Is this attitude towards work unusual?

The correct answer to this is, “Yes I do. It would be terrific to work in a job so satisfying for an organization so dynamic that I thought it was worth investing half of my waking hours each week. Is this such a job and are you such a company?”

Either that or, “Fuck off.”

My work mantra over the last few years has been “I get paid by the hour.” Occasionally varied with “I just work here” or “Not my problem” or “yeah, that’s above my pay grade to worry about.” I’m a legal secretary, and I’m good at my job. But some days (or weeks) I just have to shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t care.” (Usually about some petty bullshit thing - oh noes, they need to switch desks between me and a co-worker in order to add another desk! The sky is falling! Oh wait, not it’s not. I get paid by the hour.)

It’s actually a pretty common attitude… thank God!

No, seriously. If everybody wanted to be president of Coca-Cola, then every person in the world except one would be extremely frustrated. Lots of people want to be storekeepers, or accountants, or mechanics, or doctors, or… any other of millions of jobs which don’t require being promoted into. They may need a lot of work to get them in the first place (see: medical school), but there’s few promotions you can get without totally changing tracks. And despite what we’re told about how we should all be ambitious and want promotions, it is actually a good thing, since the world happens to need more mechanics than maintenance managers.

There is a second aspect, what we call deformación profesional in Spanish (“professional deformity [of the mind]”): if you’re a gardener, when you see a garden you’re going to analyze it more professionally than someone who can’t even grow a potted geranium. But that’s not because you set out to analyze that garden professionally: it’s because all those hours spent thinking plants make the process automatic. This is very common, but I do run into people who don’t have it (see: my SiL who would never recommend homeopatics to her patients but gives them to her children).

I once joined a company where our incoming process included a speech where one of the partners told us that if we worked hard enough and did things right, “you can even make partner”. I asked “what would that entail?” “Sorry?” “What is expected of a partner in this particular company? I can’t decide if I want to make partner without knowing what would be expected of one.”

I think she’s still trying to understand it.

I live in Europe and have recently retired (aged 55).

I never got promoted at any job, but that’s because:

  • I was earning enough (first as a computer programmer, then a lecturer) to save up and buy a house
  • I wanted to spend a lot of free time becoming good at chess
  • after I got my house, I got offered my ‘perfect’ job (teaching chess, computer games and roleplaying :cool: )

same here. I like what I do. I’m an engineer, and the next step up for me is management. If I got promoted, I’d no longer be doing any engineering work and would instead be doing nothing but bullshit. No thanks. This notion that everyone has to be a wannabe Big Swingin’ Dick has to die.

There are some industries out there which are so competitive in general that if you’re not competitive/ambitious/whatever, you don’t matter in that you’re easily replaceable. Maybe some people simply don’t care about that. However, if you’ve put X years in, it’s expected that you will maintain that competitive/ambitious/whatever edge until you either leave or die. There’s a whole generation :cough: who had that drummed into them, so this whole laissez-fair attitude is simply not acknowledged.

I have a bad case of this. Trust me, unless you want the unvarnished truth, don’t ask me to analyze anything to do with baking. I’ve seen baking blogs out there which shouldn’t exist because their information within is plain WRONG. I have to keep chanting to myself the whole “I’m a professional…this is for HOME bakers” thing or else I’ll lose my mind. BTW, it’s the reason why I seldom read baking, or any kind of food blog, nowadays.

I’d be content with the job I currently have except it doesn’t pay enough to live on. That is the ONLY reason I’m seeking advancement. If it paid enough for a comfortable living I’d stay put. And by “comfortable” I mean “no longer need food stamps and can afford to purchase new tires for the truck without going into debt”. It’s a pretty low bar.

Unfortunately, the only way to go up, really, is management. So guess what I’m in training for…?

My work situation is a little bit different. I’m technically an independent contractor but I only work with one company and have office duties there as well as the other work I contract for. There’s no promotion to be had until the owner retires and sells the place to me, but that’s what I’m gunning for. I’d also like to do less of one part of my job and more in other areas, which would bring more money in as well as being more enjoyable and interesting for me. I have grand plans to become recognized in my field, which doesn’t count as a promotion but I do strive towards more challenging work and more of it.

