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Gruntled employees?

Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Gruntled is the opposite of disgruntled.
This thread is for positive war stories. The vast majority of the stories around here are about someone getting shafted.
Rare as it may seem at times, positive things do happen. Good managers exist, and even good companies. Even good headhunters. So tell us about your good experiences......
[ November 05, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]

SCJP1.4, SCWCD
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Here's my first contribution to the lore. I'd been out of work for 8 months and began a new job recently working out at a client site on a big project. I like what I'm seeing of my new company (the management seems smart & competent). No bullshit dot.com-style 'benefits', but some people have obviously read Peoplesoft and taken it to heart.
After about 5 weeks in my new gig, I'm hit by the proverbial bus. I developed a major nasty infection and am out 7 weeks, 4 of them in the hospital. The company told me not to worry & just get myself well, but I really didn't know what to expect coming back. This is not the way to begin a new job! I've never missed more than 2 consecutive days of work before in my life, and here I lose 35 days!
I was half expecting to lose my job or possibly not to get full pay (the probationary system in the UK differs from the usual in the US).
I returned to work recently and find none of my fears happened. I'm still employed and today the secretary handed me the pay stubs for the time I missed. Full pay and no BS.
Having been jerked around a bit by my last two employers I had become something of a cynic about such things, but I'm changing my mind. This outfit doesn't provide free soda but they seem to get the big things right. There isn't very much turnover and I suspect I'm seeing some reasons why that is so.....
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I have no wife, no kids, no mortgage and live in a major high tech city. I am too strong an engineer/manager to take/stay at a job I don't like. When I get disgruntled, I leave.
---------------
My first non-academic job was great. My boss was fantastic. I remember I once screwed up and posted a build, but didn't test it. The installer didn't work. My boss called me into his office to ask about it, and calmly and politely suggested that in the future I do a simple basic double check to make sure it installs. A month or so later, I make the same mistake again (I was in a hurry and forgot to double check it). Again he called spoke to me about it, but, just as calmly and politely as before said, "remember this is something we talked about before." He nevr raised his voice, never yelled, never got upset.
The thing I feared most was disappointing him. In the future when he called me into his office, I would always worry that I wasn't doing enough work, but usually he'd call me in to tell me what I great job I was doing. I really enjoyed working for him, and learned a lot about managing by watching him.
---------------
At my current company, I have my dream job. I've been given carte blanche to manage a group of developers. Everyone is excited to have me there, and they want to learn and improve. The work week is only 40 hours.

--Mark
P.S. Gruntled isn't actually a word. :-p
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
There are indeed good headhunters.
I've met several over the years and while none landed me a job they did their best and were often as disappointed as I was when things didn't work out.
In one case I did get an offer which I turned down because I didn't have trust in the future of the company involved (which turned out to be correct, 6 months later they filed for bankruptcy leaving 30 people out of work).
As to good companies, my current employer certainly is one.
No BS during the interviews, no keeping me waiting for ages before telling me they wanted me (nor the other candidates for the job that they were not selected, they called them while I was reading the draft contract...).
Entire process completed within 2 weeks of first contact, 2 interviews (1 technical and 1 with my future manager). No "assessment center" crap where your ability to handle a technical job is gauged by your skills as a standup commedian.
And best of all, solid company where noone is called "sir" and all doors are in principle open to all.


