Archive for June, 2011
Many of the older generation in the IT field remember comedian Jimmy Fallon when he was on Saturday Night Live (SNL). One of the skits he played was as Nick Burns the Computer Guy. Here are some clips:
Nick Burns with Jennifer Aniston
Nick Burns with Jackie Chan
As hilarious as the skit is, sadly, I feel like I have become the very person I’ve dreaded becoming – Nick Burns, for two reasons:
- I have been put under lots of stress from many different angles, not just IT.
- Not only that, but when there are tight deadlines, I’ve displayed little patience for people who don’t get it the first 100 times. Some people just don’t get it, and some just like to have their hand held without first searching Google – you become their Google for everything so they don’t have to work so hard. It’s frustrating when projects needed to be done 2 weeks ago, you’re putting in 150% effort, and someone needs help for the 101st time for creating a hyperlink and meta tags after explaining and even diagramming it multiple times.
- If no tight deadlines needed to be met, I could train with ease, but that’s not the case.
Very rarely do we get to choose our employer. This post will break down (at least my) some pointers about who to look for in an employer.
Someone Who’s Educated
It’s important that someone who has gone to university and has earned a degree, for a few reasons. Someone who has earned a degree generally knows how to complete something he started no matter what. Also, having that knowledge brings patience and self-confidence and less insecurity when it comes to bossing around employees. There are unfortunately too many people who don’t have their degrees and cannot relate to those that do, and are too impatient to hear things through, instantly registering them as complaints.
Not Young and immature
Young, immature employers are terrible since they lack the tact and experience needed to effectively run an organization. When something bugs them, they will tell off their employees without any regard to sensitivity. Also, managing money and cash flows come with experience, like learning when to invest in a business rather than that sports event in a luxury box all in the name of a business meeting.
Someone who has worked for someone else before
Someone who worked for a previous employer knows what it means to get the business end of employer-employee relationships, and generally will approach his employees with more sensitivity.
Is properly funded from somewhere.
One of the worst employers is one where funding is lacking. Those employers will nine out of ten times be in the red, and then take it out on employees. What’s next is when it comes to paying employees on time.
Invests in growing the business and is not greedy.
Finding someone whose main concern is in growing a business and not just taking money for ones pocket is a big plus. Those will out of greed overcharge clients through the roof, resulting in a smaller client base and more money woes. Looking to pad ones pockets before padding the hard-working employees is another example.
Has a track record of being fair and not being a jerk.
Okay, okay. This is difficult to gauge without having worked at a company for a couple of months, but if you are lucky enough to run into a co-worker at the company you’re considering moving to, ask the following:
- Lots of different stress – How stressed out are the bosses/coworkers? If someone sighs and tells you that where he’s working is not easy in terms of work and politics, you have an idea. It’s one thing to have no work – that’s bad. But to be overloaded with work without proper compensation? Avoid that like the plague.
- Promises of a raise and nothing! – Find out when some long-standing employers last got their raise and promotion. If the last time was 2-3 years ago, on one hand, it shows employee retention, but on the other hand, it shows how employees are treated. Now, if someone was issued a healthy raise 6-12 months since starting, then you know that the company is growing and people are happy.
- More work, no increase in pay – I personally don’t mind lots of work just as long as I get properly compensated. To work more hours and get the same pay, or a pay cut, is depressing.
- Gameplaying with protocol and salary. – One of the largest causes of firings has to do with office politics and salary. Employers will generally want to squeeze you for every last drop of energy if they can get away with it. Find a place where it’s believed that a happy employee is a more productive one.
- Clients playing games – Find out the percentage of clients playing money games with the company. Generally, clients who are happy with the service they got are more quick to pay than those unhappy with the service they got.
On June 20th, 2011, in an interleague MLB game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, each teams’ ace pitched. Ricky Romero of the Jays was against Tim Hudson of the Braves. The game was a pitchers dual. Neither team gave up a run for 8 innings until Tim Hudson, the opposing pitcher and traditionally the worst hitter on a team, went up to bat. Guess what? He homered! Of all the hitters to hit a home run on the powerful Braves staff, the pitcher hit the home run! Ricky Romero was visibly devastated by this. Due to his frustration on the Jays scoring very little for him – 13 runs in his last 9 starts – he spoke out against his team later on.
