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How Much Respect Do You Get? 884

Posted by Cliff
from the praised-or-shunned dept.
droidlev asks: "In our continually fluctuating economy I have seen a drastic change in the level of respect that I receive. As a technician I've grown accustomed to a heightened level of respect when I walk into a client's office. Not to say that I have a God complex, however, it feels good to walk into a room and be appreciated. I'm passionate for the computer work that I do; I'm 'GEEK' for it. People know that I'm there to help and solve their problems. There is good amount of value in this extra level of appreciation and respect. This is especially true when you are developing business relationships (and of course it never hurts to be liked). In recent times, however, I've been cast in a different light; actually more like a darkened shadow. I am now seen as a necessary evil instead of the 'all powerful technician.' So I ask what your experiences have been, either as a computer technician or another professional? Have you seen a change in the level of respect that you receive?"
"Businesses are trying to save every penny they have. Unless something significant goes wrong, they handle a situation themselves. This only compounds the severity of a problem. By the time I get there, everything has gone to hell and I get a look (the it's-all-your-fault look) from every cubicle and every office. In the past, exceptionally dedicated service translated to loyal clients that didn't mind paying a little bit more. Once I was the problem solver, now it seems I am yet another flame to burn their money."
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How Much Respect Do You Get?

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  • Respect (Score:4, Funny)

    by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:02PM (#12103968)
    I found I get more respect when I loudly shout "frist psot" as soon as I enter the room
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:02PM (#12103970) Homepage
    Let me start by saying that, odds are, you get the respect you deserve. Please don't confuse this respect with mugging for compliments, expecting your coworkers/managers to thank you in their prayers or any of the BS that, reading between the lines of this topic, I get the sense the OP was *really* looking for. If you're looking for people to kiss your ass all day, go get an MBA and become a petty mid-level manager someplace.

    Granted there are ups and downs in the industry at large and variations from employer to employer, but by far the most significant factor in determining the level of respect people show you at work is your own conduct. If you've noticed that the people at work suddenly seem to respect you less, IMO the first place you need to look is at your own conduct. Are you really working and behaving in a way that earns and demands respect? Overall, this shakes out into two basic keys:

    1. Earn respect. Know your stuff, be willing to help people out and be someone that people can stand. Own your responsibilities. At the same time, don't try to be an expert in matters you don't really understand and don't try to force your big nose into other peoples' work. Be that guy that people want to work with and want on their team. It's perpetually amazing to me that such a high percentage of people in the professional world (not just geeks) fall down on one or more of these three and then act shocked when people hate dealing with them because they're either incompetent or impossible to work with (which amounts to more or less the same thing).

    2. Demand respect. There are always going to be people who try to make you do something or bypass you or whatever by running over or around you. Don't stand for this -- be professional, be polite and (if it's someone up the foodchain from you) remember your place, but leave it crystal clear that in matters where you hold responsibility, you will not be cut out and you will not be strongarmed. This is an attitude, and it's not "respect mah authoritah!" attitude that I see a lot from geeks.

    Competence and confidence are the keys to garnering and maintaining the respect of your coworkers. Really, they're the keys to success at life in general.

    • by CallFinalClass (801589) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:14PM (#12104130)
      Overall, I agree, but for #2 I tend to use "Command Respect" instead of "Demand Respect." The difference being is that any idiot can demand respect, even if they haven't earned it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:27PM (#12105401)
        I agree about command vs. demand too.

        I would also add, be generous and share your solutions; don't insist on being the go-to guy for repetitive bullshit. Document your solutions and make them freely available. Make your worth a function of your ability to solve new problems, not repeatedly re-implementing the same old solutions over and over just to get paid.

        It's the perceived difference in whether you are a high-priced button pusher, or a problem-solving resource. The former will always cost you respect.

        Along the same lines, when helping in the acquisition phase, don't skimp on spending money for a real solution vs. spending less on something that requires more of your intervention.
    • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:21PM (#12104222)
      You're accurate about genuine respect.

      There is however displayed respect. That special kind that gets displayed whether you're actually deserving of it or not.

      This is the kind that gets displayed to an utterly incompetent CEO (to his face at least) because, well, he signs the checks and, whether you respect him or not, if you piss him off, you're screwed.

      During the dotcom boom, most IT people got the displayed kind automatically. I remember being outright told, "You don't need to worry about HR and viewing unsafe sites. In the current economy, we can't replace you. You piss them off, they recommend you're fired, we refuse to do so because we can't lose you. End of story."

      If a client pissed you off and you quit - or refused to work for them - it was [perceived as] way too hard to get someone else in. Thus they sucked up and displayed respect whether they felt like it or not.

      It's a logical OR statement:
      Genuine and Displayed: Respect is shown.
      Genuine only: Respect is shown.
      Displayed only: Respect is shown.
      Neither: You're screwed.

      What sucks for many in the IT field is that they were never really deserving of genuine respect, they just got the displayed kind because IT salaries were so nuts. Now the boom has burst and starving developers are [perceived as] a dime a dozen, they no longer qualify for the displayed kind. Thus, if you were genuinely deserving of respect, you continue to gain be shown it. If you were only ever getting the displayed kind - well, you don't merit it anymore.

      Of course there's one other aspect to it. Scott Adams calls it the way of the weasel. Genuine respect still requires genuine people. In the typical workplace, many people will show respect if you genuinely deserve it - but there are still plenty of cretins who will screw anyone over, deserving or not, if it suits them. For them, whether you warrant genuine respect or not, they'll only ever show it to you if you warrant the displayed kind as, otherwise, you're not helping them directly and they can, therefore will, screw you.
      • by Saxerman (253676) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:54PM (#12104602) Homepage
        My first real brush with respect happened as a youngster when dropping off checks for my father at the bank. He waited in the car while I ran in and dropped off the bundle of paper work with a teller. After handing me the receipt I was surprised to be thanked as Mr. Saxerman. It took me a minute to realize I had been mistaken for my father, but that brief moment of courtesy opened by mind to the difference between being a nobody, and being addressed as Sir.

        The second incident happened when I went shopping after spending the day in interviews. I was still in college and this was the first time I had really been out in public while wearing a suit. The level of respect from the sales staffed was an amazing difference from what I was used to. Even average citizens were happen to hold the door open for me.

        The lesson I've learned is that while respect is something you can earn, it's also something you can steal by inference. If people infer that you are important, that will treat you that way.

        • by CFTM (513264) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:19PM (#12104841)
          In a somewhat related note, it reminds me of something one of my friends Dad said, "You can go anywhere in this world with a wave and a clipboard". In essence, you play the part of someone doing something important and no one gives you flak ... same sort of idea.
        • by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:47PM (#12105100) Homepage
          The second incident happened when I went shopping after spending the day in interviews. I was still in college and this was the first time I had really been out in public while wearing a suit. The level of respect from the sales staffed was an amazing difference from what I was used to. Even average citizens were happen to hold the door open for me.

          In the same vein, I had a great big green mohawk in high school. In a strange accident, part of it caught fire, and I was thus forced to shave the whole 'hawk off.

          The change in attitude I got from everyone around me, whether they had seen me with the mohawk or not was remarkable to me.