42
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
A rule of thumb I've found useful is that any manager who looks and sounds too good to be true during the interview is likely to be a complete f*ing disaster in practice.
The low-key ones often are good. They let their work speak for itself.
The first really good manager I worked for was in my first consulting gig, about 3-4 years into my career (3rd job). He gave me a 'technical interview' without asking a single technical question & told me I passed at the end. I asked him why, and he said that he already knew I could do the work from my CV. What he wanted to know is whether I could fit in with 'his team'.
We had a raucous team working out in 'Siberia'. 6th-class office space, raunchy old furniture, ripped up carpet, and cold. At first we had little equipment, but scooped up some in midnight requisition style soon after. A couple of crazy experienced guys set the tone using a couple of stolen road cones as megaphones to keep order. The manager wasn't around too much, probably a good thing given what was going on there (paper fights, Unix-hacking courses, etc). Nevertheless we got a lot done. One of the most productive teams I've ever been with.
Once I walked into the manager's office and told him he didn't have to pay me because I hadn't done anything worth crap for 2 weeks. He explained that wasn't the deal that he paid me whether I was braindead or brilliant (he'd seen both), and that I'd probably get better sooner or later. I did......
Another time some of the team were teasing me and I answered with one finger without bothering to turn around. A new voice asked whether that was my hat size or sperm count? My manager, of course. ;-)
The day I left the team he helped me load my car.
Another manager I remember had a reputation of being a complete Tartar. No problem. All you had to do was perform and maybe sling a little bullshit. Non-performers got short shrift, but he treated performers well. AND he knew the difference. Sad to say many managers do not.
[ November 05, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Oops, spoke too soon! A manager pulled me into a conference room this morning and informed me that they didn't have to pay me at all (given that I'm on probation), but they would give me full pay for 12 days and 'statutory' pay (about 25%) for the remaining 17 days of my sick leave.
I guess I had something to worry about after all! It's not the end of the world for me (I have savings), but definately a Hmmmm moment.....
It seems that employees in the UK don't get the kind of disability insurance scheme common in the US.
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Bad luck , Alfred! Do they have good pension schemes.? If they do, I am surprised they are not covering sickness as well. One would think employers would want to get their employee back to work quickly and healthy.
regards
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by HS Thomas:
Bad luck , Alfred! Do they have good pension schemes.? If they do, I am surprised they are not covering sickness as well. One would think employers would want to get their employee back to work quickly and healthy.
regards

Quickly, yes. I seem to have run out of sick day entitlement for the year, so I have beaucoup motivation not to take any time off and recover instantly. Hopefully reality will not intrude on this vision.
While on the subject, some comparative statistics between the NHS and common practice in the US seem to indicate that quickly may not be in the lexicon of the NHS. Specifically the US system has twice the number of specialists (consultants) and half the number of days in hospital (per stay). I spent more time in hospital for an infection than my mother did (in the US) for a heart attack followed by double bypass surgery. So I wonder.
Another curiosity (from a US perspective) is the seeming allergy that the GP's have for the hospital in the UK. When my mother has been in hospital in the US she sees her GP on a regular basis. On rounds. When she didn't have one that is how she was introduced to the GP. The system here leads me to wonder whether the right hand of the NHS knows what the left hand is doing?
Healthy? Well I now have compelling motivation not to have things taken care of if that means losing paid work time. I am now scheduling my sessions with the District nurse for Saturdays, for example.
I don't know how the pension scheme works yet. Good pension schemes seem to have gone out of fashion lately.
[ November 06, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
I know people who were tempted into opting out of the NHS pensions into private pensions lost quite badly. Those who stayed in their NHS schemes did quite well.
It seems to be the age of Self Rule in permanent and contract jobs. Pick and manage your own pensions. All in one insurances with mortgages , sickness benefits seem to be the trend. If you are off sick , your mortgage gets paid and you get some extra allowances. But the premiums are high. Worth looking into, though.
regards
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by HS Thomas:
I know people who were tempted into opting out of the NHS pensions into private pensions lost quite badly. Those who stayed in their NHS schemes did quite well.
It seems to be the age of Self Rule in permanent and contract jobs. Pick and manage your own pensions. All in one insurances with mortgages , sickness benefits seem to be the trend. If you are off sick , your mortgage gets paid and you get some extra allowances. But the premiums are high. Worth looking into, though.
regards

Thiks may be an artifact of the stock market crash more than a general rule, HS. Anyone who was into tech shares in a big way was badly hurt. A lot of people seem to take that as a warning not to invest in tech shares.
The paradox (as I see it) is that well-chosen tech shares may well be the best investment currently available. But people seem to prefer buying into the next bust, which is the overpriced London propery market.
Buy to Rent makes sense when 1) You can actually make a profit and 2) Interest rates aren't at a 50-year low and are bound only to go up (!!!)
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Anyone who was into tech shares in a big way was badly hurt

Some golden rules to investing :
Never invest more than you can afford to lose.
You win some you lose some.
Have a good strategy and don't get too greedy - trial and error.
There might be some others.
You would be well-advised that having a roof over your head is a first priority. Finding a strategy that works with lifestyle is a difficult process. From what I have seen the best investors are the quiet ones.
Just my 01 bits.
regards
[ November 06, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
I would add don't try to catch a falling knife.

