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    One issue here that nobody else brought up is that the manager punished her for running the experiment, but didn’t stop her from running it. It seems to me that a better manager would have stopped her as soon as she proposed the idea and explained why he didn’t like it.

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      You might make a good manager :)

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        Sounds too close to entrapment. Hard to make assumptions about the environment there, but that’s incredibly toxic.

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        Not fixing the problem but rather leaving it up to see if someone else fixes it isn’t an experiment, it’s just passive-aggressive.

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          She did tell her manager at least. I mean she wanted to see if anyone else would pick up on it.

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            Given the circumstances, I think at the minimum a written notification to the manager to get their sign-off would have been a good idea.

            These things are always easy in hindsight of course.

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          Both managers are at fault here. A managers’ responsibility is communication, not sneaking around looking for culprits and cracking the whip.

          What’s wrong with correcting the issue up front and talking openly about it? (Question for both the author and their manager).

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            Yeah. It sounds like the manager does not communicate to the team that little fixes are appreciated, and does not recognize team members that do it. So how would anyone else on the team know that it’s something they should be doing, too?

            I’m not sure what the author could have done in the situation when management isn’t communicating that, though.

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              Patrick McKenzie had a nice thread about the topic. You have a limited ability to make change, and might want to spend it somewhere you think will be more receptive.

              And to forestall one question: this does assume you can easily leave and find someplace good to go. I suspect that’s true of Rachel at this point in her career, and has been for awhile. But it is possible it wasn’t when the story happened. In that case, you’re in a rough spot.

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                It sounds like the manager does not communicate to the team that little fixes are appreciated,

                To me that’s my job, to fix things when they break. I don’t understand why someone would expect their manager to tell them they need to fix things when it’s probably part of their job description / duties anyways.

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                  Not everyone is as conscientious as you. There are plenty of “not my problem” people in this world.

                  If “it’s probably part of their job description / duties anyways”, why is the author the only one doing it? And why is the boss not criticizing the rest of the team for not fixing things?

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                    Is it author the only one doing it or is that just how they feel? Maybe there is other duties the author isn’t covering as much as other workers. The main problem I see here is that the author doesn’t see the team’s objective, only their own.

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                  Communicated it themselves!

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                    It sounds like her team was really into the idea of just silently letting her do all the work:

                    Next, I asked an honest question: even then, why was it automatically up to me to get these things to work? There was no division of duties on the team. Everyone was responsible for the system as a whole. Even when you weren’t on call, there were things to check on and adjust from time to time. This was one of them.

                    Basically, I asked why he didn’t take care of it. His response floored me.

                    “Oh, well, you always take care of it.”

                    Eventually, she got fed up and left, which is the right thing to do if it’s possible.

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                      But that “Next, …” happened after this “experiment.”

                      From the information given, it’s possible that nobody else on the team even knew this task bothered her because she had never communicated it before.

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                        This article would be heavily biased in the authors favor.

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                          Do you need to point out that someone’s account of their own experience is “biased” in their own favor? Why?

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                            Because of your comments:

                            It sounds like her team was really into the idea of just silently letting her do all the work. Eventually, she got fed up and left, which is the right thing to do if it’s possible.

                            I don’t find those conclusions as self evident as you did, the team is made up of people who might see the situation completely differently, and her article is smearing them in a way where they can’t defend themselves.

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                              Every single tale of a toxic work environment is amenable to the same obvious objection. I find her perspective credible, given that her manager fully knew of her experiment, and then used that against her in her review.

                              But regardless, the whole thesis of the article is that you shouldn’t try this unless you have rock solid cover from your manager or lead. “The story is biased toward its author,” is a non-sequitur, and contributes nothing constructive.

                              What is your point, and why do you think the genius of your voice needs to be heard making it?

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                                Excuse me while I go write a blog post about how nebkor hurt my feelings … I am a genius and my voice needs to be heard, I need the support of all those bleeding hearts too.

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                  Without any context, this story doesn’t make much sense to me. Am I reading correctly that she discovered a problem and didn’t look into it? Then told her boss she saw the problem but wasn’t investigating?

                  “ I wanted to see who else had the awareness to pick up on it and the good sense to actually do something about it.”

                  That seems like flawed logic, to me. What if everybody else was performing the same experiment? If it’s “good sense” to and easy to fix, then just fix the problem. If it keeps happening discuss it with your manager or team.

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                    You didn’t read correctly. She discovered the problem, looked into it, decided it was harmless, and decided to conduct an experiment.

                    This was no big deal. What I found unusual is when it stayed like this for multiple hours. Then multiple hours turned into days. That’s about the time I got an idea: instead of cleaning it up again like I always did, I was going to leave it alone.

                    She was clearly tracking the state of the issue. And she clearly states it was fine to leave it this way:

                    while it wouldn’t harm anything, it looked a little weird

                    @jpm1 also seemed to not pick up on this, saying “I’d repremand an employee for not investigating an annomoly on the network.” She investigated. She understood the issue. She determined the experiment would be harmless. She continued to monitor the issue.

                    If it keeps happening discuss it with your manager or team.

                    This I agree with. Though based on the manager’s total ambivalence to her even mentioning this, and later docking her for it during her performance review, I’m not that confident that would have worked.

