At What Point Is It Insubordination?


During the long weekend of work a couple weeks ago, there were just a few things here and there happening that seemed to point to this:

I seem to pick up on subtle things sometimes that until it comes together that I’m not 100% sure of what is going on. During that weekend, communication was weird. People were regressing back to 18 months ago when I started. And there seemed to be some weird games happening – games I like to call "why the fuck are you working 20 hour days when your part yesterday was only 3 hours?" I wasn’t 100% sure what was happening to be honest. I seemed to be, with certain people, fighting a rebelling against the plan we all created many weeks before. I came away happy things went well, but left wondering what the fuck was going on that I wasn’t seeing?

And then "BOOM" – the shit storm happened. And it came up fast. Maybe it was more of ….

a shitsunami. Yeah, I think shitstorm is too nice of a framing.

And the blame was shifting everywhere. It was my fault because I haven’t been empowering enough. It is the CIO’s fault because he isn’t being clear. And some of my team has been left scratching their heads going, "So when have things started sucking around here because I’ve been pretty happy?"

What I have learned as the shitstorm seemed to grow into the shitsunami is that about 15 days ago, someone who has very limited direct and day-to-day interaction with the team decided things were horrible for the department. So horrible that he could no longer remain silent, so he drafted a "why the new leadership is wrong" manifesto to send to the CEO of the company. Before sending it, he sent a copy to, what I’m assuming now, is a few different members of my team to add in their two cents. One guy, who is deeply embedded in the new leadership team now, claims to have disagreed with the author of the manifesto and provided him feedback to that nature. This interaction is now what I believe to be the trigger point to when the shitstorm, instead of dying out completely, got a resurgence of shit to grow back into a full-blown shitstorm.

The shit-stirrer with his manifesto supposedly missed the point of the feedback he received and thought, "Yeah, this too!" and added in into the manifesto like they were in agreement. Then he sent it on to the CEO and a few others in the leadership team. You know, to help.

This blew up into a "we must meet with Emmy’s team immediately to get to the bottom of this!" So, the CEO’s right-hand man who is also our CIO’s boss scheduled a meeting with the team to hear them out while at the same time making sure they understood what he is expecting for team objectives. What this guy said was dead-on and completely aligned with all we are trying to do. But the noise from the shitstorm was loud because it seemed to drowned out his message. One thing that did emerge was that half of my team feels this way while the other half is going, "yeah, that totally makes sense – we support that direction." During the meeting though, two guys said nothing while the guy who contributed to the above mentioned manifesto (even though he claims he did not) spoke for all of them and every one. It was weird and skewed and annoying.

It should be mentioned that before going into this meeting, I was asked to touch base with each member of my team to make sure they understand why this meeting was happening. I had one guy point-blank lie to me. I knew that he had already asked about this meeting as he had asked my boss during another meeting. When I asked if he knew about the meeting, his entire body language and all changed. Even his tone of voice when he said, "nope, I don’t know" was different. I gave him my answer, he said he had no questions, so I sent him on his way while shaking my head at all of the full-on bullshit this is now bringing into the relationships with me and my team.

The shitstorm continued to go last week into the full-on shitsunami with other events ramping up the intensity to that level. Yesterday, my boss was done. Over the weekend, he decided he was doing shit his way from here on – and not letting anyone outside of his leadership team do anything to derail things. He was no longer entertaining those feeding the shitsunami. Sadly, it was being upgraded from a category 2 to a category 4 thanks to the continued feeding of bullshit into the storm by others.

Yesterday, the guy who I believe is more at the center of this than the one who wrote the manifesto gave me an update on what he has done. Basically upon finding out that my boss wasn’t going to keep me out of it anymore (because, fuck – this shitsunami had grown so large that everyone is getting hit by it now), so this guy decided he better make sure I hear his story straight from the horses mouth. Or bull’s mouth (versus his ass which is what seems to be happening).

As he is rapidly telling me his story and why he is right and what they need, saying things like, "Until we have a meeting with the entire department where the CEO says unequivocally that we can follow the new direction you and the CIO have set, we will continue to operate under the other way of doing things." And during the rant where I keep hearing over and over again things that are in direct defiance to all leadership in IT, it popped into my head: "Why aren’t we using the word ‘insubordination’?" I mean, he is openly saying that he and at least four others are acting in an insubordinate manner. While he thinks they are being loyal to the CEO (who is also the owner of this large company), they are acting in a way that is going to kill the company. And while they all openly admit that without course correction that the company will go off of a cliff, they do not see their role in ensuring that happens because they are being insubordinate.

After I was "brought up to speed" on events, events I already was aware of in one way or another, I asked my boss this question and even followed it with, "have you used this word in your meetings with your boss as well as with the CEO – insubordination? Because they have to understand that is what this shit has driven." He said he had and that this stuff was "tricky" due to the players involved.

Last night, the bulk of his managers met until late. We were sort of having a venting / sharing meeting as we have been piecing the trail of this storm together. At one point, because people kept walking in on us (for no reason other than they were trying to figure out what we were talking about), I shut the door to my development area. I figured that would give them lots to talk about but fuck it. The last two seeks they have been playing so many games in the open that I don’t care anymore. We have the right to have a private conversation. They are going to conclude whatever they are going to conclude. At this point, I feel like maybe some suspicion and fear in the ranks is good. What can I say, we have all been reading up on Machiavelli as of late.

Because if someone asked me what would make all of this stop? I would give them the name of the 2, possibly, 3 people they need to fire. All of them are the ones "trying to help" but causing so much bullshit that we can’t do our jobs. If they were gone, I think things would change for the better. Sad that it has come to this – but that is where we are at.

Because I am sick of feeling like this:

What do you think?

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