Tag Archives: productivity

Turn a bad career into a good one

Tim tells me why he has to leave his current company every couple of months. Then he says he has to stay. Leadership is lacking. The work ethic stinks. His office only stays alive because it is propped up by corporate headquarters. He and his boss both know what is wrong. Tim can’t fix it and the boss won’t fix it. 

Tim does have a good reason to stay. He had five jobs in four years before he took this job. He wants to make it to the two or even three year mark here to clear up his resume. If the office lasts that long without being closed, he will stay.

More important than collecting years of service, he is collecting accomplishments. Tim can prove he produces 2/3 of the output at his office of 6 people. He has proof that his occasional training of coworkers has had a deep impact. Tim has numbers. Tim has projects and accomplishments. Those numbers look even better because of his unproductive coworkers.

This is not a race away from his old job. Tim is slowly rowing away from the rocks in his career. He may need a new job tomorrow or in two years. There is no telling how long corporate will suffer losses cheerfully. So he is preparing to leave. 

If you are in a dead end job, use it as a lifeboat to your next job. Be the most important person in your office. Keep track of exactly how good you are. Slowly row away from the rocks in your lifeboat job.

Something to do today

Whether you plan on it or not, your current job is the boat you are in until your next job. Collect accomplishments, projects and cheerful statistics.

Write those accomplishments in your job journal. Give a list of them to your manager. That is the only way to be sure he notices what you do.

The Mythical Man Month

One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. (Elbert Hubbard)

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  “Leaders” sometimes think that if one woman can have a baby in 9 months, then surely 9 women can have a baby in one month. Those leaders/firefighters create career death marches for their subordinates and coworkers.  Too often they are rewarded for being able to get so many hours out of their team.

The Mythical Man Month is a great book about the fallacy that projects can be infinitely divided and finished sooner.

To increase productivity on a 2 person project by 50%, you have to add 2 more people.  Adding one more person does little.  More time is spent communicating and coordinating than the person adds to the project.

A 9 month project with 7 solid, committed, experienced programmers will take as long to complete as the same project with 25 engineers, a manager and 4 team leaders.  Why?  Because communication becomes a major burden in a large project.

In any complex project, adding people in the last month rarely speeds things up.  The folks who can finish the project have to train the new people, supervise them, and check their work.  The experienced people lose all productivity and the new workers are marginal no matter how strong their background.

In your job do you know how people really work together?  Do you know the cost to productivity of adding more people to a project?

For your job search

Are you making your job search more complicated than it needs to be?  Are you dooming your search with lots of undirected activity?

Are you spreading your search efforts so broadly that you are depending on luck?  Contacting 500 recruiters is rarely as productive as closely working with one or two or ten.  Spamming 1000 companies is not as effective as calling 10 managers who may be able to use you or refer you.  Networking with 5 CEO’s or Directors beats lunch with 50 production line workers.

What really gets more done?

Something To Do Today

Find a copy of The Mythical Man Month.  It is a classic.