ex-High Techies in the Federal Government

After this blog entry I was immediately asked about the challenges those ex-techies who joined the Federal government have found.   Here is a quick summary of what I’ve been told:

  • Being under-employed/under-challenged (compared to their personal perceived capability)
  • Being discouraged from working excessive hours (one individual told me about a situation where a co-worker took them aside and asked them to stop working long hours because it was making the rest of them look bad  – however all other individuals I know said they had never experienced this type of behavior and in fact noted that people in their departments tended to work more then the regular work hours as a matter of course)
  • Really, really bad employees who are passed from department to department like a hot potato (these employees typically know how to exploit the various government union and HR policies to effectively do nothing and avoid being fired and consume vast amounts of their managers time and reputation in the process)
  • Political wars and games where each department was working to position themselves for projects they expect to see funded

In Nortel, I personally experienced:

  • Being under-employed/under-challenged (only when working on a  product transitioning to legacy support  – when this happened I usually changed jobs)
  • Being given really, really bad employees as part of a new project team (who I first mentored/worked with to help them develop missing skills or cultural awareness, and if that failed (only on one occasion) I put them into the HR process leading to termination/transfer to a job with a better fit)
  • Political wars and games where each department was working to position themselves for projects they expect to see funded

Anyone else from High Tech who ended up in the Federal government have observations to contribute?


2 thoughts on “ex-High Techies in the Federal Government

  1. Brent

    Nortel is the ‘government’ of high tech. It wasn’t always that way. At one time Nortel monitored it’s top and bottom lines closely and made adjustments to spending accordingly on a quarterly basis. People worked hard to make their product a success and people could make a pretty clear connection between the success of that product and the revenues of Nortel.

    Something changed in the late 90s when it seemed that money was coming in truck loads. Now the connection between hard work/good products/strong business strategy was gone; the money came in no matter what (kind of like tax revenues). So the emphasis shifts from working on great products and strategies to earn money, to political maneuvers to get a greater share of the money that seemed to arrive regardless.

  2. Khalil

    I actually experienced being under-worked at Nortel. When moved to legacy products, I never got any mentoring. It was Do or Die! Basic set-up for failure. But maybe I never had the right management. Or was not part of the “IN” group. All round, bad experience!!

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