          I went even further by growing my hair out and cutting it into what I referred to as a 'young republican' haircut (side part, faded sides). The difference again seemed like orders of magnitude.

          The lesson I've learned is that while respect is something you can earn, it's also something you can steal by inference. If people infer that you are important, that will treat you that way.

          What we have here is a model of authority that is culturally implanted in each of us. If you seek to wield some particular authority, it helps if you can model yourself after this idea that is already lurking in the heads of those you would seek to influence.
          • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:16PM (#12105330) Homepage
            I got the same thing when I shaved my beard around the time I was 20-21 or so. I was out of work and had been applying for jobs and nobody was interested. I shaved my beard and I had a job within a couple of weeks.

            Also, I have bad eyesight, so I wear contacts. When I was in college, I worked as a computer lab assistant. We had regulars that would come in, the usual college lab scene. One day I wore my glasses (with the classic coke-bottle lenses) to work as an experiment and the exact same people that were friendly and used to joke around and never gave me shit about anything were rude, obnoxious, uppity dickheads. And these weren't 19 year old freshmen, either, this was a branch campus full of non-traditional (i.e. older) students.

            That pointed out one of the many ways in which adults lied to me as a kid. People are just as shallow when they get older as they are as children.

          • Re:Achtung! (Score:5, Funny)

            by vertinox (846076) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @08:13PM (#12106226)
            What we have here is a model of authority that is culturally implanted in each of us.

            That's why I wear black SWAT BDU's, combat boots, and mirror sunglasses to work.
        • by lskutt (848531) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:17PM (#12105807)
          The second incident happened when I went shopping after spending the day in interviews. I was still in college and this was the first time I had really been out in public while wearing a suit. The level of respect from the sales staffed was an amazing difference from what I was used to. Even average citizens were happen to hold the door open for me.

          Actually, I think you forgot to take one important factor into account: Your own behaviour . When you "dress up" in a suit, take a good long shower, have recently gotten a haircut, a shave and put on some after-shave, you start to act differently. You probably act more confident, smile more, look people into their eyes etc. when you feel good about the way you look. The same goes in reverse, of course. When you feel hung-over and have the breath of a rabid dog and just pop out to get a quick snack, wearing what was in the bottom of the basket -- then you're not exactly going to act like you owned the world. And people will treat you differently.

          This is, of course, not the only thing that matters. But it plays an important role in the subconscious feedback that we get from other people.

    • by Soko (17987) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:29PM (#12104315) Homepage
      Exactly.

      I had another manager who tried to go around me, when I was a new hire (I'm Regional IT Manager) - hadn't been there a month. In private I politely told him "I have no problem with you getting a bit of IT gear that you need if I'm not around - I just need to know that you've done it and what you bought. I have a budget too, and I also need to make sure anything IT related that comes in the building fits in our target architecture and doesn't cost too much."

      He got a little out of joint because of that, but it became clear to him that he wasn't allowed to just buy whatever he needed without my approval, which is what he was used to doing. He's since turned out to be quite an ally - after that incident I let the subject drop and have also gone out of my way to help him when he needed it. I saw that he was an IT advocate, not someone trying to beat me down.

      Besides Competence and Confidence, you need to be able to squelch you emotions and focus on what's important to the task at hand. People don't normally go out of thier way to show disrespect without zero cause - you should try to understand where the hostility is coming from.

      If you need to rant against your cow-orkers, there's The Scary Devil Monastary, where such behaviour is accepted (and usually appreciated).

      Soko
    • Class. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:30PM (#12104324) Homepage
      You can get great respect for performing your job brilliantly, or you may be ignored. Yet it will not really change your position substantially.

      Suppose someone at a fast food restaurant does a bang-up job of serving your food - gets the order right, the food is prepared perfectly. You respect him. But do you think he's now in the same tier as you? Maybe you'll give him a few extra bucks, but you probably won't invite him to your parties and you'd feel pretty weird if your graduate-school educated sister went out with him.

      Well, that goes in both directions. Your B-school educated manager, or PhD-awarded engineer or researcher, is going to give you respect for a job well done. But if you think that translates into access to a new tier of status and esteem, think again. A lot of IT geeks think that their mastery over one piece of infrastructure should translate into general esteem for their intellectual prowess, but that's as much driven by resentment and an inability to understand what's really going on around them as anything.
      • Re:Class. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gregfortune (313889) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:39PM (#12105030)
        Actually, I hit on a signficant realization when I was in my later years of high school. I met a bus driver who was doing an "excellent" job of driving a bus. Not a job I would aspire towards and certainly not hard, right? Except, that day I realized he was better at being a bus driver than I ever could. His attitude, driving skills, etc, etc blended to make him the ultimate bus driver and I instantly placed at or above the perceived class level of my target job.

        It's happened many times since as I've met people from many lines of work and it's just as evident that you can be a respected professional in any industry. And I sure as heck hope you can appreciate someone with this kind of "class." It's not the job they're doing, it's the quality of the person standing in front of you. Good people are hard to find.
      • Re:Class. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:33PM (#12105947) Journal
        or PhD-awarded engineer or researcher, is going to give you respect for a job well done. But if you think that translates into access to a new tier of status and esteem, think again.

        Uhh... Have you ever actually hung around with PhD engineers? They love geeks. They worship us. They hold doors for us. They lavish us with praise. They can actually grasp the units of measurement when we ask them to pass us a metric hex driver.

        Why?

        Have you ever seen a PhD cry when the $3k frontend to their $150k NMR goes down?

        I don't think they even care (or possibly know) the cost difference, but they perfectly understand the idea "the box I use to justify my salary no longer works. Please please please keep me employed".


        Your B-school educated manager,

        Ahahaha, gimme a frickin' break. You want to compare an aloof twit to a PhD? The PhD I would actually tolerate a bit of flak from, they earned their title. But a manager with an inflated title and degree? I will assume, for the sake of argument, that I have no choice but to help them (since I would gleefully watch them suffer otherwise). But as any IT pro knows, "make it work again" lies a whole world away from what we can do for someone we actually want to help. SpyBot? AdAware? Never heard of 'em. Sounds dangerous, don't run them. FireFox? Damn, man, you want to get the company branded as a bunch of communists? Backups? Oh, you mean you have to re-enter all those reports by hand? Bummer, eh? Automatically recreate them with Crystal? Hmm, sounds like a drug reference, you should sack the bastard that told you such an off-color joke.


        I don't want people to suck up to me. I don't want people to grovel. And that includes management. I just want people to appreciate (in its most basic form) what I do for them - namely, nothing short of making it possible for them to do their job in the modern world.

        And no, I don't generally play BOFH. At my current job, I consider even the management pretty cool (of course, an owner on a first-name basis with most of his staff really makes for a MUCH nicer environment). I help them out to the best of my ablility because I want to. They deserve it, by treating me as a human rather than as a number in HR's files.
    • by nahdude812 (88157) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#12104553) Homepage
      My experiences from being the sort of person you describe are as follows. There are two classes of people when it comes to receiving respect when you truly deserve it.

      There are those who afford you the respect you deserve.

