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Why Developers Get Fired 535

jammag writes "Other coders get canned — but never you, right? From a developer who's now a manager (and who admits to being fired himself) comes the inside story on how the Big Ax might sneak up on you. To prevent it, he recommends some strategic bragging, keeping a CYA (Cover Your ...) folder to document your efforts, and making sure that your talent isn't frittered away so much that even your most mediocre colleagues look good. "
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Why Developers Get Fired

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  • Doesn't help. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @01:58PM (#29483777)

    I wasn't fired because I didn't toot my horn. I got fired because I knew the system too well -- and when upper management was told about this, specifically about a distinct lack of guidance in their security policies and documentation, they canned me. The reason developers get fired is either for the same reason most people get fired -- namely that they piss off the wrong person and they find someone in power to make their dream come true (and someone else's nightmare to begin), -OR- they learn too much about the system and not enough about politics and get caught by surprise when they try to implement a change that is a political hotbed. My last job: In-house developer doing network/system administration, deployment, and integration tasks.

    Very often, developing stuff (especially in-house) has conflicting political goals, which are distinct from the design goals. Each team wants a certain piece of the pie and wants assurances they are "indespensible". Well, the problem is that in every project people need to work together and so there is always some overlap or need for integration -- which is fought tooth and nail because once things are integrated and made redundant (as business should be) -- people stop being "indepensible". So those that are slightly more politically aware find ways to strategically delay the project or insert superfluous technical considerations. And should a really good developer see this and figure out a way to convince others (by the strength of his/her design argument) -- this person will very quickly find a surprise pink slip for some random reason.

    Keeping your job as a developer is as dependent on your ability to design well as it is on your ability to know when to duck.

  • Keep a diary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#29483843) Homepage Journal

    Pro tip: maintain a list of everything you do: bugs you've closed, features you've added, projects you've planned, servers you've upgraded, or whatever else you've worked on. The next time your boss asks if you've been busy, you'll be glad to have a precise and detailed answer.

  • by wangmaster ( 760932 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @02:08PM (#29483849)

    I've been a software engineer at the company I'm at for about 7 years now. Was in technical support before that (enterprise level development support).

    Here's my solution to not being fired. Make yourself damn good at solving the difficult customer problems no one else can solve. Do it so that customers and executives at your own company request you by name (executives at a customer knowing you by name can help here too). Yes, it makes life somewhat miserable when those ugly ass escalations come in, but you know what, when customers and company exeuctives ask for you by name because you did a great job solving problem xyz 3 months ago and saved a multi-million dollar deal, middle management will think twice about being the one to tell company executives, uhh, that person was fired last month.

    Screw making deadlines, I miss deadlines all the time and haven't been fired yet. Why? Because instead of working toward my deadlines I'm saving multi-million dollar deals that could get lost because of other people's incompetence :). It's a great way for job security, and I love troubleshooting, even if the escalations are a pain in the ass.

  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @02:44PM (#29484075)

    Honestly, in the end, if your company needs to fire people for any reason, sooner or later, nothing you can do will prevent it 100%.

    The company I work for now had cuts during the recession. A member of our team, a "star" developer (actually, probably easily among the top developers in the world). Quite well known, could do the job of 10, amazing management capabilities, deep insights in the business, etc. Not a small company either, douzens of thousands of developers.

    He had abilities no one else had, and without him things would have gone sour, because there was no one in the -world- good enough to replace him. But management saw fit to get rid of him anyway, since obviously he was rather expensive (cost effective though, but they only looked at the absolute numbers).

    After he left, it took an -army- to replace him, and even then, outages occured, some data was lost, and to this day, still, he hadn't truly been "replaced" and things aren't going so well. Now obviously thats a problem with the company to depend so much on someone, and thats a big bad thing, but point is: he was irreplaceable, everyone loved him, clients knew him by name (well, technically, a big chunk of the world does), and poof he went anyway.

  • by dfetter ( 2035 ) <david@fetter.org> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @02:51PM (#29484141) Homepage Journal

    After reading this article, it sure puts things into perspective about how I was raised. It seems that Eric Spiegel and I have very different perspectives and work ethic. If you do a good job, you will be rewarded.

