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Is it fair to pay a average software techie more?

ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Dear all,
I'm a software engineer from India. I've been in this field for the past one year specializing myself in Java Technologies in the past 3 years( 2 years on learning Java & related technologies & doing certifications and nearly 1 year in the field).
Also academically, I do specialize in this field for 6 years.
So a total of 9 years in this field.
The intention of this post is to know the facts & opinions about the percentage of the skilled force or people available in the industry from a Junior software engineer position to the Technical architect.
With my limited knowledge I understand a skilled person is one
1) who has good analytical & problem solving skills.
2) who understands the functional requirements of the system or product completely for which he should have good communication skills & domain knowledge,experience etc.
3) who has good knowledge & experience on the technology.
(like ability to code,innovate, design & understanding the implications of the design etc)
4) good soft skills.
5) one who is prepared to spend all his time on the project,waking up all the nights,sitting 24x7 in his cubicle & become a slave to the company or project manager, bragging about his achievements & communicating with complex jargons.

Also if a person is skilled, he should be able to tell if the solution will work or not and he should complete the work very early right.
But what I've seen in my last 1 year experience is that
1) High level management people(like project managers or team lead) are not confident of their design or the work they assign. They used to frequently change the plan, making it not possible(atleast for me) on the developers.
Even a small change takes atleast 2 days which our PM won't allow, asking us to complete it with in that day at any cost forcing employees to work under stress & grudge.

2)I asked my Project Lead a doubt on how a work he has assigned can be done. His response showed that he wasn't sure of whether that solution will work or not, but he anyhow wants the work to be done. He used to tell complex jargons in team meetings which anybody can hardly understand but which shows him that he's an expert.

3) The developers also don't have much knowledge about the design or they don't bother about it or they don't even know about it.
Whenever I ask my colleagues about what is MVC architecture or why they are layering in architecture, what is the benefit of it they are not able to tell?
The only thing they successfully do is to confuse me or ridicule me

4)These developers whenever I see them they are googling or doing something on the code, discussing with others but working very hard for long hours, but not able to deliver on time. When quipped further, they say some problem is there, which takes quite a time for even Team Lead to rectify.

Is it true?

Failure rate in IT projects are reasonably high & companies are paying the price of missed deadlines, inferior quality that does not scale well, does not meet the SLAs, stability issues requiring constant rework, etc


5)Some of my skilled, hard-working friends even complain that their project leads don't know anything & worse is they don't want to be taught. Humility is missing.

If a geek is skilled & experienced he should complete the work well before on time,right.

In this context, I would like to quote some of our ranchers opinions on why a software techie is paid more

The reason why certain software engineers get paid highly is because software skills in generally not a commodity. Software skills is an art, and the good ones are artists...

Well said Henry. Writing a software is not only an art as Henry said, but also highly complex (lots of moving parts, lots of rules, need to liaise with multi-disciplinary teams, lots of cordination & scheduling efforts, etc). One needs to have good analytical, problem solving skills, and other soft skills to thrive in the industry.

It requires technical and business expertise to devolep software, which are skills aquired through practice and investment of time and are getting paid on demand, Its not an instant or common skill which can be found in every one though they can aquire by proper training.


In this context,I want to know is there any facts or opinion which gives us the percentage of skilled force in the industry?
I do believe that it won't cross 20%.
As one of the principle states "20% of the causes effects 80% of the results"
I do believe that due to these 20 people 80 people are getting salaries,recognition(in society & in workplace),benefits(PF,onsite opportunity) which is not proportional to their skill,experience & talent.
I do want to know whether this 20% is lesser or greater.
As usual your candid,bold & honest opinions are appreciated.
Regards.

Note: The social repercussions of these 80% people are more
1) They used to think that they're from heaven & others are from hell which reflects in their attitude towards people.
These people are no longer respecting their parents, living a care-free life,raised the house rents in Bangalore etc.
2) These sort of people used to identify themselves with the "software engineer" title , & the huge unfair salary they draw with which they distance themselves from their friends, relatives & nation, when the reality is they don't do anything special apart from sitting in front of computer googling, modifying the code which they don't understand & attending the ritual i.e. team meetings
Henry Wong
author
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Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18509
    
  40

Wouldn't it have been easier if you just responded in the original topic, instead of starting a new one, and bringing everyone up to speed, including quoting many people from the original topic?

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Wouldn't it have been easier if you just responded in the original topic, instead of starting a new one, and bringing everyone up to speed, including quoting many people from the original topic?

