Anyone else know a work hoarder?

A “work hoarder”; someone who’s so in love with whatever little project they’re working on that no-one gets a look in or any idea what’s going on?

I have someone in the office like that. I used to work here as a student before taking a full time post and never have I had a busier day as a full time worker than when I was a student.

When I started worked full time I noticed I lost a few of the duties from the outgoing staff member, in order it seemed to prepare me for assisting someone in charge of the clerical work for a European education scheme. So far, I’ve had a few scraps of work, mostly I shuffle some paper, answer a few enquiries and then browse message boards. When she left on holidays I found no instructions, just a “good luck” before she left. I had to go to senior staff to get any idea what was going on and learned what to do basically from scratch.

Then I remembered this girl had mentioned wanting to keep as much of the work to herself as leverage in the office, both with the office manager and the deputy director of the office. I don’t want to go to the office manager and ask for work, the office manager being quite work shy and not someone who inspires confidence, but I’m getting bored here!

When it comes to my next appraisal at work, I don’t want to be left with nothing to say but “I’m a fully paid up member of the SDMB!”

What I hate (hate hate) are the work-hoarders who BITCH about their workloads. The ones who keep such a tight rein on whatever it is they see themselves as being in charge of, instead of pulling in the team (team, remember what team means?), giving everyone an understanding of what’s going on, and working together, that they are up to their eyeballs in menial tasks, and wail endlessly about it.

THOSE people drive me batty.

Ha! Exactly what she does! No matter how many times I ask her little if anything is sent my way. And she talks aloud about how her job is carried out by two staff members instead of one in other universities. Hey, I’m over here!

I think it may come from a time when she was temporarily promoted to a higher grade and didn’t get the pay she was owed from it in another office. Still, if she complains aloud she needn’t expect any sympathy from me :rolleyes:

I think it’s usually some attempt at self-martyrdom. They love to carry that cross around, because they think it makes them look so much better - “Look what I can get done, all by myself! I am the best thing that ever happened to this office, and you guys don’t appreciate me nearly enough.” And it’s also, to them, a built-in excuse for any failure “How could I possibly have been expected to get that done when I’ve got work coming out my ears?”

No sympathy for them whatsoever.

Uh no…I try to avoid extra work if I can.

You know, people like that woman are one of the reasons I like procedures so much.

I don’t like people who godify procedures, ok? You know,
she: “we have to do it that way even though it makes no sense, because the procedure says it’s got to be that way”
me: “ok, who can change the procedure?”
she: “no, no, it’s the procedure, it can’t be changed”
me: “ok, who is in charge of the department?”
she: “I am”
me: “ok, then you can update the procedure, so please do”
she: “no, no! The procedure can’t be changed!”
me: “I wonder… if I get the company’s president to tell you to change it, will you? Because I’m one of the ISO9000 specialists and I’ve never been bitten by a procedure I was updating”
she, sounding like she’s about to have a stroke: “oh my GAWD, no! We can’t change the procedure! It’s the PROCEDURE!!!”

Nope. Hate those. But the cool thing about good procedures is that they make training and 3am work SO much easier.

Change the she to he and you’re talking about me sometimes. :eek: Some of our procedures are state and federal edict and can’t be changed even though they make no sense whatsoever. See, I’m the rules/regs/policies/procedures sob here. When I can make the evil procedures better I do but some of the stuff just is cause it is and it ain’t no other way. Sigh

I have worked with a lot of people that try to keep their work and responsibilities a secret. I think it gives them some feeling of security, like no one can do my job because I never let anyone know what I am doing. The software industry was (is?) full of these types. They never document how anything works or how anything is pieced together.

I used to work with one particular software guy that would always answer my questions with, “Why do you need to know that?”. Man, that used to piss me off. I was tempted to say, “I need to know that so I can take over your job”. But I knew that would send him into a childish frenzy and he would never talk to me again.

Knowledge is power. If I know something you don’t know, it’s to my advantage, right? And if I’m the only one who knows it, I’m indispensible, right?

And you have no idea how much fun it is to be the supervisor of a knowledge hoarder. Especially when they have specialized professional knowledge that you will never have. And your mission, which you have chosen to accept, is to remove enough knowledge from this person that, if s/he is ever hit by a bus/up and leaves/insert alternate doomsday scenario here, your organization will have a clue about the rules behind the program this person has “administered” for the past 5 years. It’s taken 3 years, 2 additional employees and pliers (OK, maybe not the last), but we now have most of the program actually documented.

Can you tell this person annoys me?


I started my career, fresh out of college, with a company that announced a merger three weeks after my first day in the office. And it sucked for quite a while, because for the first 18ish months, I couldn’t get anyone to help me with ANYTHING. The paranoia factor was unbelevable. “If I tell you how X is accomplished, then I’m no longer the only one who knows how to to X, therefore I can be laid off.” Geez, people, I’m the new guy here, if anyone’s getting laid off, it’s going to be me, so what’s the problem?

