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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clueless Coworker

There was an amusing incident at work. One of my coworkers is doing a project. I know exactly what the project is, and it'd take me 2-3 days. He's taken more than 2 weeks, and he isn't done yet.

One thing he needed to do, was convert some files from format X to format Y. It was a 1 hour project. He asked me to do it for him.

I was sort of offended, but I did it anyway. I probably saved him 2-3 extra days of work, for doing the conversion.

That was very interesting. One of my coworkers took 2+ weeks, for something that I know I could have done in 2-3 days. That means I'm 5x more efficient than him. Of course, I'm not getting paid 5x as much.


Scott said...

It's possible he should get paid 5x less. It's also possible you should get paid 2.5 times more and he should get paid 2 times less. It sounds like you are subsidizing his salary. There is less money for you because he is being propped up. Of course since you continue to help him out and do his work for him he is able to maintain the illusion of competency. But what can you do. If you don't do it, he will bad mouth you. If you do do it and your contribution contains a single error, then when his project fails he will say it is because of your meddling. That's how the incompetent work things.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that sort of thing bothered me in the past.

I once worked for a famous tech company.

One newly promoted manager had most of his team 100% assigned to projects lasting around a year. Each project had their own project manager. So this manager effectively had nobody to actually manage.

After a while a "statistics" project arose. A couple of "workers" and this "manager" were assigned to it. Basically the work was just incrementing a counter each time a certain URL is assessed. Basically this was pointless, brain-free work.

Even worse the company already had a sophisticated company-wide statistics package that had been running for a long time. Obviously these clowns did not know about it.

On the other hand I had difficult work to do and I had to work very long hours. Basically some of the time I was working all the time except for sleep.

When the time came to cull the herd, I got fired but the incompetent workers and the workers that hardly did anything kept their jobs.

It is amazing that a guy that basically only did this silly, pointless statistics work kept his job and I got fired.

Not only was the work I did far more difficult but I had to work weekends regularly whereas he never did.

This manager lost his job as well, but as he had a friend in another group he got a manager job back a year later in another group.

Hard work is not valued.

Being lazy and doing nothing is worth more.

If you do nothing, it is impossible for a manager to get dirt on you. This is so true.

Anonymous said...

In practically my first job after university I worked for a company mean with money. As I was a recent graduate I had no previous salary to have anything based upon and so I got a low salary. I would have made more money claiming unemployment checks for the government!

Within a few months my manager realized I was competent and so my workload increased until I was working over 60 hours a week.

A colleague of mine recommended a friend that had recently failed his accountancy exams for a software developer job. He was hired without a programming test.

A few months later my co-workers were mumblings that this guy was practically useless.

I did work for two clients and both were very happy with the work I did.

But my salary was low. It barely paid for my living expenses and certainly wasn't enough to live in an expensive city in.

So I had to leave and get another job.

By not firing the useless guy, I had to resign. There is only a finite amount of money.

If managers don't fire useless workers, then competent workers are forced out.

Of course, if you work directly for an investment bank then everybody gets high salaries.

Anonymous said...

In one job, there were a few workers that hadn't previously worked as software developers. A couple of them were Perl programmers. The main programming language of the company at the time was C/C++.

I suspect a higher than usual concentration of weak programmers ended up in the same group because the company decided to move employees from one team to another. The outcome was that the first group wanted to get rid of some weak workers and the stronger workers didn't want to be pushed into jobs they didn't want.

It was quite possible to realize within a month or two that a team was stuffed with either weak programmers or programmers that weedled themselves out of necessary work. I was in that group as well and a lot of work was pushed on to me as a result. For several months I was practically working all my waking hours.

If management was strong they would have realized what was going on and they would have fired the weak or lazy workers. One worker wasn't bad but resented by moved from one group and his contract changed and had given up.

But they kept the weak workers. I had to work vast amounts of overtime as a result.

In the end upper management wanted changes and I got fired along with a few weak workers. Ironically the weak workers were fired before me and they got pay-offs. I got nothing.

So by working harder I got less than doing hardly any work at all.

Summary => Good management fires weak workers instead of waiting for good workers to resign or be weighted down with excessive work.

In practice management is weak and does nothing.

Anonymous said...

In one of my jobs, I wrote an application with a lovely user interface and very cool code backing it for its operations.

The team leader for this project had been pushed out by the manager a long time ago.

The manager was one of the worse I've come across. He said nothing. He did nothing, except when he wanted to screw someone over.

So I was left alone to do my good work.

As it was nearing completion I started showing it around the company and it was about to go off to be used by the analysts working elsewhere in the company.

Then disaster struck. There was a sub-group of two wasters that had recently joined part of our larger group. They stuck to themselves. The manager was useless and didn't give them any sensible work to do.

In fact their job was to write 1 line of SQL.

They could have sat back and accepted their non-job.

One of the two new people wasn't a software developer. He got himself a minor promotion to team leader and took over my project.

Despite the fact he had written only 1 line of SQL and took several months to do it and I had written a whole, sophisticated application, I was pushed off my own project and moved to another group in the company.

Basically by doing good work, I had attracted a stupid bully who wanted to get the credit for my work. He only gave me one order and that was not to show my application to anybody anymore!!!

Six months later the project they inherited from me was reduced to rubble as they quite frankly were more interested in messing around with needless technology rather than making the software work with changes to the database. The bully resigned.

The one left behind, declared himself incompetent and said the project should be handed over to a contractor (yet to be hired).

Summary => If you do good work, someone will be jealous of your project and push you off your own work and take it for themselves.

Anonymous said...

In one of my early jobs, I was working 50 - 65 hour weeks. The directors were founders of the company and they too worked long hours. I started on a low salary and the boss took longer than he should have done to raise my salary. That screwed up my time there, because the raise came too late in the day and when I looked in my bank account there was hardly any money. Ironically the company was given a million pounds as an advance by a bank for the work I was doing. I was doing a big proportion of this work. I was doing all the message conversation/generation work on Unix. The other two people were just doing user interface work.

Anyway I should have told the directors that even though we were working similar hours, I was an employee and I owned nothing. They should actually pay me for the extra hours I worked. But I didn't.

A new company promised me bonuses and share options if I left and joined them. Both were false. I was fired before the company was sold and so got nothing.

But at the new company again I practically single-handedly wrote an application that bought in lots of money.

The manager used that money to hire a couple of friends and management made sure they got nice bonuses for recommending someone.

Both friends did very little useful work. The manager even said he hired someone he thought was incompetent because it wasn't his money.

That made me feel bad because this guy was earning 15, 000 pounds more than me and I worked hard and did good work.

In the end I was fired. Just before I went, another manager told me that the company owed me a lot for my good work.

It didn't stop me getting fired though and the people that did nothing kept their jobs and when the company was sold they got a huge wodge of cash.

Anonymous said...


I started programming when I was in my early teens. As a result I am much better at programming than a lot of people. I went to a crap government funded school. Despite that I managed to get into an elite university to do a difficult course. I got the highest marks possible in my project work there.

Most of my past employers marveled at my work.

However none of this stop me getting stabbed in the back after doing good work. Either a manager wanted to hire a friend or a bully wanted to take credit for my work.

None of this meant I got paid anymore. In fact I got paid less, mainly because my first job was at at employer very mean with money.

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