      Then there are those people who afford you all the *dis*respect they can, with out at any point crossing this line where you could go to H.R. These are the people who are genuinely threatened by your competence. Perhaps they have the same goals as you, and these goals are mutually exclusive (such as both vieing for the same position).

      The correct way to respond to these individuals is with all the professional respect you can muster. Unless your management is blind, they'll see one guy disrespecting another, and no reciprocation. The paint is on the wall there, and usually people who will disrespect you like this are foolish enough to do so in open when their little early nibbles fail to get your back up.

      This principle is ancient. The Bible talks about repaying your enemies with kindness, and you pour hot coals on their head, or something to the effect. Certainly it's the same basic principle that the likes of Ghandi demonstrated. Nothing really pisses off that jerk who's always giving you a hard time like never acknowledging his jabs, and continuing to be nice to him. Sometimes you'll even turn that enemy into an ally.

      Best of all, to any outside observer, you're always professional no matter how much you are prodded, and that's certainly a promotion worthy quality, and a quality that by itself commands additional respect. I have one of these people at my work, and I think it strengthens my position on a day to day basis.
    • by Anonymous Luddite (808273) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:05PM (#12104724)
      >> 1. Earn respect. Know your stuff,

      In a big organization, sometimes it is really hard to get past the initial expectation/distaste people have after having had to deal with incompetent support staff/programmers/whatever holding "paper" certs and one year quickie "degrees".

      Half our problem as IT workers is the incredible amounts of scholatic "SPAM" the tech bubble engendered.

      Example?

      I got handed a new hire for my last project. He didn't know the difference between stack and heap, signed and unsigned or how pointers worked. Not only was he useless to me as a programmer - a drain on my time, but frequently, and loudly exclaimed that he had graduated with "HONOURS". That he was an "engineer!". and FFS, this guy graduated from my ALMA MATER. The last three hires have been from different schools but not much better..

      that is why we don't automatically get respect. Too many of us don't deserve it.
    • by dark_requiem (806308) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:21PM (#12104859)
      Unfortunately, that doesn't always quite work out. I've been with my current employer for nearly a year now. I was originally hired as a sales rep, but was repeatedly promised, from my first interview right up to today, that I would be moved into a more technical, better paying position. To that end, I took every opportunity to demonstrate my technical prowess and customer relations skills. I'd keep our customers up to date on all the up and coming technology, I'd help them with technical issues when our tech wasn't available, I even drove halfway across the state to do onsite hardware support on a massive HPC cluster for our sister company. I didn't complain or gripe, I smiled and did the work, and said it was my pleasure. Hell, they once sent me halfway across the state with the wrong parts, and I still smiled and moved on. I was saving them thousands in wages and airfair, as without me, they would have had to fly a (much better paid) technician halfway across the country to do the same work.

      Then my review came up. I thought, surely they can't help but appreciate all the hard work and dedication I have displayed. And considering my low wages, I was expecting a hefty raise and a promotion to a technician position. Instead, I got a $0.25 raise and was promised a performance bonus based on my sales. No tech position, and with a raise like that, they might as well have spit in my face. Now, six months later, I still haven't seen this bonus, not because my sales have been low, but because they simply haven't bothered to calculate my bonus. The guy that invoices orders and handles RMAs (who has been there only a month longer than me) makes 15% more than I do! So I talked to my boss about my low pay, told him about all the promises made and broken, about how my current wages could barely support my living expenses, let alone my tuition (I pay out-of-state), and their response was to offer me the same commission again. That was a month ago. I still haven't seen a dime, and I doubt I will get any bonus on my check tomorrow.

      Long story short, you can do great work with a big smile, and still get walked all over. I'm currently seeking new employment opportunities (if anyone has an opening for a technician in the Denver area, please email me!).
      • by the arbiter (696473) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @07:18PM (#12105819)
        Your problem (and this wouldn't be problem with a better employer) is that you let yourself get walked on.

        I mean no slander by this; I did it too for years. The nice guy who is always up for "helping out" and "going above and beyond the call of duty". Sad to say, but in most places this will get you nothing more than, at best, maybe a little bit of lube before you get bent over. Sometimes they just drill you even harder with no lube. And your current employer is bending you over big time.

        I work for a great company now and occasionally feel bad about not going the extra mile and helping out, but I've gotten all my raises just the same and I'm certainly in no danger of getting shitcanned.

        And I go home on time.

        And I no longer have stomach trouble.

        Just do your job. Let someone else be a hero. You'll be getting most of their raise anyway.
        • by Glonoinha (587375) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @10:13PM (#12106930) Journal
          I spent 5 years at a company before I realized I was kissing the wrong ass.

          You guys want to be recognized, even praised by the big dogs? Find out who the real boss is, the guy that can authorize a massive bonus or raise. Find out what his motivation is, and make that happen. You can make all the end users happy as pie but if you don't accomplish any of the things the guy cutting the checks wants done - you were effectively worthless to him. Actually he still had to pay your salary without getting any of the things he wanted done, so you were a drain on his balance sheet (in his head at least.)

          Enable a Corporate VP succeed with one of his business goals this year and you will find yourself way better off than if you had enabled 100 secretaries to 'do email' 13% faster or saved the company $300 by driving across the state instead of flying.
  • Respect... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:02PM (#12103971) Homepage Journal
    ... is something you earn. If people are treating you like a dirtbag then work on improving your image.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:15PM (#12104134)
      To get respect in an organisation, ironically, often means shelving your self respect. Too often, the only way to plug in to the corporate ladder means selling out to a life of brown-nosing and playing the game.

      Having to deal with techies and reality is an annoyance for managerial types. What seems more important is the power play on the corporate ladder.

      To be part of the "in crowd" means playing the game. Brown nose, buzzwords and running a general line of bullshit. As a techie not interested in the corporate power chain, but rather in shipping good product and making a real profit, I find it hard to get a reasonable audience. Sure they'll usher me in the back door to fix a multi-million dollar problem then out the back door again when the job is done, but they won't listen as to how the problems can be fixed.... mostly because they're often process or political problems, and rule number one of the corporate power game is "don't step out of line".

      • by grub (11606)
        Having to deal with techies and reality is an annoyance for managerial types.

        I've seen a lot of geeks waltz into a manager's office with attitude. That's wrong, the users call when they have a problem. Go in, fix it, be nice. If they ask what happened explain it in non-geek terms. If they don't act nice after then rm their user directory. ;)
      • by shirai (42309) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:42PM (#12105058) Homepage
        I keep hearing this over and over like it is fact, but honestly, I don't know anybody who likes brown nosing in an office environment. INCLUDING the management. I think what you are really saying is, you need to SHOW RESPECT to GET RESPECT which is pretty fair. Isn't it ironic when a manager shows respect to employees he *GETS IT* but when a tech does it to his manager, it is brown nosing.

        Allow me say that I'm sure you are well-intentioned by your post, but I think you may be looking at this the wrong way.

        Just as you don't expect the "corporate power chain" to understand the tech stuff, you probably don't understand all the management stuff your audience does. But life is better when you do (just as visa versa). Don't we love managers who understand the technology? Of course. But you can do the same the other way. Let me ask you, do you understand your manager's problems?

