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Do Nice Engineers Finish Last In Tough Times?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the nice-guys-always-finish-last dept.

IT 613

jammag writes "As the wave of pink slips is starting to resemble Robespierre and his guillotine, the maneuvering among tech professionals to hang on to their job is getting ugly. IT Management describes the inter-office competition between the manager of a server farm and the supervisor of networks and security. One was nice, giving his team members credit, taking responsibility when something went wrong. The other was a backstabber who spent plenty of time sucking up to the management. As the inevitable cuts came, who do you think hung on to their job?"

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Only the Meanest Engineers Survive Out There! (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520421)

Do Nice Engineers Finish Last In Tough Times?

Why, just the other day, a coworker was in contention for a promotion that was going to a younger engineer. My coworker found the specs to the younger engineer's car online and determined the precise rate it would have to leak coolant to completely drain the reserve tank precisely when he was leaving home to make an important customer meeting the next morning. I saw him on a crawl board attaching the regulator and a valve system in the parking lot and sure enough it overheated at precisely the right time so our customer just sat their waiting.

It's a calculate-or-be-calculated world out there!

Re:Only the Meanest Engineers Survive Out There! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520443)

Oh, bullshit.

Re:Only the Meanest Engineers Survive Out There! (5, Funny)

Nikker (749551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520567)

You should probably be checking your coolant level right now...

Re:Only the Meanest Engineers Survive Out There! (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520465)

I would hire him, its a dog eat dog world out there.

Un huh. (-1, Flamebait)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520961)

Aside from the fact that your post is a load of horseshit, I suppose that you didn't step up to the plate by telling management what you witnessed.

And, incidentally, once the youngster took his car to the shop to be repaired, the tampering would have been discovered, and your fictional coworker would have been thrown in jail (hmm just where did this after market valve and regulator come from anyway?). In most states tampering with an automobile is a felony.

Re:Un huh. (4, Funny)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521035)

whoosh

Re:Only the Meanest Engineers Survive Out There! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520971)

All those mean engineers will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

What? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520453)

Hot tip: not every tech professional is an "engineer," the least of which being IT professionals and "network engineers." What a diluted title.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

gearloos (816828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520583)

I agree. If a "network engineer" passes his P. E. , I may change my mind.

Re:What? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520951)

Oi! I was a professional engineer before I was a "network engineer" (although I don't call myself an engineer anymore despite every cable monkey doing so). Sometimes a change of career works for a variety of reasons.

Microsoft and others changed the language a bit here, although there were train engineers etc that have been called that for years.

Re:What? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520675)

I came here to say this, these guys are not engineers in the least.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

Captain Centropyge (1245886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520701)

THIS.

I'm a mechanical engineer by degree, and this has nothing to do with "engineers". Nor is this crap limited to just "engineers". This type of favoritism from brown-nosing happens in just about every line of work.

Re:What? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520963)

Exactly. This is not news to nerds, but it is stuff that matters.

Re:What? (-1, Flamebait)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521089)

Hey, I consider the title of "engineer" to be one of the coolest things about working in IT. Sure, the dude who goes around under desks and reimaging Windows isn't an engineer, but I figure if you're touching or creating code, that is when the engineer title is bestowed upon you. I wonder what everybody else thinks - that's just MHO.

The truly exclusive title, I'd think, is "scientist". Now THAT would be cool to have.

In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (5, Interesting)

janeuner (815461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520467)

Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.

Re:In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (4, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520663)

Forbes was an idiot then, in a world of 6.5 billion people, there are at leas 6500 one-in-a-million geniuses out there, and ever since the banks fucked up and gave us a deflationary economy, demand for the products of people with ability has gone down 90% [blogspot.com] .

So no, ability has not only caught up with the demand, but has in fact passed it by at the speed of light.

Re:In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520957)

Are you sure those numbers are correct?

Generally when a company sees profits dip by 90% in a single quarter they shutter their doors.

I get the feeling they're conflating net with gross.

Re:In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520989)

So...since Intel's projections fell by 90% we are to assume that everything else is going to fall as drastically? I don't buy it.

Additionally, making products is not the only thing geniuses can do. Einstein never released a commercial product.

Re:In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (4, Interesting)

KasperMeerts (1305097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521037)

Yes he did. He made a refrigerator [wikipedia.org] .