No,Henry the core of this topic is to discuss about the percentage of skilled force available in the industry, for which quotes from the original topic are posted.
Regards
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
In this context,I want to know is there any facts or opinion which gives us the percentage of skilled force in the industry?
I do believe that it won't cross 20%.
As one of the principle states "20% of the causes effects 80% of the results"
I do believe that due to these 20 people 80 people are getting salaries,recognition(in society & in workplace),benefits(PF,onsite opportunity) which is not proportional to their skill,experience & talent.
I do want to know whether this 20% is lesser or greater.
As usual your candid,bold & honest opinions are appreciated.
Regards.



The 80/20 is a general principle that should be taken as a guide only. For example you need to put your career advancement efforts in 20% of the things that will contribute to 80% results. You need to identify that 20%.
To state another example, 20% of the products and services contribute to 80% of the profit, and so on. They are not exact figures.


Some contribute more than the others. That is fact of life. It does not mean that we can do without the 80% of the work force.


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Abhijit Kumar
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Joined: Sep 28, 2005
Posts: 225
To everything the post says, I have just one thing to say..."Life is unfair.". Even Bill Gates said that, if that adds any weight to my reply.

For a hard working, sincere person it's difficult to see slackers getting same recognition and/or compensation. Get over it...if somebody does not rise above average his/her future is also average.

I have witnessed this around me, and rather than bother about I have concentrated on my work, hard and soft skills. Also stayed away from office politics which proved good for me in long term.

AK
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Well said Abhijit. No point in wasting our energy and time on sonething we have no control over. Look at things where you have control over and can improve.
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Is it true that the percentage of skilled force is very very less even in these downtrodden economic situation?
Also I want other's opinion on how they construe a skilled force?
Regards.
rakesh sugirtharaj
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Joined: Dec 16, 2007
Posts: 151
Wow... That was full of emotions But Ramya, speaking about the topic - Should a average techie be paid more? Well, i sincerely believe that "the reward for my work is the work itself". A good software engineer is an artist of course and i presume artists work for the love of their art. Money does matter and it is unfair, but I m sure people who get paid more than what they deserve definitely carry the burden of guilt. So cheer up


Cheers!
RSR
Abhijit Kumar
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Joined: Sep 28, 2005
Posts: 225
Originally posted by ramya narayanan:
Is it true that the percentage of skilled force is very very less even in these downtrodden economic situation?
Also I want other's opinion on how they construe a skilled force?
Regards.


Skilled are always less than required anytime and anywhere. But there is one thing to consider, if the requirement is just to swat a fly, you don't need a Rifle, just the day old newspaper would do. So the Rifle (in this case Skilled guys) would feel superior to the day old newspaper, but the at the end of the day the newspaper is gettiing the job done too and getting same perks/praise as the Rifle.

So my suggestion and strategy is to look for companies and profiles where Rifles are required. . Also as Arulk said, work on what you could control rather than spend energy on something you can't.

AK
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Is it fair to pay a average software techie more?

Um.... this isn't a complete question. Is it fair to pay the average software developer more than... who?

My simple answer is: everyone should be paid for the value they create.

--Mark
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
I think with some added opinions we can wrap up the topic.
Anyhow thanks for all the opinions of the fellow ranchers.
Regards.
Henry Wong
author
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Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18509
    
  40

I do believe that due to these 20 people 80 people are getting salaries,recognition(in society & in workplace),benefits(PF,onsite opportunity) which is not proportional to their skill,experience & talent.


I don't understand this argument. How is skill, experience, or even talent porportional?


Do you think that someone with twice the experience should be paid twice the salary? Or someone with twice the number of skill sets should be paid twice the salary? ... Well, if you are a code monkey, with one or two years, then maybe yes.

It's supply and demand. And it's about profesional networking. If you have a proven record with a manager, and this manager wants you when he moves onto a new high profile position, do you think that he'll be that concerned with your experience or number of years? A great manager will recognize the "intangibles", and there is no price limit on it.

Henry
[ November 05, 2008: Message edited by: Henry Wong ]
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
everyone should be paid for the value they create.

I completely agree with you mark in this opinion.
But my contention is not that they should not be paid at all, I just want others opinion based on their country,experience,friends & company
1)whether the skilled force is very very less in their country & industry.
2)I do believe no hardworking & sincere person will like to be on par with a slacker. What do you say about this? One of the opinion is
For a hard working, sincere person it's difficult to see slackers getting same recognition and/or compensation. Get over it...if somebody does not rise above average his/her future is also average.

What value do you think that these slackers bring to the team or company?
I assure you that in India, if you do some 3 sun certifications & an oracle certification with some very limited or no experience at all, you can easily earn more than 2 lakhs per annum (INR).
These people does know the basics only, they would done some simple programs on java & would come to the company directly working with people of good experience.
What value can they provide?
Do you think that someone with twice the experience should be paid twice the salary? Or someone with twice the number of skill sets should be paid twice the salary? ... Well, if you are a code monkey, with one or two years, then maybe yes.

