“… and don’t forget that the output may only be correct if you cross reference the configurations”, Elton said in a tight voice, yet again interrupting Hilda mid-sentence. Johannes chimed in with a further comment. Hilda just grimaced slightly while looking at the podium. There were around 30 people in the room around me but I suspected that I wasn’t the only one who saw an undercurrent in the relationship between the presenters.
The presentation was intended as training for SW developers provided by our group. The three presenters, Johannes, Hilda and Elton, have been recently nominated as experts on the same topic. Johannes is the most experienced and has been involved in the original development. He’s normally very helpful but likes to work in an unstructured way. Hilda is clever and has picked up a remarkable amount of detail in a year or so of development. Unfortunately, she’s also not very pro-active. She demurs to Johannes on most all topics but probably more out of practicality than respect, and I can sense a lot of frustration building up underneath.
Elton is the upstart. He’s from a different group, younger than either of the other two. He’s also a foreigner but with pretty good language ability. He upset Johannes straight away by insisting on giving some structure to the overall area and trying to decide on priorities. He can also be prickly and his priorities are sometimes confused. Giving demonstrations he also seems to fall into the trap of presuming the explanation is clear because he understands it instead of thinking about how a beginner would understand it. All this adds up to a slight imbalance in his effectiveness but he actually shows more potential than Johannes in the long run if he gains more experience.
The end result is that the three engineers are competing for the same topic and against each other.
Today is the culmination of delicate negotiation. They agreed to share presentation of the latest training. Johannes mentioned to me that he has no time for Elton, Hilda told me that Johannes rewrote the material on the Sunday night before the training. Elton forced the usage of a particular tool in the presentation content. In total, it sounded more like the Mexican stand-off in reservoir dogs than a reasoned negotiation between professionals.
Part of this is the politics of the role. For engineers, who want to advance, there is a path to the dark side via management, or the possibility of promotion via an “Expert” rating. The organisation has been changed around a few times in the last few months so this particular death-match was not intended.
The training course started to run aground when Johannes started to correct the other two presenters mid-sentence. Not to be out-done, Elton returned the favour.
The end-result is Johannes is full of testosterone and quite cranky. Problem: I have to work with him on my current task and he’s like a demon….