“What do you mean he doesn’t know how to do that?” I ask.

“He just doesn’t. Matt had to show him. Twice.”

“Twice? Well, we’ll have to show him a third, fourth, and fifth time then, too.”

“Don’t we have written procedures for these things?”

“We all know how to do this stuff. We’ve all known for years. We hire folks that know this stuff. I guess there’s just been little need for these basic procedures.”

“How do you know everybody does it the same way? What if I had to do it in an emergency?” It’s fun to hear my own questions being asked by others.

“In this case there’s only one way to do it successfully. Plus you don’t even have logins to the machines to do stuff, because that’s our job. In an emergency you always find us. Actually, the NOC finds us, and you keep sleeping.” I grin.

“So are you going to write a procedure for this?” I get the feeling he isn’t asking me.

“I’m still thinking ‘no.’ What else doesn’t he know? Should we take a week and systematically map everything he doesn’t know, and then spend the next year writing it all up? Why don’t we send him to training instead?”

“Training is expensive, and it’s not in the budget.”

“Following this guy around to babysit him is expensive, because we’re not getting anything done. Paying someone to document and maintain tons of procedures is expensive. At some point we still might want to think about what we aren’t writing down, but that isn’t the issue here. How does all this compare with a couple grand to send him to training?”

“Well, that couple grand isn’t budgeted for. Your time is.”

“Yeah, but you’re expecting my time to be spent being productive. You’re already concerned that we’re falling behind, and it isn’t going to get any better. It’d be cheaper to assign him to sit at his desk quietly for 8 hours a day and surf the web than to have him try doing work.”

“Why didn’t you say something before this?” Maybe this conversation wasn’t actually about how I suck at writing documentation…

“I didn’t have any evidence that this guy doesn’t really know anything, and gut feelings just don’t make great cases around here. I also don’t know why he got transferred to us, so if I say something I’ll probably just find out he’s the CEO’s cousin or something. Then I’ll look like an ass, and be assigned to babysit him anyhow. At least this way I skip the ‘looking like an ass’ part.”

“Yeah,” he said, obviously thinking about something. “Okay, thanks, you’ve given me what I need.”

A week later he was transferred, never to be seen by us again.

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