As I move through my high-tech career, a series of rules have developed
over time. Sometimes it is a rule for how to go about solving a particular
technical problem. Other rules deal with how I work (and play) with
those around me. Whatever the focus, though, these rules were not developed
at some high-level strategy meeting. They were developed over time,
layer by layer, like an oyster develops a pearl. This has many advantages.
Instead of being based on some ideal goal and purpose, these rules
have developed out of the day-to-day reality of working in a high-tech
career. In no particular order, here are the rules that I find myself
living with on a daily basis. Your list will certainly be different,
but hopefully this will spur you to analyze and create one for yourself.
Choose carefully who you work for/with
One of the most important lessons I have learned over the years is
to be very careful in choosing your clients and your co-workers. Life
is too short to be working with people you do not like. In this era
of high unemployment, this might seem like an idealistic view point,
but I can guarantee you that nothing will trouble your high-tech career
more than working with people you don’t respect, or people that
don’t respect you. One corollary to this rule is to avoid people
who question your rates. Over the years I have often run into clients
who attempt to get my rate lowered, sometimes substantially. If this
is the first concern of the client, I can guarantee you that there
will be problems in the relationship. I am not sure exactly why this
occurs, but it seems to be a clear first indicator that you don’t
want to work for this person. after years of suffering the consequences
I know, now, to be very aware of this issue,.
Bad companies and co-workers can reveal themselves in similar ways.
If you see your co-workers being abused by management, or abusing those
around them, it should be clear that you don’t want to be there.
Too often we go against our better judgement. If you ever feel uncomfortable
you should see this as a sign that something needs more investigation.
You may find that there isn’t a problem, or only a mis-understanding,
but you also might find that your concerns are justified and need to
Try the small stuff first
Too often, when dealing with a computer problem, we can jump to the
drastic solutions first. If a computer is crashing, some people might
start with replacing the hard disk or the memory. They might decide
to reformat the hard disk and re-install Windows. While these solutions
might indeed solve the problem, they are similar to using a sledgehammer
to kill a spider. It is usually much better to start with the smallest
change possible to effect the problem. You will find that, in many
cases, you can find a solution that quickly solves the problem and
gets the user back to work without resorting to major efforts.
I find that people who are new to working in high-tech are often the
most likely to jump to drastic conclusions first. This is like new
television of movie directors always wanting to use a crane. Sometimes
the technology can be too seductive and lead us to make errors in our
judgement. If you are working with new high-tech workers, your calming
influence can often be the best thing for them. You can help them,
and yourself, develop a “slow and steady” troubleshooting
method that will serve them well long into the future.
Treat everyone equally
There is an old saw that says you can tell a lot about someone by
watching how they treat the help. I am a firm believer in this.
Someone who treats others
badly, or treats their boss with obsequious glad-handing is revealing an important
part of themselves. They think that people are something to be used and turned
to their advantage, not someone to partner with for greater success. Their
actions serve no one well. People who work for someone like this
will feel ill-used and
often look for a way to sabotage this person. The person themselves may be
inclined to shade the truth, or outright lie to those above them
in order to hide the
truth when things go wrong. In either case, this is not someone with whom you
want to be involved.
By treating everyone equally, you are sending a clear message to
those around you. First, you are respecting of the work that others
do for you and, more importantly,
their basic dignity as a fellow human being. Secondly, people will trust you,
as they can see you deliver the truth, whether it is good or bad news. These
are exactly the traits others should see in you if you want to succeed in your
We all develop our own set of rules as we move through our careers.
You should take some time to think about the rules you live with
each day and remind yourself
of their importance. If you ignore the wisdom you have collected over the years,
you will find that it can bring harm to your career and, in some dramatic cases,
bring it to an end completely.
Comments, Questions, Reviews?