Re:In the words of Malcolm Forbes... (5, Interesting)

soundguy (415780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521013)

Forbes was an idiot then, in a world of 6.5 billion people, there are at leas 6500 one-in-a-million geniuses out there,

And statistically less than 300 of them live in the US. Toss out those who are too young, old, lazy, socially inept, ill, incarcerated, or comatose to hold down a job and you probably have about 7 employable one-in-a-million geniuses in the US, and you can be pretty sure that they already have jobs.

You might want to think about something here (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520471)

If the management above is unable to see which of the two in the example is worth keeping, perhaps it's not the best place to work anyway, as it looks like politics makes up more of the workload than engineering. I'm reasonably sure that engineers are engineers because they DO NOT want to be politicians.

Of course, there is always the fix the coolant leakage rate solution, mix that with the faked IP and filesharing solution and things get entertaining while you are passing out your resume.

Re:You might want to think about something here (4, Insightful)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520539)

I agree with parent, if the management is good enough, they should follow well enough to know who really deserve a promotion and who is just doing enough to have enough time to ask for a promotion 10 times a week...

Sadly, there is very few employers who can do that... so the good guy will probably lose his job, and the asshole will get a promotion for stealing someone else's hard work...

Re:You might want to think about something here (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520691)

The jackass may have won that round and the promotion, but in a lot of cases, as soon as the ass gets to a position where he can't set others up for failure or take credit, that's when payback happens... that, or they end up a manager and nobody in a company notices.

Thing is, people remember the jerks in life, and there are times when the naiive office boy that a person stole an idea from and got fired may end up a VP of a company for another idea... and will remember the dagger in the back.

Re:You might want to think about something here (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520895)

The jackass may have won that round and the promotion, but in a lot of cases, as soon as the ass gets to a position where he can't set others up for failure or take credit, that's when payback happens... that, or they end up a manager and nobody in a company notices.

Your assessment sounds optimistic to me. In my experience, the higher up the org chart that bottom-feeders rise, the easier it is for them to do the blame-and-credit game. Because the higher up you are, the less hands-on you're expected to be, right? You are all but mandated to delegate responsibility, and that automatically puts someone in line to take the hits for you. And unfortunately these situations often take a long time to get sorted out, because the real problem is usually someone even higher up that has enough conniving/nepotistic/irrational faith in the bottom-feeder to be blind to the problem.

Re:You might want to think about something here (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520823)

I agree with parent, if the management is good enough, they should follow well enough to know who really deserve a promotion and who is just doing enough to have enough time to ask for a promotion 10 times a week... Sadly, there is very few employers who can do that...

OK, so here's an idea. Maybe manager Kelly, when she was approached by Doug and heard his case for staying on, should have requested a meeting with Stuart to hear his side of the story. She could have explained that she had a decision to make and that Doug had raised certain issues with regard to his performance.

I mean, what if Doug was out-and-out lying? And to take the word of a single subordinate as the basis for staffing decisions ... just, wow. Does this company not do annual performance reviews? I sense a certain amount of org-chart politics in this, but to my mind, for Kelly to initiate a layoff based on a single, closed-door meeting with a subordinate seems like very poor management, indeed.

Of course I don't know the real facts, but I agree with the grandparent ... this does not sound like the kind of company where I would like to work. I know it's tough times and all, but in tough times would you rather work at a company that's liable to fire you at any minute or at one that at least respects your contribution enough to not let subjective evaluations of your personality decide your future?

Re:You might want to think about something here (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521059)

When you have people that go right from graduation to very high level management these sort of things happen, sudden decisions based on very little. Sorry to break it to most US style management - the feudal system did not work once the people in charge were clueless after generations of idleness and better managed companies are going to bury you. Better management makes the quick decisions only because they have seen something like it before or because they can see how it will work out. New managers just think you can get another universal work unit from HR and that we all have the same abilities.

Re:You might want to think about something here (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521097)

Annual performance reviews mean something where you work? Where I come from, everyone ranks everyone else highly- for one, other than your manager you choose your reviewers. For a second, its all a big game of quid pro quo.

Re:You might want to think about something here (5, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520669)

If the management above is unable to see which of the two in the example is worth keeping, perhaps it's not the best place to work anyway, as it looks like politics makes up more of the workload than engineering. I'm reasonably sure that engineers are engineers because they DO NOT want to be politicians.

