I stumbled across this really interesting post by Tom McMahon. Sportscaster Jimmy Piersall was asked when a minor league baseball player should pack it in and get on with another career:
Piersall was straightforward and his answer went something like this: You have to remember here are two classes of players in the minor leagues: Those who are indeed going up to the major leagues, and those they keep around to play against the ones who are. If you’re in the first group, fine. But if you’re in the second group, you need to get out immediately and start pursuing your real career — every day spent chasing an illusion puts you another day behind competing with everyone else in the rat race. And here’s the kicker: If you’re in the second group, they’re never going to tell you, because they need to keep you around to play against the prospects they are really interested in.
I’ve seen this happening at work, actually. There are a couple perpetual low-performers, Charlie and Edgar. A while back we needed a few more people in QA and Willard conspicuously reached below them, seniority-wise, and picked Melvin and Dell. As time progresses, it’s going to become more conspicuous as Martin and Edmund are more likely to make it out of the department before they are, and neither has been here half as long.
But no one is saying anything about it. I’m not sure if they’re just a bit dim (well, okay, they are dim, I’m just not sure if this is an example of that) or they are noticing more than they are letting on. But they’ll never make it to QA and as such won’t be able to ever make it out of the dead-end, $9.50/hr job they currently now hold. Edgar’s wife is pregnant with his third (and they plan a fourth) and Charlie has three of his own. The money issue is pretty important, here.
From the company’s perspective, they’re making what they’re worth. More, probably. But they are good for contuity, which is what is needed right now. They’re also a great standard by which to judge others (hence the analogy above), because it demonstrates how above-the-curve some of the newer guys are. And the rest of the guys are new. They may be learning twice as fast, but the veterans do know quite a bit. And, of course, they’re two slots that they won’t be having to fill so long as they keep those seats warm.
I’ve wanted to pull Edgar aside a couple times and let him know that the raise and promotion he’s hoping on is not likely to arrive soon. It seems like the right thing to do, but it also seems like something that would blow up in my face. In addition to his mental shortcomings, his maturity level is sub-par as well and I couldn’t trust him not to bring me up when he inevitably goes off on Willard.
But it’ll all likely come to the forefront soon. I may get the Deseret Power job or I may not. There are also a couple other opportunities within the company for either my partner Simon or myself. Not only that, but Melvin clearly doesn’t want to make the transition and we’re falling further and further behind. Yet despite the desperation, they’re still not likely to get the call. They might hire someone from the outside first.
I am increasingly curious who would replace me in QA if I do depart.