Versatile or Jack of all trades

  • Assuming the description of the person is accurate (we all have certain biases, and what one person sees is not the same as what others perceive) - I believe anyone who is focused on success both personally and for the organization, would want to work with people like this. Teams that embrace those who are willing to help are more successful. Team members who need help can benefit from appropriate assistance, and those who help benefit from being able to gain experience in new areas.

    However, in real life people don't.  Why? Because people like this make others look bad.  That is not their fault, it is the fault of the people who want to skate by. But, we aren't able to change that, and management doesn't seem to pick up on things like this as quick as they should.  What ends up happening is that blame can be placed on people who are trying to help the team out because others are afraid someone will notice their deficiencies.

    Think of the crabs in a bucket analogy.

    Dave

  • I have been like this person in my previous jobs but don't want to be so in my current one.
    Though a person like this is an asset to the company and it does feel great to be the one who everyone looks up to
    You can leverage it in your current company to some extent because people know you and you have created enough goodwill  - I realized (again my personal experience) that it is quite difficult to sell these skills  to people who do not know you  - especially when you are in a technical role.
    Even though work I was doing was important   - helping out my manager and others - it did not really add up much to my skill set. Also being indispensable in the current role meant I missed on some good innovative projects
    My take is that give 100% to your job but there is no need to give 120% unless you are learning something  that will be useful to you.

  • mkdm - Monday, January 21, 2019 6:14 AM

    If the team becomes dependent on her, that is a problem with the team, not her. Motivated individuals can ask to be taught or can learn on their own to do what she does.

    You make a good point. As I said elsewhere, if we assume all of the statements about her are true, then yes it is an issue with other people. However I have worked with people like this who "think" they know more, but in reality don't. Just because someone wants to help, it doesn't necessarily mean their help is actually a benefit.

    Also, if the team she is helping does not need the help, she is more a disruption that anything else. If you want to help, ask if you can. Don't just jump in and start helping, as you have no idea what impact you are having.

    Essentially it comes down to working a a team, and that requires that everyone on the team do so.

    Dave

  • I prefer to call such people as the lady you refer to "All-rounders"
    The expression: "Jack of all trades" continues with "and master of none". Some people stop there, making it a derogatory term. Others add "but oftentimes better than a master of one".
    When working in a small company, I find it is often important to be able to do more than one role. Indeed, this has kept me in a job when specialists have sadly had to be let go.
    (by small, I don't mean a few hundred employees, I mean really small - less than twenty.)

  • Sorry for the coffee-fueled rant.😀

    How useful would I be as a DBA if I -just- knew about databases and -absolutely nothing- about servers, TCP/IP, network connectivity, application code, virtual machines, ...?  Answer: useless. In order to manage and troubleshoot something that "touches" my databases, I need to understand all facets of client/server computing.  That's what makes me good at what I do.  Management saying "I need someone that Just. Does. This." is short-sighted and cripples the team.  That's pronounced "stupid."  

    To survive in an Information Technology world, everyone in the room absolutely needs to understand the basics.  That statement does not mean "be able to do a network engineer's job" but simply understand the words coming out of their mouths.  I don't need a project manager to do my job, but I do need them to understand why I'm going to request a second server matching the specs for their production server when they include AlwaysOn for their project's third party application's dedicated database server environment.  I don't have the time to "convince", "sell" or "explain" AlwaysOn technology to a project manager (<sigh> yet again...) in a meeting for [their] benefit just because "they were told the vendor requires it" but they have no idea what it is and what it requires.  If I had the choice between two candidates, one with a well-rounded set of experiences and one that that was strictly "just a project manager", the well-rounded one gets my vote.  All too often the "just-the-project-managers" that don't have a grip call too many meetings and typically can't handle trusting us senior people. Yes, we know what we're doing and can handle the tasks related to the project; if we say it takes 8 hours to do the task then trying to negotiate less time because it doesn't meet with the timeline they provided to management is just irritating.  (Tangent: If you don't understand what the topic is and what anybody is talking about, who do you invite to the meeting?  Simply understanding what needs to be done - and by who - give the "in the know" project manager the "edge" to invite the right players and challenge them by bringing the meeting to their level by posing relevant questions or comments.)  Also, just like most of my teachers in college, in their mind, their project is the ONLY THING on our plates and have uninterrupted time to work on it.

