NEW: John Addis

The new bloke wants a new chair, a Palm Pilot and a ‘study’ trip to the US. All I want is to sack the b*stard.

Catalogue of errors, part II

After arriving 10 minutes late on his first day, our new managing editor, and potential saviour of my business partner, managed to wildly upset our office manager.

You see, the poor luvy’s office chair wasn’t quite to his liking so he’d asked her for a new one. She directed him to Officeworks around the corner.

He left, found his new chair and paid for it using petty cash. On his return, he told the office manager that she could now return to where he had just been and bring it back for him. Jobs like that were, apparently, beneath him.

On his third day I received an email asking if I would mind buying him a Palm Pilot (yes, I bloody would). A few days after that he wanted to know if we’d cough-up for a study trip to the US. Of course, we said, new chairs, electronic gadgets, free trips, how else should one welcome an anointed saviour?

We wrote out the cheque, which, we later discovered, he banked in his personal account. He paid for the trip on plastic so he could get the frequent flyer points. The scale of his greed was surpassed only by our gullibility.

But even that couldn’t last. Eight weeks after the shiny new chair was wheeled back to its new home, Satan was gone. His termination occurred within the probation period, but a few weeks later we received a letter from his solicitors. It informed us that the mental anguish we had inflicted on this poor, defenceless soul warranted about $220,000 in damages. Pay up or be dragged through the courts was the message.

My business partner was crushed. The decision that offered him the chance of escape, to salvage some self-respect, had backfired badly. Our reputations among other staff had plummeted. How could we employ such a fool without being foolish ourselves? (They had a point.)

The analysts’ experience with the departed managing editor had been so bad that they had given up hope. In an act designed to inflict maximum damage, two resigned in the same week.

We couldn’t enforce one of them to work out his notice because my business partner hadn’t got them to sign an employment contract. The initial error of employing a bloke who’d asked for a signing-on fee had compounded many times over.

We were in disarray. The staff that had the bad sense to remain felt that they were working for a pair of well-meaning clowns. We published more than 10,000 words every two weeks but had only a drug-addled writer who fell asleep at his desk to do it.

And worst of all, the relationship with my partner had disintegrated. Had we the resources, we would have been talking through our lawyers. As it happened, we were barely talking at all.

Then two things happened, one tragic, one fortuitous. These events changed the business and are the subject of the next blog.


To read The catalogue of errors, part I, click here.


To read more John Addis blogs, click here.



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