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On Employees Educating Employers?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the when-is-it-appropriate dept.

Businesses 79

ramannoodle asks: "My employer currently makes many decisions that I feel would save them a lot of money by going about it in a different way. I have presented many of these ideas to them, but being the not-so-great sales person that I am, I feel in some ways that by voicing my opinion on these things, I am jeopardizing my standing with the company. Is it the right thing to do to continue educating my employer on issues they do not want to hear, but will save them money and just risk being one of the many unemployed honest IT professionals out there? Do I hide what I know from them by keeping my mouth shut and just doing what they tell me so I can keep my job and feed my family? It's a tough economy out there, and is it worth being over-enthusiastic about helping the company?" We touched on this issue for contractors, but what about actual employees?

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You must be new here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6609467)

Since you mentioned you were working in IT, I am assuming you are in India.

You are supposed to response honestly when asked, but to keep your mouth shut unless being addressed to directly. Haven't your mother told you this? Also, don't eat lamb curry in the server room and respect Shiva for he's the greatest. Keep a low profile, always smile and dress up in a shirt, and it will take you long ways, son.

I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (4, Informative)

MightyTribble (126109) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609478)


Don't sweat it.

Just kick back, take the paycheck, and do what is asked of you. Do it well if you want satisfaction of a job well done, do it just well enough to avoid being fired if work is just someplace you go between 8am and 5pm.

Really, unless your job description specifically allows you to suggest and make improvements to processes (and the company culture is *clearly* open to such things), don't try to get into the inner circle - you'll only target yourself for the next round of cuts as 'that guy who's always being negative'. In my case, by suggesting other ways to do things, I was seen as 'negative', even though I didn't say 'don't do that!', merely 'you know, this way may be better...'.

Attain a state of Zen - You are an employee. They pay you to show up and do what you're told for eight hours a day. In exchange, they give you money. Nothing more. To try to attribute higher meaning or greater value to your job where none exists is just adding to your stress levels.

Why yes, I am bitter. But now I have experience, and I have attained Zen.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (2, Interesting)

God_Retired (44721) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609644)

This is the perfect approach. It took me years to reach this stage, but life has been much more liveable ever since (I don't get pissed and bitter about the many, many stupid decisions).

To quote Henry Miller, do exactly what they expect of you and let them live to regret it. Well, not a direct quote, but close from my memory of reading one of his Tropic books many years ago.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610971)

Got tired of smoting people and burning cities and raining plagues?

What about that whole revelations thing, have you given up on that too?

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6609713)

With that kind of attitude, its no wonder companies are outsourcing IT jobs overseas.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1)

b!arg (622192) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610725)

Yeah...it's a damn shame that managers have that kind of attitude of not accepting others' insight...oh wait...

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6611330)

Heh. I'll bite...

I was #1 Loyal Employee. Really. I defended the company and its machinations from detractors. I studied the business model and tried to offer constructive improvements to business processes. I put in extra time on weekends and evenings (and even, occasionally, got recognised for it). I went the extra mile for the company, just because I believed in what it was doing and thought that we could really make a difference. I was also cheap.

However, this did not play well with some in management who were either clueless or brooked no 'dissent' (where 'dissent' was defined as 'not doing exactly what I say, when I say it, even if, in my professional opinion, it's obviously wrong').

What happened, to me, was that after several years of ignoring my attempts at input, when it came time to make cuts management chose the noisy ones ('the negative ones' - again, equating professional opinion for dissent) and kept the 'nosey' ones, if you follow my meaning.

My attitude was Nigh-Perfect before management screwed it up by not managing effectively. You know a company has issues when *good* managers resign (in this economy) with no other job lined up, rather than continue to work with the other managers and senior team. This happened, repeatedly, at my company.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (3, Funny)

pmz (462998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609737)

But now I have experience, and I have attained Zen.

No, you are only superficially in a state of Zen. If you look deeper, you will realize that you are in the very common state of having had all idealism crushed and stripped from your body, leaving a cynical shell of a person. I should know...

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6609790)

I agree. With the current dot-BOMB economy, you have to tread a fine line. My personal experience echos this.

If you make yourself known, for *any* reason, unless you managed to bring in $20 million in VC funding that makes you prime candidate for getting axed. Not that you did anything wrong, but that when management is sitting around making lists of "people to go", someone will remember you.

Yes, the argument can be made that being one of the faceless nameless group will make your name more likely to appear on a list when management says "cut 10% of workforce", but I've found that statistically the "Yes bob, we could let Bob go" usually is more prevalent.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (4, Interesting)

etcshadow (579275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609918)

Yeah, well, it's a double-edged sword. I've refused to hire people in the past because they had simply gone along with stupid-assed ideas at their previous jobs. It seriously fails to impress me in an interview when someone tells me about his/her last project and it was just stupid, stupid, stupid. ...Regardless of the reason. I need people who can take sensible business understanding to technical problems, and I don't think I'm alone.

Don't get me wrong, I know it's a tough world out there and all, but when you are looking to hire the best talent, you have to take the whole person into consideration. The sort of person who is happy to a) do what he/she is told without thinking about it themselves, b) sit idly by while watching their company tank, or c) is unable to recognize the broader scope of technical issues... well, that person is not someone who I want to put that much faith in. I don't want to work with someone who is happy riding a sinking ship down to the waterline.

All that said, if you are looking for a career track that ends at "I can code" (without a healthy amount of "I can think" and "I understand your business"), then good luck. Move to India, if they'll have you, because that's where an increasing of that job market is headed these days. However, if you want to be the sort of programmer who can continue to reliably command a good job in the US or western Europe over the next decade, then look into developing and being able to communicate that business understanding.

Very OT: Your sig (1)

I. M. Bur (460890) | more than 11 years ago | (#6614275)

All these days I wondered if I am the only one typing :W and getting the lame error message all the time. Is there a way to map ":W" so that it does the same as ":w"? Thanks in advance...

Re:Very OT: Your sig (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 11 years ago | (#6622808)

Yeah. Do C-h k :w and notice the name of the function it's bound
to. Say for example it's bound to some-command. Then do this in
the relevant mode hook: (local-set-key (kbd ":W") 'some-command)

HTH.HAND.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 11 years ago | (#6628043)

It's really a matter of right now vs. career path. The best bet might be to keep quiet and keep the job while shotgunning the resume around. At interviews make it clear that the reason for leaving is to advance his career by taking a more active role in decision making (and make it clear that the current employer has no openings available along that path).

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1)

DrCode (95839) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610921)

Here's a bit of advice (that I'm probably too cautious to take myself): If you really think your employer is screwing up, then short their stock. Just be aware that lots of companies do well in spite of less-than-stellar decisions.

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610981)

Wouldn't that be considered trading on insider information?

Re:I tried this. I got fired. Listen up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6634464)


Obviously, you were working for this guy [slashdot.org] ...

Not First Post! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6609485)

This is not the first post because nobody will
actually read this.

Don't Confuse Education and Evangelism (5, Insightful)

Murdock037 (469526) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609491)

This being Slashdot, my first assumption is that you're thinking of educating them on Linux / open source / etc.

If this is the case, don't be so sure of yourself. If you're not the head of the IT department, I would either:

1. Talk to whomever is the head of the IT department; if they're unaware of open source options, discuss, but don't impose your ideology for the sake of imposing your ideology, or

2. Keep your head down, as it could very well be out of place for you to assume you have any say in your company's direction.

If you are the head of IT, then you should already have the ear of the highers-up, if it's not entirely your decision to make.

I suppose the simple answer is: Don't neglect the chain of command. If you're perceived as an uppity, out-of-line employee, it's going to overshadow your message.

One for all, all for one (3, Informative)

tackaberry (694121) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609500)

You might want to see about building a network of support with others in your organization.

If you feel that your selling skills won't win over the decision makers, find someone else in the organization that shares your feelings, and have them help sell the company on your ideas.

A lot of times it is difficult to go at it alone, but with a network of support, you'll have people backing you up and raising the level of awareness.

Discuss your ideas with a smaller group, a make a game plan for bringing it up to management. Look for advocates, and someone to champion your cause.

If you can save money, or avoid problems the company should appreciate the efforts. Sometimes you just have to work through old-thinking.

Re:One for all, all for one (1)

stevew (4845) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610612)

I want to second this approach -

A few years ago I was involved with setting up an environment for allowing engineers to work at home. That sounds like no big deal, but I'm talking about 1995 or so when ISDN at home was something impressive.

We needed to have Xterminal access to the work environment and I suggested deploying Linux on people's home machines. We even went so far as to do 7 or 8 installs on people's home boxes.

The professional IT guys said they couldn't support this, even though we already stated that our department would handle he support internally. The IT guys came up with buying a $700 Xterminal and a $1000 ISDN modem as the ideal solution.

We estimated we would have saved about $100K if we had gone with the Linux/Home PC solution and a $300 ISDN modem.

The point to the story is that even in trying to sell it, I had the help of my direct manager who was ALSO a Linux fan and pushed the project on my behalf! I did the work, he did the sales.

So maybe you can get someone as a sales person to suits that can help you push your ideas.

