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Rodney! Are You Working, or Are You Screwing Around?

June 20, 2013

I hate cubicles. Not for their unending sameness. Not because they tend to surpress individuality or anything like that. I hate them because most of them force you to sit with your back to the hallway. I hate to be startled by someone coming up behind me without me hearing them.

David Ladd, my first manager at Microsoft did it all.the.time. He’d suddenly appear over my shoulder and bark

Rodney! Are you working, or are you just screwing around!

The funny thing is, he was doing it for my own good. And to this day I appreciate it.

You may remember that Dave was the one who recruited me when WordPerfect was doing layoffs. He’s the one who saved a position for me when WordPerfect threatened legal action if I took the job before 6 months was up. I owed Dave a lot.

I also explained to Dave My Manager From Hell experience.

Look, it’s nothing about you, but just realize if you say, “Can I see you in my office” it’s going to freak me out a little. Just giving you fair warning.

Dave was a big guy. He tended to bellow at times. Other teams were a little bit afraid of him. But, what I learned from him is the “burnt marshmallow” management technique: hard and crusty on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. Dave was one of the most loyal managers I’d ever been around. He explained my job and then left me alone to do it.

Except when he was practicing his own brand of “management desensitization” therapy on me.

It took me nearly three months to realize that in Dave’s mind there was not a wrong answer to that question.

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