        I know it is not your job to understand it, but it will help immensely. Like have your tried wording your suggestions in a manner that will appeal to management? Have you tried tying it to real numbers?

        For example: By simplifying the architecture of the system, I estimate that we can reduce the time spent on fixing bugs by 50%. Also, since we are reusing code, adding more features is easier. I predict we can also write code faster by a factor of 25% because there will be more code re-use. Although this will result in an up-front investment of three months work, additional changes will be easier and faster to make. The net result is that within about 6 months, we will be in the same spot but with a better architected system. [Okay, this is NOT the report you'd write, but you get my drift]

        By the way, I used to do this all the time. I'd often make reports with suggestions outlining why I recommend each aspect and what effect it will have on the business.

        I'm happy when people make suggestions, but as a manager, it is HARD to do the work to the next level. For example, if you are managing 10 people, spending 30 minutes a day with each person takes five hours leaving three hours left in a day. Most managers don't have the time to figure out the logistics and they don't understand the problem as well as you do. I love it when somebody comes up to me with all the arguments thought out. THAT is easy to process.

        Having been raised on tech and management principles (graduate of a business program), I can say that people who understand both the tech and the management side are the most valuable people in the company. Become one. We need more.

        As a related aside, I am now the CEO of a successful and profitable Internet company. And of course, I still read slashdot.
    • Re:Respect... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TFGeditor (737839) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:28PM (#12104306) Homepage
      In the words of William T. Riker: "Obedience is given, respect is earned."
    • by phyruxus (72649) <jumpandlink@nOspAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#12104483) Homepage Journal
      >>Respect is something you earn.

      Your statement is very true. I want to point something out though: Disrespect is also earned. _Every_ human being _deserves_ a measure of simple human dignity. To treat someone with less than simple human dignity is uncalled for unless that person has wronged you. (Please not I'm not implying that the statement you made [respect is earned] is in any way in contradiction with my statement [dignity is universal, disrespect also being earned])

      This subtle distinction seems lost on so many people I have dealt with. This isn't courtesy, it's basic.

      <rant> This is the one thing I wish I could have impressed upon my peers and teachers and principals in grade school: that although respect is earned, DIGNITY is INHERENT. Until someone steps on your toes, it is wrong for you to attack them. Treating someone with dignity doesn't detract from how tough or cool or whatever you are. Treating anyone without dignity when you have no reason just makes you an ass.</rant>

      This may be a little OT as I am referring to ALL social interaction and not just that with techs and geeks, but I have seen the statement "Respect is earned" abused so commonly to mean "dignity is earned" that my emotions just go nuclear every time I see it remembering childhood injustices. The sentiment may seem obvious, but alas it appears not to be. It would be worth my life to see it codified, at least socially.

      Keep the R-E-S-P-E-C-T, all I ask is dig-ni-ty. Is that so wrong?

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:02PM (#12103973)
    We lived threw a change in the way that IT is viewed. It changed rather quickly too. Back in the late 90s early 2000 IT and Techs were seen as the bringer of new and terrific stuff that is supposed to make their life better. Now that most everyone has got all this stuff that supposed to make there lives better they found out it only allowed them to do more and harder (So except spending a day typing out the pay role, you are now Printing the payroll and managing benefits.) work for the same pay. So you are no longer the guy who will bring a company tons of money threw web sales, but the guy who needs to make sure the now built website doesn't crash, and if it did then there is lost money. So you are now considered an expense, or as best a long term expense to lower TCO. We are no longer money makers. That is why some "Programmers" with High school degrees who said they knew HTML got these 100k a year jobs, making crappy web pages because these web pages were to make the company money so they saw these web developers as technical marketing department. But now after the infrastructure is set up and they realized they didn't need Joe Smo "HTML is Frontpage right?" we became an expense. It is not that we personally lost the respect of people. But we are no longer looked upon as money makers. But more like a power bill, or a maintenance crew.
    • by Seoulstriker (748895) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:15PM (#12104135)
      IT has changed from implementation to maintenence from the 90s to 2005. Not to be offensive, but when you're maintaining a system or installing updates, or making the network run smoothly, you're nothing more than a lowly technician, someone who has mastered a trade. Rather than bringing forth the unknown as technicians did in the 90s, they are just doing something that someone else doesn't want to spend time doing. When technology was new, there was a mystique in understanding how these computers run. But that mystique is long-gone. Just as in the early days of electricity, it seemed so new to commonfolk, and electricians were seen as magicians for knowing how it worked and how it can be fixed.

      If you want more respect for what you do, do something beyond maintaining systems or technician work. Do something that requires intelligence to design the systems. Mystique fades quickly once everyone gets used to the technology and you're not the one propelling it forward.
      • by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:40PM (#12104437)

        I'm a sysadmin, and I tell people not in the field that my job is much like that of a janitor.

        If I do my job perfectly, noone knows who I am, nor really cares.

        If I don't do my job, people bitch about this and that.

        On a tangent, I refuse to give autorespect to someone wearing a suit and tie. I always think to myself "Maybe their lawyer put them up to it".

        Actually, after being convicted in court of my special crime, I was waiting to sign forms and stuff, and a mother and daughter were talking and the mother turned to me and said "Ask him, he's a lawyer". To which I smiled and said "No, I'm the defendant". :)
    • Agreed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ferrocene (203243) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:23PM (#12104256) Journal
      We have gone from the guy who saved them from their ignorange, since everything was so brand new and they felt stupid, to the equivalent of the plumber or phone guy.

      Since the technology isn't that new anymore, they don't feel dumb anymore when it breaks. Everyone "knows" that it's Microsoft's fault and nothing they did could ever cause this much distruction.

      How many times did you hear customers belittle themselves while you tried to defend their dignity: "No, no, it's nothing you could have prevented. Oh, no, you're not that stupid. This is hard." It's the only time I've ever heard so many millionaires and businessmen call themselves idiots.

      And now? They don't even want to know how it works, "just fix it" is the reply. No more apologizing for their stupidity.

      Maybe everyone finally realized that they're not stupid after all. Or maybe, they're tired of software breaking when it's not their fault. Parhaps this is OUR fault for telling them for years that, no, they didn't do anything, they're not stupid. Perhaps it's time to go back to confirming a person's insecurities. :)

  • by MurrayTodd (92102) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:02PM (#12103974) Homepage
    I can't say I get a lot of respect for being a Computer Ace. It certainly hasn't gotten me any dates recently. On the other hand family, friends, distant friends, ex-bosses, neighbors and friends of neighbors have no qualms about assuming I'm their free I.T. service. Respect? I don' t know. Co-dependence? Yeesh!
    • by carpe_noctem (457178) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:14PM (#12104114) Homepage Journal
      Being tall helps, too.

      Seriously... I'm 6'5", which means that I'm taller than a good 95% of the people that I meet. I think that something in the reptilian part of the brain tells people to be cautious of people/animals bigger than themselves. As much as I hate to admit it, it's a cultural advantage that I was born with.

