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The Great AW Working Hours Debate of 2018

ATIS

Well-Known Member
I would encourage you to think about that unintended consequence. If you aren't serving a purpose by being readily accessible to make decisions, then you're just communicating (non-verbally) that your expectation is that your employees work long hours. I would also encourage you to find out why you and your crew can't accomplish the work in a reasonable work week and attack that problem. Sometimes, it may be as simple as deciding that something isn't going to get done, and determining what that something is. That's our jobs as leaders, too.

My $0.02.
$0.02 always welcome, but in my specific case you are off the mark. Not your fault since you don't know my specific situation. Your advice may be applicable for someone in a normal 9-5 and would fit nicely on a "Mangers 101" .ppt slidedeck, but not in my world.

ATIS
 

Sculpin

Well-Known Member
You're pretty much spot on, but let's face it. Sticking around late at work just because the boss does is necessary once in awhile. It shows support and dedication. But when it becomes buttSCUBA, either voluntarily or it is mandated, you should reevaluate the skills you are developing in your job and accordingly look for other options.

For all of you 80+ hour a week workers, take a look at this site. If you don't understand what they are about and laugh at least a little bit, you're exactly what they are making fun of.
There's a certain irony to this. In a world where "ambitious" leads and line/middle-management set stupidly tight deadlines with customers for milestones that should take 4x as much time as is allotted because everything runs on business timelines and time-to-market, this simply does not apply. The only reason the work still gets done in a timely manner in particular cutthroat industries and companies is because the people actually doing the work are exceedingly competent. If you are not competent, you will get chewed up and thrown out. I see it happen all the time. If you have a week to do work that would take "normal" people a month and it still gets done, it doesn't matter how good you are, you're going to work crazy hours no matter what. Take any successful game development company worth its salt, infamous for their crazy hours. Are those people working late nights and weekends because they're incompetent? Nope. It's because developing video games is extremely challenging, time-consuming, and works on tight schedules to keep up with timelines and competition. It isn't a government-contracted 9-5 job. Rather, it's capitalism and American ingenuity and work ethic in action making things happen.

Here's where it gets more interesting. When those same high-octane people move to a role, which for example, isn't product- or customer-facing and has none of the same demands, the difference is night and day. Suddenly, they're not working even 40 hours anymore. In any case, I hope the implication isn't that the finest engineers and scientists and other high-skill professionals across the most cutthroat industries and companies in the world are incompetent. Them getting ground to the bone is the only reason technology advances at the light-speed pace it does.
 
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Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
There's a certain irony to this. In a world where "ambitious" leads and line/middle-management set stupidly tight deadlines with customers for milestones that should take 4x as much time as is allotted because everything runs on business timelines and time-to-market, this simply does not apply. The only reason the work still gets done in a timely manner in particular cutthroat industries and companies is because the people actually doing the work are exceedingly competent. If you are not competent, you will get chewed up and thrown out. I see it happen all the time. If you have a week to do work that would take "normal" people a month and it still gets done, it doesn't matter how good you are, you're going to work crazy hours no matter what. Take any successful game development company worth its salt, infamous for their crazy hours. Are those people working late nights and weekends because they're incompetent? Nope. It's because developing video games is extremely challenging, time-consuming, and works on tight schedules to keep up with timelines and competition. It isn't a government-contracted 9-5 job. Rather, it's capitalism and American ingenuity and work ethic in action making things happen.

Here's where it gets more interesting. When those same high-octane people move to a role, which for example, isn't product- or customer-facing and has none of the same demands, the difference is night and day. Suddenly, they're not working even 40 hours anymore. In any case, I hope the implication isn't that the finest engineers and scientists and other high-skill professionals across the most cutthroat industries and companies in the world are incompetent. Them getting ground to the bone is the only reason technology advances at the light-speed pace it does.
The time to market drives profit. Which drives your high pay stub for putting up with that type of work. Choose your rate choose your fate.
 

Sculpin

Well-Known Member
The time to market drives profit. Which drives your high pay stub for putting up with that type of work. Choose your rate choose your fate.
And it is glorious! Still, the misconception that overworking means incompetence as I addressed is all too often misplaced. And that doesn't just apply to corporate America but across the board, including medical professionals, lawyers, media producers, financial types, the military, and much, much more. If there is simply too much work or the manner of work is naturally demanding, being Albert Einstein isn't going to magically create 40-hour weeks when the job and environment inherently mandate working around the clock. Let's not forget the US is the most overworked nation in the developed world. It's part of the culture.
 