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                    I think this could’ve just been avoided by telling the team “hey this thing is amiss and here is how to fix it” rather than trying to hold some secret against teammates just to feel superior. People who aren’t aware of all of your inner workings and processes aren’t inherently lazy or stupid. They could’ve just been busy with other stuff.

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                      Doesn’t seem like the problem is ever identifying the flaws in the organization, the flaws are everywhere, easy to find.

                      And it usually feels like the flaws come from the top of the org. It’s hard (impossible?) to change your boss. The problem is finding and settling on the organization with the most acceptable set of flaws.

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                        Perhaps the other team members do things she doesn’t notice.

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                          It feels unfair to pass judgment on the author as I know nothing of her or her coworkers but I would say that the situation as described indicates a dysfunctional team environment, regardless of who is at fault. If for some reason saying, “hey I just noticed that this thing is broken and we as a team need to fix it” is not permissible, then that isn’t a place I’d like to work.

                          Edit: perhaps a clearer way to say this is: “I don’t want to be on a team unless everyone on the team assumes that everyone else is always doing their best and acting in good faith, and it doesn’t sound like that is the case where the author works.”

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                            I work in the info sec field and honestly I’d repremand an employee for not investigating an annomoly on the network. Unless the cluster is for testing purposes and the employee’s title contains the word “scientist” they shouldn’t be running their own ad-hoc tests. The fact that they believe their biggest mistake was telling their boss makes me cringe too. IMHO this is one whiny worker and I’d recommend getting rid of them.

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                              IMHO this is one whiny worker and I’d recommend getting rid of them.

                              And you’d lose a great deal of expertise, if you were familiar with the author’s work and past writing. :)

                              People stuck working under bozos develop certain pathologies, and it takes solid leadership to build trust and correct those pathologies.

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                                I have read a bit of the author’s other work and it’s largely filled with the same “everyone doesn’t work as hard as me!” rhetoric. Just because someone writes about how they’re the only one who does anything doesn’t mean it’s true.

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                                  Sure, but it doesn’t also mean it’s false either.

                                  It’s entirely possible (given their employment history) that they actually ended up in dysfunctional orgs and units.

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                                    That’s a good point, but there is also the flip side: they’re a dysfunctional problem worker.

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                                    Some people are competent but grind up against incompetent orgs. Some people are incompetent and eventually flushed out of competent orgs. They tell similar stories. I was right and everyone was wrong. There’s usually a tell or two that reveals which it is though.

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                                      I seriously don’t understand why there’s a question about this. I too have concerns about this post, but reading past posts it seems blindingly obvious that Rachel Kroll is competent and knowledgeable. Regardless of what you think of her personality.

                                      /cc @friendlysock and @tedu. Yes, in general it can be this or it can be that. But in this instance is there really any doubt?

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                                      I think this post is more illustrative of her poor leadership skills than of her good technical skills. Furtheremore, she doesn’t seem to be aware of that aspect of it at all. She seems genuinely surprised that her bahaviour was not welcome by everyone in management.

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                                      What about all the other people who didn’t even spot the anomaly because they weren’t trying?

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                                        It’s the author’s opinion that others weren’t working as hard so I will take that assessment with a grain of salt. I don’t think it’s an individual’s prerogative to make work traps for other employees so they can be shown as “not working that hard”. If you’re really concerned about the performance of others then have an honest discussion with your manager about it, don’t try to measure others with a metric of your choosing.

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                                          If the anomaly persists for two months without anyone seeming to notice, is it really a problem? If it is causing a problem, that suggests that key metrics aren’t being observed - a problem exists but nobody knows - in which case you’ve got a bigger problem!

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                                            What about them? Were they even supposed to be trying? If the author always fixes the problem, like she claims, it seems possible that other people on the team may have thought it was her responsibility.

                                            In any case, when she saw the problem she should have told her boss and said something like, “I see there’s a cluster with an extra node, but I don’t have time to fix it myself right now, can you have somebody else investigate?”

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                                              Yeah, they’re supposed to be trying.

                                              There was no division of duties on the team. Everyone was responsible for the system as a whole.

                                              If I leave my trash next to your desk every day, and you always throw it out for me, are you the one littering when a soda can doesn’t get picked up? Am I even supposed to be trying, once I become dependent on you doing my job for me?

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                                          As others have already stated, in a professional sense the responsibility will lie with management. Although, reading this story leaves me frustrated. I do not understand why she had to run this experiment. In addition, what she was expecting since I doubt she doesn’t know her co-workers work ethnic. Why did she write this post?

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                                            Rachel should not leave little things unresolved just to see if the rest of the team will fix them

                                            So .. at least the manager was honest here. The manager clearly stated knowledge that this was an experiment, although probably should have stated disapproval or at least set a time limit. At least the manager is not declaring Rachel incompetent, although still kinda throwing her a little under the bus.

                                            There is one tiny positive which came from this. I managed to establish that this particular manager was not to be included in certain things. He couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing with that knowledge.

                                            I can relate to this having a project owner who’d tell me, “x and y just lie.” She’d talk to managers who’d tell her and other project owners that their services do x and y, or that z is being built right now, and then she’d learn it was all false. Like not even they might have got it wrong false, but just plain totally lying to everyone you should know better false. The other POs got at least one of those guy out of all critical path decisions.