      But, if this alone doesn't get your respect, you can also hold tree branches above your head to appear taller to predators. This works great in an office setting, and most clients never expect it!
  • by filmmaker (850359) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:03PM (#12103981) Homepage
    The best thing a technical person can do for their employer, and hence for themselves both in terms of respect and gratitude and monetary compensation, is to do extra things that add value to the bottom line.

    For instance, if you're not involved in the analysis and design phase of software, maybe watch the market more closely so as to know what suggestions to make in terms of features and design. If you're not a programmer, then look into ways to add value by improving the company website; maybe freshen up some content, add an RSS feed, or look for ways to improve the aesthetics and page copy of a conversion page (such as a point of purchase page, for example). Look for ways to improve conversions from affiliate lead sources.

    I know how easy it is to go "down the rabbit hole" when writing code. You get lost in the code. You dream about it; it's the only thing you think about. And it pretty much has to be that way. I try and periodically take some time off from writing code for short intervals specifically to come up for air, so to speak.

    But most significantly, realize that everyone arrives at work precisely to add value to the company's bottom line. Everyone arrives at work in order to solve the problems to which they are assigned. There is certainly nothing unique about IT in that manner.

    However, if you're truly being treated like a pariah, I would ask, who is responsible for "casting" you in such a unfavorable light? It could be office politics. And of course, there's always the chance that you're too much like the IT guy in those Jimmy Fallon SNL sketches.
  • None at all (Score:5, Funny)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:03PM (#12103986) Homepage Journal
    When I was a baby, my bathtub toys were a radio and a toaster.
  • by ikewillis (586793) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:03PM (#12103987) Homepage
    BOFHs are to be feared, not respected...
  • DS (Score:3, Funny)

    by FLAGGR (800770) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:04PM (#12103996)
    When I show people my custom code running on the nintendo DS, my respect++;
  • by spywarearcata.com (841806) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:05PM (#12104002)
    To want "respect" means that you would like some other unspecified group to have _less_ "respect," at least compared to you.

    Maybe it would be better just to do good, professional work that can itself withstand such comparison rather than seek the "I am better than the run-of-the mill-worker" kind of "respect."

    Back in the day we called it egoless programming. It means to feel good about the whole team being productive. Groups like this share code, mentor each other constantly, prevent anyone from failing, and are fun to be around. Groups that worship individual "respect" get prima donnas, backstabbing and less overall productivity.

    Let your good work speak for itself. If you need more respect, learn something additional about your craft and feel good about it yourself.

    • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:16PM (#12104144) Homepage
      You are stating that respect is a zero-sum thing where there is a finite amount of respect to go around. If I am respected by 0% of my customers, and you are respected by 100%, I don't need to diminish your level of respect to increase mine.

      Also, regarding your comments about backstabbers: there is nothing wrong with looking out for yourself. You never really know who the backstabbers are until they 'strike' and when they do, those who are expecting it and have a counter are the ones who survive.

      Your 'egoless programming' groups worked because you all respected each other, not because you gave up on the concept of respect.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:05PM (#12104003)

    How much do respect do you get OUTSIDE the office?

    The sad thing is, you can save the day, but in the end, you're still a 'computer geek'

    When the IT staff starts nailing hot secretaries and interns, instead of goldchain wearing middle managers, you'll impress us.

  • by doormat (63648) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:05PM (#12104008) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, people don't like other people who smell.

    =^)
  • Really, the aura of godliness geeks had has been gone for years.

    We're not really all that special, we never were.

    It's just a job, man.
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:07PM (#12104033) Homepage Journal
    How do you feel when you have to call a plumber in to your home, knowing that every hour they sit there scratching their ass will cost you $125? Like most people you probably dread it, and you try to DIY as much as possible. You probably even try to maintain your manlihood by trying to demonstrate to him what you know once he comes.

    People don't like depending upon other people, and the sad reality, and it's amazing how few techs realized this, was that people were patronizing you in the past when they'd fawn over you. That wasn't that they respected you, but rather that they thought that they could get as much out of you as possible by pushing your ego buttons.

    I caught onto that very early in my career, and no longer did coworkers and family talking about how I'm the smartest person they've ever met and boy do I know computers, ad nauseum, fool me into providing pro bono work.
  • by segfault_0 (181690) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:07PM (#12104037)
    I found that the respect i get is a function of personal relationships with those individuals and not really a function of what i did. People who arent technical tend not to look at our craft as fondly as we tend to do, they dont see the things that we see in it, and therefore it often doesnt hold the same appeal or respect. Those who do show that respect often respect you as a person or have an affinity for technology and can appreciate what you do more than the norm. Either way, even if you sweep the floor, and you do it to the best of your ability and treat those around you with respect, youll tend to get it in return. And ask yourself, if you expect them to be in awe of you just for walking in the room, how much do you really respect them?
  • Times are changing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:10PM (#12104056) Homepage
    Today, technicians are a dime a dozen, and it shows. With so many wannabe "technicians" flooding the market, it is only natural for people to base their opinion on what they see: A whole bunch of incompetent boobs claiming to be experts when they are nothing more than hobbiests with a screwdriver and a shit attitude.

    Further to that, geek is now chic. This means there are many posers who are diluting the true meaning of the word, because they want to look hip and trendy.

    Its sad, really. We are a victim of our own desires, to be accepted by society as a whole instead of relegated to the computer and AV rooms of the world.....

  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:10PM (#12104066) Homepage
    Nobody likes to call the plumber, electrician, etc... Nobody likes to call in a tech for most of the same reasons, although I do try to keep my buttcrack from showing.

  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:10PM (#12104069) Homepage Journal
    How respect do you give the guy who fixes your washing machine?

    Computers are being viewed more and more as another applicance. A means to get things done. Not some mysterious and all-powerful machine. As this perception becomes more widespread, the respect given to people who repair them will approach that of people who fix other appliances.

    The are no more Priests of the Temples of Syrinx (obscure Rush reference).
  • by C_Kode (102755) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:10PM (#12104071) Journal
    echo "\$0.75/hr" > /data/payroll/managment/IT/bob/payrate
  • by Brento (26177) * <brentoNO@SPAMbrentozar.com> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:11PM (#12104075) Homepage
    I've noticed one big difference. When a geek asks me what I do, I've been able to give the same answer since 1998: "I work full time for a company maintaining their sites with ASP and SQL Server." Here's a chronology of the responses:

    1998: "What's ASP?"

    1999: "ASP sucks, man. It's too hard."

    2000: "Wow, can I learn ASP? How hard is it? Because I've never done computer work, but I hear it makes a lot of money."

    2001: "Ha! ASP? You suck, that's so old-school. You won't have a job in a couple of years. I got a job at Pets.com making twice your salary, and I'm just a receptionist."

    2002: "ASP sucks, man. It's all about .NET these days. Besides, you'll be laid off in a week just like me. And Oracle's the bomb, it's worth every penny."

    2003: "ASP sucks, man. It's all about PHP these days. And MySQL's the bomb. It'll have stored procedures any day now." (Sorry, just had to throw that one in.)

    2004: "ASP sucks, man. It's all about J2EE these days."

    2005: "Wow, you have a full time job? Because I'm a programmer and I can't find a job to save my ass."
  • by lildogie (54998) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:15PM (#12104138)
    I learned an important lession when I was providing 24x7 support for a network management center.

