BUMBLERS, BIMBOS, AND BUFFOONS©
Perhaps every manager's worst nightmare is to make a careless error that results in a disastrous mistake. Professionals work hard to avoid these terrors by maintaining a constant vigil against severe errors in judgment. Occasionally they fail at their mission and face the dragon of their own human imperfections. Then there are those charming, good-natured souls who lack common sense. Errors in judgment and foul-ups are second nature to them. Although these employees may be able to sneak through a job interview by overcompensating with delightful interpersonal skills, their day-to-day job performance always reveals the truth.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE©
Ted sat back in his chair and smiled. Finding the right individual to manage the Research Department required a person with scientific knowledge as well as leadership skills. The whole interview process was both arduous and draining. This morning, however, Ted felt as though the fog had lifted. He finally made his decision. The ideal candidate emerged after screening over one hundred applications and interviewing nearly fifteen candidates. It was during the fourth interview that Ted knew it. Within the first few minutes, Ted knew Mark was perfect for the job. Ted was ready to offer Mark the job on the spot, but he dutifully interviewed the remaining candidates to keep himself honest. In the end, Mark was his man. There was no doubt about it. Not only were Mark's references sterling, but he also outdistanced all the other candidates so dramatically that Ted didn't even have a backup for consideration. He secretly prayed Mark would accept as he called to make the offer.
"Research, Mark speaking," the voice responded, somewhat hoarsely.
"Mark, this is Ted Fenton calling. Are you okay? You sound terrible."
"Oh, I'm much better than I sound. It's just a cold. I'm sure I'll have my regular voice back in a few days."
"Are you still interested in the position with us?" Ted asked, tapping his pen nervously on his desk.
"You bet!" Mark responded enthusiastically.
"Great! We'd like to offer the position at $54,000. You can take the weekend to think about it if you'd like, but I'd appreciate your getting back to me on Monday with your decision and let us know what . . ."
"I don't need the weekend," Mark interrupted. "The answer is yes. I can start in two weeks. I'll give notice today if you'll fax me a confirmation letter with the particulars. We have a fax in our department, and everyone is out to lunch until 1:30. Can you get your secretary to do it within the hour?"
"Sure, no problem," Ted responded, thrilled that he'd have this thing wrapped up before the weekend.
"Great," Mark said. "Today is Friday the fifth, so I guess I'll see you Monday the twenty-second."
"Terrific," Ted said. "Report to the Human Resources Department, and someone will bring you up to my office. I'll see you then."
"Boy, am I glad this is over with," Ted thought as he walked over to his secretary's desk with Mark's file. He told her to send the standard offer letter and handed her a slip with the annual salary and start date.
"It will be so great to have Mark heading the department. I can't wait until he gets here," Ted said over his shoulder as he returned to his office and relaxed behind his desk. After a moment, he stood up, scooped up the stack of resumes and applications littering his desk, and triumphantly dropped them in the trash.
Two weeks later, Joan Cutter, the human resources manager, arrived at Ted's office with Mark. Ted's secretary was away from her desk, so Joan tapped lightly on Ted's door. Ted looked up at Joan and then at the gentlemen who stood beside her. A puzzled look crossed his face.
Joan recognized that something was awry, but she began anyway. "Ted, I've brought Mark Simmons up for his orientation. How would you like to get started?"
Ted coughed nervously and extended his hand. "Mark . . . welcome aboard. We're . . . uh . . . so glad to have you," he stuttered. "Mark . . . uh . . . uhm . . . could you excuse us a moment, please? I'll be with you shortly. We've got a slight crisis on our hands with . . . uh . . . um . . . one of our government contractors. I'm sure I won't be long," Ted said as he ushered Mark out of his office to a waiting area across the hall.
Ted sped back to his office and closed the door. Still gripping the door handle, he slumped against the door and started to grow pale.
"What is it, Ted?" Joan asked with sincere concern. "Are you ill?"
"Christ, Joan, this isn't the guy I hired. I hired a different person. I know this fellow's name is Mark, but he's not the guy I wanted. How the hell did this happen?"
Ted was starting to develop visible drops of perspiration above his lip as Joan responded. "Our paperwork indicated you hired Mark Simmons. This is Mark Simmons. Here's a copy of the offer letter and his file."
Ted looked at the file, flipping through the application and resume. The papers rattled in his quaking hands. Then Ted's whole body began to shake. He started to pace and let out a howl as he knocked his knee on an arm chair. He raced to his desk and started fumbling through his papers. Then he remembered he had thrown out all the resumes. He looked at Mark Simmons' file again and began to put the pieces together. The sudden realization caused him to slide slowly and limply into his desk chair. "How could I have been so stupid?" First he looked befuddled and distraught, then his demeanor assumed a catatonic quality.
Joan was really growing concerned. She stared at him awkwardly and finally broke the silence.
"Look, Ted, could you be a little more specific? I'll see what I can do to help you."
"There's nothing you can do. I screwed up. I just plumb screwed up. I don't know how I'm going to deal with this."
To find out if how he resolved this, read Part 2
Excerpted from Outrageous Conduct: Bizarre Behavior at Work©
Ps – Every wonder why we people celebrate Cinco de Mayo ?