IT Departments are now Officially/h*10 “Supposedly” Filled with the Scum of the Earth

EDIT: Later in the day after posting this, I edited the title to show more objectivity. This video doesn’t dive deeply into the numbers and methods involved in the study that rendered the conclusions the video’s presenter spoke of. END EDIT

A simple Corporate Executive Board video knocked me back in surprise. In just under 3 minutes, Jaime M. Capellá explodes two of the traditionally held views of IT workers:

  1. That we’re hard workers who put in long hours to get the job done
  2. That we’re honest and moral. Okay, maybe this one wasn’t as strongly held as the first one.

[flashvideo file=  /]

I was most shocked at the allegation that IT workers are no longer standing out for being hard workers and putting in long hours. Is this because other departments are now being pushed to and beyond the frenetic pace that we are? Or are we finally getting fed up with the near abusive workloads that we sometimes have to put up with and pushing back?

As for the morallity of IT workers, it’s long been joked that we sysadmins peruse HR documents and read people’s email.

And in fact, it seems to me that it’s not too hard to come across someone in the field who does just that. However, by and large I liked to think that IT people had a sense of duty (even if it was born from an unhealthy “hero complex”) which tended to instill stoic integrity in us. If that was ever true, apparently it’s not now. Why is that? No correlations were suggested in the video.

I do like the way these problems are supposedly being dealt with. Two-way communication, leaders owning up and walking the talk and also investing in employee development. For too long I’ve heard of stone-wall bosses, two-faced managers and zero budgeted dollars for IT training.

What do you think? Have you experienced this shift? Are you working less hours because you’re fed up or are your bosses relenting? Have you experienced dishonest coworkers more frequently than you did a few years ago? Have you done something a little shady? Anonymous comments are available and I won’t give out your IP information… unless the SWAT team kicks my door down.


  1. The Chef

    May 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Here is your explanation right here from someone who has been doing this 15 years. The calibur of IT “professionals” has declined considerably because most companies don’t want to pay the higher 55-85k wages so they go for the cert farm graduates at $45k/yr. These individuals have no idea what it is like being a true IT professional and treat it as no more than a 9-5 job. These individuals also tend to have just come from working at fast food restaurants and heard a good radio advertisement one day that becoming an “IT Professional” can make them a lot more money.

    Because it is not in context, or based upon the proper understanding of where these “stats” may be coming from, this video is actually virulent and poison in many ways as it will make already overworked experienced IT professionals have to put in even more time to make up for the f-ups they hired as cheap as they could so that as an industry it maintains the proper expected salary for those who have been in it for 5+ years and actually paid for a legitimate education or have legitimate hard-knocks experience.


    • Wesley.Nonapeptide

      May 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks for the reply, Chef.

      Indeed, I question the validity of the research. I should have done a better job of being critical in my blog post. No hard data was shown. Only pretty line graphs. I assumed that it was just a summary of a larger body of work, but as of yet I haven’t been able to find their original work. Maybe it’s out there somewhere. If anyone finds it, let me know!

      Yes, it seems that executives don’t understand that good IT talent needs a little extra money and a lot more respect. You can get a paper tiger to fill the job for a lot less, but he’ll just build a house of cards in the server room.

      Ooo… mixed metaphor. Do I get bonus points for that?


      • D W

        May 26, 2010 at 11:27 am

        I’m definitely working fewer hours because I’m fed up. Perhaps that’s too strong; maybe “because I realize that if I don’t fight it my employer will demand I give them every waking hour and then some with only a paycheck (for the same amount) in return?” I’ve gotten very strict about doing my eight hours at my desk and refusing to deal with anything non-emergency outside of that because doing more just means being expected to do it in addition.

        I’m rather unwilling to work until three in the morning to compensate for the organization’s refusal to provide resources when all it nets me is complaints that I wasn’t at my desk five hours later.


        • Wesley.Nonapeptide

          May 26, 2010 at 11:32 am

          It’s sad how IT people can be treated. It’s as if people can’t see us apart from the machines we tend to.

