Mediocrity As Career Strategy

“What should I do to not grow beyond a manager grade until I am 45?”

The polite silence of the men’s rest room was disturbed by the question that followed the greeting the other day.

It was a colleague in the late 20s asking me. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I looked at the person and asked him to clarify and he said, “I am 29 now and a senior QA. To become a manager takes 3 hops. From SQA to Lead to Associate Manager to Manager. If I spend 5 years at each stage would I not become 45 by they time I get to Manager?” Now this was as clear as day light. The guy was messed up!

His reasoning was that the cause for most work pressures, according to him, was due to ambition and the desire to move ahead in ones career. And to avoid all that he wished to choose a sedentary pace of life. To not do anything that would make his supervisors give him more responsibility, and god forbid, promote him!

It is in moments like these that one knows God has a sense of humor!

On one side it seemed to uphold a stoic perception about sufficiency, a certain aloofness in participating in the proceedings of the world.

The stance seemed to ring with a very Sannyasi like sensibility- the kind that sat bare, cross-legged and chasing a nameless abstraction beyond the senses. Which by the way is a perfectly valid attitude if ones goal is to chase the nameless abstraction.

But within the material world? To live as a parasite for the subsistence of ones own being and not contribute to adding more value than what one has consumed is to be ignorant of ones role in this world.

To live a little, love a little, earn a little, to breed, to groom the brood and while away a spot of eternity with barely anything to show has been the common way, especially in this nation of ours.

This cobweb of mediocrity has to go. In a weakening economy, these deadwood only serve to slow down the organizations ability to chase and outrun the competition.

Generally it is not fashionable in captive and outsourced IT shops to innovate and execute beyond the brief set by the masters onsite. However the current economic climate might provide just the incentive required to leverage intellectual capability wherever it is domiciled. Even if it speaks with a funny accent. Even when changes would have to be made to how everything has functioned until now.

Perhaps the gust of economic downturn will blow these impediments away.

This strategy is not uncommon. I came across another acquaintance who remarked, when discussing the economic conditions locally, that it would be better to be employed in a public sector organization where no layoffs ever happen! I feel sort of lonely here 🙁

What do you think? How would you respond to a person who wishes to be a baggage of sorts without lifting more than they are required to.

[Update: I read this couple of days back, after writing this post. Survival is definitely not a strategy!]

Comments

  1. “However the current economic climate might provide just the incentive required to leverage intellectual capability wherever it is domiciled. Even if it speaks with a funny accent.” Amen! am off on a tangent here, but who knew wikis and microblogs could save Detroit? Check this out.. http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/…..

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