Atleast the interview should be testing the person's ability right .
But in interview they are searching for the answers not about the person's ability.
Remember
Answers are about the past , abilities are about the future


I also sincerely believe if a slacker sits in front of the computer, do googling, frequently discussing with his higher people, making to look as if he is coding all the time will certainly get recognition, rewards & climb up the ladder sooner.
I expect entertaining experiences in your company?

A great manager will recognize the "intangibles", and there is no price limit on it.

As an ardent student of the game, I want to know what are the intangibles you mention?

Well, if you are a code monkey, with one or two years, then maybe yes.

Personally, I do have a very high opinion on Henry Wong. I didn't expect him to use this offensive against me. Anyhow I don't mind Henry.

Regards.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18509
    
  40

Personally, I do have a very high opinion on Henry Wong. I didn't expect him to use this offensive against me.


This must be a language issue. I didn't intend to insult -- not even close.

First, I didn't intend to refer to you as anything. The phrase "well, if you are a" actually has an assumption that you are not -- as it is supposed to go to an extreme.

Second, a "code monkey" is the easiest way to describe someone working in a commodity position. You can fire this person, replace him, and the new person will pretty much continue. This person doesn't have any IP, or very little, and the position requires very little thinking (and hence, very little learning). Someone with twice the experience is more valuable, only because this person can type faster.

The term is somewhat derogatory, but that is mostly about the position -- and again, there is no implication that you are. Basically, I used the term because I just assumed that you would understand what I meant -- two words is much easier to type than the whole previous paragraph.


As an ardent student of the game, I want to know what are the intangibles you mention?


Well, if I can describe some of the "intangible" features, then it wouldn't be intangible, would it? ... ... But here's an example...

Many years ago (over 10 years), I recommend one of my friends for a project. He is one that I would say have those "intangibles" skills. The project was on fire -- as the clients were constantly complaining about bugs. The engineering staff was overwhelmed fixing the bugs, and barely had time to test fixes, much less worked on enhancements, and management was clueless on how to fix it.

Within a month, he was able to access the design problems and work out a roadmap to a working solution. He was able to manage all the components to get to this solution. And he was able to negotiate with the clients to "live with" the bugs (and somehow got management to agree), so that engineering can actually work on it. Within three months, it was fixed.

Today, I probably would not be able to recommend my friend to anyone. He has such a good reputation, and many many people constantly wooing him, that I doubt that I could be able to match his price regardless. He is also a dot-com-er who only works because its fun, and not because he has to.

So, what are the intangible features? I have no idea, except he gets results, even when it seems impossible.

Henry
Bobby Sharma
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Joined: Mar 18, 2008
Posts: 574
    
    1

I find lot of things to learn from this thread.

Great conversation between Henry and Ramya.

best regards,
omi


Back to Java , again.
ramya narayanan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Henry,
Many years ago (over 10 years), I recommend one of my friends for a project. He is one that I would say have those "intangibles" skills.


It seems that you have identified some unique skills in him which you understood will fit him in that position.

So, what are the intangible features? I have no idea, except he gets results, even when it seems impossible.


Henry are you sure

with respect to this I have only this to say:

Some people are blessed with skills & talent, whereas some people develop this by knowing what those skills are & working on it.

I appreciate if I know what those skills are?

Regards.

Note: Henry, I thought the misunderstanding was due to cultural difference.
But anyhow the other part of reply was good & looking forward.
rakesh sugirtharaj
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Joined: Dec 16, 2007
Posts: 151
Ah! You guys made up(the differences) so soon? I was expecting a bloody battle..
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Gee when the whole world is working towards peace & harmony among communities, countries & others, how can you expect a respectable citizens to battle?
Also I agree I'm in no match for Henry sir in physique,experience or talent.
Regards.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Ramya,

I'm trying to understand your point but I'm not getting it. As far as I can tell, you're basically saying:

1) There are "slackers" (which I take to mean people you consider unqualified)
2) These unqualified people are getting paid and should not be
3) The reason they get jobs is because interviewers are "searching for the answers not about the person's ability."

Am I following you correctly?

--Mark
ramya narayanan
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Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Dear Mark Herschberg ,
I held you & your opinions in high esteem & I thank the opportunity to give some clarifications.
Note I'm not much experienced or talented, so please tolerate if my language is not up to standards.
1) There are "slackers" (which I take to mean people you consider unqualified)

What I mean by "slackers" is they are qualified academically but who tend to avoid or neglect the work they're assigned which they're covering up by sitting in front of computers for long hours, googling something or discussin g with others.
This can be analogue with a management department in which a guy talks over a phone & roams around the office premises all the time perceived as working very hard & sincere.