Define "worth keeping". I don't recall the article saying that Doug was inept, just that he was a ruthless jerk. His "backstabbing" was pretty insightful, IMO, and for Kelly, keeping him around was probably the right choice given the economic climate.

Granted, that doesn't make the company the best place if you value touchy-feely more than breaking even -- especially if you are the type to infect the company network with viruses you introduce via your thumb drives and want a manager who will wipe your backside.

There is being "nice" and there is being an ineffective pushover. Hard to be Worlds Best Boss when you are out on your ass.

Re:You might want to think about something here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521109)

doug was inept. Rather than complete the assignment of weeding through his employees, he pulled a hustle. Kelly should be on her ass. I understand enough about politics to realize that Stuart did not defend himself properly, but under good management he should not have to. I agree it is "Hard to be Worlds *Best* Boss when you are out on your ass."

-cyphercell

Re:You might want to think about something here (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521101)

I have found that the best place to work is a place that is willing to pay you. The premise here is that one of the two is being laid off because of tight economic times. That being the case, the choice might be the current job, or no job. I know for me at least, 'current job' would have to be really REALLY bad before it beat no job.

That's what you get (3, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520479)

For wasting company time being nice.

Garbage rises (0, Flamebait)

composer777 (175489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520491)

With capitalism garbage rises regardless of whether or not times are tough...

Re:Garbage rises (1, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520565)

With bureaucracy garbage rises regardless of whether or not times are tough...

Fixed that for you...

Re:Garbage rises (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520709)

The sad reality is that it's both- but for different types of garbage.

With capitalism, the liar rises regardless of whether or not times are tough.
 
With bureaucracy, the brownnoser rises regardless of whether or not times are tough.
 
Thus if you're an honest individual who doesn't give a shit what people think of you, you'll always end up unemployed.

Re:Garbage rises (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520761)

So how would you describe the smell of Composer777's ass and when is your next promotion?

Re:Garbage rises (5, Insightful)

rho (6063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520925)

With capitalism, the liar rises regardless of whether or not times are tough.

I would say the ruthless rather than the liar tends to rise in capitalism. Which doesn't mean that a decent, competent company can't do well, but they can be threatened by the ruthless company. Usually the demise of a good company at the hands of a ruthless company comes about through government collusion. For example, Ruthless Inc. spends the time and money to bribe lawmakers to legislate that Ruthless Inc's software is the new standard for official government widgets. Now DecentCorp's DiscoWidget app has no buyers. Ruthless Inc. buys the dregs of DecentCorp and sends the former employees to the salt mines.

Capitalism gets a bad rap, but sometimes that bad rap is more the direct result of centralized government's intervention rather than lack thereof. Sometimes not--witness Madoff's hedge fund.

You'll always end up a CONSULTANT. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521091)

SOMEONE has to fix the problems that those other people create. And the best way for them to handle it is to bring you in as a consultant/contractor.

Particularly in the company featured in TFA. Why didn't Kelly know that Doug was taking credit for things he wasn't responsible for?

In an economic downturn, I'd stick with the nice people because they ARE nice. You cannot afford to have them leave and take the business knowledge that is locked in their heads with them.

The employees will know that their boss is a backstabbing bastard and they will react accordingly. The talented ones will look for other jobs. The people-not-in-the-talented-ones-group will remain behind. The company will suffer.

Nice guys finish last (often) (1)

cycler (31440) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520495)

Do Nice Engineers Finish Last In Tough Times?

Same as:
Nice guys don't get to kiss pretty girls.

/C

Re:Nice guys finish last (often) (3, Funny)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520517)

Yes we do, once we figure out that we need to pretend to be assholes until they fall for us, then it's ok to be nice...

/Mikael

Re:Nice guys finish last (often) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520553)

Unfortunately that works.

Re:Nice guys finish last (often) (3, Insightful)

painehope (580569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521067)

Bullshit on all of this. You can be ruthless and honorable at the same time. Actually, there are times when being honorable (aka nice) demands that one be ruthless.

Just don't be selfless. There's no shame in taking credit where it's due, the same as there's no shame in exercising and going out to meet "pretty girls". There's also no shame in calling someone out on their bullshit. Don't play politics, go to war.

"Nice guy" is just a euphemism for "gutless", the same as "bad guy" is the same for "self-centered". A lot can be said for taking the middle ground.

p.s. - those of us who understand this not only get to kiss the hot chicks, we get to fuck them as well. And occasionally have a meaningful relationship to boot.

Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experience (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520499)

They're about networking, social skills, and shameless self-promotion.

People like me, and I suspect most geeks on slashdot, want to be judged on our merits, but the fact is in most cases we won't be. So yes, nice engineers do finish last.

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520613)

And occasionally, a nice engineer can't cope with it anymore and takes a shotgun to work.

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520659)

They're about networking, social skills, and shameless self-promotion.

Couldn't have said it any better. It's not about being nice or an asshole, it's about making sure people know who you are and that you're valuable. People aren't going to fire Steve who wrote that great app "Steve's Manage Utility" that helped out a lot, but they will fire that one guy what's-his-name who no one ever sees because he's always at his desk quietly working.

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (3, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520809)

I hear this repeated over and over.

I'm sorry, but "networking" is not the ticket to success in a technical career. In a technical career, knowing your shit is simply far more important.

If you count "networking" as your most important skill, you probably work in management, sales, or some other NONtechnical position.

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (5, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521093)

Actually, in most jobs, they're both important. There's two lessons that the "smart kids" generally have to learn later in their lives (some have to figure it out in college, some get by a little longer). One is that unlike in grade school, smarts along won't put you in the upper echelon. You have to work hard, and you have to network. It's a big world, and no matter how smart you are, there's a guy out there who's at least as is talented as you and harder working. And there's a guy out there who's at least as smart as you and better at networking.

The point is that(especially in rough economic times) there's often more than enough smarts available to fill the demand. Being technically competent is certainly important, but unless you're in some very rare position where no one else is equally competent (or convincingly close), you've got some equally competent competition out there. Taking the time to develop some social and political business skills is not a wasteful investment in yourself.

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520839)

Maybe I'll set the building on fire...

Re:Jobs Aren't About Education, Skill, or Experien (1)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520919)

One was nice, giving his team members credit, taking responsibility when something went wrong.

That is probably the problem. In the higher-ups eyes at one time something went wrong and that guy did it.

Work is overrated (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520513)

Why not make lemonade from lemons and accept a layoff? If you're financially stable with few or no obligations such as family, mortgage, etc. and you've had a reasonable work history why not just collect unemployment until you can find a decent-paying gig?

You won't make as much money, true, but if you satisfy the above conditions you'll probably make enough to afford food and a roof. You'll be able to sleep in every day, go to the gym, work on personal projects, go out on dates, and much more! It's not like you're being lazy or anything -- "the economy" is a very acceptable excuse for not having a job, at least until the economy goes back into full swing.

Re:Work is overrated (4, Informative)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520679)

You list a fairly impressive number of conditions. What about those that do have a family and/or mortgage? And no amount of work history will tie you over when there simply are no jobs at all.

And those days will come, and soon. No jobs. Not even flipping burgers, not for the older engineers. Much better to get a stupid malleable kid for that, as it limits the amount of talk-back to the no-stripe franchise manager.

Re:Work is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520973)

What do you mean "no jobs?" That is silly fear-mongering and you know it.

Re:Work is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520745)

That is really bad advice for someone who plans to find employment again. You will have a hard time explaining the downtime (despite the economy, I would even say because of the tough economical situation, average or better employees can still get jobs). You will also lose track of the business side of things and get used to a flexibility that just isn't compatible with employment.

Of course, if you've got enough to retire, what are you waiting for?

Re:Work is overrated (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520885)

I don't think downtime would be too much of an issue if you could prove that you were staying busy at home.

You could cite self-employment for volunteer or contract work with a list of your projects, and if you have the money than you could take a class or two. Education always looks good if it's business/management or otherwise related to your career field.

Working is like riding a bike, one never forgets how to do it. Getting back into the swing of things may be a little bit of a hassle but that's usually how beginning any job goes.

Re:Work is overrated (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520891)

There's a lot to this. Sometimes people are doing what they do, not because they enjoy it, but because it's a stable source of income and they don't want to jeopardize it. A layoff can be painful, but a smart, positive-thinking person can use it as the kick in the ass they need to do what they've been wanting to do, now that the old gig is gone no matter what.

Re:Work is overrated (2, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521095)

It doesn't work that way. It's easier to find a job when you already have one. So don't accept a layoff unless you found yourself a new one.

When do nice engineers finish last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520529)

Nice engineers finish last when the management is stupid.

