Re: SeriousQ2.0

Subject: Re: SeriousQ2.0
From: Kelley <kwalker2 -at- gte -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2002 12:30:46 -0500

At 06:34 AM 2/8/02 -0800, Michael Oboryshko wrote:

For me it just comes down to two cliches, "Do unto others..."
and "If you don't have anything nice to say..."

To answer your question, no I rarely hear anyone give this
advice in the workplace.

Interesting. I guess it's not something that comes up among peers, and perhaps isn't anything that has had to come up in IT.

Most people I have worked with are
quite willing to trash their bosses and co-workers. I think this
is harmful and I stay out of it pretty successfully.

Just to put a little reciprocal spin on your question... What
kind of things do you say about former employees to other people
at work or in social situations? What do you say about your
former employees when you get a call for their references?

In my role: Yes, they worked here from X to X. Yes, they did that job.
that's all I can say. If I think the person was wonderful, I can be excited about them.

Yep, there are ways to indicate low enthusiasm. Yep, there are ways to get around the process in order to convey an attitude.

Do I do that? Absolutely not! As a human being, I couldn't live with myself. It's hard to do anything but, especially in this economy. Some business people would probably call me a chump and would get POd that I wouldn't flag someone to stay away from.

Last week, in an offlist to Jane, I wrote the following wrt to how we handle it when we think there are problems with employees:

We reviewed conditionals: how much did we pay them? That's an issue, I think. [...] What was going on at the time (stress levels) that caused misunderstandings? What did we not explain right? Is it just that the person thought they could do the work but realized they didn't like it, etc? [...] To what extent was this _our_ fault? We have to ask ourselves these questions. We have to do right by people. This works out for us, since we've invested [...] in someone.

It's a good business decision, mostly. It's not noble at all. There is a breaking point, of course.

To illustrate: Our programmer is free to note insecurities in the code, explaining why he is making changes even though he f***** up. It's a good business decision to encourage that and not punish it. Why? I wrote a report on incident response policy construction for a client recently. I used Los Alamos Labs as a case study of what not to do:

"Los Alamos Labs was working from a fortress-siege security mentality. They believed that, with enough rules and regulations, they could keep security breaches from ever happening at all. But, those Byzantine rules and regulations created disorganization, obstructed communication, and actually contributed to the failure to report security incidents. Los Alamos was a classic example of an organization that is functionally rational, but substantively irrational. What seems rational on a micro-level is irrational at the macro-level of the organization.

A sound incident response policy must maintain good morale. A zero tolerance policy, as Los Alamos Labs had, is counterproductive to that goal. Instead, good training and increased awareness should shape a positive attitude toward information security practices. Security practices shouldn't be seen as burdens, where violations result in severe punishment. Instead, sound security practices need to be embedded in an organizational culture that makes incident response an integral part of a scientific model of research and development."

Caveat: One of the problems I've found is that we like to be candid with everyone. We discuss the thinking process we go through--the conditionals we review. We say, in effect, how is this our fault? What many people hear is this: You guys are unprofessional. Your authority has been delegitimated by your own acknowledgement that you make mistakes.

So, folks, tell me something: How can I strike a balance. Should we just forget building a culture where management tries to take responsibility for their poor management.

Just to back up what Im saying about this catch-22. In teaching there's some good research on the ways professors delegitimate their authority in the classroom. They put professors in a math classroom. The profs who'd start out by saying, "I used to be in your shoes. I know how hard math is. I had the toughest time when I started out. But, now look at me, I'm a math professor."

That prof consistently got rated less authoritative and knowledgeable than the prof who did not take this more "humane" approach.

Thanks for your candor; this is interesting and helpful.


I hope, having had the opportunity to explain, rather than defend against misinterpretations of what I'd said (misinterpretations that I'll take full responsibility for), that my latest post helps.

I haven't answered all the crits and questions. Not enough time in the day. And I'm really sorry for not keeping up with the offlist correspondence, from last week and before. It's not because I don't respect those who asked, nor do I think their points aren't worthy. Many of the most severe crits I actually agree with.


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Re: SeriousQ2.0: From: Michael Oboryshko

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