Re: Fear in the Workplace

Subject: Re: Fear in the Workplace
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 00:31:00 +0800

Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM> said:
> I find that consulting provides a useful emotional distance from the
> client company. . . The natural instinct to over-identify with one's
> employer and bleed every time they are cut is minimized when
> consulting, especially when you have multiple clients. This improves
> the quality of my work, and I sleep better. Working for a job shop
> or a temporary agency can have much the same effect, so long as you
> don't identify overmuch with the agency or job shop. Employers come
> and go, and you do what you can with what you've got until they go
> away. You are the constant; they are the ephemeral. With so-called
> permanent employment, the impression is the opposite: you are the
> replaceable cog in their eternal machine.

Now let me overstate the permanent-employee's case: distance tempers the
highs as well as the lows. When you like your fellow-workers; when you
feel pride in the product; when you have your own say in the direction
of the company; then every big sale, every good review, every improved
release is a source of pride and of pleasure.

At best, the employee is the husband or wife. At best, the contractor is
the roommate.

As De Marco and Lister say in 'Peopleware', there seems to be little
pleasure in turning out poor work. Both permanents and consultants are
obliged to do this, of course. There's no shortage of employers who
want a manual that's "thick enough and has nice covers", and that's all
they want. But it seems to me that the permanent has more of a chance
to put the case for better-quality documentation.

Where I work, contractors are employed to *be* the replaceable cogs.

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Pty Ltd Fax: +61 9 328 8616

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