This post is the thirty-third part of a ramble-rant about the software business. The current posts in this series are:
- Goodwill, Negative and Positive
- Visions, Quests, Missions
- Right, Wrong, and Style
- Follow Me
- Balance, Part 1
- Balance, Part 2
- Definition of a Great Team
- The 15-Minute Meeting
- Metaproblems: Drama
- The Right Question
- Software is Organic, Part 1
- Metaproblem: Terror
- I Don’t Work On My Car
- A Turning Point
- Human Doings
- Everything Changes
- Getting It Right The First Time
- One-Time Boosts
- Perfection vs. Precision
- Software is Organic, Part 2
- Business Losses and “I Don’t Know”
- T-SQL Tuesday: Personality Clashes, Style Collisions, and Differences of Opinion
- Human Resources Sucks
- The Integrity Challenge
- Sounds Good…
- Timing is Everything
This post poses the question: Do you have a job or…
Does Your Job Have You?
It’s an important question and distinction. “Why, Andy?” I’m glad you asked! My management mentor Ben McEwan (SQLPeople) is awesome. He asks the best questions ever. One of Ben’s trademark questions is: What is the problem we are trying to solve?™
In asking if you have a job or your job has you, I’m stopping by your life and asking “Who’s in charge here?” Is it you? Is it someone else? Do you even know?
“How Can I Tell, Andy?”
Excellent question! Let’s start with some more questions:
- When was your last vacation? Ok, wait. First let’s define vacation. You don’t have to travel to have a vacation. But you do have to be 100% completely in control of your time with 0% chance of work calling. You can take off your watch (if you wear a watch; I don’t). You can double-ziplock-baggie your cell phone, put it in an old cigar box, and bury it out back until you return to work. You can leave an Out Of Office message that reads “I’m on vacation. If this is an emergency, please call 911. Then email me the details – I want to read about it when I return.” That’s a vacation.
- When was your last raise / benefit / quality-of-life-improving event? If the unit of measure of your answer includes the word “year,” that’s a clue. If we’re talking about money, the raise has to be more than inflation. It doesn’t have to be about money – it can be training or the opportunity, expenses-paid, to attend community events. I saw a great exhange on Twitter last year:
“What if we train our people and they quit?”
“What if you don’t train them and they stay?”
- How many of your ideas have been implemented in the past 12 months? You don’t have to be in product development to introduce efficiency and solve problems. You can suggest implementing a product that improves the efficiency of SQL Server backups. The heart of this question is really: “Are they taking you seriously?”
Thoughts on Answers
People need time away from work. It doesn’t have to be two weeks in a foreign country, but it needs to be a break from work. It’s good for you, it’s ultimately good for your employer. If you have a job, vacations are part of the plan. If the job has you that may not be the case.
Compensation needs to keep up with inflation at a minimum. It could be that you’re working for a company going through a tough time. They may very well make up for lower pay later. Another possibility is this may not be the company, position, or field for you. It’s not the end of the world if you need to find a more satisfying career… it’s the beginning of a new road. If you have a job, you can have another. If the job has you, it’s difficult to make this kind of change.
If your suggestions are not being implemented, the possibilities include:
- You’re not contributing ideas.
- Your ideas aren’t very good.
- Your good ideas are being ignored.
- Everyone’s ideas are being ignored.
If you have a job your contributions should be valued and some of them (at least) should be implemented. If the job has you, the company probably just needs warm bodies and yours is as good as almost anyone else’s.
So which is it? Do you have a job or does your job have you?