Re:When do nice engineers finish last? (5, Insightful)

berend botje (1401731) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520755)

Do you know why the management of engineers seems stupid even if those managers might be fairly capable? It's because the level above them is the real problem.

Lower management might contain a few ex-engineers that actually do have a clue. The levels above that generally consist of business types that wouldn't know a hammer from a saw if their lives depended on it. However, those guys make the targets, the rules and the policy. And lower management has to carry them out, without question. They are spat on from above and spat on from below, they really can't win.

Don't blame lower management, blame the real culprits: MBA types.

Everyone has their price (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520541)

What's yours?

Or do you value integrity so highly that you'll accept the consequences?

Of course, there is the flip side to the coin - one could argue that advising management that the ass-kisser is actually doing a terrible job (complete with documentary evidence) is the more honourable position. You've advising the company of a risk they may not have been aware of.

I have no reason to change my ethics (5, Insightful)

gearloos (816828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520545)

As an Engineer I believe my ethics are just as important as any other skill I may have. You should too. If a company I worked for didn't see that in me I would probably be working somewhere else anyway. You do have the ability to look for other employment while at your current job. If you have been at your job for any length of time, they will know you, both personally and professionally. If there is anything to worry about, they already knew it BEFORE anyone stabbed your back. A wise man told me once, "If a company wants you, they will do anything in their power to keep you. If they don't like you, they will do anything to get rid of you. This includes "bending the rules"".

Ummm.... (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520547)

Is this even a supposedly true story? I'm not sure what we're supposed to conclude from n=1 cases of what appears to be a parable.

In a word: YES (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520561)

Always, not just in tough times. The archetypal IT practitioner is the Bastard Operator From Hell, not the Nice Operator From The Land Of Huggybear and Kissyface.

hung on to their job? (5, Funny)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520573)

As the inevitable cuts came, who do you think hung on to their job?

The cute receptionist?

Re:hung on to their job? (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520871)

As the inevitable cuts came, who do you think hung on to their job?

The cute receptionist?

Only if she puts out.

Re:hung on to their job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521061)

Everyone in HR?

Tough times or not... (3, Insightful)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520599)

Some managers value competence, some mangers don't. Doesn't really change with the times.

Re:Tough times or not... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520845)

But the effect of tough times are job cuts. Those managers that value competence are not going to lay off their most competent (or seemingly competent) employees when the budget gets tight.

Re:Tough times or not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521065)

Those managers are going to cut employees making the most money since they are all 'engineers' right?

If that's how they lay off people at your job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520603)

...it's time to look for something better anyway. If in though times a businesse does not realize that it isn't built on career people, then it's already on the way out. Leave while you can. The fighting is only going to get rougher when the ship sinks.

Short sighted (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520607)

As the inevitable cuts came, who do you think hung on to their job?

There will always be companies and individuals that favor short term gains instead of focusing on long-term goals. Letting the good manager go for a bad one can only lead to revolt. While they may not necessarily all follow the good manager when he leaves, his team will all certainly be looking for another opportunity even in this economy because they all know they will be next to go if something goes wrong regardless if it was their fault.

Either way... (1)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520615)

I'm in a vaguely similar situation. In my current situation if I got cut, I'd be like, "Okay, feel free to call me, my consulting rate is $200/hr."

Eventually they'd call:

- other guy:
  - can handle basic help desk - sure
  - can manage citrix/TS - no
  - can manage ERP - no
  - can deal with scripts - no
  - can perform complex troubleshooting - no

Lucky for him, he doesn't report to me!

False Premise and question (5, Insightful)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520627)

I think that the whole premise of the question is false. The question being asked is whether nice guys who share credit and accept responsibility will get axed in favor of mean guys who steal credit and ID scapegoats.

I actually RTFA (I know, a /. blasphemy) and I don't think that is a valid question. According to the article, the reason "Doug" got the job and "Staurt" the nice guy got fired is that Doug went to their boss and made a case for why it would be better for the boss and the company to retain him instead of Stuart. Now his reasoning was flawed, but Stuart never made such a case. He just assumed that he got fired because he was the nice guy.

Being a nice guy (sharing credit, accepting responsibility) and valuable employee (recognizing your manager's needs and supporting them, being politically aware and astute) are not mutually exclusive.