Tony
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:
The paradox (as I see it) is that well-chosen tech shares may well be the best investment currently available. But people seem to prefer buying into the next bust, which is the overpriced London propery market.

House prices last collapsed in the early 90's. So you are right there may be a pattern there. But the question is, by how much is it going to fall this time. That may depend on various factors. I suppose it will be good to be prudent and play out the worst-case scenario to get the best deal you can.
regards
[ November 07, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by HS Thomas:

House prices last collapsed in the early 90's. So you are right there may be a pattern there. But the question is, by how much is it going to fall this time. That may depend on various factors. I suppose it will be good to be prudent and play out the worst-case scenario to get the best deal you can.
regards
[ November 07, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]

true. And I doubt they'll fall a lot this time. If they would the fall would have started in earnest already as there's a lot of people who can no longer pay the big mortgages they took out on their expensive houses a few years ago during the boom.
Somehow that's not happening, which makes me thing the entire price drop this time around will fizzle.
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

true. And I doubt they'll fall a lot this time. If they would the fall would have started in earnest already as there's a lot of people who can no longer pay the big mortgages they took out on their expensive houses a few years ago during the boom.
Somehow that's not happening, which makes me thing the entire price drop this time around will fizzle.

I think it would depend upon how stretched homeowner's budgets are at current low interest rates, and how quickly the interest rate hikes are passed on by the banks holding the mortgage.
Housing prices have virtually doubled in 2 or 3 years in my area of Outer London. When I first came out here one could buy a good-sized 3-bed Semi for less than �140K. Now the price is more than �230K. Don't forget that the market is largely driven by what new buyers can afford at current interest rates. If rates go up from 3.5% to almost 5% affordability will be impacted.....
Ray Beaumont
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 8
I've seen 2 seperate articles in the papers saying that :
1. For people to be facing early 1990s style mortgage payments, interest rates would only have to go up to 5%, due to the huge amount of debt people have taken on at lower rates.
2. Interest rates are predicted to be around 5% by the end of 2004 (or might be 2005) by the financial markets.
Scary stuff. I just hope 2. is wrong.
Ray Beaumont
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 8
But getting back to sick pay - most companies in the UK just give you a couple of weeks sick pay - a government employer generally gives you 6 months full pay, 6 months half pay.
I have sickness & disability insurance which only costs about �50 a month, and will pay me a salary up to retirement age. I think it's worth it for the peace of mind, (but I seem to be in a minority when I talk to my peers about it.)
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Ray Beaumont:
I've seen 2 seperate articles in the papers saying that :
1. For people to be facing early 1990s style mortgage payments, interest rates would only have to go up to 5%, due to the huge amount of debt people have taken on at lower rates.
2. Interest rates are predicted to be around 5% by the end of 2004 (or might be 2005) by the financial markets.
Scary stuff. I just hope 2. is wrong.

One more thing. My pay is less than it was in 1996. I hope this is not a general problem but the fact is that I cannot afford to subsidize my landlord's debts. If London rents go up I'll either head to Leeds or possibly back to the US.
Jim Baiter
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 05, 2001
Posts: 532
I once took a job at HP as an architect on a product called e-speak. The inventor really thought he was on to something new and they referred to the platform as "web services". I figured it was a job and was a bit skeptical but liked the system level aspects of my job. Now the lab is gone and some are even out of work but seeing "web services" on the cover of almost every industry mag and conference is a pretty amazing experience.
Nikhil Deshpande
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I have no wife, no kids, no mortgage and live in a major high tech city. I am too strong an engineer/manager to take/stay at a job I don't like. When I get disgruntled, I leave.

Can you always afford it? How do you justify this in the next job's HR interview? Just curious....
 
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