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Do you "Stand Out"?

Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
My employer (very large AE firm) has found a new way to waste money, an HR program called "Stand Out". You answer a bunch of questions and it tells you your personality type. Then every week you get an email to "Check In" to describe what you loved and loathed about the week, how much value you brought to the company, did you have the opportunity to use your skills, did your boss interact with you (he says good morning before barricading himself in his office in order to remain oblivious to what we do, what more can I ask?). I was wondering if anyone else is subjected to this madness?

They have a link to unsubscribe but it really doesn't work.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

That sounds horrific. Mind you, we still do "Forced Ranking", you'd have thought that after 15 years of eliminating the bottom 5% we'd now be uniformly superb. Perhaps we are and I didn't notice.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Seems like stand out would not promote a team effort or comrodery. Sounds more like a psycho-ologist trying to make a name for himself the expense of others.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Bridgebuster.
Just before I retired, the company I was working for got sold a " Work improvement program." by a consultant who gave question-ares along much the same lines as you describe, to all of the employees with feedback sessions at group meetings.
After a couple of days of watching this guy work ,I realized that he had nothing but a re vamped TQM program.
I took all of my old Dr Deming lectures , and work sheets in to the vice president , showed him the paperwork, and told him "I did this course 16 years ago I can teach this for wages, or you can pay your consultant." They decided to pay the consultant. After 2 months they fired him, by then I had retired.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

2
1.You think you have a problem
2.You hire consultants
3.They ask lots of questions
4.They come up with a 'solution' based on the answers to the questions which is the same one as your staff could have given you for free if you had ever listened to them
5.You ignore the consultants solution
6.They recruit your best and brightest young talent
7.They go away
8.You now have a problem

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
For me, retirement can't get here soon enough. I miss the days when doing a good job actually mattered. Now it's all about earnings and image. I remember when a "Stand Out" was the guy who got chewed out by the chief engineer or squad leader for doing a lousy job.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

HR program called "Stand Out", what a load of bullsh*t.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Quote (metengr)

What a load of bullsh*t.

This.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Many of these bullsh1t programs stem from an idea that was valid initially, but just got blown out of proportion by overzealous project staff.
Go see the HR manager and ask him/her who explores the info and what exactly they expect from the tool. Tell him you fill this in during working hours and you don't want to waste company time.
Then satisfy their needs in the most efficient manner possible. You will hopefully be remembered for being efficient and cooperative.

That or get cynical and counterproductive.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Hi Bridgebuster - Same with me - only got to stick it until 7th Sept. Things seem to have fallen of a cliff lately and it's all box ticking and trying to meet impossible targets with no staff. Pity really because we have stacks of work and billions of £'s of orders but actually getting the job out right first time does not seem to matter to anyone anymore. Just do it and fix it latter.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)

Quote (Go see the HR manager ...)

lol

I would but, no one knows who it is; and if you need IT help there isn't anyone here either.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

"Mind you, we still do "Forced Ranking", you'd have thought that after 15 years of eliminating the bottom 5% we'd now be uniformly superb. Perhaps we are and I didn't notice."

That's the beauty of real numbers, no matter how close together two numbers are, there's an infinity of numbers between them.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

2
DerbyLoco,

I think number 1 should be.

1. Someone thinks there is a problem but doesn't want to make a judgement call so a consultant is brought in to make a black and white decision for a gray problem. No solution is black or white but the consultant provides insulation from criticism and legal implications. This becomes the go to solution for any problem that no one wants to get in front of that doesn't have a cut and dry solution and there is only criticism when there are issues.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Nothing good comes from HR involvement. Have hope BB.....these BS programs usually don't last long, particularly when they realize it cuts into productivity.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

JME but those HR initiatives are mostly boxes to be checked by management. Much like the various ranking and review systems, managers still mostly hire and fire based upon short term needs and largely illogical personal opinions.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I had a co-worker put HR into perspective for me. She said "when HR was headed by women, it was called "personnel" and the head of personnel made secretary wages. Then some men saw it as an opportunity and became HR managers, build a staff to justify their VP-level wages, and finally implement programs to justify their existence and things got out of control. The net benefit to the company is markedly less than the old personnel departments". HR is all about justifying some big salaries for HR.

I was talking to "my HR rep" on a plane one day and he stopped me in mid-complaint and said "you seem to have the impression that I am supposed to represent you to management, that couldn't be further from the truth, I'm here to represent management to you", in other words complain all I want, but it will never do any good.

These slime have caused me to take the Myers-Briggs test 5 times (always with the same answer), and a half dozen "more accurate" versions and I never had a manager that treated an ENTJ any different from an ISFP, and mostly just poured money to consultants and managed the group they way they were going to manage anyway. These flavor of the week programs and no value and, like Ron said, never last very long.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I think you're all giving HR too much credit. These are ALL management issues that stem from a true lack of desire to anything different. Just consider all the failed DFM, TQM, SQC, etc. programs that have gone by the wayside.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
Here's the irony about "Stand Out": No one is permitted to "Stand Out". Here's why: A few years ago when the company abandoned "SMART" goals part of the evaluation process, a coworker in a different office called me - he's a department manager - to explain our new evaluation system. He said the HR people don't want any anyone to have a very good or very poor evaluation. Everyone should be "average" although some can be a little more or a little less average. As long as the department average is average. I've decided to take it in stride: I'll continue to post nonsense.

At least I reached my 100 "Wellness" points today so I get a health insurance discount (yeah right). Another pathetic program.

1794 days and counting!

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I think many are miserable because they have to make highly questionable judgements about people. You would think constantly rejecting people would weigh you down.

