“You, sir, are an idiot” was first said by Krusty the Klown in episode 9 of Season 15 of The Simpsons, entitled “The Last Temptation of the Krust.” It originally aired February 22nd, 1998. Yay, random fact of the day for you!
Today I want to explore the world of working with an idiot. I think we all have someone in mind that this applies to. We all have that one person that we just really do not want to walk into our office, start talking to you in the elevator or inviting themselves to come along for lunch. For whatever reason, you just don’t mesh with them. Their voices may grate on your nerves, they may always seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, they may be the person that loves beating the dead horse, or any other number of reasons.
Here is my idiot. He is of the dead horse beating variety, with a large splash of pessimist for flavor. Whenever he is in a meeting with me, I know that instead of trying to find a solution, we will be required to rehash every historical failure (in minute detail) and assign blame (to people usually long gone). Until that is finished, we cannot move onto new possibilities. Then he will start assigning blame for when these new ideas will invariably fail. It is truly a soul crushing experience.
I have tried to head him off “Today we will not speak of what has gone before” all to no avail. He will interrupt conversations to indicate we missed rehashing the history! Unfortunately, this person does not report to me, and yes, I’ve spoken to his supervisor about him. The response? “You know, understanding the past can only help you make better decisions in the future.” Yes. True, but anything over once (maybe twice) is dead horse beating.
Ah, to be able to utter those words that Krusty utters…. But I do kind of like my job, so I can’t. Nor can I name my idiot here. However, if you are reading this, it’s not you. I needed to find a solution and here is what I have taken to doing. And you know what? It’s working!!!
Prior to any meeting that I am having, where I know this person will be involved, I put together a very specific agenda WITH A TIMELINE. I indicate that I am going to be very strict about keeping on time and that if anyone wishes to add any topic to the timeline, to advance me those topics in writing prior to the meeting. This way I can, right up front, indicate if we will speak to that topic and exactly how long. This has all but eliminated the dead horse beating.
If the meeting starts getting off track, I can immediately stop it and redirect it by invoking the agenda. Once, he asked to have the topic discussed after all topics on the agenda were covered. I indicated this was fine and that anyone that wished to cover that topic was welcome to stay. Out of 12 people at the meeting, only he stayed. I looked at him, told him I already knew the history, and we closed the meeting.
How do you handle your idiot? What kind of idiot do you have? Leave me a comment and maybe our community can help ease your burden.