No matter where I have worked I always believed, and still do, that I have a strong and sensible work ethic. I expect to have to work hard in order to learn new things and grow in my role. Sometimes working hard means traveling a lot, sometimes it involves working long hours or weekends without being paid extra for it. Quite often I have asked myself whether it is all worth it, generally speaking it always was.
I enjoy learning new things, new techniques or technologies. Learning means you need to invest in it, do something actively, like making an extra effort on top of your regular day-to-day life.
In return for making an extra effort, I generally get appreciation from my colleagues and customers and gain new insights and knowledge. On top of getting appreciation, I also get credits for wanting to go the extra mile, which results in goodwill from both customers and colleagues and strengthens my reputation as a professional.
Of course I too complain about things. Obviously there are things I would like to see done differently in my work. However I try to take the active approach to introduce the improvements and make life easier for all those involved.
I truly believe that in a professional working environment it is not a lot to ask people who complain – and rightly so – about things they consider wrong or up for improvement to be constructive and try to change these things, look for solutions rather than keep whining. Quite often however, when you ask the complaining people what are they planning to do to make things change, silence is the answer.
I understand that not everyone has the same drive for his work, some people rolled into a profession by accident and are not motivated to grow their, work related, knowledge and just work to make a living. They, hopefully, have something else that gives meaning to what they do and which motivates and inspires them everyday. Personally, I enjoy my job. I like testing, I like finding solutions and moving software testing to the next level, I enjoy solving testing problems and get satisfaction from deep diving into software testing theories and challenges. I also really enjoy spending time with my family and friends, but that does not make them mutually exclusive in my view. Just as I invest in friendships and my relationship with my wife and family, I invest in my relationship with my employer and my customer.
In my professional life I try to address things I do not like or think could be better (at least in my opinion). This is why it still surprises me that quite often I run into people who are not happy with a lot of things, but when you ask them what do they propose to do about it you get no answer.
Example: as a consultant I do not have a lot of direct contact with my employer, ergo, communications between my employer and myself (and my colleagues) is not always as supple and swift as one (and the company) would like. Since I am generally at a customer site I have to read emails from my work in the evenings and weekend. We use quite some online, or cloud-based, tools to make sure we stay in touch, such as Dropbox and LinkedIn. So on my personal smartphone I make sure I have the LinkedIn app up and running so I can keep in touch with what is happening “back in the office”, even during weekends or when at a customer site where I have no access to anything but the systems we’re working on and with (bank-like institutions usually lock off their network so you also cannot get to the outside, and rightfully so).
To make all of this even easier we now have received a smartphone. Not exactly the one I would have preferred, but hey, who am I to complain about an iPhone? I had to configure the mail on it, install a few apps on it, but I now have a fully mobile miniature office with me. My employer pays for the bandwidth I use on the phone so no added costs to me, just added ways to communicate with the “home front” be it my employer, my colleagues, my assignment or my family and friends.
You’d think wonderful inventions like this make life easier for those who do not regularly read their company email or never participate in a discussion on LinkedIn. However instead it raises even more questions and reservations, such as “am I required to configure email on the phone?”, “why wasn’t this done for me already?”, “do you now expect me to read my email in the evenings?”.
Am I crazy to enjoy my work and wanting to go that extra step, if reading your email indeed should be considered an extra step? I think I am the normal one and those moaning and complaining are the crazies, but once you start noticing that a majority of the people around you are crazy, it makes you reconsider. At least it did for me.
I started to wonder whether it is normal that I feel connected to my work and to my employer, that I like responding to questions, statements or comments posted on forums, that I do read my email at the most improbable times, that I do not mind driving 400 km’s to go to my colleagues on the other side of the country to talk to them about software testing and things that keep my mind occupied.
I still believe I am the normal one, just a normal person part of a minority with strong work ethics.