God made the integers, all else is the work of man. - Leopold Kroenecker

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I don't think it's necessarily judgements that weigh you down, just the sheer fact of a mass of humanity set to floating aimlessly is a bit sad. I've participated in job fairs where one of the EVIL empires had a mass layoff, and there would be this army of in-shock, downtrodden, gray people walking around with their lifes' history one a single piece of paper, hoping to find a safe harbor. There but for the grace of ...

At least, since I do feel empathy and sadness for them, I'm not a full-blown psychopath.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

But to answer the question, no.

God made the integers, all else is the work of man. - Leopold Kroenecker

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Sounds like another way covering up weak and ineffective management by disguising it as pseudo-science.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I don't understand how you guys can put up with all this asinine garbage. Why don't you just go work somewhere else so you can escape it?

I got fed up with my previous employer about 2.5 years ago. They hired a "consultant" to help them figure out some things as they had tripled in size in a few years. The consultant organized a company survey that showed some serious discontent. Then the owners/management decided to ignore it and promptly lost about 15% of their staff, including many of their best engineers. They continued on the "consultants" advice and now post the most worthless drivel on social media. They proceed to tell you how humble they are and how much they care. How humble are you if you constantly post things about your humility? One of my former coworkers refers to the place as "the compound".

I ran across the consultant at a conference a few months ago. He proceeded to talk for almost 2 hours about how he encouraged and helped his clients engage in this kind of behavior on social media and promotional videos.



RE: Do you "Stand Out"?


Quote (OSUCivlENG)

"I don't understand how you guys can put up with all this asinine garbage. Why don't you just go work somewhere else so you can escape it?"

Unfortunately these programs and ideas are pervasive in every industry and so many small companies have been bought by large conglomerates that it just keeps percolating through.

Some recent observations. Think of the simple function of a parking lot attendant at grocery stores; observe now that at some Walmart and Stop and Shop locations there are stickers on the cart return areas that show RED,YELLOW, and GREEN to indicate how full each cart return is, really? We now need stickers on cart returns in a parking lot to tell us how to do the simple job of picking up carts from the parking lot and returning them to storage inside the store? So, somehow Walmart is funding a corporate level position whose brainchild to better manage carts was to institute a visual tracking system to manage how the parking lot attendant gathers and returns carts. You can only imagine that there is probably some type of daily reporting metrics and monthly chart that gets put into some monthly report. Go to your local Autozone or O-Reilly's Autoparts, as your wait in line notice that on the ends of the parts aisles there are all sorts of daily KPI charts for reporting their metrics.

(One of my favorite quotes from an old timer on a construction project when asked by a high ranking official on what metrics where used to track projects..."Oh, we only use English units, you know, feet and inches on our tapes." That was his dead honest, straight answer, the conversation quickly changed!!)

My wife is a pharmacist and they get timed on everything, it has basically turned into a glorified McDonalds. They literally get penalized for length of consultation time, well, if someone has legitimate concerns or is failing to understand then are they suppose to just ignore them. In addition, many are older people who are just happy to have a familiar face to speak too every couple weeks.

In my own experience, rather than a company hiring some real subject matter expects to help young engineers and develop standard analysis methodologies they rather hire consultants to create spaghetti diagrams to track peoples steps with the idea that if only we had more printers and people took less frequent restroom breaks all would be well. Look at the questions on the forum, a favorite retort is to tell people to please go speak with a senior engineer. Well, guess what, many do not have senior engineers to work with or subject matter experts and that is why they are here. (A big thanks to this community of dedicated people who routinely post and answer questions; I have been a lurker for nearly 10 years and it is amazing the dedication that some have 2thumbsup and the sound advice that is offered.) The companies are too busy hiring consultants to figure out how to improve while the worker bees wallow.

Not sure how this happened but I am mid-career and was unfortunately exposed to this type of stuff since graduation. I struck out on my own and have been going strong for nearly 5 years, so there is hope I think it is more difficult to escape than some may think.



RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
LSPSCAT raises some good points. From a societal standpoint, there's been a trend over the past few years for employers and government institutions to take it upon themselves to become our mother, father, big sister, and best friend. This notion gives rise to all sorts of foolishness such as Standout, SMART goals, Wellness, Coloring books at work to relieve stress, etc. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is bombarded with wellness emails and phone calls about how much fun it is to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Another thing I've seen in engineering over the past 20 years is that junior engineers (probably not a PC term) should only do work that is challenging, interesting, and FUN! Sure, we all like work that is challenging. After all, how will you Standout? However, as the saying goes, "into every life a little rain must fall". What I mean is that on every project there's a lot of dog work - bar lists, pedestal elevations, quantities. I find that a lot of younger people are loathe to do this or simply can't, because it's not FUN.

Recently, I reviewed plans for a small project. I gave the young geniuses my comments on their drawings. A week later when I came back from vacation I saw that progress plans were submitted and they ignored my comments. The drawings are convoluted, difficult to follow, and generally unbuildable. I had to review what was submitted and had more comments. The person finalizing the drawings said he'll look over my comments and decide if they'll be incorporated. He had a few questions and told me many of my concerns were unnecessary. My response: If you think your right ignore what I said. The contractor can always send an RFI.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

If an employer wants to boost productivity, there is no substitute for

1. Giving clear direction.
2. Trusting your employee to do the job they were tasked to do.
3. Staying out of the way.

Low stress and professional satisfaction comes from being able to go home at the end of the day knowing that you accomplished what you were tasked to do efficiently, effectively, and creatively.

