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Don’t Test Me, [Team Leader]

, , , , | Working | March 21, 2022

I am in middle management of a large industrial company. Recently, we’ve tried to become the main supplier for [Customer]. As there is a recession inside our field of operation, we really try to get this customer as it would solve an impending financial crisis. Going through the contracts, I notice a thing that, if left unaddressed, could cost a LOT of money in different penalties.

I notify the high management and organize a meeting where I explain everything. The problem can be solved by my department, but we need certain lists made by other teams as a foundation for our work. I highlight that it is crucial to have everything correct so the lists should be made by somebody with a lot of experience. The manager of the respective department informs me that this job will be completed by [Team Leader], a guy that has been part of the company for a long time.

Projects #1 and #2 are successful. Project #3 has a deadline on the thirty-first of December. As I am getting more and more familiar with the problem, I notice some weird irregularities in the lists. As the lists are made by [Team Leader], I decide not to dig into them. Project #3 is finished and ready to deploy.

It is now almost Christmas and the vast majority of employees are on vacation. I have to stay for a few more days, so I start to work on Project #4. When I open the lists, however, I notice a lot of weird things. With a strange feeling from Project #3, and as it is important that we secure [Customer] for our company, I decide to call [Team Leader] even though he is on vacation.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name]. I am really sorry to bother you on your vacation, but I found something strange with the lists you provided on Projects #3 and #4. Could you please explain a few things for me?”

Team Leader: *Quiet laughing* “You really use those? I was wondering if they are important or if they are just another corporate list that goes into a drawer never to be seen again, so I made bigger and bigger mistakes on each list to check if somebody noticed.”

Me: *Shocked* “What?! Do you realize that these lists are the foundation of the work of my department?! I need those lists correct, especially on Project #3!”

Team Leader: “Okay, okay. I will correct them when I return back to work.”

Me: “Project #3 has a deadline at the end of the year. I need them as soon as possible!”

Team Leader: “I am currently without access to the computer. There is no way I will be able to make them this year. It’s not like [Customer] will notice that something is not right.”

Realizing I was not going to make any progress with him, I quickly ended the call. I was able to make a few corrections to the list on Project #3 and fix a lot of mistakes that arose from incorrect foundations. Project #3 was modified and ready to be shipped.

The cost? I had to cancel my vacation and stay at work until December 29th — time that I would otherwise have spent with my family — just because [Team Leader] decided to test whether the lists were important. I left a few angry emails to his bosses with a description of what had happened. I think he will have a fun surprise when he returns from vacation.

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