What separates Ricky Romero, a young pitcher, from Roy Halladay, a more seasoned pitcher, is that when Roy Halladay pitches and gives up a home run to anyone, he doesn’t let anyone know of his frustration. That makes the other team think he still has something up his sleeve. But as soon as a pitcher like Ricky Romero shows his frustration, that’s when the opposing team knows that they got him.
After another frustrating day at work, my boss gave me this lesson to explain that, while I may be frustrated with the results of my team around me, I can’t show it. Showing it displays weakness and when others can pounce on me. My response to that, though not to his face, is that I realize that I’m doing everything I can, but like Ricky Romero, I’m only one person on a team. The rest of the team needs to step up as well in order for everyone to win.
Micromanaging is something I find a lot of managers like to do. Rather than think of the big picture, they’re impatient and like to nitpick on how someone does something. Their impression is that it causes employees to move faster and get jobs done quicker. Anything from listening to headphones to coming in 5 minutes late to how one types on a keyboard to how one blows ones nose is included.
For the Employee
This is terrible for the employee in that he feels that he’s being watched and is more worried about that rather than getting work done. That can be demoralizing and actually would make him less productive.
Some personal examples of micromanaging that I’ve experienced were:
- Not being allowed to send a YouTube video to coworkers because it’s 6 minutes times 10 people equals an hour of productivity lost.
- Being criticized for working on someone’s computer since the boss is losing double. He’s paying you for work and paying for the person not working on his computer. Better to utilize the person for something else.
- One can’t take a break since it costs manhours.
For the Employer
This is terrible for the employer in that he focuses on the individual rather than the big picture with each project. That suggests one of two things:
- It shows how shortsighted and ineffective he is as a manager, or
- It reflects the direction with which the company is headed. If there’s no important work to do, the manager may have nothing better than to bully his underlings.
Realize that getting the job done in many cases is more important than HOW the job gets done. Which is more important, focusing on time lost or to focus on quality time/productivity? Google for example demonstrates how personal time can work by having volleyball tournaments on campus, bringing pets in the office and giving each employee one hour a day to do a project they feel like doing. And, give the employees a break. They’re not robots!
When an interviewer asks you for salary expectations, avoid/sidestep the question at all costs. Revealing ones salary can be crippling for any interview. If you’re expectation is too high, it may tell the future employer that you’re greedy. If you give a smaller number, you may give off the impression that you can be taken for a ride.
1. When asked for your current salary, mention that you do not wish to discuss that at this time. Salary is a very personal thing, and you’d might as well be asked to take your pants off. You reveal too much and it only serves to tell the interviewer how much you can be had for, rather than how much you’d like to make.
2. When given an ball offer, hesitate. Take a couple of deep, hard breaths, pause for 10 seconds, and say that you need to think it over at home and that you will call back tomorrow. An impatient boss will then decide to grease the number up a bit.
3. When the offer is lower than your expected salary range, point out all of the value-added services you can offer. Nobody cares if you have a wife and family. That’s just how it is.
I personally am a pushover and therefore the last time a recruiter asked me about my last salary I said it out straight. Needless to say I wasn’t called back.
We are all on this planet for a very short period of time. If we cannot take the time to stop and smell the flowers, and let stress get the better of us, we may meet that hole in the ground sooner rather than later. It’s very important to have a healthy spirit. Most of the old-timers I know that live well into their 90′s share an upbeat attitude, which I don’t find to be a coincidence.
Speaking of old-timers, recently there was a 109 year old man living in Haifa, Israel who had a new nose surgically placed on him. Why? Because he had spent most of his life visiting the beach and eventually skin cancer got the better of nose. Not for nothing, though, the rest of his body was healthy and he was very upbeat about the proceedings, so at 109 years, the nose is a relatively small price to pay considering what can be medically done today. This man intends to revisit the beach once his new nose solidifies.
Many years ago, there lived a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who passed away in 1996 at 121 years of age. This was someone who still showered with special shampoo, donned jewelry, and drank good whiskey as well as swam frequently. If that’s not living it up to an old age, I don’t know what is!
So lighten up everyone, life is too short to waste. Do what makes you happy.
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