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Posted on: Wednesday, 13 May 2009 by Rajiv Popat

Your Organization Is Seeking Whiners.

If you have an organization or work for one; you are going to a have few whiners who slip in through the cracks of your recruitment process.

"I don't know about that one Pops. He seemed to have some skills but I am not sure if he will be able to deliver. Overall he is really smart; good communication; good educational background. I think we should go ahead."  --- Fred who has conducted a smart whiner's first round of interview, tells you. Fred as it turns out, has a huge collection of stupid puzzles and math questions which forms his selection criteria of excellence.

The same set of funny puzzles and questions constitutes Fred's criteria of who you should hire in your organization.

That is how it begins --- you listen to Fred and hire your first whiner.

Then before you know it you have an army of whiners being interviewed and getting in your organization.

I've seen dozens of whiners getting recruited in dozens of organizations around the world and there is one conclusion I have personally come to. It is the darkest secret most organizations do not have the spine or the audacity to admit. Whiners know this secret. All of them do. As a matter of fact, whiners en-cash on this dirty little secret every time they interview. It's insanely weird but true.

I'm going to do my good deed for the day and break this dirty little secret to you.

Ready? 

Organizations are looking for whiners.

Believe it or your, your organization might be spending a whole deal of time, effort and money looking for whiners.

In fact, most organizations out there love whiners.

That's right. You heard me.

Organizations want  whiners so badly that they go out of their way to recruit them.

Of course you are knitting your brows.

"Pops; why would anyone want whiners?" --- you ask.

Simple. Because whining is safe. It's easy; and it's also fun.

Seriously.

Try it.

Go to your friend across your cabin and talk about how overworked and underpaid you are. Go talk about what an asshole your boss is. It is fun. Do it a couple of times and you'll realize it's actually more fun than slogging away at a piece of code or writing your own blog post. Actually, it's not just more fun; but it is also much more easier than doing anything else.

Here is how it works --- 'everyone loves whining' --- you do; your boss does; his boss does; the whole pecking order in your organization does.

Builders and story tellers realize the perils of whining and make a conscious effort to stay away from it; but what about the good old Fred who just cannot seem to connect to the team of builders and who has just been promoted to the designation of a manager? What about your Vice President of Marketing who is a road warrior and on the move for most of the month?

Whining employees give these individuals an opportunity to catch up with events that happen in the corridors of the organizations. It lets them figure out what the builders are working on or what they are up to. It allows them to know about every insignificant ripple that takes form in the organizational pond.

Do me a favor; read this:

Three developers go in a meeting room; they argue; they fight; they kill each other and they come up with an amicable solution which is best for the product.

I'm sure at-least one young and budding manager yawned somewhere as he read this.

Now read this:

An official meeting request went out. Joe couldn't make it to the meeting because he had another meeting. A long meeting was organized. Wilma and Smith completely disagreed on the various approaches discussed in the meeting.

Two approaches were selected during the meeting out of which one would be finalized. A mail thread followed the meeting. Senior members across the organization were copied on the mail trail. Some of them responded expressing their concerns around both the approaches.

Three of these senior members proposed their ideas and each one of them thought the other two ideas would not work.

The mail thread continued for two weeks.

Now we're talking!

You now have all the interest of the young and budding manager you just hired to 'manage' the project and the team. He is not yawing any more.

See what is happening here? Your boss, his boss and the whole pecking order of your organization is feeling the pulse of the pseudo-work. They are getting involved.

Now they suddenly feel that the young and budding manager they hired last month to 'manage the project' is doing an amazing job. He is helping your developers who were incapable of communicating.

Very soon your organization realizes that it needs more young and budding managers who can initiate discussions; put simply your organization feels a strong need for whiners. 

See the point?

Most organizations out there want more whiners; and they want them desperately.

'Some discussions are important' - you are told - really important. Planning, Organizing, Architecture, Scalability and Brainstorming are words words which are often used to disguise the time that is getting wasted in pseudo work where nothing is getting done. Most organizations love wasting time behind these words because it gives them a warm and cozy feeling inside.

It makes them feel safe.

It makes them feel like they are in control.

Whiners know this fully well.

They are aware of the power of whining fully well.

They also know the dark little secret that everyone wants to whine.

Maybe this is why most employees in any organization get away with 'discussions'; 'giving ideas' that die in the walls of a meeting room; or make it their profession to come in the way of genuine builders; while only a small number indulge in the act of doing some real work and shipping stuff or remarkable stories.

Unless you are one lucky son of a gun who happened to find the rare breed of organizations that understand innovation inside out, chances are high that your organization is looking for whiners. Even now as you read this whiners are getting interviewed; and they are getting selected.

Whiners with years of whining experience behind them. Whiners with solid educational background. Whiners who can solve virtually any puzzle or funny math question out there; and yet the fact remains that they are whiners --- incapable on building stuff, weaving stories or shipping anything consistently.

What questions do interviewers in your organization ask the candidates?

Do you depend on Math puzzles and IQ tests for selecting candidates?

How much time are you encouraged to do real work and ship?

How much time does your organization and your managers expect you to be talking and updating them with the status?

Are you being giving reasons to indulge in the acts of bitching and whining even if you do not want to?

Is the overall environment of your organization in general and your team in particular giving you reasons to become a builder or a whiner?

Is your organization actually looking for more whiners right now as you read this dear reader?

Discuss.

Note: This article is a part of a Work In Progress Book. To Read connected articles read the Builders At Work category of this blog.