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Am I damaged for good?

I am in a very discomforting position.

Recently I joined a company as their internal software developer. The company payed me a J2EE development course and a very big salary.
Now comes the tricky part. The development department is made up of old men who couldn't care less about deadlines or methodologies or doing the right thing the right way. All they want is their next promotion, and to create a smoke screen for the big boss.
Obviously I hate to work at this place. It's full of bad habits and just getting here each morning makes want to run away as fast as I can. But, there are no other jobs out there.


Do you think I am being damaged by the influence of these guys? Do you think there is a risk that I'll carry these influences with me like a nasty STD for the rest of my life? How will I adapt to a new workplace, when I find one?

Thanks guys, just give me your opinions
RP

RP
Thursday, September 11, 2003

No.  The only thing that may suffer is your resume.

Keep looking!

Alyosha`
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Try to survive there for a year or two until the economy improves.  You may as well start looking now, just in case something comes up.

Anonymous
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hey, you're your own person. You'll always be surrounded by people whose standards are different from yours. Just be inspired by the higher ones and magnanimously ignore the lower ones.

Reread "getting things done when you're only a grunt" for some encouragement.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Sometimes you can learn more by observing a disaster than by being someplace where everything is great.

Observe all their mistakes, and make sure you never repeat them.

Anonymous
Thursday, September 11, 2003

I worked at such a company once. No, it doesn't damage you for good - on the contrary - you will be so sick of it, that when you will have to do something, you shall charge like a bull!

Trust me on this one.

(if the bull analogy is not apropriate, please forgive me - I am not a native English speaker, and I'm tired as hell today)

Bad Blood
Thursday, September 11, 2003

I am in a similar situation, though not as extreme as your situation is. My problem is similar in a sense that the people that I work with lack competence and fire to do an excellent job. They just want to get by.

Would I be influenced by this comfortable culture, where people just do the minimum to get by? Where nobody is accountable for acceptable level of performance? Where not knowing and no learning is subtly accepted?

Well in my case, my worst fear came true: I became just like them. I surf the web more than usual, I take long breaks, and above all I don't really give a damn about the quality of the work that I do.

Well, actually I still care about my work, but I have totally given up trying to change the ineffectual culture here. I have learned to accept the way things are and to accept them as who they are. I do my best and do my own thing.

Therefore, I grew by leaps and bound, not necessarily as a web developer, but as a person, in patience, compassion and understanding. For this growth opportunity, I am grateful. But I am also following the inevitable course of looking for other places where people are passionate and care about the work.

Bob Yu
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Be happy you have a job. =)

BoredAtWork
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Do the job the right way. You may drag some with you. You will alienate some, you will threaten others. You will get noticed, probably promoted. I implemented a lot of Joel's advice and methods. It has worked out very well. They can only "hurt" you if YOU let them.

Lou
Thursday, September 11, 2003

"Well in my case, my worst fear came true: I became just like them. I surf the web more than usual, I take long breaks, and above all I don't really give a damn about the quality of the work that I do."

This is right on the money! At a place like this you'll first try to fight, then become "comfortably numb", and the next thing you know - you're just as corrupt as those other people and it does not seem like there is anything wrong with that.

At least try to make sure that the BS does not become a part of you if you have to stay there for a while.

Mr Curiousity
Thursday, September 11, 2003

> Well in my case, my worst fear came true:
> I became just like them. I surf the web
> more than usual, I take long breaks, and
> above all I don't really give a damn about
> the quality of the work that I do.

I really don't understand you people.

If I had such a job, I would take advantage of it by learning new technologies in the spare time!

Don't surf the web.

Instead - use the time to learn and improve yourself.

It's not ethical. I know. But if you can't change the way people around you behave ....

Bad Blood
Thursday, September 11, 2003

IMHO, getting satisfaction from your work is more important than having a job itself. A job is not a job if its just a job ... it should be your passion and you should enjoy it. You won't be productive and efficient if you don't like your workplace or your job responsibilities. Having said that, plan your move (if you wish to change the job) very carefully. You shouldn't regret your decision either.

EastIndian
Thursday, September 11, 2003

I don't think you have provided us with enough evidence yet that these "old people" are damaged goods.

As for your statement "...old men who couldn't care less about deadlines or methodologies", I think the same thing can be said about many "young people" as well.  The number one complaint that I have heard over the years goes somthing like this, "why can't I find an employer that is interested in doing software development right?"

"All they want is their next promotion, and to create a smoke screen for the big boss."

Maybe this is because these old men are tired of working massive amounts of overtime for little or no extra pay and have learned through the school of hard knocks that office politics is the only way to get noticed at this company?

Please post more info about your work experiences there if you care to discuss this topic in more depth. 

It could be that you are simply young and full of cum.  I can probably best explain the highly enthusiastic attitude you MIGHT be displaying here in this post by borrowing a line that Robert Duval said to Sean Penn in the film 'Colors'.

"Two bulls are standing on a hilltop surveying a field of cows below.  The younger bull said to the elder one ' lets run down there and f*ck one of those cows ' the elder bull replies to the younger one, ' hold on son, lets just take our time, walk down there and do the lot!"

