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Do You Want a Meritocracy at Work? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 9:15 AM
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Richard Warr (6/14/2013)

Age is just as irrelevant as .... what football team you support.


That might be stretching it, but I understand the point you were trying to make



Post #1463638
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 9:17 AM


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I've only been in the professional workspace for 5 years now, so I probably don't have the perspective that most of you do. I like the idea of a meritocracy, having benefited from it myself going from a math degree with no computer background to the early stages of a DBA job. However, one thing that makes me wary is companies that use managerial positions as a way of rewarding good work. I know I'd personally suck at being a manager - I just don't have that skill set. I want to know that I can grow in my role and be a really good DBA who can bring a ton of value to the company and be rewarded just for that rather than being pushed into a higher level or thought lacking in ambition.
Post #1463640
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 9:26 AM
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Richard Warr (6/14/2013)
In the UK age discrimination in the workplace is now illegal and rightly so. Whilst there are clearly people who still believe that younger people are better able to adapt to new technologies or make better development team members I'm not sure there is any evidence to back this up. Some might even think that a developer with 30 years experience might be quite good.
I enjoy my job and still hope to be working as a developer well into my 60s. I've managed to adapt from the world before PCs though to SQL Server 2012 without too many problems and don't see why SQL Server 2024 (sic) should be any more difficult.
Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


There are two different things here. Discrimination, as in the sense of pre-emptive judgements based purely on age is rightly unfair.

However (and speaking as someone who is nearly 64, I've been on both sides of the fence), to think that there is NO statistical difference based on age, is to be living in an ideological fantasy. People's approach to jobs and problems varies as they age. Us older ones tend to rely much more on our experiece (for good or bad) and judgement calls, our mindsets were quite different when we were younger (there is an interesting and well established statistic on great mathematicians: almost all great discoveries occurred before the mathematician was 30 years old). I surely don't want to be shut out of a job just because of my age, but then again I can bring a degree or personal experience (including critical social and management skills) that too many younger people lack.


Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


hmmmm, a team of 25 year olds vs a team of 60 year olds.... where would your money go?


...

-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --
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Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 10:31 AM


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jay-h (6/14/2013)
Richard Warr (6/14/2013)
In the UK age discrimination in the workplace is now illegal and rightly so. Whilst there are clearly people who still believe that younger people are better able to adapt to new technologies or make better development team members I'm not sure there is any evidence to back this up. Some might even think that a developer with 30 years experience might be quite good.
I enjoy my job and still hope to be working as a developer well into my 60s. I've managed to adapt from the world before PCs though to SQL Server 2012 without too many problems and don't see why SQL Server 2024 (sic) should be any more difficult.
Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


There are two different things here. Discrimination, as in the sense of pre-emptive judgements based purely on age is rightly unfair.

However (and speaking as someone who is nearly 64, I've been on both sides of the fence), to think that there is NO statistical difference based on age, is to be living in an ideological fantasy. People's approach to jobs and problems varies as they age. Us older ones tend to rely much more on our experiece (for good or bad) and judgement calls, our mindsets were quite different when we were younger (there is an interesting and well established statistic on great mathematicians: almost all great discoveries occurred before the mathematician was 30 years old). I surely don't want to be shut out of a job just because of my age, but then again I can bring a degree or personal experience (including critical social and management skills) that too many younger people lack.


Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


hmmmm, a team of 25 year olds vs a team of 60 year olds.... where would your money go?


Actually, a recent study (by the OU? - that's Open University non-UK bods) analysed StackOverflow.com users and illustrated that on average older IT practitioners were learning more new things.


Gaz

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Post #1463677
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 10:52 AM
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We supposedly do work in such an environment. However when you look at actual practice, it actually isn't.

The first and biggest problem is cronyism. It is the single most damaging aspect of corporate life.
The second is title inflation. Calling pc techs computer system analysts and the like.
The third is political targeting of awards. Promotions and raises being used to redirect company focus.
The forth is related to the second, basing raises on industry average titles.
The last is socialist emotionalism. Who needs a transfer, raise, or promotion superseding who deserves one.

These problems make it hard to base pay and promotions on ability, even in merit based systems.

rlc
Post #1463693
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 10:58 AM
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Well, I am perfectly OK with the concept. It doesn't work that way in reality though.

First, if someone is better at something than I am, they should be compensated appropriately for that. Appropriateness depends on many factors. Is that skill valuable to the organization, is that skill something that individual uses and how often? Generally speaking the idea that organizations should identify valuable skills is pretty clear, but in practice they don't always do a good job at that.

Most importantly I think we all know that it is rare for corporations to compensate employees fairly. Again, there are many reasons for this, including the difficulty in identifying differences between individuals. Lesser skilled people frequently are overcompensated, higher skilled people are frequently undercompensated.

