Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Reality - Dilbert

I'm glad that I still have a sense of humor - being busy 16 our of 24 hours a day with the business. I was reading the Dilbert book "Slapped Together - the Dilbert Business Anthology".

I think I get a kick out of reading this because this is what actually happens in those big corporate offices - or any offices with cubicles, many layers of unnecessary management, etc. You get the picture.

I've heard MANY stories from friends working in those types of companies complaining about these things:

  1. My boss doesn't know what they're doing (this is the no.1 complaint I hear; especially in tech companies)
  2. I waste most of my time in meetings to "recap" things. How about telling me what to do in this week instead?
  3. My boss loves to strategize but nothing ever gets done.
  4. If I ever hear the words "touch base", "moving forward", "let's shelve this for now", "strategic paradigm", I will literally start throwing up right here, right now.
  5. I came up with this great idea and my boss 'ran with it'. Sure enough, he always ran off with my credit for coming up with the idea.

Now in defense of these companies, the 'boss' of the tech department is probably a project manager and not a always a great developer. They are probably better as a project manager - ie. making sure things got done on time, people were accountable, etc. this is why their job isn't to develop now. Of course, developers hate to be managed by someone who isn't great at developing. I think this is where the frustration arises. I honestly do feel their pain but let's say one of the developers were promoted to the management position, would they do just as well as their current boss in managing the team? That's an unknown. (Most developer right now are probably banging their hands on the table yelling and screaming "Of course I can do a better job!" STILL. It's an unknown until you're promoted, so keep your fingers crossed.)

On meetings: You can make them more productive. Make it your goal to drive the meeting forward instead of chatting about one topic endlessly. Make sure the meeting ends in 15 minutes, if you see that the purpose of the meeting is to decide ONE thing - and then move on to do actual work. Use action items. My team and I have a running list of action items that we cross off as we complete them, so we track progress and add this week's action items during the weekly team meeting. It's up to YOU to make it efficient.

On Taking Credit: If your boss takes credit for having implemented the idea and you didn't actually participate in that, stop fuming. What your boss SHOULD do, is give you credit for having come up with the idea. That's fair. I'm a believer of the fact that implementation of an idea far outweighs just coming up with the idea.

Here's an example. I thought of the iPhone too. Way before Apple did. Now they're selling a gazillion of them. They definitely need to write a blogpost about me having come up with the idea before. It was MY idea!

As you can see, there's a reason WHY you're not sharing in the gazillion dollars they're making, you didn't take part in the actual implementation.

So, this is what Dilbert has inspired me to write. If you work at a company similar to the ones in this post, good luck. All I can suggest is to keep a level head when things like the above complaints happen to you and try to do something about it. I hear enough whining and complaining from supposedly 'helpless' employees but never heard of them taking any action to change the situation. What is causing the headaches you experience at work? It is a person? Is it a situation? Read the book The 48 Laws of Power and apply those principles to change things to YOUR way - every person in every position within a company holds SOME sort of power/value for the company or they would've been fired already; use that power to your advantage.


Daniel said...

Haha I actually wanted to add the words "action items" to the list that includes "moving forward, touch base, map out...". I guess those need to stay.

Will definitely check out the book. The roles/motivations of everyone in a Dilbert environment is of great interest for me, as I currently work in one.

Florence said...

Funny enough we actually have "action items" on our weekly team meeting agenda. haha. Yes. Even though I laugh at the terms I still use some of them. What a hypocrite! :)

Yup. reading that book will help to alleviate some of the pains of working in those environments when you know it's actually really common and a shared experience with everybody else in your office.