    You clearly need to get out in the world a little more. What happens when, not if, your boss doesn't see things quite your way? What happens when your hard work feels threatening to your co-workers, who may not work quite so hard, and leads them to do all kinds of stuff to undermine you. You're not working in splendid isolation with some fairy-tale objective criteria, assessed by equally mythical perfectly fair assessors, for success. You're in reality land, and while working hard is one thing to do--sometimes it's not even a good thing--it's far from the only one.

    One example of "working hard" that's not good to do is when you, through your diligence, pile more technical debt onto a project that's already got unsustainably much of it. Another is working hard to accomplish something that's illegal and/or unethical.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @03:02PM (#29484189) Homepage

    What you said is dead on, but the point you didn't explicitly make, but probably intended to, is that what you are doing there is valuable. It's not just fluff. Your management needs and wants that kind of communication, and when you provide it for them, they love it. When they have to suck it out of you, they hate it. When they never feel like they have a clear picture of what's going on, it's a source of stress for them, and when you communicate well, it lowers their stress levels.

    Why don't they just trust you? Because they've had people working for them before who communicated poorly on purpose, because they *weren't getting anything done*. And they've had good people working for them who kept quiet about what they were doing because they didn't like the plan, and wanted to go in a different direction and present it as a fait accompli. And, so often, that sort of thing doesn't work out. So if you also communicate poorly, they're going to tend to assume your situation is the same. It doesn't matter how many poor communicators they've had working for them who actually got stuff done. They remember the times they've been burned, not the times they haven't.

  • by theGhostPony ( 1631407 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @03:11PM (#29484259)
    Part of my job involved finding coding mistakes made by our overseas contractors. To put it simply, they were sloppy and didn't seem to care. When I left, the quality issue hadn't been resolved...
    and they were the ones who wound up getting my job!

    The essential implication seems to be that your longevity in employment has absolutely nothing to do with your actual work.

  • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @03:25PM (#29484359)

    Nah it just sounds like the advice of someone who sucks at what they do: and by sucks, I mean not constantly working to improve. I've seen this: people don't realize they suck and don't realize that others don't, [wikipedia.org] and therefore assume the only way to get ahead is by politics and dirty tricks... even when it's not. Of course, I'm sure sometimes it is, but if so, it's time to find someplace else to work. Managers firing their resources (especially valuable ones) is more detrimental to them than to their former employees, so they need to learn how to do their job, too. There was a decent article [computerworld.com] the other day on managing geeks that may be a close miss in some cases, but ties into all of this and "why we do what we do."

    In any case, no, it's not that bad. It may be that bad some places---I haven't seen it---but there are definitely other places. It sounds more like bad stereotyping for a slow weekend story to generate some hits and sound profound. Maybe the author is serious, or maybe he just couldn't come up with better material.

  • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:23PM (#29484735) Homepage

    Selection bias. First, no one here is posting saying "I have an extremely fair employer who works closely with me in a very just way to ensure that I do my job well, and in turn I work very hard to please my employer so that my employment is safe and full of opportunity." The people responding here are ones with stories to share about how they got fired, and people who are fired rarely blame themselves or consider it to be justified.

    Second, geeks in general seem prey to misconceptions about how the world should operate in ways that are very logical and rational and (invariably) beneficial to them. Their collisions with real life tend to lead to anecdotes posted on ./ about how much they suffer at the hands of a cruel, cruel world.

    (c.f., any thread mentioning Hans Reiser)

  • by ToasterOven ( 698529 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:25PM (#29484759)
    Oh, so so true. It's really sad to listen to managers say "who is Bob, and why are his percentages so low?" And you answer something like "his calls are much longer because he handles [x] queue" or "he's a bilingual agent, so he gets more calls than other agents" and then they lay him off because he isn't performing.

    Yup, I've been there, done that :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:34PM (#29484835)

    I too was the "star" of my team, and probably the last person that most people in my former company thought would be let go. However, my company was hit especially hard by the recent economic downturn, and as a result, I believe that I was seen as more a luxury by upper management rather than a necessity. So with that, I was laid off.

