Who gets your reward - Bore or Firefighter?

You get what you reward - Steven Covey

I’m lazy. My favorite job would be “sitting simply and getting monthly.” I was not always like this. In the past, my preferred management style was firefighting. When I was putting out fires on one side of the project or the other, I came alive with a sense of purpose, and to my managers, I looked busy and indispensable.

I wanted to make a change. I framed procedures for dealing with each leaky area that caused fires. I loved it. But my managers were like the domesticated tigers that tasted blood. They wanted problems that they can show to their bosses. “Everything is ok” seemed like a status from an incompetent manager.

“JJ, everything looks normal for a month. Is it a calm before a storm?” they asked.
“Are you sure, you’ve not missed anything?” they doubted my competency and I hated it.

There was an even bigger problem. My managers couldn’t appraise boring and calm work. Working late hours and weekends were visible and measurable. But, quiet deliveries were not measurable. Peers who invented newer fires got promotions and bonuses, but I was advised to enroll in a project management program.

Managers got more of what they rewarded.

I faced a choice: either keep inventing escalating layers of fiery coal or stay out. I chose to stay out. I am too proud to be rewarded for my incompetence.

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