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Missionary or Mercenary? πŸ”—
1634842858  

As part of this transition to entrepreneurship, I've talked to a lot of recruiters and companies in attempts to get contracts. Of those successful, there is almost always some element of a bait-and-switch involved either with the actual duties required or payment offered versus the expectations discussed up-front.

I don't take any of it personally, sometimes it's just a negotiation tactic you have to withstand. It is nevertheless a black mark on the relationship going forward, as it's assured they'll inevitably find some way to short you subsequently. If you are good at sticking to your guns, the place they inevitably slip is being late with payment.

What baffles me is how many employees I've known throughout the years who actually accepted an offer after such an obvious bait-and-switch without holding them to initial expectations. When I talked to them about it, their rationalization of the situation was inevitably a covert contract along the lines of "they'll do it when I prove myself". This of course was an axe ground forever in secret when that never came to pass. Such poison is everywhere when you know how to look for it in most firms.

Modern employment seems built around fostering these sorts of covert contracts. This is a side-effect of managers wanting missionaries not mercenaries. The trouble is that this vision of the firm is inevitably undermined by the incompetence of their self-serving management. It can't be any other way because the phenomenon of the "single-elimination ass-kissing tournament" and it's effects described in "Moral Mazes" saturate the market in the USA totally. As such employees regularly care deeply about firms that are at best indifferent to their well being. In that case being a "missionary" feels less inspiring and more like wearing matching nikes and drinking kool-aid. Missionaries tend to get disillusioned when they realize those which they follow are not gods, just men.

Which brings us to today, where we have many firms lamenting a labor shortage. This should shock nobody paying attention to demographics. Over the last 60 years firms have enjoyed an unprecedentedly glutted labor pool thanks to both the baby boom and feminine empowerment. The reality going forward is instead a diminishing labor pool. Yet firms still regularly adjust their final offers down and withhold Hiring "bonuses" until long after the initial work. They then have the gall to wonder why they're seeing a lack of enthusiasm.

Firms will not be able to get away with the sort of chicanery which has been commonplace in the last 60 years. Both wages and the meaningfulness of jobs will have to actually adjust higher. This is bad news for the management of most firms, as they've grown fat glad-handing and hiring armies of suck-ups which make them look good without being productive.

This is ultimately a hopeful sign for the future versus our reality of the last 20 years where we have had the best engineers ever lead by the worst management. We're already seeing huge levels of attrition from firms which have clueless management. It is but a matter of time before people look around and see that we have had the answers all along, but are blind to them on a systemic level.

It would be a breath of fresh air to be able to deal with management on a professional level rather than have to engage in a guerrilla insurgency of "Fuhren unter Der Hand" to achieve the actual goals of companies. I have grown weary of having to cynically exploit middle management's impulse to look good at all costs as the way to advance in a firm rather than actually accomplishing something. That said, the army has known about the superiority of auftragstrategik, the OODA loop and ideas similar to the germ theory of management for even longer than the business community has, yet remains the poster child for the kind of management described in "moral mazes". The capacity for self-deception in managers clearly is at least as great as those who work for them.

This is perhaps the greatest reason I've left it all behind me to do this hired-gun thing. At least this way I'm not holding my breath that this entrenched set of problems gets fixed.

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