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Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
And it is glorious! Still, the misconception that overworking means incompetence as I addressed is all too often misplaced. And that doesn't just apply to corporate America but across the board, including medical professionals, lawyers, media producers, financial types, the military, and much, much more. If there is simply too much work or the manner of work is naturally demanding, being Albert Einstein isn't going to magically create 40-hour weeks when the job and environment inherently mandate working around the clock. Let's not forget the US is the most overworked nation in the developed world. It's part of the culture.
"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis."
 

phrogdriver

More humble than you would understand
pilot
Super Moderator
It is possible to make more than decent money with not much more than 40 hours a week. I’m working a proposal right now, so I might tip 50, and if you were to count travel, I have to work some weekends, but I get 9/80 Fridays and get paid to go to parties.
 

phrogdriver

More humble than you would understand
pilot
Super Moderator
I imagine that conversation would go something like this...

LTJG: "Hey OPSO, I'm not doing this sim, fuck off."
XO: "Hey LTJG, step into my office so we can discuss which weather station in Alaska you want for shore tour."

Pushback occurred (albeit it much more tactfully) and the response was "there is no crew rest for sims" and "your priorities are not as important as readiness". I am in no way defending the system...I'm also not naive enough to think you could get out of your JO tour alive if you started telling senior DH's to GFY when you've been there all of five minutes.



I'm glad you've never seen that type of management style before - hopefully that means it isn't the norm. However, it happened, and certain individuals were rewarded for the results of those decisions. Doesn't matter anymore now, but it is something the community is capable of.
That's fucked. I thought I saw some poor leadership in my day, but while someone may have sucked up a 0800 sim after a 2300 landing here and there, I never saw anything like that.

No, there isn't crew rest for sims. I agree. But that's no excuse to treat people like shit with no reacharound.

And everyone says Marines are dicks...
 
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phrogdriver

More humble than you would understand
pilot
Super Moderator
And it is glorious! Still, the misconception that overworking means incompetence as I addressed is all too often misplaced. And that doesn't just apply to corporate America but across the board, including medical professionals, lawyers, media producers, financial types, the military, and much, much more. If there is simply too much work or the manner of work is naturally demanding, being Albert Einstein isn't going to magically create 40-hour weeks when the job and environment inherently mandate working around the clock. Let's not forget the US is the most overworked nation in the developed world. It's part of the culture.
Overworking doesn't mean incompetent workers. It means incompetent management. Multiple studies have shown that the marginal value of work performed after 50 hours/week is shit. Up until 50, people accomplish things. After that, additional hours don't do much except drive people to quit. But, I suppose if you don't care about retention and people are widgets, it's okay.
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Overworking doesn't mean incompetent workers. It means incompetent management. Multiple studies have shown that the marginal value of work performed after 50 hours/week is shit. Up until 50, people accomplish things. After that, additional hours don't do much except drive people to quit. But, I suppose if you don't care about retention and people are widgets, it's okay.
As Deming once noted, workers generally are doing the best they can. If shit is fucked, it's because of the system. And only management can change the system. I'm as much of an Elon Musk fan as anyone, but his idea that the world can only be changed on an 80-hour work week is pure, unadulterated, weapons-grade bullshit. When you look at what even one SpaceX launch costs, and figure that maybe, MAYBE the best talent costs 100-300K per year . . . do the math. Not only will you spread the workload by hiring a few more people, you'll get some unique and possibly valuable viewpoints when you do. #Diversity . . .

You can't tell me that every person working for SpaceX/Amazon/Facebook/[insert cool kids here] is so unique and special there isn't at least one more equally-talented person who'd kill for that job. They could triple their headcount tomorrow, and still only hire the best and brightest, if they'd meet the best and brightest in the middle instead of grinding them into the dust. I wonder how many people they've passed over who could crush it at their companies who won't, because they're damn good at what they do, but also want a family or at least a life.

One of these days, when I'm bored, I'll write an algorithm that will calculate the date when everyone currently living in Seattle will have worked for Amazon and quit.
 

Sculpin

Well-Known Member
Overworking doesn't mean incompetent workers. It means incompetent management. Multiple studies have shown that the marginal value of work performed after 50 hours/week is shit. Up until 50, people accomplish things. After that, additional hours don't do much except drive people to quit. But, I suppose if you don't care about retention and people are widgets, it's okay.
Precisely the way it works in the cases of the "ambitious", to be euphemistic, line/middle-management I alluded to. They don't plan well, they don't manage well, and the people doing the intensive work suffer for it. And because things don't exactly function like a democracy in the corporate sphere, it's either stick to it or leave. I've worked with flexible, competent management and I've worked with egotistical dictators, and types in between. The difference is night-and-day.

I wonder how many people they've passed over who could crush it at their companies who won't, because they're damn good at what they do, but also want a family or at least a life.
Or that they've passed over who could crush it at their companies because they have flawed technical interviews... all too common tale. It's not out of the ordinary to hear about someone who basically be told they're stupid by an interviewing team at one major corporation, say Amazon, and then get called the ultimate rock star and hired by another like Microsoft, and vice versa.

