Top Ten Things That Annoy Engineers



10. The Phone (see our post “10 Reasons Engineers Hate the Phone“)

9. Multiple Office Sites – As if things weren’t complicated enough, I have to try to communicate and solve complex issues over the phone and through NetMeeting, WebEx, and VNC?  Maybe if I am especially lucky, I’ll get to travel back and forth for months at a time!

8. Executive speak – Nothing quite like a load of BS from the VP about how great everything is going.  Or worse… when it’s quiet, you know it’s REALLY bad.

7. Too Many Bosses – Answering to the boss’s boss, or the boss’s boss’s boss, that really isn’t so bad.  There is even a chance to make a solid impression on the higher-ups.  But answering to the boss’s colleagues?  This can get frustrating.  Especially when I know credit for extra work won’t be coming my way.

6. Useless Meetings – Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s all meet and discuss the status of our very important work over, and over, and over, and over.  Ugh.  If what I’m hearing from everyone else doesn’t have any impact on MY contribution to the design, my time is better spent, you know, contributing.


5. Repetitive and Lazy Questions – Repetitive questions (often from other design groups) with obviously accessible answers are annoying.  Beware!  These questions often come with a price tag: work ownership.

4. Bad IT – I’m complaining for others here.  I’ve been flat-out spoiled by fantastic IT.  I’ve never had the joy of losing emails, OS crashes, disk reboots, and slow, old computers that can’t get the job done.

3. Tools That Don’t Work – Oh segmentation fault, how come you never show up when I actually HAVE time to waste?

2. The Fear of Blame – Very motivating, yet very toxic when ingrained in company engineering culture.
Teaser:  Full blog post coming on this SOON!

1. Marketing – Non-technical marketing decisions/timelines are, without question, the most annoying thing to engineers.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat and thought, “They (marketing) think we can do WHAT in HOW LONG?  That’s funny.  Boy, they are in for a ruuuude awakening.”  Following this thought is an endless stream of phone calls, useless meetings with too many bosses, truckloads of blame, and a plethora of stupid questions, all in an effort to justify why schedules are DEFINITELY going to slip to folks who will never understand why.  ARGHHHH!

What annoys you while on the job?  What can be done to change it?

Category: Blogs, Efficiency, Engineering & Design, Humor

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13 Responses

  1. Ron Graham says:

    I once did a study of 700 Dilbert comic strips, and classified Scott Adams’ complaints about the workplace into categories. Then interviewed maybe 50 engineers about how their lives relate to Dilbert. The product there was a Canonical List of Workplace Distractions, and an action plan for dealing with them.

    I’m currently writing an e-book on employee retention. It’ll be in there. :-)

  2. Great post! Especially #1. I address the salesforce – engineering interface on my blog, When you think about it, the most dangerous “salesperson” is an engineer with an understanding of the dynamics and language of the sales process. Yin meets Yang. The future of most engineering-intensive companies is the ability of engineers to run a sales meeting. Now THAT is mind-boggling!

  3. Greg says:

    My list:
    1. Cubicles
    2. Micromanaging bosses who forgot they are management and not engineers.
    3. Marketing departments that make all the decisions without a clue
    4. The engineer who has been there forever (and screwing things up for almost as long). Because they have been there, everyone listens to them over more competant engineers.
    5. Matrixed management

  4. Mike Morris says:

    Most problems in the workplace could be solved by banning powerpoint presentations, holding all meetings outside while you are having a barbecue (OK I’m from Florida)and forcing all engineers to actually run a trade show once a year.

  5. Laszlo says:

    I went, not long time ago to an interview. The Manager (cockeyed) was busy figuring out where Lupita was, she knew how to fix “circular references”, (intern) and annoyed he came to the round table and let me sit down. Still worried about “circular reference” he looked at me with one eye and said: “I can’t hire you, you will screw up everything” and went back to fixing the problem with already present Lupita.
    This is how I missed to get hired for a position I really wanted to work for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction: that’s how you missed the job you *thought* you wanted…right up until you met the assbag you’d be working for.

  6. GValor says:

    Above all…when a problem arise, the most annoying thing is management “help”. Say, as an example, you have a contamination you don’t know where is coming from. You start a systematic search. Meanwhile, you have to prove (and work hard, and waste time) that all the management suggestions are at least not true and usually moronic like “why don’t you check with NASA if it is not a remnant of the Halley comet tail…” or “I know of a dowser…”

  7. ScottT says:

    As a marketer I am very concious of the downside of #1. I’ve always been a believer in ‘under promise and over deliver’ in building customer relations – the opposite is a recipe for disaster. Therefore whenever possible I will side with an engineering assessment of product readiness and capability. However management’s decisions on when to put a product out there is the final arbiter.

  8. Adrian says:

    My top 5 pet irritations ..
    1 clients who don’t know what they want
    2 clients who don’t understand what they want even when you’ve told them and they agree
    3 clients who engage you – and then decide to fix it themselves by trying to influence/change every decision you make
    4 clients who don’t understand their own business processes
    5 managers who have no idea how to engage with their their own staff

  9. Arum says:

    1. leg pulling.
    2. lack of ethics.
    3. religious discussions.
    4. lack of concentration.
    5. Lack of respect

  10. Tony O. says:

    As a marketeer with more than a passing knowledge of engineering, My #1 would be: engineers who have never been out in the real world who live by the credo “that’s what they say but I’ll give them what they really want”, or worse yet, engineers will deliver a product that meets the PRD without ever disclosing the obvious (to them) Achilles heel of a bug that renders it totally unmarketable.. and then hide behind “well it met the PRD’s specifications”.

  11. [...] Industrial Interface, had a great post called Top Ten Things That Annoy Engineers. And while this post is humor from the trenches, the top thing identified as annoying engineers the most was “non-technical marketing decisions/timelines.” [...]

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