One of the biggest complaints I hear from fellow engineers is that of feature creep. For those of you who don’t know, feature creep is the process where others in your project team, or management, get a great idea that they think would be good in your project. They then proceed to tell the engineer that this feature is critical and needs to be implemented in the system, and then, “how long will it take?”
This post is not devoted to feature creep though. Its focusing around deceitful and underhanded behavior in trying to coax something out of another person. It is also about a coworker of mine who came into my office and began to explain how a desired feature was requested by one of the team. He informed them that he couldn’t do it in the time he had already allotted, so if she wanted the feature put in, she needed to move the deadline back by a few days to accommodate the development time. To her, that was not a satisfactory answer, and so she spoke to another in the design team… who then went back to the engineer and asked for the same thing. Yes, he got the same answer.
One would think that it should have ended there, but in fact, the idea originator went to my coworker’s boss’ boss to tell him of the virtues of the addition to the project. The boss said that it was a great idea, and that there shouldn’t be any reason why it couldn’t be done. Then he asked the engineer and received the same response as the other two: if you want this done, I need more time!
There are two sides to the story, obviously, and the person requesting the addition had a legitimate right to ask for it to be completed, however, once she received a negative response, her request to the boss should have been via email to the entire team. There are two reasons for this. One, everyone in the team can now see the idea, the response, and the entire timeline of the discussion from start to finish (that’s GOOD). Two, how would you feel if someone went above your boss, to his boss (apparently in secret) to try to gain an affirmative answer.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer that adults behave like adults and not like 10 year old children who have just figured out that if they ask daddy they get a no, but then they can ask mommy and get another answer!
Here are a few tips for you engineers out there:
- Stick to your guns. I admire integrity and having the (pardon the expression) cojones to stick to your guns throughout a process.
- If you find out that this type of conniving behavior is happening, first thing to do is to take some time to speak to your boss in person to discuss the problem and your resolution.
- Once you’re sure that some action has been taken, take it upon YOURSELF to begin the email chain with all that you know of the history to now and send it to everyone involved. You may just find that not everyone involved knows that this is an underhanded deceit. That knowledge may very well change their mind.
Have you experienced any underhanded or deceitful behavior in your job? Tell me about it in the comments!