IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Posts Tagged ‘Careerism’

Are you disengaged from your job?

Posted by IT Pilgrim on August 4, 2008

Are you disengaged from your job? A recent Gallup study shows that only something like 19% of workers are actively engaged in their jobs. This means, knowing what your job is, knowing the expectations for your job, as well as knowing where you stand performance-wise and where your role fits into the company. Well, if only 19% of us have all that, one has to wonder where the problem is. Hang on, let me climb up on my soapbox here ….

OK, IT companies, here we go, here is how to fix this problem, drawing from personal experience and the experiences of those around me. If you want employees who actually care about their job, here’s your fix-it list.

  1. No one knows exactly what their job is. Job descriptions as usually all-encompassing, and on-boarding consists of a sheet of paper with your login on it. No one will ever tell you what your job is until you have not done it and it cost some manager their bonus. Flying by the seat of your pants, well, that wears out pants pretty quickly, and nerves as well.
  2. On-boarding is terrible. A sheet of paper with logins, really? That’s the best you can do? I have personally worked at some companies where one day, someone come up and starts yelling about something you have, or have not done. You let them finish, so you can ask, Who are you? Their answer being … “Your manager.” OK, noted. Here are some other sad examples (being a serial job hopper will give you lots of experience) In one job, I found out after two months that I had a desk, and co-workers. Ooh, nice job there manager. In another, I sat on the floor in a datacenter for 6 months, before moving on, never having worked my way up to say … a desk or a phone. IM anyone?
  3. Contractors are treated as a lesser form of pond scum, but we’re all contractors. Plenty of IT teams are fleshed out with all contractors so companies do not have to pay anyone benefits. That’s fine, it allows the employee more control over their work as well, but some companies have some real lovely rules for contractors, and if they on-board or train their employees, contractors get left out in the cold. Yet, 90 or 95% of a team may be contract, you do the math on the type of loyalty and quality work that will get you.
  4. Loyalty is Dead. Its time that the companies out there realize that its over. Asking an employee to have loyalty, when you are going to lay them off two months later? I think we’re all a little smarter than that. IT workers are often the cogs in the machine, and treated that way, but what happens when you can’t keep a cog for more than a month, with two month breaks in between? If you want to keep people, you first have to realize that you are running them off, and why. Otherwise you will never get the superstars, they will be warned off and you can resign yourself to the dregs of the techie barrel.
  5. Managers are just trumped up techies who never left. You cant stuff a techie with no social skills into a suit and expect him to be anything other than what he/she always was. Longevity does not a manager make. To many companies are just taking the last person they have left and making them the manager. If you want top talent, don’t manage them with the dregs.

These are just a top 5 here. There are many companies out there with some of these problems, some with all of them. Now, just for the record, I am not talking about small business, I am talking about fortune 500 companies, and companies who make their entire business from technology, but when it comes to the working environs, word gets around. That is the funny thing about technology workers, we tend to run into each other repeatedly, and just like a small town, we quickly all know who not to mess with. Now the real question is, will anyone ever do anything about it?

Photo by: swh via Flickr

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A Career Girl’s Guide to Not Crying at Work

Posted by IT Pilgrim on July 14, 2008

Every girl who’s spent a significant time in Corporate America knows that the worst possible offense you can commit is to cry at work. Sometimes though …when the planets all align in a certain way, when no one gets you that day … its near on impossible. So here we go, my little guide to not crying at work.

Always look on the upside- Tactic 1
Now, I don’t mean this anything like it sounds. I am not about to sit here and feed anyone some crap about every cloud has a silver lining, or every dog has his day or whatever, ’cause that’s crap. Sometimes, the cards are stacked against you, or your tired, or you don’t feel good, or your boss just told you how much he thinks you suck. Whatever.

My point is this … Look up. I know how dumb that sounds, but it is near-on physiologically impossible to cry when you look up. My warning here though, if you are already at that point where your eyes are a little leaky, they will still leak that one or two tears contained within. However, no new tears will form as long as you are looking up. Its not too subtle when used but I have found that most people look down when they are sad or upset to that level. Looking down makes it worse.

Ever seen a scared or sad dog? Head down to the ground, tail between its legs? Pick its head up, hold out their tail, and their mood changes along with their body position. Newsflash! We are the same. Change your posture, look at the ceiling and the tears will stop!

Change Your Thoughts- Tactic 2
This tactic takes longer, its not a good one if you are already holding your breath to keep from sniffling. This one takes some time, but the main idea is simple, you have to change what you are thinking about. Try to pick something that you are passionate about but not something that will make you angry. There is a trick however, the human mind associates smells and sounds more strongly with emotions that it does words, so try something like a beautiful rose, and be sure to try to call up the smell of it. Whatever you do, don’t replay the ugliness in your mind, that will bring it all right back.

Change Your Environment- Tactic 3
Now, I know as well as anyone a typical scenario. A co-worker says something horrendous about you, or to you while you and your group are sitting around the conference table. You’re tired, you don’t feel good, for some reason it hits you particularly hard today. You are stuck in the corner and cant get out.

Well, you have two options, retaliation or change. This one takes a little preparation, but carry a small bottle of cream, or essential oils, or even just a rose petal in your day planner. Pull it out, take a quick sniff and look up at the ceiling. This is a combo tactic here. Think about nothing but the smell.