If an employer has to ask the employee how much value they brought to the company and if they have the opportunity to use their skills, management is not doing their job.

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

2
@bridgebuster
As a junior engineer (unsure how this term would cause consternation for anyone that is new to engineering), I have some push back on the "only wanting to do fun work" comment. When you join an organization as a junior engineer, the expectation from the younger employee is that they will be given opportunities to earn more responsibilities, and therefore higher status and pay. What I mean by this are assignments to projects where the intention is for you to be meaningfully involved with something new; you do some/most of the dog work but also work on something that is challenging. If you are successful in managing this load, you get more opportunities, rinse and repeat for a few years and you have a competent engineer that can be a key single contributor/leader on a project. If all you're given is the dog work, no words as to how the dog work helps the project (let alone your personal development), AND you have to become a hermit in your office to do extra work to get ahead, then you should EXPECT junior engineers to grumble. There's also a paradigm shift that younger people will not automatically defer to more experienced people. So, bridgebuster, if you didn't explain to this "young genius" why your comments were critical as a way to negate their youthful arrogance, how could any other outcome occur?

A closely related idea is "putting in your time", my cohort and I mostly reject this notion; we do however appreciate that there are some skills that require years to obtain and you, on an individual level, need to put in the time to practice. But if the culture of the company is for someone to sit and do dog work until someone throws them a bone to see how the act, they're not going to keep millennials. Do the experiment and give them a challenge, if they fail, assess the next steps (anything from additional training to termination) but if they succeed tell them that and try not to forget it.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

4
Big belly laugh. That attitude will ensure that I have the option of part time work until they chuck me in a coffin. Thanks. By the way, if you can't figure out how to turn dog work into bones and instead have to be hand fed the bones, you needn't worry about dog work or bones for long.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

@GregLocock
It will be interesting to see if the pressure of the status quo will be enough to overwhelm the pressure of the culture shift. I will say though, I think you are making an assumption that the environment and circumstances that allows an individual to convert "dog work" to bones is a pervasive, pre-existing condition; an individuals success is almost never the result of just their actions alone. I do not think this is the case, because the point I was trying to make was that the work junior engineers grumble about is the kind that isn't a blessing in disguise. As an example, I would find it very satisfying to create a complete set of P&IDs from scratch or do the field review for an entire train and update the drawings for even a simple process but if you ask me to to re-create ~400 P&IDs in 3 weeks (after dithering around for my computer access for 4 days) to match a new corporate template, I'm not going to go home feeling accomplished in anything and I don't know who would. But sweating my butt off in the heat to trace lines and see the equipment, triple checking a colleague's calculations to make sure they trust me with their work in the future, contemplating diagram layout to ensure ease of use, researching alternative methods to analyze data, this is the "dog work" that I would ask for because anyone worth their salt would see it for the blessing in disguise that it is.

Just another thought, what about our current work culture setup makes it acceptable to pay a contractor 2x to 5x the going rate (perhaps you will command even more!) of newer, internal staff to do work they haven't done before that the contractor would find to be old hat? If you don't give people the chance to prove themselves, and yes I use the word "give" purposefully, then how will your teams mature and grow?

P.S. I hope you won't be chucked into a coffin, but rather, gently placed by the mortician and their staff. Seems a much more fitting end for someone that literally died from all the contract work they got. 2thumbsup

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

jari001,
I'm one of those old guys who demand and get outrageous hourly rates. You know what? When some new guy comes up and listens to a conversation between me and the construction crew or the rig crew etc. I go far out of my way to include them in the discussion, answer their questions, and try to help them understand the reasoning behind my instructions. When the crew moves off I am careful to hang around a few minutes to allow the new guy to ask any questions that he or she may not have been comfortable asking in front of the crew.

On the other hand if the new guy(s) are all sitting in their vehicles with the AC blasting and the music blaring I am not going to go tap on the window. I did a job a couple of years ago where we had 5 interns/early career engineers at the job site. Five of them. They all congregated under a shade tree and either napped or played games on their phones. I didn't go over there and suggest that they were skipping a learning experience. Finally one left the herd and came to participate. She turned out to be a good hand. The other 4 not so much.

What I'm trying to say is that no one is going to "give" you anything (and I also use that word purposefully). They may create subtle opportunities for you to further yourself, or you many need to do that all on your own. If what the project needs is you to change the template on 400 drawings, do it. Not as a mindless automaton, but as an Engineer. There will be a few of those 400 drawings that have bone-headed mistakes in them. Find those mistakes, ask your boss if they are right or not. Make sure that you learn the names of the sub-systems and how they interrelate, learn the terminology unique to your company. In other words, mindless dog work can either be mindless dog work or it can be a chance to improve your value to the company. The guys that treat every assignment as a learning experience get interesting assignments far faster than someone who waits to be "given" an interesting assignment.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

@bridgebuster - Sorry for this thread detour! Perhaps ironically, I've never been subject to such behavior modification/tracking initiatives. If my work isn't up to snuff, the company cuts my contract! That's motivation enough for me.

@zdas04

I agree with the individual behaviors you and bridgebuster identify as critical for success but we don't seem yo agree on the importance of circumstance (timing and prevailing culture) to realize the benefits of those behaviors

With respect to those engineers that hid in the shade and other such things, they weren't doing ANY work, let alone dog work, so I don't see their behavior as relevant; lazy is lazy.

When you give your time and experience to the younger engineers, you have become someone else's outside intervention that helps them succeed; the environment that recognizes that learning takes time and effort from the learner and a teacher figure, perhaps to the small detriment of a project timeline or a person's work day, had to be given. It's also why they would be remiss in saying they became good engineers solely through their own work (i.e. success doesn't happen in a vacuum).