    At my boss's advice, I visited the end customers each and every workday.

    They began to associate me with the system while it was working. In contrast, some admins only showed up when their systems were broken. They were usually greeted with "Here comes trouble!"

    My relationship was so good that, when the system broke in the middle of the night, the customers would do their best to get by until morning, even though I assured them that it was my duty to restore it during the night.

    Being around to take credit for things running smoothly is indispensible.
  • by csoto (220540) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:16PM (#12104148)
    ..the level of respect you get. I'm a "techie turned manager," and I can tell you for certain that when I was exclusively a "techie," I was a "genius" and "guru" and people loved me. Today, I'm a manager, and though lots of people still love me, they're also aware that I can affect the amount of pain or pleasure they experience from our IT services. It's a lot more responsibility, which comes with its own share of politics. People know this.

    Anybody who manages geeks would be wise to keep that "geeks are our friends" culture going. It's never MY success, even if I was the one whose plan is being implemented, I chose the solutions, got the funding for it, etc. As far as our users are concerned, we just have a really great staff who always looks out for them, even if their manager is a jerk ;)

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:17PM (#12104165)
    The 1980s through to today have been a spectacular time for American business. The stock markets have grown like never before. Business people, managers, and financial folk have been praised for being the backbone of a growing economy.

    But there's a sad truth, evident to anyone who has dipped into that world... and that is, except for their brown-nosing skills and personal connections, business people, management, financial/accountants are mostly useless. It's questionable whether they have any real skills. And now society is starting to question whether these people have any value in the real sense of the word.

    The modern satires (e.g. Dilbert) exist for a reason. It baffles people how the "flapping heads" or "PHBs" can be the ones in control, earnings the high salaries. You see, in the past few decades everyone wanted to become managers. And my personal belief is that the business world is starting to crumble because companies overweight in managers and associated staff lack tangible manpower, the power to get real business done.

    So you technicians, engineers, and other professionals who can actually do real things... never you worry. Ultimately, you are the ones who have the skills to accomplish what society needs. The market of yesterday - for idiot managers, corrupt accountants - is coming to an end (though it may take some time).
    • by crimethinker (721591) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:41PM (#12104443)
      ... in a salary discussion. The context is that I work in a very large company with many gratuitous layers of brown-nos^W management. As you rise higher in the food chain, your bonuses and stock options grow. People like me and my peers, who do the actual work, are never eligible for any stock options or the like. Once a year, we get a measly bonus while our CEO gets millions of dollars and hay bales of stock certificates.

      So my boss tried to console me with some lip-service: the engineers are more valuable than the managers. You see, the company can find a new manager without too much trouble, but replacing an engineer, someone who can come in and pick up the hardware and the code, is much more difficult. This led to the obvious question: if the engineers are so valuable, why don't we get the huge bonuses and stock options?

      I'll let you guess at his answer, but here's a hint: I updated my resume that night.

      -paul

  • Varies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:19PM (#12104197) Homepage Journal
    Respect is an odd currency. Those who understand absolutely nothing of what I do, and should give me respect when they enter my territory, offer the least.

    In general, respect has declined during the past years, even though my abilities and credentials inside my profession have increased.

    There are also different kinds of respect. I have learnt to not give much on statements of respect. My boss tells me five times daily that I'm the most knowledgable security dude in the company - but my advise on security matters is apparently not important enough to warrant action.

    Two former bosses had the proper method for expressing respect towards techies: Not only did they say "you guys know best how to do this, just get it done", they also followed through with it and got out of our ways. One was the CTO, the other was brilliant in keeping other trouble (higher-ups, users, other bosses) away from us while we worked on the problem.

  • by Snap E Tom (128447) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:20PM (#12104211)
    Jesus, we fix computers. We don't perform brain surgery.

    I'm in the process of overseeing the work done by an outside tech support company for a nonprofit. Background: I'm a programmer. Mainly Java. Previously, internal , non-technical people were often the overseers and project sponsors for this group. The result is that 4 companies have been used in the past 5 years, with each one chased out due to corruption, incompetence, and regime changes. They recently hired a new company and asked me to be the liason.

    I remember the first meeting. The owner walzted in smiling and shaking hands. He recommended a lot of Win2003 upgrades that had nothing to do with pressing needs. I, on the other hand, played hardball. I wore a suit, accused him of being more of a salesman than a techie, and said we needed a company much less myopic. He was completely shocked and his attitude has turned around 180 degrees.

    I still have to work with them, but I call bullshit on them frequently, I grill them on what they're doing and why, I refuse to pay the full amount when they make bad decisions, I demand thorough documentation.

    Respect them? Fuck no. I'm a watchdog.

    The point is that this company, like many others, have gotten burned in the past and are much wiser on how money is spent. They've learned that the tech's word is not final and there will be no blank checks.

    Further, don't forget that ITT and Heald churn out thousands of people that can do your job.
  • by meme_police (645420) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:20PM (#12104212)
    ...and I think it was because of malware. As users got more and more frustrated with malware they took out their frustrations on us techs for not being able to prevent their PCs from being infested. The funny thing is I use the same browser as they do and I have no spyware, I guess I'm not visiting the same porn, gambling, warez, gaming sites that they are.

    But the tides have changed now that I install Firefox for them. They use IE for accessing our many internal IE-only web apps, and they use Firefox for browsing the Internet. And I'm now the hero again. If I could replace their PCs with Macs they'd be even happier but I work for one of the largest companies in the world and they're in very tight with Microsoft.

  • by Caine (784) * on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:21PM (#12104223)
    Seriously, a (support) technician is like the plumber. He's only called when something is broken. How much respect do you show your plumber?
  • by hardgeus (6813) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:22PM (#12104240)
    During the boom anyone and everyone was in this business. Every guy who could launch VB was treated like a god. Tons of custom software development houses sprung up and promised the world to unwitting clients.

    Years later, after dumping millions of dollars into our industry, clients are wising up. Most companies have horror stories at this point. Most of them have been burned by start-up custom software houses who can no longer maintain the broken wreck they have created. Most clients have been through the ringer with consultants who charge an arm and a leg but don't deliver anything.

    There are a lot of good computer guys out there, and a lot of good software companies, but my honest opinion is that most people in our business are little better than snake oil salesmen.
  • by AKAJack (31058) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:25PM (#12104272)
    *IN GENERAL*

    Computers are simpler to repair
    Software is easier to troubleshoot
    Remote assistance is starting to work
    Companies are working hard to eliminate the technician

    The goal should be that the mail room guy becomes your "technician" for everything easily replaceable. He will just take a new "computer" from a box, un-plug, re-plug and mail off the failed box for off-site repair. Happily all of your data resides on a server hosted off-site and the OS is loaded into memory on each boot up.

    Seriously this line of work is going to be a much smaller segment of the market as the years progress and in ten years there will be no such thing for the most part.

    The guy who comes to "fix" your computer will be as unknown as the iceman is today.

    This isn't a flame - it's notice to start retraining now and get ahead of the game.