What Stuart should have done is said "that I am well respected by my team, I keep a mature and professional attitude when mistakes are made (not like Doug who yells at his team). In this uncertain time after layoffs are announced, the remaining people will be nervous and perhaps looking to leave on their own terms. Kelly, I'll make sure that the remaining team stays on target, and achieves all goals, so you look good. Doug said that I cannot make the tough decisions, but look, I've come to you with cogent and well reasoned reasons to layoff the required people in my team, as you requested. I can make the tough decisions, but in a way that keeps the remaining team morale up and productive."

Now Stuart may have actually said that, but TFA doesn't say so. Instead we're left to assume that he just figured as a nice guy he lost his job.

Nice or mean doesn't have much to do with it, being politically aware and understanding office dynamics is everything.

Re:False Premise and question (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520789)

the whole point is that "nice guy" stuart would never go into kelly's office and pitch for himself. its the kind of thing assholes do.

Re:False Premise and question (1)

zimtmaxl (667919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520945)

I absolutely agree with this. I just would like to add, that it is not only one single manager you report to, but also the company's culture as a whole that needs to be taken into consideration while preparing you arguments. For the culture comprises also the unspoken values.

Re:False Premise and question (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521033)

In this uncertain time after layoffs are announced, the remaining people will be nervous and perhaps looking to leave on their own terms.

Talk about a false premise!

It's a fact of life... (1)

pngwen (72492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520643)

that if you are nice, you will be screwed all the time by everyone around you. NEVER enter business, or any other type of relationship, without being possessed of the ability to utterly destroy the people around you should the need arise.

It's a ruthless world. If you are not at least a little ruthless, you will starve. If the economy is good, you may be able to nibble a few morsels that fall from the lips of those that are actually doing what it takes to make it, but in tough times, you're out.

You can achieve success, you just have to realize that you'll do it on the backs and broken dreams of your coworkers and colleagues. Suck it up and get back to it!

Re:It's a fact of life... (4, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520783)

Hunh. That must explain why I'm living on the streets instead of in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Oh, wait! No! I am living in the nice house. And I didn't stab anybody in the back to get it. Nor, for that matter, is my business acumen the reason I'm in the nice house - in fact, it's basically just good fortune.

I'm not saying that there's no value in hard work, or in any of the other things we do on the job. But I'm sufficiently ancient at this point to have seen a lot of comings and goings, and the fact is that prosperity and [insert name of business tactic here] are largely orthogonal. If you don't have any talent, sure, maybe being an asshole is your only hope. Or maybe you should just go do what you really want to do and stop screwing around in a job you aren't suited for.

Re:It's a fact of life... (1)

pngwen (72492) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521063)

I maintain that talent is not enough. You must be more talented than the ones around, or really lucky. Sometimes you do have to set others up for failure in order to make yourself come out ahead. Good for you if you've never been put in that position, but that is pure dumb luck and not something to stake your livelihood on.

Relying solely on talent and hard work is a fool's strategy. Those two things are a minimum requirement to play the game. If that's all you have, you'll either be lucky or on the streets. It is vitally important to recognize that if the choice to be made is between me and them, the correct answer is never "them".

Doesn't ring true (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520645)

It's not clear why we should believe the story. It has all the earmarks of embellishment. The detail that tears it for me is the assertion that the bad guy said "I will be ruthless and make you look really, really good Kelly.â

Nobody describes themselves as "ruthless." Nor would they be so unsubtle as to say "I will make you look really, really good." Nor would many people be so naÃve as to trust someone to make them look really, really good after they had just described themself as "ruthless."

This colorful detail sounds as if it were made up. So why should we believe the rest of the story?

I don't think this is a piece of journalism, with real names concealed. I think this is just someone asserting that nice guys finish last... in the form of a parable.

Could just be HR policy (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520647)

to not offer layoffs based on performance. Where I work, it's whoever's on "performance management" (you have to really really suck, have attendance problems, or be insubordinate, none of which have hardly anything to do with performance for 95% of people). If nobody is on "performance management" or the list of layoffs exceeds employees on the list, then it goes by hire date.

You could be new and great and not make the cut if someone who only generally sucks got hired one day before you.

It's neither fair nor smart, but eliminates the politics of it and is less likely to happen at a smaller company where they are more prone to actually make distinctions based on merit.

do you mean like the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520651)

the start-up I was at was being shopped around for acquisition as the money was starting to run out.