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Bad Blood: "it's not ethical."

Sure it's ethical to improve yourself.  You should be using part of every work week on education.  In the end, it helps your employer because you come up with fresh new ideas.

Karl Perry
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Lazy co-workers drag me down but IMO I bounce back relatively quickly.  YMMV.  I agree with Bad Blood, make your spare time work for you.  If you get called out on it, you have a great excuse: you are enabeling yourslef to do your job better.  I wish I had thought of it earlier. 

D
Thursday, September 11, 2003

So where really is a company where they are "doing it right"? That would make for an interesting thread. Personally I think you should hold on to your job, doing the best you can, while seeking other employment. You might be suprised at how few other places are truly trying to apply best practices etc.  I once quit a job for about the same reason. I'd ask to see the documentation generated by recent projects at a company.  Don't believe the hype .... don't jump to quick. But yes, a good man does not live by bread alone.

Peter J. Schoenster
Thursday, September 11, 2003

As far as "damage", do you mean damage to your resume and your reputation, or damage to your skills and professionalism?

For the former, the damage will probably only be apparent if you apply for another job and there you run into someone who has a negative opinion of that group. (But caution, if you speak negatively of your present employer and their people, this will be to your discredit.) The chances of a technical department's bad reputation being out on the street is pretty low - you'd have to be in a tech heavy area and there would have to be a lot of gossip flying around between companies. The chances that you could shoot yourself in the foot during an interview by badmouthing them are much higher, and you can control that risk yourself.

For the latter - damage to your "essence" - unless you're entry level, don't worry about it. The first job most people hold tends to set the pace for their career. The jobs afterward aren't so much of a big deal.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, September 11, 2003

You sound very inexperienced.  Nearly all places are like this more or less, learn to like it or change career.

Those "old" guys have probably learned the hard way that being an eager beaver doesn't pay.  Sorry, but that's the way it is.


Thursday, September 11, 2003

RP, you need to sit down and learn. Exactly what are your grounds for judging the "old men," who presumably do things that are quite valuable for the company.

They don't promise to deliver a complete application by next week? They don't stay till 2 am every night? Exactly what, in your I'm sure very knowledgable judgement, is "bad" about these "old men."

Waiting ...
Thursday, September 11, 2003

You guys don't cease to amaze me.
Yes, I am young and full of cum (24). No, this isn't my first job, I have been on this business for the past 4 years. But I still cringe at the idea of becoming like them. As a lot of you said, they probably learned the hard way. They became like this because this is what a veteran at this company looks like. But I don't want to end this way. Definitely not.

And now something just crossed my mind:
I "grew up" during the glory days of the internet. All my previous jobs were at web portals where everything had to be done quickly, money was good and management basically got out of the developers way.
Now I am in a "classic" company. People wear ties for work, we punch the clock and there are rules. Hell, there's even a chain of command.
Maybe what is happening is my system getting rid of the dot-com influence and bad habits....

RP
Thursday, September 11, 2003

For me, it really doesn't matter whether I can learn from the old men at my workplace. It doesn't matter whether Ican learn to appreciate their good qualities or learn from their mistakes.

The bottom line is, I am only truly happy in a place where I respect my colleagues and my organization. If that isn't there, I move on and I don't wait for the perfect next job.

Of course, the flip side is that if I have an employee I don't respect, I let them go and I don't wat until I have the perfect replacement either.

You have to draw a line somewhere. That's my line: respect. I hope you find a line that relps you clarify your values.

http://www.braithwaite-lee.com/opinions/doctor.html

Reginald Braithwaite-Lee
Thursday, September 11, 2003

Keep detailed notes so you can write magazine articles and maybe publish a book on your experiences down the track.

You might even get to write scripts for Dilbert!

Darren Collins
Thursday, September 11, 2003

RP,

Given your clearer explanation I can see where you're coming from.

This subject was touched on recently in the thread "it's about results":

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=68733&ixReplies=42

In particular, check out the comments by "rz" (contends that he wants to be clear to everyone around him that he's highly talented) and the responses to this from me and from Phillip Eby.

I think the short version is that, in most experienced people's, uh, experience, the nails that stick up get pounded down... In most companies, change is highly political and threatening (even to the owners), and politics tend to govern things.

Your current job is closer to the norm for most business (and even development shops) than the places that sprang up in the late 90s to cash in on dot-com money.

Last, the comment above (from someone else) about needing to respect your co-workers is a good point. However, may I respectfully say that given your experience level and the environments you've come out of it, it's probably going to be difficult for you to respect anyone in an "average" environment.  Most people don't work gonzo hours on extreme projects.

Just chill, and try to discern patterns in events you see around you...

Bored Bystander
Thursday, September 11, 2003

So this previous place that had the great work culture, where is it now? Maybe it wasn't the hot place you thought it was, RP.


Thursday, September 11, 2003

It was. It was a dotcom :)

RP
Friday, September 12, 2003

Is it still in existence?

- Dave

Dave
Sunday, September 14, 2003

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