If you are not prepared, sometimes I find it works to just think about how the room smells. Analyze the different smells within it. This works best if you managed to sit next to the guy who wears cologne, not the stinky dude, and every group has one.

Get Away- Tactic 4
Sometimes, the only thing you can do is get away. Go somewhere, hide, run away, anything. Just change the scenery. Sneak off to the bathroom, then out of the building. Just find the nearest outside or mall or anything that changes the view for a while. Sometimes as little as 2 minutes is enough.

Well, that is my quick guide to not crying at work. Not only for girls, guys, this can work for you too. I found out that looking up does it for kids. Next time you are around crying kids, get them to look up, its priceless until they figure it out and refuse. Someone please let me know if this was at all helpful, I would appreciate it.

Photo by maxedapurature via Flickr.

Posted in Career, Life in IT | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Smalltalk again… Like It Or Not Its an Essential Skill for the Office

Posted by IT Pilgrim on July 10, 2008

aah.. to be that young again. Do people really hate small talk? I would say that yes, some do, but why? In most instances it seems to be because they are not good at it and thus it makes them uncomfortable. Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about? To live, to learn, and to grow, that is what life’s purpose is. How can you ever learn ands grow unless you just jump in and get your feet wet.

Smalltalk is the way people feel you out when they first meet you. They are using seemingly inane conversation to get you to reveal a little about yourself. You may think that people are trying to find something in common with you, and they are, but I have a bit of a newsflash … They don’t care what words come out of your mouth.

So little of human communication is about the words we say, its about the meaning we convey, not the words they say. Meaning could be, that I don’t care to listen to you, or I don’t care enough to hear what you have to say, a sure mark of someone people will most likely avoid in the future. This my friends is where networking begins. Are you the kind of person who genuinely listens to what people say, or are you just looking to make your escape?

When people small talk, they are trying to get up the courage to say something meaningful but hey don’t just come out and say it because they are afraid to scare you off too quickly. They are trying to form a relationship that may mean something to them even if it means nothing to you. How do you know that the two minutes spent talking to you wasn’t the only human contact that person has had in days or weeks. Sad, I know, but I would ask people to consider the ramifications of what they do.

How do you know that the person you were a jerk to won’t be someone you will need in the months or years to come. Learning to use small talk will not only give you a network the envy of all your peers, but it will genuinely make you a better person. How would you like to be know as the person everyone talks to? Would you prefer to be the dork in the corner sitting by himself everyday at lunch?

Ok, so how do you change it? Once again, it doesn’t matter what you say, but it does matter that you become genuinely interested in the other person. Companies that use word of mouth for marketing, such as realtors, lawyers and accountants would rather hire this skill than tech it, but its really not that hard. Here’s what you do …go to the mall or wal-mart or whatever, just go about your daily life. Choose the longest line available and just start talking, or just smile and look people in the eye, they will talk to you.

It becomes a game, what is natural for some people is not so much for others, but you can do anything that’s a game right? Walk around to every desk in your office and introduce yourself. After every 3 or 4 desks, write down somewhere the person’s name, where you saw them and a few lines to describe them. This will inscribe them on your brain and this is how you become good at names.

Wait at least a day or two, and go back around again. Smile at everyone, even if you don’t feel it and see how many come up to you. You have to teach yourself to care, not what they say but that they said anything to you at all. You see, that’s really what its all about, its not about the talking itself. Its about growing up and maturing into a complete person and you cant do that by hiding.

Photo by by oooh.oooh via Flickr

Posted in Career | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Have You Ever Given Up a Good Job For Money?

Posted by IT Pilgrim on July 3, 2008

Lunch Money

Have you ever given up an otherwise good job for something as silly as a little more money? Well, if I go by this article then I think I did. I had all but the flexible work arrangement. Here’s a bit of an excerpt:

No. 1: Offer attractive benefits. Salary is a key consideration for members of this group, but so are benefits.

No. 2: Promote work/life balance. Nearly 73% of Gen-Yers surveyed said they are concerned about being able to balance a career with personal obligations.

No. 3: Narrow the rungs of the corporate ladder. Millennials are willing to work hard, but when it comes to moving up the ranks, they want to do so quickly.

No. 4: Ensure managers are engaged and accessible. In the survey, Millennials described their “dream boss” as being understanding, caring, flexible and open-minded, as well as someone who is authoritative but respects, values and appreciates his employees.

No. 5: Foster “face time.” Even though Gen-Yers grew up with cell phones, e-mail and the Internet, two-thirds of survey respondents selected in-person conversations with their co-workers as their preferred communication method.

Wow, now I kind of feel like an idiot. I read this, and realized that I had it all, well most of it. I was one of those silly companies that equates Butts-in-Seats with work ethic, but other than that, what more could you ask for? I had the understanding, family oriented enviroment, the narrow rungs on the ladder, I had most of what a person could want.

As a line straddler between Gens X and Y, I am not as confirmed a social networker as most, especially since my family never got into the technology thing, but also because I am right on the line of too old to have completely grown up with it. I had the right manager though, at around 10 years older, I guess this personage would have been a Gen X’er. I think I somehow managed to forget how rare a manger is who not only understands, and can do the work is, but is also all the things described in that article.

I guess there’s no use in crying over spilled milk. Maybe I can go back, but it seems kind of backwards. What’s that expression … You never know what you have until you lose it.

Posted in Career, Life in IT | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »