IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

Walls? Check. Windows? Check. Did we forget something? Yes, but just feel the carpet


Who, Me? The weekend is over. Distract yourself with another tale of messenger termination in today's Register reader confession.

Our latest story of karma among the chaos comes from "Steve" (not his name), a newly minted IT manager in the early years of this century who had yet to realise that despite the apparent niceness of his new employer, knives were all too ready to be plunged into backs.

He was a month into his three-month probationary period and heard that a large storage area in the building was to be converted into offices and a meeting room for the Human Resources department. This was a sensible move since it meant that interviews could be conducted without randoms traipsing through supposedly secure areas.

Steve had overseen a $200k renovation at his last employer so when he passed the VP of HR in a corridor, he offered to help. He was, after all, up to speed on building codes and regulations. "No thanks," was the terse response. "We have it well in hand."

Steve's boss, upon learning of the encounter, shrugged it off. IT had more than enough to be getting on with, and our hero promptly forgot all about it.

Right up until a month passed and a ticket arrived requesting PCs, printers, and telephones to be installed in the new HR offices. Steve assigned it to a junior team member – how hard could plugging things in be? – and continued with his work.

The techie was not gone long before he reappeared (having lugged all the kit to the new office).

"He said there was an issue I had to see, but didn't elaborate," recalled Steve.

It was a lovely set of offices. No expense had been spared. There was frosted glass, lines of different shades on the walls, and a plush mosaic carpet. Heck even the usual ceiling tiles had been dispensed in favour of something hand-plastered. "It looked like they had done an amazing job," Steve told us.

So what was the problem?

"I turn to the tech and ask what the issue was," said Steve. "He hands me a network cable and asks me to plug it in. I look around to see no network plugs in either of the offices nor the meeting room.

"Then I realize there were no power plugs either. The walls were pristine. Another look at the ceiling revealed there were no sprinklers either (mandatory for office spaces by code)."

Steve found a copy of the blueprints in the corner of one of the new offices. The contractors had done their job properly. The designer had forgotten to include cable runs, power, sprinklers... oh dear. "I tucked the documents into my folio."

Unsurprisingly, the emails started flying soon after Steve handed the bad news to the higher-ups. He only saw the first hour or so before his name was dropped from the email chain. Well, it wasn't really his problem, was it?

Except it was. Come the following Monday, he arrived at work to find his security pass no longer worked. Instead, he was met at reception by the VP of HR who marched him into the plush new offices, sat him at the shiny new meeting table, and handed him a termination notice, saying "I had 'not met the required standards of the probation period.'"

Steve was promised a week's pay (the bare minimum) and expelled from the premises.

And that would have been that had it not been for a chance encounter a few weeks later when an unemployed Steve met the president of his former employer (with spouse) on a hiking trail.

"He smiled warmly (he was a decent chap who I respected)," recalled Steve, "and said he was sorry things didn't work out, but the expense of fixing the office screwup was too much to bear."

Eh? Steve pressed for details and learned that the VP of HR had laid the blame for the fiasco squarely on his shoulders. Steve told the president that he'd offered to help and been rebuffed. More importantly, he'd seen the plans. Plans that the VP had signed off two weeks before Steve had joined the company. Perhaps a look at those would be a good idea?

With a raised eyebrow the president said he'd look into the matter. Steve, with interviews to look forward to, was content to simply move on having said his piece.

However, two days later, he received a call from his previous employer. It was someone from the HR team, who told him to expect another month's pay in his account. She hung up before giving a Steve a reason.

And that VP of HR? He mysteriously left the company soon after.

"I ended up getting a new job a few months later and never looked back."

To err is human. To try and shift the blame elsewhere is a bit more common than we'd like. Ever used a subordinate as a human shield? Or found yourself in the firing line when it really wasn't your fault? Tell all with an email to Who, Me? ®

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