Re:One for all, all for one (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#6611103)

The point to the story is that even in trying to sell it, I had the help of my direct manager who was ALSO a Linux fan and pushed the project on my behalf! I did the work, he did the sales.

This is an ideal situation which I am fortunate enough to be in. I get paid far less than other's in similar positions (last I checked at least), but having a good relationship with your boss, and letting him do the sales for you, is ideal, especially in my experience at a small/medium sized company (about 500 employees total over several locations).

Some keys to making this work:

  • Recognize when management is floundering for a solution.

  • Sometimes egos will get in the way when someone high up thinks they know what they are doing, but they don't. In general higher-ups don't want to micromanage everything, so if they clearly don't have a good idea, try to put one together.

  • Know when to give up

  • You can't win everything.

  • If they do force through a bad solution, try to mitigate damage

  • So they insist on using a closed solution, try to make sure they use open formats. Things like that. Try to leave the door open for when people realize the mistake.

  • Rally support, but don't polarize

  • It's sometimes hard to find allies without making foes, just make sure to pick your battles.

  • Make sure you address their goals, not just your goals

  • This seems pretty obvious, but make sure your goals are inline with upper management's goals, so that your solution is relevant to them.

  • Let other people above you take some credit for wins sometimes, but still take the fall if your idea screwed up

  • You need a symbiotic relationship with management. Sometime the first part can't be helped, but the last part is important. This doesn't mean you should let them walk all over you, but you do need to give a little.


This isn't just about reports and meetings, most of what people think of you comes from everyday interactions.

Now, the disclaimer. Like I said, I have my boss sell this stuff for me. I'm not too savvy with sales, there's something about sales that grates me the wrong way. These strategies have worked for me, more or less, to help shape overall company direction. I was doubly lucky to get a job in a company that was already leaning away from the MS/proprietary world, and I've helped nudge it in the right direction.

Why not try to achieve a balance? (4, Insightful)

Dyrandia (253125) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609503)

If feeding your family is what's most important to you, then you've made your decision already.

In my opinion, if you briefly offer them the pros and cons of both your idea of doing things versus the way they want to, and they choose to ignore it, you've done your part. You don't have to force the issue and become one of the many honest but unemployed. You've given them alternatives, but haven't forced them down their throats. A brief mention is all that's really necessary.

how much do you value your ethics? (1)

blackcoot (124938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609566)

is essentially what this boils down to. i wish there was an easy answer, but at the end of the day, you're the guy who's going to have to sleep with how you've chosen to resolve this on your conscience. my personal $1/(49+1) is that yes, you do have an obligation to say, "hey, there may be a better way -- look at this possibility", but that's where it ends: there is no cure for willful stupidity. if management chooses an inferior option even after having other choices presented to them, that's management's problem (and maybe a clue to find somewhere else to work).

First off (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609574)

If you are in Sales, you are not in IT, you are on the other side of the fence (-1 Troll)

That said, if you really want to find out how to save money, find out how your company does accounting for descisions, what variables are taken into account, what numbers they pull out of their ass.
That said, challenge none of those numbers, that is a fruitless battle that will get you no where. What you want to do is create a scenario where the likely benefit of implementing your descision outwieghs the preceived benefit of doing it their way...
And no, that does not mean once in a blue moon, if the starts line up, and we buy a lottery ticket that wins - makes more money than doing it your way.

In a word, no... (3, Interesting)

wtom (619054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609592)

The sad fact is, the way companies go about business decisions has lots more to do with upper management making "good ol' boy" deals that benefit important individuals (both within and outside the company) than technical merit, or doing things the best way for the company. Then there are the decision makers with huge, fragile egos that view any dissenting voice as a direct attack on them and some kind of ploy for power within the company(simply because they cannot conceive of any other reason anyone might disagree with them).

I was involved with a large-scale Oracle deployment at my last employer. I kid you not when I say trained monkeys could have made better business and technical decisions regarding this deployment. I protested in varying degrees of urgency, getting more vocal as time went on (and my hours per week increased). I very very nearly lost my job over it, and I was NOT being a butthole about it. I nearly lost my job because I was RIGHT, and pointed out that I had correctly predicted many of the failings and problems that arose as a result of stupid decisions. Even though I was (at least I thought) polite and professional about it, I was taken aside by my non-technical IT superiors and told to shut the hell up or I'd be looking for another job.

I wound up looking for and getting another job anyway, but the moral of my story is, no good deed goes unpunished. You must realize, especially in huge corporations, that things like these have nothing to do with technical merits or doing things the right way. Its all about power ploys and political maneuverings(sp?).

Re:In a word, no... (1)

MrWa (144753) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610742)

I nearly lost my job because I was RIGHT, and pointed out that I had correctly predicted many of the failings and problems that arose as a result of stupid decisions. Even though I was (at least I thought) polite and professional about it, I was taken aside by my non-technical IT superiors and told to shut the hell up or I'd be looking for another job.

The fact that you were right is NOT something that needs to be yelled from the mountain top. Either people will remember that the next time and come to you or they won't. Running around saying "I told you so - look at my big brain" *is* a good way to way to get fired - not because you were right and they were wrong, but because you are being divisive.

Being right but unable to get anyone to listen to you is - as the original post pointed out - *your* shortcoming, not theirs. Being able to influence someone is an art and is just as important as having the right answers.

which is pretty much why... (2, Insightful)

wtom (619054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6611171)

I told him not to do what I did.

I would, however, disagree with your characterization of what I did. As I stated, I was unfailingly polite about it, and did my best to be professional. That means quite specifically I did not shout it from the mountaintop. While my original post was indicative of my bitterness, I did my best not to show that in the various meetings I attended. I was much much more successful at doing that than many of the various department heads, etc. This entire project was extremely divisive, and detrimental to the company.

You make the same mistake that many of the ego-inflated bigwigs at the company I worked for did: that I wanted to be right, and my motivation for bringing this up was personal gain and making power ploys within the company. You think I did this so I could make myself look smart, and make other people look stupid. This is exactly the same mindset that most of the other folks had, and exactly the same mindset that resulted in the project being such a dismal failure. Everyone was so worried about their personal status within the company, and so worried someone would intrude on their personal domain that the entire project crashed and burned like a huge steaming pile of burning, well... you get the idea.

My motivation was very very simple. I wanted to decrease my workload. I had seen these types of deployments earlier in my career, and knew most of the pitfalls. I was working 45 or hours a week at the various sites I maintained, as well as about 10 hours more from home. With this project, that increased to 60+ hours a week onsite.

I was not screaming from the mountaintops that I was right, everyone else was wrong. I was bringing up points as the project went along that I recommended action X, and the accounting guy reccomended action Y. Action Y was implemented, with consequence Z, and consequence Z was correctly predicted by me. I did this in the vain hope that in the next phase, when I recommended action A, and sales recommended action B, and I predicted consequence C, that maybe someone would listen. You see, I was under the impression that it was my JOB to recommend proper technical courses of action. It is unfortunate that most people in business, especially the ones with a modicum of influence, can only conceive of a dissenting opinion as a vehicle to either build themselves up, or tear someone else down.

Being right but unable to get anyone to listen to you is - as the original post pointed out - *your* shortcoming, not theirs. Being able to influence someone is an art and is just as important as having the right answers.

Having to influence people, playing politics and making power ploys is the reason business (especially large corporations)is the scum-filled cesspit that it is today. Once you make your prime concern office politics rather than technical merit, you are a sellout, at least from the geekmind standpoint. Maybe the marketing guys might like you better, and invite you out to lunch or something. If that's what you like, and what makes your life rewarding, so be it. That did not work for me.

I am a network engineer, a very technical person, and have absolutely no patience with office politics and political games. I am an artisan, much like someone who makes fine furniture, I find it offensive when personal power plays (not legitimate business needs, mind you) take precedence over doing things right... My position with the company was NOT managerial, but was technical. Bottom line, I should not have been in those meetings. I was brought in because the VP in charge of all the facilities in my state did not trust the CIO to adequately consider the needs of our facilities, which were the test run for the deployment. This proved to be correct. I was in one of those unfortunate positions where I answered to both the VP of the local operations, as well as the head IT guy in the company - a rock and a hard place. And I was quite aware I did NOT have the disposition to play politics and pet important people's egos.

I had turned down one promotion in that company, specifically because I did NOT want to be in management. I was hired as a LAN tech, and made my way up to the head technical position in our state, and that was as far as I would go. Unfortunately, I learned that even if you say no, they dump the responsibilities on you anyway.

So, in summation, your mindset reminds me of the ego-stoked bigwigs within the company. Those who could only conceive that someone would be bringing up issues with the deployment strategy must be either tooting their own horn, getting ready for some kind of power play within the company, or the like... And hence, I left that cesspit of a company. Incidentally, the VP in charge of the state (I don't want to list his official title, someone may figure out who I am talking about) along with many other important folk also left. It made me feel a little bit vindicated. "Influencing people", politics and power plays ruined that entire division of that large corporation...

