Jan2010

Many managers believe that if their employees align themselves with the vision of their companies through participating in relevant hobbies that they will be able to contribute more effectively to the companies goals

Many managers believe that if their employees align themselves with the vision of their companies through participating in relevant hobbies that they will be able to contribute more effectively to the companies goals.

And so it was at the large software house where two engineers - Bill and Ben - were employed writing secure software for all manner of applications.

While they were very talented engineers, and had both worked at the company for around five years, their personalities could not have been more different.

Bill’s only passion was software engineering. When he got home after a hard day’s work at the office, he liked nothing more than to fire up his faithful personal computer and develop some code that he could then offer up for free on the Internet.

When Ben returned from his day’s labours, however, it was a very different story. To take his mind of the onerous business of staring at a screen all day, he preferred to go into his garage for a bit of quiet time restoring an old Buick Nailhead-V8 engine and drinking the odd Bud Light.

At the office, Bill’s work developing license-free software had caught the attention of his bosses, who were quick to recognise how committed the young engineer was to his trade. They lauded him with merits and, two years ago, named him Engineer of the Year at their Annual Awards ceremony.

If the truth be known, the management of the company didn’t feel the same way about Ben. While they recognised the fact that he was also a competent engineer, they saw little reason to reward him as adequately as his colleague.

But all that changed last year when the software development house was approached by a large automotive OEM who wanted to know if its engineers had the expertise to develop some software for a new line of automotive products that it was developing.

Now it must be admitted that no-one at the company had tackled such work before. In fact, no-one had any experience of developing software for the automotive world. No-one knew anything about cars at all actually - aside, of course, from Ben.

But not wanting to miss a lucrative opportunity, the company management realised that they might win the contract if they could convince the automotive OEM that they did have enough in-house expertise to accomplish the task. So the management set off to visit the offices of the automotive OEM with Ben the engineer in tow.

It was a resoundingly successful meeting. To the amazement of the management, it appeared that Ben knew more about automotive hardware than the engineers at the OEM! Pleased as punch, they walked out with the contract to develop the software in their hands that very same day.

Needless to say, Ben was overjoyed when he too was presented with the Engineer of the Year award for his contribution to the company’s profitability last year. But as the senior management handed it to him, they all made a mental note never to ever judge any of their engineers the same way again.
This comment was originally published in the Electronicstalk Newsletter

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About the Author

Electronicstalk and this Editor's Blog are edited by Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini

Laurence Marchini began his career in the electronics press with the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1980, cutting his teeth on a variety of learned and member publications, ranging from IEE Proceedings to Electronics and Power. He moved on to join the launch team of the innovative weekly Electronics Express in 1986, and became Editor just 18 months later. Sadly, Electronics Express lasted just four and a half years, wound up by the infamous Robert Maxwell. However, Laurence had already jumped ship and joined the world of electronics PR with the agency of the 1990s, Smith and Jones Communications. It seemed Laurence was lost to the world of journalism. But after 11 years we managed to lure him back as launch editor of Electronicstalk. Laurence is married to Sally and has a young son, Alexander.

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