Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When Time moves slower than light

In several of the companies I've worked at in Corporate America, they've had the lunch with the bigwig shindig.  Essentially its an informal sitdown with your peers where you can talk openly and honestly about life and work at Company_that_currently_employees you.

While I suppose there is some company out there run by ex-hippies that really care about employee grievances, this is mostly just smoke-and-mirrors.  Make no mistake, any serious grievance should not be aired at this meeting.

In a healthy company, an unspoken understanding that anything said remains at that table and if there is some trivial cost-free item that comes up a lot it might be addressed. i.e. bring back the free soda in the break room especially now that you're making us work 70 hours a week again.

In dysfunctional companies, the hope is that some naive employee will say too much and higher ups can gauge if a new policy was too restrictive or just tolerable enough.

And if you think about it, anything serious enough to be a deal breaker would probably have you already submitting your letter of resignation on your bosses desk.

At No-Name Software Company, we had After Hours rotation.  In the early days we were very unmanaged, so former Tech Lead JT managed this rotation schedule.  Every  so often he'd re-do it, coincidentally when he noticed that his rotation would come over a holiday, which was usually when our after hours calls spiked up.  After all, the best time to upgrade software is when your users aren't around, like over a holiday weekend. 

So he'd redo it and being the jerk he was, he would not have any regard for who was just on call.  Usually I was the one who got put on the deck on the new schedule because I wasn't one of his buddies and having a master's degree was a threat to him. 

And there was no governance or infrastructure to put him in check, so naturally I got the short end of the straw and was resentful and bitter.  Which is one of the reasons why I didn't feel too bad when he contacted me a couple months ago begging me if I knew of any job opening anywhere.

JT had a very good arrangement at No-Name Software Company.  He got to come in half an hour before the Call Center opened so he got to leave at 4:30 to catch his train.  That 4:30 started sliding to 4 and then 3:45/3:30.  He always worked from home on Fridays and could not be reached on IM after 4 pm.  He basically abused his limited power and position by not giving much back.  Eventually, like all support engineers there, his salary became too high to justify.  You cannot sustain too many engineers at the top of your pay scale when you can hire two entry level techs for almost the same cost.  So when his abuse outweighed his usefulness, he was forced out like so many others.

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