So here’s another story for you.
Those regular readers will recall some weeks ago that I came to an agreement with a Melbourne IT company to do some work with them. In basic terms I was to become their consulting arm, subject to a performance and psyche assessment.
I duly sat down and did the assessment and sent it off. Pretty routine you would think, except it wasn’t.
I was due to begin work on the Monday. On the Wednesday before I got a call from the CEO. Right from the first I knew something was amiss. His voice was held in, as if he was embarrassed by what he had to say, but the first words out of his mouth were fine. He said, “as we anticipated, you flew through the performance aspects of your assessment. You show a great ability to work through problems and find solutions.”
That was good, but I knew something was coming. “Unfortunately,” he went on, “we’ve been advised that you shouldn’t be brought into the office to work.” He continued, a sheepish murmur trying to explain this quite extraordinary statement. His explanation was unconvincing and vague, as if he didn’t really understand it himself but was following through on what he had been told to do. He seemed to suggest that the problem was not me, but rather the ‘special’ (his word) people who work in the office already. I wouldn’t fit in because they’re a bunch of introverts who do well when given work to proceed with, but can’t manage change.
I was flabbergasted, and a bit pissed off. The explanation didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and I made the point that perhaps he should be looking to change the make-up of the team if he really intends to go down this path. He agreed, but clearly didn’t intend to do anything about it. He rang off telling me that the assessor would be in contact with me to fully explain my results.
I felt as near as devastated as I have for a long time. Part of me fell away inside. It seemed almost comical, how everything inevitably turns to shit. What hope have I got? I was in despair.
At the same time I felt a combination of frustration at the vague answers I’d received, and some mild to moderate alarm at the implications of it. In the absence of any real detail your mind runs away with you. I could hardly credit it, but what did the psyche test reveal? That I was a psychopath? A sociopath? I wondered what could be so scary about me that I can’t be allowed to work there. I wondered if there had been some mistake. Had my results been swapped with someone else?
I received no call from the assessor. I was itching to know. I felt completely unresolved. I contacted the company reminding them. They reassured me. I contacted them again a few days later, and got the phone number of the guy. I sent a message, then called. Nothing. Finally a week and a half later – Monday – I got a call from him. What he had to tell me was very interesting.
For a start he said I did extraordinarily well in the abilities section. In his words I could “do anything”. I had an almost perfect score in the verbal, a very high score in the cognitive, and a high score in the abstract (though disappointingly lower than I have done previously). Part of me was unsurprised. I’ve always done well in these tests – I once had my IQ rated at 161. At the same time it was reassuring too. I’m older now. It’s nice to know I’ve still got it.
Then it came to the psyche stuff. I drew a deep breath. Waiting for him to call me I had become hostile to this character who had not only ruled me out of the job I wanted, but now refused to explain himself to me. As so often in those circumstances the reality of talking to him was much different. He was a softly spoken older man, very generous and receptive. I liked him; later we would chat about the science of the tests for a several minutes.
So in his slightly quavering voice he began to go through my psyche results. To my relief, and perhaps surprise, there was nothing out of order. He made comment that I am very creative and ‘inventive’, that I’m dynamic and curious and love to learn. So far, so good. Then he said in my results I was revealed as someone who doesn’t care too much about what other people think of me or my ideas. There’s nothing wrong in that, except that it might mean that I don’t take the time to persuade and influence people. I accepted that, and in fact it’s consistent in ways with what I know – basically I’m too independent. He said I’m not the type to push myself forward or advertise myself – very true, my work speaks for itself – and have no time for office politics. Basically, he said, you’re a non-conformist (and proudly so).
And that was pretty well it. He said I was the sort of person any organisation would like working for them.
“But…?” I said.
“Yes, but,” he said, and I could hear a smile in his voice, “not this one.”
He paused. “I have to be careful with what I say,” he said. Then he told me that basically the problem was not me with the staff but me with the owners. He said it was just about the strangest place he had ever done work for. On the one hand there is the CEO, an entrepreneurial type who has ideas by the score, but has problems executing them. In his words, they last a couple of hours until the next idea comes along. He made him sound a bit flighty.
Then then there was his wife, who managed the company along side him. She was completely different. She was process driven, and became immensely frustrated with her husband’s flights of fancy, and his inability to stick to a plan. They had raging arguments I was told, which generally she wins.
And so I was rejected not because of any flaws in my make-up, but because I would upset the balance of power. I was seen to be closer to the CEO because I was creative and entrepreneurial, though in my heart I was sympathetic to the wife. I pointed out that I had the reputation for getting things done. I would join the argument, tipping it one way or another, and in turn become frustrated myself. I understood, and felt both grateful and relieved – though pissed off to. What fucking bad luck to pick the one company out of ten this might be a problem!
As it turns out the CEO was vague with me because he did not know the full story. He’d not been told for fear of insulting him. The wife knew though, and so I contacted her after to say, all good.
Back to square one for me though.