I Didn’t Sign Up For All This People Crap

I Didn’t Sign Up For All This People Crap

A crowd of people

You didn’t? Well, truth be told, neither did I.

When I started in Computing, I was interested in the bits, the bytes, the blinking lights. It took years for that to pale. Not that it’s ever gone away entirely. I still write code and solder things, most every day. Just for fun.

But an easy familiarity rubbed the shine and sparkle off the new toys, and a deepening dissatisfaction with the way things worked – or more exactly, the way the work worked – set in. So I set myself the task of understanding why it was so. That was some thirty years ago.

It’s been a long and winding path since then. I followed the Better Process Path for some years, thinking process was the answer. Then the Better Management/Leadership Path, believing *that* was the answer.

And then – rather late, you may say – I chose to spend some time better understanding the problem, rather than other people’s suggested or reported solutions.

Of course, it’s your career (or not – maybe you’re just filling-in until something else comes along) and I’m not writing this to oblige you to follow any particular path. I’m happy for you to decide how to proceed.

But I do come across many folks who seem to be trying to get one or more of their following needs met:

  • To do good work
  • To not waste time on stuff that’ll never be used
  • To build crazy wicked cool tech things
  • To be successful (however you, personally, might define that)
  • To change things for the better
  • To make a positive difference in the world

Would you be willing to ask yourself:

  • “What is the nature of the things that are preventing me from getting my needs met?”
  • “Are my current strategies effective? And if not, why not?”
  • “Are there other strategies, maybe that I’m not aware of, that I could be using to better effect?”

Maybe, just maybe, you might come to the same conclusion as I have – that to get the above needs met, getting to know people and how they tick – the People Path – is one possible effective strategy.

– Bob

  1. Bob, Love this post.
    I have always felt that we cannot get away from the ‘people shit’ just because we are in a technical domain. Your path seems to have some parallels to mine. After 35 years I sitll code, but I have seen enough technical silver bullets come and go that I started asking the question – what the hell is going on here? SOS. Same Old Shit. – and the answer I get to is that programming has, to me, a deeply interesting aspect.

    Given that we are dealing with the realm of human thinking – what we are doing is no less than an initiatory path, but without the religious belief issues. THIS is what is going on and why, despite all the SOS that is happening, some things just don’t change that quickly, namely the people stuff.

    But we need to both:
    1: Keep the people stuff grounded in the nuts and bolts work.
    2: Raise the nuts & bolts work vision to integrate with the people stuff.

    We need both to be developed together in an integrated way.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. I guess the real challenge is finding out how the people that make things so crappy actually tick – those people who make others do worthless tasks, who ‘manage’ without thinking about what they are doing and the consequences of their actions. But those are the very people who are least likely to tell you!

  3. Great post. I think in any business (not only IT) success boils down to this:

    80% People Skills
    15% Focus/Clarity of Purpose
    4% Hard Work
    1% Luck (that may be the critical bottleneck…)

    Don’t nail me on the numbers 🙂

    PS: I think I am going to make a post on my own blog out of this pie chart…

  4. Paul Beckford said:

    I’ve been thinking about this too. For most people, their contract of employment makes no mention of their psychological needs. And the psychological needs of differing groups associated with work are often in conflict (workers, shareholders, managers, customers, community, etc). Think through the psychological needs of shareholders verses the workers for the typical analytic organisation. Making the shareholders feel good is often at the detriment of the workers and visa-versa.

    It doesn’t have to be this way I know, but short of a miraculous wave of mass enlightenment, this is reality for most people.

    The work place is a psychological battle field, and because of this you could argue that it is safer to satisfy your psychological needs else where… Again many workers have come to this conclusion themselves and choose keep their elbows in whilst at work.

    So what is a legitimate demand to be made at work? Well decent pay for a decent days work for one. The tools to do the job demanded for sure… training, decent working conditions, etc.

    These also happen to be much more tangible then “feeling looked after”, and are also the kinds of things that can appear in a contract of work.

    Transformational leadership has it place, but the bedrock of workplace relationships are transactional agreements. I’m more inclined to put the transformational stuff on hold at first, whilst focusing on the transactional agreements in place. These are bound to be a better gauge of the true dynamics. Until the transactional agreements are right, transformational speak is nothing more then PR at best and an attempt at brain-washing at worst. The phrase “well put your money where your mouth is!!!” comes to mind 🙂

    As uncomfortable as it is to admit, I think transactional leaders such as the late Bob Crow (RMT Union) have been right in this regard all along.

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