a hardware company that ran gaming benchmarks on their products and competition. Benchmarking effectively means starting some script, playing games/watching movies/etc. for two hours, writing down the results, making one change, and doing it all over again.

Everyone loved their job except for my team. My team lead had the sole goal of becoming a manager, but decided that with only two employees they would never make him one. He decided to make it look like we had so much work to do that they needed to give him more testers.

While everyone was playing games, we had to look like we were working in a lab with no windows. We began working 60-80 hour weeks doing random busy work. Even better, he was a time-Nazi who would give us 10 hour long assignments at 5pm that were due the next morning, and then he would yell at us for showing up at 9:05 AM after a whole three hours of sleep.

After eighteen months of working these hours, while also taking a college course during work hours that was approved in writing by my team lead, I was told by upper management that I was being considered for full employment. Two weeks later, after working over Christmas, I was called by the contracting agency to tell me that my contract was not being renewed for missing too much work.

It turns out that my team lead kept a spreadsheet with all the days I showed up even a minute after 9 AM, and showed me as skipping work during the hour I left to take the course he had approved. When they told him about hiring me on he showed them the spreadsheet, said I was missing too much work, and convinced them to hire two high school kids on the cheap to replace me so he could have more employees.

Another team lead later told me that when they announced that I had been let go, the other team leads insisted that they would have taken me, and asked if they planned on firing any other good testers. By the
time they realized their mistake they were restricted from hiring me back for three months due to my contract. I got a call three months later, but I had already taken a management job elsewhere.