    Working with people who "think outside the box" is a rare and valuable luxury.

    Let me share this tidbit from "Oracle DBA on UNIX and Linux" by Michael Wessler, chapter 1 titled "What is a DBA?"

    To add to the chaos, DBAs are expected to know everything about everything.    From technical and business jargon to the latest management and technology fads, the DBA is expected to be "in the know."    And do not expect any private time: A DBA must be prepared for interruptions at any time to answer any type of question – and not just about databases, either.

    When application problems occur, the database environment is frequently the first thing blamed. The database is "guilty until proven innocent." A DBA is rarely approached with a question like "I’ve got some really bad SQL here. Can you help me fix it?" Instead, the DBA is forced to investigate problems where the underlying assumption is that the DBMS or perhaps the DBA is a fault, when the most common cause of relational performance problems is inefficiently coded applications. When application problems occur, the database environment is frequently the first thing blamed. The database is "guilty until proven innocent." A DBA is rarely approached with a question like "I’ve got some really bad SQL here. Can you help me fix it?"    Instead, the DBA is forced to investigate problems where the underlying assumption is that the DBMS or perhaps the DBA is a fault, when the most common cause of relational performance problems is inefficiently coded applications.

    Oftentimes the DBA is forced to prove that the database is not the source of the problem. The DBA must know enough about all aspects of IT to track down errors and exonerate the DBMS and database structures he has designed. So he must be an expert in database technology, but also have semi-expert knowledge of the IT components with which the DBMS interacts: application programming languages, operating systems, network protocols and products, transaction processors, every type of computer hardware imaginable, and more. The need to understand such diverse elements makes the DBA a very valuable resource. It also makes the job interesting and challenging.       Oftentimes the DBA is forced to prove that the database is not the source of the problem. The DBA must know enough about all aspects of IT to track down errors and exonerate the DBMS and database structures he has designed. So he must be an expert in database technology, but also have semi-expert knowledge of the IT components with which the DBMS interacts: application programming languages, operating systems, network protocols and products, transaction processors, every type of computer hardware imaginable, and more. The need to understand such diverse elements makes the DBA a very valuable resource. It also makes the job interesting and challenging.

  • I think it's just as likely that management risks becoming dependant of having an individual with this valuable skillset on the team. Replacing them may not be something they see as consistently achievable and that could be a risk on its own.

  • Your Name Here - Monday, January 21, 2019 8:28 AM

    How useful would I be as a DBA if I -just- knew about databases and -absolutely nothing- about servers, TCP/IP, network connectivity, application code, virtual machines, ...?  Answer: useless. In order to manage and troubleshoot something that "touches" my databases, I need to understand all facets of client/server computing.  That's what makes me good at what I do.  Management saying "I need someone that Just. Does. This." is short-sighted and cripples the team.  That's pronounced "stupid."  

    I know where you're coming from, and I can agree with you.  Getting the work done is the central thing . . . to the worker. 

    Management, of course, may have a different view.  As I tried to allude to above, it depends on the organization.  From the viewpoint of Big Organization, the most vital thing is to preserve the structure and culture of the organization.  That applies particularly to management, of course.  From their viewpoints, it's more important to have holes in the org chart to be filled, and to hammer individuals into them until they fit.

    Some people thrive and prosper in an  environment where their roles and  what's expected of them are rigidly defined.  Some don't.  What's most important is to recognize that no one person is going to change the overall culture of the organization.  Therefore it's necessary to understand what kind of place you would be happiest in, and go there.

