Thursday, January 03, 2008

Calls and Emails

"When are you coming back?" "I am leaving now because you did. I will go back when you do." "I want to go with you to the next one." All this makes me feel really good about my abilities as a leader in a tough area but at the same time makes me feel guilty. I worked for a retired Marine O-6 who was one of the best leaders I have ever met. He told me, "Never take a group of followers with you to a new project unless it is a start up."
He is right. I remember when Hurricane Gonzalez (I changed the name so he can't sue me) came though Taji. That is what we called it; Hurricane Gonzalez. It was pure Hurricane management. Come in, flatten everything, and build from scratch.
I was the Camp Manager and Taji was so damn big that it was decided by the powers that be that it needed to be a stand alone project. The place had four full brigades at the time and the ADCS of the 1st Cavalry Division too. I had been handling this all alone with only my support staff and had been raped on the supply end by the materials department in Baghdad. We had survived despite our senior management, not because of it.
Gonzalez was an HR Manager turned Project Manager and he is a straight up hatchet man. He was in Bosnia too. They announced he would be the Project Manager and that I would be his Operations Manager (S-3). He brought a posse of people and he made a lot of promises that he promptly broke. He went on a witch hunt and ruined the careers of two of the finest people I had under me. He went after the Project Controls Manager because he had shredded a copy of a training cost report. He went after the LNO (Liaison Officer) because he was nice to a fat girl craving attention and Gonzalez called it Sexual Harassment. It was no such thing. She was flirty and just wanted some attention. The LNO was nice to her and told her he would take her to the cinema on post one night. His only mistake was he did this by email. She cried foul and it cost him his career. I have never trusted the Desert Queens and she was definitely one of them at that point. I'll cover the theory of Desert Queens in another post.
The cost report was a very minor issue and neither of these people deserved for him to do what he did. Gonzalez simply wanted to place his personnel in those positions and he did. He did every demeaning thing he could to me in an attempt to get me to quit. I didn't. I just put my head down and concentrated on developing the finest 3 shop in the theater and that I did.
When I was promoted out of there 1 year later I had developed this shop to a point where 6 of my 8 personnel were all promoted to senior positions in other locations. I am still proud of that. Mark, Jeff, Bruce, Mario, Joe, and David all went on to bigger roles and all did very well. I am proud of those six. The personnel that Gonzalez put in place all atrophied out within six months each. Without their sponsor in place they could not survive and each one either quit or was fired. The beauty is that they were fired by the same O-6 I referred to in the first paragraph. Them being crammed into positions caused so much animosity from the others that no matter how good they were, they never could overcome the stigmata of having been jammed in by Gonzalez. They were never trusted by the rest and it caused ripple effects that are still felt today in Taji.
If I go back...............strange I even consider that too. If I go back it will be with another company. If I go back it will be in a start up capacity too. Head Hunters are already contacting me and making me offers. It is hard to say no. If I get a good enough offer I will consider. Some of the fat cat offers pay enough that with one more year I can sit very, very well and not have to worry about bills ever again. I'll keep you posted but rest assured that I will not be taking a posse. That to me is a recipe for disaster.

2 Comments:

Blogger Katie said...

Hey James,
Very interesting to read about what has gone on for you over there. Thanks for sharing with all of us. Sounds as though you have a ton on your plate. Enjoy your time at home playing with Tman and hanging with your wife. As you know all to well time goes very quickly. Im glad you are able to be with them and enjoy them and be a part of their day to day lives again. Take care of eachother and thanks for keeping up your blog, I know I have looked forward to reading it. "talk" to you soon and know everyone at our house sends there love to your house.
Katie and the crew

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Fritz said...

And if you thought that treatment was bad, wait until the new wave of management on both sides of the contract get in place. As long as things are improving as they seem to be with the "surge" those jackasses that want all the glory on their resumes will be climbing over each other to get there. And once they are their they would get real nasty with someone with your history on the ground their. I knew you were not treated fairly (at least by my standards) but what you would go through from this point on would have been worse than anything you had experienced todate. It was a good time to come home. These headhunters will appreciate your abilities more than Gonzalas or his bosses ever did. Whatever you decide to do, all the best to you.

4:00 AM  

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