Monday, August 03, 2009

Easier to Care

We’ve all had companies that didn’t listen to us.  They hire you with the intention of having you make things better and improving their processes.  Then when you come on and start making suggestions, they don’t want to implement any of them.  The reasons can be political, selfish, or just laziness, but the fact remains you’re not doing what you were told you would be.  And the company doesn’t seem to mind.

So what do you do now?  The company doesn’t seem to mind if things run the way they always have been so why should you?  It’s definitely easier to care about the quality of your job when the company does.  But why would any company choose to do things poorly especially when they’ve got to such great lengths to hire someone to fix them?  The answer is I just don’t know.  I’ve seen it too many times under too many companies and it confounds me every time.  I think a lot of time it’s an issue with a boss having too much faith in a guy who’s telling him you don’t know what you’re doing.  And even when you bring solid numbers to him he still doesn’t see the light.  That’s the one that gets me.  When I come to them with solid benchmark results and they still refuse to change the process because there’s a guy they’ve worked with longer who’s lying to them about how it’ll really behave in prod.

OK, so now what to do… well, you’ve really only got a couple choices.  You can quit or you can make your peace with it.  If you’re just not getting anything you need out of the gig then maybe it’s time to move on.  But if you’re getting something else out of it like a good schedule, or work from home, etc then it might be worth it to you to stick around.

If you do stick around then you need to make your peace with it.  And that’s the hard part.  Basically you have to stop caring about the systems and how they run.  Consider yourself more of an internal consultant.  They ask you questions and you advise them.  If they don’t take your advice then it’s not your problem.  It’s really as simple as that.  Of course, if you’re on the hook for support and this is gonna cause a bunch of extra work for you then that’s another story.  But you’ve gotta weigh that against everything else and make a decision.  If they’re really not gonna listen to anything you say then they really don’t understand DBs now do they?  Part of that is education, right?  You have to educate them about how to work with data.  Remember, this data explosion we’re in the middle of is still relatively new and many companies don’t have any idea how to work with it yet.  They have to be taught.  Now if only you can find a way to open them up to listening.

Just remember… numbers don’t lie.  If you keep showing them numbers eventually they may listen.  Of course, for some of these things you could always just do it yourself and say sorry later.  I’d never personally do anything like that(cough-cough), but I know some guys who have.

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Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to as well as I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
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