I’ve been in the IT industry since a while and since much longer I hang out with IT people. I now have a certain idea about what kind of people populate the cubicles of our lovely corporations! Understanding who is what is crucial in order to be sure that each and everybody is placed in the right place and motivated in the proper manner, you know, to avoid people from quitting the mother corporation!
No two hours corporate online course will teach you how to deal with people, not even a tree day event with “the worldwide leadership expert” will do! I’m sorry to tell you this, but all the recognition you’ve collected may be worth nothing if at the end of the day you’re not able to recognize with whom you’re dealing and approach him with the proper motivational tool!
And that’s hard stuff, is a leadership quality mastered by continuous interaction with people in your organization, being aware that what works great for one may let another consider the option of leaving the company! It require a hell of a work!
Different people are motivated differently, I meet engineers which most of all want a stable place with no surprises, which are happy to work for years and years on the same project with the same technology, those are the kind of people which do not want changes! I will call this specimen “The dinosaur“.
The dinosaur is a great employee! You can keep raising his salary by 4% each year –and promising that next year will be better!-, you do not need to supervise his daily work nor promise him promotions. What the dinosaur want to be happy is just to work on the same old project he’s working on since 93.
I meet many dinosaurs, they are absolute masters in their small field of experience, guru’s of that component and solid workers! Everybody is waiting for the dinosaur to come to work when something in the early morning is not working –a BUG-! Don’t change a thing in their environment and they’ll work for you till the retirement.
Another engineer specimen is the “chatterbox“! This guy like to socialize, is the kind of corporate guy always in the kitchen talking to people, the one sitting at his desk a couple of hours a day and the remaining time talking about that nasty bug is still pending on the todo list or about the latest corporate news. Is the one which arrange to bring out the whole team for launch and that makes the daily stand-up less monotonous.
You may think that the chatterbox is less productive than his teammates, if you think so, then I have a bad news: you’re retarded! The chatterbox makes the team a unity, he knows what is the hobby of everybody, he knows what movie do you like, what’s your favorite dish or what sport practice your girlfriend, what’s your favorite programming language and why!
This guy canalize all the socialization needs of all the team members and make’s people be happy to stay at work till late to solve a problem! You remove the chatterbox and you may be sure you’ve killed the team integrity!
To extinguish the work passion of the chatterbox all you have to do is put on place absurd corporate rules which for example disallow people from spending more than pi/3 ot their launch time in the kitchen!
Of course, you shouldn’t confuse the chatterbox with the “squealer“! This guy resemble a chatterbox but he’s not! The squealer is a kind of corporate rat always looking for the manager to drink a tea with him, he talks shit about people and magnify is achievements –real or imaginary-, he talks a lot as the chatterbox but people like him much less. –If there are corporate rumors about someone being a dick, then probably he is a dick..–
The squealer is frequently promoted to some management positions if the organization is not able to recognize his bullshitness in time. This is the kind of guy which like to keep secrets, he don’t want other people to grow and develop themselves he will make what possible to share the less knowledge he can with others. This is a really damaging entity!
Then we have the reddit guy! He’s the one who pretend to know about technology, he meet Friday evening with the local JUG people and talk about concurrency. This is the kind of NERD guy which need to be put in the position of being able to do that refactor which the leader is postponing since 96, he always find some issues in any commit and like to argue with everybody. He’s the first to be at every technical meeting and he’s involved –or he want to be– in any technical discussion.
He need an open field of action to be happy, innovation must flow on a daily basis everywhere in the organization, new techniques, compilers, frameworks, programming idioms &c, you block his need for creative work and he’ll quit! There are many variants of the reddit guy, you really want to have as many as possible of those fella in your team!
The reddit guy may have some minor problem with the dinosaurs, but he quickly understand how important the expertise of the dinosaur is in that area and he’ll avoid to even try to make changes to the anyway limited dinosaur environment. But better be sure that there’s enough space for both the reddit guy and the dinosaurs, if the action field is too small for both then you’re in trouble!
The reddit guy will put a great amount of energy and passion in his work, unless you will destroy his motivation. If that happen, apart from some behavioral warnings before the disaster, he’ll not complain that much but one day sooner or later he will just submit his corporate leaving form and leave the company!
Then we have the Action men! This guy is everywhere, want to organize everything and write down procedures for all the activities of the team, he take notes of all the important topics covered in each meeting.
This is the kind of guy normally appointed as scrum master and then as product owner or how know what else, the action guy may degenerate in a form of squealer but this is infrequent, but when it happen then you have a real corporate leader!
Yeah, Action men+squealer is the one which will be in twenty years head of something! He have great organization capabilities and manager like him since he is always ready to tell what everybody want to hear. He’s not a bad figure at all, but you don’t want to have too much of them in you team, someone has to do the nasty dirty coding work!
The Action men to be happy needs action! He must have a full schedule of meetings and be the one empowered of the rights to raise the morning “Stand up time“, this guy have always a marker –of tree different colors– in this pocket and take care of the team board to be always up to date and perfectly organized!
This last character may be a bastard, and really share many common character with the corporate rat. The main difference is that he knows that to advance he need to let other people advance as well, and that blocking the development of others may hurt him, he tries to build a network of strong relations with trustworthy –from his perspective– people.
The Action man will not leave your company unless you put him in a team of rusty annoyed over experienced people, the kind of guys with two kids and that 20 years of experience in something which are just waiting patiently for the retirement. Those people will sell their balls –don’t need them anyway– just to maintain the status quo and avoid anything that the action man will try to bring in!
Those last guys are The fossils! Substantially the fossils are the evolution of the dinosaurs, with kids. Normally you may recognize them by their slippers they wear in the office –dinosaurs wear slippers either-, by their lack of motivation and hard opposition to anything new! They of course are experts in that field and a great resource for the company in that field, but nothing else.
The fossil knows the corporate way, their best assets are the names and email address of the people everybody needs to investigate a bug –or whatever-, of course no way they will share this asset with you! Guy:”Hey fossil, do you know somebody which may help me with this investigation?“, Fossil:”Sure, write me the question you need answers, I will forward them to Mr. X“, Guy:”To who??”, Fossil:”One day you’ll know! Send me that email”.
After the retirement, the fossil will share their assets with the next fossil chronologically closer. The only way to force the fossil to quit the company is by removing the only asset he have, the list of top secret email Address!
Many other minor entities may be encountered in a corporation which are somehow a mixture of those figures I’ve been writing here, a good team needs them all –perhaps leave out the squealer– and a good leader need to recognize who is what and approach them properly!
And let me write down a last note about management! God save us all from the managers which applying the micromanagement approach want to delegate their responsibilities to someone from the team, do you imagine a dinosaur deciding for all in all the cases?A dinosaur will always make prehistoric choices, like an action man will always make drastic decisions! This is not going to work for all.
Managers should manage, micromanagement is a management failure. Of course you want a certain degree of delegation in order to allow people to grow and to test their decisions making or organization ability, but still, people must know that if something is wrong and a decision is needed, then there’s an unbiased character which in a way or another will decide for all.
Thanks for reading!