Thankless Job

I have been in services industry all my career (as an employee in a services company initially and later as an independent consultant) and have worked with variety of bosses. In my opinion, consulting is a rewarding career – pays what you work for and you constantly work on your skills to improve your worth to your customer. One of my strong beliefs is that we are “learning machines” and consulting pays you to constantly learn and excel – much like folks in sports career, they need to stay healthy and fit and their job pays for it. Of course, there’s always another side to every coin and I understand that..

I generally enjoy my work and never felt the need of being appreciated at work (although I welcome, if it is offered 😉 ) But I never was able to handle being slapped on my wrist for doing my work. To set the stage right, I am non-confrontational but won’t put up with attitude. I am generally passive and will let things slide unless it repeats itself (yes, I know – I should set the boundaries clear right from the start.. but I generally bend over backwards to accommodate my customers and if I think about it, I guess, its the side effect of being in services for a while).

Not long ago, I was involved in a development project and the work was complete pleasure to say the least. I had tonnes to learn and more than that to offer. One of the weeks during the project I fell really sick and still made it to work to complete the tasks I had taken up. After about 6 months into the gig a new architect (lets call him Max) was recruited as an employee to replace one of the consultants. He’s a very knowledgeable guy and I was excited about the fact that I was going to work with him. Man, did I not see the other side of this coin! He’s one of those guys who manages people by intimidation and to add to that he’s got such temper, you fear that the nerves on his temples could split any second. He brings every situation under such extreme pressure and fuels it by last minute changes – man oh man, God forbid something didn’t work – irrespective of what turns out to be the cause, you are royally screwed. Fortunately or unfortunately, he’s got such fat fingers that he screws up all the time – but you have to put up with it till we resolve the issue.

Often times, I see tech developers as the front-line soldiers – sure, slaying the king is inevitable if the war is lost – but the soldier might have to die to let the king live. They are the ones who’d be under the sun and rain fighting. Of course, there would be those kings who’d send their loved ones to fight with the soldiers and this article is not intended to cover that. Its the other half, who let their children rape their own people but project themselves as the saviors of the nation. Of course, I am probably stretching it here, but having walked as a soldier for a merciless king, I just am really disappointed!

Our team (modest team of 3 developers) was preparing for a major release and this was the first release under Max’s management. We froze the code and submitted for testing. Max just kept changing technical details of the architecture that we kept modifying the code to work with the environment. Such changes (any changes, as a matter of fact) have to go through rigorous testing before released and we just were sliding them in. The week before we go live, he makes a fundamental change to the system that affected how components communicated and didn’t share the impact of this change to the team. Finally on the d-day, we got to work and prep’d the release – it took 3 hrs. And ofcourse, we are given a 2 hour window for release to Production. Any release, for a team that doesn’t have a QA in place, by definition is stressful. We need to assure that the existing functionality is intact and the new functionality works. And if things don’t go as planned, we need to roll-back. This release was so major that our director said that his head would roll if we have any hiccups.. Now tell me, is he a crazy bastard or what? You can wonder, why take the pressure.. if things don’t go well, its his problem. Well, I already told you, he’s a pig – you can never win fighting with it. Even if you win, you got dirty and the pig loves it.

Earth produces nothing worse than an ungrateful man – Decimus Magnus Ausonius

Such are the jobs, where no matter how hard you work, it never is good enough. Its a shame that such rewarding gigs are ruined because of one person [a classic tale of team morale collapsing due to one person]. Looking back, I gave my genuine shot and in the process learned a thing or two about managing one’s manager 😉 I am happy for the experience and am stronger than I was before – but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the taste it left in one’s mouth.

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