    It's been about 5 months now, and looking back I've often reflected on whether or not there was anything I could have done to change how events unfolded, and yes, there are a couple of things that I could have acted on, but it's tough to be a backstabber and that's pretty much what I would have had to resort to.

    Since then, I've also realized a few other things:

    (1) Staying in one company and being the "star" there can quickly cause a person (me) to over-estimate their worth.

    (2) In my case, working for a single employer was causing me to be lazy with regards to networking and getting myself "out there" and as a result, 5 years worth of incredibly hard work for my one company was really pretty worthless when it came to social currency to land myself my next position.

    (3) I am more thankful than ever that my parents instilled in me the art of saving my money. It turned what could have been an incredibly stressful and damaging situation into merely a nuisance and bump in the road. Nothing can quite provide comfort like having a nice pile stashed away for rainy days like getting laid off.

    Happily, since then I've contracted for a few companies, and also done some freelancing, both of which have allowed me to really expand my networking efforts, as well as learn a lot of new technologies/methods/etc.. It's really gratifying to know that I have a lot more control over my own success and career, and whether I work 40 or 80 hours per week, my pay won't always stay the same (for better or worse).

    Will I ever work for someone else again full-time as a W2? I'm not sure, right now I'm enjoying being more of a free agent and the new experiences it has provided. I'd really like to start my own company, as I think that would really be a lot of fun and a great challenge. So we'll see.

  • by mrlibertarian ( 1150979 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:38PM (#29484847)
    The essential implication seems to be that your longevity in employment has absolutely nothing to do with your actual work.

    Depends on who you're working for. My boss respects me, appreciates the work I do, gives me a lot of freedom, and insulates me and the rest of his team from the politics. And we, in turn, make him look good (at least, that's what he tells us).

    My advice is, if you have a bad boss who doesn't appreciate you, then start looking for a new job. Not only will you improve your own life when you find that new job, but when you leave, your ex-employer may start to realize that your ex-boss is driving the good employees away.

    Also, try to save up a big pile of cash, because it makes every day less stressful. It's easier to say to your bad boss that you're not working the weekend, because you know that even in the worst case scenario (i.e. you lose your job), you can still live comfortably by falling back on your savings. The co-workers I know who complain very emotionally about bad bosses are usually the same ones living paycheck to paycheck. If you have the money to fall back on, then it's much easier to just forget about the politics and what your boss thinks of you. Just think of a bad boss as a stepping stone you're using to further your career. In the long-term, he has zero power over you.

    In summary, there are good bosses and bad bosses out there. It's up to us (the employees) to act as a fitness function. In other words, we must leave the bad bosses and join the good bosses, so that businesses are forced to evolve into better places to work.
  • by paulsnx2 ( 453081 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:42PM (#29484879)

    I got laid off once when the old boss died, and the new boss thought I was too tight with the old "administration". After I was gone, the lay offs were done. Go figure.

    Later I got fired from Microsoft. Microsoft's corporate culture is about a grading curve. No matter how good your team is, no matter how successful they are, some get "A"s, some "C"s, some "D"s, and some Fail. You get an "A" and (at the time) you could be rich beyond your dreams. You fail, and you are asked to leave.

    This makes life at work brutal, because helping others be productive doesn't get you a great grade unless you can clearly claim credit. Furthermore, making use of someone else's advances in an obvious way is going to count for them, so you don't do it. Bottom line, it makes a very productive environment cause deadwood gets tossed. But if you survive a few years, you do so because you can develop an "in" with those that grade you, and you increasingly get grades partly (but almost never solely) because of who likes you.

    The bottom line is that your first year is absolutely critical. You are almost never going to get an "A" cause you don't have the "In"s for that. But you can't fall down in visibility or you are toast.

    Now it happened that my Dad died the first year I was working there. It was a long and drawn out process with cancer. I took several trips during the year to be with him when things got bad. And for the funeral. And I found it tough to talk to people. Then I had a meeting with my group leader, a guy who laughed nearly constantly but paradoxically had no sense of humor what so ever. We met in a conference room outside the doors of the building, and I was told to simply leave. My stuff would be sent to me.

    After being tossed out the door, the project lead told me, "My dad died, and it didn't hurt my productivity."