Furthermore, new people need to be given assignments that have learning potential, one doesn't create such opportunities within an organization out of the blue and not every opportunity has some nugget in it. So once again, the fact the new person was sent out with you, when you alone could have accomplished what needed to be done, is the type of opportunity that needs to be given and recognized as a behavior critical for long term success (of company and employee). If the individual that is meant to learn does not capitalize on this, they will surely suffer for it in the long term (if not the short term as well). In contrast, let's take my drawing anecdote. Since I was not empowered to raise questions to senior staff to address possible mistakes, of what value was my "reviewing it as an engineer"? Unanswered questions are not learning aides. Ideally, conscious review is the default behavior of an engineer, but in this case I might as well have been a batch script. I feel bad for that company because others I worked with will have to clean up those mistakes at a worse time that I could have corrected months before. Maybe I should have demanded the time and effort of my superiors, but sometimes one picks their battles unwisely.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

8

Quote:

Furthermore, new people need to be given assignments that have learning potential, one doesn't create such opportunities within an organization out of the blue and not every opportunity has some nugget in it
All I can say is NONSENSE. Simple Poppycock. Every opportunity has some nugget in it, and it is incumbent on someone wanting to learn to find it and capitalize on it. Things are no different today than they were 40 years ago when I started. Some of the new hires made a point of putting themselves in the position of growing and some didn't. By year 10 most of the ones that needed to be "given assignments ..." were gone. And rightly so.

Quote:

Since I was not empowered to raise questions to senior staff to address possible mistakes, of what value was my "reviewing it as an engineer"?

Again Poppycock. If you act as a drone, you will be seen as a drone. Period. When I've assigned similar tasks to young engineers I was using those assignments to assess their initiative and sense of ownership. At the end of the project I would ask myself "is the new person someone I would give tasks that require initiative and critical thinking to?" If they just treated the task as a batch program (without actually writing the batch program instead of droning through it), then I wouldn't be too anxious to test their creativity. EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO REFLECTS ON WHAT YOU MIGHT BE ASKED TO DO. Take a drone job and do it like a drone--get drone assignments. Take a drone job and add something to it--get creative assignments.

You are working hard to justify an untenable position. You were not the victim in the 400 drawing scenario, you were the architect of your own demise. You missed an opportunity to shine because you were overwhelmed by an outrageous schedule. Managers often provide outrageous schedules simply to see how you stand up to the pressure. I think you have failed that particular hydrotest.

No one ever takes career advice either solicited or unsolicited, but I'll offer some. Treat every assignment as an opportunity to shine and never ever bitch about an assignment to your peers (it will get back to your boss). If you have to work 60 hours a week, too many weekends, and too many all nighters then SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP. Don't whine about the "dog work". Don't complain about your boss. Don't complain about your salary. Don't complain about promotions not coming fast enough. Don't complain. If you find where you are working to be intolerable, look inside yourself--nearly always the problem is your reaction to a scenario, not the scenario itself. If you find that you have never learned to control your reactions, then quietly start looking for another job. That is the adult choice: (1) make the best of where you are; or (2) go elsewhere. If you are waiting for your participation trophy, you'll be waiting a while.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Boring war story. We had a front suspension that used press fit hub units (effectively a steel barrel), into an aluminium spindle. Sometimes some cars would emit a graunching noise when braking, and one of our cluey mechanics found that is he sprayed enough WD40 around the noise went away for a bit. For reasons that are lost in mists of time I was asked to look at it. Typical limits and fits job, check tolerances, check installation forces, recommend tighter fit, dog job done. No. I wrote a paper explaining exactly how to establish the correct fit for that system, what the real problem was, and why it was trickier with aluminium rather than steel (brake heat obviously being a significant issue) and how thick the material in the spindle had to be to work properly. That took a couple of days longer than just the dog work approach, but it was fun (I like deep dives) and useful. So I turned a dog job into a bone.

Oh and I won't be working my way into the grave, I only work 3 days a week.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
@jari001 - you're not detouring the thread. This is really about how times have changed. I hope you don't think I'm arbitrarily attacking junior engineers; I'm not - I used to be one myself. However, when I started back in the 70's, your job was to learn how to put a set of plans together and learn how to write a letter. You did what you were told; you worked hard; asked questions; showed respect to your peers; showed interest in the project. Perhaps some older guy would take you under his wing and guide you along.

Giving dog work to a JE isn't some hazing ritual. It comes down to experience and cost.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

JME but I believe everything needs done in moderation, though I do lean heavily toward giving junior engineers and interns more challenges than mindless busywork. That being said, I started at one extreme as a junior engineer and have seen colleagues at the other. Personally I began being figuratively tossed into the deep end of the pool with an unprecedented (IME) amount of mostly engineering responsibility as one of the few design engineers in an OEM's long-term technology research department. Like most research roles I wasn't encumbered by mountains of process but challenged to work and learn whatever necessary to get the job done in an extremely fast-paced high-stress environment, consequently my knowledge and skills quickly equaled many of the most-senior engineers as did position, income, and contributions to the bottom line. OTOH I have known several colleagues spend the first 3-5 years of their career doing nothing but pushing process, checking prints, and other low/non-technical drivel as their engineering team's go-fer. Had they been given some real technical responsibility they'd have grown to be pretty good engineers, forced to "put in their time" first and accept a gap between learning in college and the application of that education, theyve struggled to become half-decent with anything technical and are largely still junior engineers.

