Yesterday I went to a retirement office party. Nothing special – cake, bad punch, obligatory cane with tassel and horn. The party was for a guy named Mike. Here was my exact conversation with Mike’s boss, a friend of mind:
Me: “What does Mike do?” (Me making small talk)
My Buddy: “I don’t know.” (only half kidding)
Me: “Are you going to replace him?” (me trying to drum up business)
My Buddy: “Probably not.”
Me: “How long has he worked here?”
My Buddy: “33 years”
Me: “33 years and you don’t need to replace him?”
My Buddy: “We had an intern last summer who did his job while he took an extended vacation to Europe – and did it better.”
Me: “How much do you pay him?
My Buddy: “$53K”
Me: “Seriously – what does he do?!” (me now getting annoyed at all of this)
My Buddy: “Mike got hired 33 years ago because his uncle was the General Manager. He hired Mike as a favor to Mike’s Mom. Mike is suppose to handle client problems.”
Me: “How does he do?”
My Buddy: “We don’t have client problems – ever. Our Account Managers take care of any problems that crop up, which are normally very minimal. Mike is the next level in case those don’t get resolved. I can’t remember the last time Mike had an actual conversation with a client.”
Me: “Do you realize you’ve paid Mike over a Million Dollars in his career here!”
My Buddy: “Yeah – I consider it the most expensive hire we ever made.”
Do you have a Mike working for you?
I’m not sure what to make of this story. How long has Tim’s buddy been Mike’s boss? What did Mike do prior to that? Something tells me there’s much, much more to this story.
Even if you buy into this story at 100% face value, why would Tim’s buddy/Mike’s boss go out of his way to privately disparage the guy at his retirement party? Not cool. Again, more to the story…?
Everyone in HR knows someone like this, right?
The truth of the matter is that lots of work isn’t all that value added, though. With a guy like this I wonder if maybe he stayed around as long as he did because he added some critical component to the office culture that made him worth his salary (or at least part of it).
Good post, Tim.