Within the realm of engineering, electrical/hardware engineering interviewing is at least somewhat reasonable. Not sure about mechanical, aerospace, or chemical. But software is flat out coding software riddles, brain teasers, or algorithmic questions on whiteboards that you'd typically have to have practiced for or seen before to do well. Didn't answer a trick question correctly, or they didn't like the way you solved it? Too bad, you'll get passed up.

This varies in degrees between easy to absurd, but it can get ridiculous. I've been passed up before because I didn't know fine-grained trivia-style questions in a programming language I've never used before, didn't claim to know, and had nothing to do with the position for which I was applying. Or implementing some AI algorithm I've never heard of that was in some research paper that's so obscure, it was never presented at a conference and has never been cited, for a position having nothing to do with AI or algorithm research. Then on the end of the spectrum there's "reverse this linked list" which is a joke.

Ruminating on conducting technical interviews is very interesting. Having been on both sides of them, I've realized why so many technical interviews can be conducted poorly. Sometimes it's laziness. The interviewer will just Google some "challenging" (but in actuality, ridiculous) questions to ask. Or they think asking "difficult" questions that don't test someone's problem-solving skills but rather if they somehow know or memorized some random algorithm or theory is good interviewing practice. Sometimes it's spite. Lots of people get jaded by their own experience with interviews, and as an interviewer use it as an opportunity to mess with people. I could go on and on and make a science out of technical interviewing because it's so intriguing and because how substantial of an effect it has on people's lives, but I'll stop here.

One of these days, when I'm bored, I'll write an algorithm that will calculate the date when everyone currently living in Seattle will have worked for Amazon and quit.
The thing with Amazon is lots of software devs at least (not sure about other positions) don't even quit voluntarily. They regularly have layoffs (and hiring sprees). It's honestly a rat race over there, and in my opinion it isn't worth it except to vest a few years' worth of those very thick, lucrative, scrumptious, luxurious RSUs. Anyways, if you need a collaborator on that algorithm, I'd be glad to help. :D

--------

Also, I would like to note in case there's any confusion, I did not create this thread though it says I did. It looks like the mods fittingly moved this discussion out of the "Another Skipper Relieved" thread.
 
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RobLyman

- hawk Pilot
pilot
None
There's a certain irony to this. In a world where "ambitious" leads and line/middle-management set stupidly tight deadlines with customers for milestones that should take 4x as much time as is allotted because everything runs on business timelines and time-to-market, this simply does not apply. The only reason the work still gets done in a timely manner in particular cutthroat industries and companies is because the people actually doing the work are exceedingly competent. If you are not competent, you will get chewed up and thrown out. I see it happen all the time. If you have a week to do work that would take "normal" people a month and it still gets done, it doesn't matter how good you are, you're going to work crazy hours no matter what. Take any successful game development company worth its salt, infamous for their crazy hours. Are those people working late nights and weekends because they're incompetent? Nope. It's because developing video games is extremely challenging, time-consuming, and works on tight schedules to keep up with timelines and competition. It isn't a government-contracted 9-5 job. Rather, it's capitalism and American ingenuity and work ethic in action making things happen.

Here's where it gets more interesting. When those same high-octane people move to a role, which for example, isn't product- or customer-facing and has none of the same demands, the difference is night and day. Suddenly, they're not working even 40 hours anymore. In any case, I hope the implication isn't that the finest engineers and scientists and other high-skill professionals across the most cutthroat industries and companies in the world are incompetent. Them getting ground to the bone is the only reason technology advances at the light-speed pace it does.
I agree, it is the highly competent that get the company through the highly competitive market. Those highly competent people "get" the stuff on Despair.com, or Office Space. They chuckle a little, and frown inside because they have seen it. They are pulling or pushing the freeloaders along. And YES, free loaders can be the people working 80 hours a week. Being at work <> contributing. In fact, some are so bad that production and morale actually increase when they are gone. If you don't "get" it. Well, I don't know what to say. As for the second part about the high-octane people moving to less demanding positions and working less than 40 hours: I haven't seen that with truly motivated people. They FIND meaningful things to do that contribute to the organization's success and work a full day/week doing those things. The others? Their the fodder for "motivational" posters.
 

squorch2

he will die without safety brief
pilot
There's a certain irony to this. In a world where "ambitious" leads and line/middle-management set stupidly tight deadlines with customers for milestones that should take 4x as much time as is allotted because everything runs on business timelines and time-to-market
those ambitious timelines are in place to minimize damage caused by ongoing legacy operations and speed transformation to <new thing>.

Changing the “right” way is too slow and costly - especially in opportunity costs.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
those ambitious timelines are in place to minimize damage caused by ongoing legacy operations and speed transformation to <new thing>.

Changing the “right” way is too slow and costly - especially in opportunity costs.
Also work expands to fill the time available. Engineers will tinker and fiddle trying to make a more perfect mousetrap all the way to a given deadline.
 
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