I recognize that influencing people is an art. I also recognize that I had no talent in that field. It should NOT be a requirement for us gearheads. Thats why I told the original poster not to do what I did. If I could go back, I would have just laid low, watched the project crash and burn, and collected my paycheck. Large business is simply incapable of conceiving that someone does the "right thing" because its the right thing, with no ulterior motives. I knew that the implementation path they were taking would result in huge increases in my workload, as well as every other joe blow in the company. My loyalties lay much more with the low-level managers and workers out on the manufacturing floor than they did with the nameless functionaries from corporate. I just wanted to see myself and my co-workers get cored as little as possible.

Re:which is pretty much why... (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615664)

It basically comes down to this: Making someone aware of the decision they made was the wrong one, even though you were completely right, isn't something other people like to hear. Some people react to it differently than others. I've had some people thank me when I did it, and I've had others go into complete denial that they were the ones that suggested it in the first place.

The real time to bring this up would be at the next deployment of something similar and say "We tried X last time, and that didn't work. We should try Y because it will". Don't assign blame, because like it or not, you'll be the one that gets in trouble.

Bottom line: Pointing something like this out to someone is nearly always the wrong way to go, no matter what your modivation is.

Re: In a word, no... (1)

Radical Rad (138892) | more than 11 years ago | (#6611922)

I nearly lost my job because I was RIGHT, and pointed out that I had correctly predicted many of the failings and problems that arose as a result of stupid decisions.

You are very insightful, and another way of looking at it is that what you were saying could have gone through the rumour mill and been heard by the executives. And they might be shocked to learn that the whole thing had been a very expensive fiasco. They were told by IT management that all those problems and complaints are to be expected in any large deployment. Once they have a scapegoat for their sagging bottom line, someone's head could roll.

Rebels like you and ramannoodle are often talented individuals, and the savvy manager can use your talents while maintaining a tight rein on you and stand on your shoulders to elevate his own position. One other thing you may have noticed is that he will toss his peons an occasional crumb of approval in private but will put you down when others are around. That is because it must look like you could fuck up a wet dream but the place would crumble without him. He will hoard information and segregate responsibilites so that no one subordinate knows how to keep the whole clockworks running smoothly. And does it seem like he comes down hardest on you? Then you probably have the most ability among your peers. The only time he wants a hardworking, smart person around capable of handling his position is if he takes his boss's job and needs someone down there to put the thumbscrews to. So if you don't mind a lifetime of stress just be quiet, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Take this little management test.

I believe that:
A. Creme always rises to the top.
B. Shit floats.
C. Weak swimmers provide some buoyancy before they drown.

If you answered A then you are a goody two shoes. You are not management material because you would not last long there. If you answered B then you are a rebel. You could make management if everyone else in your department died simultaneously in a horrible plane crash except Milton. If you answered C then you are a slime who is probably reading this while monitoring your employees web usage.

Educate yourself (3, Interesting)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609612)

It sounds like what you really need to do is educate yourself. Pick up some books on giving presentations and selling your ideas, or maybe take a class at the local CC (Speech or Drama). Also, educate yourself on what you are pushing and the alternatives as well. You need to be able to answer any challengers.

Keep at it though, eventually they might listen. Or maybe the guy who mainly opposes your ideas will "seek opportunities outside the company". You never know.

I don't see how you can hurt your position by suggesting ways for the company to save money as long as you aren't being obnoxious about it. Absolute worst case scenario: your new communication skills will really help you out in interviews.

Give it a shot, but be prepared (3, Insightful)

jgardn (539054) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609645)

If you do have some opinions on where the company should go, share them with your immediate supervisor or manager. Be prepared to answer questions when they get asked. Have at your fingertips and on your tongue tip the answers to the questions he is going to ask you.

If your supervisor is worth anything, he will give you the message his supervisors would give you. If you are able to convince him, then you have a shot at getting it all the way up. Besides, your supervisor will be better at getting the message sold than you would.

You have to get educated. You have to learn how to sell it. You have to have the facts to back it up.

Re:Give it a shot, but be prepared (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615698)

Another thing to keep in mind while all this is going on, is to see where the cudos go for a suggestion that's well received. You might not be aware of what's said. If your manager passes the word that you're the one that needs to be praised, that's good. If the manager takes credit for it, get the hell out of there. The manager is just using you for their own career, instead of helping you in yours. Cynical, yes, but it's true.

Be careful. (2, Insightful)

pmz (462998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609699)

If you don't know the true motives of your employer, you just might end up looking a little foolish. Sometimes, from a business accounting perspective, it makes sense for the PHBs to do totally counter-intuitive things like hiring junior programmers or forcing people to use shitty computers because of how the balance sheets are categorized or how things are charged to the customer in a contract situation.

You might just insult them, too, by saying, effectively, "Your accounting system is shit. Let me show you how to do your job." Usually, people are adverse to being bossed around, especially when their methods are widely accepted in the industry, regardless of how inane they are. They might turn around and say, "Okay, you measure and account for the labor costs saved by upgrading everyone to a newer computer." Or, worse, if you do it in front of a customer, you just might blow the bosses cover!

Who is your "employer"? (2, Insightful)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609708)

Unless you are working in a two-man shop your "employer" is not a single sentient being. You need to deal with humans in the organization and each person will have individual motivations.

You are unlikely to sell your dyed-in-the-wool MSCE boss on open-source if it means that you become the expert and he becomes redundant. The benefit to the corporation doesn't matter here. In most organizations you won't have much luck trying to go over his head, either.

Also, keep the "big picture" in mind. I've seen people decry the fact that their employers waste so much money on [paperclips, toner, servers] they bought at [big on-line megastore] when the paperclips are 20 cents cheaper at Joe's stationers and a new desktop is cheaper down the street at we-b-p-cs. Fine, but collecting all those prices, managing the paperwork for all those accounts, etc. is expensive. It's usually better to have a few good suppliers with decent prices and good service/return policies than trying to micromanage every purchase so don't try to convince the purchasing manager otherwise.

Having very little detail to go on in your post I can blindly offer one suggestion: a well-done pilot or example project completed while doing a good job with your assigned duties and presented carefully to the proper people can do wonders. I've seen this work brilliantly on many occasions.

For a large-scale example of this read "Sidewinder", the book about the development of the Sidewinder missile. The original task was to improve fuses for bombs but the engineers co-opted the project and developed the most spectacularly successful air-to-air missile in history.

Be humble, don't mistake arrogance for confidence (4, Insightful)

darthwader (130012) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609735)

This may be a surprise to a lot of IT workers, but most people aren't as smart as they think they are, and most bosses are smarter than their workers think the bosses are.

Instead of approaching the problem as "My idiot boss is doing something that I know is stupid", try approaching it as "I don't understand why my boss is doing this. I should learn."

It may turn out that your boss learns something from you. If so, you win because the boss now has a higher impression of you.

Or (more likely) you will learn more about the situation, and possibly understand why the boss made the decision s/he did. In which case, you still win, because learning is a good thing, and because your boss is impressed that you care enough to learn more than just the bare minimum of your job.

Finally, don't confuse subjective with objective. Many decisions are not clear-cut, and come down to subjective "better" or "more important" criteria. If your boss' opinion of the relative importance of two things differs from yours, then you two can make different decisions even with exactly the same facts. All you can do in this case is to try to understand why your boss ranks things that way (because, referring to the start of this post, chances are that the person with more experience and more success in the field has a better feeling for "more important" and "better").

Re:Be humble, don't mistake arrogance for confiden (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 11 years ago | (#6652766)

This may be a surprise to a lot of IT workers, but most people aren't as smart as they think they are, and most bosses are smarter than their workers think the bosses are. Instead of approaching the problem as "My idiot boss is doing something that I know is stupid", try approaching it as "I don't understand why my boss is doing this. I should learn."

I often find that the boss does not (cannot?) devote the time to ponder and explore the issue. Thus, they go with "instant gut" feelings. At least my side is pondered. I don't get that impression from them. They may base a wide decision on one narrow incident, for example.

As usual, it depends... (2, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609763)

Every company I've worked for has not only accepted but expected employee feedback on processes, so I may not be the best person to be accepting advice from.

Having said that, I can tell you that it really depends on how they react. I wouldn't want to lose my job over it, so I wouldn't voice my opinion unless I knew it was well received. As others have said, you are being paid to match your job description and do what your boss says. Do your work, do an excellent job, but don't tread on another's turf.

Also be ready to study the process, completely, from start to end. There may well be good reasons for doing something backwards.

Don't annoy people by being smarter than them, and don't assume they will believe you right off the bat. If you phrase the suggestion in such a way as to suggest you got it from some other reputable source, they may be much more receptive than "The net" or yourself as "That kid in cubicle 3A"

I know you probably have the organization's best interests at heart (right?), but they may see you (honestly- some people think in these terms) as making a power grab, or brown-nosing. You may not be able to dispel these feelings, but if you lay out your case carefully, and explain things on a basic (but not too basic) level, they may not feel them so strongly.

Understand the process as much as possible
Understand the inefficiency
Understand the solution
Understand your audience (and how to explain all this to them)
Understnad that any ideas you put forth you may have to implement without slowing your current work

-Adam

Sales is everything (1)

cornice (9801) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609774)

You may not think that you are good at selling your ideas but you will fail over and over if you don't learn to be more persuasive. Learn to simplify your presentation (dumb your ideas down if you have to). Learn what concepts and terms your audience does and does not understand and adapt. You may decide that the effort isn't worth it. Just understand that your best ideas will always fail if you can't convey them effectively.

If you got courage... (1)

Smartcowboy (679871) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609782)

1- Start your own company
2- Take all the Good Decisions
3- Profit!!!!

Seriously, as an employee, you may have to accept many of your employer's decisions that look bad to you. If you think you can do better, you don't have to sell your soul to PHB.

On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (5, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609786)

I'm not unique in this, but have you looked at it from the other side? Perhaps it might help you, who is so much wiser than your supervisors (who, contrary to popular belief rarely get their job through the "Mel Cooley" route of being related to the boss) to look at things from management's point of view. (Side note: This is a point that seems to come up a lot in Ask /. -- it seems a lot of the IT people here are too busy being intelligent, patting themselves on the back for it, and showing their intelligence to actually THINK about what's going on!)

I own my own business. Before that, I worked for a few local small businesses. I've also worked as a teacher, with numerous students telling me they knew much more about what they had to know to do Algebra well than I did. The first time I was in charge of people was when I was a teenager, when I was directing and producing a 2 hour dramatic (and sci-fi based with special effects!) production to air on local cable TV. It seems easiest to make my point with an example from that experience. I knew the script forward and backward. If someone called out a scene number (w/ over 100 scenes in a 2 hour script), I could tell you what happened, what actors and props were needed, what set it was on, etc. - everything about it. I could also tell you what scenes came before and after, as well as what the last scene any actor, prop, or set was used and what the next one they were in would be. I had to know all this, since I had nobody to help with continuity. Many times actors would make suggestions they thought would make it better. At first I tried to explain ("No, we can't add a punchline for comic relief here, since we're building toward something more dramatic 2 scenes down," or "I know you look better in that costume, but in the last scene, you were angry and took off and you've been tramping around in the woods, with no luxeries for 2 weeks in July, so you can't wear the sweater that makes you look stacked!") to the actors why or why not something would work. I found that often they were too focused on their own performances (as they should be) to keep the overall view in mind. Often they would say a suggestion whould make their scene better or add personality to the character. After a while I had so much to do I couldn't always explain why I had to (or decided to) say no to many requests. Many times I nixed an idea because it would completely destroy a scene that was important to another character, only to hear an actor walk away, mumbling under their breath, something about just wanting a quality production. What they did not see, and often could not see without the exhaustive time I had put into studying the script before I had cast any of them, was the big picture. I wasn't against quality, but I couldn't have someone changing one scene when it disrupted the overall story.

I find that happening in offices all the time. In my company, the employees do not need to know why I make a decision. The point is it's my business, I'm in charge, and it's my job to keep the business running. I may go with a system that costs more today. Maybe I've got a good relationship with the vendor and know that in another month I'll be buying video equipment instead of computer equipment and they can get it for me for wholesale.

The point is that, as an employee, you don't know why management is making their decisions. It's not your job to know and it's not their job to tell you. When I hire a coder, his/her job is to write code -- and possibly to give advice (when asked for) on overall computer systems. Maybe what I'm doing doesn't make sense to them. It doesn't have to. It makes sense to me. Maybe I'm spending more now because it's a tradeoff and I'd rather spend a few thousand extra on a LAN and save three times that much next month on video equipment. Maybe I'm getting equipment from one dealer because I can barter with him and keep my net cost down. It's not my job to tell an IT person why I'm doing something. It's my show and I don't want to spend my time explaining all my decisions.

I'm VERY picky about how I hire people (I hire people in groups and part of the process includes a ropes course -- extreme, but I have an unusual situation and almost nil on the turnover) and I don't like letting people go. However, if I had an employee who constantly questioned my decisions and kept telling me there was a better way to do it, that person is likely to end up unemployeed, even if they're right some of the time. From my point of view, they're spending too much of their time off-task, they're keeping me off-task, and their focus is not on their job. Also, from a management point of view, an employee like you describe does not seem to grasp their role in the company and what their true responsibilities are.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609988)

Also, from a management point of view, an employee like you describe does not seem to grasp their role in the company and what their true responsibilities are.

Depends on where you work, doesn't it? Over the past ten years, I haven't had a job where stock options (or straight stock) wasn't included as part of the compensation plan.

Believe me, if you plan on offering me part of the company's future success as an incentive to work today, you had better be willing to put up with me questioning what looks like an obviously bad move. You had better be willing to explain it to me as well - if you are effectively risking part of my compensation, I want to know why. And you had better have counted for the possibility of me walking out on you when you give me an answer I don't like.

Now, you may not be in that situation. Even if you're not, you had better realize that, particularly in the technology field, you hire people for their expertise. Tell me why you would hire someone for their knowlege and experience, and then ignore their opinions on the areas they are uniquely quilified to comment on?

Sure - a developer telling you how to maximize your sales leads, or a salesman telling you which technology to use is probably too much. The opposite is the desired situation, though, and you're being rash if you don't at least acknowledge the experience and ability of someone offering you an opinion. Despite the opinion you have of your abilities, you are not perfect, and you will make mistakes. Listening to an employee who has experience you personally lack can help you avoid making mistakes you otherwise might blunder into.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610106)

Even if you're not, you had better realize that, particularly in the technology field, you hire people for their expertise. Tell me why you would hire someone for their knowlege and experience, and then ignore their opinions on the areas they are uniquely quilified to comment on?

Go back and re-read the post. I gave an example, from my experience over 20 years ago, of what happened when I was directing a production. Later I make the point that there are many other factors. I get opinions. I pay people for their opinions. I weight them. Then I decide. Yes, I hire people for expertise in their fiedl. I'm sorry, but you seem to have missed the many parts where I went to pains to point out that a decision in one area is often impacted by situations across the board. I don't need an IT person to be telling me how to reform my accounting system. That's my account's job -- another person whom I pay for their expertise.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610741)

Goback and re-read my post. You missed my point - that your post comes across as "I'm the boss, what I say goes."

I have no idea what kind of business you run right now. There are many where that sort of attitude is not only beneficial, it's pretty much a requirement for a successful business. There are other businesses where a single person can't reasonably be expected to understand all the ramifications of a particular decision.

I'm not a lawyer - but I know enough about licensing issues to spot, and raise an issue with, potential legal problems in that area. I'm not in sales, but based on 10 years experience in software development, I've got some idea of sales strategies that have been tried at other companies, and which have failed and which have succeeded. I'm not in HR, but I've got an understanding of state and federal regulations regarding the interview process. Each and every person in my workplace has a similar mish-mash of experience that is in no way, shape, or form related to their current position.

So if I tell you that I think we may have licensing issues with a widget we're thinking about using, I expect you to listen. If Joe in accounting tells you that the when he worked for Fooblitz, they spent $10 million on a certain type of marketing for a $1 million return, I expect you to listen. If Jane in sales tells you that a contact at Barfoo Corp tell her they've been having problems with the federal government accounts because of Section 508 compiance, I expect you to listen.

You may not actually do anything because of it. You may know exactly why Section 508 compliance isn't something you need to worry about, or why the Fooblitz marketing strategy was a failure, or why the widget license is perfectly OK to use in our circumstances. On the other hand, you may not know anything about any of these issues. Scorning an employee concern in this circumstance, solely because it happens to be outside their area of expertise, is hardly sensible.

It's my experience that identifying good employee input from bad is generally not a difficult thing. I'd actually be surprised if you never listened to a software developer expound on anything except software development, for example. I'm just arguing that pigeonholing someone based on what you hired them to do has the fundamental problem of ignoring what they are capable of doing... and I've never seen a business that couldn't benefit from getting more than what they paid for.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6611284)

Goback and re-read my post. You missed my point - that your post comes across as "I'm the boss, what I say goes."

And just what part of that is so difficult to understand?

I'm not joking. When I started putting together the business, I had nothing, except credit card debt and a truck in my name (and a dog, if you count that). I'm the person who took every risk, who went to countless banks only to be turned down because the business was new, who went for several years with having to decide what bills to pay this month and what to pay next, who rarely got more than 5 hours sleep a day for the same several years, and went through ALL the other pains of getting business going.

Unless something goes VERY wrong, this will take care of my retirement, as well as my kids (when I have time to date/get married/have kids). After going through all the pains of starting this business, I have no desire to ever go through it again, nor to ever work for anyone else again. I started this business for me -- because it was what I wanted to do, because it would take care of my retirement, and because it would give financial security.

That also means it is MY responsibility. Not yours, not the coders', not my lawyers', not my accountant's, but MINE. While I may delegate decisions and functions, it's up to me. Which means I take the heat and the rewards.

I'm not a lawyer - but I know enough about licensing issues to spot -- and can you spot them better than my lawyer, whom I am paying to spot them? Yes, you have a wide variety of experience. But, for example, you only watched a sales staff try something. Can you tell me why it failed? Can you give me a market analysis explaining why the tactic didn't work, but why it looked good?

If you tell me you think we may have licensing issues and my lawyer doesn't, can you guess who I'm going to listen to?

I can see your overall point -- that you have a certain amount of knowledge and experience and it should be looked upon as a resource. While that is true, I've noticed -- especially on /. -- that there are a HUGE number of techies who are very much aware of their intelligence and skills. What they are not aware of is that they do not hold a monopoly on smarts. There seems to be a glass wall, built by the techies themselves, holding them back. Part of that wall is the attitude of, "I know something so you should (or have to) listen to me."