To be fair, I suppose much of this depends on how you define challenging, interesting, and fun. Personally I consider the engineering portion to be all of those, the non-technical process quite the opposite.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Where is SNORGY and his clever, concise, sarcastic MBA observations? This is the perfect subject for him! Stand Out...

If the P&IDs need to be updated, someone has to do it. If they assigned it to you and your attitude was poor, they'll get it. You can gain a reputation for being "too good" for certain kinds of work. That leads to more of that "kind" of work.

P&IDs are the most important set of drawings for a plant. They are the basis for everything else. If you update 400 of them, you'll know those drawings and the plant much better than you could imagine at the outset.

Industry used to be different but even in my almost 30 years, plant life has changed. Orientation used to be years in length, with time taken by older engineers to mentor, in depth, young engineers. Young engineers were given opportunities to work across all areas of the plant to determine what they liked best and to understand how things work. It was gradually whittled down to 6 months. By the time my group was hired, orientation was down to two weeks and much of what had been done was no longer done. No time. Waste of money per management. That's why SNORGY's input here would be priceless.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Fascinating discussion.

On the HR guff, I agree it's bull. I haven't been exposed to that level of crap but even what I am required to do 'development reviews' etc. I just tick the boxes without thinking and move on. Development is shown through delivering work, not filling out forms.

On the more interesting topic of shifting millennial attitudes vs. seasoned veterans, I agree somewhat with both sides. I'm also a 'junior' engineer (4/5 yrs) in the context of a bridgebuster or zdas, but I believe the entire concept of 'tasks' and 'giving' is a completely moot point.

Everything comes down to attitude - and it goes both way. If the junior engineer has the right attitude and is willing to work hard to take responsibility, but the senior engineer has an archaic attitude of 'doing their time no matter the output', then there is no path for progression other than the path that already exists in the senior engineers mind - THIS I do not agree with. And do not deny there are people with this attitude - it is completely a reflection of their own personal experience.

Similarly, if the senior engineer does not have a predefined notion of progress and is adaptive to individuals and how they perform, yet the junior engineer shows no desire to progress or take responsibility, then the dog work will continue.

I have always looked for ways to learn in what I do and often take responsibility when not asked to do so. This has caused me a number of conflicts with more senior staff, but at the end of the day companies value delivering projects and client satisfaction, and objective managers see this. It's my career, I have no desire to follow the path someone else thinks I should follow.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I would expect the team working on that particular project to divide the grunt labor and the good stuff in a reasonable manner and get the job done together. If the junior engineers need to work late and are struggling bc the seniors are shoveling off tasks to enjoy low workload then those seniors need to be reprimanded and/or unemployed quickly. The more common situation I encounter is that older engineers shovel things off on juniors and interns bc they dont want to learn the software, many times their ability ends at opening a model and rotating it around.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

It seems I was unclear in describing my example about literally reformatting documents - I got the P&IDs, was told to change font style, font style, corporate symbology, swap the axis labeling, convert file type, render, and so on. In this process, if I had reviewed the diagrams for actual accuracy as zdas04 admonishes me that I should have, I would have taken longer than the time provided to me. So to prevent this, I could have worked more hours and billed them to the project (and risk having worked for free when the hours get rejected) or simply do the drone work. The critical thing, that I can't stress enough, was that in my circumstance system owners would not and did not provide feedback on redlines and questions. How do I know this? Because OF COURSE I looked at them "as an engineer" (this is default behavior, is it not?) and found questionable things and when my questions don't get answered after the umpteenth time, I get the hint. The lack of the feedback mechanism removes any learning potential, because even if I worked for free and redlined all the drawings, I would never know what I did right or wrong. So zdas04, when you say you give these types of tasks to new people, I hope you are (and it seems in your nature that you would be) there to acknowledge what was done correctly and incorrectly. This critical difference in the scenario zdas04 posits and the example I relate is the difference between dog work that's just dog work, and dog work that is a blessing in disguise. But we should realize that this learning requires time and effort from the teacher and student, and if they aren't given the right environment that values learning and training then it won't happen. Ultimately, that company victimized itself, not me. Their people are going to have to go through paperwork hell to correct the mistakes they weren't ready to help me correct when it was the right time to do it.

From my POV, I was expected to be a drone and got drone work. And somehow if I rinse and repeat this I'll be an engineer worth something someday? My spidey-sense is tingling...

I WANT new people to be fire tested with honest challenges and pull their weight with dog work, not just one or the other since neither of those options are seemingly fair. No one that isn't already lazy is going to bat an eye at a GOOD stress test. But I'm not in a hurry to lose sleep over a BAD stress test.

I don't think this experience is unique to myself, to millenials, or any other working group age, or engineering as a whole...I guess millennials are just the ones finally ready to stop comporting to work cultures and behaviors simply out of a sense of propriety and complain when things don't seem right. And when an older person isn't willing to "suck it up" and accept critical feedback and responsibility about their performance as a manger or leader and start bad blood, we'll job hop (more than any other professional working generation) until we find a group that doesn't have such insecure people, or join a different industry, or basically anything that we want. That's reality as I see it.

