Under the radar …

So, I’ve written about it at least some fair bit before, but much(/most?) of the time, I just don’t want the attention, and consequently I often very much try to and do “fly under the radar”. Typical context is work. Technically, I’m quite to highly competent at what I do. Do my peers know it? They tend to figure it out over time, and rather well, but it’s not like I “advertise” it per se – nor even anything close to that. If anything, much of the time I’ll deemphasize my skills and contributions, etc. E.g. not too unusually for a coworker to totally mess something up, I rescue their behind, and … I don’t take credit for it. Sometimes they may give me credit, often not, whatever, I generally do not want any “big deal” made of it in any case. So, in most all the groups I’ve ever been in, I typically become the “go to” person for many of the more challenging technical matters. But, … “fly under the radar”. Though my work tends to be of consistent high quality, when it comes to managers/bosses/supervisors and the like, how aware of that they are/aren’t, what kind of reviews they give me, etc., it tends to be kind’a all over the map. Doing reviews and such showing me anywhere from somewhat below “average”, to quite excellent … even doing same work, same position and group for years, swap around some manager(s), and my performance review will bounce all over the place in how well it rates my work … without me at all changing how I work or the quality thereof. Whatever, I’m kind’a / rather used to it, and doesn’t particularly bother me. I figure the better managers and such will more-or-less manage to figure out that and how I contribute, and how well, etc. … after all, it’s really their job to know how well I do (or don’t) contribute to the work/team/company whatever, and it’s my job to work, and work well. Not my job to demonstrate or prove to them that I’m doing and contributing what I am. After all, I’m mostly hired for my technical skills, not for my sales/marketing skills (what sales/marketing skills – yeah, pretty close to zilch). So, yeah, I don’t do much (like pretty close to zero) of sales/marketing/promotion – and that also does mostly quite also apply to myself. I remember even back to the days of like Jr. High or so, when they’d do various “career assessment” types of tests. And they’d look at my results for careers in persuasion, e.g. sales, and the counselors / career counselors and the like would look over my results on that part of the test results, and it’s like their faces would drop and their reactions would be like, “Uh, yeah, we’re not goin’ there – we’ll just pass that one right on by.” And, yeah, among other things probably goes right along with being rather highly introverted (yes, also wrote about that, see also earlier test results on that etc.). Don’t recall specific numbers, but often on introvert rating scales, I often test out at about 9 out of 10 or 19 out of 20 towards the quite/highly(/”extreme”) introverted end of the scale. Whatever, is how it is.

So, … “under the radar” … too well? Sometimes I quite wonder if I do that too well, or at least at times. E.g. happens – though somewhat rarely, that, e.g. I’ll get laid off. But more noteworthy, manager has no clue how and how much I contributed to the work and team. It’s like peers hear I got laid off, their jaws drop and they’re like, “You laid off him? You’ve got to be kidding?”, and the manager will have about zero clue what I did for the team. I remember some years back talking with one manager after I’d been laid off, and I was amazed at how extremely little they knew of what I did … really they knew just about nothing at all of what I did or my value to the team. I mean really – pretty darn incompetent of that particular manager … if they’d managed to ask around other peers on the team the would’ve had at least some reasonable clue or better, but seems in that particular case they just didn’t do that at all (or didn’t remember, or whatever), and thus essentially had about zero clue. Or maybe they were expecting their underlings to be running around tooting their own horns as to what they were doing and had done – well I wasn’t, so said manager failed to figure it out. Whatever. I don’t know. I guess another symptom of that too, is typically when I change jobs, I get a substantially better salary. Seems an odd way to get a raise, especially how turnover is very expensive to employers (better managers generally realize when an employee – or even well skilled contractor that’s quite familiar with the environment – leaves out the door, the effective cost of replacing them is typically 20 to 50% of their annual salary). So, yep, odd that. One place even rehired me, after laying me off – with a very nice severance package – and they rehired me for more than they could have raised my salary to (their own internal limitations) if they’d kept me continuously employed. So, yeah, I probably rather “under sell” myself rather to quite a lot. And when I venture out or am stuck looking for a new job, and find the “market rate” for my skills, experience, and track record – it’s typically 15 to 25% higher than whatever I was making where I was or had just been. And that’s not shopping around for “highest bidder”, but looking for right employer, environment, commute, etc., and then seeing what they actually offer me – and it’s typically significantly more than where I’m at at that time, or had just been if I was laid off. In another case of quite possibly under the radar, to excess, supervisor was so out-of-touch, they believed I was informed that contract was expiring and was not going to be renewed (was always continuously renewed before that, and in fact earlier communications indicated the contracts would be continuing), but, nope, didn’t happen – contract expired and they weren’t renewing it, but major failure to communicate it to the contractor – me – which left a whole lot of in-progress stuff cut off mid-stream and left high and dry. “Of course” in that particular environment there was a whole lot of messed up stuff, so that was just one more screw-up on their part. And, needless to say, on that one too, it shocked and surprised the peers. So, yeah, too quite the buzz kill for morale in the group. Yep, how not to handle letting someone go or a layoff or contract non-renewal or the like. Best I’ve ever seen is a whole lot ‘o communication and coordination (it’s not exactly rocket science to do that reasonably well). The worst I’ve ever seen – and seen it more than one place – even if it wasn’t me that was getting laid off – the communication totally lacking and/or contrary to what’s actually done, being done, or what happens (e.g. CEO promises “no more layoffs”, and then lays off a whole lot more workers right before Christmas). Anyway, life, work, whatever, sh*t happens – at least sometimes. But too, I wonder, “under the radar” … cases where I did it too much, … or … more so cases of not sufficiently clueful/competent management or the like? Or maybe a bit of both.

I suppose too, certainly also applies to lots of other contexts besides work. But work is, I think, a bit easier to give as reasonably illustrative example – as much of the construct is relatively consistent, and perhaps more commonly generally understood. Whereas lots of other non-work stuff, contexts, circumstances, players/entities involved, nature of interactions, etc., are, at least comparatively, all over the map.

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