There's another side to it. It's from boss-man's point of view. When you're dealing with your supervisor, you're dealing with someone who has either built the company, or worked hard to get into their management position. While you may be so eager to share your experience, you've forgotten that you're talking to some who, quite often, has even more experience. (It reminds me of when I was a teacher and students would try the same excuses every year, thinking they were original and air-tight. It never occured to them I may have tried the same excuses anywhere from 6-15 years ago.)

Having said all that (and a few other posts), I'll comment that, in reality, I run my company under very unique principles, based on the organization of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), which involves respecting the uniqueness of each individual. (If you're not familiar with it, I don't have time to explain it here and now.) I make sure all the different viewpoints are taken into consideration. However, I've learned that usually the person who is continually making suggestions on how everyone else should do their job or what they should do often is doing it out of motives other than just helping. I spent enough time teaching in residential treatment and dealing with people with "messiah" complexes who have to "save the world" or always have the answer that I'm fed up with it. I'm very wary of the person who is always telling everyone else how everything should be done.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Samrobb (12731) | more than 11 years ago | (#6612151)

And just what part of that is so difficult to understand?

It's not difficult to understand at all. If you go back and take a look at my original post, though, you'll see that my main problem is when you say that... and then want to pay me, in whole or in part, with a share of your business.

At that point, as far as I'm concerned, the employer-employee relationship goes out the window. I'm at least an investor, and possibly even a junior partner, depending on what you've promised me. In that situation, I don't care if you're Moses himself - if I see a situation that I don't like, I'll ask and expect an explanation of you.

I'm not a lawyer - but I know enough about licensing issues to spot -- and can you spot them better than my lawyer, whom I am paying to spot them?

Spot a conflict between two licenses? No. Spot that there's a situation the your lawyers aren't ware of, because they're not cognizant of everything going on in the software development world? Absolutely. Not as big a deal if you're writing 100% proprietary code, but it can make a difference in a mixed proprietary/OSS shop, where someone else's license problems can quickly become yours as well.

Having said all that (and a few other posts), I'll comment that, in reality, I run my company under very unique principles, based on the organization of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), which involves respecting the uniqueness of each individual.

Well, why didn't you say so in the first place? Honestly, we're no very different in terms of viewpoints. Taking aside the employee-as-investor issue I mentioned, every instance of employees acting outside their realm of expertise was an example of someone acting out a cautionary role. In other words, you've made a decision, and they look at it and say, "Uh-oh. Does he know that...?" The purpose isn't to say "Look here, this is broke, this is how you fix it" - it's to ask you (the driver) if you noticed the "Bridge Out" sign a quarter mile back, because it was kind of hard to see and you seemed a little distracted and you haven't slowed down and the bridge is coming up...

From the sound of it, you don't make arbitrary decisions without employee feedback - which helps you avoid this type of situation. In the typical business world, though, it's very common for management to make a decision without bothering to ask those it will affect whether it actually makes sense at all - and then put the blame on the employee(s) who point out the potential problems.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6612600)

From the sound of it, you don't make arbitrary decisions without employee feedback

I usually don't. My overall point (or part of it) is that the bottom line rests on me, so I reserve the right to make decisions without feedback, since it is my job to be aware of everything and I may very well be making decisions based on factors most employees do now know about.

I do agree that the situation is different with stock options. I seriously doubt I will ever be involved with a public corporation. It's not my only reason, but as an example, "Marketplace," an excellent business program on National Public Radio, ran a story on SAS Software. They have a turnover rate of 4% -- almost unheard of. They do things like have a concert pianist playing in the lunch room during lunch, onsite day care, gyms and many other facilities for employees to use. The owner refuses to go public because he knows once he does, all that will change because stockholders will look not only at the bottom line, but at TODAY's bottom line.

I like what I do and I make sure employees feel the same way. If I snap at someone, they know I'm under pressure and to back off until I have time to cool down. I've done things like declare St. Lucas day (we all took the day off and went to see Attack of the Clones). We also had St. Tolkein's day, St. Roddenberry's day (for Star Trek: Nemesis), St. Rowling's day, and even St. Wachowski day. I'm sure you can figure out which movies we took off to see on each of those days. In truth, I don't feel things like this cost money, since we're getting all the work we have done on time anyway. Adding in extras like that just make it a little more fun. I go out of my way to treat my employees with respect and that may be why, when I tell them a matter is not up for discussion, or that my decision is final, they generally leave it at that.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6612880)

That also means it is MY responsibility. Not yours, not the coders', not my lawyers', not my accountant's, but MINE. While I may delegate decisions and functions, it's up to me. Which means I take the heat and the rewards.

WRONG! If I work in your company, and you are about to make a mistake that is going to cause it to go under, I am out of a job in a very hard job market. Are you going to continue to pay me once your company goes under? Are you maing that promise? If not, then you'll listen to my advice becuase the decisions you make DIRECTLY affect me.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6613006)

No, I won't listen to your advice. I pay you to follow my instructions, not vice versa. I'm much more lenient than most bosses, but if you try that, you're likely to be out of a job whether the company goes down or not.

Suppose I decide I'm tired of running the company and decide to close it or sell it to the highest bidder. Closing it will eliminate your job. Suppose I know the buyer plans on elminating your position. The decision I make still directly effects you. Does that mean it's your responsibility to advise me? Absolutely NOT! You may want to advise me. You may want to tell me, or even beg me, to do what you think I should, but it's not your responsibility to tell the boss what to do.

It's like the naval principle -- the Captain is responsible for everything that happens on his ship. He can claim he doesn't know about something an Ensign did, but it's the Captain's job to make sure he is fully aware of anything that happens on his ship.

Your comment reminds me of something I heard David Gerrold (author of "Trouble with Tribbles") say once. He commented that you usually can't tell the quality of a book by reading just the first and last lines. Then he commented that if the first line was, "You'll find things are a lot different out here than you learned at the academy, Ensign Jones," and the last line is, "Well, Ensign Jones, I guess we misjudged you." It really sounds like you've been watching too many "Ensign Jones" movies -- the ones where the greenhorn, fresh out of training, saves the day in spite of the fact that everyone else in the story has much more experience and knows what they're doing. It's a nice story, and we all can identify with someone new in a strange situation, so we see it a lot, but it's just not realistic.

My personal thought: I started a business because I was willing to put my experience and abilities to the test. In getting it up and running, I learned more things than I ever expected. I'm always amazed at all the "Ensign Joneses" that come in and want to work for me and think they can run it better than I can. If they're really that capable and can run a business and should be making the decisions, why are they coming to me for a job, instead of taking the risk on their own and putting their skills, which they are so sure are unparalleled, to the test?

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615146)

No, I won't listen to your advice. I pay you to follow my instructions, not vice versa. I'm much more lenient than most bosses, but if you try that, you're likely to be out of a job whether the company goes down or not.

Suppose I decide I'm tired of running the company and decide to close it or sell it to the highest bidder. Closing it will eliminate your job. Suppose I know the buyer plans on elminating your position. The decision I make still directly effects you. Does that mean it's your responsibility to advise me? Absolutely NOT! You may want to advise me. You may want to tell me, or even beg me, to do what you think I should, but it's not your responsibility to tell the boss what to do.


You misunderstand how the relationship works when you have very higly skilled employees. Maybe you only work with minimum wage unskilled workers? I don't know. But this kind of additude would send me right out the door, and that you be a very bad thing for you.

When I am hired to work at some company, I am hired because I am the best in my field. The best. You will not be paying me a high six figure salary because you want to tell me what to do. You'll be paying me six figures becuase you know that I will be able to do things that others can NOT do, and you will give me any and all information that I require to do my job. If you decide that you don't want to work under those terms, fine, I'm gone, good luck.

If I decide that I don't want to work for your company anymore, unless you are a multi-billion dollar conglometate, that descision will most likely end your company right there. You will only be willing to pay my very high salary if you truly believe that I am the only one capable of performing the task that needs to be done. Without me, you will be unable to complete your product, it's that simple.

For every "Ensign Jones" you have run into, there is a "Pointy Haired Boss" out there. If you are willing to run your company into the ground because of your own hubris, then that is what you are.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615873)

Maybe I have a better understanding of it than you are willing to believe. You seem to have the feeling that you are the bottom line. Not true. Never. The person/people who are running the company are. It is their choice to listen or not listen to your advice.

But, from what you say, it seems clear that you are the ultimate expert. You are the one who knows what should be done. You are the final authority.

So why are you busy working for others who make more than you and can decide your fate? Why don't you "put your money where your mouth is?"

While I go out of my way to listen to input from all employees (see my other posts in this thread), the bottom line is that the welfare of the company is my responsibility and rests on my decisions (which include who I listen to or don't listen to). I pointed this out in another post: it's like the concept of the Captain being fully responsible for everything on his ship. You and a hundred other experts can advise me all day long, but when actions or decisions are made, I'm the one that has to make them, not you. There's a big difference between telling everyone you know what to do and have all the answers and are the best and smartest in your field and being the one that actually makes the decisions that determine if the company survives. I did a lot of "advising" and consulting and found that it is quite different when one has to actually make the decision and take the responsibility for it than when one is just the advisor.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6617012)

Maybe I have a better understanding of it than you are willing to believe. You seem to have the feeling that you are the bottom line. Not true. Never. The person/people who are running the company are. It is their choice to listen or not listen to your advice.