Now, stepping up on my soap box for a moment, I have worked with a number of skilled people in my life. I am at the stage where I am "that guy" who people go to when something needs to get done. In the past I was always able to identify who that person was, and hopefully figure out when to learn something on my own, and when to go to "that guy" for assistance. In my experience, the go to people are never compensated as they should be. I know companies have to fight to stay in the black, especially given the economic state we are in, but history has shown that as soon as things turn around, the most skilled individuals are going to jump ship and make up for the losses they have encurred. I believe we see a stratification of compensation, and not a true bell curve, which is the real issue.

So, yes I am very much in favor of the best and brightest earning more, and being able to work on more interesting stuff. I am also in favor of utilizing experienced (read as older!) staff to make sure the "youngins" don't end up crashing the car because they just got their license! Further, the dead weight needs to either be compensated at the right level or they need to move on to something appropriate. I am not a spring chicken, yet I have had zero difficulty keeping up with things, and still provide significant support to the "youngest person", and have helped many of those people achieve success faster by mentoring or teaching them skills. Part of my compensation is due to how I assist others in improving their skills.

Unsaid, but maybe what you are really asking, is whether we are afraid of being replaced, overshadowed or outworked by someone younger. No. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not even next year. Maybe 10-15 years from now, but it won't be an issue then!


Dave
Post #1463696
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 12:11 PM
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Way back in my desktop support days, I worked for a major multi-national, multi-industry company. There was a huge refresh project that necessitated the hiring of additional contractors. In most of the teams I worked with there was someone who was promoted into management that decided to leave the position to work as a hardware tech even though the pay was substantially less.

When I asked why, every last one of them said something to the effect of: "I'd rather play with the hardware than deal with the corporate rat-race."

Me? If I really put my mind and ambition to it, I could work my way up the corporate ladder, but I'm much more interested in tinkering and learning new stuff and I have a position that lets me do that. There's far more to life than work and while I'll do my best while I'm there, I won't take a job or promotion to do something I know I'll despise in short order, because I've experienced all too well that such a situation will spill over to home life.

And as someone put it, being the "go to guy" has rewards of it's own.


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Post #1463724
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 12:16 PM
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I work in such a system and I love it.
Post #1463726
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 12:21 PM
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Gary Varga (6/14/2013)
jay-h (6/14/2013)
Richard Warr (6/14/2013)
In the UK age discrimination in the workplace is now illegal and rightly so. Whilst there are clearly people who still believe that younger people are better able to adapt to new technologies or make better development team members I'm not sure there is any evidence to back this up. Some might even think that a developer with 30 years experience might be quite good.
I enjoy my job and still hope to be working as a developer well into my 60s. I've managed to adapt from the world before PCs though to SQL Server 2012 without too many problems and don't see why SQL Server 2024 (sic) should be any more difficult.
Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


There are two different things here. Discrimination, as in the sense of pre-emptive judgements based purely on age is rightly unfair.

However (and speaking as someone who is nearly 64, I've been on both sides of the fence), to think that there is NO statistical difference based on age, is to be living in an ideological fantasy. People's approach to jobs and problems varies as they age. Us older ones tend to rely much more on our experiece (for good or bad) and judgement calls, our mindsets were quite different when we were younger (there is an interesting and well established statistic on great mathematicians: almost all great discoveries occurred before the mathematician was 30 years old). I surely don't want to be shut out of a job just because of my age, but then again I can bring a degree or personal experience (including critical social and management skills) that too many younger people lack.


Age is just as irrelevant as gender, race or what football team you support.


hmmmm, a team of 25 year olds vs a team of 60 year olds.... where would your money go?


Actually, a recent study (by the OU? - that's Open University non-UK bods) analysed StackOverflow.com users and illustrated that on average older IT practitioners were learning more new things.


More importantly, we don't get paid to play football. Even if we did, I have close to no athletic ability, but can still whip the pants off the average athlete due to superior brain power. If we based it on age only, people younger than me should be able to beat me at pretty much any sport, yet they typically can't because I am able to out think them with little to no effort. There is a reason age discrimination is illegal, just as there are reasons why discrimination of any kind should be illegal.

It might be appropriate to judge someone engaged in physical labor based on age, weight and other factors, but judging an office worker that way is just plain stupid.


Dave
Post #1463728
Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 12:41 PM
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Gary Varga (6/14/2013)
The real demon here: ambition.

...

For those of you not getting the umbrella holder reference, imagine a fan spraying some substance out. You and your colleagues are in front of the fan doing a difficult task. However, between you and the fan is a person with an umbrella. The umbrella holder is not trying to keep the substance off of themselves. They are keeping you and your colleagues free from the distraction of being hit by the aforementioned substance. Umbrella Holder = Great team player. They rock.


Thank you thank you thank you! A good manager defends his/her subordinates. I've seen managers throw their own people under the bus just to keep the "aforementioned substance" away from them. Loyalty begets loyalty.

I agree with your ambition comment except for calling it ambition. I call something more vulgar.
Post #1463736
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