Too much can be indistinguishable from arrogance, too little and you are pegged as needing hand-holding. A good engineer needs to find a balance that matches the needs of the company–or more important, the supervisor–while keeping within his ability.

I’ve seen both extremes fail miserably and in most cases they never understood what they were doing wrong. The know-it-all seems to know everything except his job and the fact that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He certainly doesn’t know that he’s alienating those more seasoned engineers around him who really do know what they’re doing.

The engineer lacking initiative comes off as needing constant supervision and pushing to get anything done. And he does need those things. So the burden is put on the supervisor or the senior engineer to get any solid product out of the timid engineer.

Though much of both sorts comes from personality, both can improve and move to some middle ground where there is enough initiative to get stuff done but not so much that they go off half-cocked. Unfortunately both entail close supervision with appropriate corrections. The real trick is to couch those corrections in a way that encourages rather than initiates their defenses.

So… If anybody knows how to pull off this trick, drop us a comment. Cuz I don’t seem to be having much luck.


Team Training

Three days of team training and I still haven’t seen anything new. So do they inflict this BS on us just to check off that box? or do they just not know that they are just rehashing old concepts?

I don’t know, but it can be insufferable for the engineer to sit in such a class and deal with the “softer” side of his job. How to deal with this? I’m not sure, but he’s what I do:

Be a skeptic, even a cynic sometimes, but as Wil Wheaton says, don’t be a dick about it. Be that voice of reason in the muck of corporate fadness, but always also provide alternatives, solutions, and constructive criticism. This way you can participate in a way that gets your message across but doesn’t mark you as a malcontent or a dick.

At least that is the theory. I’ll let you know if it works this time.