If I decide to walk out of your office before a job is done, your business will fail, simple as that. You would not have hired me unless you *absolutly* needed me, because I'm far too expensive to be hired for trivial work. I think that sounds fairly bottom line to me.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6617483)

And I would never allow anything in my company to be structured so any one person is that vital to the business. In my eyes, it'd be poor management.

It seems unlikely that you and your ego will have to worry about working for me, then, will you?

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6617878)

And I would never allow anything in my company to be structured so any one person is that vital to the business. In my eyes, it'd be poor management.

It seems unlikely that you and your ego will have to worry about working for me, then, will you?


Of course not, that's not the point, I doubt you even do any multi-million dollar banking transactions, let alone write the software for it. The point is, you are advocating hiding information from your employees that they need to know. You justify it by saying that it isn't thier job to know, since all the responsibility of the company rests on your shoulders. That is a recipie for failure in a any company.

Unless you are making the promise to pay your employees a six months severance package if you fail, then you are asking them to give you a lot of trust. I can't see anywhere where you say that trust is justified. You don't even respect them enough to tell them why you make your decisions, so how can they trust you? If you think that you are the only one with something to lose if your company goes under, you are wrong.

What's more, you breed contempt for yourself. Any employees working in a company where they are treated like robots and not people is will not be willing to show a great deal of loyalty. If your competitor is willing to give your employees more respect, then the best people you have will leave you for them. If employees have no loyalty, they won't mind letting that bug slip unnoticed that will most defintly cause the system to fail at a critical moment.

There is no success scenario with that logic. Worst case, you get a little minor inconvenienced when an employee asks you to take two minutes out of your day to explain something. Best case, your employee will see the fatal flaw in your plan and save you millions.

Maybe you are willing to risk millions to save yourself from a little inconvenience, but that is no way to run a business.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6612233)

Something the Marines learned: ALWAYS explain why.
Give the WHAT and the WHY, and let them do it how they work, their way.
( no I'm not telling anyone to permit a unit's action, whether an acting-unit or any other kind of unit, to be destroyed by some individual's want, but even in acting, you've got to trust the actors to do emotion & interactive-process their way, with their own essence -- one also has to communicate the end-state / intent, and if someone's wanting to do something that sabotages the intent, they don't get what the intent is, then)

If one doesn't explain why, then one is obstructing 'em ( rather than including 'em in 'our' endeavour ), and as Frood figured-out, that automatically results in a kind of reaction-formation.

If someone orders me to do something, and doesn't respect my consciousness enough to tell me why, then they don't want *me* doing something, they want a robot or a dog doing something.

Since I'm not either of them, I have .. exactly how much loyalty to the endeavour that's being enforced that way? That I'm not good-enough to be trusted with participating-in?

Inclusion/contribution is a 2-way street, always.

( some ideas in this post were swiped from David Freedman's Corps Business: the 30 MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES of the US Marines [amazon.com] )

( no this doesn't apply to the person I'm replying-to, obviously: this only applies to ones who live in the kind of values & we being effective process I prefer, and such may not exist, perhaps being only a figment of delusional imagination, and yes I'm aware of that )

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610888)

Another important point, which is a tired cliche, is: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

It doesn't matter if you have the greatest ideas in the world. If you don't have "friends" in higher places, you probably won't have the opportunity to convey these ideas successfully.

My advice to the asker is to cultivate relationships with your boss, his boss, etc. to the point where you can take them out to lunch and ask them questions about why they're doing what they're doing, without pushing your solution. Once they explain it, perhaps your solution won't seem as valid. Or perhaps it'll be even more valid, in which case (since you've developed a good relationship) you'll be able to ask, "Have you considered X?"

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610915)

Mr. Hermit,

Are you currently hiring software people? I apologize for using this forum for something other than "tech talk" but I really like what you have to say and if you have opportunities I'd love to see if we can be mutually beneficial. Thanks.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6611337)

Actually, we're not hiring now.

(I haven't had time to explore all features of /. -- if private messages are possible, feel free to contact me and discuss this more.)

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615129)

I'm not sure if private messages are possible either. I have used the "Journal" feature which is a little more private than here, but still world-readable.

Please email me at thing1fl at bigfoot dot com so we can continue.

Thanks!

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6612834)

find that happening in offices all the time. In my company, the employees do not need to know why I make a decision. The point is it's my business, I'm in charge, and it's my job to keep the business running.

And this is why you are guaranteed to fail. Observe:

When I hire a coder, his/her job is to write code -- and possibly to give advice (when asked for) on overall computer systems.

Without an overall picture of the entire system, I will write you code that exactly fits the requirements that you give me. Now you are not an engineer, so the requirements that you give will WILL be flawed in some serious way. You may see the big "business" picture, but I see the big "engineering" picture. I know, quick example, that when you implements a Voice XML system that interfaces with Telera, you can't reuse ANY of the code for TellMe becuase, while they both claim to follow the "standard" they can be as much as 70% different.

Now, if you just give me the requirements that say, build me a Voice XML system that interfaces with TellMe, I'll go and do it.. but if I don't know that you'll also be interested in integrating with Telera in six months, my code will be absolutly unscalabe and in six months you'll be paying TWICE the money and time to get it done.

From your CEO's or board of directors' point of view, you've just cost the company twice the money by trying to micromanage and control your employees. If you are hiring the best employees for the job, then you have to let them do thier job, which means that they need information about the entire scope of the project. By hiding that information from them, you are only hurting yourself, and the company.

From a Board of Director's point of view, a manager like you describer does not seem to grasp thier role in the company and what thier TRUE responsibilities are.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6613030)

So I take it, since you have such vast wisdom, you must be on the board of directors or running your own business?

As I said in another comment, it always amazes me that the people that give me the most advice on running a business are the ones who have never run one. And 99% of the time, they're people who have never worked in management at all. I keep wondering why, if they have so much wisdom, they're the ones working for others, instead of using their vast wisdom to run that perfect company they say they know how to run.

It's like a friend of mine -- he had a few years of experience in teaching Sunday School and kept telling parents what to do and how to raise their kids. When his wife was expecting, he kept talking about how he had learned so much that he knew the perfect way to raise a kid and commented to me that in 18 years everybody would be amazed and see how it should be done.

Within 3 months after his kid was born, he shut up and NEVER told others how to raise their kids once he started really doing it.

The moral: Those who can, do. Those who think they can, don't, but cannot accept that, so they work for those who do and continually tell them why they're doing it wrong.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

emptybody (12341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6614935)

The moral: Those who can, do. Those who think they can, don't, but cannot accept that, so they work for those who do and continually tell them why they're doing it wrong.

The real moral:

Those who can, do.

Those who can't, go into management.

Those who can't manage become directors.

Those who can't direct become CEOs.

It all comes down to the peter principle. We work to the level of our incompetence when in fact we should work one level below.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6615280)

As I said in another comment, it always amazes me that the people that give me the most advice on running a business are the ones who have never run one. And 99% of the time, they're people who have never worked in management at all. I keep wondering why, if they have so much wisdom, they're the ones working for others, instead of using their vast wisdom to run that perfect company they say they know how to run.

I don't run a company because I have no desire to, not becuase I am incapable. To me it sounds like a terribly dull and uninspiring job with very little reward. The job I do now it entertaining and easy for me, and I still make a great deal of money, probably more than 90% of the small business owners out there. Why would I take on a challenge that would be less interesting, require more work, and with less reward? Sure there is the infintessimal chance I would become the next Bill Gates, but I can live very happily without that. In fact, considering the hassle of having too much money, I probably would be even happier where I am now.

I have turned down more management positions than I care to count, not becuase I was somehow afraid I wouldn't be able to handle it, but because I find management positions to insipid and unchallenging.

The moral: Those who can, do. Those who think they can, don't, but cannot accept that, so they work for those who do and continually tell them why they're doing it wrong.

Indeed, are you an engineer? Can you do my job? No? Then stop telling me how to do it. You give me what information I tell you that I need, even if you don't understand why I am asking you for it. You answer my questions about the direction of the company when I ask them. That is all part of my job, and if you are not willing to give me the information I request, then you are trying to tell me how to do my job without the experience to understand how my job works.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6616048)

I have turned down more management positions than I care to count

In other words, no management experience.

Indeed, are you an engineer? Can you do my job? No? Then stop telling me how to do it.

Thank you for making my point, without realizing it. Your point, that unless I'm an engineer I don't know how to do your job is a "two edged sword." You admit to not managing, yet you seem to know how to manage. Yet, you say one who is not in your job or is not an engineer doesn't know how to do your job.

Let me know when you've spent a few years in management. When you've worked on both sides of the fence, let's hear what you think.

