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User Journal

Journal: The selective memories of users

Journal by benj_e

We've been having a big con-fab this week with users from all our campuses and our ERP vendor. The idea is to get the users excited again about using the software.

While I agree that this is a Good Thing, there are some things that are irritating about it. One of those things is that when the vendor says something about the software, the users all go "wow, we didn't know it could do that" - even though we told them *3* years ago that it could.

I know that this is a common problem - what some people call the "consultant effect" - where an outside expert comes in and tells people the exact same things that the staff has been saying for years, and it suddenly becomes a priority.

But being a common problem doesn't make it any less irritating. If they won't listen to us on what the software can do, why are we even here?

User Journal

Journal: Higher Ed as a staffer

Journal by benj_e

When most people think of working in higher education, they think of faculty. Well, there is a whole other group of people that work behind the scenes - the staffers.

Generally, these people have none of the protections that faculty have - no chance at anything like tenure, no contracts, lower pay, etc. For some that may be Okay - people like sectretarial staff and janitors generally don't have the educational background that faculty have.

But what about the professional staff - IT, accounting, fund-raising and the like? Many times they have similar educations to the faculty, and in some small schools may actually teach a course or two as adjuncts. But like adjuncts, they have no real security.

In our office (a consortium of small private colleges), we *used* to get an employment letter that was, in essence, a contract. That was unilaterally changed one day in June, when we were all informed that we were now at-will and could be terminated at any time. Not so good for morale for sure.

User Journal

Journal: Performance reviews and management by objectives

Journal by benj_e

After working here 5 years, it looks like I'll be getting a review for the first time at the end of 4Q 2004. In order for the new CIO to do this review, I (and the other P/As) have to come up with objectives.

Now, in principle, I don't mind this - it gets everyone on the same page as to what is expected and what will denote success. But, and this is a big one, objectives can not be developed in a vacumn. An employee and his/her manager have to develop these together, using not only the employee's job description, but the organizational and departmental goals as well.

The problem here, then, is that each of us has to come up with our own objectives, without seeing the newly redone job descriptions, and with no organizational or departmental goals on record.

This is, IMHO, a receipe for disaster, career-wise. If you don't know what is expected of you, how can you meet those goals? The very act of creating objectives becomes a performance issues - you are measured on how well you wrote your objectives before you are measured on how well you achieved them.

Without clear guidance from management, writing objectives becomes a crap-shoot. What I think is important may not mesh with the CIOs vision - which will make you seem out of touch with the organization.

We'll have to see how it all falls out, but I'm not too encouraged by the effort so far.

User Journal

Journal: What OS are you?

Journal by benj_e

I took the test at bbSpot and got this result: 'You are HP-UX. You're still strong despite the passage of time. Though few understand you, those who do love you deeply and appreciate you.'

That's really interesting, since I work on HP-UX almost every day at work.

User Journal

Journal: Job search

Journal by benj_e

Last week marked the start of my job search in earnest. Not that I have to have a new job - just that this one seems to be a dead end.

I want to be positive in my job, but I've come to the realization that the users I support are clueless imbeciles who are slowly choking the life out of my career. They're not bad people per-se, they just don't know how to use a computer and don't care to learn.

I've also decided to try to return to management. I get a lot of satisfaction from writing code, but I feel that I have no control over my work environment as a coder. Management is not easy - I hate it when someone has to be let go - but the control factor is something I can't ignore.

User Journal

Journal: Start of Journal

Journal by benj_e

I think I'll give this journal thing a try. If someone does happen upon it, great! If not, that's cool too. Maybe writing will reduce the stress of a dead end job doing something I don't really care for.

So, with that, I'm ready to start.

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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