Friday, April 22, 2011

I Can Be Replaced

Returning briefly to the “fear” theme: a lot of people have a fear that they can be replaced. That if they don't do exactly what the boss says, he'll find someone who does. I think this fear drives a lot of the negative behavior in programming shops, from writing unmaintainable code to hoarding information. If someone is the only person who can solve a problem, clearly they're irreplaceable.

Not only is this fear misplaced, but the very idea of being irreplaceable is not something that I would wish on anyone.

I have a friend who is irreplaceable. He didn't try to be, but he's smart and manages to consistently meet deadlines in a chaotic environment. He's been in the same job for six or seven years now, and there's no way out. Even when he was “promoted,” it was a new title and more money, but he ended up doing the same work. For him, work has become a living hell.

And the worst part is that the world moved on, his skills have become focused on the one job, and it would be next to impossible for him to move (at least if he wants anything near the same level of compensation).

With another twenty years or more left in my working life, I try very hard to be replaceable.

No comments: