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Sometimes You CAN’T Fake It ‘Til You Make It

, , , , | Working | July 8, 2021

Several years ago, I worked in the most toxic environment I’ve ever experienced. It was one of those workplaces where you’re either with the in-crowd or you’re nobody. My role was unique in that for the longest time I was excluded from that circus due to my role being audit-related.

[Coworker] was totally “in,” beloved by the in-crowd, could do no wrong, and was hailed as amazing, but in reality was completely false and useless. She was a senior manager with a lot of power. I’d had a few causes for concern, but nothing too significant.

Then, one day, I let her know she had an external audit approaching for her area. I used a checklist for external audits to ensure the department was fully prepared, but it turned out they were less than prepared; they’d not done a single thing they were supposed to be doing for quality assurance. After a bit of a panic, I managed to work out a way for me to do their internal audit without too much conflict of interest; my role is supposed to exist in somewhat of a bubble, kind of like auditing the internal auditors.

To start, I needed to get their product blueprints so that I could measure outcomes against the intended product. I asked [Coworker], who gave me a completely blank look.

Coworker: “What’s a blueprint?” 

Me: “Erm, the instruction manual if you like, the description of what it is you’re supposed to be making.”

Coworker: “…”

Me: “So, you’re making the product, and to make the product and tell others about the product, you need the plan of what the product is supposed to be, the measurements, the material needed, and the intended purpose of the product.”

Coworker: “Oh, erm, yeah, so I couldn’t actually find one.”

Me: “Did you ask for one from the client?”

Coworker: “No, I didn’t know to do that. I just found a poster advertising the product and used that. Why? Is that a problem?”

Me: “So… you used a picture of the product and made it up from there? How do you know it’s right? How do you know it will function?”

Coworker: “Well, because it looks pretty.”

Yes, folks, she’d legit been making it up for over a year, and because of the nature of the work, no one knew. 

I had no choice but to take it to the chief operating officer because this type of thing is not only malpractice in our field, but it could have serious consequences. But, of course, the big boss didn’t believe for one second that her amazing [Coworker] would do that; she’s too amazing. She teaches others how to manufacture using this exact process. 

So, [Big Boss] went through the exact same process I did and, of course, realised I was right. So, what could [Big Boss] do apart from immediately suspending [Coworker]? Well, knowing [Coworker] couldn’t stay in that role, she created a new job just for her using my exact job description, earning double my salary, to be my new boss.

When I challenged this and pointed out that, under our employment law, I was entitled to that promotion because it was my exact job description, [Big Boss] panicked and basically admitted that she needed me to continue doing all the work I was doing. [Coworker] would simply “oversee.” (Read: take credit and have a cushy job where she never had to actually do any work.)

I left with a very nice payoff. Of course, it all imploded because [Coworker] had absolutely no clue what she was doing and it couldn’t be hidden from the external audits. Last I heard, she is working a basic job with a basic salary in a completely unrelated field.

I am beyond happy to be out of that place, and as far as I know, not a single person I worked with is still there… because [Big Boss] got fired, too, by the board. 


This story is part of our Best Of July 2021 roundup! his is the last story in this roundup, but if you’d like to read more of our favorite stories, you can always check out June’s roundup next!

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