Play To Your Strengths

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Play To Your Strengths

  • Maximize your maximums, minimize your minimums.

  • Good morning Grant.  First, I congratulate you on having put in 35 years in IT.  You are a survivor for sure.  I understand your feelings about those who 'climbed the corporate ladder'.  And I have also experienced first-hand the feelings of staying a technologist.  I put in 42 years in IT, starting as a programmer-trainee and ending as a DBA.  And I would offer that the largest mistake I made along the way was doing an 11-year stint as a department manager ressponsible for 6-7 people including developers and data-entry folks.  I left that rsponsibility behind and never once wished to 'climb the ladder' again.  I went back to doing what I loved and what at least I think I was good at, which was working with data and logic.  As I have described my function to others, I was 'making information out of data'.

    I also agree with you that one thing I have retained is my passion to learn and do new things.  I'm approaching 81 years old and my home office still contains seven computers with a couple more in storage.  Every day I enjoy my time spent on various projects all relating to technology.   My wife of the same age has over the years founded and operated three tech-related companies and sold two of them to competitors before she retired.  Her passsion now is creating beautiful custom products on a computer-based embroidery machine.  She also has decided that her own creativity far outweighs the value of being responsible for people.

    I enjoyed your comment on friends and being jealous of 'great things' they have accomplished.  Well, don't put yourself down like that.  In my experience, it has not been the managers who have accomplished great things, it's those of us who did the real work and made them look good.  I'm in my 14th year of retirement and loving life.  Hang in there!

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  skeleton567. Reason: typo
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  skeleton567.

    Rick
    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • A nice read for a Saturday morning. I remember back when I started in my current department and I thought "one day, I want to be a manager like my current manager". When he left, I applied for his job and weird story there, but they hired someone for the position and AFTER hiring them, had my interview for the position. I bombed the interview, but I felt it was a waste of everyone's time. Fast forward a few years and a few bosses and now my boss is in so many meetings and working such weird hours, I wouldn't want the job. I like getting my hands dirty in the code and problem solving. Managers need to manage and that's not a thing I want to do. I have no problem assigning tasks and directing the team, but I really want to be getting my hands dirty with that. I don't want to just steer the ship, I want to help row. It is much more satisfying for me. PLUS I hate working extra hours - I want to work my 8-4 and log out and repeat the next day without needing to have a meeting with people in China at 12 AM my time and be ready for a 5 AM meeting the same day due to a team in the USA... It is nice to decline the middle of my night meetings and not have to worry about it.

    The above is all just my opinion on what you should do. 
    As with all advice you find on a random internet forum - you shouldn't blindly follow it.  Always test on a test server to see if there is negative side effects before making changes to live!
    I recommend you NEVER run "random code" you found online on any system you care about UNLESS you understand and can verify the code OR you don't care if the code trashes your system.

  • Mr. Brian Gale wrote:

    Fast forward a few years and a few bosses and now my boss is in so many meetings and working such weird hours, I wouldn't want the job. .... PLUS I hate working extra hours - I want to work my 8-4 and log out

    Brian,  my experience was entirely different.  Through my 11 years as an IT Manager in the 70's-80's, I was also the main on-call techie for our shop running 24-hours-a-day Sunday night through Friday night, so I was the one doing the wierd hours.  Then when I was no longer a manager, I was STILL always the one working the wierd hours while my managers were home in their Lazy Boys.  Never in my 42 years did I get a regular schedule.   The closest I ever came was AFTER I retired and then went back to work another three years as a DBA, but we still had to do Saturdays and Sundays for patches and updates.  Time zones never really made much difference for me since we had only a little coverage outside the physical USA.  Like you, I like to get my hands dirty.  But I never was in a situation where I could decline the middle-of-the-night stuff.

    But I'll add this:  I didn't do it for my managers or for my companies.  I did it for myself and the satisfaction that I COULD do it.