Of course, it’s now almost 4 years later, I’m still there, and about 50% of my coworkers are gone, so maybe they did have a point…
Procedure Nazis annoy me to no end as well. “You fixed that bug already?” “Yes, I did. It was a trivial problem that took me 30 seconds to identify and fix” “But you didn’t present it to the Bug Review Committee.” “No, but it needed to be fixed right away in order to allow the testers to stay on schedule, the Bug Committee doesn’t meet until noon tomorrow, and I knew they would approve the fix anyway.” “Yes, but you have to follow procedure” “So you want me and 3 testers to sit on our butts for a day and a half doing nothing until your precious Committee has time to get around to talking about the problem?” “Yes, because that’s the process.”

Although the most annyoning guy in the office was the Hardware Nazi. The guy whose sole purpose in life was to wander around and confiscate any company hardware (laptops, routers, monitors, freaking $8 keyboards, etc) that wasn’t nailed down. I don’t remember how many times I had to tell him that, yes, I do need three laptops to do my job (one for current development, one for testing, one for production support). Grrr…

And a 5 year knowledge hoarder is nothing. I work with a guy who’s a 20 year knowledge hoarder. He has his code, and anyone who dares to even look at it shall be smitten (smote?). The sad thing is that I’m supposed to be his backup for the code in question, but I can’t even get him to answer simple questions.

I know the feeling, it took me ages to get any sort of guidelines together for dealing with work I was supposed to be the backup for :smack:

This happens to me a lot. I am supposed to cover for about three different people if they happen to be gone. Two of them will let me know what is going on before they leave. The third one, the one I taught how to do what she does, never says squat about what she’s got going on. I have to muddle through and do my best even though procedures (dreaded word) have since changed. I truly believe they get a feeling of security by doing that.

I have complete sympathy.


I also have a guess as to where it might be coming from, because I do the same thing. The thing is, I simply don’t trust anyone else to do it correctly and on time. If I hoard the work for myself, at least I have only myself to blame when it gets FUBARed. I’ve tried delegating, I really, really have, and it always, always, *always *comes back to bite me in the ass, since it’s my ass on the line with the boss if something doesn’t happen correctly. And then I have to work twice as hard to fix all the shit they’ve screwed up at the very last moment, and I never have time to do the job completely over, so the end result is me doing a mediocre rush job instead of a really good job.

The other reason is that it’s actually hard for me to articulate “my system” to other people. It works for me in my crazy brain to do things some pretty strange ways, but it’s hard for me to explain why, and I certainly don’t expect other people to get it. In fact, my experience is that mostly they don’t get it, and won’t get it, and will want to change the way I do things into a more inefficient but easier to explain system, and I hate that.

So maybe you can mention one or both of the reasons to your co-worker and see if they get a reaction. Then you know what you’re dealing with, she knows that you know, and maybe she’ll consider giving you a few more of her tasks. Just, for Og’s sake, please do them right AND on time and don’t make her life harder, or you’ll just feed the complex! :smiley:

A while back, I was taken aside by my manager an dthe vice-president of our division and told that I was going to be given another person tohelp with my workload; I’d be responsible for training them. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I said “Oh, but then I’ll lose my non-fireable status!” The two of them laughed long and loudly, and then the VP stopped laughing abruptly and said in a deadly serious tone, 'Everyone’s expendable, don’t kid yourself."

A thousand times – Amen!

I have a supervisor who can see the bright light of retirement at the end of the tunnel, and she’s not really trying any more. I wrote a step-by-step procedure for something but she said it was “too complicated” to follow. No, the project is complicated, but my procedure is very easy to follow. Nope, never mind. I don’t share anything any more. It’s too much bother if it gets screwed up. I’ll do it!

I think I’m a bit of a work hoarder.

There’s another guy here who does roughly the same thing I do. Technically, he’s my superior… but I’ve been told by most of the people in the office that my work is a lot better than his. When this project ships, it’s going to have his name on my work- and I can’t tolerate that. I’m going to need to use this project as a portfolio piece, and telling future interviewers that “Well, sure, he was the lead on the project, but I did all the effects” doesn’t sound near as good as, “I was the lead, and I did all of the effects in the game.”

I just can’t stand to see the game ship with his effects… so I’ve been hoarding everything I can get my mitts on. So far I haven’t overloaded myself.

[SUB]Scuttlebutt is that he’s quitting this week, so it may all be a moot point.[/SUB]

I worked with a hoarder. She was responsible for putting together the sales commission data, on a quarterly basis, for maybe 75 sales people. $200M business, and complex deals so this was no trivial task on top of her regular finance work. The rest of the department would rally behind her and stay late to help with whatever we could.

We were never given anything but the tiniest bits of work to do. I kid you not, I sat in my office, with nothing to do, until 3am one time. Another time, they assigned someone to be her official help. They worked for 3 straight days before completing the work. 3 full days, not going home, not showering, not sleeping, just eating takeout and working. There were about 10 other people in the department who would have stepped up and put in a weekend’s worth of work to get it done, but nobody but her knew how to do it.