I've worked both sides, I know both arguments. There was one small business I worked for where I was continually telling the boss about the problems with equipment and why we should be using something else and what was wrong with the current system. I'm still on good terms with him. Last year, I stopped by his business and apologized for doing that. Why? Because I learned, after running my own business for a while, that management is making their decisions for a reason, often many reasons, and it is management's decision to make those decisions. Often the employees are critizing the management's decisions without knowing the whole story -- and it is not the job of management to justify or explain everything to their employees.

Again, spend a few years on both sides of the fence. I have. I found my views changed drasticly when my decisions were putting my assets and business on the line.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6617070)

There was one small business I worked for where I was continually telling the boss about the problems with equipment and why we should be using something else and what was wrong with the current system.

And thank YOU for making my point for ME. Imagine if that boss had just explained to you the reasons why he was using that equiptment in a clear and rational way. Poof, problem solved, you wouldn't have been pestering him any more... If it was a good reason. If it's a bad reason, then why is he doing it? It would have taken hin two minutes to run down the list of reasons he has, and that would be the end of it. Instead he decides to waste hours of cumulative time ove rteh next few years by constantly ignoring what you say. Doesn't sound particularly competent to me.

Often the employees are critizing the management's decisions without knowing the whole story -- and it is not the job of management to justify or explain everything to their employees.

Yes, often companies go out of business because of incompetent management with the inability to communicate well, what's your point again?

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#6617794)

Imagine if that boss had just explained to you the reasons why he was using that equiptment in a clear and rational way. Poof, problem solved, you wouldn't have been pestering him any more...

It's not his job. Simple as that. He could have explained. Then I might have countered, and he'd have to counter. Kind of like what you're doing now -- you just can't accept that the person in charge is in charge. Since you haven't been in management, you haven't seen it from that side. I gave an example, earlier, of one of my first epxeriences in management, as a teenager, directing and producing a 2 hour production that aired on local cable. Notice that I point out that I started in management with your inexperienced ideas -- that it was the job of the manager to explain his/her decisions to everyone. I found out rather quickly it doesn't work that way. Usually there's too much to do. While I don't like employees who blindly follow orders, I've found that (unless I have time to be wasted), I don't have the time to continually explain my decisions to people I'm paying to do their job. It is quite clear you can't accept that. Fine. Don't accept it. I've wasted enough time -- this is an example. I have a number of reasons for my management style. I've gone over it with someone who doesn't like it, and keeps coming back over and over saying, "Hey, you're wrong." Maybe. Maybe not. But until you've seen both sides of the fence, you'll never know for sure. You'll just "know" you're right, but you'll never have the experience to back it up. This can go on, back and forth, forever. So could the discussions that boss would have had with me. In truth, he saved a lot of time by just telling me to shut up and do my job.

I've found, from experience, that those who keep giving unsolicited advice don't stop at giving the advice. From my experience working in residential treatment, I've learned to look at underlying motives -- why is a person really doing something?

In this case, bottom line: control. And, in this case, I have it, you don't. And you just can't stand that, so you have to keep coming back and telling me what to do. Great -- you make six figures. Great -- your company can't survive without you. Great -- you know so much you are the foremost expert in everything. But until you are willing to put it on the line and manage something where YOU make the decisions and YOU take the heat, don't tell others how to do it. It's just too damn much like a eunich in a harem.

I've seen both ends. From your admission and re-direction of topic, it appears you haven't, and are definately stuck in an "I'm right, and everyone should listen to me." I'm saying when someone starts and runs a business, what happens are their decisions. They can hire you and pay you, but, in the end, it's their decision. You seem to have missed that point over and over and would like to continue to talk about poor management. What's your issue? You don't like the way I run my business -- that's clear. You aren't working for me, you won't be working for me, so why keep whining?

If you'll excuse me, I'm out of this discussion. Bottom line: In my business, I make the decisions and they're my responsibility. You've clarified my point by bickering: when a manager takes time to explain, the explaination is never good enough. Someone that wants to keep telling him what to do has more motives than just "trying to help." They won't let go or let the discussion end until they win. I don't have time for that and my employees don't. If I wasted all that time, I wouldn't be able to spend time doing some of the extra things I treat them to. At some point a boundary has to be set. You're not comfortable with my boundaries, so you're willing to go on and on until you can force me to see I'm right. You've proved a good part of my reasoning: spend your time explaining every decision and someone is going to keep question you over and over and won't let it drop. In the long run, it works better to just draw the line and say, "It's my decision, I made it, I'm responsible, and it stands." That's what I've done. You don't like it? You don't have to. From what you say, obviously such a highly paid person as you must have way too much to do to waste time telling a lowly PHB like me why I'm wrong.

Re:On EMPLOYERS Educating EMPLOYEES? (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 11 years ago | (#6618208)

Imagine if that boss had just explained to you the reasons why he was using that equiptment in a clear and rational way. Poof, problem solved, you wouldn't have been pestering him any more...

It's not his job. Simple as that.


It is exactly his job to give the information that the employees need. By you logic, the engineers shouldn't discuss technical considerations with thier managers, since it's not the manager's job to deal with those issues... But without full and open communication, the company is doomed. If your manager's reason for not upgrading the equiptment is purly a financial one, it's possible that you know somone that could upgrade them cheap. By not explaining that to you, he just cost his company productivity.

He could have explained. Then I might have countered, and he'd have to counter. Kind of like what you're doing now -- you just can't accept that the person in charge is in charge. Since you haven't been in management, you haven't seen it from that side. I gave an example, earlier, of one of my first epxeriences in management, as a teenager, directing and producing a 2 hour production that aired on local cable. Notice that I point out that I started in management with your inexperienced ideas -- that it was the job of the manager to explain his/her decisions to everyone. I found out rather quickly it doesn't work that way. Usually there's too much to do. While I don't like employees who blindly follow orders, I've found that (unless I have time to be wasted), I don't have the time to continually explain my decisions to people I'm paying to do their job.

You must only deal with unskilled workers.

I've found, from experience, that those who keep giving unsolicited advice don't stop at giving the advice. From my experience working in residential treatment, I've learned to look at underlying motives -- why is a person really doing something?

In this case, bottom line: control. And, in this case, I have it, you don't. And you just can't stand that, so you have to keep coming back and telling me what to do.


If it's an issue of control to you, then you aren't running your business correctly. If I were your employee, you wouldn't be paying to control me, you would be paying for my knowledge and expertise. If you want to turn it into some mind game, I'll take my expertise elsewhere, and your comany will suffer for it.

But until you are willing to put it on the line and manage something where YOU make the decisions and YOU take the heat, don't tell others how to do it.

As I have said many times before, just because I don't like the inanity and busy work of management does not mean that I am incapable. I don't have to be the owner of a company to have a stake in it's success. You are not the only person who suffers if your company fails.

I've seen both ends. From your admission and re-direction of topic, it appears you haven't, and are definately stuck in an "I'm right, and everyone should listen to me." I'm saying when someone starts and runs a business, what happens are their decisions. They can hire you and pay you, but, in the end, it's their decision. You seem to have missed that point over and over and would like to continue to talk about poor management. What's your issue? You don't like the way I run my business -- that's clear.

I'm trying, fruitlessly, to educate you, so that you DON'T fail. The more business that fail, the worse the economy becomes. You seemed determined to fail, and I don't like that. You are jepordizing the livelyhood of your employees, and that is dangerous and wrong.

If you'll excuse me, I'm out of this discussion. Bottom line: In my business, I make the decisions and they're my responsibility.

Then take responsibility for real. If you are going to not do your best to make your company successful then set up a 401k for each of your employees so that when your business does fail, you won't have just screwed over dozens of people.

Prototype? Does it scale? (1)

anomaly (15035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6609882)

You might consider prototyping the solution that you have in mind.

For example, if you had in mind to use a mailing list to solve a comms problem within your company (or provide a comms channel to your customers) you could build one as a prototype from freely available tools and make that a first step toward a real solution. If the prototype bombs because people don't want to be bothered to use it or because it doesn't work well, then perhaps your organization (or the tool you are using) is not ready for prime time.

Once you have a working prototype you'll need to determine whether the as-built solution would scale to work for the whole company.

I work for a fairly large company. When we started talking about linux deployment the operations folks asked some good questions
- What problem is it solving for our company?
- Can we solve that problem with a platform we already own? Is it necessary to add yet another platform to the environment? (more to support means more costs.)
- Can we monitor these servers with the tools we already own?
- Can we back it up with the tools we already have?
- What part of the IT org will own and support it?

Sometimes what seems to make sense at your house, or what might make sense to a department just won't cut it for "prime-time."

On the other hand, Netware made its fortunes on departmental rollouts because the business problems that it solved were so compelling that it was worth the money that was paid for the equipment and licenses.....

Learn the soft sell (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610008)

The problem is that most young turks only know one method of persuasion: pelting-hell-for-leather-guns-blazing-take-no-pris oners yadda yadda yadda. I'm a big boy, and I can listen to some snot nosed little pipsqueak tell in so many words me I'm a decrepit relic well past my sell by date and it rolls right off me. But I wouldn't count on most bosses being that way.

Adopting a little humility can do wonders for getting most higher ups to listen to you. For instance, do you really understand the whole picture they're they're working from? What are the things they are worrying about on a day to day basis? The things that make them look good or bad to their bosses?