In my circumstance, I believe each system owner (i.e. a senior engineer) and their respective team should have done this work and not someone from a completely different team pulled in to put a body on something. Why? Because they should have intrinsic motivation to do it right the first time if they HAVE to do it; it's their baby at the end of the day, so whatever corners you cut will cut you back. If within a team, there is a skill gap and one or two people have to do it all, then it's a mark of a properly functioning team that work gets redistributed or re-prioritized. But since the work had to be done, and I don't begrudge that fact, system owners should have been available to answer questions and provide feedback, not just let someone dangle in the wind IMO.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

@jari001
Wasn't that P&IDs thing a great missed opportunity to apply some programming to automate your dogwork tasks? Try to engineer your way out of any stupid work people throw at you. Be lazy. Engineer.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

@avscorreia
If I wasn't in pharma, that's exactly what I would have done. I did that once before and I was told that I was breaking corporate security procedures doing that (since I wasn't in IT or automation, I can't be trusted with high level computer skills). My next job isn't in pharma so I'll have to break out the Python and C family again smile.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Man, that is broken... Glad I chose structural and geotechnical. Best of luck!

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
@jari001 – you sound like someone with a good attitude and work ethic. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re generalizing your situation with how things are everywhere.

I won’t deny that there are senior people collecting a paycheck but look like they’re on the job “retired” and of course there are projects where some of the staff are “charity cases” – gotta keep them busy somehow.

There’s another reality: When you’re putting plans together there are drawings that are boring and tedious to develop but they must be done. Often these are things that require less than half a brain, so we give it to the cheapest person.

A few years ago, I had a project for reconstructing a mile-long viaduct; the construction staging was very complex. Not one of the three junior engineers on the project were willing to take on the deck reinforcement drawings. It would have been a good learning opportunity for them. I ended up doing it myself, including 40 sheets of barlists.

Way, way back, I worked for a small bridge firm and no task was beneath anyone. It was a different mindset and work ethic.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

There is something in one sentence above which does not sound entirely right....
Often these are things that require less than half a brain qualified people, so we give it to the cheapest person them.




RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)
@rotw - I'm not a politically correct person. upsidedown

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

between the bottom line I am pointing to and politics there is still some room... I suppose ;)

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Quote (jari001)

we'll job hop (more than any other professional working generation) until we find a group that doesn't have such insecure people, or join a different industry, or basically anything that we want.

Good luck with that. Your best bet is to start your own firm and run it your way.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Quote:

Good luck with that. Your best bet is to start your own firm and run it your way.

Depending on the field and niche that may be nearly impossible. In the construction niches (CE/SE) that may be easily accomplished before the engineer is 30. In others like aerospace and automotive most would be wasting their time to attempt that prior to 50 as they simply don't have the experience to be considered a reputable expert.

jari is correct IMHO in that younger folks today are very willing to jump ship if fed nonsense, not compensated properly, or otherwise mistreated. Unlike previous generations, there aren't many pensions left in industry to drive blind loyalty and going elsewhere commonly gains a promotion and pay raise. I told my previous employer that I either needed a clear path up the compensation ladder or I needed to be learning and growing as a professional, when it became evident that we had two different opinions of those matters I left Friday and reported elsewhere Monday.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

CWB1. I agree with your post.

More to my point, though, is that "the perfect company" does not exist. Unless you work for yourself and make up all the rules, you best learn to deal with insecure people and the fact that you will not get anything you want.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Ahhh....gotcha now, thanks for the clarification.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

With regards to giving the easier work to the cheapest labor, I get that. But the short term output of an engineer is not their only output. If this engineer is to advance through the ranks and become truly valuable, they need to be given opportunities to learn needed skills. Facilitating this growth might require easy work to be given to more expensive labor on occasion, and I think that is okay. The mentality that bridgebuser recalls about the small bridge firm is not found in medium and large companies anymore, and I don't think we're going to revert to that. But people at all levels should be able to do that easier work and if you benefited from such a structure in your earlier years, then I would hope you would be a willing participant in the structure that made you successful.

@bridgebuster
I am generalizing because so many of my friends, industry colleagues and peers, classmates, and younger students have the same or worse experiences. I'm not a special case of some great mind not getting his fair shake, I'm an engineer who is able to work as an engineer (thankfully) and is trying to become a good one. I think this ethos is not lost with millennials, but at some point you do the cost/benefit analysis and see things just aren't going to work out at a certain place. There is a decay in the understanding that the bulk of engineers that are required for the companies to keep churning need to be consciously developed to some degree.

Did anyone try to irrefutably understand why the younger engineers didn't step up for that work? Was the work not properly described so they would understand that it was a learning opportunity? Did they think they weren't up to the challenge? If that work would have been a good learning opportunity, then a little work upfront by a leader at the company to get a junior member involved would have easily paid dividends in the future; we are forgetting to do that work IMO.

@DVWE
It's not about finding a fantasy land, it's about working with people willing to put in the work to improve themselves and, by extension, make the working experience a better one. A manager is in the position to affect other people's lives based on objective and subject evaluations. I want to know that the person I am working for and trying to make look good accepts themselves and is willing to improve themselves when the it's called for. I mean, this ethos would have been expected of these same people before they became managers (as it is expected of me, now)...why do they believe this behavior should stop once they get a certain type of promotion?

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

jari001,

I think that you'll find sufficient blame to go around; most managers are where they are because they got promoted from actual engineering work, and therefore, have little to no education or training to be a manager. Their seeming inability to train and mentor young workers is nothing new; what has exacerbated the problem is that middle management was severely shrunk in the last several recessions, so in a larger company, a manager might be responsible for dozens of engineers, making it highly likely that the manager doesn't really see every engineer every day and have intimate knowledge of what they're doing and whether they even need help. And that's assuming the manager is that self-aware that they recognize that they even need to do something to make their charges better.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

IRstuff,

I think that someone being technical can obfuscate the necessity to manage people. Anyone coming in with a poorer technical background has to manage people to be successful. Someone with a technical might still cling to what made them successful before.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

to hobby horses :(

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

@IRstuff
Human endeavors cause mistakes and what people should be focusing on is devising and executing potential solutions. So whatever mistakes have been made, we should recognize them as such and work towards fixing them.

