Yesterday I had a long-due twice-annual talk with my personnel manager.
Somewhat to my surprise it was a very open and relaxed talk, and I think I can say with some certainty that my relationship with her is the best I have had when it comes to managers. We talked a bit about past jobs I have done for the company, and the difficulty I felt being motived when stuck on a job that is not an ideal-match for my interests and skills. In particular, I am referring to being stuck on end-user support type jobs, while my heart is really in systems and network administration. We talked a bit about the trouble I have been having dealing with politics on a job, and how this would improve with time and experience, and I raised the point about account managers on the company not properly understanding the people and the technology culture the where dealing with, and for once I genuinely felt that my concerns where actually being listened to.
Now to place this in some kind of context; I have never felt that way about the company I work for. I have always felt that their first and foremost priority was writing hours, making the money, and keeping the customer happy in the shot-to-ultra-short term. On the other hand the company had been going through a period, due to rapid growth, and the placement of a new management team, of placing the concerns and well-being of its employees a very distant last. I and many others at the company have come to expect that our wishes are usually ignored, and it sometimes seemed that all the company was interested in doing was screwing people.
Now of late, I have become somewhat more informed of where these problems stem from, and its somewhat down to a top-level management that doesn't really know how to deal with techies, and dint seem to be in tune with the attitude that many of now have toward the company, in particular the feeling if involvement with company matters and the level of expectancy toward the management keeping its promises. Now they are slowly starting to work out how to best navigate the employee base they have, and after some talks with them personally, I am pretty convinced they at least mean well.
The middle management on the other hand are the actual cause of a lot of the relationship problem. Apart from the usual individuals that are megalomaniacs went it comes to managing people, it seems that overall they still don't really have their act together. It seems particularly hard for them to communicate the wishes of top level management in a way that doesn't offend just about everyone. They seem to be conditioned into being extra hard on people, and that has resulted in some pretty hefty disputed about pay, leased cars, etc. And when it comes to administration on their side, they seem to be so overworked that nothing gets taken care of, the pcprive project being a prime example of corporate ineptitude in getting the 'job done'.
Now within this mess of this company I have been trying to build a name for myself, but at the same time, have tried to avoid being stuck on jobs that I really didn't find interesting. Since I have been with them I have been a Support-technician on paper, and personally my salary has not been more than a few dozen euros about minimum wage. I have been stuck with that label for 3 years now, and though my skills have certainly surpassed the level of a 'support-medewerker', they (the managers), don't seem to have caught on. How could they? They are not technical after all, they don't understand what it takes to set up a network and all the services it needs, and then to document it all as well (a lost skill if ever there was one). However, the last few months I have been on jobs that have afforded me the opportunity to 'show my stuff', and in the presence of influential people no less. Now these influential people I speak off are the top-brass of the company. They are the kind of employees that score very well with the management, because they have that very high salesmen enthusiasm, and a are very very good at speaking manager-speak. Now don't get me wrong, I know how to talk to most managers.. I have learned to use words like 'Fixed-price', 'Total Cost of Ownership', 'Economies of scale', and 'Synergy' in everyday conversation likes its a fucking religion. But these guys, they are just experts at this, and sometimes at a cost to their technical skills, I have found.
But like I said, these guys are influential within the company, and what they say matters. The last few jobs I have done have been noticed, and when it was time for my personal manager to look at my record with the company, and talk to people I have worked with, the impression I have made with some of these guys bore fruits.
So now I have been promoted to Assistant Systems administrator, this despite the fact that I don't yet have even MCSA certification, which is supposed to be a pre-requisite.
Now personally, I, and some others round me, are of the belief that I am at least of Network-specialist/Consultant standard. But to me being raised officially above the level of a support guy, is an acknowledgment of the fact that I am technically more profishient than when they hired me. Its a sign of respect, and that is very very rare in this company, very rare indeed.
On top of this, she mentioned the fact that I was possibly due for a raise. Now this had to due with the fact that years ago, i signed a study-agreement to get certified on 2000, and would receive and additional 20-odd euros per certification I would receive. Now I had never actually finished my study, and I never pursued the matter when I recently got my first 2003 certification, as I felt I had lost my right to it because I had not fulfilled my side of the agreement in getting certified within a certain Timeframe,e. So it was rather surprising when she mentioned this. especially if you consider the fact that we as employees are not accustomed to getting any breaks from our management, if anything, we where used to being screwed whenever they could get away with it. Perhaps my salary now, and for now, as in that there is a salary freeze, is an example of how people like me are screwed, my bruto salary is 1340 euros, I have been made to understand that is lower even than most cleaners earns.
But dispite my salary being a pretty dark cloud overall, I left that conversation beeling somewhat better, and, seeing that the pcprive thing is now actually up and running, I am beginning to feel more positive about the company as a whole.