Once you know this, you can relate your ideas to the things that are gnawing at the bosses guts. When he's off on one of his pet problems, you can say, "Y'know, I bet we could (insert boss's pet problem here) if we (insert your pet technology here); I know it sounds a bit radical, but we could do a quick prototype on the old server downstairs in a little time and see if it merits more consideration. I know we're really late on these other things, but it won't make much difference if it doesn't work out, and it could help a lot."

This will change his perception of you from your being an irritating one-note gadfly to a problem solver.

Re:Learn the soft sell (3, Informative)

xanthan (83225) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610729)

Exactly.

I've made the transition from code monkey to marketing monkey. I end up helping a lot of sales reps on calls because of my technical background and ability to "geek-meld" in one sentence and pitch "value propositions" in the next.

There are several key parts to the pitch:

o Give the other guy an out that makes him look good.

This means opening with "I might be missing something but," or "Would it contradict the big picture if we..." In each case you give the receiver of the idea a chance to explain what it is their doing and educate you.

o Read the crowd

A good DJ doesn't just play songs, he guides the crowd and builds energy. He spends a lot of time looking at facial expressions and watching how people dance -- what are they reacting to? What kicks the energy up a notch? What makes them roll their eyes, etc. You have to do the same with your audience. If they're being terse and not really responding, back off. They don't want to talk about your suggestion and pushing it is only going to irritate them. If you manage to make them stop and think about it, don't jump in too quickly. Let them ease into the idea. Don't forget to show the benefits to them in terms of how it'll make them look, etc.

o Be ready to drop it

This is crucial. Your idea may not fit in a bigger picture an established process, or you may be improving something that doesn't present a really good return. (e.g. optimizing the snot out of a loop that that takes 1 second to run, once an hour isn't nearly as useful as optimizing the loop that runs 1000 times a second) Of course, you may simply be simply be stepping on a toe and the person wants you to back off. Don't write off the possibility that the current idea is too far down the path to change (e.g. don't put someone in a tough spot because they just spent $500k on web caches when squid and some PCs would have sufficed -- the money is spent and you can only make people look bad)

o Don't repeat yourself and be ready to support the existing idea

If the idea was heard and rejected, don't keep going back in a huff. You'll only annoy and piss off everyone. Once you've done your pitch and it has been ignored/dropped/whatever, support the decision that was made. Your ideas will be better received in the future when your managers know that you'll still support the team.

Best of luck...

Just do it right (1)

Descartes (124922) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610064)

I think your best bet for "making suggestions" would be to actually do it in a way the your manager can appreciate.

Just saying "Hey, this isn't the best way to do things" Write up a proposal on glossy paper with lots of graphs and pie charts and such. Do your homework.

Even if your boss still thinks you're wrong, at least he or she can't discount you completely. And it's not like you'd be nitpicking if you put together something really slick. Also if they chose to keep the status quo, at least you get some brownie points for going above and beyond.

If you can't figure out how to present your ideas in a convincing way, don't bother. All you're going to do is irritate the higher ups if you don't put some real effort in.

Not just in IT, but manufacturing too (2, Informative)

Midnight Warrior (32619) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610105)

My dad, after being the best engineer in one General Motors facility, had his job outsourced to Detroit where "corporate" could do it better, faster. He knew that when folks were designing a chiller installation on the second floor, it would violate the load per square foot rating for the roof (i.e. collapsed roof if you get it wrong). He also knows exactly how deep/where gas pipelines lay across some arbitrary field on a 2 sq. mile plant (i.e. dig in the wrong place and the big explosion hits the national news) [true story: they had the backhoe in the field when they discovered this mysterious pipe in the wrong place... hmmm?]

So it would go to stand that maybe they should listen to a man who knows the blueprints to the plant by heart, and where to find all these prints.

GM opened a formal "suggestions" program where they offered real prizes/points for projects that would save the company money. From ways to reduce the number of steps an assembler took to get parts (read: time vehicle sits at one station) to ways to reduce heating/air conditioning costs. The program worked really good and my dad says he submitted dozens of ideas. Of the dozens he submitted, they gave him point awards for, say, a dozen. Of those dozen, maybe four were actually implemented.

Why mention this here? Even in an organization with thousands of corners for improvement, they still don't listen well and implement even fewer of the things they actually get into their thick skulls. You are no different.

In fact, if you want to avoid tarnishing your reputation, make your first suggestion be the start of a similar suggestion program whose sole focus is awards go to those whose ideas save the company the most money for the least amount of work. Of course, the program only can last so long or the employees won't think about doing their real job. Prizes were given like credit card companies do their "spend money and get points" reward systems.

This is easy. (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 11 years ago | (#6610927)

First, document your method. Demonstrate how it is an improvement over the exisiting or soon to be implemented. Include an implementation plan. Present it to someone involved. Don't force feed it to them. Just ask if they wouldn't mind taking a look at your idea. At this point it's out of your hands. If a decision is made to go with your idea, don't drop the ball and let someone else put it in place. If your idea is not chosen, get over it.

Managing upward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6611056)

If you want your boss to come to the same conclusions you do, make sure he has the same information you do.

Assume that your boss is with you, or at least not against you. That's not necessarily true, but assuming the opposite isn't going to get you anywhere.

Your goal should be to make sure that your boss understands your point of view. Not necessarily agrees with it but understands it. Once you're sure he's heard you, don't keep harping on the topic.

And make sure your boss knows why you hold those views. Give him copies of the articles you've read, URL's of the websites, whatever. No more than a couple of them per month. Don't make a pest of yourself.

It may not work, but there's always a chance that your boss is at least partly on your side, and if you give him the right ammunition he'll use it at the right time.

nobody cares about IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6612905)

If anybody in management gave shit about IT they wouldn't offshore THEIR ENTIRE FUCKING IT STAFF!!
You think those fucking dot niggers in India want to "educate" their employers?
Wake up people!!

Relax and ejoy their flailing about... (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 11 years ago | (#6613514)

Like you I have lots of ideas which I believe to be good and beneficial to my employer, but what I find is that most of them are so "way out", "normal" people can't understand them or see the potential benefit. Usually 5 or 10 years later the world starts to catch up.

When I was younger I would enthusiastically extoll the virtues of my ideas and suggestions to anyone and everything who would listen, and they'd just shrug me off and dismiss them. It was very frustrating for an earnest and positive-thinking young man.

What I reallise is what a lot of people have said here. You need to know who to talk to and how to tell them. You also need to realise that the vast majority of people are quite happy to continue with the status quo for an easy and quiet life, i.e. they "go with the flow", and are quite happy not to be challenging or to be challenged.

Armed with this insight I managed to persuade a manager to buy a new UNIX workstation. It took 18 months. However, that's what some managers are like.

I suggested many new safety-improving, mankey-saving and money-making ideas, but they were swept under the carpet.

I left for a more forward-looking employer.

I still have off-the-wall ideas, some of them original, but mostly just ideas for things I'd like to do. I don't try to waste them on the narrow minded any more and I don't get worked up about it. I have files where I write everything down, draw diagrams, do calculations, write code etc.

Employers, and people in general, have very little recpetiveness to change and new ideas. Those that do are few and far between.

The forward-thinking few are the ones who will excell.

The best advice I can give is to be calm, rational and business-like. Keep a note of your ideas. Always keep a look out for career opportunities with the more forward-thinking. Enjoy your ideas yourself. After all, they're yours, and if others are too slow to see their benefits, you can sit back smugly, smile and relax :-)

If you have to ask then the answer is NO! (1)

tr0tt3r (544366) | more than 11 years ago | (#6616942)

Your boss is either the type of person who counts critism as constructive or the type of person who counts critism as disloyalty. The first case is so rare and precious that you would have absolutly no doubt that is was the case. Its like a shop with no prices. If you have to ask then you cannot afford it. -FT

What's Worked for Me (1)

RexCelestis (555810) | more than 11 years ago | (#6616943)

I agree with a lot that I've read here, particularly with the statements relating management's different view and perspective on almost any issue.

I work in a pretty small shop, around 25 employees. It provides me with a lot of access to my supervior, and my CEO. When I don't understand a business decision, I find my higher ups pretty easy to talk to, paticularly if I can phrase a question in a non-threatening manner. When I first entered the private sector, I read a copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and found it priceless for its suggestions on communicating with others.

Sometimes ideas have to be sold, and sold hard. A recent pitch I made required several hours of work and some preparation. It served two purposes: showed management my commitment to the idea, and dismissed the supposed benefits of competing plans. Like anything else, sometimes you just have to put the ideas down in black and white.

What doesn't work in my shop is not knowing what you're talking about, and leading with a bad attitude. An approach lambasted by a co-worker as "impossible" proved to take only 15 minutes to figure out. That peer still lives under a cloud and lost a lot of trust from management that day.

I find taking the time to research and sell an idea will bring management around. They have hired you for your expertise and should welcome the input. However, keep in mind that you may not see the entire business picture. Those times mark learning opportunities.

Well, you already said they don't want to listen.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6619857)

So, learn a little something about salesmanship.

Then interview yourself into a great job with their DIRECT COMPETETOR.

Last Post! (1)

muirhead (698086) | more than 11 years ago | (#6722237)

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