  • djackson 22568 - Monday, January 21, 2019 7:41 AM

    Assuming the description of the person is accurate (we all have certain biases, and what one person sees is not the same as what others perceive) - I believe anyone who is focused on success both personally and for the organization, would want to work with people like this. Teams that embrace those who are willing to help are more successful. Team members who need help can benefit from appropriate assistance, and those who help benefit from being able to gain experience in new areas.

    However, in real life people don't.  Why? Because people like this make others look bad.  That is not their fault, it is the fault of the people who want to skate by. But, we aren't able to change that, and management doesn't seem to pick up on things like this as quick as they should.  What ends up happening is that blame can be placed on people who are trying to help the team out because others are afraid someone will notice their deficiencies.

    Think of the crabs in a bucket analogy.

    You are so right! Some managers don't want someone like her just for that reason - will make some of the other staff look bad by default.

  • The article describes the business analyst in question using the past tense, so it makes me wonder if she was a contractor or consultant. If so, then I can see why some managers may not have like the idea of her influencing (meddling with) teams outside her own assigned project. I'm just guessing about what really happened in this specific case, but that type of scenario happens routinely in IT.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • ktipton - Monday, January 21, 2019 9:38 AM

    djackson 22568 - Monday, January 21, 2019 7:41 AM

    Assuming the description of the person is accurate (we all have certain biases, and what one person sees is not the same as what others perceive) - I believe anyone who is focused on success both personally and for the organization, would want to work with people like this. Teams that embrace those who are willing to help are more successful. Team members who need help can benefit from appropriate assistance, and those who help benefit from being able to gain experience in new areas.

    However, in real life people don't.  Why? Because people like this make others look bad.  That is not their fault, it is the fault of the people who want to skate by. But, we aren't able to change that, and management doesn't seem to pick up on things like this as quick as they should.  What ends up happening is that blame can be placed on people who are trying to help the team out because others are afraid someone will notice their deficiencies.

    Think of the crabs in a bucket analogy.

    You are so right! Some managers don't want someone like her just for that reason - will make some of the other staff look bad by default.

    Heh... on the other hand, the rest of the staff already looks bad and needs someone like her to stop them from sitting on their fists and leaning back on their thumbs from 8 to 5.  If the rest of the staff doesn't take a lesson from her, then maybe it's time to start some changes.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • call.copse - Monday, January 21, 2019 4:38 AM

    Be like her and work with her. They're not mutually exclusive! ðŸ™‚

    +1000

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us
    Don't fear failure, fear regret.

  • Jeff Moden - Monday, January 21, 2019 3:09 PM

    ktipton - Monday, January 21, 2019 9:38 AM

    djackson 22568 - Monday, January 21, 2019 7:41 AM

    Assuming the description of the person is accurate (we all have certain biases, and what one person sees is not the same as what others perceive) - I believe anyone who is focused on success both personally and for the organization, would want to work with people like this. Teams that embrace those who are willing to help are more successful. Team members who need help can benefit from appropriate assistance, and those who help benefit from being able to gain experience in new areas.

    However, in real life people don't.  Why? Because people like this make others look bad.  That is not their fault, it is the fault of the people who want to skate by. But, we aren't able to change that, and management doesn't seem to pick up on things like this as quick as they should.  What ends up happening is that blame can be placed on people who are trying to help the team out because others are afraid someone will notice their deficiencies.

    Think of the crabs in a bucket analogy.

    You are so right! Some managers don't want someone like her just for that reason - will make some of the other staff look bad by default.

    Heh... on the other hand, the rest of the staff already looks bad and needs someone like her to stop them from sitting on their fists and leaning back on their thumbs from 8 to 5.  If the rest of the staff doesn't take a lesson from her, then maybe it's time to start some changes.

    I agree. Unfortunately we can only assume who was in the wrong, but from what was said, it sure sounds like either the other teams were overworked, or had productivity issues.  I think this is why management classes that use examples like this tell you to review the facts they give you, but to then try to figure out what isn't said. There is ALWAYS another side.  Was this the fault of the "consultant", or the teams she helped?

