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Strange job situation  RSS feed

 
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Guys,

This might sound like a very vague topic specific to me to discuss but just let me know what you think about this situation and what you would have done if you were in my shoes.

It goes something like this:

I have been working as an IBM i RPG programmer for the past 5 years. The developments in the last 8 months are what I will discuss here.
So, I was employed in a company in Bangalore (the silicon valley of India) when a lucrative offer came up from a company abroad who were looking out for an RPG programmer. The offer came from a US-based manufacturing MNC who had a manufacturing plant in Asia. The money was good, the company has a rich heritage and a country is a nice place for expats. The interview was rather comfortable technically but I was warned that the work would be challenging and would require a good understanding of their Bespoke systems to perform well.
I cleared the interview, took the offer and relocated, mentally prepared to understand a new complex system running from the 80's, praying to God to give me the strength to face the new challenges :p.

Having been stretched and squeezed by my employers throughout most of my career, I was expecting a hectic life considering the pay. First two weeks into the job, there were meetings with the lead programmer (who is 60+ something), who also happens to be on top of the Technology ladder in the organization.  This guy is the architect of the whole system who knows end to end from accounts to what happens on the manufacturing production floor. I was again warned of the Strenuous training period about to follow soon.

Then one month into the job, I was sitting idle without any real assignments when my first assignment came. A not so easy application to be built from scratch. Having utilized my free time in the one month I got, I delivered it easily in good shape. I seemed to have passed their basic test and made an impression.

Now I was expecting the work floodgates to be opened. But....Nothing happened. A month passed without any assignment. Neither was I being given any assignments nor was I being trained. I was just sitting on desk all day long for a whole month!!

There were requests coming from users to make minor changes in the applications but the "lead architect" just kept on ignoring the requests. Neither was he doing it, nor was he assigning these to me. Then things blew up. An external client auditor raised a red flag about this inadequacy in the IT system when finally the "architect" apologized and confirmed he would be working on these changes soon. The only thing I could feel was pure unprofessionalism. I mean, how could you not reply to 5 to 6 mail reminders from your colleagues. Having 30 years of experience in an organization shouldn't make you this arrogant, should it? I was analysing these requests at the same time and sent him my analysis of the changes that would be required which was accepted and that was my second assignment.

Its been 8 months now and the situation has not improved much. I am getting "opportunities" to do work only when there is immense "begging" from users. I have tried/requested a number of times to get some documentation or training on the systems so that I have some basic knowledge.

But there has been only silence. As someone said, silence is the most heartbreaking response. They dont have any plans to lay me off. atleast for one more year and I dont want to loose such a good opportunity.
Their applications seem to be built beautifully and gaining knowledge of the business and the tribal knowledge of the systems seems to be too interesting.

I was under the impression that the "architect" is just lazy to conduct training for me. You know, enjoying the days to the maximum before retirement.

I have tried initiating a documentation process by analyzing programs and preparing a few sample docs but even that could not get the architect excited about giving me some training. All I requested for is names of some important programs that I should be aware of, so that I can understand some of their processes. This is a new situation for me where I need to request for work. If there is no work, then fine. But what about some training? Why cant they give me that. I mean you cant expect some new programmer to understand everything by himslef can he?

I dont know what I dont know! nor do I know what I should be knowing!!! And I dont want to find a new job as it just wouldnt look good leaving an organization so soon after joining.

Laziness seems to be the root cause of all the issues here. Dear Senior programmers here, would you ever let a junior Dev thirsty to learn be underutlized like this?

What should I do? As I said, the pay is good and I would be dumb to find a new job due to lack of "work pressure".

One thing which scares me is if the seniors retire and go, how am I supposed to manage stuff?
 
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Have you talked to your manager about this? Not the architect. Your actual manager. Or is it the same person?
 
sinatra roger
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My manager reports to the architect. He is aware of the situation and does not have the guts to push him which he openly admits.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Ok. So the chain of command won't help you here.

Are there other projects that you can look to help with. Either as a transfer or to help with "when you don't have project work". Maybe another manager would be happy to have extra help.

Also, are there internal things you can volunteer for? That lets you network and find out where the work is.
 
sinatra roger
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Doing work for a different department is not possible here due to a rigid organizational structure. My question is, is it fair to expect to get an overall training or orientation of such huge a legacy system? Would senior 60+ devs expect that the guys following them should learn things on the fly as and when an issue/a new requirement comes?
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Different people/companies offer different amounts of training. I offer more than average because I want the new hires to get up to speed faster.
 
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sinatra roger wrote:
What should I do? As I said, the pay is good and I would be dumb to find a new job due to lack of "work pressure".



I would suggest utilizing the time you have from lack of work to study.  The training you are supposed to receive isn't there so just train yourself.  You said the pay is good, so the only problem from not having work to do is your skill isn't improving.  You've obviously put in the effort letting them know you don't have work, so as long as you keep reminding whoever it is that assigns you work that you don't have any work, then you should be fine.

The real situation might be that you were originally brought in to eventually take over for the architect because his salary might be high, and he was supposed to train you so they could eventually get rid of him.   The architect knows this and is preventing that by not really training you.  The manager doesn't want to push him to hard because he thinks that he can't lose him at any cost.  Maybe I'm totally wrong, but it makes for a juicy office drama.

 
Al Hobbs
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sinatra roger wrote:
I was analyzing these requests at the same time and sent him my analysis of the changes that would be required which was accepted and that was my second assignment.


Well, this seems to be a way for you to get work, so just keep doing that.
 
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