Changes and ethics and drafts oh my!

Subject: Changes and ethics and drafts oh my!
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 22:16:36 -0600

This has been an interesting thread - I can just picture the little veins
throbbing in the foreheads of some of its participants. I think Andrew is
missing the gist of the post that started this thread, wherein a manager
grabbed a stack of paper that might have been scratch paper for all he
knew, and issued harsh judgment over it. But I think Bonnie is a little
too worried about change.

Like Andrew says: change happens. They can change the rules on you
completely, I think, without ethics even being a part of the process. I've
been hired to do a job, and have had the job description change radically
on me. Why? Because the company, its personnel, and the market it targeted
were also changing rapidly. Your boss might change the rules on you
because somebody just changed the rules on her.

In my last job, at my interview I told them I wasn't a programmer, and
thus was unable to write programmer's manuals. They said no problem. My
first assignment was a programmer's manual. Bottom line was they suddenly
realized they needed a programmer's manual, and nobody else there was any
more qualified to write one, so the assignment fell on me. So I wrote a
programmer's manual, the best one I could write. Was their decision
questionable? Yes. Desperate? Absolutely. Unethical? I don't think so.

In my current job, the man who hired me was fired two weeks after I
started. The middle manager between him and me transferred to another
position a few weeks after that. Within a few months, anybody that had
even *interviewed* me was gone. I found myself with all new bosses, who
had basically inherited me, who had to decide for themselves what they
wanted me to do, or if they even needed me at all. Everything had changed,
and it scared the hell out of me. But I adapted. I engaged each of my new
bosses, and actively sought ways to make myself valuable to them.

Particularly in software, things change. Deadlines, bosses, coworkers,
responsibilities, company mission statements ? hell, the name of the
company itself ? everything can change.

In previous threads about interviews and writing tests, many people posted
messages saying they thought is was unfair to have a writing test at an
interview without warning the interviewee over the phone beforehand. Some
people even claimed they'd walk out if somebody sprung a surprise like
that on them in an interview.

I wonder about this. How CAN you know what to expect on a job,
particularly in a rapidly evolving industry? Think back a few years - was
it fair for a company to decide it wanted to do business over the Web,
where before it had only used mail order? Nobody told them back in '95
that they'd have to be able to port their skills to the Web. Similarly,
nobody told all the COBOL mainframers that they might have to adapt to
another platform. Learn Java? Is that fair?

As long as we agree to work for other people, a certain amount of
flexibility is a vital asset. If we're not calling the shots, we need to
be able and willing to respond to the demands put on us by the people who
do call the shots. Within reason, I hasten to add.

I *do* think the manager who raided that writer's desk was a weenie.
Anybody who grabs something from *my* desk runs a risk of reading a very
rough draft of a proposal, a shopping list for my next Costco run, or some
rapidly jotted ideas for a novel so groundbreaking that I'll never have to
work again once it's published. <g>

But I think that working in a high-tech industry and expecting things not
to change is unrealistic. And to blame any change that makes you
uncomfortable on ethics is, I think, naïve.

Keith Cronin

Don't go changin' to try and please me

- Billy Joel, one or two wives ago

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