    I know people who could be described like the person here, but in reality they are toxic people who spend most of their time dragging down other teams under the guise of helping them.  They see things they don't like, and they try to influence people to do things their way, typically against policy.

    On the other hand I know people who could be described like the person here, who truly are just trying to help others, and who typically do provide benefits that would otherwise not be present.  Their focus is frequently on what is best for the organization, various teams, and lastly themselves. Their unselfishness helps others to hit deadlines when they are overworked, can help them produce better results, et cetera.

    It would indeed be interesting to actually observe a situation like this...

    Dave

  • Nitin, I would prefer to work with someone like the senior Business Analyst you described. And even more so, I'd rather be like her. (I don't believe I am.) She seems to be in a rare breed of people like that. I don't know how large your organization is, but in my experience is that large organizations tend to not care for people being too versatile. Better that everyone keep to the role they've been assigned or at least are perceived to be in.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • djackson 22568 - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 7:48 AM

    Jeff Moden - Monday, January 21, 2019 3:09 PM

    ktipton - Monday, January 21, 2019 9:38 AM

    djackson 22568 - Monday, January 21, 2019 7:41 AM

    Assuming the description of the person is accurate (we all have certain biases, and what one person sees is not the same as what others perceive) - I believe anyone who is focused on success both personally and for the organization, would want to work with people like this. Teams that embrace those who are willing to help are more successful. Team members who need help can benefit from appropriate assistance, and those who help benefit from being able to gain experience in new areas.

    However, in real life people don't.  Why? Because people like this make others look bad.  That is not their fault, it is the fault of the people who want to skate by. But, we aren't able to change that, and management doesn't seem to pick up on things like this as quick as they should.  What ends up happening is that blame can be placed on people who are trying to help the team out because others are afraid someone will notice their deficiencies.

    Think of the crabs in a bucket analogy.

    You are so right! Some managers don't want someone like her just for that reason - will make some of the other staff look bad by default.

    Heh... on the other hand, the rest of the staff already looks bad and needs someone like her to stop them from sitting on their fists and leaning back on their thumbs from 8 to 5.  If the rest of the staff doesn't take a lesson from her, then maybe it's time to start some changes.

    I agree. Unfortunately we can only assume who was in the wrong, but from what was said, it sure sounds like either the other teams were overworked, or had productivity issues.  I think this is why management classes that use examples like this tell you to review the facts they give you, but to then try to figure out what isn't said. There is ALWAYS another side.  Was this the fault of the "consultant", or the teams she helped?

    I know people who could be described like the person here, but in reality they are toxic people who spend most of their time dragging down other teams under the guise of helping them.  They see things they don't like, and they try to influence people to do things their way, typically against policy.

    On the other hand I know people who could be described like the person here, who truly are just trying to help others, and who typically do provide benefits that would otherwise not be present.  Their focus is frequently on what is best for the organization, various teams, and lastly themselves. Their unselfishness helps others to hit deadlines when they are overworked, can help them produce better results, et cetera.

    It would indeed be interesting to actually observe a situation like this...

    There's no question that the wrong kind of person with the drive as the person we're talking about could actually destroy well tuned successful teams.  I've actually seen that happen.  When it comes to hiring people for any walk, culture and fit are (or should be) two of the greatest considerations.  I wouldn't summarily dismiss the notion of hiring a go-getter just because they are a go-getter but I also wouldn't automatically hire one.  "Must look eye". 😀  In other words, "It Depends".

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • Rod at work - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 8:36 AM

    Nitin, I would prefer to work with someone like the senior Business Analyst you described. And even more so, I'd rather be like her. (I don't believe I am.) She seems to be in a rare breed of people like that. I don't know how large your organization is, but in my experience is that large organizations tend to not care for people being too versatile. Better that everyone keep to the role they've been assigned or at least are perceived to be in.

    I agree  Rod, only I think you got one letter wrong in your last sentence.  "Better that everyone keep to the hole they've been assigned or at least are perceived to be in."😀

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us
    Don't fear failure, fear regret.

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