up the slippery slope

Thunk on or about 1st October 2003

A very strange thing happened to me at work today - I got promoted. Your humble Programmer has become a slightly less humble Team Leader. No less that four people are now at my call and beck.

Probably the strangeness of this is not apparent to many people, but this is the first time I have ever worked for a sufficiently large organisation for a sufficiently long time for it to happen. This makes me a very late entrant in the Corporate Steeplechase but suddenly the slippery slope stretches up before me (I never met a mixaphor I didn't like).

Suddenly, I find myself thinking that my own manager will quite likely leave in the next year or two. How much does he get paid, I wonder? Could I be a contender?

Fortunately, reality usually kicks in about this point. My boss has a shit of a job. He spends his time doing charts and time estimates and leave request forms and other corporate detritus. Not only does he never get to cut code, he never even gets to do any design work. He is almost completely cut off from anything creative or anything that might remotely be regarded as fun.

I was about to say you couldn't pay me enough to do his job but that isn't quite true. Pay me as much as our beloved CEO is getting and I'll do the job for three years and retire a multi-millionaire. In terms of what they might realistically pay me, however, it certainly is true. As a Corporate Steeplechaser, I'd fall at the second fence.

I'm not expecting any drastic workstyle changes. For one thing, I've effectively been doing the job for the last three or four months anyway. In fact, I was offered the position back at the end of June but they weren't prepared to accompany it with a pay rise so I told them to come back when they were. This minor detail has now been sorted out to the satisfaction of all parties.

I guess this is another example of my poor steeplechasing form. A champion jockey would probably have accepted the position just for the kudos. Especially since they would be doing the job anyway.

To me, however, it was very important not to accept the official position without the pay rise. There are two main reasons for this. First, you only value what you pay for. If the company gets service out of me without paying for it, they won't value it as much. Second, and more important, is having a viable exit strategy.

It is now three months since they first made the offer. I have been doing the Team Leader's work because it needed to be done and (he said modestly) I was the best person to do it. In the short term this is quite reasonable. But in the longer term, if they had refused to offer the pay rise, I could have said, fine - give me some programming to do, let someone else sort out the mess, and I would have been ethically covered (at least by my own ethical system). Had I accepted the position I wouldn't have been able to do this.

Anyway, it's official now. They say power corrupts but it will never affect me. Of course, there will be a few mandatory guidelines that my team will have to follow. Let me see. For a start, I think everyone will have to speak Swedish and wear their underpants on the outside.

That's Team Leader Hart to you...


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