Yeah, he had been deliberating on the issue with his older partner and me for quite some already. Mr Designer's performance was going down rapidly and there was no other solution apart from removing him from their business. He had to delay it several times due to crucial unfinished tasks. At 9.00pm just now, he finally completed the only pending project for their other main client. His partner decided to risk it and not wait for my company's last item to be done. Mr Designer is going off for a 2-week holiday with his family on 25 Dec, so he wanted to settle everything before then. Hence, it was time to drop the bomb.
He warned me about it. I was glad that I managed to treat Mr Designer to a nice steak dinner last night. I wanted to cheer him up prior to him getting the earth-shattering news. Despite having rushed from their supplier and having to wake up again at 3.00am to finish an urgent job, he seemed happy. He listened to everything I said with full interest, as usual. And I had a lot to talk about then - my winter holiday, my stories, theatre, stress management course, developments at work - the stupid encounter with Popeye, his work, the health supplement he was taking - Harlem oil, which explained his great complexion, his short stint at Bukit Tinggi, etc. He even proudly showed me the latest design he did for their other client. Wish he could accompany me for the holiday I was planning next year. He assured me that I'd be fine on my own.
Man, looking at Mr Designer's innocent face made me feel really guilty. He had no clue what was going to happen the next day. He even complained about his partner - lack of persuasive selling skills (I agree) and managing him like a teacher with a remote control (they hadn't met for a week, Mr Designer didn't turn up at the office). I tried hinting to him to consider returning to the agency he used to work for 5 years ago; he was the owner's blue-eyed boy. At least, his working hours won't be so volatile. He said he wanted to see how things would go first.
Though the solution was crystal clear, execution was something else. His partner didn't have the heart to dismiss him. He was just enjoying his new found freedom, having fun with his kids and all, it felt sinful to break those young hearts. And me having a soft spot for him also made things worse; one time I was agreeing with his partner, another time when I imagined the consequences, I started pitying him. Even just now, he was taking his son to buy a new Playstation after their meeting. His partner was determined to get it done tonight itself no matter what; and also, to take back his Mac notebook immediately so he couldn't delete or flattened any files. That was another challenge altogether.
Judging from how he reacted during the incidence with my ex-friend, we were prepared for everything. His partner even polished his self-defense skills, in case he got attacked physically, punched or something. Oh, he was beginning to think that Mr Designer was under the influence of drugs, which explained a lot. But that is still unlikely, he is so proud of his looks and body, why would he want to destroy his system like that? The thought of split personality also came to mind. Remember Sidney Sheldon's novel where a multiple personality girl found herself falling asleep at odd times, had unaccounted-for missing hours daily and felt like she was being followed (by her other personalities, actually)
I have to say the guy was damn diplomatic. We explored several ways to do it, including comparing him to a non-performing football player and begging him to withdraw from the company. But the approach he finally adopted was far better. He didn't say anything about Mr Designer's slacking, etc. He said he wanted to re-designate Mr Designer post and make him the Business Development guy instead of the Creative Director. He will be paid commission for every contact he brought in, so it would be on a project basis. I asked him to give Mr Designer commision for every piece of business from my company. That is only fair since if it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be dealing with their company at all.
He even told Mr Designer that at his level, he wouldn't want to come down and do a junior's running around work. So, the new arrangement would be better. He would be mobile and work on flexi-hours. He can make use of his shrewd marketing talent & high-profile contacts, without making others suffer from his very slow and unreliable delivery in designs. His partner didn't have to say it, but the biggest blow was he wasn't going to get a fixed monthly salary anymore. And the unspoken message was he screwed up big time. His partner was tactful to say that he could not afford to pay someone of his calibre. His replacement had already been found, a young guy whose pay is only 60% of his and definitely would be more productive. He is not very experienced though, but he was a top student.
Mr Designer must have been in shock because he hardly said anything except 'I saw it coming...' He maintained his usual expressionless face, but judging from the 4 cigarettes that he was smoking in an hour, he was in pain. It really caught him off-guard. Shockingly, his partner managed to take back his Mac, with only a little protest. I've asked him to keep my external disk drive (yeah the one I gave him money to buy when he was in big trouble 4 months ago), but he insisted on returning it. Now that he is notebook-less, he would need it to save his personal files. His partner asked him to keep it and he would buy me a new one.
I'd give him some time to digest it, for him to recover from the effect of the Kryptonite. His partner asked me to wait until he breaks the news to me himself. Yeah, we must be careful not to bruise his ego, especially when he knew that I look up to him in certain ways. And he didn't like me taking other people's sides against him.
Anyway, it is over. I hope this unpleasant development will work out a job with more normal hours for him, at least. He could use a better quality life.