    When the Berlin Wall collapsed I didn't sit on my ass in my fat aerospace job waiting for it to be pulled out from under me. I changed industries, took a pay cut and crawled right back up the ladder.

    If you no longer command respect maybe today is the time to take start looking elsewhere - no matter how much you enjoy what you are doing now. it's not going to get any better, but it will get far worse.
  • by javaxman (705658) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:27PM (#12104292) Journal
    Are you sure you're not just Nick Burns [jt.org] posting as someone else ?

    Sorry, I had to ask. On a more serious note, some of the responses you've seen so far are on the mark. You're an expense. If things worked the way they're supposed to, much of your expertise wouldn't be needed. If you're just troubleshooting, yea, you're the new version of the copier repair tech. Neither lawyers nor electrical engineers nor mid-level executives see you as their peer.

    Worse, there has been a lot to dilute the view of computer professionals as _professionals_ lately, from the luster being knocked off tech by the dot-com bust, to an increasing number of posers ( think 'leetspeak' ) trying to pass themselves off as technologically knowledgeable, to a flood of certified MS/NET/CISCO/whatever folks who took a two-day class and paid for an exam but don't know how to _do_ squat, to an increase of good-ol' Amerkin anti-intellectualism. Call it a backlash if you will, but I think it's real. You can get respect now, but you really have to earn it, and you won't always get it even if you deserve it.

  • Is it just techs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:31PM (#12104339) Journal
    I think that perhaps respect in the workplace in general is down. There seems to be a distinct lack of appreciation for the working class, while of course the visible usual-buttkissing applies to those higher up whilst we bitch about them in private.

    I'm a sysadmin/technician myself, and I do notice a notible amount of disrespect at times in my job - sometimes often enough because others just don't understand the work involved in things they ask for - but I can't say I'm the only victim of this as my co-workers often enough readily disrespect each other as well.
  • by devphaeton (695736) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:34PM (#12104366)
    1980s--> Ridiculed Computer Nerd

    1995 --> Socially Defunct Internet Junkie

    1998 --> All-Powerful, Universally Loved and Admired Icon of Intellectual Prowess and Thinkgeek Humour

    1999 --> Profit!!!

    2000s--> Returning to Ridiculed Computer Nerd / Socially Defunct Internet Junkie

    Sorry man... as much as we all here on /. love to romanticize about our geekiness, only us geeks appreciate it. Nobody else gives a shit about you or me except you or me.

  • Not suprised (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tmasky (862064) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:35PM (#12104385)
    I would claim the majority of people in the IT industry just have little clue about what they're doing. It's a job to them, not a passion. They don't care about making things better, they care about getting their paycheck.

    In this day, it's now painfully obvious that many people who work in IT are just bloodsuckers. They claim to know what they're doing and yet they manage to accomplish amazing feats of stupidity.

    Come on. We all know that guy who's an Exchange administrator who can't explain how an e-mail gets from one persons computer to another. Or the web designer who solely uses Frontpage. Or the system administrator who has managed to get Windows installed on a PC.. but can't quite do anything else.

    It's all too common. The IT industry just pisses me off now because it's filled with flunkies got an MCSE out of a crackerjack box.

    And now Joe Public has a dim view on techies? Took them too bloody long imho.
  • by codeonezero (540302) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:36PM (#12104391)
    So working as the jack of all trades computer guy for a public relations company, I have seen days of praise and days of defiance. Maybe overexaggerated there on the language.

    Anyway when I added a feature to Access that allowed staff to go from a record they were looking at to the beginning of a business letter in Word, I got kudos from management. One of the vice presidents (this is a small company of about 30 employees) came down and said thanks. He said "wow that is so amazing and so useful, never in a million years would i have thought of that". Something like that. I probably exaggerated a little.

    The same vice president claimed "I know you do your job, but don't take it personal, I think you don't know what you are doing" when I told him that the blackberry that he had bought would not open attachments sent to it unless we installed expensive software. Not only that but he was having problems with his set up. He wanted things working a certain way but wouldn't tell me so it seemed like I was screwing up.

    So I know I'm an asset to the company. Sometimes I'm met with praise and other times with defiance. Most of the time I'm completely ignored as I go about my daily routines.

    So I say that's kind of normal, can't expect praise every day.

    The general rule is management wont notice if things are working just fine unless they are conscientious. Or if they notice they wont bring it up that often as they are busy dealing with things that are not working. But if something breaks and the person woke up on the wrong side of bed, May God help you. :-)

  • by starfishsystems (834319) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:39PM (#12104420) Homepage
    A phenomenon that I've noticed over the course of my career is a overall decrease in respect for computing professionals as computing becomes more ubiquitous.

    This only makes sense. An increasing proportion of people who use computers come from the general population. In relation to computing professionals, their position is increasingly that of consumers rather than colleagues. The traditional respect for a professional which is based on an informed recognition of ability is bound to suffer.

    That's one main factor, as I see it. The other is that our culture is going through a characteristic phase of technology change in which adoption is followed by social disruption. The same process happened as agriculture transformed social structure, and again during the industrial revolution. This time around, we have other major forces of social disruption at play as well, including globalization, the inversion of market and social values, and the accumulation of ecological effects which began with the previous two revolutions.

    Some of these forces are pretty abstract, even though their effects are not. But the force of technological change is manifest in an unprecedented flood of new artifacts into people's lives. As bearers of that change, we make a very visible target for frustration not only with the artifacts and their mysterious technology, but with disruptive forces in general. Our very competence can become a liability.

  • Oh fuck ya (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t0qer (230538) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @04:55PM (#12104615) Homepage Journal
    I thought about posting a story like this many many times since 2001.

    Yah, we're no longer cool. It was happening before 2001, anyone working in a dying dot com could tell you that. More recently however it just seems like folks do not want to pay for my services.

    Back around 98, I had no problems negotiating a good salary. If a company wasn't treating me right, i'd simple put my resume out on monster.com or fax it out, and i'd have 1/2 a dozen job offers within a week.

    Some of the first few companies I worked at were great. My opinions were valued, and I was often given enough freedom in my job to do what was needed for a smooth running network.

    Then around 99-2k things started falling apart. More and more my job function was being scrutinized. It felt like I was in constant competition with my managers to prove my worth.

    2001, 9/11, massive layoffs, I just sort of got lost in the sea of resumes that were being pumped out by people not even in IT trying to get a decent paying job. I think this is where folks really started losing respect for IT as a whole. It wasn't the whole phony plumbers with a MCSE making it bad for us, it was the accountants, MBAs, former executives, and salespeople getting these positions, simply because they could put on a better face to HR and hiring managers than most of us socially inept geeks could. They were taking our jobs, and making us look bad with their lack of understanding for the role.

    Eventually, I went into private consulting. Started my own company and picked up a few clients here and there. At first my rate was $75@hr, then $60, then $50. I went as low as $30 for one of my clients (They would pre-pay 10 hours a month) Even there, I got myself into a contract that was definetly more benificial for the client than it was myself.

    The last client I dropped had 5 offices spread around the bay area, with one all the way in Redding. God damn, what a mess though.

