Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Alien abduction or sleep paralysis?
I should be very interested to hear about where lucid dreamers would fit into this.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fun at work.
Slashdot had a link an article on "optimizing for fun". On the other side of the river....
Somehow, project managers and managers around me seem to think that when the engineers complain about not having fun, it means we need to have team nights out, or that we need to schedule a weekly LAN party. Hello! Fun means working on stuff you enjoy working on. Fun means seeing the positive impact your contributions make. Fun means not having to spend cycles in bureaucratic holding patterns. Fun means having a concrete goal you are working toward, with a sense of how your piece contributes, and at least some enthusiasm for that goal. Fun in the workplace is not going out for beers with my team on some schedule. If I want to hang out with these people after hours, I don't need a project manager to arrange it for me.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Not such an over the top whiner,
but I do have a few comments on this one, regarding the signs that you should get out. First off, always remember, it's a job. It's what you do to make sure there is a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food in your stomach. If you should manage to get paid to do something you would do for fun, anyway, congratulations, don't ever forget how friggin' lucky you are.

He complains about working in a cubicle farm. I agree, it sucks. But the only places I have worked over the last twenty years that provide actual offices with doors that shut have existed considerably longer than that. Nobody does offices anymore. It should be worth something to note that every knowledge worker's darling, Google, doesn't even give workers cubicles to themselves, they have to share. Typical management doesn't understand because they are in meetings during the workday, and if they actually get things done, do the stuff they need to concentrate on early in the morning or late in the evening.

Which gets me to my next topic, management. Good managers are very rare, in my experience. So many things to juggle. She needs to have a clear understanding of what business results will both be valuable and appreciated by her bosses (not always the same thing). She needs to be able to give her team a clear vision of what its goal and/or job is, both long and short term. She needs to be able to see her team members both as tools and as people ("don't use a hammer to strip cable") so she can assign projects and tasks appropriate to the person and the direction they want to move in. And, the piece that is most often lacking, she needs to build trust with the team, and between the team members. I had another post on building trust, but it comes down to delivering on your promises, explicit and implicit, and sometimes doing things for someone else when it is clear that there is no personal benefit in it. A good manager relies on her team to produce results, and so it is in her interest to cultivate the team.

It's funny. I had a director who said "it's all about relationships". And it really is. But we meant different things by relationships. In his case, it was about sucking up.

The flip side of it is the "individual contributor". If you expect a manager to respect your opinion, you have to respect theirs. That's not just managers. That's people in general. This is especially a problem among young, bright, knowledge workers. They have a little too much of their self-esteem tied up in knowing the right answer before everyone else, and it can take a bit of convincing before they realize that what they jumped to isn't the "right" answer in this place, at this time, for these reasons. Even if it's false humility, show some. If someone disagrees with you, ask questions, find out why they think differently from you. You might learn something, they might learn something. Everybody wins.

And the thing I most commonly tell my younger colleagues: Do not trust in business entities. Believe me, the days of companies showing loyalty to employees is long gone. Even if they've been treating you well for a while, all it takes is a change in management, or even a drop in stock price, for things to change. Find people you can trust, and make sure they've earned your trust in little things before entrusting them with your career.