A potential suitor turned into someone who just wanted to cherry pick a few people. At some point discussions turned into "we want persons a, b, c, and d, but not e." I was person a.

As soon as person e heard this he trotted over, badmouthed me, got himself a job offer, which he didn't take, and I ended up on unemployment for a month.

Boo hoo for me I suppose. Should I have sued his ass?

Being a backstabber doesn't work. (4, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520657)

Of course you can always find an anecdotal counterexample, but the one time I decided I wanted to get someone out of a management position that was interfering with my job, it wound up backfiring hugely (the situation was *worse* after I succeeded) and on a personal level it's something I regret to this day.

On the other hand, every time I've come into a job situation and behaved with honesty and integrity, it's worked out well for me. And I get to sleep at night.

So take your pick.

Re:Being a backstabber doesn't work. (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520819)

Ah you should have used the BOFH 3 p's method, you simply put porn, phising scam and piracy on his PC, make an anonymous report and away you go!

(-:

Re:Being a backstabber doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26521077)

I think he meant the replacement manager was even worse than the original, not that he was found out and made to pay.

In the Long Run (5, Insightful)

PineHall (206441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520667)

I have over the years read several articles about who the most successful CEO's are, those that are humble. When things go well, they give credit to the "team". When things go bad they take the blame. I think in the long run nice guys finish first. You can not trust someone who is a backstabber.

Re:In the Long Run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520773)

"in the long run, we're all dead" - John Maynard Keynes

Submitter should remember... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520711)

The plural of anecdote is bullshit.

Productivity (1)

chazd1 (805324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520737)

In a well run company the engineer is graded through both quanity and quality of output. Being a nice guy (if slanting the outcome) will be a plus in not loosing their job.

Everybody wantes to be around a good guy, bosses and co-workers alike.

Assertive, Confident, & Ambitious Folks Finish (3, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520747)

Nice guys finish last in all times. The "nice guy" who finishes last is very likely diffident, afraid to take risks, refuses to stand up for himself, shies from taking credit for their work, and avoids confrontation. These guys finish last. The "jerks" and "assholes" who succeed stand up for themselves, take credit for themselves, and are not shy about confronting those in their paths. The nice guys get run over by these assholes and then post on the Internet how how unfair life is.

I got this insight from my female roommate. Men would complain about how they are nice guys but girls always go for assholes. But these nice guys either never asked girls out, or even worse, wanted to be bad guys but just did not have the guts to do it. She related the story about a self-professed nice guy who got drunk, and started to feel her up even though she made it clear she was not interested.

So you can try to get everyone to like you or you can try to get what you think you deserve. It is very rare to be able to get what you want without stepping on any toes. You can be nice and polite, but if you are competing with someone for a job, the loser is not going to like you at all.

Hope this helps.

Re:Assertive, Confident, & Ambitious Folks Fin (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521083)

I got this insight from my female roommate. Men would complain about how they are nice guys but girls always go for assholes. But these nice guys either never asked girls out, or even worse, wanted to be bad guys but just did not have the guts to do it. She related the story about a self-professed nice guy who got drunk, and started to feel her up even though she made it clear she was not interested.

I'm not clear on the message here. Nice guy turns into jerk and feels up uninterested girl. Since chicks dig jerks, she must have liked it right? If she didn't like it, would the guy have been better off staying nice? If so, that would conflict with your major premise.

Not a new concept, actually (1)

Captain Damnit (105224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520807)

How did 'Being a prick guarantees you more success in the world of IT' become a story? Microsoft turned that idea into a business model, and look where it got them.

While the ethicist in me would like to think that a backstabbing prick like the one described in the article will eventually get his comeuppance, the truth is that assholes generally win in business. If you're competing with someone who is only bound by what's legal, as opposed to what's moral or fair, you're playing with a serious handicap. Whether you think the material gain is worth losing a bit of your humanity is a judgment call.

I, for one, would rather make less and be a better person.

Stupid summary (4, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520829)

The summary makes it out to be a choice between the evil, cold-blooded manager (Doug) and the warm, fatherly teamleader (Steve). As much as we all like to see the black-white picture, I'm frankly sick with it -- do we need to have Slashdot become the Cosmo Girl for Nerds?

With a clear suppressor and an underdog, this can also be painted another way.

Kelly is the manager of the above two here. She was in a very tight spot and felt very alone, with noone to rely on. When asked for employee ratings, Steve unresponsively turned his back to her, just following orders. However, when Doug came along, he offered a listening ear and offered suggestions of his own. He showed that he could think along, offer support as well as make tough decisions -- just the person she needed.

