Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Troy, Troy again

Troy is doing better than I expected.

Actually, he's right where I hoped he'd be right now. He's not especially bright, but he's reliable, and very dedicated to his work. He's respectful to Dom and me, and constantly asks us questions and tells us about what he's learned.

I like teaching. It feels good to know that I have enough knowledge to actually help someone new. It feels like I've accomplished something in my own career.

Nonetheless, after several weeks of training, I am more convinced than ever that installing Troy as a DM would be a fucking disaster. He doesn't know nearly enough about the insurance business to run an office, not even a small one. He's too naive to deal with office politics, and we STILL have not seen how he reacts to a crisis.

But Dan Johnson's got it in his mind that his son is going to be a DM, and has somehow convinced himself that he can be trained on how to do the job, the way Dairy Queen employees are trained to make that little loop at the top of their ice cream cones.

It's lunacy. Training a DM from scratch is akin to training someone to be a head football coach with no prior experience: You can teach him how to use the headset, and how to send a play in to the quarterback, but how will he know which play to call? He has to LEARN that, and the only way to learn it is through experience.

Dan normally makes sensible decisions, but this is definitely not one of them. The only possible reason I can think of that he is pushing this so hard is that he wants to retire in a few years, and when he does, I think he wants Troy to take over for him. With some time as a DM under Troy's belt, Dan could go before the board of directors and brag about how his son has been groomed for the job.

Sure, the company would suffer with Troy running a division, but that's not why I oppose it. I don't LOVE my company. If it went belly-up tomorrow, I wouldn't bemoan the loss of a Great Organization Which Had Done So Much For The Community. The company is in the business of making money, plain and simple.

I love my job. I am fond of the people I work with. And of course, I like the money. If the company went out of business, I would mourn the loss of those things, but then I would go find another job and get on with my life.

No, my opposition to hiring Troy as a DM is much more selfish. I was never very keen on the idea of Troy running an office, but now that I am involved, and I've seen what he can and can't do, I'm more opposed to it than ever. He's going to fuck something up royally, and when he does, the problem might very well fall into my lap: "YOU trained him; didn't you cover this topic?" And just like that, my reputation takes a hit.

I'm also concerned that, now that I have taken Troy under my wing, he will believe he's got carte blanche to call me whenever he doesn't know what to do. I've barely got time to do my own job!

Dan is just like me: He loves to hear the words "It can't be done". Hearing that motivates him; it fills him with energy and steely resolve to find an answer. It gets the adrenaline pumping, and it moves the negative, uncreative people out of the way, so the work can be done.

If I were to call Dan and simply say that "Troy's not ready," he would respond with, "How do we GET him ready?" Phrasing it that way makes it seem too simple, and I would get a simple answer. What I need to do is give him the facts, and make him come to the desired conclusion on his own.

Friday, June 17, 2005, 11:00am
Steve's office

Troy has sat in with me for the first several hours of the day, as he always does. Before I turn him loose to his departmental training, I want to assess where we are.

"How's it going, Troy?"

"It's a lot to take in."

"Yes, it is. What's your favorite part so far?"

"Running the sales meetings."

I had a feeling he'd say this. The salespeople complimented him, which means he is just like they are: Smooth, glib, friendly, and very good at bullshitting.

Some years ago, a salesperson told me: "Salespeople aren't selling a product: They are selling attitude, enthusiasm, and confidence." I never forgot that. I think it's true: Really successful salespeople all have a way of acting like they're your best friend 30 seconds after they meet you. Yeah, I can see Troy fitting in with that group.

Troy's comment gives me an idea: I can have him focus on sales during his internship, maybe even go out on some sales calls, get a lot of experience in that area, and show how good he is at it. Then, I can go to Dan and suggest that Troy run the sales end of things for a while before getting promoted. It's not perfect, but at least it would buy time.

"So you like sales, huh?"

"Yeah, it's great. I like Ally better, though," he says with a sneer.

Ally is a case manager for our workers' comp division. She's maybe 24, with olive skin and dark eyes. Every guy in the office lusts after her. I suppose it's only right that Troy is with her, since just about every girl in the office thinks he is gorgeous.

"Bragging is bad form, though," I smile.

Unless, of course, you have an anonymous blog, in which case bragging is very cool.

"Let's go drinkin' tonight!" he says.