I don't expect people to transform overnight into managerial geniuses or mind readers, but when a manager that gets critical feedback from those you manage, that should spark some introspection. If it's impossible to setup a communication scheme that allows one to have a better picture of what their employees are doing (which I am skeptical about), then they have to rely on, and encourage, after the fact feedback about your performance. If as a manager, one isn't willing to do the work that gets you the feedback to improve and understand your mistakes, I certainly am not inclined to work for such a person - it's only a matter of time before that bites me too.


Maybe older managers should use some millennial attitude and complain they aren't given reasonable direction and resources to realize the company's vision and complain their good ideas keep getting overlooked. But I think they also fear they work for insecure people that are more concerned with having it a certain way rather than the right way.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

"So whatever mistakes have been made, we should recognize them as such and work towards fixing them."

These are very noble goals, but as POTUS vividly demonstrates, not all, if any, adults have an emotional maturity beyond age 8. The process you describe requires a certain level of self-awareness and mindfulness. The fact that mindfulness is a relatively new term goes to show that humans are rather intractable when it comes to self-improvement. And, that assumes that the person in question isn't on the severe end of the psychopathic spectrum.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Attitude is the most important part of the job, I can teach/mentor anyone with average engineering intelligence. If you think you are special I don't have the time. Even if you are one in a million, there are still hundreds out there just like you. Once you realize how little you actually know, then you are ready...I feel like yoda now.
Also - keep job hopping - see how that works out for you in the long run.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)

Quote (If you think you are special I don't have the time... ...Once you realize how little you actually know, then you are ready)

Amen!

@jari001 - I somewhat agree with your sentiments. I'm all for giving people opportunities. In 1999, there was an intern working for me - one semester away from graduation - this guy was brilliant. My group was working on a steel building design and he was running with the ball. He didn't have a good grasp of steel details but I took care of that part. I was so impressed with him that I made my boss offer him a full-time position before he went back to school. However, there's this pervasive attitude today - it's mostly among senior staff/management - that kids coming out of school today are geniuses, after all, they know something about CADD and they pick up quickly on software packages. Since they're geniuses, they can't do any menial work; everything has to be challenging, exciting, and fun! As a result, management embraces stupidity like "Stand Out".

Two recent examples I observed: Someone just out of school was assigned to layout a few miles of railroad, why not he knew CADD; that didn't last long. Then someone thought another recent graduate could plan the erection of a 150' section of steel bridge over a very active railroad. When I was asked for my opinion I said, "sure every kid with six months experience is an expert on steel erection". I was met with a lot of criticism.

There's also a lot of hypocrisy in the party line of "challenging work." About 5 years I ago I wanted to give a junior engineer some detailing for the apron of a culvert. The department manager said to me "that's too hard for her." Meanwhile, she graduated from one of the best schools in the US. Maybe that was his way of telling me "you can't give that to her because it isn't FUN".

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

(OP)

Quote (Congratulations zdas04 on being selected by the Eng-Tips community for having the most helpful posts in the forums last week. Way to Go!)


You really Stand Out!tiphat

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

When I started I was pretty sure that I pretty much knew everything there was to know about pretty much everything. 37 years later I just published a 680 page book that purports to be "everything that I wish I had known when I started out". This means that not only was my starting knowledge level lacking, but my arrogance was completely unjustified. I doubt if I was completely atypical in my lack of practical knowledge.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

I think there has to be something said about someone bringing new approaches and not burdened by "knowing" what is impossible. Maybe, some industries are different than others but there are some that have the prevailing mindset of "this is how we have always done it and how we will forever do it." I am not implying that experience isn't valuable but the pendulum swings too far the other way in some places.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

zdas,

May I ask you a piece of advice. I am referring to your before last post above - still under rated, in my view.

As a matter of fact, because I sometimes failed myself to listen or pay enough attention to your orientations / criticism delivered in this forum, I find my self in situations where I had to learn things anyway and I had to learn them the HARD WAY. I hope I really learned because its hard to correct an attitude and change a mindset to the better. Many people claim to have acted upon their mindset but I don't thing there are so many that succeeded. Of course education, personal development and mentoring can be important in the process but I suppose the real switch can only happen within us.

Maybe a sign of our times (?), it appears many people have a tendency for shortcuts in order to get things done. As an engineer I do like shortcuts when my goals are reached. But the shortcuts I do refer to pertain to the process of learning and also of valuing seniority / experience and definitely I want to point out to the quality of the listening process.

My point is that you may spend treasures of your own energy to elaborate for others on the correct attitude toward learning, self improvement but sometimes you feel that you are facing a real stone wall. Nothing will change. Sometimes it can even get worse :(

I know it is a lost cause, but assume you decide to give it a shot.
What would be the best way / angle of attack to build awareness within people that are inherently and severely reluctant to change ?

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Nobody comes out of college knowing most of what they need to survive in engineering, but at the same time learning by doing and discovery of missing knowledge/ability is necessary to grow. A mentor cannot tell the mentee what they should need mentoring on, only the reverse, so junior engineers should be challenged to complete any/all large projects and allowed to pull mentors in as necessary to teach and/or assist with design. Its not a matter of anyone being "geniuses," its a matter of allowing juniors to run and discover what they don't know, which is simply good professional development practice.