*yawn* See how boring this black-and-white stuff gets?

Unspecified definition of "nice" (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520847)

Whether "nice" finishes last depends on your understanding of "nice". The more common usage is a people-pleaser who means well but cannot help operating out of a position of weakness because he thinks that happiness and fulfillment and completion come from other people (i.e. their approval and acceptance). To take on this nature is to be a leaf in the wind, always at the mercy of other people who themselves do not (yet) see their beliefs and full actions (with no exceptions) as choices. This is actually a form of slavery and it works because ignorance of the higher way prevents people from seeing that it is bondage. This idea taken to its full expression is unfortunately what most people think love is, when in reality its most healthy expression (which is still enslaving) is nothing more than a mutually agreed trade like those found in any market ("you're nice to me so I am nice to you").

The less common usage is well beyond mere courtesy and is more like an act of love. This is a person who has kindness and compassion for its own sake because cultivating these is pure joy. When you have this, there is no concern for outcomes or results because you realize that all of us are equal and must come to our own understanding at our own pace and in the fullness of our own time. There is no need to control and there is no need for this type of loving-kindness to be reciprocated. Reciprocated or not, the mere expression of it is pure joy and it is complete in and of itself. Everything is filled to the brim with nothing missing and there is no need to get upset (and thus cause suffering over) the non-ideal. It is the truly pure motive, in that even the exquisite joy of it is not done for the sake of experiencing joy. This is the type of person who finds possibilities and opportunities where there are none; the one for whom all actions and all speech are expressions of an ultimately simple and self-evident Truth. With this understanding, you feel that you yourself are not doing or saying anything. It is more like you find or observe yourself saying or doing this-and-that and it happens to be the best thing you could have said or done at the time, certainly far better than the result of any kind of deductive process. An engineer or anyone else who has this need not worry about things like tough times because he or she is free of the slavery that makes someone a victim of circumstance.

The only thing that is regrettable, or something like regrettable, is that most people live their entire lives without ever knowing the difference. It is not so complicated that most people cannot understand it. It is so incredibly utterly simple that most people overlook it out of a belief that they themselves should be doing something or seeking something or becoming something.

While Stuart sounds cool... (4, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520857)

...telling his boss that mistakes that his employees made were his mistakes was not very smart.

Atleast that is how I read his actions.

Stuart should have been 100% honest. Lying to his bosses about who screwed up didn't help anyone in the end.

Well, it helped Doug.

Not saying throw the employee under the bus. Be cool, be honest, and tell it like it is.

Another IT worker raised as a fool?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520873)

What is this middle class obsession with being as unstreet-wise and day dreaming as possible?! The meek will inherit the earth, so long as it's alright by you.

Real engineers got crushed in the early 80s (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520943)

Mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers were decimated in the late 70s/early 80s as manufacturers packed up and went overseas. There was an engineering glut due to Eisenhower and Kennedy's "beat the reds" era programs which churned out armies of engineers. Several of my father's friends were caught up in those lay offs and had take up menial labor jobs to keep food on the table.

Too easy a question (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26520983)

Answer: The folks at Satyam [wikipedia.org] .

I just hope the PHB took his kickback in Satyam stock.

Sniff Sniff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26520993)

Sniff...

I smell a load of crap.

The story is obviously a fake. All falls together way too nicely and conveniently to be true.

even as a load of crap, it's worth discussing.
1. Stuart should demonstrate his value (not necessarily by stabbing doug in the back).
2. if the story had been true, Doug would surely begin working to overthrow THE BOSS next. Watch your back.
3. No upper manager would reconsider when the staff threatens to leave over the layoff. They're just angry and will get over it.

Who kept his job? (1)

pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521007)

As the inevitable cuts came, who do you think hung on to their job?

I think jammag forgot the last sentence. Who kept his job? I want to know.

and yet they continue to wonder... (1)

Teriblows (1138203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521009)

why more women don't enter tech.... lol:)

Is there a competitor to slashdot? (0, Offtopic)

fregare (923563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26521087)

Slashdot is turning into shite. Is there a competitor besides Digg? Slashdot has a complex bullshite interface "A programmer is a person who solves a problem you didn't know you had in a way you don't understand." - bithead jake
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