I’m also personally invested in my work, and couldn’t have an “on the clock” and “off the clock” attitude even if I wanted to. I DO set aside time where work gets put away, but if a client or coworker calls with an emergency during that time, I’m responding. I’ve answered calls and put out fires while on vacation thousands of miles away, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a movie, during family dinners, etc. and while it can get annoying at times, I accept it as part of the job. I love what I do so much that I’ll take those irritations in order to keep the awesome bits.

Not to hijack, but what are some of the most common WRONG things you see re: baking?

I am very much like the OP; I have a good job and good benefits, and am not ambitious when it comes to “self promotion.” I do not have a desire to climb the ladder and be a big-time manager. I genuinely enjoy the work I do, and I get satisfaction from solving problems and building things.

Some of my coworkers are not like me, though. I work with a bunch of engineers, and it is plainly obviously many of them have absolutely no interest in engineering. They only went to engineering school because they heard the pay and job security were good. Not surprisingly, they hate working in the lab. They seem to spend all their time traveling, going to meetings & conferences, doing “busy work,” playing golf, hobnobbing with upper management, and in general trying to “look good” without doing any meaningful work. I fully expect I will be working for these assholes in the near future after they’re promoted. (In fact, it has already happened with one individual.)

It’s pretty common. I know several people who have moved ‘up’ to management from technical positions and regretted in the end. I’ve avoided it as much as I could. It’s not the management per se, but most management positions involve a lot of administration, i.e., paperwork, whether it’s real or virtual paper, it’s mind-numbingly boring type stuff. The other problem is that being good at a job doesn’t mean you’ll be good at managing people doing that job. When that’s the case the move to management can be another dead end. Or to put it another way, those who can do, those who can’t manage, and those who can’t manage are likely to get the job.

True, but look at the current Greek debt crisis.

I have a friend like Mr. Nylock. He’s a painter (houses, not pictures) and is happy to work his 40 and go home. He does occasional jobs on the side. He just has no desire to “advance” and has everything he wants.

He’s one of my favorite people because he’s so comfortable in his skin.

I invest in my work because it’s interesting. Also because I know that I’m only on the hook for stuff I can control, not stuff anyone else is in charge of. Also, my company is really serious about work-life balance and does not expect or encourage people to be reading emails at midnight. I can see myself staying in this position if things stay good.

But I also don’t think work is all that defines me. I like what I do, I think it can fix a lot of problems in the US, but it’s not all of me.

I think you put scare quotes round the wrong word there glee:slight_smile:

I also think that’s really healthy attitude as is the OP’s. I have lost count of the number of colleagues I’ve seen chasing the promotions and ££££’s only to end up overworked, unhappy, unmarried and insolvent. Better job means better wages means better house means better car right?

Screw that, I’ve done just enough to give me the lifestyle I desire. I’m frugal in general and that means I’ve got a lot of wiggle room when it comes to maintaining my current lifestyle. My ideal job sees me doing a small chunk of well paid consultancy work and then taking the rest of the year off.

I’ve avoided (and turned down) promotions being foisted me and by and large only taken work that makes me happy (not rich). Just last month I was interviewed for a directorship with a blue chip company and said straight to the VP’s face that I was not interested in rising further up their ladder if it meant stepping away from the work that interested me. That cost me the position as they were wanting an ambitious person but no amount of money is worth a working hell of boredom and lengthy hours.

I think that there is room in the canon of management guru books for something on the art of doing “just enough” but I’m buggered if I can be arsed to do it.

I wish my workplace would provide a way for technical experts to increase responsibility and thus salary without having to become managers.

My salary is okay. I have a comfortable existence. But dammit, I’m getting paid a lot less than what I would command in the private sector. And being undervalued like that does get under my skin. I also get paid less than a lot of my coworkers, simply because they have more seniority and they were around when annual raises were the norm (they aren’t anymore). It is hard listening to them kvetch about how poorly paid we are when they make $10,000+ more than I do, and I am just as productive as they are, if not more so.