    The bottom line is that I MIGHT have avoided this had I spent more time talking up and down the chain of command about what I was going through. I could have taken leave until I had my head back together. The environment made it tough to get any support from people around me at work, but I might have worked harder at that. But it is also possible that some situations just are not going to be within your ability to manage.

  • Re:results (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:52PM (#29484939)

    If your boss likes you, he will set easy goals. If he doesn't like you, he will set unrealistic goals

    A former co-worker complained to me that management had it in for him, and that they were setting unrealistic goals for a project he was working on. When he was fired, I inherited that particular project.

    This former co-worker was a third-level developer (meaning: his past work experience made his salary bigger than mine). I'm an entry-level developer. He spent around six months on the project, and in the end had very little to show for it. I spent just over a month on it, and duplicated most of his work but on a larger scale (he had done it The Wrong Way, of course).

    Everyone involved is surprised at the rate I'm getting results. But really, the project just isn't that difficult; my former co-worker just had very little idea how to do it, and apparently reading any of the dozens of books written on the subject was not among his list of things to do. (That's all I did - I read a book on the subject, then started implementing things based on the guidelines given in the book.)

    In other words, the goals set by management were only unrealistic to him because he wasn't good enough at his job to meet them. (He was fired for a reason, after all.)

  • Re:Keep a diary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @04:59PM (#29485001)
    And the corollary: Prove you've been busy, but not efficiently busy. I got laid off in 2001 from a software dev position. My co-workers on the same project escaped the ax. Why? Because I made the mistake of finishing my work (and finishing it well) before my co-workers. When it came time to tighten the belt, I was on the bench waiting for my next assignment...they were still languishing at wrapping up what they didn't finish. Guess who got RIF'd?
  • Counter-tactics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @05:00PM (#29485007)

    Unfortunately, the document neglects to mention bad management counter-tactics. I just watched an engineer get guided away from everything productive he did into a "primary focus" of a project to re-write the manager's old project, saw the manager completely ruin the work because it wasn't written exactly the way the manager had done it (which was dangerous stuff, and the point of the project), and block the engineer from closing any other work orders until the primary project was done. The result was that it _killed_ the engineer's productivity on all those little pie charts and project ticket reports, and got him "encouraged to resign". And it kept around that old piece of dirty garbage code, which only that manager knows how to maintain.

    I'd love to go directly after the manager for this, but it's hard. The manager knows how to play the paperwork game and the blame game and I'm not even from his company. It won't help the engineer much: I've written him recommendations and am trying to guide him to better work, but the field is still not hiring much.

  • Re:Show UI stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sammyF70 ( 1154563 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @05:20PM (#29485135) Homepage Journal

    Again no modpoints when I need them. You're absolutely right.

    In the same vein, I remember something from a previous workplace. I wrote a very nifty piece of software, technically some of the best stuff I ever did for that company, asked my boss to come around so that he could take a look. His only remark, after I was "I like the look of it, but could you make the green a shade more yellowish? then it would be really great". I was quite pissed off for the rest of the day somehow

    Non-IT people generally really don't care about how code works (or even if it work at all), what matters is that they have something shiny to look at.

  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @05:33PM (#29485213) Homepage Journal

    The developer who has all the talent in the world, but lacks either motivation or drive to perform up to expectations. As a manager, I expect to be able to motivate team members with money, career advancement, cool projects or even intangibles such as increased work schedule flexibility.

    LOL. This is a classical B.S. Yes, often direct (line) managers wants to motivate developers. But it still has to be approved by higher management. And this is where it goes terribly wrong.

    It either takes ages to see results or something unasked and unwanted gets done. Or worse: it gets done, but then used to motivate somebody else.

    But sometimes, the rewards just donâ(TM)t motivate.
    The result is a developer who isnâ(TM)t accountable. They consistently are late to work and meetings. They donâ(TM)t adhere to standards. Theyâ(TM)re simply complacent.

    Yep. That's me. E.g. i was dragged into three weeks of meeting about architectural problem I discovered - and I had to open every one of them by asking what the meeting is about and tens time repeating them that I have solved the problem week(s) ago. But the wheels just can't stop... They finally found something worth discussing and simply can't pass on the chance.

    Remind me again how that supposed to motivate me?