          It reminds me of a Twitter exchange that just happened a few minutes ago:

          @awurthmann: #sysadmin: The day flies by so fast with all of the excitement and stress, you hardly realize you just worked 12 hours a day for 5 days.

          @Nonapeptide: RT @awurthmann: #sysadmin: The day flies by so fast.. u hardly realize u worked 12 hours for 5 days. <- Lucky, how'd u get half days?!

          Tongue in cheek… but with an element of truth to it. Hang in there, DW! Have you looked at finding a better employer or even starting your own business?


          • D W

            May 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm

            I saw that exchange (I’m Agent_Dani there, for the record.)

            I’ve been applying for jobs but there isn’t much around and most of what’s advertised is via head-hunters who, I’m convinced, are posting to make it look like they have something (I’m looking at you, Robert Half Technology.) As for starting my own business, I really don’t have any market-killer ideas to use. Beside, I know what that sort of life is like and have no desire to go there. I have acquaintances (because “friend” is definitely too strong of a word) who express outright contempt for people who aren’t self-employed due to the negatives that come with that, e.g. complain that employees have it too easy having sick and vacation time since they don’t have paid days off. I can tell that for them, and they are not a particularly small group, it’s a source of bitterness and a place I’d not care to go.

            I actually hit a point of directly ignoring my boss’ phone calls if not to the phone on my desk, e.g. my personal mobile or home number, because he had no sense of boundaries, e.g. would call at 11 P.M. or 7 A.M. any day of the week for non-emergency stuff such as updates on a project. I’ll readily admit the project was severely overdue, but the reason was an utter failure of the university to provide needed resources such as training and consultants.

  2. Wesley.Nonapeptide

    May 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    @D W: Looks like we hit the reply limit of the template. Anyway…

    Yes, self-employment isn’t for everyone. I worry for myself and hope I won’t let it consume my life or that I’ll be obnoxious if I ever have employees.

    Boundaries… everyone’s gotta watch those boundaries. Some people are unconscionable.


    • D W

      May 29, 2010 at 9:01 am

      Heh, I understand threaded replies are usually tricky in WP.

      Seriously, I wish you the best. I’ve no ill will to people running their own business, only when they give attitude do I return it.

      The boundaries thing is something else with him. At one point he made an accusation that I was actually running a consulting business from my desk rather than doing university work as the reason my project was behind. It was actually behind because he had grossly underestimated what was required (decided that a campus portal build based on Sun Java System portal stack was “just Apache reverse proxies” and could be accomplished in two weeks by someone with no prior experience with the software…) I later learned that he was projecting a past supervisory experience onto me; he had someone who had done so and he found out only after firing that employee and going through what had been on that employee’s computer.

      Sadly, I need to talk to my current manager this week about some behavior by that person.


      • Wesley.Nonapeptide

        May 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

        Keep on applying. You’ll land a better job somewhere. You could always move to Scottsdale… lots of technology down here. Plus, with weather like this everyone is mellow. I guess hot temperatures chill everyone out.

        At a checkout, the pricetag for three identical items was missing. Cashier asked “how much you think it was?” he then said “I think they’re worth this much” and scanned another item on the belt three times. I know the three items were more than that but he just shrugged.

        I’ll be here for a while. =)


        • D W

          May 29, 2010 at 2:23 pm

          Don’t worry, I’m not giving up. I recently took to saying that I found 25-60% more motivation to do so last night. Local fishwrap put up a handy web search for salaries of people where I work (it’s a public university so that information is FOIA-able.) You can guess what I found about my pay relative to the people in my department.


  3. Ronald Pottol

    June 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    My reading of it is that IT has been pushed past the breaking point, and management needs to do something about that, not that IT is scum, but that they used to be exceptional, in a good way, and management needs to put time and money into fixing things if they want that back.


    • Wesley.Nonapeptide

      June 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      I believe that you are correct. IT has had unreasonable expectations levied against it and the backlash may be underway.

      It doesn’t excuse unethical behavior, but it might explain the less than stellar attitudes.

      Thanks for the input!


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