2) These unqualified people are getting paid and should not be

I'm not saying they should not be paid. Just to ascertain my thinking
1) These slackers are in all countries & they are also in higher technical or management positions.
2) We should have a system so that we can identify slackers & counsel them to do work suiting their skills.
One of the reason I find people slacking their work is they are given over-work or they don't find any proper people guiding or mentoring them.

Me & mark converge on a point that everyone should be paid to the value they bring to the company.
Assessing a value a person brings is where the problem starts?
3) The reason they get jobs is because interviewers are "searching for the answers not about the person's ability."

Atleast in Indian scenario that's what the situation is.
I don't find interviewers checking the programming ability of the candidate or checking the candidates foundation on the technology for which they're recruited.
Regards.
rakesh sugirtharaj
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Joined: Dec 16, 2007
Posts: 151
googling something or discussin g with others.
Oh my God!! I m a slacker too !
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Atleast in Indian scenario that's what the situation is.
I don't find interviewers checking the programming ability of the candidate or checking the candidates foundation on the technology for which they're recruited.


Is this just a generalization based on your personal experience? Even if they did, those candiadtes will find it tough when the market gets tougher? When the market is good, anyone can jump the band wagon. Can they hold on to it in tough times?

If you really want to progress in your career, you should stop looking at the slackers and being negative about things going around you. Start looking at the winners and see what you can learn from them in terms of both hard skills and soft skills. See what they are doing differently to get ahead. Associate yourself with the winners.

It is not enough to just be a quiet achiever to progress in one's career. You need to learn to market both your technical and soft skills. Employers prefer balanced candidates, not just techies or Java gurus. Here is a an example:

Mr. X is technically brilliant in Java/JEE and most active member of a project team, but he has some concerns:

-- Why do his team mates not prefer to come to him, for solutions and recommendations, and go to less capable team members instead?

-- Does he have the ability to convey the ideas, solutions, and design alternatives to the cross functional teams in simplest possible manner?

-- Will he be able to communicate the detailed design to his clients in an impressive manner, so that the clients are convinced?

-- Has he got leadership skills? Does he speak up in team meetings and make contributions? Is he very quiet in team meetings or come out as a bit of a loose cannon ball?

-- Is he perceived as a contributor or just another techie by his project manager?


-- Can he convey his ideas to the business users without getting too technical?


In early part of my career I learnt to walk the walk, but then realized that it is also important to learn to talk the talk (without coming across as a braggart) .
rakesh sugirtharaj
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Joined: Dec 16, 2007
Posts: 151
Employers prefer balanced candidates, not just techies or Java gurus.
Bingo!
Bobby Sharma
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Joined: Mar 18, 2008
Posts: 574
    
    1

This thread could be a wonderful article.

best regards,
omi
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
As I'm understanding you, you're simply complaining that there are people you think are overpaid for their contributions. Welcome to planet earth. I don't think there is a country or profession where this isn't true (i.e. where there aren't some people who think there are others who oare verpaid).

Do you have a specific solution for how to fix this or are you simply noting your frustration?

--Mark
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18509
    
  40

This topic seems to have split too. I think the orignal complaint was that the 20% top elite seems to be compensated disproportionally from the rest of the 80%. And now, the complaint is about slackers.

These two discussions are not even close. But, oh well, they have been both discussed, regardless.

Henry
ramya narayanan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
Do you have a specific solution for how to fix this or are you simply noting your frustration?


How about having this model of interview?
Innovative Interview
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18509
    
  40

Originally posted by ramya narayanan:

How about having this model of interview?
Innovative Interview



Yes, but how is this solution going to help you? Are you going to not accept any job offers from companies that don't do this, for fear of working with "slackers"? Are you going to quit your job because you are working with "slackers"?

Quite frankly, is there really a solution here? Except for maybe... Worry about stuff that you can control. And don't let stuff that you can't control bother you so much?

Henry
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by ramya narayanan:


How about having this model of interview?
Innovative Interview


First, I don't see anything innovative about it--asking people to code programming problems as part of an interview process is commonly used.

Second, you've given no evidence of how this addresses your concerns.

--Mark
ramya narayanan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 06, 2008
Posts: 338
When this sort of pair programming interview is undertaken & made as a standard for interviews, people would atleast bother about improving their practical knowledge, ability on the technology rather than vomitting what they had read.
Also this will give an idea to the employer about the ability of the guy to work in real situations.