JMO but the biggest problem at most companies is lack of professional development and micromanagement. At my first employer I saw my manager once every two weeks for a scheduled hour, in design reviews and major meetings, and maybe once a week besides in the hallway. IMO it was the perfect setup as it really put responsibility on me to learn, interact with others, and get the job done. I could always call in his or other senior engineers' help but I didn't suffer from limited responsibility limiting my growth. At other employers since I've often questioned responsibilities - someone engineers, then reports most every detail to a manager who attends and repeats in most every meeting that engineer is invited. Nothing is fast, communication sucks, and professional development is painfully slow bc the lower level folks aren't trusted with any real responsibility.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Quote (UniCO2)

Also - keep job hopping - see how that works out for you in the long run.
If it makes one well rounded I don't see a problem with it, especially if they are contracted out.

Quote (UniCO2)

Even if you are one in a million, there are still hundreds out there just like you.

This is one of the thoughts that I had when I was in college and it made me feel really hopeless. I figured if about 5,000 to 7,000 students graduate per state school and then you multiply that by roughly 1500 schools that's roughly 7,000,000 new people entering the workforce every year.

God made the integers, all else is the work of man. - Leopold Kroenecker

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Quote (UniCO2)

Also - keep job hopping - see how that works out for you in the long run.

And besides in the long run, we're all dead.

God made the integers, all else is the work of man. - Leopold Kroenecker

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

In my experience, a lot of managers are working managers, i.e., they are responsible for management and engineering work/projects. It's hard to manage, when you don't have the time to do it.

We cannot expect from people what they do not have to give. We cannot judge them for not having it either. You have deficient areas that render you incapable of living up to someone else's expectations. All of us do.

Bottom line, management wanted the P&IDs updated. They asked you. You're complaining about it.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

rotw,
The ONLY way I've ever found to get anyone to change any behavior is to trick them into believing that the change is their ORIGINAL idea so that they own the concept. Don't tell someone "you need to do xxx in yyyy situations" and they hear "blah blah blah". Put them in a situation where their options have been pared down to exactly one that they can discover on their own and they will own it.

I talk a lot in my book about "ownership". I find that concept to be the key to success. I don't chew gum, but when I'm going to the field I carry a pack of individually wrapped chewing gum in my pocket. Sometime during a conversation on a field guy's site I'll pull out the gum and offer him some. People always take it. If they throw the wrapper on the ground, I'm pretty sure that someone will find a reason to demote/fire the operator within the next 6 months--they have no sense of ownership. If the operator puts the wrapper in his pocket or the trash then he is very likely to be an operator worth teaching and learning from.

Same with engineers. If they have a sense of ownership and pride of accomplishment they are way more effective than the guy that proudly proclaims "I don't live to work, I work to live". In fact when I hear that statement I start the process of making his life so intolerable that he quickly finds somewhere else to live.

Figure out a way to get your engineers (or yourself) to become invested in their work and the improvement in results is amazing.

The ownership stuff is in Chapter 10 of my book, which you can download for free at Elsevier Blog, you don't have to read the drivel of the blog, just scroll down to the link right above the picture of the book cover.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

This is a clever and effective approach. Many thanks for this piece of advice.
Appreciate the link to the book's chapter 10 which I am reading (I started by examining the 4 postulates...)

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

LOL, Good place to start (the very end), I do enjoy original thinking.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

Wow...disappear for 6 weeks of shows and I miss all the fun and excitement...

lacajun, good to see you. Thank you for observing that SNORGY, apparently, Must Be Absent.

Come to think of it, that might be the problem with the levels of common sense and intelligence possessed by the "non-engineering" roles in some corporate cultures.

I could derive an entire career from one acronym...

Who is right doesn't matter. What is right is all that matters.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

My two cents...

I start with every E.I.T. or intern with a simple assignment. It might not always be interesting, but if they nail it, it's not long before the brain candy comes. The first assignment I ever got as an E.I.T. was to put numbers in circles on a drawing called a P&ID; didn't matter what the number was as long as it had four digits and a different number went in each circle. There were already a couple of letters in the top half of each circle. Then I was asked to list all the letter+number designations and the drawing number they were on. I was literally at a level where I would ask, "What's a PI? What's a TI?", and then my boss would give me a catalogue to read. In the ensuing 3 months that followed, I had specified, ordered, listed and catalogued the delivery (by looking inside every box) of all in-line instruments for a 10,000 BOPD oil battery. All because I did a good job with a boring list of numbers in bubbles on some drawings.

OK so 35 years later I still get seen as "the list guy", which is occasionally irritating, and I'm currently doing something at work that's a bit tedious, but when brain candy stuff comes up, it invariably finds me, too. It's been ok in the long haul.

Just do the best you can with whatever task you get. If you do that, then when you truly do get bored, at least you'll be better positioned with more options available to you.



Who is right doesn't matter. What is right is all that matters.

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

zdas04, I've gotten men to change their behaviors by listening to them vent to discover their true problem. Once identified, I talked a little logic to them and let them apply said logic to find it is true and they changed. I watched one electrician go from hating construction workers and constantly refusing to work with them to sticking up for them at the end of the project. It was quite a change but a good one to see.

There are lots of ways to get people to change. I've learned an important key is to have people that are open to change because they're not afraid to admit, first to themselves, they were wrong.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Do you "Stand Out"?

lacajun,
I think we are saying the same thing. Get them to believe that the change was their own idea. Letting someone talk through their problems while you listen and nod at the right moment is a tried-and-true method to help someone find solutions. At the end of the day telling someone to stop yelling or to stop being fat is pointless. As soon as they "get the idea" to control their anger or their weight they will likely succeed. Where are we different?

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

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