The only way for me to get a raise is to do a lateral transfer into a different program or to become a manager. I’m seriously considering doing the former, even though I like what I do now.

Our company has two promotion tracks, IC and M. IC means “individual contributor” and basically means non-management. You step from IC1, IC2, etc. and at each level gain responsibility and salary. You need to demonstrate competence in various things before moving to the next level, such as being able to complete a project without significant external guidance. The M track works the same but for management. It’s a pretty good system. Like the others here, I shy away from management but have been able to scale the IC levels and do well for myself.

You have to be careful though, depending on what field you’re in. Your company could slice off that level of work you previously could have enjoyed forever and outsource or worse offshore it. It’ll behoove you to keep as current on the latest methods and technology as possible.

what happens when you reach the top IC level?

We have something like this too. We get a title change with each step. But no pay increase. It’s akin to collecting merit badges in Girl Scouts.

I’ve been told that it used to not be this way. You’d get a bump in pay with each promotion. But those days have been over for about 20 years now. Nowadays,we’re just supposed to be glad we’ve got a job and be proud of the merit badges we’ve earned.

I’ve noticed that the competitive attitude toward work is more prevalent among men, and the “work to live” attitude is more prevalent among women. That’s not to say that there aren’t representatives of both genders in their opposite attitude, but rather to point out that it’s more common.

I think a lot of it has to do with having children in a family- the expectation is that the mother is the primary caregiver, and that the dad is the breadwinner. In practice, this usually means that if the mother doesn’t stay home, she generally works in a relatively low pressure position that she can take plenty of unscheduled time off from work and it either won’t affect her career, or if it does, it doesn’t matter, because she’s not gunning for promotions, or anything that’ll take more time or limit their flexibility.

Men on the other hand, are more or less steeped in this get-ahead-at-all-costs mentality from childhood; there’s no shortage of men, or male-run companies that have a “macho” attitude about working long hours (which is utterly cretinous, IMO) and wear that as a badge of honor, and look down at people who don’t do that like they’re not committed enough to their jobs.

I think a LOT of the phenomenon of people working long hours is that macho attitude, combined with a fucked-up situation that continues to perpetuate that attitude because the workaholics and no-life people are the ones who get promoted to management… because they’re the ones most willing to drink the long-hours koolaid and put the long hours in.

I mean, I was a consultant at one point, and I can’t count the number of times I said “Fuck this, let’s do it in the morning- it’ll keep.” and got the weirdest stares like I suggested we skip out at 11 am and go to a titty bar for the rest of the day. Come to think of it, the titty bar suggestion would have got better traction and far less weird looks.

Once I had kids, I realized that I want to see them as much as I can, and if they go to bed relatively early, then I need to be home earlier to see them. Therefore, my entire goal is to work 7-8 hours, and then bail, unless there’s a clear and pressing need for me to stay later, that ABSOLUTELY CAN’T wait for the following morning, or until after the kids are in bed for me to work on from home. I also have no interest in being in management- the idea of dealing with budgets and accountants makes me think violent thoughts because I generally loathe that sort of nitpickery- either fund the fucking projects adequately and get out of my way, or don’t fund it and don’t expect anything. Doing the kind of shenanigans like they do at my company where you have to go fight for the funding, and then continually justify the release of the funds over the course of the project would have me punching someone eventually, I’m sure.

So my entire goal is rather Peter Gibbons-esque. My entire goal is to squirrel myself into some sort of position where I don’t have to work too hard, and I keep my paycheck, and where I can basically look good and get small raises, without having to work more than 40 hours a week, wear anything other than jeans and polo shirts, and not have someone breathe down my neck about minutiae like when I show up and when I leave.

So far, I’m about 90% there.

You get to play around with whatever you want without people bugging you all the time. If you’re good, these personal research projects end up in a real product eventually.

There are salary bumps in between levels, but there’s a cap. So if you want a salary bump beyond inflation (or really, beyond the going rate for the area) and are at the cap, you need some kind of personal growth to step up a level.

That’s unfortunate. More responsibility without the compensation that should come with it. Bay Area techies definitely have a lot of advantages here.