Basically in my experience there are 2 kinds of slackers:
1) slackers who doesn't know how to work & hence don't work
2) Slackers who know to work but don't .
Through out this post I'm talking about the former & solutions on how to find out them earlier in inverview process itself so that company can save time & costs.
I'm not worried about working with latter slackers because they can made to work through a better manager.
Regards.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by ramya narayanan:
When this sort of pair programming interview is undertaken & made as a standard for interviews, people would atleast bother about improving their practical knowledge, ability on the technology rather than vomitting what they had read.
Also this will give an idea to the employer about the ability of the guy to work in real situations.


Again, you make statements with no support.

It's not clear that this will give an employer a better idea of the candidates abilities, nor that candidates will work to improve their practical knowledge.

You seem to be concerned that interviewers are asking "test questions" which the candidate can memorize. Better questions would potentially avoid that.

It's not clear that a pair programming interview covers enough ground to vet the candidate. Some argue that what can be accomplished during a programming interview is tiny at best. All it really demonstrates is personality and a basic understanding of programming ability.

Please provide evidence for your claims.

--Mark
arulk pillai
Author
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Joined: May 31, 2007
Posts: 3219
Through out this post I'm talking about the former & solutions on how to find out them earlier in inverview process itself so that company can save time & costs.
I'm not worried about working with latter slackers because they can made to work through a better manager.



That is why the propbationary period is there. Interviews alone won't help you to weed out the slackers.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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149

Ramya,
One way of solving problems is a tiny bit at a time. Have you tried to improve things within your organization? Have you ever done an interview for your team? Have you talked to those who have? What would you change when you do have that opportunity?

Similarly, have you tried teaching the "slackers" who don't know enough. How about holding a lunch and learn to teach them these valuable skills that will make them better on your team. Even if it is not part of your job description, these things tend to be valued.

From personal experience, I don't have this problem. My teammates receive training and mentoring them to enable them to do their jobs.

Going back to the original post, I don't completely agree with you on what a "skilled" person looks like.

"be able to tell if the solution will work or not and he should complete the work very early right." - Not necessarily. Sometimes things are complex or other priorities come up.

"They used to frequently change the plan" - As do the users.

"Even a small change takes atleast 2 days which our PM won't allow" - Whereas you allow it to be done faster. Which means it either can be done faster or there is some technical debt occurring. Check out my blog entry on this - It's your job to defend the code.

"His response showed that he wasn't sure of whether that solution will work or not, but he anyhow wants the work to be done." - Help your manager communicate better. He means he wants the solution attempted and feedback on what the problems are done/what you suggest.

"Whenever I ask my colleagues about what is MVC architecture or why they are layering in architecture, what is the benefit of it they are not able to tell?" - Surely someone on the project knows what MVC is! If they don't have time to tell you, try to find a mentor within the company who will.

"These developers whenever I see them they are googling or doing something on the code, discussing with others" - All of these sound like work to me.

" but working very hard for long hours, but not able to deliver on time. " - Maybe things changed out from under them. Or maybe the deadlines are not realistic.

My point here is that things are more complicated than they may seem. While you have 9 years of experience in industry, it sounds like you have a year in the workplace. If this is the case, some of these things may make more sense as time goes on. That said, you can still improve some things on your own.


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Sri Anand
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Joined: Mar 06, 2005
Posts: 392
Ramya your arguments doesnt convince me, Mentoring is not step by step instrution no company hires you for learning, someone can suggest you an approach how to attempt a problem if they can sit and give a complete solution they dont need to hire you, Most of the devolepment is driven by client requirements, if you dont take into account your client needs your manager and you will not have a job. Further no where academic learning is considered as experience.
First understand how things work and what it takes to get work done before judging every body else.

Project Managers Mostly are aware of some technogies but they need not involve in desing and most of the times good project managers are not good technical people ( not always).Project Leaders tend to more coordinate the team activities, in some companies they tend to do some management work of project management, and its not always they have worked lot in technology they are Leading.Some Large projects tend to differenciate Project Leaders and Technical Architect

Regarding Onsite, these roles need very good communicators even if not best of technical knowledge (unless the position demands architect even in that case good communicator is needed) even average techie with good communications is prefferred than a very good technical person with average communications.So naturally it gets aligned , when an averge techie with good communications skills is encountered by project manager he would best utilize him in the role that demands. And good techie guy would have to do all the tech work because he is good at it.
And how did you conclude that 80% people are personally like this and that :roll: , do you have any data about this or you concluded this out of a movie you saw.
[ November 17, 2008: Message edited by: Sri Anand ]
 
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subject: Is it fair to pay a average software techie more?
 
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