    Rick
    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • Just wanted to add in that the "working 8-4" thing is something that only happened recently as my work contract got changed. At one point, I was on call 24/7/365 which drove me nuts because I was working more than I should be, but the overtime pay was nice. Over time I helped create policies in place that reduced the overtime required so it went from almost nightly overtime and every weekend down to roughly 1 hour of overtime per month. Then I helped work to get that down and it go to the point where overtime was almost never required apart from patches and updates to the SQL Server instances. But now, my new work contract they put in the contract that I am allowed to work 7.5 hours per day, 37.5 hours per week and no overtime. So something breaks that is urgent for me to fix and it takes me 7.5 hours on Saturday, it just means I get to skip work on Monday. I also worked on getting the on-call duties into a rotation between multiple people on my team. Having 1 person be on call ALL the time means they are getting burnt out.

    But being a manager that gets their hands dirty is a job I could do. Unfortunately, my team has moved from a development and support team to more of a "project management" team where I am one of the technical people on the team - I help develop and deploy the work. Downside is that I do a lot less DBA work and am behind in what I used to do (I still have some SQL 2012 instances I need to upgrade), but on the plus side I get my evenings and weekends back. Since this change, the manager of the team has no time to get their hands dirty as they are in meetings for the entire day.

    The above is all just my opinion on what you should do. 
    As with all advice you find on a random internet forum - you shouldn't blindly follow it.  Always test on a test server to see if there is negative side effects before making changes to live!
    I recommend you NEVER run "random code" you found online on any system you care about UNLESS you understand and can verify the code OR you don't care if the code trashes your system.

  • I like the way you put it, Grant; "Play to your strengths". I will sometimes daydream about being a CEO because of the money they make, but I think it would be tedious. Plus, the pressure really is all on the CEO.

    Back to reality, one of my strengths is writing software. However, in the last few years I've also become good at DevOps. As far as tools go, first using Azure DevOps Services and the last two years using GitHub. I've been gaining experience at these tools, because I've been trying to introduce DevOps and Agile to my colleagues. Progress has been made in adopting GitHub, but I've got doubts that my colleagues and employer will want to change how think or the processes they use. If they don't want to change how they think or processes, then we're just rubbing the tool on things under the false belief that will make us a DevOps Organization. Which means we'll fail at it.

    Anyway, now I'm in a quandary; which should I follow? Software development or DevOps tooling? I don't know the answer.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • I was fortunate in that my company put all of us through Helen Tupper's "Squiggly Careers" programme.  I can recommend both of her books.  https://www.amazingif.com/books/.  I've bought Squiggly Careers for my nieces, sister and sister-in-law because I was that impressed with it.

    One of her lessons was on Super Strengths.  A Super Strength is

    1. A skill you enjoy using
    2. A skill you are known for
    3. A skill you can use frequently

    There is a 4th point but I've lent my copy of Squiggly Careers to a careers teacher so don't have it to hand.

    One of the points Helen makes is that YOU know what your strengths are but do OTHER PEOPLE?  She recommends getting feedback from colleagues and managers.  If they don't know that you have certain skills and strengths you won't be in their thoughts when opportunities arise that would use your strength.

    Another point she makes is that sometimes people know your strength but it may never have occurred to you.  This is either an opportunity or a curse.  I had a skill that others valued highly but using it felt like death by 1,000 cuts.  I kept getting assigned tasks that used that skill because others perceived me to be good at them.

    Communication is key.  What you need is honest feedback, not soft-soap feedback.

     

  • Gail Wanabee wrote:

    Maximize your maximums, minimize your minimums.

    Love it!

  • skeleton567 wrote:

    Good morning Grant.  First, I congratulate you on having put in 35 years in IT.  You are a survivor for sure.  I understand your feelings about those who 'climbed the corporate ladder'.  And I have also experienced first-hand the feelings of staying a technologist.  I put in 42 years in IT, starting as a programmer-trainee and ending as a DBA.  And I would offer that the largest mistake I made along the way was doing an 11-year stint as a department manager ressponsible for 6-7 people including developers and data-entry folks.  I left that rsponsibility behind and never once wished to 'climb the ladder' again.  I went back to doing what I loved and what at least I think I was good at, which was working with data and logic.  As I have described my function to others, I was 'making information out of data'.

