Three of us were sitting in the cafeteria after a meeting. It hadn’t gone well and we were a bit down. I asked the two younger fellows about their families, and they began to smile a bit. Then talk turned to ourselves. Someone watching would have assumed three senior IT staff might be brainstorming a problem or new project.
Denis was a medical student who came from Eastern Europe and washed dishes for two months. He became a server at the restaurant and for two years he waited tables. Somebody invited him to apply for an IT job and he worked his way up to a senior position as a storage administrator.
Naeem came from the Middle East as a child, and his family lived six to a tiny two bedroom apartment. He worked and put himself through college and got a master’s degree and multiple network certifications.
I thought back to my start as a small town boy who came to the city working for $2.50 per hour as tape librarian at a Cleveland IT shop, now a UNIX Administrator. How similar our stories and journeys, and how disparate our origins.
Nobody gets promoted for keeping things the same.
That thought came to mind as my oldest and I spoke about her first hire as a manager. I said define his role, give him a chance to make a difference, to run through the process and improve it. Then clear the path to improve the process, and praise him up the chain when he earns it.
Then it hit me. How often we settle for keeping things the same.