    The owner of the company insisted his employees had administrative access to their own machines. Every month those 10 hours of support would be eaten up by running ad-aware on thier spyware laden machines. Originally the contract was just for 3 offices, but when the new offices were brought online, their employees would call me for support. Being I'm a nice guy, i'd happily do what I could over the phone for them.

    Things really fell apart when the Redding office came online though.

    I had an injury that made me immobile. The office manager for the Redding office, and the owner of the company kept calling me up saying it needed to be done that week, and they were threatening to bring in another tech if I couldn't get that office online that week. I asked many times, "Hey, are you sure that office is ready?" I didn't want to lose that customer, so I told them I would subcontract another tech to go up there and be my remote hands.

    Part of their setup is homebuilt routers and freeswan VPN's. Despite my debilitating condition, I spent the night before sending my tech up there preparing the client machines. They had no data for me on the DSL. The office manager LIED and told me they had DSL ready to go up there, but she just pretended to be a ditz and couldn't click start>run>cmd>ipconfig. She just kept telling me it wasn't working but she could browse the web just fine.

    Well, Redding is about 500 miles from where I live. Did I mention that yet? No, I guess not..

    My tech gets up there and the building has no power. There are no phone lines set up. Construction guys are working on generators. The floor was still bare uncarpeted cement. No furniture, No DSL, no desks to set the client PC's up on, nothing. Just a bare building. My tech called me up freaking out. There wasn't anything he could do.

    So he did the best he could, even staying an extra day to wait for the DSL company (frontiernet I think) to get out there and at least get us a dial tone into the building.

    Again, just t
    • by t0qer (230538) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:45PM (#12105085) Homepage Journal
      I just got a call from one of our remote offices 5 minutes ago. Since the 2 months i've been gone this is what's happened.

      Apparently, after I let the contract run out the company president hired the phone guy to do the IT stuff. He went around to all the offices badmouthing me, saying I didn't do this professionally, didn't do that right, this wrong ect.

      The guy tried to add another office to the VPN. Right after trying, all the offices went offline. Without even looking, I know what happened because I made the same mistake myself.

      In a freeswan VPN you have a CA or central authority cert. You make this cert once, then copy it to all the client machines in the VPN. You should in the very least know how to ssh to these other boxes to make it work.

      My guess is BOB (no really, thats this guys name) regenned the CA, and didn't copy it to the other machines.

      On top of being more expensive than I was ($95@hr) he was grossly unqualified. His services are no longer being used by the company.

      I agreed to go out to the site tomorrow because of the office managers begging. It didn't take too much begging, I always liked this guy, and he always treated me with respect. Just one condition, he can't tell any of the other offices he had me out there servicing his PC's.

      Maybe i'll write tomorrow about the fine mess i'm going to see.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:06PM (#12104740)
    What it was, was ass-kissing cleverly disguised as "respect." With the current glut of technically savvy people, due to the tech bubble, this sort of ass-kissing is no longer required. You can be replaced at the drop of a hat.

    True respect is earned because of the kind of person you are, not the things that you do (insofar as those things are not a part of who you are). Comport yourself with honor, be respectful of others, and you will earn their respect in turn. That you think having some inscrutable technical knowledge should earn you respect is, frankly, revolting.

  • by couch_warrior (718752) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @05:49PM (#12105123)
    I wish to coin a phrase, if no one else has done so.

    We are now "Janitors of th Microsoft Plumbing"

    And why are we viewed with such disdain? Imagine how you would feel about your plumber if you had to call him in two or three times a week to unclog your stopped toilet.

    People expect computers to be a consumer appliance that "just works". We get a share of the blame for the appallingly low quality of shrink-wrapped software that is barely beta-test status when shipped to production users. (Test the software?- that's what users are for; Configuration Cotnrol? - that would dip into profits, let the DLLs crash, they can always reboot)

    You want respect - install OSS software that doesn't crash, and get paid for adding value in the design process, instead of billing hours for reaming the t3rds out of the M$ toilet.
  • I know it is one of those trite cliches, but the better you do your job, the greater amount of work that comes your way, whether you want it or not. This phenomena is not unique to my line of work (field service) nor is it modern (my dad lived it too).

    As people develop expertise in their field, their primary responsibilities take less and less effort than they did when they were new. Eventually things then tend to progress in the following manner:

    1. Because of your good work, your accounts are happier with your company or run more profitably than they might otherwise be. They take on more business and buy more equipment from your company. Guess who gets to service it! Okay, you were getting bored anyway, and so you welcome the new toy.

    2. The boss notices that you don't have to work very hard to keep up with your responsibilities, and knowing this, he asks you to "help out" the guys working on a difficult problem at another site.

    2a. Once you establish a positive track record of fixing difficult problems, your name rises to the top of the list of who to call when there is trouble. You get an Attaboy, and wangle a free lunch or two out of the boss. That and your sense of accomplishment is your reward, but not much more money, except for the overtime.

    2b. As your reputation spreads, your pager starts to go off at all hours, day and night. Blearily eyed, you trudge off into a snowstorm at 3 AM on Sunday Morning to drive the 50 miles to fix a half-million dollar machine with a turn of the screwdriver and a few taps on the keyboard. You get home at about 9 AM, just in time to get paged again by the same customer for another machine. After this debacle, you resolve to test and end up spending 3 hours doing preventative repairs to all of your company's equipment at the site before leaving. After putting in 14 hours, you arrive home. The following week, the regular tech has his easiest week in months, but you get mildly reprimanded for putting in too much overtime. Boss apologizes when you point out that the work was billable at off-hours rates.

    3. For the reason above, the boss asks you to "cover" another tech's accounts while he is out sick, on vacation, or forgot to turn on his pager. Being the dedicated employee you are, you oblige, and fix a bunch of things the regular guy has neglected. The account now has higher expectations from the equipment, which means that the boss or the other tech will be calling on you frequently to maintain the performance of the equipment.

    4. You are asked to help train new employees, and to work with "problem employees" to improve their skills. Training new guys with talent isn't too bad, though it is time-consuming. Trying to work with guys who have teflon-coated brain cells is ultimately futile and a waste of time.

    5. You become the boss's confidant and right-hand man. He asks you to cover him on weekends, vacations, and golf outings, in addition to your expanding list of regular duties. Your cell phone rings on vacation. It's the boss pleading for help.

    6. The boss eventually retires, gets promoted, or takes another job. You are now the new boss, and have to take responsibility for everything. First item on the agenda after buying a new suit for all of those client meetings: Finding a replacement for yourself in your old job. You no longer have time to do the tech work you love and were good at, instead you are buried under a mountain of paperwork, meetings, and reports. By the way, you are now on straight salary and are on call 24/7.

    Welcome to the Corporate Ladder!
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday March 31, 2005 @06:11PM (#12105303) Homepage
    The respect I've received over the course of my career (two decades, counting college jobs) has varied more with place than with time. More to the point, it depends on the people.

    I've generally received the least respect from the least intelligent people. They don't have intelligence, they don't recognise it, they don't respect it.

    That's not to be confused with technical expertise. I've been respected by people who could whup my butt with their wizardly skills, and by people who didn't know a byte from a battery. But they recognised my qualifications and respected them, because they were qualified for their jobs, and knew that deserved respect.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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