    I also agree with you that one thing I have retained is my passion to learn and do new things.  I'm approaching 81 years old and my home office still contains seven computers with a couple more in storage.  Every day I enjoy my time spent on various projects all relating to technology.   My wife of the same age has over the years founded and operated three tech-related companies and sold two of them to competitors before she retired.  Her passsion now is creating beautiful custom products on a computer-based embroidery machine.  She also has decided that her own creativity far outweighs the value of being responsible for people.

    I enjoyed your comment on friends and being jealous of 'great things' they have accomplished.  Well, don't put yourself down like that.  In my experience, it has not been the managers who have accomplished great things, it's those of us who did the real work and made them look good.  I'm in my 14th year of retirement and loving life.  Hang in there!

    Cheers! Yeah, no worries. I am happy on my path. Honestly, I love seeing people accomplish stuff. Sure, sometimes I get a little jealous, but I'm still much more about celebrating their wins. I celebrate my own just fine. Ha!

  • Mr. Brian Gale wrote:

    A nice read for a Saturday morning. I remember back when I started in my current department and I thought "one day, I want to be a manager like my current manager". When he left, I applied for his job and weird story there, but they hired someone for the position and AFTER hiring them, had my interview for the position. I bombed the interview, but I felt it was a waste of everyone's time. Fast forward a few years and a few bosses and now my boss is in so many meetings and working such weird hours, I wouldn't want the job. I like getting my hands dirty in the code and problem solving. Managers need to manage and that's not a thing I want to do. I have no problem assigning tasks and directing the team, but I really want to be getting my hands dirty with that. I don't want to just steer the ship, I want to help row. It is much more satisfying for me. PLUS I hate working extra hours - I want to work my 8-4 and log out and repeat the next day without needing to have a meeting with people in China at 12 AM my time and be ready for a 5 AM meeting the same day due to a team in the USA... It is nice to decline the middle of my night meetings and not have to worry about it.

    Thanks for the input. And yeah, sleeping through the night is nice.

  • Rod at work wrote:

    I like the way you put it, Grant; "Play to your strengths". I will sometimes daydream about being a CEO because of the money they make, but I think it would be tedious. Plus, the pressure really is all on the CEO.

    Back to reality, one of my strengths is writing software. However, in the last few years I've also become good at DevOps. As far as tools go, first using Azure DevOps Services and the last two years using GitHub. I've been gaining experience at these tools, because I've been trying to introduce DevOps and Agile to my colleagues. Progress has been made in adopting GitHub, but I've got doubts that my colleagues and employer will want to change how think or the processes they use. If they don't want to change how they think or processes, then we're just rubbing the tool on things under the false belief that will make us a DevOps Organization. Which means we'll fail at it.

    Anyway, now I'm in a quandary; which should I follow? Software development or DevOps tooling? I don't know the answer.

    Me neither. I will say though, you won't be lacking for employment if you pursue the DevOps path. 100% not saying its better, just that I think there's a bit more opportunity there. One person's opinion.

  • David.Poole wrote:

    Communication is key.  What you need is honest feedback, not soft-soap feedback.

    Not dismissing any of what you wrote, all sounds great honestly, but this bit, oh yes!!

     

     

  • Grant, loved the post.  I remember coming out of college and interviewing for my first job.  I was interview by a 50-something year old who was still a software developer.  And I thought to myself, why isn't he a manger by now.  Well here I am, 52 years old, and still a software developer and loving it.  It's what I do well and enjoy, and I know managing people would be a struggle for me, thus if I ever went that route, I'm sure I would end up hating my job.

    On another note, constantly learning is something I really enjoy too.  I'm also a ham and I'm currently doing the CW Fundamentals class with CW Academy.  Learning CW is very challenging, but it is really testing my mind and focus and I look forward to developing the skill as time goes on.

    All the best to you on your career journey and radio journey. 73

    de Brad W1ACC

  • Thank you, David, for sharing that information on Squiggly Careers!

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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