    Or performance reviews. They keep asking what I might be interesting working in future. And the whole list of things I'm interested in gets consistently shot down with "we do not do that" or "C*O will not approve." Also very motivating. Even trivial things gets shot down - because most managers are afraid to do anything on their own and have to get a nod from above for every minor thing. And obviously all the trivial things are too small to be discussed with higher management.

    The problem is when the developer gets too lazy or too cocky and starts pushing their deliverables to the last minute, causing delays.

    Oh come on!!! Are you playing idiot here??

    Tried and true solution: move deadline few days/weeks back. Or if you are more advanced, learn to manage projects better and teach people to work on "mini" dead-lines by splitting one huge deliverable into smaller project phases.

    Or they just aren't around when other developers need to talk to them. Eventually the ax will come down on them as well â" the manager must look out for what is best for the team and long term success of the organization.

    You really being too long in management. And probably got used to your position "above the mere mortals."

    If you want to become good manager, start learning how life goes. E.g. take psychology classes. Because developers are people too - they can't live in office vacuum forever. They need more *new* information. They need more diversity. Especially talented developers, as their brains burn them from inside, need even greater amount of information and diversity just to keep their brain from eating them from inside. Yet traditionally managers, to accommodate mediocre ones, filter information. Because mediocre ones get confused with too much information. But talented ones need the info to be "in touch" with work and results of the work.

    Another advise I was giving some managers is to make internal mini projects to simply keep creative and talented developers busy. That was derived from my personal experience working with extremely talented manager.

    In other words, there are tons of ways to lead people or at least to make them think you are leading them. For few exceptional people you might want to follow them or make them feel that you follow them. But few managers even consider getting acquainted with their subordinates. They'd rather wait people start going crazy.

  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @09:46PM (#29486581) Journal

    India is way too expensive. How you can possibly compete by making software in India? You should really consider moving development to east Asia.

    It's interesting to read in the Indian English-speaking newspapers how people are bemoaning the problem of "their" industry being outsourced to cheaper countries (China and Malaysia, for example). The quality won't be as good, they say, and the communications pathways are too long.

    Hands up, those of you who think this sounds ironically familiar.

  • Re:Bragging (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:08PM (#29486711)

    Another scenario:

    You: "Oh hey, I finished $module for $client. Did you want me to do anything else on that project?"
    Manager: "That's great. Did you see the Bills' game last night. Ah, that call in the third quarter was sh*t. What an *sshole that ref was."
    You: "Uhh. No, I was doing a raid with my clan in WoW. I got some good drops."
    Manager: "Yeah, whatever. I'm having a party at my place Sunday to watch the game. Wanna come? I've ordered a keg of Coors and we're going to get totally f*cked up! Ha ha ha."
    You: "I'm ushering at church on Sunday, but thanks for the invite."

    When review times come, Manager, remembers you as "not a team player" and you slip down the totem pole.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:01PM (#29487099)

    I work in a place like this. Everyone gets ranked - someone has to be on top and someone has to be on the bottom. In an organization of reasonably competent people, higher ranking hinges on who knows you - especially other managers in the umbrella departments. Being helpful to your peers only helps as much as it raises your visibility to management - and you better make sure that management knows you're providing help.

    While there is a bitter, cynical side of this coin - it's all politics. The other side is that communication matters. If no one (in management) knows what you've done, you haven't done it. So make sure you are "bragging" and making those above you and diagonal from you know about the good work you've done. It does help to do actual good work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:50PM (#29487493)

    "Your Job" Is largely to make sure your manager succeeds in his job. Period. Never forget this, seriously.

    10 years ago my older brother was a manager. One of his talking points was the inverted pyramid perspective of an engineering organization, and how it was management's #1 job to support the engineers above them. This is the exact opposite of what you said, though perhaps both may be true. My brother is now a VP-Engineering at Google. Though of course I can't speak for what his current opinion of that historic perspective is. Though clearly believing it / touting it then seems to have worked out for him.

  • by iammani ( 1392285 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @11:51PM (#29487501)
    For the first 9 months, no. But from then on its possible, just impregnate 1 woman a month. And wait for 9 months time(which may or may not be acceptable depending on the case) and 9 women would have a baby in a month. All you have to do is forget the first nine months, and hope that you will survive the first 9 months without loosing too much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:50AM (#29487867)

    man, that really sucks. No one's mentioned this that I've seen, but if MS had an employees' union, shit like this could not happen. No indiscriminate firing based on the whimsy of managers, but rather a clear process for warning people, giving them a chance to improve, etc.

    Unions make the whole layoff situation much better too -- there's clear system (last in, first out, eg) that makes it easy to anticipate when your number is up.

  • by hab136 ( 30884 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:02AM (#29488581) Journal

    Furthermore, making use of someone else's advances in an obvious way is going to count for them, so you don't do it.

    Wow, this would go a long way to explaining why different products from Microsoft refuse to reuse technology from other parts (sometimes even within the same product).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @04:29AM (#29488651)

    And this PC bollocks is why its a nightmare running any kind of small software shop here in NZ. Make one bad hire and you're considered to be responsible for that individual until they die - or decide to leave you of their own accord.

    The government recently changed the law to allow a three month trial period (OMG! RADICAL!!) but even then, only when both parties opt in. And no, you cannot have a four month or more trial, even if both parties agree.

    Thinking of avoiding it by using contractors? For get that too - if you hire someone on a short term contract, and they can make a case that really its a longer term job (like the project doesn't get finished) - then they can make a string case that really, they're not a contractor - they're an employee!

    This BS is why you see a lot of faux redundancies in NZ, and why you'll seldom hear anyone get realistic information about where they're doing badly - because by giving that, the employer might be perceived to be starting down the "performance management" road, thus cutting off their option to make the person redundant later.

    Yeah I have huge sympathy for anyone who gets axed. But if you're trying to run a company, just imagine how hard it is to prove "poor performance" or the like in court when the law is designed to help people working in shearing sheds and dairy factories. If you're the employer - you're going down.

  • by mrbester ( 200927 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:40AM (#29488911) Homepage

    After being tossed out the door, the project lead told me, "My dad died, and it didn't hurt my productivity."

    And I hope you came back with something similar to "Unlike you, you cunt, I loved my dad." After all, what are they going to do? Fire you?

  • Re:Bragging (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @02:01PM (#29494023)

    It SEEMS like that because people have no perspective when it comes to their work in this country. The reality is that most people can take a week or more with exactly zero impact on the company, but they don't want to believe that so they convince themselves and everyone around them that they're so critical to the core business that if they're out of touch with HQ for more than 10 minutes it will be a financial Armageddon.

    Same reason I have to come to work every day, really. There's exactly no reason I need to actually be in the building to do my job. I have a cell phone, a VPN connection, and a laptop. All my documents are electronic (except when people insist on printing out electronic documents and then shoving them under my door...). There's really almost never a reason for me to ever be physically present in the same location as my co-workers, but somebody, somewhere managed to convince the world that if you're not actually in the building you can't possibly be working, as if my end users will somehow not notice if I'm not doing my work from home, but will notice if I'm not doing it while I'm here.

    As far as working long days, I work about what you do, on average. I make myself available in "emergencies" or when larger projects need to be implemented outside office hours to prevent impacting the end users, but, by and large, I have no qualms telling people that I'm going home at the end of the day and I'm not going to look at their problem until tomorrow unless they can give me a good reason why it needs to be done right now.

    Same with projects and sick time. I have no problem telling people that their projects aren't going to get done in time if I'm sick. I turn my phone off when I go on vacation and only check it periodically. If whatever's on it isn't really an emergency, I ignore it altogether (haven't had a real emergency yet).

    Obviously, some people work in environments where timing is more critical, but, for the most part, American workers seem to enjoy beating themselves up to get a job done that never needed to get started. I'd have to be in pretty dire straits to choose to work in an environment where that sort of self-flaggelation is expected as a matter of course. Unfortunately, most of my countrymen don't seem to have any self-interest, or maybe they view ridiculous deadlines and artificial emergencies as some sort of "challenge". I don't have a problem working extra for real issues that require it, but I'm not going to stay an extra three or four hours after work just because somebody doesn't want to have to wait until tomorrow to do something that doesn't need done right now.

    I don't know. I think most of them are nuts.

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